Award-winning author and editor Nancy Kilpatrick was born in
the United States but has lived more than half her life in Canada, for the last decade in Montreal, Quebec. She has published
18 novels, about 200 short stories, 5 collections, and has edited 8 anthologies. She mainly writes horror
under her own name, and a good chunk of that has been vampires, but she also likes to blur horror with other
genres, including fantasy, mystery and erotica. Nancy is most known for her vampire series
The Power of the Blood and for the intensive and comprehensive non-fiction book The Goth
Bible: A Compendium for the Darkly Inclined (St. Martin's Press US/Plexus Publishing UK). She
loves writing short fiction and recent stories include: "The Phantom: Here, There, Everywhere" in
The Phantom: Chronicles of The Ghost Who Walks (Moonstone Books July 2007; and the somber
tale "The Age of Sorrow" in PostScripts #10 (PS Publishing, May 2007). She has a number
of stories coming out in 2008 including "Heart of Stone" in Monster Noir, and a vampire
story "Vampire Anonymous" and a zombie story "Mozaika", both for upcoming anthologies by
Moonstone Books. Currently she is working on two new novels, including& a series. You can
check her website for updates:
"I'm not 'menacing'!"
" Rand, I'm sure he didn't mean to upset you. I think he just meant that, well, under the circumstances--" The Psychiatrist turns her palms up, and scans the prison's interview room. "Your statement about being a sensitive male is odd." The Psychiatrist crosses her short legs and leans forward, resting both forearms on her thigh, clasping her hands together as if she is pleading.
Rand likes the shape of her thigh, the way the pastel silk skirt clings to the taut skin and just lies there, passive, resting, waiting for fingers to reach out and separate fabric from flesh.
"Can you elaborate?" The Psychiatrist asks. "How do you see yourself as a sensitive young man?"
"There's lots of guys like me. Regular guys. Sensitive. Decent," Rand says.
"Yeah. A regular, sensitive, decent serial killer!" The Reporter's remarks are aggressive. Hostile. Violent.
Rand focuses on The Reporter. "A lot of guys are serial killers. More and more every day. You see it on TV. In the news. Guys like you write about guys like me. Guys who are trying to help."
"Help? Right!" The Reporter stabs symbols into his notebook, barely glancing down. The carved lines of his face deepen under the glare of brilliant TV lights.
"You created me."
The Reporter looks disgusted. His skin is tight, but with no appealing insulation beneath his cheeks. Just bone, nothing but bone. Hard, not subtle. Holding up a face with limited flexibility. He starts to say, "Look, you little sh--"
"Rand, I think what you're trying to get at," The Psychiatrist interrupts, "is that the media portrays violence and that in turn encourages violence in young people like yourself, with a predisposition."
"Fuck!" The Reporter mutters under his breath, low enough that the microphone will not pick it up. Rand watches him glance at The Guard by the door, whose eyes are non-committal, but whose mouth--the one that spits saliva when he talks, that opens and closes like the jaws of a vice, that utters sound bytes that Rand breaks into chunks and swallows whole--whose mouth twitches at the left corner. Nice touch, Rand thinks. But too far in the background to be effective.
"Well, Rand?" The Psychiatrist says. "Do you see yourself as a victim of media violence?"
"Oh, come on!" The Reporter says. "Tell us why you mutilated all those--"
"Let him answer the question," The Psychiatrist interrupts again.
The Reporter crashes back against the chair. Rand knows The Reporter would love to jump to his feet and punch The Prisoner in the face. The Reporter is violent by nature, that's clear. His turn to ask the questions is coming. They are supposed to take turns. Politely. That's the way it's supposed to go.
"I love television," Rand says. His voice is not as sincere as he wants it to sound, so he concentrates on lowering his eyes, dropping his head down a fraction. He looks up through his long lashes at The Psychiatrist. The dark eyelid hairs cut her body into strips. "And newspapers. It's important to know what's going on in the world around you."
Her face softens. She reminds him of The Teacher, and The Minister's Wife. The Others in the room wouldn't notice that her face has changed, but Rand does. She understands. "Tell us about your childhood," The Psychiatrist says gently.
