Peer Review by aharry01 (United States)

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An Ordinary Job

By: PseudoExMachina

He flourished on a signature capability, if murder could be referred to as such a thing. When questioned, he would only answer with one cryptic phrase: "My work? Why, it's the same as any ordinary job." And, to an extent, it was. He spent his days slaving away in an office, scouring endless streams of identical documents for any decipherable mistakes. But his nights were spent taking beautiful men and women to lavish nightclubs, where the smoky atmosphere worked to dull their senses and sharpen his wit. They always laughed: the women leaning over the table seductively, and the men leaning forward in an attempt at a smouldering stare, as if they could almost see beyond his eyes and into the dark secrets concealed beneath his pristine grey collar. But they never could. Instead, they made flirtatious advances in a most drunken manner. Never once did it occur to them that they might very well have been flirting with their imminent death; a naïve fly complimenting a spider in his lair. For a lion he was not; despite his strength and muscular physique, he preferred a more elegant mode of elimination. 

Every time he used the same technique with a unique personal touch for each victim. It often occured to him that perhaps he did this for the simple pleasure of annoying the government. For indeed, he darkly chuckled, his work had made it to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He could only imagine the expanse of their whiteboards and files, each as infuriatingly pristine as the last. It was the perfection that baffled them. Not a hair out of place, not a bruise on their body, and not a trace of any poison in their system. They had even found each victim's clothing methodically folded and suspended an inch above their torso. There was never a wire; only a common grocery store magnet tucked into a pocket or a piece of their lingerie, and, as would be found later during each autopsy, a spotless iron coating of the opposite polarity (of course of his own making) covering the entirety of the inside of the victim's stomach. Sometimes the victims would also be found with a clinical cut across their jugular, or a necktie wrapped fondly around their neck, belying their spine, severed, of course, in one smooth stroke. There was one case where a young male victim's hair had been carefully washed and combed back over the small holes drilled into his skull. But never found at any scene was a single drop of blood. It took him more work, but he could always sleep better at night knowing he had not left any visible stains to deface the corpses of his victims. Blood is potential evidence, of which he leaves none but the victim and their possessions. In addition, bloody deaths were intended for killings of passion, which would be an indication of human emotion. A purposeful lack of blood displayed his extreme patience and his capacity for cold precision in the use of a knife. Never would he dare touch a weapon such as a gun; such a manner of murder gives an artificial air of impartiality to a crime scene. A self-aware murderer who meticulously goes about his work undetected and with the utmost of calm is a case more curious than the one who lost control of his actions in a fit of emotion.

Perhaps I shall continue with this idea another day. 

Peer Review

I love how stark the first line can feel. Many took this prompt on with either joyful mysterious air, but you did no such thing. This piece got right to the chase, it was blunt and quite good. You really prove that he flourishes on murder, with the perfect job that he does on each victim. I quite appreciate the whimsical lines that contrast with the whole theme of death and murder. But I have to say that my favorite part is the title -- "An Ordinary Job." I just love the contrast between the idea of what an ordinary job means and your writing, which makes it out to be just another job.

I would love to know why he only flourishes on one capability. What is his day job? What happened? What lead him to murder? What's his motive? Does he murder for someone, and if so who? Clients? A boss? Who does he murder anyway? What was his first murder? I feel like this piece was wonderful with describing his job, but I want to see a plot, I want to know who this man is, if that makes sense.

Reviewer Comments

Now that you signed up, I have officially lost all hope for winning $100 like, ever. But in all seriousness, you did a fabulous job on this piece. I feel that it could most definitely be expanded on, which is great. Well done!