Janice was a tiny woman with an enormous heart and a very warm presence. What she lacked in stature, she more than compensated for with her witty, loving, friendly personality, and nature. She appeared almost mousy, but quite lovely with her penetrating green eyes, which unlocked the souls of everyone she encountered. It was almost as if she was able to disarm even the most resistant aggressor merely with her striking smile and soothing voice. She had rich, long auburn hair, which she always kept restrained, tucked under, hidden away from her lovely face. She would turn thirty this year. She wondered where all the time had gone. She fondly recalled her careless teenage years as she read the morning paper while riding the subway on her way to work.
It seemed she always followed the same monotonous routine. She made her way to work every day along with a million other faceless specters. No one spoke to anyone else, no "good morning", no "good evening", just "get outta my way!" and "watch where the hell you're going!" She had grown to love New York, the town she now called home. She adapted herself to this life and had learned to mind her "own business" and to always "watch her back".
Janice lived in a small studio apartment in one of the dimly lit streets of 'the Village'. Sometimes, she was nervous coming home alone, specially at night, during the winter months when it got dark even earlier, but she always managed to make it home safe and unharmed. She had no friends in this town aside from the people she worked with. She spent most of her time at home banging away at the keys on her computer keyboard trying to come up with some new program that would give her some sense of accomplishment and deep rooted satisfaction. Aside from her work and her life on-line, she lived a very quiet and secluded life. Aside from not having anyone to confide in, she had no prospective male companions. She felt a loneliness that was now only appeased by reaching out to another desperate soul while engaging in amicable text based interactions.
She had developed a certain affinity for a MrRight as he chose to coin himself in the "chat rooms". He was mysterious, romantic, handsome, caring, and every other endearing quality Janice could possibly conceive. He had sent her a picture of himself. He was nothing like Janice had imagined him to be. He was alluring in some inexplicable way. She thought he would be another one of those men she was fond of until they sent her the long awaited picture. Janice was neither shallow nor fixated on physical appearances, but somehow the pictures always disappointed her. However, this time it was different. She was actually attracted to the man she saw in the portrait, in fact, very much so. It did not take long before she took the initiative to arrange her first meeting with the enigmatic stranger.
They agreed to come together in a popular bar near her home. She felt it would be best if they met in public for the very first time. She had learned over the years that one can never be too careful in a big city with all "the loonies" running around. She had arrived fifteen minutes early and ordered a beer, which she quickly guzzled down to calm herself. Her hands were cold and clammy, and she was overly curious to finally glimpse MrRight in person. They had been chatting for six months now, and she realized she did not even know his family name. All she knew was that his Christian name was Richard and he lived somewhere on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She ordered another beer, but drank this one very slowly. She did not want to appear drunk when he finally arrived. She reached out to grab the frosty mug and felt a tap on her shoulder. She jumped back slightly from this touch and spilled a bit of the ale on her flowery dress.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you, Janice."
Janice looked up and saw him. It was MrRight. "It's you. It's really you."
He smiled and took the drink from her as he guided her through the crowd to an empty table. It seemed as if they talked for an eternity before he suggested they leave the pub and go out dancing. Janice could not recall the last time she had been dancing, but she agreed to go with him after one last beer. She needed that last beer so she would not lose her nerve. She did not care if she danced like the others or if she did not know how to dance at all as long as she was next to her beloved MrRight. They danced for hours until Janice's feet ached and the beer she kept consuming did not allow her to stand straight any longer.
"You're lucky I remember where you live", MrRight said during the cab ride back to her home. "Now, where are your keys?"
Janice giggled and reached for her pocket book, but was unable to open it. She then looked up at MrRight and reached out to passionately embrace him, an intimate kiss. She caressed his face with both her hands and stroked his velvety hair. And, all of a sudden, everything went black.
She woke up during the afternoon of the next day and looked in the mirror. She noticed the little bite marks along her neck. She smiled to herself and remembered her very wonderful evening. She did not have any recollection of how the bites were inflicted, but she was certain it had been a very pleasant experience. It was truly unfortunate her drinking had obscured her all too wonderful memories. She decided to email MrRight a note thanking him for the lovely evening as well as for bringing her home. She sat in front of the terminal for a long time trying to come up with just the right words. Her note read awkwardly, but expressed her sentiment so she mailed it anyway. She went back to her computer a few hours later to check if any reply had returned, but none did. She waited all day, but still there was nothing. Eventually, she decided to go to bed since she had to be in at work earlier than usual the following morning.
The workweek seemed to last forever, and she still had not heard from MrRight. She had been staying up late every night in an attempt to seize him if he was to show himself on-line, but he never made an appearance. Janice was beginning to think that maybe she had done something to wrong him and therefore must be avoiding her. She thought about it again and again, but she could not discern what could possibly be so personal that he could not tell her. After all, they had shared so much of their lives together. Just when she was about to log off, an email came in for her. It was his reply.
Another week passed, and she met him in a small café as the note had instructed. He was fashionably tardy and looking as dashing as ever. Her heart began pounding as soon as she spotted him. They spent a while in the café engaging in trivial conversation over icy "Frappuccinos" and ended the evening with a late movie. In the darkened theater, Janice placed Richard's hand on her lap and held it gently. She was expecting him to explore some of her forbidden places, but he did not. He just held her hand tightly and remained fascinated by the story being unfolded on the large screen. Again, he was the "perfect gentleman" and walked her to her door to guard her as she found her way inside. "Would you like to come in?" she offered.
He chuckled lightly and kissed her on the forehead, "My dear, I will take you up on your offer when you least expect it, trust me! But for now, you will just have to be patient."
She pouted, "but why not now?"
"The offer is very tempting, really. However, it is very late and I must return home before the morning."
He kissed her hand lightly and hurried off. Until now, she had not noticed how loud his footsteps were or the eerie resonating echo they made. She sighed and locked the door as she stepped.
The next morning, she felt unusually drained and examined her now bluish pallor in the bathroom mirror. She had not noticed how awful this light made her look or could it possibly be that she was sick? The bite marks had started bleeding again. She must have scratched off the scabbing while she slept. And to top it all off, the sun was irritatingly bright this morning. She closed off the curtains to seal in the comfort of the soothing darkness. Again, she sat in front of the PC. She turned it on and saw MrRight awaited her once again in cyberspace.
Police Officer Martin walked through the victim's somewhat cluttered apartment. His partner Officer Vega, looked at the woman that had expired with her head still resting on the keyboard. Martin asked: "Do you think she was anemic? She is very pale even for a dead person."
"Dunno. All we know right now is that her name was Janice Jacobson. None of the other victims were anemic although this one is in much better shape. We found her early, but when we get back the results from the autopsy, she'll probably be drained just like the others."
"Seems like this creep preys exclusively on lonely women."
"Wish we had something more to go on than knowing all the victims met him through the Internet, something to find him with, and put his sorry ass behind bars."
"Frank, don't worry about it! We'll find him. So far, he's been lucky he hasn't fallen for the bait, but he'll slip up eventually. And when he does, we will be there to nail him."
"Well, this is woman number six."
"I know, man." Martin said patting Vega on the back.
"And did you happen to see what he called himself this time?"
"Yeah, I saw it", responded Vega grimly as the two men walked out of the little apartment shutting the door behind them.