Kipper Vam Beethoven

2020 / 5875 words

For look to the immensity of time behind thee, and to the time which is before thee, another boundless space. In this infinity then what is the difference between him who lives three days and him who lives three generations?

– Marcus Aurelius

Hi. Welcome. I hope you’ve enjoyed the party. Yes, now is still a good time to talk.

You’re welcome. Have a seat. I’ve never spoken about myself to a writer before, but, you’re particularly smart, and, well, I figure it is time.

Would you like a drink? Me? I’m going to have whiskey. Same? Sure.

The party? Yes, I do it every year. Let everyone blow off the accumulated steam of the year. Myself included.

Any others like me here? Oh, I don’t know! I don’t think so. If there were, they, like me, probably don’t let that part of themselves be known very broadly, if at all. And if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you anyway.

So where do you want me to start? The beginning? Hmm, ok. Let me think.

Are my parents still alive? Are you asking: is this genetic, passed down? No, my parents are not still alive. And I don’t think they were struck through the heart with a spike. I think I would have noticed that. No, my mother died from cancer and my father from congestive heart failure. I didn’t exactly have a great relationship with them but I still took care of them when they got old. At least from a distance.

You see, here’s the thing…

No one considers the downside of being immortal. Everyone fears death so much that they think living forever is a great thing. Not having to worry about that whole death issue does have its advantages, sure, but there is always plenty of yang to go along with the everlasting ying.

No one considers that immortality means you have to put up with the shit of this world not just for a lifetime, but for a thousand lifetimes. They say, “But you never have to step over, into, you know, the unknown.” But they never realize how utterly boring knowing so much can be. A little trip into the ether, a spiritually permanent move as it were, would be quite welcome in my life at this point.

No one considers that immortality means you have to put up with the shit in yourself not just for a lifetime, but for a million lifetimes. They say, “Self-improvement–you can perfect yourself, learn how to adeptly maneuver this world…” But they never realize that nature/nurture isn’t either/or, it’s and. And nobody understands how much, how disgustingly much, nature there is in a man.

They say you can become rich, live comfortably forever. They don’t realize how the novelty of everything wears off, and how novelty itself becomes less and less satisfying. They don’t realize how hard it is to manage an estate for a lifetime when for everyone else it’s a lifetime and for you it is a day. Your accountant was younger than you when you first hired him, and he did a stand-up job. But now he’s got a piss-bag attached to his walker and you don’t look a day over 30. No one realizes it is a nearly impossible scam to “die” and leave money to yourself when you look exactly the same as you did 80 goddamn years ago. No one realizes that it looks mighty odd on the government records if somebody doesn’t die in, say, under 150 years. You get a letter from the goddamn president when you hit 100 for Christ’s sakes.”Is Mr. Beethoven home?” asks the reporter.

“That’s me,” you casually respond.

“Uh…I’m sorry, there must be a misunderstanding. I’m from–your local newspaper–and I’m here to do a piece on Mr. Beethoven, who turned 100 years old today.”

“Oh, you mean my father…he’s…out right now…”

“Still getting’ around, eh? Where’d he run off too?” The report asks and laughs nervously.

“He went to get a beer. It’ll be a while. You might want to come back this afternoon.”

That kind of thinking on your feet isn’t too difficult, but that is the moment when you realize, they will be back. They being anyone and everyone. The calls from the insurance agents trying to sell rip-off life insurance to the over-60 set and the free, unrequested subscription to the AARP magazine were annoying, but this was serious.

No one considers that death, and its inevitable truth in almost all of humanity’s existence, is by its nature worked into the fabric of our existences like a horizontal stripe on a sweater–pull that colored thread out and you don’t have a sweater anymore.

My name is Kipper Vam Beethoven, and I am a vampire. I’ve had two prior names–the one I was born with and my last one, which I had to give up to early retirement, for various reasons. Kipper was my birth name–I decided I wanted it back. “Vam Beethoven” is a campy ode to my nature and a band from before your time.

I thought I was going to leave the name Kipper behind for good–it caused me plenty of torment as a child and I loathed it for most of my first life. Referring to “lives” gives me some kind of sanity and sense of time, although my use of it varies, so I apologize ahead of time for any confusion. Being a Jew name Kipper, well it’s akin to being a Pol named Pollock. My antagonistically-bestowed prefix was Yom, which rhymed with yawn, don–as in Don Yom Kippur–ding-dong, short-dong…you get the idea.

