***Disclaimer: The story below contains graphic descriptions of gore and violence, as well as SA. Please read responsibly.
Why couldn’t she just do it? It wasn’t hard and she’d done it enough times that it should feel downright routine at this point. Of course, each job was different from the last in some ways, but when you were in any line of business, even burglary, there were always ground rules. Anja stuck to those ground rules and it was what made her so successful at her job. She never went into any residences, only businesses. She never went into a business when people were inside. And Anja never, ever went into a business she did not know all the ins and outs of first. There were also some other basics like get in and get out as fast as possible, take only high value items and cash that you can easily carry, cover every inch of your body so that no piece of you shows on camera or gets left behind for any forensics team, and lastly, in order to make it as difficult as possible to identify her, she never spoke aloud and always bound her breasts tight to her chest so that her body looked as androgynous as possible.
Anja had done all her research. She had hired a partner that had come highly recommended to infiltrate the business she was currently parked down the street from. Anja had gone in only once, a month ago, just to see what the place had to offer. They were an antique shop, so they had plenty of high dollar items, but antiques were difficult to move and took time. Anja was more interested in the fact that they were cash only, and kept their money in a safe in the back of the shop. Cash was much easier to move, and also easier to carry. After she had gone in to confirm some of the information she was given, she made small talk with the owner of the store. He was a short, portly man, with a hairline that had receded so far back she couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t have just shaved it. She chatted with him about a grandmother she had fabricated who loved antique spoons. She was looking for something special as it was grandma’s birthday, and would he happen to have any recommendations, etc. He recommended a spoon he said was from Montana and offered her a “special price,” seeing as it was a gift for grandma. Anja bought the spoon, cash only of course, and watched the man carelessly open the cash drawer, flashing the contents and confirming that not only did they do cash only business, but that he was not very careful about dropping money into a safe throughout the day. The drawer was packed.
This was where the partner came in. Anja had contacted her via a prepaid phone she had bought that day. The name she went by was Cherry, a little over the top for Anja’s taste, but to each their own. Cherry specialized in infiltration. She was a proper chameleon, so Anja had been told. She could fit in anywhere and change so drastically in not only appearance, but demeanor, that she had never even been taken in by the cops for questioning, let alone arrested. She was a master of her craft, and that was the kind of partner Anja needed.
Cherry had gone into the shop, offering her services as cleaning crew, and had charmed her way from cleaning to assistant in less than two weeks. She had gotten the key to the back room and the code to the safe, and had even been given a key to the shop. The copies of those keys were now sitting in Anja’s pocket. The only place that Cherry had not seen or been allowed to go, even to clean, was the basement. The balding shop owner, Harold, had told her that there was nothing down there, but that the way down was treacherous and he would not have her hurting herself on the clock. She had tried her many charms on the man, but he would not budge. Cherry said that was probably where he kept the highest dollar items for himself, but that he never went down there that she saw. Either way, Anja did not care about the basement. Harold left the shop after closing promptly at 7:00 PM every day. He went home to his tiny apartment and did whatever Harold enjoyed doing on his time off until he arrived in the morning to open at 9:00 AM. He was open seven days a week and never deviated from this schedule. Cherry would close with him, then be there before he opened the doors in the morning. All the puzzle pieces were in place, it was the day before the trip to the bank, so the maximum amount of money was in the safe. Cherry had messaged two days earlier saying everything was a go. Anja would reach out to her after this was done and let her know where and when to pick up her cut. All that was left was to do it. So why was Anja still sitting in a stolen car with the keys to the shop in her pocket?
The answer was simple. Something did not feel right. The shop was dark and had been since Harold had left. No one was inside, she was wearing her standard gear, black gloves, pants, long sleeve shirt, breasts bound, hair tied up so she could easily slip on the head cover as well. Black, nondescript combat boots, sold anywhere you could buy shoes, a license plate swapped out from the same color, year, make and model of another vehicle so that she wouldn’t get stopped with a stolen vehicle. She had the keys, the code to the safe as well as the code to the alarm system. There was nothing about this that could go wrong. Yet there was a pit in her stomach, gnawing at her, telling her to let this one go. The trouble was, she couldn’t even if she wanted to. She was too stubborn and had put in too much work to just drop it. Plus, it was a plush job. Easy as could be and with a massive payout. She chalked it up to nervous energy, took a deep breath and quietly stepped out of the car and into the deserted street. She walked with a purse, but inside the purse she had stuffed a large empty duffle bag. Anja was going to fill it to the brim and it would be just light enough to carry quickly back to the car and get out of there before anyone was the wiser.
