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By Brianna Simmons

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“Go on, do it. She won’t feel it.”

Josh’s hand hesitates over the woman’s bare throat. Her heart stopped beating three minutes ago. He’s on his knees at her side, the cold of the kitchen tiles numbing his skin through his pants.

“But—” Josh says.

“Do it, come on. You want to, I know you do.” Josh’s hand is shaking. He looks over to examine Rodge’s look of excitement. His top lip pulls up and his head tilts.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he says to Josh. “I didn’t do this to her, you did. Now go on!”

Josh looks away. It is his fault––he was the one who poisoned her drink. Rodge watched it happen, happy to see the woman get retribution for what she did to him. Josh lets his fingertips dip down to graze smoothly over her skin.

“That’s it,” Rodge whispers. Josh slowly presses down harder and harder, his pulse bordering on frantic. His heart jumps into his throat when the first drop of blood appears. Thin skin parts easily under his nails, warmth spreading over his fingertips.

“Blood’s still fresh,” Rodge leans in to whisper directly into Josh’s ear. “Imagine if she was still alive, her blood still pumping.” Josh’s eyelids flutter at the thought, imagining the sweet warmth engulfing his entire hand. Rodge chuckles darkly, his eyes going back to Josh’s fingers in the woman’s neck. They sink another centimeter and the blood stains his skin as it spills out of the wound.

“God, you’re sick, but man, even I gotta admit that’s beauty right there.”

Josh turns away from looking at his hands to look at Rodge. Rodge looks the happiest he’s been since he was shot. There’s dried blood on his flannel and the bullet hole in his neck fades in and out.

“So, you’ll stay?” Josh asks, his voice wavers. Rodge looks at him, unsurprised at Josh’s watering eyes, and his own fingers come up to skim over Josh’s cheek. There’s the hint of pressure when he tries to wipe the tear that drops from Josh’s eye. His thumb passes through the tear, so it stays.

“Harder,” Rodge says, his eyes widening slightly as he looks into Josh’s. Josh follows the order, looking away from Rodge to see his fingers half buried in the woman’s flesh. The blood is collecting under her, a slow, growing puddle. Josh swears he can almost make out his reflection. Rodge leans forward and places his hand alongside Josh’s, phasing through the flesh easily.

“Think of it Joshie, you and me.”

“Me and you?” Josh asks. Rodge looks at him, grin edging at his mouth, a hint of blood at the corner.

“Only if you do what I say and help me take them out, one by one,” Rodge says, moving closer to Josh’s side, the hand in the woman’s neck moving away, unstained.

“Only if you stay for good,” Josh says, the barest hint of courage in his voice. Rodge grins, bordering on manic. His unstained hand pretends to settle on the side of Josh’s neck.

“Sure, I’ll stay.”

“Please, stay.” Josh’s fingers sink lower still as Rodge leans closer. His lips phase into Josh’s.

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