The front door was ajar, just enough for me not to notice from the driveway. I pushed it open and entered the house.

“Hello! Anne! You home? Michael! Honey?”

I set my briefcase down next to the closet and kicked off my shoes. The house was deserted, and quiet, far too much so. Even the air felt empty.

“Hello…? Where are you guys?”

I walked in to the living room. On the coffee table, sitting on the glass waiting with expectation, was a crisp white envelope adorned with cursive writing. I picked it up and read my name in the bold sweeping strokes of a calligraphy pen: Adrian Fillmore.

Inside was a plain white sheet of paper with a letter written in flowing script matching that on the envelope:


I have your son. Whether he is returned to you in one piece or a hundred is something only I will know. Your wife is chained to the water heater in the basement. I apologize but I had to give her a rather nasty bump on the head to keep her from screaming. I wouldn’t have wanted her to alert the neighbors and she was scaring Michael.

What terrifies people, Adrian? What truly strikes fear into their hearts? This is what I wish to know. But you don’t feel fear like other people do, do you? The situations that grip others in abject terror don’t rattle you. You only become more calm, more collected and cool-headed, and this is why you excel at what you do. I know because I’ve been watching you. I know the tell-tale signs of a psychopath when I see them because it takes one to know one; the difference between you and I is that I’ve always known what I am and have accepted it.

So what is it that scares you, then? Not this, I know. I have your son, and you’re surely angry with me as you read this, for taking something that belongs to you, but I know you’re not afraid. You’re viewing this coolly, impassively, as another problem to be solved and you’re already piecing together in your mind what to do.

No, Adrian, I know what frightens you, because I know what drives you. I know how you think because you think like me. We are just so impatient. So driven. Always thinking about what will happen next.

Well today, Adrian, you don’t get to know what happens next. And you don’t get to know when.

Only that I’m coming for you too, and all you can do is wait.


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