Anja put the head covering on as she got to the door, then slipped the key in the lock, opened the door and disarmed the alarm. The only sounds had been the key in the lock, the opening of the door and the beep of the alarm letting her know it was counting down. After entering the code with nimble fingers, it was dead silent, just the way she liked it. Anja headed to the backroom, walking quickly, and unlocked that door as well. So far, so good, she thought. She walked to the safe and entered the code, hearing a satisfying click as the lock disengaged. She opened the safe door and, just as she was promised, there were bundles and bundles of cash inside, as well as coins. She wouldn’t take the coins as those were going to be far too heavy, and there was plenty of cash to fill her duffle. As she started to fill up the bag, she laughed silently at herself for being so nervous. What had she been worried about? This was the easiest job she had ever pulled, and maybe the most profitable. She actually wondered if Harold ever even took funds to the bank at all, given how much money was in the safe. She was almost done emptying the safe into her duffle when she heard the floor creak behind her. She stood up with a start and saw the pudgy fist flying at her face only a moment before it connected with her jaw.
Anja went down immediately, seeing starbursts in her vision. Her head had snapped backward on impact and her body followed. She hit the ground full force, her breath leaving her and her chest burning and aching for oxygen immediately. She gasped and tried to shake her head to clear her vision. As Anja blinked, she felt an immense weight settle over her hips and on her pelvis. Her blurry vision cleared and she was shocked to see Harold sitting all his weight on top of her and looking down at her with an odd mixture of rage and excitement. Maybe it was the shadows, but he looked to Anja like he was damn near giddy with pleasure. “Get off me!” She said it with as much force as she could muster. The no talking rule had gone out the window the moment he had caught her. She would be lucky to get away before the cops came, nevermind the cameras at this point. His face changed then, even in the dimly lit back room she could see it. His mouth opened in a surprised little o, and then Anja watched as all the rage leaked away from him. There was no misunderstanding the look now. Harold was looking at Anja the way a starving man looks at a feast. The excitement was there now, clear as day, and there was something else, something that made Anja’s blood run cold. He leered at her, smiling, looked her up and down with lust plain in his eyes. He shifted his weight on top of her, almost wriggling against her, and said in a deep almost growl, “Oh, you’re a woman.” He leaned his weight forward, as if to reach for her head cover and she clocked him in the side of the head with her balled fist. Harold’s head snapped to the side with the impact, but that was all. He didn’t even lose his balance, nor did he lose his terrible smile. Instead, he moved up her body just a bit, grabbed her arms, pushing them above her head as she struggled, and pinned them together under his palm. He removed the head cover and looked down at her. Recognition filled his eyes and he said, “Oh, so it wasn’t a spoon you were after. Tsk tsk tsk. Such a naughty girl.” He laughed then, a predatory sound that chilled her to the bone. He ground against her and she was sickened, because as he raised his arm, making a fist that was clearly going to be driven into her face, she realized with true horror that the soft, short, pudgy Harold was rock hard in one place that he ground against her belly. He brought his fist down against the side of her head and then Anja was swimming in darkness.
Someone was screaming, loud and long. Anja heard it and absurdly all she could think was she wanted it to stop because it was making her headache pound. Oh how her head hurt, and that wailing, piteous and sorrowful, seemed to be cranking a vice tighter on her poor head. She opened her eyes and had to blink a few times to clear them. Everything was red and something sticky was all over her face. She tried to wipe at it and realized she couldn’t. She tugged at her arm, but it wouldn’t budge. She tried the other and realized the same thing. Anja was laying on a cold, hard surface. She tried to sit up and couldn’t do that either. Something cold and hard was restraining her at the neck, as well as the wrists. At that moment another piercing scream echoed through the room and it all came rushing back. The job. The job had gone wrong. So wrong. She had been caught, and Harold had hurt her. Was this jail? No. No it couldn’t be. Anja turned her head, looking at her surroundings. The walls were a rust colored red, the ceiling low and looked to be padded with some kind of insulation. She could see the bottom of a staircase and bright lights, nearly blinding, hung from the ceiling. She looked toward the screaming but couldn’t quite see who it was. What Anja did see was Harold, standing with his back to her, bent over someone. She could see legs. Bare naked legs, streaked with blood. The legs were long and muscled, but slender, clearly feminine. Anja realized as she looked on that those legs ended in two bloody stumps. There were no feet attached, just flesh dangling and bone protruding from the ends. Anja wanted to join in the screaming now, but her fear had frozen her. She began instead to hyperventilate, taking in air faster than she could blow it out. She began to struggle against the restraints, pulling her arms with all her might tugging at her legs, which were also restrained at the ankles. She looked down the length of her body, to reassure herself that her own feet were still there, and it was in that moment she realized that she was all but nude. The only article of clothing that remained on her was her underwear. Her pants, shirt, shoes and even the binding and bra that she wore had been removed. Her skin was bare at every restraint, and the harder she pulled, the more she could feel her skin chafing.