This script is familiar. He has repeated these lines many times and knows them by heart. He wants to sigh, but that would not be the right thing to do. In a moment of inspiration, he tilts his head and looks away. If only his hands were free, but the chain keeps them six inches apart, which means he cannot rely on his hands to speak for him, and they speak eloquently.
"I had a very normal life," he says matter-of-factly, repeating by rote what he has said so often. Why won't they believe him? "My parents were divorced, but that wasn't a problem. Mom was great. She took real good care of me."
"How so?" asks The Psychiatrist.
"From when I was a baby. She had a monitor in the nursery and everything. So nothing bad would happen."
He remembers the monitor, even when he got old enough to go to school. His mother hovered just in the next room, always listening, waiting, as if for a sign.
"And there were home movies, then videos," he adds. Many. Endless tapes. She recorded them from before he could walk: Rand strapped into his cradle, the television set on--he still remembers his favorite show, the cartoon with the blood-red lion that chomped off the heads of its enemies; moving images of Rand eating meatloaf with his hands in front of the TV in a highchair; wandering the mall in his toddler harness, so he wouldn't get lost, or be stolen or be violated by some sick man. "She liked to shoot me. She said I was a natural on tape."
The Psychiatrist smiles.
The Reporter scribbles more notes.
The Guard shifts his weight to his other leg.
This room is small, like the set at a television station Rand saw once on a school tour. They had been broadcasting the news. The set, the size of a bathroom, consisted mainly of a plywood desk, the front veneered so it looked like real wood on tape. Two cameras. A control room with a bank of monitors before The Reporters. The Class visited the control room. The Technicians sat at the panels of switches and buttons and levers, wearing headsets, sending and receiving instructions as directed, zeroing in on The Female Reporter, then The Male Reporter. Back and forth, back and forth. Then The Weatherperson. The Technical Director controlled how everyone looked, what they said and how they said it. It was just like a movie.
"I'm sorry," he says when he realizes The Psychiatrist has asked a question.
"I asked if you would try to explain your motivation. Why you did what you did, to all those people... You must have felt very angry--"
"I never feel angry."
The Reporter leans forward.
The Psychiatrist sits back.
"Who's the first person you killed?" The Reporter demands.
"I never killed a person."
"Your DNA matches the DNA found at the scene of six murders. Six mutilations. And the jury found you guilty of--"
"They were wrong. I'm innocent. DNA can be wrong, you know. I saw a show on 60 Minutes--"
"Yeah, kid, I know the stats. If you're not an identical twin, it's one in a million--"
"Two million. One in two million, depending on the tests used. But two million and one could be a match--"
"How did it feel to just tear off--"
"Please!" The Psychiatrist grips The Reporter's arm, tempering him. Reluctantly, he moves back in his chair. His face tightens. The Psychiatrist moves forward. This is her territory.
" Rand, I read the reports and evaluations. What you told the court. What you told the other doctors. You said you never felt the slightest bit of anger toward anyone."
"That's right," Rand agrees. "I don't believe in getting angry. That's how Mom raised me."
"But you must have been angry at your mother now and again. And your father--"
"Nope." He knows he's answered too quickly. It sounds like he is trying to hide something, but he isn't. Not at all. There's nothing to hide.
"My father wasn't around, so why would I get angry at him?"
"He was around until you were ten."
"I didn't notice. He was always at work."
" Rand, there's a history of domestic violence, your father assaulting your mother, and--"
"Yeah, well, she divorced him. Besides, she protected me. I didn't know about it until later. I was busy."
"You played a lot of video games," The Reporter says, struggling to get with the program at last.
"Sure. Some D&D stuff, then Nintendo when I got older. Doesn't everybody?"
"Yeah, but everybody doesn't--"
"I mean, doesn't everybody like video games? All the kids at my school did."
" Rand..." The Psychiatrist searches for another avenue, as though if she keeps probing he'll split apart, spill what's inside him. Bleed for the camera. But there is nothing to say that he hasn't said before. "Some of those games get pretty violent, don't they?"
"After you played them, you went out and played them in real life, didn't you?" The Reporter interjects, blurring the picture again.
"Sure you did!"
