The Killing Tree
It was situated in the middle of a campus courtyard, surrounded by lush green grass and students milling around on cobble pathways. The tree itself seemed a mile tall, when one would stand under it with their head tilted back to observe it in it’s full beauty – as the victims often did. Sometimes families would bring their little kids and they would climb, swinging to and fro on the old, sturdy branches. And often, two lovers would sit underneath the thick foliage and have a romantic picnic of some sort.
This all happened during the day, when the white sun rose and shined down on the lone tree. There wasn’t another one in sight, just the old maple in the very middle of the grassy area, a good ways away from the walkways on which the victims would stray away from.
But when the moon came up and the stars flickered overhead, the killer would come out. With a gleam in his eye and a knife in his back left pocket, the man would make his way to the exit of the building, avoiding the janitors whose schedule he had so carefully memorized. He would always stay late at the school, the nights he decided to play predator, hiding in his classroom until the clock struck ten. One of the janitors would always come to clean his room, and he would feign grading on his laptop, “Just grading more reports!” he would say cheerily before they had a chance to question him. He knew they were suspicious, and soon he would have to change his ways. But for now, it was working.
He walked outside, in his black suit, feet making not the slightest trace of noise as he sneaked across the grass and into the gloom of the tree. The man crouched behind the large trunk, barely wide enough to conceal him. He knew just how to curl up to avoid being seen.
The professor had overheard that two students of his would be having a date tonight – to “watch the stars,” as they all said. It was always the same thing.
They arrived at exactly ten-thirty, the girl holding flowers and the boy carrying a picnic basket and blanket. The sight brought the killer memories of his last murder – the boy screaming and the girl lying dead on the crimson grass – and he smiled involuntarily before resuming his serious mask.
He waited for a good fifteen minutes before he decided the time was right. The couple had eaten and were holding hands and watching the stars. The professor inched the knife out of his pocket, and made his way round the trunk on the tips of his feet, his arms out in front of him, his hand not holding the knife clawed up like a savage beasts’. He peered around the bark and saw them lean in for a kiss, and he lunged.
The knife went into the girl’s back, right between the shoulder blades, and she let out a brief scream before the killer twisted the knife to end it all. She fell onto her boyfriend, who looked up in terror. The professor made like he was going to kill him too, although he had no intentions of such things. The boy ran away into the night, leaving the girl bleeding out on the now blood red grass.
The professor laughed to himself, before scooping up the girl and taking her into the woods right next to the college. His smile vanished after he buried her as he thought of his first date underneath the killing tree: he was so, so in love, but she didn’t feel the same way. He wished he could have killed her that night, but his current deeds would have to suffice.