Her breath was coming in smaller and smaller gasps as the woman next to her screamed in unending agony. Anja saw the edges of her vision starting to go dark. No, she thought, no, I cannot lose consciousness again. I don’t know what this freak will do to me. I have to stay awake, stay awake, she thought. She focused on slowing her breathing, tapping her fingers lightly one by one against her thumb on each hand. She did the best she could to tune out the screaming and focused only on the sensation of her fingers tapping, and timing it with her breathing. Slow down, she thought, use your brain, you can get out of this Anja, slow down. As she focused, her breathing finally started to slow. It seemed an eternity , but in reality must have only been a minute or two. Her vision cleared and she slowed her breathing to an almost normal pace. She steeled herself and turned to look at Harold, his back still turned to her. He had been hunched over and was now standing straight up. The screaming had stopped and his one hand was on his hip, dripping with blood. The other was lost in front of him and he was making small grunting sounds, accompanied with a wet, smacking sound. No. Oh fuck no, Anja thought. But even as she turned away and closed her eyes, trying to drown out the noise, she knew what she was hearing. She remembered him grinding against her before knocking her out. He had done something unspeakable to the woman on the table next to hers. And now, this sick fuck was pleasuring himself over the woman. Please let her be dead, Anja thought, let her be dead because it is the kindest mercy in this hell.
Anja heard it as he finished with a loud groan, and fought back the bile rising in her throat. It occurred to her that it might be better to choke to death on her own vomit rather than live to be tortured by Harold, but she doubted he would let her get so far as choking to death. And just like that, she had a plan. Anja had always been a planner. Followed ground rules and stuck to the plan. This would be no different. It would either work, or she would go down fighting. She would not end up like the woman on that table. She took a few deep breaths and heard Harold zip up his pants and buckle his belt. It was now, or never. She called up the image of the woman’s legs, the stump at the end of each of them, bloody and mangled. The sight of the white bits of bone and other flesh sticking out the ends. She thought of the screams and then the wet sound of him pleasuring himself, grunting and moaning, and within moments, that bile came rising back up her throat. She didn’t fight it, but instead let it rise. It was acrid and acidic in her mouth, sour and bitter and as she wretched, it began to choke her. She felt it coming out of her nose as well and her body began to fight for air, trying desperately to force the liquid and thicker things from her esophagus and keep it from getting into her airway, but there was nowhere for it to go. She turned her head to the side involuntarily, her body not understanding that this was the plan, but too much of the vomit had lodged itself in the pathway meant for air. She was choking in earnest now, and if he didn’t do what she was hoping he would, she would die.
Harold cursed emphatically and she felt the restraints open on her wrists and neck. He sat her up fast enough she thought she might get whiplash and began to pound her on the back. As she spewed the contents of her throat out and gasped for air, she heard him saying, “Breathe, stupid cunt. Breathe. I have plans for you, and they don’t include you dying, yet. I want to be in you while you’re still hot and fighting.” That brought on another rush of vomit, this one was not part of the plan. She heaved onto her own lap, her body determined to empty out the contents of her stomach. Finally, when the gagging had stopped, Harold moved to lay her back down. “We’ll have to clean you up, you stink now, bitch.” He said this as he pushed her back onto the table. She laid backward as if cooperating and as he leaned down to restrain one arm, she jammed her thumb directly into his eye socket, digging her nails into the side of his head like talons, hooking her thumb deeper as he tried to pull away. He was screaming “BITCH!! YOU BITCH! OH YOU FUCKING BITCH, I AM GOING TO KILL YOU!!” But he flailed his arms at her, not really hitting much on anything. She felt his eyeball give with a sickening pop and then she held it in her hand. He jerked himself out of her grip and she flung the eyeball. He went to his knees, keening in a way that didnt even sound human. Anja reached out and undid the restraints on her ankles, thanking the universe that there were no locks on them, just a latch. Harold was getting to hit feet, foaming at the mouth and he made a wild grab for her as she lunged off the other side of the table. She turned to go up the stairs when he shouted, “You cant get out without the keys, dumb cunt.” She turned and looked at him, unbelievingly, and he held up the keys in a jingling gesture, smiling even with one gaping bloody eye socket.