"Why should I? I had the games."
"And the urges--"
Rand looks up, presenting the face of The Innocent to The Videographer, a slim-bodied young woman with the head of a camera. How many hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people will watch this drama unfold? he wonders. Most, he is certain, will understand. Most are against violence.
The Lawyer sits beside him, prepared to nip any compromising questions or answers in the bud. So far she has said nothing. Now she does.
"My client's answers to these questions are a matter of record. It's all in the trial transcripts."
"What's the basis of your final appeal?" The Reporter asks.
The Videographer shifts the camera to the left, to capture The Reporter's profile.
"Evidence that should never have been admissible," The Lawyer says.
"The video tapes?"
"Yes, the tapes."
A flash-fire races through Rand--The Reporter isn't supposed to steal the limelight! Rand is The Prisoner. The-Juvenile-Sentenced-To-Death. The one who has agreed to this 3-way exclusive. The only one the camera should be focused on!
Rand knows he should say nothing but he needs to regain control.
"The only urges I have are to get rid of The Evil."
The Lawyer jumps in. "Don't say another word--"
"What is The Evil?" the Psychiatrist asks, leaning far forward, until Rand can smell her perfume.
"You mean evil, like you?" The Reporter says sharply.
The Videographer turns the lens back to stare at Rand. Rand smiles slightly and gazes seductively into the impassive camera eye. For effect, he fingers the white ribbon he always wears on his prison shirt, over his name. "I just mean, the world is full of violence. I wish it wasn't, but it is."
"That's enough, Rand! My client is--"
"Men are the violent ones. Everybody says so. The TV, the newspapers. So men have got to stop the violence. 'A man's gotta do what a man's got to do.' John Wayne said that, you know. My mother used to quote him."
" Rand, have you heard of the psychiatric term 'projection'? It's--"
"If men don't do it, who will? The good guys have to stop the bad guys, or there's gonna be violence."
"Listen, kid, I've been a reporter for twenty years, and I know BS when I smell it--"
"My mother didn't raise me to be violent. She didn't want me to be like my father."
"As your counsel, Rand, I must advise you--"
"Most men are violent, don't you think so doctor? You're a woman."
"Rand, people can project feelings they have onto someone else--the way a camera projects an image. Angry feelings, or feelings of wanting to harm someone we fear will harm us--"
But Rand tunes her out. He directs his remarks exclusively toward The Videographer, to her cold, precise eye, studying him, controlling him, never letting him slide out of her objective sight.
"If there were no men in the world, there wouldn't be any violence. Isn't that right?"
Silence cuts the air for barely a second.
"I'm sorry, people, but as Rand's attorney, I must protect my client's interests. This interview is--"
"Deny it! Go ahead and deny it!" Rand shouts at the retreating camera, using emotional charge to lure it back. "You say it all the time, all of you. How can you say something different now? You're phonies!"
" Rand, do you feel attacked? No one here is attacking you--"
"All of you! You want all males dead!"
"Turn off the camera, or I'll file a civil action--"
"So do I! Then there won't be any more violence."
"Listen, you little shithead, you're the violent male!"
Rand lunges. He is aware of the camera zooming in on his hands. The chain from the wrist cuffs is hooked to a waist chain and his reach stops inches from his grasp.
Silence clutches the air. The Videographer has captured all. The shocked looks. The gasp from The Lawyer. The cry of "No!" from The Psychiatrist. The Guard drawing his gun. The Reporter, struggling to protect his genitals, what would have been seconds too late, but for The Prisoner's restraints.
Rand stares down at his hands. They are bony and thin, 'sensitive', his mother always said. The fingers stretch like talons, ready to claw The Evil from its roots. Ready to deposit it into his hungry mouth, where powerful jaws can pulverize and razor teeth rend. Where what should not exist, by being devoured, can be eliminated forever.
That would have made a great shot. His mom would have loved it. Rand sits back and smiles into the camera's eye. He just hopes that The Videographer had the lens in sharp focus when she captured him.
(C) Nancy Kilpatrick 2007
© Paul Kane 2003-2017. All rights reserved. Materials (including images) may not be reproduced without express permission from the author.