Be Careful

“In recent weeks, a rash of murders has swept the city. Police are calling it the work of a serial killer, but when questioned about this statement, Police Spokesman Daniel Garfield refused to comment. All authorities will say at the moment, is that each victim received a voicemail minutes before they were killed, saying, quote, ‘Be careful’. Once again, ‘Be careful’. Police are still investigating the events, and ask that anyone with information about these murders contact them immedia-”

You shut off the TV, sick of bad news for the night. A glance at the clock on the DVR tells you that its four minutes past three. You sigh. Your wife won’t be home for another hour at least. She’s been working the night shift all week. Tired of waiting, you crawl into bed and fall asleep, thinking of the recent murders. Don’t you have a friend on the police force? You should really call him some time.

Tomorrow morning, you awake next to your wife. She must have come home sometime last night. Poor thing looks dead tired. You decide to just let her sleep. Getting up and around, you flick on the radio in time to here, “-urderer struck again last night. The same message was found on the voicemail of the latest victim. Police are continuing investi-” Off, again, goes the radio. Still raving about that serial killer.

You grumble your way to the coffee machine, when the phone starts to ring. You freeze. What if… no. It couldn’t be. That kind of thing happens to other people. Nonetheless, your hand shakes just slightly as you reach for the handset. You pick up the phone, your hand shaking even worse, now, as the connection comes through. You hear a voice on the other end take a breath, as your blood freezes in your veins.

“Hey, I was starting to wonder if you would ever pick up.”
It’s Jim, your friend on the Police force. You breathe a sigh of relief. Thank God. “Sorry. I was… busy,” you mutter, feeling ridiculous, not to mention slightly embarrassed, for thinking it could possibly be the killer.
“Listen, the force gave me the day off, so I was wondering if you wanted to go out for breakfast. Just us guys, like old times. I want to get my mind off of these murders. But look, my car is in the shop, so if you could come pick me up in ten…”
“Sure, sure,” you agree. You exchange goodbyes, and hang up. It’s about a ten minute drive to his house anyways, so you scribble a hasty note to your wife, and head out the door.

You get held up in traffic on the way, and end up arriving about 15 minutes late. You walk to the front door, mentally preparing an apology as you tap the bell. No one answers, so you ring again, wondering if you hit it fully the first time. Still receiving no answer after a third attempt, you try the doorknob. Unlocked. You twist the cold metal and step inside cautiously, calling for Jim. The smell punches you right in the gut, slightly metallic and sickly sweet. The thick miasma seems to be coming from the kitchen. Following your nose, you step into the room. The walls are painted red with what must be blood, and the floors are swimming with the stuff. Jim and his wife lay sprawled on the floor, their chests, arms, and legs cut to pieces. You throw up, violently, staring around in horror. Then your eye caches something. A red “message” light blinks slowly on the phone. You don’t play the message. You already know what it says.

Bolting out the front door, your only thought is to get out of the house as fast as you can. Forget the cops; you just want to be away from the gristly image of your best friend lying dead on his own floor. You head to the one and only place you can think of: back home. You slam the door shut behind you as you come in the door, tracking bloody footprints across the floor. You reach the kitchen and call for you wife, but you voice catches mid-yell. Your tracks aren’t the only ones. You hear the click of the lock behind you, as your wife’s voice says gently, “I just wanted you to be careful.”

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