The Collector of Nails
Written by: Jonathan McClendon

Screaming. That's what filled the darkness all around him. The shrieks and blood curdling hacking of strangers unknown to him. He could not see a thing in this blackness. All he could feel was the sweat beading off his forehead, nice and cold. He squinted his eyes and strained to look ahead of him into the black abyss. Nothing. For a moment he just stood there and took in the pain, horror, screaming and flesh ripping sounds that were calling to him from everywhere. Such a sweet sound this is. Flesh being severed by sharp stainless steel. The sharp snapping and breaking of bones followed by the piercing shrieks of pain. This was his world. He was a god here and he loved it.

Slowly he walked forward into the dark smiling. Somewhere here his victim toiled. Trying to escape this hell and always managing to stay one step ahead of his grasp. One day he will be victorious he thought. One day he will know that flesh more intimately than any lover would. Just the thought of such satisfaction and anticipation made him hard.

A trickle of sweat dropped from his nose. It was not hot here in this place but actually quite cool. It was damp with lots of humidity but with no breeze it was enough to make you sweat. More sharp screams came off in the distance. He heard the pleading and begging for life answered by a swift twang of something sharp. He could hear the slicing away of flesh from bone. The gurgling that followed of a scream that would never be heard. He imagined the blood that would surely follow. The spray that would soak the chest, fall to the floor and become an ever-growing pool of crimson.

Another scream, this time from behind him. It sounded like a little girl way off in the distance, almost out or hearing. Ah, the sweet taste of innocence so young and so trusting. How easy little ones trust others when they have so little concept of good or evil. How soft and tender their flesh!

The banging of a door brought him back to the abyss. It was his victim. The one he had been stalking for a year. She was close to breaking free.

He reached into his jacket pocket and slowly pulled out his personalized old time razor. The handle was encased in ivory that was well-worn and yellowing in texture. Specks of stained blood made irregular paths across it. The razor's cutting edge was as sharp as it had ever been. Just for this one person.
Running, he gained more momentum, caressing the razor between his fingers. It seemed to come alive in his hand as if it new it would meet flesh again and cure it's craving.

The footsteps he heard were still too far away and getting faster. His victim was still running blindly ahead knowing now that he was on her heels. He could hear the frantic breath, the pounding of the heart and the pumping of blood through a furiously working body. He was becoming drunk in his madness and was starting to feel the high and lightheadedness of his gluttony.

Around him he could see the darkness starting to lighten.

"NO! I will cure my lust!" He said screaming into the dark. He ran faster and faster as if in a trance his eyes piercing the haze in front of him. "There!"

He could see a silhouette and then those white shoes. Those white shoes he had wanted to see stained with blood. He realized that the exit was almost at reach and he tried furiously to catch up. He could see the hair now, the shirt, the shorts, all of it a blinding white. He yelled a gargling snarl and then began a dark sinister laugh. The razor in his hands was opened as if a part of him. He could hear the ringing and singing the blade made as it sliced through air. He was almost upon her. He could see the brunette's hair. He could see it billowing in the air as she ran. He could see her plump but firm ass. Her beautiful legs pumping and flexing with muscle. Oh how he wanted that flesh. To see it in his hands!

She had reached the door. The last shades of dark were fading away as the light was coming out blinding him. His anger flushed through him and he lunged at her, his cutting arm aimed at the back of her neck. Just when he thought he had her the door slammed in his face and the razor hit the door, embedding itself in the wood. She had survived again.

Damien bolted awake from his sleep. A throbbing pain drew his attention to his hand. It was cut slightly from the underside of his hand to the outer edge of his thumb and his wrist was red and would probably swell up. Beside him on his nightstand was the cause of his discomfort. A broken lamp on the floor as well as his alarm clock. The lashing out in his dream made him crash his hand into his nightstand knocking off the lamp and radio clock.

