Mantis and Mosquito

Prompt Day #46: Begin with a woman, in love with a man, because he survived her murder attempt

Mantis and Mosquito


Female serial killers are rare. Female killers without a motive are almost unheard of. I’d like to tell you I have a good reason for what I do but other than an intense hatred for men, I have nothing to offer you. There is no reason for my hatred that I know of and I don’t buy that whole repressed memories bunk so don’t start with that. I call myself the Mantis, the newspapers haven’t come up with anything to call me and the police think I’m a man, so this record is my only hope for the moniker sticking. A female praying mantis kills her mate once the deed is done. She does this by biting his head off. Alas, I cannot bite of a man’s head, but I can remove it. The police never find the head, but they find the bodies here or there. I’ve killed fifteen men in my lifetime, ten since I turned eighteen and became the Mantis.

When I was young, I used rat poison to kill a janitor and my uncle. I probably would have been caught, except it turns out, that the medicine used to help thin the blood is the same stuff in the poison, only much more concentrated. So, they sued his doctor and won a lot of money and people assumed that the janitor got into rat poison accidentally. When I was ten years old, a young boy drowned in the ocean. He had simply made the mistake of befriending me and following me out just a bit too far, I’m afraid. The following year, a classmate fell over the side of the Grand Canyon during a class field trip. There was a photo taken of all of us just before his “fall”. In that photo, we stood side by side; he stood closer to me than the girl on the other side of him, he probably shouldn’t have done that. The last boy I killed before turning into the Mantis, was a poor substitute for the boy I wanted to kill.

Ethan Souldeberg was seventeen when I was fifteen and he asked me out on a date. I agreed because I wanted to try something a little more personal. You see, each killing for me then, was a trial, finding “my way” of doing things. My Modus Operandi, if you will. At that time, I was fascinated with a movie called Basic Instinct. I put an ice pick in my purse and we went to the movies. We had a nice time, he was a gentleman. I was the one who suggested going to The Hill—where everyone went to do what teenagers do. I made the first move and I made, what I thought was the last. Just as things got hot and heavy, I plunged the pick into the base of his neck and I left him there. I walked home and told my parents he had been drinking, got fresh with me in the theater and I left. I told them I walked the whole way home. It was a good alibi. I waited to hear the horrible news all weekend long but no one was talking.

When I got back to school on Monday, what everyone was talking about was poor Ethan, who’d been car jacked on his way home from the movies and had driven himself to the hospital. How very lucky for Ethan it was that the car jacker had missed all his major blood vessels. The worst he got was a collapsed lung and that would heal in time. I was shocked. Why would he make up a story like that? Why would he let me get away with it? Ethan was out for so long, his family hired a tutor and he finished the year at home. I never got a chance to see him or ask him why. He consumed my thoughts. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I was obsessed. I wanted to see him again. I needed to. I was afraid to go to him at his home, I couldn’t be the one to make the move. I had convinced myself that he woke up and had no memory of what had happened to him. If I saw him, it might trigger his memory. I needed to let him go. Perhaps one day, he’d come to me.

Ethan showed up for his graduation, he accepted his diploma to a standing ovation. I stood too, in order to stay hidden within the crowd. After graduation, Ethan joined the Marines and shipped overseas. The night he left, there was a big bon fire at the beach. I went, fucked a sophomore and then bashed his head in with a rock. I dragged him up to the rocks overlooking the sea. When his body was found the next day, it was presumed that he had gotten intoxicated at the party, climbed up on the rocks, slipped and hit his head.

I graduated the following year and decided to tour the country before going to college, much to my parents’ dismay. But the thing is, I was tired of killing and not getting any credit. I was tired of death certificates filled out “accidental”, I wanted it known that the life was taken. I was in control of men’s lives. The one chance I had had to prove that, walked away and joined the marines. My one that got away, and the one that helped me get away with it and took his reasons with him. And I wanted to hate him the most of all, but I couldn’t.

I was in Nebraska when I went home with a guy from the bar. We drank beer and watched a nature show about insects before each of us was drunk enough to fuck a stranger. He had Japanese Katanas crisscrossed above his bed, and while he was taking a piss, I got one down, and waited for him. I was unable to get his head off in the first swipe, but I hit both carotids, it made a huge mess, but it got the job done. I put his head in a duffle, used his shower to clean up, wiped down everything I remembered touching, and left. At that time, I didn’t know what I would do with his head, but it didn’t matter to me just then. I had found my weapon and my MO. I bought another katana and green scabbards for them. I wore them sometimes when I hitched but those days the only men who’d pick me up were truckers, so I finally started carrying them in a big duffle bag and got a lot more rides.

Men are stupid and police are slow when it comes to women. They underestimate us. One of the many reasons why I hate them.

Three things I carry with me; my two katanas and Ethan’s senior picture. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. Every man I meet who isn’t Ethan deserves to die. Ethan was dead, my mother told me the last time I called home. He’d been killed in Iraq during his first tour and with him, all my hopes for a better understanding. I let the pain and anger I felt for his death out on other men. Their heads, I smashed with meat hammers until they were nothing but pulp, then I burnt them, or flushed them at some road side rest. Once, I even put one down the man’s own garbage disposal. Nothing filled the space in my soul left by Ethan’s passing.

