It was time. Kestrel felt it in her blood. Time for the second witness to become a sacrifice.
She didn’t want to kill them all in their kitchens. That was too predictable. And, why do they all hang out in their kitchens, she wondered. She knew they had lives. She had studied their habits for years. There had been five of them. Now four. Soon to be three. Silly young girls. They had sounded like chirping birds playing in the woods. They saw what they shouldn’t have seen. Reported it. Now they would pay. They would sacrifice their lives, and their blood would cleanse what they had seen. Expunge the wrong that was done to her own mother.
Victim Four groaned as the alarm rang at 5 am. She wanted to get a run in before work, but now her warm bed pulled at her. Reluctantly she pushed down the blanket and slowly got out of bed. Her running gear was waiting for her on the chair. She dressed and laced her shoes, wishing for a few more minutes of sleep but knowing she’d be energized when she finished her morning run. She pushed her key into the side of her shoe and walked out the door, stretching as she went. She breathed in the misty morning air. Bliss, she thought as she started a slow warm up jog.
An owl rushed by her, hooting. That’s odd, she thought. Why is a great horned owl dive bombing me? She ducked her head and started running.
Kestrel had trained hard for this moment. She waited until her victim was in her running zone, breathing rhythmically with her steps. Aware of her breathing and her steps, her thoughts turning inward; relaxed. Kestrel ran hard at an angle towards Victim Four and stabbed hard between her ribs and her heart. She felt her blade hit its target. Victim Four collapsed, gasping for breath, blood everywhere. Kestrel took a final look around to make sure her kill was clean, bent over to gather up a bit of blood, and ran.
Back home, Kestrel stripped off her clothes and stepped into the shower. Hot water pounded over her, washing away the blood. She’d have to burn her clothes. But, this time she remembered to take blood from her victim. Last time, she had to gather it from her blood-soaked clothes.
On the bloody sidewalk another spirit became a bird. To watch.
She, who called herself Kestrel, woke with a start. She had been dreaming about an owl. It was stalking her. Its yellow eyes had stared through her. It knew.
Padding down to the kitchen, she started on her daily list while she heated water for coffee. She always started her day with coffee, freshly brewed in a French press. She would move to tea in the afternoon.
She needed new candles. More honing oil for her knives. And bleach for cleaning up blood.
Her next victim was calling. It would be soon. Not yet. She would know when it was time.
An owl sat on a branch outside her kitchen window, staring at her through the glass. In the daytime. It hooted, pulling her from her thoughts. She shivered.
The sacrifice, which is how she thought of her, was sitting at her own kitchen table enjoying her morning coffee while scanning the newspaper headlines. She felt safe in her warm, cozy kitchen. She had no idea the killer was waiting, planning. It wouldn’t matter.
Kestrel shrugged off the shiver. It’s just an owl, she thought. A bird. It doesn’t know anything. She grabbed her list, her bag, and her keys on her way out the door.
The owl blinked and dissolved into mist. I am the owl spirit of the Kestrel’s first victim. I vowed justice, and I will get it. I felt the frisson of fear in the killer when she saw the owl. It was enough for now.