There is a special significance to being in the middle. Number three of five. A perfect symmetry.
Kestrel thought about symmetry as she meticulously planned her next killing. How should she honor this middle victim? There had to be blood, so it would be a knife. And, it wouldn’t be the kitchen like Victim One. Nor on a sidewalk like Victim Two. Victim Three didn’t go out for early morning jogs. Neither does Victim Two any longer, Kestrel thought with a smirk.
Kestrel had killed her first two victims in the morning. This one would be at night, under a full moon. Full of ritual. Of light turned dark. And book-ended by two more morning killings. A perfect symmetry.
The morning of the full moon brought freezing fog and mist. Drops of water clung to bare branches of trees, looking like precious jewels. Victim Three gazed out the window, admiring the beauty of the frosty landscape from beneath the warm blankets on her bed. A snatch of a dream, a nightmare full of terror and blood, lingered at the edges of her consciousness. The dream seemed important, but she couldn’t quite capture its wispy threads. An owl hooted, its eerie call breaking the silence of the morning. Another answered.
Kestrel finished breaking down a pomegranate. Her kitchen was spattered with red juice. Her sink covered with pips. Like blood. Splatter and gore and those bright beautiful red drops. She licked her lips and wondered what fresh blood tasted like. Maybe next time, she thought.
Victim Three was glad her day was done. Everything she had done had gone wrong and taken longer than it should. She hated having to re-do her work. But, she had done that today. What is it, she thought, about a full moon that makes people so crazy?
Victim Three loved the full moon. She liked to think the cold white light shone a blessing down on her. Deep in thought, she pulled her scarf closer around her neck as she detoured through the park. The moon was just starting to peek over the hills. Victim Three wanted to watch it rise from her favorite place in the park; a small clearing with a perfect view of the sky. She didn’t notice the woman sitting on a bench next to the path.
Kestrel waited until the full moon was high in the sky. I’ll let Victim Three perform her silly ritual, raising her arms high, her face towards the moon. It won’t do her any good.
When the time was right, Kestrel stood up and crept silently towards the clearing. She kept to the shadows even though she knew Victim Three didn’t see her or hear her. Kestrel approached from behind, her knife in her right hand, ready. Victim Three sensed movement and turned just as Kestrel struck, her knife piercing into Victim Three’s carotid artery. Like Victim One, Victim Three saw the face of her killer.
Blood spurted over Kestrel’s hands. Pressing her wet palms to her cheeks, Kestrel drew in the tang of Victim Three’s blood. I have enough, she though, for my plans, and turned to walk back home.
Another bird rose into the sky to circle with the others. Watching, always watching.