This, added to the fact that I’m the most fucking Arian-looking Jew you ever saw in your life, made things difficult on either side of the fence for me…although I could always get a laugh from my friends when I had to come to school with my Yamika on and would give a dramatic Sieg Heil, cracking the heels of my tennis shoes together as best I could, and caused me to loathe my name, my appearance, and my culture. To loathe myself. To loathe my life.

Imagine puberty with not just the pizza face and the locker room dick comparison, but another, literally infinitely darker reality creeping up through your insides and out your pores and onto your tongue. Imagine weird rumblings in your tummy, you’ve just outgrown your Winnie the Pooh books, and you’re climbing the fridge, plunging your arm into the freezer for some of the round roast your mom bought last week, leaving it on the windowsill of your second-story bedroom, having strange breeds of cats and rodents visiting you while it thaws, you hissing–hissing at them, scaring them away–and then slobbering down the meat as soon as it is no longer a chunk of ice.

And never knowing why the fuck you are doing this.

Not knowing why you’re sticking your hands down your pants every night is so not a big deal, is so easy to figure out compared to that.

Imagine your first girlfriend ever being a complete, violent vegetarian. Super progressive for 1963, by the way. You meet, drink from seniors’ flasks, head home on the bus provided after the homecoming dance, and decide to start going steady that night. The next day you wake with ecstatic electricity coming from your midsection that only a freshly pubic thirteen-year-old can appreciate.

Your first official date is that night. She doesn’t understand your choice in entrée. Extra-rare double cheeseburger? She asks about your choice and the worst part is you have no answer, you really don’t know why the fuck you always order the extra-rare double cheeseburger. You just always do. Just as the conversation starts to turn and you think you might escape this little circumstance–as if any thirteen-year-old relationship of eighteen hours escapes any circumstance–the food comes, and you don’t just inhale, you slurp down your cheeseburger, leaving most of the bun and vegetables in a ruined heap on the plate, which you also lick free of any remaining beef juices before returning to the reality of your first date sitting across the table from you in shock and disbelief, having not even touched her Portobello mushroom in the 15 seconds it took you to drink your burger. She places her napkin over her mouth, rises, and exits stage left.

By the time hair is growing on your ball sack and the liquid dripping out from under your armpits is smelling like a million locker rooms, you’re having to sneak out and spend all your allowance money on meat. Fucking meat! You hate it, and yet you have no fucking idea why you are so compelled to do so. While your friends talk twenty-four hours a day about sex and trying to get laid, your mind wanders; and you realize that you’re doubly cursed–you need sex just as badly as they do, but you need raw meat even more.

But the worst thing is nobody else needs raw meat. They only need sex.

In my 150 years on this earth, I have pretty much seen it all. I’ve been to every state and damn near every country. I’ve taken cruise ships to Alaska, gotten off and jumped aboard fishing vessels headed for the artic. I’ve hitched back through the tundra, south through the Canadian Rockies, stolen a horse and rode it down through Montana. I’ve done the whole Taiwan secret beach thing, walked the Great Wall, dove the Great Barrier Reef, disco’d in Indonesia with Kiwis. I’ve been on Safaris, tried the surf off of Cape Town, did my best Humphrey Bogart impersonation in Morocco. I’ve snuck into communist Russia and made damn sure I was there when the wall came down. I survived the Trump presidency in America, for Christ’s sake.

So here we are on the eve of a new century. I’ve survived the second half of the 20th and now, if I make it a few more hours, I will have survived all of the 21st century. Some of what they promised us has come to pass, most has not. Most of what they warned us would happen has. It’s hot as hell most places. We spend most of our time congregating in northern urban centers, setting up facilities to suck CO2 out of the air, growing plants in high-rises, converting old farmland back to forests in a desperate bid to survive for another 100 years. Venice is gone. Indonesia is empty. We needed energy to do all the things we wanted to do while here on Earth, and most of the people responsible are long gone and don’t have to worry about it. Except me. And any others like me out there.

In 150 years I have yet to meet any others like me. I kept thinking I might, but this particular aspect of my plight has turned out to be the loneliest. No one else understands what it’s like to not die but to require this taboo substance just to survive.

