Her name was Janet. Or Janice or...maybe Jessica. It started with a "J", that's for sure. We'll just call her Janet for argument's sake. Anyway, Janet was an immensely pretty girl. Eyes so blue that they were almost white, dark brunette hair and the sweetest smile I had ever seen. Admittedly, I thought I'd never have a chance in Hell with this girl. So, I just sat at the bar and went through my usual weeknight routine. Drawing in my sketchbook while sipping on a beer and half watching whatever sports game was on at that time. Really, when you look at it, it's kind of a sad existence. But, not to me.

That one night however, the night that Janet came into my life, just felt a bit different. The routine was still the same and everything like that, but something in the air just felt... off. Not in a bad way, though. Just didn't feel like it normally did. Almost like I had an itch that I just couldn't scratch. As one would probably expect, I usually thought when I drew. The more into my drawings I was, the deeper I thought. And on this particular night, I was so into my drawing that I almost forgot where I was more times than I'd care to admit. It was also during one of these moments when I suddenly felt a soft hand brush against my forearm.

Naturally, I jumped practically a half a foot in the air. I went to put up a fist in case someone had the intent of duking it out, but instead I was met with that same gorgeous face I had been eying since I walked in. She put her hands up defensively and gave me a nervous smile.

“Whoa there, cowboy! I didn't mean to scare you. I just saw that you were alone and... well, being alone myself, I figured we could both use a friend.”

After a few quick moments of regaining my composure, I let out a small chuckle.

“S-Sorry. I was just spaced out so you just kind of caught me off guard.”

She giggled a bit and took a seat next to me, extending a hand for me to shake.

“I'm Janet, by the way.” I took her hand into mine and gave it a firm, but gentle shake.

“Janet, huh? That's a very pretty name.”

She smirked and blushed a little bit. “Yeah, I suppose it is.” She bit her bottom lip for a moment before looking back up to me. “I don't suppose you would mind me buying you a drink?”

I smirked out of the corner of my mouth and nodded once. “Just a beer is fine for me.”

We continued to talk for a few minutes, laughing our drinks away. Eventually, Janet's eyes wandered down to my sketchbook with a quirked brow.

“Oh, you're an artist?” she said, turning the page towards her to get a better view of my drawing.

“Yeah, but only as a hobby. I wish I could do this for a living,” I said, shaking my head slowly.

She looked back up to me, a curious glint in her eyes. Twirling her glass on the bar for a few moments, she eventually spoke of what she was thinking. “Do you have any other art that I could take a look at?”

I squinted my eyes a bit, feigning thought for a few long moments, trying to act like I didn't want to be with her since I walked in. “Well... I suppose I do. I have a few paintings at my studio, if you wanted to look at them.”

She smiled warmly at the thought. “I'd love to.”

I stood up and walked to where she was sitting and retrieved her coat for her. Said coat found its way back to its owner as I held the door open for her. “It's about three blocks away. I hope you don't mind,” I said, looking down meaningfully at her seemingly skyscraper tall high heels. She stopped in her tracks and kicked off her shoes. First the right, then the left.

“There. Now I don't mind.” We laughed and continued on our merry way, chitchatting about this and that before eventually making it to my art studio.

We climbed the three flights of stairs before we were greeted by the dark maroon room that I had come to love so very much.

Janet walked in, almost in awe of the various paintings around her. She absentmindedly put her purse and shoes down, her bare feet making soft thumping noises on the wood floor.

“Oh my God... you're amazing!” she said, not even bothering to turn to me.

“Yeah, well... I try my best,” I chuckled out, amused that somebody finally appreciated my work.

“Do any of these have titles?” she said, her icy blue eyes looking at me with an almost child-like wonder. I sighed and stepped forward, crossing my arms over my chest.

“Well, I haven't really thought about any of that stuff. I just sort of paint whatever is on my mind and hang it up. Although, whenever I look at that one, I always think Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

She stepped forward and eyed the painting in question. It was of a young girl, about the age of seventeen or eighteen, in the foreground with a small stone bridge behind her. She looked battered and torn, obviously in disarray. Besides various shading and whatnot, the entire painting was done in charcoal, looking like an Escher sketch, except much less surreal. What really made the painting pop, in my eyes at least, was the sky. It was painted a deep, dark red contrasting the girl and the bridge almost perfectly. It was truly my prized possession.

“Sadly, I haven't found a whole lot of inspiration for anymore paintings. My creativity has been kind of stunted lately, I suppose,” I said, chuckling a bit.

Janet lightly brushed her fingers over the painting, smiling widely and examining every last detail. I watched her for a moment before snickering once and walking to a nearby mini-fridge. I retrieved a bottle of wine that I'd been saving for a while, but since tonight had been going so smooth so far, I figured why not open it now? I poured a glass for her and a glass for me and, padding back over to her, handing her her drink.

