She sat at her desk, looking over her assignment.
It was late, so the room was empty. The silence was occasionally interrupted by the scratch of pen against paper. A single light bulb dimly flickered at her desk, casting an ominous shadow.
There was a knock at the door.
The door slightly opened to reveal the silhouette of a man's head. The man cleared his throat and stepped into the room.
She couldn't see very well from where she sat, but she was able to distinguish the outline of a fedora and a long trench coat. A small red light near the trench coat revealed a cigarette.
Her heartbeat quickened.
"Ma'am, the library is closing now." the man said. She gave a nod of understanding, and proceeded to gather her belongings. Once they were neatly placed in her bag, she walked towards the door.
The man opened it wider to let her through, tilting his hat towards her. She gave him a small smile. She began a fast walk down the hallway, careful to not make her caution conspicuous.
The man locked the door of the room behind him. After stubbing out his cigarette, he hurried to catch up with the girl. "Wait!" he called out. She turned around. He fell into pace with her.
"It's pretty dark now. A cute girl like yourself shouldn't be wandering around at this hour. You need a man to protect you." he said. He paused, then added, "Not to sound sexist or anything."
"That was pretty sexist." she assured him, eyeing his lanky frame. He noticed her once-over, and chuckled. "Don't judge a book by its cover. I may be skinny, but I can protect you from the dark."
She laughed politely. "I say there is no darkness but ignorance." He grinned at her. "Someone is well-versed in Shakespeare's works." She shrugged. "I am pursuing a degree in English Literature."
He opened the entrance door for her as well, leading them outside. The library was located on a hill, so it provided a splendid view of the whole campus. A long staircase lay before them.
"Well, I take criminal psychology, but I know a thing or two myself." he answered. He paused before reciting. "Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth, These rebel powers that thee array,"
"Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?" she continued, smiling.
"Why so large cost, having so short a lease, Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?"
"Shall worms, inheritors of this excess, Eat up thy charge? is this thy body’s end?"
"Then, soul, live thou upon thy servant’s loss, And let that pine to aggravate thy store;"
They stopped in the middle of the staircase to admire the panoramic view that lay before them. He leaned against the railings and gazed at her. Her fingers played with the straps of her bag.
It was cold out, so he pulled his coat closer to him. He broke the silence by saying, "It's a long way down." She looked over the railing as well. "Indeed, it is." He glanced up at her.
"We really shouldn't be out here alone. There could be a killer on the loose." he whispered. She tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear, and laughed lightly. "In this town?" she asked.
"Yeah, haven't you heard? There have been two murders already. On each of the bodies, the killer carved the number 146." he told her. She assessed him, taking a few steps back.
"How specific." she commented, for lack of better words. Was he implying something? He shrugged. "I've been researching connotations behind the number.
That's actually how I learnt this poem. It's Shakespeare's 146th sonnet." he answered. She smiled. "I learnt this poem in the first semester of freshman year. I've been in love with it since."
"Well that makes two of us. Brilliant, is it not?" he asked her, shuffling closer to close the gap between them. She nodded fervently.
"It's perhaps the most riveting piece on the superficiality of humankind. A plead to the world to transcend its mortal self, to rise above its material shell." she said softly.
"The current state of humanity is sad, I agree." said the man. She looked up at him, eyes bright. "Maybe that's why humanity needs a wake-up call. A forceful end."
"Maybe that's what the killer thinks." he added thoughtfully. She smiled, and picked up where they left off: "Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross; Within be fed, without be rich no more:"
"So shall thou feed on Death, that feeds on men-"
He let out a shout and staggered backward, holding his chest. A clear stream of red spread over his shirt, in which something glistened. He dropped onto the ground, gasping.
She stood over him, pushing the knife deeper into his chest, carving out his flesh with her signature pattern until the light had left his eyes. Until his soul transcended his mortal body.
Finally, she pulled it out and dropping it into her bag. Then, heaving his body over the railing, she tossed it over and watched it tumble down the rocky terrain.
She pulled a water bottle out of her bag and sprinkled it on the marble step where he had stood. Next to it, she placed a "Caution: Wet Floor" sign. She smiled triumphantly.
"And Death once dead, there’s no more dying then."