As I aged it became obvious that the amount of blood in a rare cut of meat was not going to cut it anymore. I needed actual blood. I devised some methods for obtaining animal blood, which is much, much easier to get than human blood. But when I could get human blood, the physical relief was palpable. One pint of the good stuff and I would be ok for a week. This risk/reward algebra led me to take a lot of risks. I’ve broken into a lot of Red Cross vehicles. It’s much harder than it sounds. They don’t leave that shit unattended.

One of the problems with all the logistics that blood-dependent immortality requires is that it frequently gets in the way of the very life it supposedly gives you. While a decent student, I was too distracted by my differences to do things like figure out if I wanted to go to college. There were a few others in my boat and we all just got menial jobs at local businesses. We discovered pot and folk music. The year after high school passed quickly.

I was still on raw meat at the time but had a methodology. I would store a few days’ worth in the garage freezer my parents didn’t really use but kept around anyway; I would move a slab onto the rafters before going to bed, or into my room during the winter; then I would consume the defrosted raw meat in the morning. It didn’t really matter what kind of meat it was, so I just stuck with cheap cuts of beef. As long as it was a couple of pounds, I would be okay and only go to bed moderately hungry. Chewing was annoyingly difficult despite my abnormally sharp canines, so I typically sucked the meat dry and then spit the rest into the bushes. Once my father wondered out loud about why the crows always seemed to gather by the side of the garage.

The need for human blood was just starting to rise up by way of increased hunger. I wasn’t quite putting it together in regard to exactly what would properly satiate my hunger. Still, this daily routine took a lot of time, money and planning. In the summer of 1969, I was 19 years old. I had my routine but it was time-consuming and distracting. My friends were talking about how everyone was going to some kind of music thing in New York. Between the hunger and the weed, I could barely focus on anything outside of work, which didn’t require much focus. So somehow I missed the last minute arrangements for a road trip to New York. I missed Woodstock.

I ran out of weed while my friends were gone, and they were my suppliers. I got really hungry and so very sick of raw meat from the store. I was resentful about missing the cultural event of my lifetime. I hadn’t figured out yet how long my life would be.

I went and got my dad’s handgun out from the locked box in his nightstand. I walked out into the woods. I climbed a tree. I waited.

After leg numbing hours in the tree, a small deer appeared below me. I took aim. I hit my target. I lept down from the tree in one animalistic motion.

I’d never felt so satiated in my life.

After Woodstock, I determined to not miss any opportunities for adventure. I turned 20 in 1970. It was a glorious time. They wouldn’t lower the drinking age until I was already 21, but it didn’t matter.

I jumped from job to job and eventually from state to state.

The Ramones and Disco. Disney World and Studio 54. Deep Throat and Star Wars. Peace and love were out but I didn’t care about much of that anyway. The weed stuck around. That’s what mattered.

I started to realize I was relatively indestructible. I’d never been sick, at least not that I could remember. But it didn’t really dawn on me that that might be abnormal. But in the 70s I abused my body in ways that should have set me back for at least days at a time. But no hangovers. No overdoses. I could go on benders relatively unscathed. I would wake up from a blackout with some gash across my arm. I’d wash it with some soap and water and by the next day, it was mostly healed.

After my discovery with the deer in the woods, I figured out ways to supplement my raw meat diet with fresh blood. During one particularly dark period, I was wandering around a particularly seedy area of Los Angeles and stumbled upon a dead body. At first, I thought it was just someone passed out in the alley. I’m not even sure what drew me to her. But as I checked for a pulse and found none, I also felt a lingering warmth. Then instinct took over.

That was an enlightening experience. I wasn’t hungry for weeks after that. I started to travel internationally. First the UK, then the Continent, and, as I mentioned, behind the Iron Curtain, although that wasn’t nearly as glamorous or exciting as you might assume. I was relatively scared the entire time. I wanted to get back out as soon as I got in.

I went back to London and met a girl who had escaped from Poland. I understood just enough about her plight and her flight to be a little bit more empathetic than the rest. We hit it off until we didn’t.

Later, in Germany, I met her for coffee. She was visiting friends. I was simply vagabonding.

“I feel like things could have worked out between us,” I said.

“Yeah?” It was half a question, half agreement.

“You gave up on us pretty fast.”

“I gave up on you?” It was definitely a question.

“Yes, don’t you remember? You said, ‘You wouldn’t trust me again.’ I remember thinking, ‘That is not really your judgment call to make.’ Besides, I care less about that kind of thing than ever.”

“Well, I still do.”

