by "Splatter" Joe Solmo


                The hatchet fell down again, cutting into her leg. She felt the hardened metal scrape her bone. The pain somehow was nullified after the third strike, perhaps shock? That wasn’t very reassuring, she thought as she tried to climb the rusted ladder out of the sewer. She looked down at her attacker.

                The man wore a jumpsuit, olive green, at least before the blood poured from her leg coating it with sticky viscous fluid. He swung that hatchet with the ease of years of practice. His black hair, wet and slick with her blood stuck in clumps to his face, now contorted with rage. This wasn’t how her day was supposed to go.

                She struggled to pull herself up another rung, out of his swinging range, but for every one she climbed, he gained two. She screamed out as his grabbed her blood covered ankle in an iron grasp. She could hear him snickering below.

                With a tug on her ankle, she lost her grip on the old rusted iron and started to fall, her only saving grace was that she landed on the man with a hatchet. She heard the breath escape her lungs. Adrenaline pumped through her veins as she tried to gain her feet. She couldn’t put any weight on one of her ankles. She used the wall to help her hobble down the old brick tunnel.

                She was afraid to look over her shoulder, but she hadn’t heard anything except her own breathing for a few seconds. She forced herself to look. The man still lay on the ground, but he was moving, his hand held to his forehead. She whimpered and remembered the hatchet. She could have grabbed it there and finished this if she hadn’t been so afraid. This wasn’t how her day was supposed to go.

                Her eyes fell onto the weapon. It lay twenty feet from her assailant. Could she make it to the weapon before he regained his feet? She tried to calculate the chances. So far it didn’t seem like the man even noticed her.

                Not unlike a deer in the headlights she went back and forth, indecisive, several times. Finally with an exasperated sigh she moved towards the hatchet. Her eyes darted from the man, now shaking his head while in a sitting position, and the hatchet, the blade still red with her blood. She was only five feet from it when he noticed her.

                The man jumped to his feet and tried to race towards the weapon, but his head must have been still groggy and he fell onto his side. She smiled and hobbled closer. “You fucking bitch!” the man yelled out making her cringe from the sheer volume.

                She dove for the weapon at the same time he did, she reached it first and grabbed it by the handle. The blood was tacky now, like half-dried glue. She could smell the iron scent of her lifeblood on the blade.

                The man gripped it by the blade at first, desperate to get a grip on the weapon also. She pulled back from him and heard him scream out. A crimson line appeared on the palm of his hand. “I will cut you from neck to crotch!” he yelled out.

                She pulled the hatchet to her chest, as if to protect it from his grasp, to keep it safe from his violence. Finally this miserable day was turning around.

                The man kept his distance from her, his wide open eyes darting from her face to the hatchet. He started to take baby steps backwards, back towards the ladder. He held his hands up over his head, in an innocent gesture.

                “Don’t fucking move,” she said between clenched teeth, eyeing the man. All of this could have been avoided. It didn’t make any sense. She saw the man take another step backwards. “I said don’t fucking move,” she said more forcefully and brandished the hatched. The man froze where he was.

                “Please,” he said, looking down at his blood covered uniform.

                “You had your chance for mercy, you should have let me go,” the woman said taking a step closer to the man.

                “I don’t understand,” he said, and took another step backwards. She cocked her head to the side and raised her eyebrows at him. A moment of stillness passed between them, not even the sewer rats that populated this part of the tunnels moved, the tension was that thick.

                The man’s gaze fell on her injured ankle. Then he turned and sprinted towards the ladder, and she knew she had him. Foolish of him to try the same escape she did, it didn’t work for her. Did he really think he could get away with this?

                She hefted the hatchet and let it fly towards the man, catching him in the spine. With a cry he fell to the wet cobblestones. She limped her way towards him, she had him now. The man tried to reach the hatched sticking out of his back, but it was just out of reach, like that itch you just can’t scratch.

                She watched as he struggled to grab the hatchet and failed, it put a smile on her face. Today was starting to look up, she thought. She leaned on the wall just behind him. She watched a moment as the man dragged his body slowly towards the ladder.  I must have got him in the spine, she thought.

                “Please,” the man begged, inching along the sewer.  She stepped on his pants leg and was delighted to see he didn’t have the strength to move any farther. She waited until he noticed it as well before she spoke.

                “Why should I let you escape?” she asked, in a strong voice. “What makes you different from the other men?”

                “Wha…What other men?” he questioned between gasps of pain.

                “The others I lured down here. Do you think you are the first? Maybe the first to get my weapon away from me, but that’s my own fault. I didn’t tie the knots right. A lesson learned, or so they say,” she replied.

                “Please, I have a family,” he begged.

                “So did I once, but a drunk just like you took them away from me. Left the bar and smashed into my husband and daughter on the way home from her recital. I had to work, I couldn’t go. I will always regret that. But each one of you drunks I take off the street, the better I feel about it,” she said. “They said I need therapy, well this is my therapy.”

                “You are fucking insane, I’m not a drunk! I had a beer on the way home from the shop,” he called out weakly.  He tried to roll over to face her. Every inch was an eternity of pain. He managed to roll onto his side. That’s when he noticed how weak she had become. Her face was pale from the blood loss at her ankle.

                “You’re in as rough shape as I am,” he said and tried to smile. “You’re not going to make it either.”

                “Maybe,” she replied. “But I can go to the grave knowing I have taken out sixteen drunks like yourself. Not only have I avenged my two angels, but fourteen others.”

                “You’re a serial killer!” he yelled out, inching a little closer to her.

                “I am an avenging angel,” she yelled at him and took a deep breath. The man kicked her supporting leg out from under her and she fell to the ground as well. He managed to get a few kicks to her face before he kicked her out of reach.

                The woman didn’t stir. He wondered if he had knocked her out, he turned himself around to face her, the effort taking all his strength. He watched her chest for breathing, but it lay still. Finally relief washed over him, and he rolled onto his back. Suddenly the pain from the hatchet, driven further inside, electrified him. He tried to roll over, but his legs wouldn’t move and he couldn’t get enough leverage in his weakened state. He let out a weak laugh at his situation.

                He closed his eyes, it was so hard now to keep them open. He listened to his heart slowing in his chest, he knew he needed help soon or he wouldn’t make it. He prayed, something he had never done before, for help. A few minutes later he opened his eyes and looked at the woman that lured him here from the bar. What a monster she was! At least she can’t hurt any other people, he thought with a smile and closed his eyes for the last time. 

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