The watcher straightened and edged from behind the granite marker. White puffs of vapor from the shallow, rapid breaths he took coalesced around his face. He held his body as rigid as a tombstone. As he waited for the evening nurses to end their tour of duty and hurry across the street to their cars, his narrowed eyes focused on the brightly-lit hospital entrance. Every night for a week, he had watched while excitement and anticipation had circled like a swarm of hornets. Would she come tonight?
"I'll never leave you." When he was eight, Mommy had said the words that had become his litany. That broken promise had brought him here.
He stared at the steps. When would Susan come?
When Mommy was a patient, Susan had been her favorite nurse. He had liked Susan, too, but she hadn't stopped those other people from hurting Mommy. His shoulders tensed.
"I'll never leave you. They'll have to kill me first."
The night Mommy had died was etched into his memories. On that dreadful night, he had begun his plan to make them pay.
Mommy would be unhappy about what he meant to do. To her, nurses were special and Susan more wonderful than the rest.
He rocked from his heels to his toes. The last time he had disobeyed, Mommy had threatened to tell everyone how bad he was. He had promised her he would be good. His hands curled into fists. Sometimes he wanted to feel the heat of accomplishment so much he felt sick.
He gulped a breath. Tonight the heat would blossom and he would feel powerful again.
Susan was like Mommy. She would tell. He chewed on his lower lip. Her death would free him to still the people who had hurt Mommy on that dreadful night.
His smile became a grimace.
He had trusted Susan but she had failed to keep Mommy safe. Though he wished to see the others dead, Susan had to be first. He had laid his plans carefully, and while he had considered all the things that could go wrong, days had become weeks and then months.
The bright lights across the street caught his attention and stirred his hopes. She had to come tonight. He wanted to be free.
His hand brushed Mommy's tombstone. He pressed his fingers against the engraved letters of her name. He cocked his head and listened to the whisper of the wind.
"Nurses give so much to others. Someone should take care of them."
Mommy's husky voice thrummed in a corner of his mind. Her face appeared. Tears spilled from her eyes. He shook his head. Why should he listen to her when she had left him?