“Interesting.” We stared at our coffee and changed the subject.

I sometimes wonder what happened to her. Of course, she’s dead now. She grew old, I hope, and just like everyone else in this world, succumbed. Now here I am, 124 years later, caring even less about “that kind of thing.”So I started to figure out what I was. I read a lot of literature. I mostly sought out historical accounts, but they are really hard to find. I became obsessed with certain historical figures I thought might be like me. I spent hours in libraries. I assumed Europe was a logical place to find a historical precedent, so I did a lot of research there. I was done sneaking past the iron curtain, so I couldn’t get to Romania. Ceaușescu was one of the least-bad of the lot, but I didn’t want to risk it just for some chance of finding out more information about myself based on folk wisdom. Also, I was Jewish, so I was a little skeptical of the entire Eastern European connection in the first place.

I did some tests. At this point, I knew I needed to consume blood to not be hungry, but I hadn’t tried to starve myself. I tried. The hunger simply became unbearable. I couldn’t resist it long enough to see if I developed symptoms of starvation. I just got tired and insatiable.

I still looked young for my age but aging hadn’t noticeably ceased to affect me. So there was no way to know about that.

I knew I healed rather quickly and I still hadn’t ever been sick.

I knew I could go out during the day without issue. Bright sunshine was not my favorite weather but I could chalk that up to preference.

I had visited a couple of churches in Europe and didn’t feel weird. I stared at a crucifix in Koln for a while without a second thought.

I didn’t have a taste for normal food, but I didn’t have any opinion about garlic.

I was a bit of a night owl but that probably had more to do with my drug-laden lifestyle than anything. Such a life lends itself to late nights.

I wasn’t particularly interested in death or the macabre. Except for that one still-warm corpse I’d stumbled upon.

I had one shitty, super inconvenient symptom, the blood thing; and one only moderately nice benefit, the health thing. I couldn’t fly or turn into a bat; women were not magically drawn to my redolence.

The worst part of living forever is every person you ever love–ever love–dies. Sure, you can sleep with who you want when you want without fear of STDs. But if you fall in love, I mean ever fall in love, there is a 100% money-back guarantee that that person will die before you do.

In 1980 I decided I’d done enough partying. I was 30. I had spent the entire decade doing drugs and drinking and having sex and listening to loud music, etc, etc. After a particularly long blackout, I threw out all my drugs and all the bottles. There were so many bottles. And that was it. There was a period in the first half of the 21st century when I got really into wine–when there was still wine–but beyond the occasional drink when out with friends, I just stopped.

I wasn’t done traveling, though, so I structured my life around that. I was getting good at various things and had at least one hundred jobs in the 70s. I slowed down a little bit in the 80s. I got a desk job but negotiated for extra vacation time in the “off-season”.

It was during a slow, extended road trip down the east coast that I met her. In late 1980 I had an AMC Hornet and I drove from my place on Long Island down the Jersey coast, Ocean City, and Accomack and Northampton, Virginia. When you live simply, don’t have to worry about retirement, are single with no kids, and quit doing drugs and drinking, there’s a lot of money left over for travel.

It was in Nags Head, North Carolina that my life would change. I was having a small meal and a club soda at the bar of my nondescript hotel when she sat next to me to do pretty much the same. We said hello and made small talk, as any two solo strangers at a bar would do. It turned out she was also from Long Island, on a short vacation to the Outer Banks.

Everything about the experience was different than my former life in the 70s. It was so innocent. We took a walk on the beach and just talked. We were saying goodbye and I wasn’t trying to get to her hotel room. I did ask if she would like to meet for coffee in the morning and she simply said, “Nine o’clock,” then turned and walked away.

I tried to play it cool as if I wasn’t staying in Nags Head just because she was there, but I stayed many days longer than I planned. And then I drove straight back up to New York.

My arm just vibrated. Why did my arm just vibrate? Ah, shit, it’s a message. I’m still not used to this subdermal shit. They’re asking for me in the ballroom. Something to do with the BBQ tofu. Do you mind hanging tight for just a minute Joey? Johnny? Do you mind if I just call you John? Johnny makes me think of someone else. Anyway. I’m sure this will just be a minute.

I’m back. Ah, I see you found my collection of National Geographics. That was a great magazine. It reminds me of my traveling days. It’s really too bad normal people like us can’t really fly all over anymore. Planet be damned.

