The Rival | Teen Ink

The Rival

January 12, 2022
By woffordj5441, St.louis, Missouri
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woffordj5441, St.louis, Missouri
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Author's note:

This is my first ever short story so it may not be the best but I'm proud of it

The author's comments:

Overall It's a mature story mixed with mystery 

As I stand, bloody and exhausted, I hear the faint sounds of sirens. Once Officer Jones arrives he raises his gun and all I can bring myself to do is laugh. I laughed. And laughed. And laughed. 

* * *

When I walk into work I see that everyone is huddled together, vile creatures. However, to keep my mask of sanity intact, I must be sociable so I walk over. 

“Hey, guys, what's new?” I said. 

“Oh hey Elijah, I didn’t think you’d be in early. By the way, I liked the way the new pictures came out. I know you didn’t take them but you did develop them. Hey did you know there's some….” Sarah said.

Her aggravating voice began to fade. Sarah is one of the worst “people” I’ve ever met. She invades my personal space and interrupts my work. Each time I see her it grows ever harder to resist the urge to strangle her then and there. I just can’t focus with that woman around. She reminds me of a buzzing mosquito. Her only purpose is to annoy me until I snap and kill her.

*snap**snap*. “Did you hear me?” Sarah said 

“Sorry no I must’ve spaced out”

“Yeah you do that a lot, anyways there’s a new killer out and about.”

My heart sank and the world fell still. I’ve lived here for the past 5 years and I’ve killed 58 people. Each one I researched and picked out carefully. I use my job developing film as a front to hide my true motives. I use my free time and nights to comb through the photos and pick out my next victim 

 “What do you mean there’s a new killer in town” 

“Well,  aA farmer was killed and a note was left at the crime scene and all it said was ‘The tailor’, weird huh,” She said.

‘The tailor’. What a crude name, it has no originality. This new killer is a simpleton who thinks it’s a game. Killing isn’t a game, it takes time and effort. You need a reason to take another's life and this amateur better have a damn good one.

“Where is this farm!” I demand. 

“Just outside of town jeez.” 

I need to investigate this Charleton and make him suffer for thinking he’s better than me.

* * *

As I drive down the freeway all I'm focused on is why? Why would he decide now is the time to kill? What idiotic reason caused him to touch my town? Whatever the reason be, I need to find him as soon as possible

“I’m with the paper”. They let me pass the police without issue.

“Yo Elijah over here”. Officer Jones called me over.

Office Jones is my “friend”. I use him to find out where the police are with their investigations involving my latest murders. He’s been on the force for a few years and is a well-respected, yet forgetful, officer.

“Howdy Jones, I heard about what happened but you think you could show me some things. I brought you coffee”. 

I need to play his good side for as long as I can but eventually, I need to take him out.

“The tailor huh, have you heard about that before” I questioned

“How the hell did you hear about that?” 

“I have my ways, you know” 

“Fair enough,” he shrugged.

“Here, take a look at the body”.

I walked into the Barn and was greeted by The Farmer; however, hHe wasn’t dressed in proper attire. He was in a 3 piece suit paired with a vest and leather shoes. Overall this outfit cost over 700$ easy.

“Here’s the note that gave us his name.:

He handed me a small note no bigger than a business card. All it said in all capital letters was ‘THE TAILOR’. I look back up at the body.

“Shame this didn’t find its way to someone more Suitable huh,” Jones remarked.

I hate his puns.

“Anyway the suit is hand-tailored and we have forensics running the fabric as we speak. Notice how the body is positioned., he added.

The body was arranged so that the arms were crossed and the eyes were closed with coins over them. He was laid down over a black tarp with almost no dirt on him. This killer cares about sending a message with this level of care. The middle-aged man had cold, wrinkled eyelids with no obvious marks on his hands or face.

“Let me take a few pictures and get out of your hair Jones”

“Remember not to get too close or touch anything because forensics needs to get their *ss back here and take a look at prints.”

I kneel and take a few close-ups of the body. Wait, what is that? Tucked away in his hand is a note. I checked to make sure nobody was looking and pried the note from his hands. It read 

“Come find me and don’t be late Elijah”

I completely froze. My head was spinning with questions. “Did I slip up? Did someone see me hide a body?” Whoever this lowlife maggot piece of sh*t is, he just committed suicide. 