Damien used the sheet to wipe the sweat off his face. His bedroom was stuffy and hot with his bed sheets somewhat soaked. He pushed the covers away and, nude, got up and went to turn on the air. He heard the rumble through the house as the unit kicked on and he felt the instant cool flow through the vents and on to his body. He let the crisp cold cover his body and smiled. He walked back into his bedroom and then into the bath. He started the shower.

Damien loved to shower. He had designed this one to have three spouts spray a high-pressure stream of 54-degree water vertically along the shower wall. The spouts were at shoulder height, lower back and then around the calves. The water pressure could be adjusted, as sometimes he liked the water to pelt him until it left bruises along his back and legs. It was the only way to make him wake up and be totally alert. Not to mention the cold was extremely refreshing to him.

Damien got in the shower and closed the see through door. The shower was large enough for three people so he could adjust the pressure safely without getting wet. With the pressure adjusted to his satisfaction he quickly made a small jump into the streaming path and gave out a large exasperation as the cold water hit his body. There was also another darker purpose for the shower. He used it those many nights he came home and had to wash the blood away from his body and to "feel clean". The see through shower door enabled him to see himself in the large mirror above the sink, as the blood would wash away. He didn't know why he had to always shower in this way. His need to feel clean was a way of giving himself absolution he mused.

Squatting down a little in the shower he let the top spout pound into his head. The frigid water felt good and he sighed. His mind went over his dream. He did not mind the dreams; he had grown to love them. He was in control there. Every time he dreamed he heard his victims at the peak of their suffering.
How many had he heard last night? Surely at least thirty voices. But he had skillfully killed many more than that. After all, he was the deliverer.

Damien slowly massaged his his hand. He could feel the swelling start and the cut along his hand stopped bleeding. He was careful not to let it get hit with a blast of water less he re-open the cut. He quickly grabbed the soap and a very rough bathing brush and began to furiously bathe. He would use the brush hard on his body making sure he felt the uncomfortable pain and satisfaction of being cleaned this way. In about ten minutes he was out of the shower, drying off and grooming himself. He was a tall man, 6'3 and two hundred thirty pounds. He had a clean and crisp goat-t. His hair was cut short and black. His form was graceful and his elegance uncanny. He was surely the charmer. He gave a quick grin to himself and went into his bedroom and got dressed. Black and dark blue and crimson were his favorite colors. Today he chose a black T-shirt then a crimson vest toped with a black coat and black Docker pleated pants. He wore his glossy black shoes and socks. Satisfied he went to his study and around to his desk.

Damien checked his answering machine and made a mental note of who to call and who not to call back. He logged online on his computer and checked his email. Mostly business, some personal and others from various websites he was privy to. He checked his stock portfolio and made sure everything was ok. Finally bored, he shut everything down and turned around to a huge mirror behind his desk. He got up and stepped heavily on one of the wooden floorboards.

The mirror parted in the middle and soft lights slowly increased in intensity to light the room. Damien walked in and the mirror closed behind him. The room was exceptionally clean and empty of any comfort other than a chair with a small side table and a huge 60" flatscreen TV on the far wall. Next to it was a VCR. Beside the chair was a small briefcase. Damien walked to the case, popped it open and smiled affectionately. Neatly in the center was his beloved ivory razor. Next to them were surgical gloves some surgical implements, which he ignored for the moment and a video camera. He reached down and with one swift motion picked up the razor and flipped open the sharp blade. It almost seemed to dance as he moved it to reflect the lights off its brilliant cutting edge. He could not help but re-live some of his past workings. The little girls, the beautiful women and the occasional man. He remembered all their faces, knew all their voices and most of all remembered their flesh and blood. He became saddened for a moment. Being the special artist he was, he was forced not to take any of the flesh back with him. After all he was a murderer. He would have to leave no clues, take no chances. The only rule he broke to that affect was the removal of his victim's thumbnail and the video recordings. That would be his only physical possession from his work, thus his only link to all his works of art. He was being hunted exhaustively but to no avail. Damien was careful. He excelled at skillfully and neatly removing the thumbnail from the finger. No jagged edges, or forced cuts. Clean simple strokes to cleanly free the nail from the tissue. He did not dare bring them home but had a special place to keep them safe so they would not deteriorate. A special place safely away from him and his connections. As for the videos, he used this room to review his work, to study, to become better. His videos too were safely stored somewhere else, separate from the fingernails. He was careful when he ventured out to bring a video home to watch, but he would never ever leave one overnight.