Where was I? Ah, yes, a woman from Long Island. She didn’t have an accent, by the way. As a transplant myself, I would have never fallen for someone with a New York accent. Uncivilized. Boston, maybe. But not New York.

I played it cool for as long as I could, but I was smitten. “I was in deep smit.” And so was she. We would sit on my couch for hours at night just staring into each other’s eyes.

We took it slow. Played the long game. But long story short, we got married. I told her about my thing well before that, and she was accepting of it. She was the one who thought about raiding the Red Cross. She even offered to donate her blood, but I couldn’t imagine doing that.

We tried to have kids. We tried for a long time. Eventually, after years of disappointment, we gave up. She was getting older. We resigned ourselves to not getting to experience that part of life.

It was clear she was aging and I was not. We talked about it a little bit, but it wasn’t yet an issue in terms of being noticed. I looked young for my age and she looked young for her age too.

We traveled a little bit but mostly settled down. We enjoyed being together, just the two of us. We didn’t have many friends. It was like we existed in a tiny universe of our own, and had everything we needed within that world. We were content, happy and very much in love.

Ah, yes, the 90’s. It was a good decade for me. I turned 40 at the start of it. We were comfortable and happy, my wife and I. We’d devised some ways to keep me healthy and not too hungry. There was Nirvana.

A few years into the decade a friend from work started talking about the World Wide Web. He had an idea about how to put a business onto this web. I was kind of bored, pretty financially stable and as we discussed, childless. It sounded like a fun opportunity, so I took it. I learned so much. Here I was, a drifter-turned-office-drone, running a business. It was a new kind of freedom I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Long story short, we did relatively well. Within five years we were able to sell the business. If I lived well-but-not-too-well, I wouldn’t have to worry about money again. I put most of the money in stable investments but made a couple of side investments too. In 1997 I bought some stock in this little company called Amazon. I held onto it. I even bought some more of it in 2001. Why not. Anyway, those impulse buys have served me well.

I kept my eye on all things technology for the rest of the decade. It was an awesome time for the Internet. And as my 40s progressed, I continued to look 30, so I fit in pretty well with all the kids building that stuff at the time.

My wife and I enjoyed life. It was a good couple of decades. The decades start to go faster after 40. You don’t know that yet, but you’ll find out. Let me skip forward a few years. Actually, let me skip forward a few decades. The early 2000s were terrible in all kinds of ways, mostly politically, but it was a pretty stellar time for me personally.

The only weird part was the way my marriage had to adjust to one thing: she was getting older, while I was not. It started to get weird with friends by 2010. At that point, she was an honest 60 and I didn’t look a day over 30. People were always asking me what my secret was. I always joked and told them it must have been some special mushroom I’d ingested in the 70s, but it became increasingly awkward.

So we moved. Twice, actually. We moved to a remote cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Then, after our first winter there, we got a second place in Columbia.

It worked, and we were happy together, but it was isolating.

Then she got sick. She was 80, after all. She’d had a good run. But I didn’t know what I would do without her. She was the only person in the world who knew my secret. She’d helped me navigate my eccentric needs for decades. And she was the love of my life. It wasn’t fair that I would outlive her. It wasn’t fair that I would outlive her for decades, or maybe, forever.

That year was both the most difficult and the most meaningful of my life. She suffered and I cared for her. I watched her health deteriorate and I suffered, too. Her physical pain was my emotional pain. When it became nearly intolerable, I got help. I told the nurse I was her son. The lie felt worse than any lie I had ever told in my entire life.

That summer the exponential graph on climate change’s effects started to climb straight up, and it was awful. A record-setting heat wave and rolling blackouts. It just added to our agony.

She turned 80 and we each had a cupcake. She blew out a singular candle I found in the bottom of a drawer and stuck into one of them. The nurse and I had a laugh trying to find a match or a lighter. Then we went back to the suffering.

Then one morning after I had slept maybe two hours and the nurse had gone home for one of her nights away, it was over. She was laid there, my wife of 50 years, at peace with the world.

Peace I would never experience.

My entire life flashed before my eyes at that moment. The discontented childhood, the rudderless adolescence, the drug-infused young adulthood, then her, and all the things we arranged or rearranged to accommodate my eccentric needs. The years together, the business success, the travel, her aging body, my unaging one.

I never stopped loving her, or even being attracted to her, for that matter. Looking back, I realize how odd that was.