Once I get back to work I immediately make my way to the darkroom.

“Hey, you looked pissed, something wro-.” 

“Shut up Sarah. Not a single person in the building finds your excruciating personality flattering.”

She stopped in her tracks and I didn't care. All I can focus on is finding “The Tailor”. Once I reach the darkroom I get to work developing the pictures. Perhaps I caught something else I didn’t see. While they develop I can’t lose focus on keeping my cool. I still need to appear like a normal man.

The timer goes off and I print the photos. The first one is a full shot of the body and I can’t believe I didn’t notice the scuff marks on the tip of his shoes. That can’t be an accident as those scuffs mean he was dragged but he had no struggle marks so he was dead long before he was dragged. This guy is slightly smart however he’s careless. His first mistake was calling me out. His second was being so foolish because these scuff marks look like small rocks. Now time to find where this idiot is. I’m looking for a place with rocks around and most likely clothes-related. As a killer, he’ll need a place that's secluded where he can work.  I should check the edge of the town for likely spots. I opened my laptop and looked through maps.

Turns out there's a warehouse just on the edge of town. Of course, the warehouse once developed high-end fabrics and with a closer look, it looks like it’s surrounded by gravel. Found you *sshole.

Before I slowly kill him I need to prepare.

*Knock, Knock* 

“What is it?” 

“Hey I’m sorry if I said something wrong earlier but that doesn’t mean you can be a d*ck for no reason.” 

As much as I enjoyed telling her off, I need to apologize before I get in trouble and have to suffer even more distractions.

“Come in. Look, I'm sorry but you caught me at a bad time. Are we cool?”


Now back to preparing. I returned home and grabbed a few tools. An empty gun and a razor tucked under my watch. I’m not getting caught off guard by this dunce.

* * *

Later that night I arrived at the warehouse. I can’t go to the main entrance because that’s too obvious. I sneak in the back and hear the faint sound of classical music. I make my way to the source of the sound and find an empty room with a work table. 

“Ah crap

On the table, there were new articles of my killings matched with pictures of me. It’s clear he knows my identity. How could I be so careless? 


I awoke In a room with one lightbulb and a chair in front of me. There he is “The Tailor”.

“Oh good, you’re awake. I’m glad you found me because you wouldn’t believe how excited I am to meet you, Elijah, I gotta say I’m a fan of your work.”

I noticed I’m tied to a pole on a damp floor. It smells like cheap cigars combined with blood. If I didn’t know any better this is where he takes his victims. So what the hell is he planning to do with me? 

“Come on Elijah, Don’t tell me you’re at a lost for words”

“Go to hell.”

Without dropping a beat he closes the distance between us and places the barrel of my gun against my head. 

“I’m sure you recognize this huh. 1911 with a custom grip, Good stuff. Allow me to make this crystal clear, You aren’t out of the woods yet and, while I admire your work I still need answers.”

I can’t believe this but he’s serious. I have to play this smart. It’s clear he doesn’t know the gun is empty and I can cut myself free at any time. For now, I’ll play along.

“Now I’m sure you’ve guessed I’ve been following you and your work for quite some time. It’s not a stretch to say you’re my idol. That being said, you didn’t make it very hard to find yourself. I knew you had to be a resident yet involved somehow. So I turned to the police officers and media and there you were. A 24-year-old who was new to town with no friends yet knows everything that goes on in the town. Then all I had to do was follow you and it was as easy as a third-grade riddle. Once I saw your work I finally found the courage to kill others.”

“Is that what you tell yourself? You think this sh*t takes courage?”

He sits back down and scoots a bit closer. I have to slowly cut these ties with the razor blade to not raise suspicion.

“That brings me to my first and only question. Why?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Don’t treat me like I’m dumb. Why do you kill.”

“Because I like it.”

In a single moment, he stands up and backhands my head with the gun causing a cut on my forehead. 

“I said don’t treat me like I’m dumb! You forget Elijah, I'm a killer too and this isn’t something to take lightly so don’t lie to me again.

