Short Story: The Purist’s Sins

They sat, entwined, like wound yarn. The brunette’s hand stroked the ginger-girl’s head. A warm aura emitted from them, infected their bench with its glow and heat. Cold autumn didn’t exist within their bubble of love. Anyone looking on would’ve seen, as if removed from time with them, a world zipping and flickering past like film on fast-forward.

But no-one was looking, or rather, one person was, a man and not a man; a monstrous creature in the deceptive form of a human. The creature watching wasn’t seeing what anyone else would, or should. Instead, of two angelic figures, he saw only demons. Their pale skin, concealed beneath pre-winter clothing, told they feared of exposing it for its devilish origins. He watched, seething while somewhere in him, the most vile philosophies resonated with equally demented notions of so-called “proper” human behavior.

Mother had always been very strict about behavior. Father too. She only got stricter when Father died and was no longer the disciplinarian. She took on the dual role. Between it, the insurance money, and his own inheritance, the Purist had more than enough incentives to listen to Mother and emulate her “rightness.”

The Purist wasn’t his name, of course, but that’s what they’d taken to calling him. His name wasn’t important anymore. He’d taken to the persona fully. No-one knew what either looked like, but he preferred The Purist to his “true” self. He was a righteous being; an idea. A symbol. A paragon.

Mother had always been strict: righteousness was God’s way of separating phonies from pious. The only way to distinguish oneself was to become one or the other in extremity.

He still remembered his first taste of righteousness as the Purist, remembered testifying. He remembered the pride, the joy, the closeness to “God.” He especially remembered the taste of satisfaction. That taste was like chasing a dragon nowadays, but he’d become contented by his inner knowledge. The future was his satisfaction. The eternal reward his overall plan. It would be a long road, but he would reach its end, one purified heathen at a time.

The two women’s lips were meeting again. Passion palpitated between them, rippled through the aura. The Purist felt it like an atom bomb’s shock-waves.

The slight tickle of arousal so denied within in convinced himself of his hatred. Could he have even examined anything sanely, he still wouldn’t have been sure of its origins. Whether from taboo, or long-bred repression, he wasn’t sure. Mother had always been very clear; love was not something shown. Father taught her love was silent. Grandmother agreed. Grandfather taught her to.

From the outside, people called them cold, but as he’d been taught, God saw all. Pride was a sin. Excessive love was as akin to pride as anything. Wrath was preferable. Wrath sought to correct the imbalance. That was his family’s philosophy and he adhered to it.

That, and the idea that a “proper” society was the responsibility of all.

The two women parted from the bench, with an obvious pang of longing. It rippled through the aura that then shattered from their separation. It was his time now. The Purist was ready. He could never make a move when that aura existed. It repelled him like a shield. Literal or not didn’t matter. Not in the end. He got what he wanted once the shield failed…

And they got what they deserved.

The ginger girl was the better target; smaller. Weaker. He liked the thrill of the hunt more than the kill nowadays. The satisfaction, dragon-like as it was, wasn’t enough to justify the fight of larger adversaries. He was getting older. Mother had been gone decades now. His righteous fervor could only last another few years before the sloppiness of age set in.

He’d left a trail across the country of bodies riddled with biblical references and markings; pamphlets about the sin of homosexuality. There was more, but that was just what the media had picked up on. Had been allowed to know. So many other little bits of connecting information about the victims was withheld even he’d had trouble remembering it.

Most creatures of his kind– serial killers, he’d learned through various associations with himself– were the type to track those things. They made self-shrines in their hideaways and homes. Pride. They struck where they’d be most noticed. Greed. Gluttony. They struck in passion, for belonging. Lust. Envy. Most of all, they stopped or were caught from lacking commitment, for laziness. Sloth.

But The Purist struck with a vision. His own wrath was long soothed. The victims knew no better. Just like Ginger. She would get what was coming, like all the others. He’d strangle then carve her. Quietly. That was his way. The markings would be a sign at the gates of heaven and hell that her sins were recognized.

Hers, and all the others. Someone had seen the harsh truth, done their best to save what was left of their so-called immortal souls. Though he doubted such creatures had any.

It was perfect, as if Ginger knew. She led him straight through the park. The brunette was long gone, he could take his time. He let her get distance enough to enjoy the scenery. Chicago was a place where anyone could seem lost but remain a target, especially with such flamboyant hair. It was hard to hide no matter the crowd. Hardest in the lone alley she entered to cut through.

That was his time. He closed the distance as she aimed for it, and struck.

In a flash of speed and strength that could’ve made Mother proud, he was on Ginger. He threw her into an indented bit of building, large enough for a pair of dumpsters. His hands grasped her throat. They clamped down.

Ginger was ready. Had been ready.

A stun gun bit his testicles. Electricity surged up through his groin, loosed his bladder and bowels. He fell back screaming, shaking. Hatred surged through him. Wrath. The small spark he recognized; the hatred for himself he’d never been rid of. It was gone just as fast.

Ginger was near. The brunette too. Stun gun clicking. His body writhed in deserved agony. He spasmed, screaming, too near unconsciousness to know. The world turned black.

Ginger, real name Special Agent Angela Dunne, and the brunette, Skyler Rhein, cuffed the unconscious bastard. The partners in more than law swallowed bile above the so-called Purist. Some purist; covered in shit and piss whose smell tainted their UC-car for weeks. The pair were specifically chosen for their relationship, the dual cause of justice and law.

The FBI’s Anti-Hate-Crime Task Force had been on his trail for months. They’d caught a break in Madison after deducing his next likely target was Chicago. Their hunches were confirmed when he’d hit the city. The first victim there was the last. Enough for agency psychologists to finally find the pattern; gay-rights activists leading otherwise quiet lives.

Most victims were the type to otherwise be seen as perfect human beings. Paragons of the species. Most of all, they looked it. Innocence. That was important. He chose them based mostly on that alone, aware of it or not. They had it all; the looks, background, naivete, their only flaw was the so-called sin of their orientation.

Rhein and Dunne personally shoved the Purist into the UC car while acadre of CPD cars escorted them with lights blaring in triumph. They arrived, then personally shoved his shit-reeking form into a cell to await processing. By then, he was awake.

To add insult to injury, in his last moments, Rhein passionately and deep kissed Dunne. Something inside The Purist– real-name Herman Sanford– shattered. It was, only a dying part of him knew, the effect of that all-powerful repulsive aura. The true revelation and expiration of his only, and real sin; self-hatred.

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