I’ve been with a fair number of women since she passed. Some of them have been one-fifth my age. But it’s never been the same.

Thanks for the break, I needed just a few minutes there, John. How are you doing, by the way? Have you enjoyed the party? I know you came here for this, but hopefully, you were able to enjoy yourself a little bit before we got started here? Do you need a refill? No?

Where were we? Oh, of course…2030…

What happened? Great question. I mourned. I regressed. Soon thereafter I also had to fake my death for the first time.

As I’ve alluded to, faking one’s death when one wants to leave literally everything behind, although I’ve never done it, I imagine it is much easier than faking one’s death when one wants to make sure…let’s just say I wanted to maintain the lifestyle to which I had become accustomed.

Faced with the difficulties, however, I did consider just starting over. Maybe stuff a backpack with a change of clothes and a hundred thousand grand. I thought better of it when I considered how long forever is, and how incredibly unlikely were the events that propelled me into the one percent. By 2030, such events were even more unlikely. Capital was so unevenly distributed and protected at that point that no normal person was allowed to break through. It took the collapse of 2060 to reset that.

Fortunately, I had some experience in moving assets around. So long story short, I established a new identity in a former Soviet republic, where these things were still simple enough given the right fixer and enough cash. I moved all my assets into a financial institution in that country and one in Switzerland. Yes, the proverbial Swiss bank account.

I learned enough of the language to pass as my new native self, if awkwardly. I mostly kept to myself. I eventually learned more of the language.

Once I realized how easy it was, I changed again and took my current name. It was odd everywhere, and therefore nowhere. I was from nowhere, and I was nobody.

Eventually, I felt settled down enough to travel again, and I did. I felt safe enough to make some more investments, like this house in which we sit. By the late 30s, Canada was the only place in North America that made sense in which to settle. Most places further south were just getting too hot. It was clear Florida and much of the East Coast was in imminent danger. Property insurance was hard to come by. Besides, America has become just too…too weird.

Weird and hot…that kind of describes most of this last century, doesn’t it?

I’m sorry, what was that…? “I regressed…?” Did I say that? …No…no, it’s fine.

Yeah, well, after she died I grieved. I still got hungry but often forgot to eat. There was a small stockpile of blood in the fridge and freezer, but she was the one who had organized it for me–both the acquisition and the storage. In my grief, I stopped doing the work it took to keep the hunger at bay. And I didn’t care. She was gone; I didn’t care at that moment if I lived or died. I didn’t care if I was hungry. But just like any human’s hunger, eventually, it becomes too much, and it is all you can think about.

One night in a fit of anger, sadness, and intense hunger, I grabbed the pistol we kept in a lockbox in our closet and walked into the forest. Those 19-year-old feelings welled up inside me again. I felt helpless, hopeless, aimless, but the crunch of the forest floor under my feet and the cold, wet air felt good. I walked deep into the woods.

I don’t know how long I walked, but I froze when I heard voices. I saw flickering lights. I heard voices speaking in non-native tongues. My mind split. I was both afraid of them and afraid for them. The cold of the gun numbed my hand and my head. I started walking again, more carefully this time. With more intention.

I sped up as I approached their camp. I walked into the small clearing towards their campfire. They all looked up simultaneously. Their conversation stopped. And I fired. I pulled the trigger over and over again until I was out of bullets and they’d all stopped moving.

And then I feasted.

What’s this? Oh, I’m sorry, I tend to need something to keep my hands occupied. This is a silencer. Hmm? Yes, a silencer for a handgun. For this Beretta pistol, to be precise.

Don’t be alarmed. You see, after the encounter in the woods, I realized that all those years eating raw animal meat, drinking animal blood, raiding Red Cross blood banks, paying poor, corrupt hospital nurses for bags…that was all very laborious. I had money. I could get away with things.

You look worried. Don’t be worried. You see, I only need to eat about once every month and a half. So I just have to be careful and a little methodical. I installed some…some equipment in the basement. It’s like a goddamned chemistry lab down there.

Don’t get up. There’s no need to get up. You see, I pick my victims carefully. Single, live on their own, maybe travel a lot for work, maybe travel for a freelance gig every now and again. Maybe travel to see me.

Don’t try to run away. No, the door is bolted with a really old combination locking mechanism.

Come now, we’re four floors up. Even if you could get the window open in time, where are you going to go?

Don’t cower. There’s just no need for that. This will be quick. I’m a very good shot.