Life often takes us into new, unexpected directions. A decision we make may turn out to be inconsequential in the long run, as it gets mitigated by a different course of action taken by someone else. Such was the fate of Neil. Neil was an pleasant fellow; kind to his friends, helpful to strangers, charming, smart, witty and incredibly handsome, Neil was someone you wanted to be around. There was something inherently magnetic about him that attracted all sorts of attention.
Not all such attention was desirable, however. One day, life threw Neil a curveball he never expected. It all began with a letter. It was a nice Saturday morning, beautiful weather – nary a cloud in sight. Neil expected the day to be very pleasant. He’d just eaten some delicious scrambled eggs and was having a nice cup of green tea while opening his mail which had piled up during the week. Neil’s mailbox was always full of letters, the kind written on fancy perfumed stationery, some filled with shy confessions of affection, others expressing more carnal desires. The letters were always a pleasant read to Neil. He did enjoy the attention. He enjoyed it so much that he’d even bought a magnifying glass, so that he could revel in every little letter, every stroke of pen, trace every shallow breath that shook the writer’s hand. This time, however, one particular letter made him feel something else.
I’M GONNA FUCK YOUR BRAINS OUT
The stationery wasn’t either perfumed or fancy. In fact, it looked like a regular post-it. The writing wasn’t even done by hand – it was printed out, cut out and stuck to the paper. Slightly annoyed, Neil put the paper down. He grabbed his keys and made his way to the gym. As he walked, the thought of that one letter would loom over him like a flock of hungry vultures. No, he wasn’t scared. Of course he wasn’t. He was the strongest dude he knew, so if anyone tried to force themselves on him, he would definitely have the upper hand. And yet, the very fact that he had to reassure himself of that made him realize that he felt threatened. Before he had the time to digest that thought, he’d already reached the gym. Greeted by the familiar reassuring smiles of the coaches and some regulars, he immediately forgot about the letter.
Something was wrong. He knew it the moment he got out of the showers after the workout. The locker room was completely empty, which didn’t seem very likely at this hour. He went up to his locker draped only in a towel, taking the occasional glance behind the shoulder. When he finally reached it, the lights suddenly went out. The room was underground, there were no windows. It was completely dark. Neil grabbed his phone and used it as a flashlight to locate the door. He found it. He pulled on the doorknob. It was locked. Heavy breathing. It wasn’t his. He was about to turn around when he felt a sensation in his left shoulder, as if he’d just been stung by a bee. He placed his hand there – it was a dart of some sort, though in that instant everything became blurry. Neil fell to his knees, his consciousness fading. The last he remembered was a gentle caress on the shoulder, someone lifting him up. Then, his face suddenly collided with the floor. His nose broken, face mutilated, sprayed in a puddle of his own blood, he lay there, unconscious, naked, vulnerable.