Jacky Stiles was a wanted murderer. He had killed fourteen people over the span of six months, and no one could figure out how to track him down. His victims were all in the same age group; nineteen to twenty-five. Why he chose them by age, no one could guess.

A young girl, about twenty one, woke up to a rather brightly lit room. The walls were white, there were normal blue curtains, a dresser, nightstand, bed, and family photos. She wondered where she was; it looked like an ordinary bedroom, but she didn't recognize it as belonging to one of her friends.

She tried to stand, but saw she was tied to a chair with thick rope. She struggled lightly, a bit confused, when a voice came from the open door.

"That won't get you free," said Jacky. The girl looked at him.

"Oh hi," she said calmly. "What's your name?" Jacky furrowed his brow. Hi?

"Jacky Stiles," he said menacingly, knowing the name would strike fear in her.

"Oh, you're that murderer they've been trying to catch," said the girl conversationally. She had stopped struggling. "Well, my name is Madeline, but you can call me Maddy if it's easier." Jacky was speechless. He stood in front of her, trying to look scary. By this time, the victim would usually be screaming and crying.

"You do realize you're going to die, right?" he asked.

"No, I totally didn't think a murderer was going to kill me," said Maddy sarcastically with a little smile. "Come on, Jacky. I'm not dumb." Jacky slumped on the end of the bed, staring at her incredulously, head tilted. Maddy struggled again briefly. "Hmm... you're right, these ropes are too tight. Well, anyway, how did you knock me out? Chloroform?"

"...Yes..." said Jacky slowly.

"You got to be careful with that stuff," Maddy said calmly. "I heard that too much can actually kill you. Judging by your last victims, you like to torture them, right? So you don't want them dying prematurely." She waited for Jacky to respond, but he was in shocked silence. "Next time, I suggest using some kind of syringe with fast acting anesthesia or something. But I dunno, you're the expert, not me." Jacky sat there for a few seconds, and then slowly stood up.

"I'll be right back..." he said.

"Kay," said Maddy, trying, but not very hard, to untie herself. Jacky went down to his kitchen and opened a cabinet, grabbing a bottle of vodka. He took a swig straight from it, and shook his head. He was so baffled by his new victim's behavior, he felt he needed to loosen up a bit.

He took one more drink, and then went to his garage to get his "toolbox." When he returned to the room, Maddy wasn't struggling anymore, but looking at a picture on the wall.

"Is that your family?" she asked. Jacky set his toolbox on the bed, searching through it.

"Yeah," he replied.

"Where are they?"

"I killed them."

"Oh, okay." Jacky turned to face her, holding a wrench in his hand.

"What's your problem, kid?" he snapped. "I'm going to kill you! Aren't you scared?"

"A little," Maddy replied with a smile.

"Then... why aren't you trying to fight? Why aren't you screaming and crying?"

"Well, Jacky, it's obvious," said Maddy. "I've tried already to loosen these ropes. Either they're too tight or I'm too weak. Also, even if I tried to hop my chair somewhere, you'd definitely catch me. And even if you didn't, I can't grab anything because my hands are tied up. Realistically, there is absolutely no chance for me. Surely you could've figured that out."

"But... but... what, are you suicidal or something?!" shouted Jacky, getting frustrated.

"No," Maddy replied. "I've got a pretty decent life. Don't have any problems except the usual, and I don't have any psychological or physical disorders to battle with. My parents raised me great, I got good grades in school, and I was about to start college. But, you know, you don't always get what you want." Jacky was stunned.

"I'm going to do horrible things to you," he said, thinking this was obvious.

"Are you going to have your way with me? Cause honestly I don't think I'd like that," said Maddy.

"No... I'm not a rapist..." said Jacky, his brow furrowed so much, his eyebrows were nearly touching. Maddy let out a sigh of relief.

"Oh, good!" she said. "Cause I'm still a virgin. That wouldn't be very fun." She looked at the wrench. "So what are you going to do to me?" Jacky tried to regain his composure.

"Well, I'm going to break your kneecaps first," he said, gently tapping the wrench head against his palm.