As much as I hate to admit it he’s right it’s not a game and it’s nothing to take lightly. I’ve been asking myself that question for years and I’m scared to learn the answer. But first I have a question of my own that needs to be answered.

“Why the tailor huh? Why such a dumb*ss name?”

His laugh was chilling as it echoed in the small dark room. He took a moment to think about what to say. It looks like he wants to keep me in the dark and not suspect anything. But I know eventually, he plans to kill me. Because if there's one thing killers hate, it's sharing.

“I confess I made it up because I knew you’d come running because you’re predictable. You see Elijah I’m ten steps and you haven’t even figured out what game we’re playing. So why don’t we cut the sh*t and you answer my question? Why do you kill huh?”

“I told you already I love killing plain and simple.”

“I’m disappointed.” he sighed

He quickly raised his foot and stomped on my knee. I almost didn’t hear the crunch over my screams. That pain quickly turned to anger and I almost cut through the ropes. However, if I move too soon he’ll have the advantage.

“Shhh shhh Elijah,” he whispered 

Just then he came close to me. So close I could feel his breath on my head. He slowly raised my gun and pointed it against my chest.

“I’ll ask one last time before my curiosity runs out and you become a problem. Why? Why does Elijah wake up in the morning and decide to take yet another life?”

“Because I have to! I wake up and feel nothing. I go to work and feel nothing. My whole life has been a blank piece of sh*t but the first time I took a life it was a car accident. But I didn’t feel guilty. I was happy. So I kill because with each life I stuff out, With each family I destroy, I feel more alive.”

A grey silence fell over the room. I’ve never realized why I did it. I never knew the reason behind my madness. Now that I know it all makes sense. I’ve never felt anything. I’ve never been sad or empathetic. My whole life I've worn a mask and acted like I knew what others felt.

*clap* *clap

 “I must say, I’m shocked. The famous killer of this town is sitting in a pool of his blood along with his secrets.”

He moved back to the chair to set the gun down and made his way back towards me. Now is my chance. He knelt to look me in my eye just as I cut the last of the rope.

“Well Elijah, it’s been fun but do you have any last words before you pay for your sins.”

“Yeah. I’m gonna enjoy this.”

I take the razor blade and swiftly slice his throat. He flies back screaming in pain and before he can react I raise my foot and crush his ankle. 

“Doesn’t feel good, does it *sshole?”

Just then I start to feel the damage of my broken knee but I have to push forward. I try to take a step and almost fall. Unfortunately, this blade didn’t cut deep enough to kill him so he uses the opportunity to try to escape. I have no choice but to chase after him because He knows more about me than anyone and a man like that can’t be allowed to draw breath. Now we are both limping as he tries to make it out the main entrance but I'm close behind. I don’t think I can catch up to him like this so I need to find a way to get him to stop. Just as we both leave I see a rock next to the entrance and I stop to throw it at his head. His body went limp and fell to the cold ground.

“Before I kill you I want you to do something. Remember my face. The face of the man who beat you because you underestimated me. You thought you were so smart yet here you are alone and at my mercy.”

He looked at me with a face full of dread. I could tell that behind those fearful eyes he regretted ever seeking me out. Now I’m gonna show him just how foolish he is. I picked up the bloody rock and kneeled. I used all my force to bring the rock down until I couldn’t recognize his face. I realized I was showered in his blood.

Once Officer Jones pointed his gun at me he commanded 

“Get on the ground now Elijah, Do not make me shoot you!” 

Looking back on my life I realized something. At this moment I’ve never felt more alive because I did it. I killed him and proved who was better. The slow realization came to me that I couldn’t best this feeling and that from now on life would be even worse than before. I only saw one way out.     

“God damnit Elijah, do not move so help me god I will shoot you. Please don’t do this.”

I didn’t even hear what he was saying. I just turned and looked at him and smiled. He looked scared to see my bloody grin. 

“What’s the matter, Jones? Long day?”

 I limped towards him smiling through the pain. Immediately I heard the ringing from the shots. Once I realized I was falling, a strange feeling washed over me. For the first time in my life, I was truly happy. All the people I killed and all the effort and struggle I went through didn’t matter in the end because only one thing did.

I won.

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