Writing Prompt: Addict

It had been three days since he’d had any. His pallid skin was covered in a thick layer of greasy sweat, and his whole body was vibrating like a tuning fork. His eyes danced in their sockets, scanning every face on the street, hoping to see someone who might help, anyone.

His senses were tuned into the stratosphere, making the light mist of rain sound like a thunderstorm, making the chatter of people walking by into a nightclub’s sound system turned to the 3AM level of noise. Everyone and everything seemed to be moving in stop motion, every person surrounded by a glowing aura that told him what he needed. None of them would help.

His belly was twisted into knots, roiling in such a way he thought it was trying to eat itself. For all he knew, it was. He’d read somewhere that in the last stages of starvation the body began consuming itself for nutrition in a desperate attempt to stave off death. He supposed his own needs were a hunger of a kind. He didn’t know. All he knew was that he needed it, badly, and there wasn’t any… wait.

There, walking away from the pay phone. Skinny kid, thick mop of black hair, backpack over one shoulder. No, wait. Not a kid; young man. Probably from the college up the road, maybe trying to get someone to pick him up so he didn’t have to walk from the Denny’s to the dorms in the rain. Judging from the way he shouldered his pack and sighed, the call hadn’t been a success. Bad for him. Good for Jack.

Jack. That was his name. He remembered it, now. He’d almost forgotten it in his pain, but things were becoming clearer now that his drug was at hand. Unlike everyone else Jack had seen for the last three nights, instead of being surrounded by a blue or green or white or even black aura, this kid was glowing red, the red of a neon sign outside a whore’s window. The kid was glowing, and didn’t even know it.

Jack had sometimes wondered if the people who had what he needed knew they were special, knew there was something different about them that called to him. He supposed it didn’t really matter. The kid was walking this way. That’s what mattered.

Jack ducked into the space between the old bookstore and what had been a music shop until the pandemic closed them down, waiting. He didn’t think he was even breathing, the only movement of his body one hand dropping into his pocket for the thing that rattled in there alongside keys and breath mints and the spare change one or two people had thrown at him, thinking him a homeless addict.

He was an addict alright, but he didn’t need booze or heroin or meth. That kid – and the others like him – were what he needed, and he was about to get it.

When the kid came within arm’s reach of the gap between the buildings, Jack pounced. One hand shot out, grabbing the kid’s mouth and muffling the yelp of surprise. Then he yanked backwards with a strength most wouldn’t have thought he possessed. Had anyone been watching, it would have looked like the kid just vanished into the darkness, there and then gone. No one noticed.

Jack worked quickly. There was no time for the usual round of “who are you”s and “why are you doing this”es. There was only his addiction, his need. The knife in his hand flickered rapidly, and the concrete of the alley was wetted with red that quickly ran into the storm drain as he rain picked up.

When he was done, the kid’s throat was gone, alongside a handful of internal organs. Jack stowed them carefully in the Hefty bag he pulled from the pocket of his long coat. They would suffice to keep the addiction away. For a little while.

Sooner or later, though… sooner or later, the Ripper would have to hunt again.

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