"Are you sure you wanna do that first?" asked Maddy, smiling as if she thought he didn't know what he was doing. "Don't you want to build your way up? I mean, cut me, burn me, hurt me a little bit at a time. That way I suffer longer and other methods of torture will hurt even worse."

"Are you a masochist?" asked Jacky.

"Nope." She was still smiling, as if this was all just a game. Jacky tapped her thigh with the wrench firmly.

"Feel that?" Maddy winced, but kept smiling.

"Yes," she said.

"This is a real wrench. Not some toy, not a prop, it's real."

"I can see that, silly," Maddy nearly yelled in frustration.

"You know, if this is some kind of plan to use reverse psychology on me so I'd let you go, it won't work!" he shouted. "Making me think this doesn't matter to you won't make me change my mind!"

"That thought didn't cross my mind, honestly" said Maddy with a thoughtful frown. "That'd be something though, huh? You'd have to be an idiot to fall for that old trick." Jacky threw the wrench at her, and it clipped her shoulder. She cried out in pain. Looking at her wound, she said, "That's a lot of blood."

"AAARGH!!!" Jacky shrieked. "Fine! You wanna play this game? We'll play this game!"

"Wait!" Maddy cried, and Jacky smiled.

"Oh, now you're scared. Well too bad, missy, you—"

"No," Maddy interrupted. "I'm thirsty. May I have a drink?" It was too much. Jacky felt like his brain was going to burst.

"You think... do you really... ARE YOU SERIOUS?!"

"Why are you so angry?" asked Maddy, again, very sincerely.

"BECAUSE YOU'RE SO FUCKING CALM!!!" he bellowed in return.

"Oh, it's probably boring!" said Maddy in an "oops" sort of tone. "Sorry! I forgot." She started struggling and thrashing. "HELP!! AH!! THIS SICK FUCK IS GONNA KILL ME!!" She gave a little giggle. "Ah! I can't do it, Jacky. I was never a good actor." If this had been a cartoon, Jacky's face would've been red and steam would be shooting from his ears. He stormed out of the room.

Maddy looked around the room again in boredom. She wondered how Jacky kept the room so clean; there were no blood stains anywhere. Jacky returned with a white rectangular bottle.

"You want something to drink?" he said angrily, unscrewing the cap. "I'll give you something to drink!!" He grabbed Maddy's face, forced her mouth open, and poured the solution down her throat. She choked and coughed, spluttering as she jerked her head away.

"Wa ith tha?" she asked, her tongue sticking out.

"Pure acetone," said Jacky with an evil laugh. "How do you like that?" Maddy spit on the floor a little bit, and smacked her lips with a grimace.

"Nasty," she replied. "Definitely not my drink of choice. May I have some water?"

"NO!!" Jacky screamed, throwing the bottle as hard as he could at the wall. "No no, that's it, no more games. You'll be crying and begging me for mercy soon enough..." Maddy watched calmly as he took some pliers from the toolbox. He slowly approached her, forced her mouth open again, and yanked one of her lower teeth out. She let out a shriek, and a tear ran down her face. Jacky grinned, panting and waiting for her to beg him to stop.

"Ow!" said Maddy, feeling the gap with her tongue. "That really hurt, Jacky!" Jacky growled and began feverishly ripping out random teeth. Maddy was wincing in pain, yelping and crying as most of her teeth were forcibly removed. Jacky stood back, seeing her face, which was red from slight exhaustion. She sniffled slightly, opening her eyes.

"Well?" hissed Jacky. "Ready to admit you're scared?"

"I never said I wasn't scared," Maddy replied calmly, and Jacky's smile fell faster than a lead balloon. "That hurt like a bitch. Have you ever had braces? It was sorta like that except twenty times worse—" Jacky suddenly punched her in the side of the face, giving her a black eye. She groaned, starting to sob softly.

"Yea!" Jacky sneered. "What now, huh?"

