MURDER DAY by Kevin Litwin

Diana Iafrate felt emotions of both excitement and dread as she stared at her TV, waiting for the President to begin his address to the nation.

“This is actually going to happen,” she whispered in anticipation of perhaps the most controversial speech in American history, on an issue that had been heatedly debated from coast to coast for the past two years.

Even though Diana was a young woman who thought kindly of the world, she backed this dubious controversy from its very inception. She wasn’t alone – media pollsters estimated that 88 percent of the American population was in favor of the brash initiative.

“Mark Forester,” she suddenly murmured with sinister disdain at 9:00 p.m., then her eyes focused upon the 50th President of the United States and the beginning of the powerful speech.

“Fellow Americans. After months of debate and much soul-searching by you proud residents who grace this great land of ours, I am pleased to declare that tomorrow – May 4th – will be designated as the first-ever National Murder Day.”

A tiny smile creased Diana’s lips while she eased forward in her comfortable antique armchair to better hear the details.

“Tomorrow, along with every May 4th from now on, will officially be the date when any resident of these United States will be allowed to murder anyone they want, as long as the murder occurs within the borders of our country. There will be no arrests. No recriminations.”

For a few hours leading up to the monumental announcement, Diana had surmised that this would be the subject of the President’s address, but hearing the finalized message still made her spine shiver.

“Fellow Americans, there are only a few simple rules to follow in order for this day to be a rousing success. For the full list of rules and restrictions, go to the Presidential website. But just briefly, there can be no serial killings – just one murder per resident. Feel free to use a gun, knife or poison, but be quick about it. We want every murder victim to be killed as rapidly and humanely as possible.”

“Mark Forester,” Diana again mumbled with venomous scorn as an eerie blackness formed around her inset eyes.

“Fellow Americans, this is an ideal way to release any tensions and pent-up hostilities toward someone who wronged you in the past. I predict that this action will cause the overall murder rate to plummet throughout the United States, although it will obviously spike every Murder Day. So I ask all of you tonight: Do you have a score to settle with someone? Then by all means, go settle it tomorrow!”

Diana clicked off the TV and sat in blank silence for five minutes before furrowing her eyebrows and grinding her teeth. The President’s speech fanned further flames of anger toward her contemptible ex-boss – Mark Forester – for whom she retained a colossal revulsion.

*****

“Filthy pig,” Diana prickled as she sat back and recalled instances from the not-too-distant past when she was under the evil employ of Mark Forester. Her eventual firing by the detestable tyrant ruined her spirit and forced Diana to become somewhat of a recluse.

Any current thought of Mark was a decay, a ghastly deformity that sullied her mind, so it was at that exact instant at 9:19 p.m. on the eve of May 4th when Diana concluded without any doubt that, yes, she would indeed kill Mark Forester on the first-ever National Murder Day.

“I’ve got that pistol and bullets Daddy gave me for Christmas to protect myself,” she whispered, and retired to her bedroom to fully load the gun prior to climbing into bed for an uninterrupted night of blissful sleep.

At 5:30 the next morning on May 4, Diana awoke rested and ambitious, and she showered, dressed, exited the house, and was driving by 6:30 a.m. to the building where Mark worked. She knew her ex-boss always arrived at the building by 7:00 a.m., an hour before any of his brow-beaten staff, so Diana planned to launch her devilish scheme shortly after he first entered his personal office.

And it all happened almost precisely as she had planned. The hated Mark sipped black coffee at his oversized desk at 7:05 a.m. and gazed out his fourth-floor window when ex-employee Diana traipsed into his office, brandishing a cocked pistol pointed right at him. His square jaw dropped at the sight of her, and Diana derived immense pleasure as he trembled with fright, begging for his life.

With all the unbridled fury she could muster, she aimed the gun with two hands at her former boss and coldly pumped one piercing bullet into his black-hearted heart. He stared at her in shock prior to grabbing a pen from his desk, and he struggled to scribble the words Diana did on a scratch pad.

He released the pen and fell like a cinder block from his office chair to the carpeted floor, and she walked forward a few steps to stand above him for the gratification of looking into his beady eyes to watch him die. But he wasn’t dying fast enough for her, so Diana fired a second bullet into his chest followed by two rounds directly into his groin, then the final two shells flush into his horror-ridden face.

“Happy Murder Day,” she whispered in a low growl, her spirits uplifted when realizing that the miserable affliction had been vanquished.

She glanced at the Diana did note but never grabbed it and didn’t care if anyone saw it, since there would be no penalties or retributions to pay from such deeds carried out on that glorious day. So with pistol still smoking, she marched from the office with a spring in her step, knowing that all of her hatred and distress toward Mark Forester had been transformed into delightful emotions of unrestrained relief and utter joy.

*****

Diana drove home in peace and relaxed during the remainder of May 4th. She enjoyed two delectable meals along with an afternoon nap, then watched some TV and even had the courage and confidence to take a refreshing nighttime stroll around her neighborhood.

However, much later that same dark night, as she sipped a celebratory glass of white wine in the living room and flipped through a clothing catalog, the front doorbell rang twice. She nervously tossed the magazine onto the couch and grasped her wine glass tightly, then glanced at a wall clock above her TV. The time was 12:01 a.m.

“Who could that be, especially this late?” she thought.

She pondered whether or not to answer, and uneasily paced toward the front door before coming to a dead stop. Again she considered whether or not to open the door, and after a skittish five seconds, she opened it just enough for her to peek outside. She saw nobody, and a few uneasy seconds passed before she spoke.

“H-Hello? Is anybody there?”

Nobody answered. She slowly opened the door a tiny bit more, enough to slink her thin body through the small cracked opening, and she took one wary step onto the unlit front porch.

“Hello?” Diana said with a quivering voice.

She tensely gazed from side to side into the inky night blackness to possibly catch sight of whoever rang the bell, but she saw nobody. Suddenly, Diana looked down and noticed a white business-sized envelope setting atop the porch’s welcome mat, so she stooped to grab it.

“What is this?” she wondered while quickly re-entering the house, then closed and locked the front door before scurrying to the living room to sit in her favorite antique armchair.

Nothing was written on the outside of the sealed envelope, so she tore it open and extracted a folded sheet of white paper. After taking a deep breath and unfolding the paper, she stared at its contents.

“No!” she shrieked, and a look of terror covered her beet-red face.

Diana dropped her worry-racked forehead into the sweaty palm of her shaking right hand as she continued to gaze with escalating fear at the upsetting letter. The typewritten message was brazen and to the point, and its words would haunt her almost nonstop for the next 364 days:

I know you hated Mark, but he did have one friend. Me. I’ll see you next Murder Day.