Leery of the man behind him, Jason ducked into the men’s room. He had noticed the stranger following him almost immediately. Something drew his attention toward that man, something which made him feel different. It was like a thrill through his flesh. Jason didn’t like it. He had known thrills, and this was not the good kind.

Following a hunch, he hid himself in a stall, locking the door. With his feet he balanced himself on the toilet seat. There was someone in the stall beside him. One second there was just awkward silence, the next the man beside him was screaming. Blood sprayed the ceiling, the walls, the floor . . . Jason stuck his fist in his mouth to keep any sounds from coming out. Then there was a burning. He could feel the heat through the thin wall separating him from the blood bath. Paint began to bubble and peel; at that point Jason squeezed his eyes shut. Blood and saliva ran down his wrist while sweat trickled down his skin. Nostrils flared at the smell–of rot, smoke, death . . .

It was over.


When the stranger was done Jason heard him laughing to himself, a deep chuckle which sounded volcanic. When the stranger left Jason was paralyzed. The janitorial staff were the first to find him. Then mall security, and then the police. From there he found himself at the hospital with no recollection of how he came to be there. His mother was weeping at his bedside, and somewhere he heard vague whispers travelling down the halls.

“Lucky boy . . .”

“Lucky boy . . .”

“ . . . Lucky boy . . .”

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