Flash: Red Knife

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The knife in his hand dripped blood. Not his. Never his. He leaned against the wall heaving for breath after a hard run. A run he didn’t remember. He turned his head listening for pursuit.

Whatever did this. Did this to others, to him. Had kept him safe so far. Bin doubted this will always be the case. Five times since he turned sixteen he found himself in a new place, a new city, weeks passed unexplained. Bloody knife in his hand.

A dead woman appearing in the news the next day from stab wounds. Important women. Rich women. With even more important husbands or fathers. Women he had never met. Never knew. He had learned each of their names since.

Seo-yeon, Ji-yoo, Min-seo, Da-eun, and Chae-won.

He had traced them on the internet. Their too short lives.

Bin wanted to scream for help.

None would come. No help for him.

Maybe for the next person. His next victim. If it was his victim. Or was he her victim? Her unwitting killer.

Six times now. He could stop it at six. The last victim, never have the next victim. Learn the new name, the one whose blood is on the knife, and stop it at six.

He bent down and washed the knife in a puddle. It had rained here last night.

Checking himself for blood, some covered his hand, run down from the knife, some sprayed across his shirt long enough ago to turn from bright red to brown. New clothes would be required to go much further.

Bin set the knife to the side and checked his pockets. A ticket for a train leaving in four hours, a cardkey for a hotel. Based on experience, it would be nearby. He crept to the edge of the alley and looked up and down the street. A glowing neon sign, one of many in the mist of the early morning, matched the name. He picked up the death knife and made for the shelter whatever drove him had arranged.

In the room, a new set of clothes laid on the bed. An empty beat-up suitcase sat beside the bed.

Bin wrapped the knife in his bloody shirt and the bloody shirt in the clean pants before taking a shower. Red ran down the drain for a few moments before coming completely clean.

While dressing, he flipped on the television. In seconds, he had his new name Sa-rang. Wife to a city councilman in Baltimore; he had recently tossed a hat in to run for State Senator. Sa-rang didn’t have any children; mercifully, none of the women did.

They switched to the weather and the date showed. Four months, the longest time so far. He had missed his birthday. Thirty-six years old last month.

He shrugged into the hoodie and pulled the suitcase behind him, exiting the hotel room. At the desk, he turned over the card-key. The clerk reminded him he qualified for the hot breakfast.

Not knowing where the next meal would come from, he took advantage of the food and ate his fill. The train wouldn’t leave for another three hours. After eating, he checked at the desk to see if they had a courtesy bus to the station. They did.

The train took about four hours, including an engine switch in Philadelphia before reaching Palisades Park in New Jersey. Home sweet home.

All he had to do was find a place to lay his head.

That would take money.

Bin walked the four miles to the bank, leaving each piece of questionable clothing in bits along the way, the knife already disposed of in Philadelphia. Only the suitcase remained when he went into the bank.

He waved at his normal bank agent and sat down to wait out the lunch crowd.

“Mr. Jung, how are you doing?” Karen asked after she cleared those waiting. “Need to get into your box again?”

“Yes ma’am.” He stood and followed her, pulling the suitcase. Before entering the vault, she confirmed his identity with the passwords they had set up. He never awoke from his fugue state with any identification. The hotel room had a false ID which got him home, usually on a train, but as identity checks have tightened, the last two trips had been on a bus.

Signing out the box, he saw that he had last opened it on April twentieth, the last day he remembered. Inside the box was his wallet and all his identification like normal. With that in hand, he went to the cashier to find out how much money had appeared in his account this time.

Just the standard $150,000.

Da-eun had been a quarter million, but she had lived in Los Angles, on the other side of the US.

He transferred enough onto his debit card to cover rooms at a flea hotel which charged by the week and some food. No point in getting a real apartment. It will be years before he lost time again, maybe, but it would happen.

He was too weak to confess. Bin knew he couldn’t fight it. He would wake up again with a red knife and a seventh name to learn.

(words 867; first published 3/22/2020)