The Escaped Convict.

It was way past midnight. He had been running for a greater part of 2 hours now. The raindrops splashed across his tired face. "They would catch up with me any time now" he thought. Desperately seeking an asylum, he continued running. Just as he was about to drop down, exhausted, he saw lights at the end of the forest clearing. Hope, he thought.

Barely managing to keep himself from falling, he somehow reached the cottage. The howl of the police canines grew louder behind him. "I must do this" he said to himself. "I must do this, or I'll be ripped to shreds." He finally made up his mind, and knocked. Time seemed to stop, the door didn't open. "What if nobody's home?" he thought. The thought sent shivers down is spine. He knocked again, still no answer. The footsteps of the policemen were growing louder. The crunch of the twigs was audible now. Just when he was about to give up, the door slowly opened.

A wrinkled face, a heavily wrinkled face was what he saw first. A man, who seemed to be, in his late seventies stood in the door with a lamp in the hand. The sudden brightness of the lamp hurt his eyes. He put up his hands instinctively, but both hands came up.

"Why are you handcuffed son?" was the first thing the old man asked. The convict cursed himself. He had forgotten he was still handcuffed. "I am running from the police" he said. "Take me in, I promise that I mean no harm." Surprisingly, the old man didn't hesitate. "Come on in" he said. "The night is chilly outside." The convict hurriedly scampered through the door, hardly believing his luck. He waited alone in the room as the old man went in. The house was old. There was an unnerving, moldy odor in the air. "Something isn't right here." his instincts told him. "But the, am I being too paranoid?" He brushed aside the silly thought and sat there, trying to breathe steadily.

"Here is your hot cup of coffee and some pudding." said the old man. "And I'm assuming, there's obviously a story behind these." he said, pointing towards the handcuffs. "Eat to your heart's content, and tell me everything while you're at it." quipped the old man. "I really don't feel like talking about it." said the convict. "Then you, are free to leave" was the old man's reply. The convict was taken aback. Here he was, face to face with an old man who scarcely had a year to live. Yet he had the audacity to talk back to him. Then again, he only had a year to live. Maybe that's the reason he is so brave, he thought. The thought made him crack up, and he chuckled.

"OK, here it is" he said, sitting on the wooden chair. "Ever heard of 'The GRAY MAN' ?" he asked. "Who hasn't?" replied the old man. "The infamous serial killer who raped and killed close to 29 women over a period of 3 years. And those are not even the official numbers. What about him? Wasn't he caught and executed last month?"

"He was caught, yes. But not executed" replied the convict. "It was a government cover up to abate public fury." Placing down the cup, he reached for the pudding. "But what's your point exactly?" asked the old man. He looked mortified. He had asked the question, but it seemed he didn't want to know the answer. "Well, isn't it clear?" said the convict licking his pudding bowl. "I am the GRAY MAN." The old man gave a slight shiver. He was terrified, and the convict seemed to notice it. His lips curled slyly and he said "Don't worry Old man, you provide me with an asylum when I was sure to be apprehended. So no, I won't harm you, sleep easy."

"But.....but why do this sick stuff?" the old man trembled " why take lives?" The Gray Man laughed. A sick, maniacal laugh. Enough to give you nightmare for years. "Funny you should ask about it" he chirped mockingly. "Well you see, I had a oppressed childhood. I was bullied by almost everybody." He got up and sat face to face with the old man, his face eerily close to the old man's. "But one day, everything changed. I saw a news article, about a killer." He got up and sat near the fireplace. He was beginning to feel really cold. "As I was saying" he continued "I read this news article about a man who killed nearly 85 people. And those are not even the official numbers. How you ask? well nothing related to blood and gore. This genius used to poison them."

It was getting really chilly now. His toes had started numbing due to the cold. He sat closer to the fireplace. "Of course" he said, continuing his story "After 6 years of mayhem, they caught and executed that guy. But he was the one that got me thinking. He brought out the inner killer in me. Suddenly, the numbness of his feet had spread to his hands and chest. But it wasn't numbness anymore, he was paralyzed. He tried getting up, but staggered and fell. " Hee...el...lp me.." he barely managed to say, looking at the old man.

The old man sat next to him and whispered in his ears. "You were so fucking wrong son." he chuckled "The man you were talking about, he was caught, yes" he said, as he saw life slowly creep out of the Gray Man's eyes.

"But not executed."

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