She took her glass, eyes never leaving that painting. “Would you... would you mind painting something for me? I mean, I know we barely know each other but your art is just so... I can't even describe it. Amazing is the strongest word that comes to mind.” I sipped on my wine thoughtfully, draining about half the glass before walking into the other room and grabbing my easel, a canvas and a few brushes. I set them up and pulled my charcoal pencil out of my back pocket and smiled at her.

She smiled brightly back at me, finishing the contents of her own glass.

“I want to give you a step by step view of my process,” I said, an unusual pep in my tone. She bounced on the balls of her feet and clapped excitedly.

“I'm so excited! What comes first?”

I just kept smiling at her, choosing my words very carefully. “Well, first step... is you take a nap.”

Her excited smile slowly crept down into a thoughtful frown and then a small look of horror. “Wh-What did you s-say?” I placed my pencil on the easel with a sigh and walked up to her.

“It's very simple. Just... don't fight it. And roll with it.” I stepped back to my spot and watched her as her eyes drooped a bit and she stumbled around before falling back onto the couch and looking around with tired eyes.

“Good. Now...”

I walked back into the other room, retrieving a small canvas bag and placing it on the floor next to my work station. I fastened a surgical mask over my mouth and slapped on some latex gloves. Walking over with a small pair of scissors I smiled down at her, my cheeks raising up a bit above my mask. “Second step is we get those pesky clothes off of you.” I began near her groan, cutting her thin black dress up the middle to reveal a matching bra and panties. I chuckled and waggled a playfully stern finger at her. “Oh you. Matching what you're wearing all nice and nice. Kind of cute, if I'm being honest.”

With another light chuckle, I cut her undergarments away and threw all of them off to the side. Walking back to my workstation, I turned off the lights, letting the moonlight in and making sure it was hitting my muse in all the right spots. “Ahhh... perfect.” I sighed out as I reached for my pencil. “Step three is beginning the sketch.” Slowly but surely, my outline came into fruition. Once I had the base line work down, I moved on to details, getting every curve and every proportion as perfect as I possibly good.

Every strand of hair, right down to her eyebrows, had to be perfect. It just had to be. “Now...” I said, reaching for my can of paint. “Step four is coloring the painting.” I popped the top off of the can, only to see that I was fresh out. “Oh, my...” I said, frowning a bit. “It seems I'm all out of paint. Bah... no matter. I'll just borrow some from you.” I grabbed the surgical scissors and walked over to her and grabbed her gently by the hand, despite her lazy and tired protests.

“Now now, Janet. Struggling will only make this go slower,” I said sweetly. Dragging the dull blades over her wrist countless times, I eventually worked my way underneath her skin. I peered carefully into her wound before nodded once happily. “Aha! Found it.” I looked over to Janet's half open and drugged eyes. There was an immense terror underneath them, one that just seemed to spur on my creativity. “That's the spirit!” I said, with an almost jovial sing song tone.

I snipped one of her veins, quickly bringing the fountain of crimson liquid down to my paint can, filling it up quicker than I expected to. “I'm sure you were wondering about the gloves and mask earlier. And this is pretty much the only reason for them. I don't know what kind of illnesses or diseases you may have, so... I'm just being more safe than sorry.”

Once I had enough of my painting material, I let her arm dangle over the side of the couch, her severed vein still weeping at a tremendous rate. I walked back to my newest creation and began adding in shading and touches of red to accentuate the centerpiece of my painting. After a while of getting almost too caught up in my personal therapy, I frowned at my art. “Aww. It seems I've gone a bit too far. Can't have my art not reflect the subject, can I?”

I picked up my easel to bring my work closer to her. I eyed it for a moment before reaching into my shirt pocket and retrieving a switchblade. I flicked it open and held it against this area and that area of her skin, carefully planning where I need to make adjustments. Once I was sure of myself, I began to cut. One incision on her left breast, straight across the middle of her nipple. Then a few very deep cuts in the formation of a triangle. One below each of her breasts and one below her navel.

I scrunched my nose and eyed the painting for a moment before shaking my head slowly. “No no no... it's not enough.” I decided to add a bit more flair last minute and stuck my knife into the wound below her navel. I struggled to bring it up her abdomen, as low and gurgling moans sounded off from her lips. “Shhh. It's alright, Janet. It's almost over.”

I went back to my painting, adding in the cascading trails of blood down her wounds. Once I was satisfied, I brought the blade to her throat. “The final step. Letting my muse go. Thank you so very much for working with me, darling. I hope you had fun.” I dragged the sharp steel across her throat, pressing as hard as I could.

Blood spurted out before settling with a light but fast ooze. I watched with delight as the glint in her eyes slowly faded away and her skin became as white as snow. I stood up and lit a cigarette, taking a few long drags and just enjoying the moment. It felt good to be back in business.