No Place to Be Alone

by Jason Langlois

"Oh, baby, this is no place to be alone in at night."

The man giggled, licking his lips softly as he watched the young girl walk through the cemetery. She clutched her book bag to her chest with both arms, her eyes warily darting from shadow to shadow on the path. She never looked deep enough to see him, of course. Her eyes were on his immediate surroundings, not on him.

Oh, how he would savor her. The sweet, innocent ones were his favorites, especially when they were frightened. The fear came off them like perfume, filling the air with a sweetly acrid scent. Every little girl he'd taken had seen him. Every time he'd done his work on them, he'd smelled the aroma of her scent.

The thought brought a smile to his face, and he licked his lips again. "It's safe enough, don't you think? Oh, no, no, it's not, but you press on anyway, sweetie. I can smell you from here."

She stopped, and turned, and for one wild second he thought that perhaps she saw him. He ducked behind the tombstone he was crouching against, peering out from the side. But, no, she turned, slowly, wide eyes shining in the dim moonlight, trying to find the path home.

There would be no path home, though. He would set her on a new, lovely, fear perfumed path of pain and blood and perhaps be sated again for another few months. His hands shook as he patted the pocket his razor sharp knife was in.

Briefly, he thought about the others, the ones before. They had been so sweet when he took them. It had been so sating, so wonderful with their screams and scent and that last, shuddering sweet exhalation that he could live on the memory for months. But, oh, how those memories faded. The need always came back, less and less appeased with memories. Needing to feel the warmth again. Hear the cries with his own ears. See the red with his own eyes.

She was coming his way! Surely some dark goddess or god or demon or whatever the hell it was smiled on him tonight. He pulled the knife from his pocket, setting his legs underneath him, ready to spring, grab, and pull into the shadows.

He could smell her from here. It smelled of roses and fear and lilacs and..


His lip curled. Rot? She was rotten? Another whiff brought the smell again, but not from her. No, of course. He was in a cemetery. Of course there would be some rot.

He watched her come closer, the sweet little girl with the short hair and cherubic face and wide, horrified eyes that looked only around her, but not deep enough to see him, oh no, he was a shadow, he was with the shadows.

A rasping breath came to him, and he froze. Slowly he turned his head, eyes narrowed. Nothing.

Must be a beast. Some animal skulking in the underbrush. Nothing to worry about.

She was closer, and he could just feel the warmth of her. He almost giggled, but stifled it with his tongue wetting his lips. Closer, my dear. Closer still. Don't blame me, though, baby. This is a bad place to be alone at night.

He bounced on his crouched legs, ready to spring, when he felt the cold clammy hand on his. He turned, drawing his knife, but skeletal fingers punched through his throat, cutting off a scream, and another clattering hand twisted his head completely around. His last look, after the red glowing eyes and blue uniform coat, was the sweet girl passing him by as he was dragged into Hell.

"Mariemaia, you're late." Lady Une's voice was low, worried, and softly stern, but softened more when she saw how pale the girl was. "What happened?" She knelt, looking into the girl's clear blue eyes.

"I'm sorry I'm late, Lady Une," The girl said, tremulously. "I... I cut through the graveyard to save time, but... it was dark. I was frightened. I think I was lost for a little while..."

Lady Une's eyes narrowed in concern. "Are you all right?"

Mariemaia smiled. "It's... funny. I was so scared... until I passed Father's grave. Then it seemed... less. Like I was safe."

Lady Une nodded. "He protects you. That's why I'm here, Miss. Because I am one way he protects you."

Preventer Duo shook his head. "Man... this sucks." He shuddered. "I mean, it's just... look at him. Poor bastard didn't stand a chance."

Heero sighed. "No. He didn't. But he shouldn't have been so careless."

"Careless?!" Duo laughed. "How do you figure?"

"This is no place to be alone in at night. Everyone knows that."