The killer put his boots on and went downstairs.
He drank coffee before his kitchen window, enjoying the peace and quiet, then decided he couldn’t face another family-filled Saturday morning of noisy cartoons, spilled milk,
and scattered Cheerios. When the sun rose so did his garage door, and he made his escape.
Outside, he focused so intensely on yard work that he didn’t hear the Voice until he was mowing, later that afternoon.
The Voice was a breathy whisper in his head, drawing its words out slowly as if dredging them up from a dark pit.
*“Kill them,”* said the Voice.
He ignored it. Pouring more gas into the lawnmower, he grumbled about how it was slightly too small to finish the yard on one tank.
*“Killll themmmm,”* said the Voice.
The lawnmower roared back to life. The killer replaced his earbuds, searching his phone for something loud and upbeat. But music didn’t help. Nothing drowned out the Voice.
Its sinister whispers hissed over every beat.
Once the lawn was finished the killer returned the lawnmower to its spot beside the bicycles. Back inside, he stumbled over discarded toys, but he refused to let the mess rile him.
A shower came next, and he scrubbed viciously at his grime-covered body. Even so, he still felt unclean by the time the water turned cold.
The Voice had thrummed with each pulse of the shower head.
*“Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill.”*
If only he could hide in the bathroom forever.
Instead, he toweled off, put on comfy clothes, and rejoined his family. Saturday night meant ordering pizzas, pouring juice, and watching bright, happy movies for the umpteenth time.
He sang along with the animated characters, thankful his wife didn’t notice when the Voice occasionally made him insert “kill” into the lyrics.
After letting the kids stay up too late, he carried them to their rooms, stubbornly ignoring the Voice while his trembling hands tucked them in. Then he slipped into bed alongside his wife.
Now his anxiety grew. This was the worst part of the day, when the Voice knew he was trapped. And sure enough:
*“Do it. Do it now.”*
He squeezed his eyelids tighter. The Voice did not appreciate this. Its whispers became shouts, which soon swelled into unrelenting screams.
*“DO IT! KILL THEM WHILE THEY SLEEP! KILL THEM ALL!”*
Eventually he broke. Sitting up, he yelled back at it.
“No! I can’t!”
The Voice immediately quieted, transforming into a snakelike, mocking tone.
*“Why not?”* it asked.
“You know why.”
*“No. Tell me.”*
“Because… because I already killed them.”
“Yes,” sobbed the killer. “Weeks ago. I thought it would make you go away.”
At last, silence fell. The killer sank back onto his pillow, staring at the ceiling. But just as he was finally drifting off, the Voice slithered back into his head.
*“Kill them,”* it whispered, starting all over again.
Tears ran down the killer’s cheeks. Dawn was an eternity away.