"Well..." she started, sniffling. "I have a black eye, and I need to blow my nose. I'm in excruciating pain, and now I have a headache. And I'm still thirsty. Acetone and blood aren't very thirst quenching." Jacky was getting so angry, he wanted to just shoot himself. He wasn't going to give her that satisfaction though. It was time to bring out the big guns.

Jacky picked up the wrench from the floor and violently smashed it repeatedly against both of Maddy's kneecaps, breaking them. Maddy was screaming and crying, in more pain than she had been in her life. Jacky was laughing, thinking he finally managed to make her break. After many hits, he stopped, staring at her with a manic smile. Maddy was crying like any regular victim would, but she wasn't thrashing.

"Jacky," she panted. "I think I swallowed one of my teeth you loosened."

"WHY SHOULD I CARE?!" Jacky bellowed, and Maddy's bloody mouth turned into a kind smile.

"Well, I'm not sure if you collect the teeth or anything, but I'm just letting you know that you'll have to cut my belly open to find it." Jacky started crying now, dropping to his knees in front of her.

"Why...?" he whimpered.

"Well, the tooth is in my stomach," Maddy replied matter-of-factly.

"NO, STUPID BITCH!" he shouted, voice cracking. "Why... why the hell aren't you affected by all of this?!"

"Jacky!" Maddy laughed. "I'm crying and bleeding! I think I'm more than affected."

"No! Emotionally!"

"Hmm, I don't know," said Maddy, sniffling up a bunch of blood and mucus. "Maybe because I know there's nothing I can do." Jackie stared at her, sobbing. "I mean, I've had a great life. A normal life. I accomplished a lot of stuff and had good relationships with friends and family. So what if I never made it to college, maybe I wasn't meant to go anyway. Jacky, I've had a very happy life, and if I can't control whether I die or not, I accept that I'm going, because I'm dying happy."

"But... why?" Jacky repeated. "Why... aren't you terrified? Why aren't you trying harder to escape or plead with me? Aren't you going to miss your loved ones? Aren't you sad about how torn up they'll be when they discover you're dead?"

"Of course I'll miss them," Maddy replied with a shining smile. "And they sure as hell will be horrified I died. But things happen for a reason, and like I said, there's not even the slightest bit of chance I can escape from you. And anyway, look! I have barely any teeth left and will never be able to walk again! What kind of life is that?" She laughed softly and sweetly. "It's game over for me, Jacky. And I've run out of lives. I can't press continue, and I don't even think I can start over because I'm not sure if reincarnation is real. But I'm happy. I completed enough quests in my life to be satisfied."

"But you're so young..." Jacky continued, still crying hard. "You'd have so much ahead of you... and you're... you're the sweetest person I've ever met in my life..."

"Aw! Thank you!" said Maddy, blushing. "You're really sweet too."

"How can you say that?!" Jacky shouted. "I'm a murderer! I'm killing you! If I'm caught, I'll be put to death!"

"I can see the kindness in your eyes," Maddy said softly. "You might have some problems, you might have past trauma, and God knows why you started killing, but I know your heart is there, and it's kind. And yes, you will be put to death..." This time, Maddy was crying from happiness. "But Jacky, learn from me. Do anything and everything that makes you happy as much as you can. Make sure that, when you're about to be executed, you know that there's nothing you can do but savor the time you lived."

"I don't want to stop killing," said Jacky. "That's... that's just who I am... it's fun..."

"I never said you had to," Maddy replied. "If it's murdering that makes you happy, then murder as many people as you can until you die. Live life to its fullest, and remember that you're you no matter what. People hate you for killing people, and I agree it's terribly wrong, but I know you'll get caught soon. I know you'll die. Maybe you don't deserve it, or maybe you do, we'll never know. But that doesn't matter. What matters is you. Be proud of yourself, love yourself. And maybe, whatever happens when you die, perhaps we can be friends on the other side."

Jackiy was still sobbing, but he was smiling.

"You know what..." he whispered. "Let me get you a glass of water..."

"Ooh, thank you!" said Maddy. She wished she could wipe her eyes. Jacky went back to the kitchen and took the vodka bottle he had left on the counter. He always drank because he was unhappy and ashamed, but everything had changed for him. He drained the bottle down the sink, got a glass of water, a little pudding cup, and a spoon. Then he returned to the room. Maddy was humming "Let it Be."