Damien retracted the razor and placed it inside his coat pocket. He removed the surgical gloves and placed them in his rear pants pocket with a pat. He picked up one of the surgical blades, examined it closely and carefully slid it into his coat pocket alongside the razor. He slowly sat down in his chair and began plotting his next most special work of art.

Her name was Catrina Bowen. He had been observing her for over a year. After learning where she lived, the car she drove, where she worked and all her other habits he finally introduced himself five months later at one the health fitness clubs she worked out in. She was by far the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her brunette hair was long and illustrious falling just short of her behind. She was voluptuous but not overly so and very fit. Here eyes were sparkling hazel and her smile beyond description. She had been married twice but had no children. Her first marriage lasted only a year. Her second marriage was six years later and lasted eight years. She was thirty-three years old when Damien introduced himself. She was immediately interested and flirtatious, as most of his victims were. After all he had the looks and was handsome beyond words. His goat-t just added a bit of mystery and "roughness" to an otherwise wealthy, well respected, businessman. They had dinner together that night and over the next two months he learned everything else about her. Her job as a Director of Programming for a successful online company, her family in Illinois, her brother who owned his own graphic design firm in Texas, her two cats, 4 fish etc, etc, etc. Damien knew it all. Her dreams desires…and fears.

He finally became romantically involved late in the third month. Damien's pace quickened as he remembered her touch, the feeling of him in her, his hands expertly and tenderly discovering her body and not missing any inch. He indeed had his most intense orgasm as the result of him thinking about what work he would do with this same flesh. He got hard again as he sat in his chair.
"Yes, tonight is the time I create my masterpiece. "

Catrina trusted him completely. They had done everything together, barring moving in with one another. Then, eight months later, he proposed to her while she was hosting an office party. She had cried in joy and happiness and everyone had congratulated her and Damien. Damien planned it all out again in his chair.

Tonight they would have dinner than go to the opera. They would return to her place late at night and he would pour some champagne she had in the refrigerator. She would not notice him putting in the drugs that would knock her out for an hour or so. Enough time for him to undress himself and her lay her out on the floor, set up the mini-video recorder, and to prepare to commence his work. She would eventually wake up to a pain so terrible her screams would be muffled by her securely covered mouth. Her head would be propped up so she could see most of what would be done. First her delicate skin would slowly and expertly be removed from her arms in a specific pattern by his ivory razor. Then Damien would move to her legs and thighs; moving to her chest and breast. He would stop every now and then and look into her eyes to see the pain she would be in, the gratification and pleasure he would feel of feeling her flesh being removed by his hand.

He would watch her closely to make sure she was still alive. If for any reason she was about to die and he could not prevent her from doing so with his drugs he would kiss her forehead and slowly slit her throat. He would then watch the blood flow freely and the life disappear from her eyes. Then the real work would begin. The removal of limbs, the removal of organs, the removal of the head and fingers. The sweet severing of skin from bone. All this would happen. Then he would start the re-arrangement of all these pieces into a pattern of his choosing. And after his work of art is completed he would take his prize…her fingernail.

Damien immersed himself in the pattern he would choose for Catrina. If only he could tell her how beautiful she would look when it is all over! Damien sat up from the chair satisfied. He placed the briefcase in the chair, took the video recorder, and closed the briefcase. He heard the phone on his desk begin to ring and he quickly put the mini camcorder in his coat and rushed through the closing mirror doors into his office. He picked up the phone.

"Hello Love." He said, then a pause.

"Yes, I am on my way right now sweetheart…I love you to."

He had everything he needed. He walked to the door and grabbed his car keys off the side table by the door and left.

"I'll have you tonight my love."

Copyright 1999