Maniac – The Opening Lines.
Just as a taster, here’s the opening of Maniac.
The killer awoke. And it wasn’t pleasant.
Lie still, he reminded himself. Don’t open your eyes. Don’t draw attention. And don’t, for Pete’s sake, throw up again.
It was unsettling, going to sleep in one body and waking in another with no memory of anything in between. The discontinuity made him dizzy; it unnerved him. And on top of that came revulsion.
Here he was, in an unfamiliar body, sensing things that belonged to another person and should never be shared. The scent of mucus. The taste of saliva. The movement of food through the alimentary canal.
Not his own.
His own he could ignore. But this was somebody else’s body. Somebody else’s processes. He felt like a passing tramp had grabbed him and kissed him on the lips.
The killer moderated his breathing to disguise the fact that he was awake. His right thigh itched; he resisted the impulse to scratch. Told himself it wasn’t his thigh, wasn’t his itch. He need not respond.
Mind over matter.
The thing he had to do now was find out where he was. And then who he was and who – if anyone – was with him.
He was in a bed. The sheets were cotton, the pillows plump. His hand rested on top of a duvet. He smelt a man’s musk – his own no doubt. A hint of stale sweat. Aftershave. There was another smell: one he found alluring. It was soap and perfume with a hint of salt. The scent of a woman.
The only body heat he could feel was his own. Whoever his bedmate was – presumably a wife or lover – they were up already. From downstairs came the enticing smell of bacon and the clattering and banging of a hurried breakfast. A boy asked if he might have a slice of toast. Politely. He said please and thank you and Mummy too.
So today I’m a family man. How nice. Shall I make the mother watch while I kill her children? Or would it be more fun the other way round?
Satisfied he was alone, he opened his eyes and analyzed his surroundings. White walls, white furniture and a fitted wardrobe that was almost featureless. A modern, medium sized bedroom.
He was, he hypothesized, in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Aspirational English Middle Class. The sort who went to the gym together and took skiing holidays twice a year and busted a gut to get their kids into the right school.
Their CD collection consists mostly of Dire Straits, George Michael and Simply Red. They have an unread copy of A Brief History of Time sitting in their IKEA bookcase squeezed between cookbooks by Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver. She reads the Daily Express. He kids himself he’s a socialist and votes Conservative.
Two predictable people aspiring to mediocrity.
The killer had all the information he needed to unreservedly hate them.
Now that he knew he was alone in the room, he opened his eyes and sat up. A wave of giddiness hit him but quickly passed.
Throwing aside the duvet and unbuttoning his pajama top, he looked down at his latest body. The hairs on the chest were downy and a dark shade of brown. The belly had a slight paunch but felt tight. His legs ached a little.
Must have been to the gym, he concluded. Or maybe played squash.
His hands were the hands of a white collar worker. Apart from a callus on his right forefinger – possibly caused by gripping a squash racket – they were smooth. Nails tidily clipped. A gold wedding ring on his finger.
The killer parted the curtains of his pajama trousers and checked out his genitals.
An average sized penis nestled on its scrotum like a puppy in a basket.
Circumcised. My body is mutilated.
Only it wasn’t actually his body. He was merely borrowing it. Tomorrow he would have a different one. And another the day after.
Time to get up. Busy day ahead. Places to visit. People to murder.
A fresh white shirt, neatly ironed, was draped on the back of a chair beside the dresser. Also on the chair were briefs and a pair of socks.
He got out of bed and discarded the pajamas. Leaving them on the floor, he slipped into the briefs and opened the wardrobe. He had a choice of four suits, all of them off-the-peg.
A quick search of inside pockets garnered him a wallet. He took it out and examined its contents. Three bank cards told him his name was James Nestor while a small bundle of business cards identified him as an IT Manager at Ringwood Technology Solutions, 12 Peel Park, Chadham.
There was a small photograph of a woman and two children – a boy and a girl – standing in front of some swings.
Mrs. Nestor (assuming it was Mrs. Nestor in the photograph) was a good-looking woman. Bottle blonde. Tall. Confident-looking with a kind face and striking smile. The killer looked forward to meeting her. To getting to know her better. And to totally screwing up her life.
Before the day was done, he would show her exactly why he was called Maniac.