"Are you hungry?" he asked, his voice shaking.

"Yeah, I could eat," Maddy replied. Jacky tipped the water glass gently into Maddy's mouth, letting her drink. The he set it on the floor. "Hey Jacky, I wanna say something."

"Yes?" he said as he opened the pudding. Maddy laughed.

"Thanks for not being a rapist." Jacky stared at her a moment, and then they both started laughing. It was a nice moment, almost as if they were just two friends hanging out. Jacky started carefully feeding her the pudding. When it was all gone, he set the spoon and cup down to join the glass of water.

"Let's let your stomach set a bit," he said, sitting on the bed. "I don't want you to throw up."

"Yeah, I like chocolate too much," Maddy agreed. "I don't wanna waste it before I die." Jacky laughed softly, staring at her. She really was very pretty; that was the reason he had taken her. Her hair was silver blonde, long, and her eyes were a dark brown. He had never seen any girl like her.

"Let me know when you're ready," he said.

"Mkay. In the meantime, how come you became a murderer?"

Jacky thought for a moment, and then responded.

"Well," he began. "I always had a fascination with death. Whenever I scraped myself, I would inspect the blood until it scabbed over. Sometimes I'd fall on purpose to hurt myself. Then my grandfather died when I was twelve. I saw him in the casket, and felt happy as opposed to sad. I hadn't hated him; I barely knew him. But seeing his lifeless body sparked something in me. I wanted to stab his body and see the blood pour out... and then... I started getting into fights at school, 'accidentally' killed a guy, and spent a year in juvie. A couple years went by... and I killed my family."

"That's quite a story," said Maddy. "If I had ever been a killer, it'd probably be for fun, too."

"You're too sweet to be a killer," Jacky laughed.

"Heh, I'll take your word for it." She shuffled in the chair, trying to sit up a little straighter. "Okay, I'm ready."

Jacky hesitated, but then took a small handsaw from the toolbox.

"I have to tell you, Maddy, before I continue..." he said with a soft smile, tears starting to emerge from his eyes. "You really are a kind girl, and you deserved your good life. And just as you said to me, I'm not sure if you deserve this or not. People will probably say you didn't. But believe it or not, this has been the happiest day I've had for a long time, and I will miss you."

"We'll meet again," said Maddy contently. "I know we will."

"I hope so."

"You don't feel guilty, do you?"

"Just a bit..." Jacky admitted.

"Well don't," said Maddy. "This is your hobby. Enjoy it. Consider me your best project."

Jacky laughed, letting out a small sob.

"Can I call you my friend?" he asked.

"Of course!" said Maddy happily. "Now hurry up before you get all mushy mushy and change your mind!" She was joking, and Jacky knew it.

"Alright, this is gonna hurt a lot," he said, approaching her and holding the saw above her wrist.

"I don't expect anything less," said Maddy, but then started screaming and shrieking as Jackie sawed through her wrist, dismembering her hand. He moved to the other wrist and did the same, Maddy's body tense as she sobbed from the pain. She really wished she could wipe her eyes; her mascara was making them burn a little bit.

Jacky had dismembered her feet too, and then raised the knife to cut off her ear.

"Jacky," she gasped weakly. "If you... carve... a smile into... my face... I will always look... happy..."

"Good idea, kid." He did as she had suggested, making the carved smile stretch wide. Even though she was in the worst pain imaginable, she never felt anguish. She watched Jackie, staring into his eyes where she saw the suppressed kindness.

He'll be happy now, she thought. He felt like a horrible person before, but he'll be happy now...

Maddy's vision began to swim as Jacky cut her abdomen and into her stomach. Through the contents, he saw a bit of white poking out. He grabbed it, laughing softly.

"Found your tooth," he said.

"Told... y... ou..." Maddy forced out, barely sobbing because she was so dizzy. Jacky smiled and stood above her. He started stroking her hair, and she closed her eyes...

And he slit Madeline's throat.