And then I found him again. I was back on the east coast and sitting in a bar, waiting to pick someone up. It’d been months since I’d killed anyone and Ethan was consuming my thoughts and dreams again; a sure sign it was time to take another head. The pickings were slim so I found myself looking up each time the door opened, hoping for someone worth killing. I heard the door, felt the rush of cold air blow in and looked up. There he was: Ethan Souldeberg. There was no doubt. I had memorized every line on his face, the patterns of his irises, and the shape of his hair-line. I knew him. He stood in the doorway, looking around for a place to sit. His eyes landed on me and I saw a smile of recognition play at the corners of his mouth. He walked straight over to me.

“Hello, Claire.” He said. His color was drained by cold, but I swear, he hadn’t aged a bit. He was the spitting image of the senior picture that was currently nestled in the wallet in my bag.

“You’re dead.” I said

“So, I’ve heard. And how are you?” He asked and then, without waiting for an answer, “It’s so good to see you again, I’ve missed you so much.”

We made small talk, he told me that he had always had the biggest crush on me. He assumed I had been going through something terrible at home when I tried to kill him and so, he thought if he didn’t tell, if he made up the car jacking story, I would trust him and fall in love.

“I wanted you to come to me, I waited the whole year. When you didn’t, I knew I had to leave, I couldn’t see you again, I just couldn’t.”

“But my mother said you’d been killed, that they had a memorial service for you and everything.” I was dumbfounded. His story was so lame. If someone tried to kill me, crush or not, I think I’d lose any amorous feelings for them. But here he was, giving me a second shot at it. Everyone thought he was dead anyways, I could kill him easily and rid myself of these ambiguities in my soul.

“You wanna get outta here?” He asked finally. I said of course I did and followed him out.

He had a motel room in town. I opened his car door to get out, reached back for my bag and he grabbed my wrist.

“Why don’t you leave that here? You won’t need it.” He smiled again. That same beautiful smile in his picture. I would have to improvise. I couldn’t make a big deal about it.

“No problem.” I said and smiled right back at him.

“Besides, you don’t need the picture when you have me standing right in front of you. Although I am flattered that you have it.” He turned and walking into the house. I followed, because now, he would answer all of my questions, he would have no choice.

He made a lovely cheese tray and we sat down. The wine was old and exquisite. We drank and ate and I kept my questions to myself. Soon though but for now, we had all the time in the world. We made love a few times, intoxicated by the wine and the memories of our hometown and friends. He got up.

“Shower with me?” He asked. I nodded.

“I’ll meet you in there, just a second.” I said.

“I told you, you don’t need your bag. I have everything you like in here already.” He smiled and winked. “Don’t keep me waiting, Love.” He turned his back on me and walked into the bathroom.

I took the cheese knife and secreted it into my palm. I followed him in. Now was the time for him to answer my questions and after that, I would kill him. I had to. I got in the shower with him. His skin felt cold even though the water was scalding. The steam rising up around him made the entire scene surreal.

“Tell me the truth about that night.” I said “tell me why you never told anyone what I did to you.”

“I already told you. Because I loved…love you” He said. I pulled the knife out and held it against his neck.

“Tell me the truth.” I said. I had put just enough pressure to pierce the first layer of skin, when before I knew it, he had his hand on my throat and had me pushed up against the back of the shower. I’d managed to hold onto the knife but I waited.

“Because I wanted to kill you. Because I wanted to be with you forever. Do you understand?” He said through bared teeth. Then he leaned down and inhaled long and slow at my neck. I took the opportunity to shove him back and in one quick and strong swipe I slashed open his neck.

“I call bullshit.” I said. He dropped. Blood poured out of him. I took one last look into his wide, surprised eyes and left.

I took his car back to my apartment and I sat looking at his picture. I cried, sobbed if I’m going to be honest, and I am trying to be. I loved him. I don’t know why I did and I don’t know why I needed to kill the only man I had ever felt anything more for than hatred. I cried myself to sleep holding his picture. I was awakened by a cold touch on my head. I felt a hand brushing the hair off my forehead. I opened my eyes and looked up into the only pair of eyes I knew as well as my own. I gasped.

“Surprised to see me?” He whispered into my ear. He kissed my lips. His lips were like ice and left mine the same.

“You’ve had your chances, Claire, I believe it’s my turn. I only want to love you forever. You need to accept that. You’ll come back to me tonight, we’ll start over again.” Ethan said. He nuzzled his head into my neck. “The scent of your blood is intoxicating. Come to me tonight, eternity begins in sixteen hours. Do not make me come get you.” And before I could answer, he was gone.

I got up and I ran to the bathroom, I washed my face. No kill had ever done this to me. Hallucinations? A bad dream? I wasn’t sure. I stared at myself in the mirror. I’d lost it, lost my mojo and it was over. It was time to go home. I looked at myself again and that’s when I saw them: two small puncture wounds side by side on my neck, where he nuzzled me just a minute ago. A small drop of blood leaked out of the one closest to my carotid.

That was this morning about 2am. I haven’t slept since. I’ve been writing this so if anyone finds it, they’ll know to find me and they’ll know what to do. At 9 am, I went to the hardware store and I bought some wooden stakes. I’m going to go over to see Ethan tonight just like he asked. I’m going to kill him again and because I love him, I’m going to get it right this time.