Anja considered her options in an instant. She knew he could be lying, but if she went up the stairs and the door was locked, she would be trapped. He was short, but wide and stronger than he looked, and if he cornered her at the top of those stairs, she didn’t like her odds. On the other hand, Anja was quick on her feet. If she could get the keys and get to the door she would be free. She would worry about what came after that when she got out of this. Harold was lumbering towards her. He had stuffed the keys in his pocket and in his hand he had an absurdly large butcher knife. Of course it was a massive butcher knife, Anja thought, what an unoriginal prick. She darted out of his reach and looked around the room for anything to help. As she looked, she noticed another knife sticking out of the chest of the woman on the table. She also noticed that she knew the woman. “Cherry,” she whispered it and was stricken still for just a moment too long. Harold was on her, knife to her throat.
“Cherry, yes. You knew her, did you? She was as sweet as her name and her insides as red. Let’s go look at Cherry together, little cunt.” He positioned himself behind Anja, knife at her throat, pressing hard enough that she could feel it breaking the skin, nicking her as she walked. She made no sound, as she knew it would only please him. She walked toward the bloody mess that had been Cherry. “I think I will fuck you on top of her, thieving bitch, since you two were friends” He took his freed hand that wasn’t holding the knife and began to fumble with his belt. They got to the table as she heard his zipper pull down and then she felt the hardness against her. He shoved her down on top of Cherry, just as Anja hoped he would. She fell forward and he had to move the knife from her throat or risk killing her before he had his sick bit of fun. As he removed it from her throat, she reached behind her, dug her nails into his balls and as she squeezed with all her might, lunged backward, driving him hard against the wall.
He squealed then, high pitched and shrill, and dropped the knife to the floor with a clatter. Anja let go of Harold’s balls and snatched the knife from the floor, turned around and before she could think on it too hard, she plunged right into that squealing throat, hilt deep until it stuck out the other side of him. He fell to the ground, grabbing at the knife, choking and gagging, making a sickly wheeze with each attempt at breath. Anja looked away as he died. She did not want to remember that hateful eye staring at her as it went from raging and insane to foggy and unseeing. Once the noises stopped, she grabbed the keys from his pocket and went upstairs.
The door was indeed locked with a key. Anja found the key after a few tries, then opened the door. There was a soft whoosh as she did so, and she realized the padding on the ceiling as well as on the door was a sort of sound proofing. No wonder she hadn’t heard a thing before he had found her. That also meant there would be no cops on the way. She looked around the place and found he had another back room, complete with a cot, fridge and a closet. In the closet she found her clothes, as well as at least twenty different hangers with different women’s clothing hanging on each. One hanger held the dress that she had last seen Cherry in. She also found her duffle bag and the purse she had carried it in. The bag was still full of money. Anja got dressed, washed her hands clean and took the duffle bag. She couldn’t do anything about the forensics left behind, but when they found this scene, they would likely think she was just another one of the victims. It didn’t really matter either way because Harold had more money hidden away in his back room. Along with photos. She didn’t look at all of them, but saw enough to know they were of his victims. Some with him in the photo, some not.
There was enough money to buy herself a new identity, and enough evidence to prove a large part of what had happened. Sure the police would want to know who killed him and got away, but that’s what new identities were for. Plus, as it turned out, the security cameras weren’t recording a thing. They were dummy cameras that went nowhere. Anja left the shop, not bothering to lock the door, and headed to her car, full duffle bag and full purse in hand. The sun was just starting to peek over the horizon, and she thought it might be the most beautiful sunrise she had ever seen. When she hit the highway, she pulled out the phone she had intended to call Cherry with, and dialed 9-1-1. She made an anonymous report with an accent she didn’t truly have, then tossed the phone from the car window, watching it shatter in her side view mirror. Anja didn’t know exactly what her future held, but she smiled anyway. She had survived. And she had a plan.