If someone had looked closely at her they would perhaps have wondered why she was wearing a baseball cap over her long straight hair and dark glasses that covered half her sharp-featured face. But in malls such as the one she was in, young people were known to display a wild sense of fashion. In fact, all around her, young girls barely out of their teens lounged around wearing T-shirts that displayed their navels, tube tops that worked more as strips of strings than clothes, miniskirts and shorts that left very little to the imagination. On second thought, one would say that she fit right in, except that the slight tremble in her hand as she raised her coffee cup to her lips displayed a hint of nervous tension that seemed a little out of sync with the carefree buzz of those around her.
Although her eyes could not be seen behind the large dark glasses, her face was turned towards the automatic doors that opened and shut periodically to let people into the air-conditioned environs of the mall. She had been staring at these doors for almost fifteen minutes now, and was almost at the bottom of her cup of coffee, but she continued to take small sips of the beverage, prolonging her stay as long as she could.
A slight pause while putting down her cup was the only hint that something had caught her attention. Then she abruptly rose from the table, indicating that her wait was over. The sure-footed steps with which she strolled towards the shopping area after slinging her chic leather backpack on her shoulders was a sign that she knew exactly where she was going. She strode into MoJo Wear’s cavernous flagship store, with the confidence of someone who knew exactly what she was doing.
The only time her steps faltered was when she reached the revolving racks of some of the costliest fashion wear for young women. But even then she only stopped for couple of seconds to pick out two slick dresses made of a fabric that resembled PVC. Soon she was on her way again, the dresses in her arms. She smiled at the salesgirls who were sipping their coffee behind the counter at the end of the store. The salesgirl in charge of the PVC dresses smiled back, relieved that the customer was self-sufficient and her evening flirtations on her phone wouldn’t be interrupted.
As she turned into the section that housed the changing rooms, the girl in the baseball cap felt an involuntary wave of tension rippling through her body. But when she saw that there was no attendant on duty outside the changing rooms, she relaxed. A miniscule smile flitted at the corner of her mouth, signalling that things were going as per plan. She now walked through the corridor to the last stall and opened the door. Stepping inside, she bolted the door behind her and took off her baseball cap and dark glasses. She opened her leather backpack and stuffed them inside. She then unzipped one of the PVC dresses and slid it on over her T-shirt and jeans. She zipped it up and crouched on the ground. Sliding her hand inside a side pocket of the backpack, she withdrew the hunting knife that she had earlier used to horrifying effect. Then she lay down on the floor of the stall and waited.
For almost three minutes she lay still, not moving a muscle till she heard the door of the stall next to her open and shut. She could almost hear the tension in the heavy breathing of its occupant.
‘Are you there?’ asked a young, female voice.
‘Yes,’ she replied softly.
‘Have you got the money?’ asked the female voice again.
‘Yes,’ she said again.
‘Slide it under the stall,’ instructed the female voice, now full of confidence.
‘Okay,’ she replied and, using all her strength, she slid her body through the gap between the two stalls in one smooth motion.
Before the female occupant of the other stall could react, she had already risen to her feet, swung the knife above her and brought it down with enormous force on to the other girl’s ribcage. The young female’s answering scream was stuck in her throat as her lungs and heart where punctured by the sharp blade of the hunting knife passing through them. As the life went out of her, the young female occupant of the stall watched a spurt of her blood gush out of her body and splash on to the PVC dress worn by her long-haired attacker. The last thing the dying girl felt was the fingers of the killer fiddling with her eyelids that were drooping shut under what felt like a thousand kilos of weight.
The girl with the long hair slipped off her PVC dress and draped it over her victim’s body, making sure to cover the face she had been working on with her knife. A quick inspection of her clothes assured her that not a drop of blood had made its way through the liquid-repellent PVC. She bent down and slid back into her stall. There she reopened her backpack and retrieved her baseball cap and dark glasses. Putting them on, she picked up the second PVC dress that she had hung on the hooks attached to the door. Then, composing herself, she walked out of the changing room area.
Back outside in the large store area, she shrugged at the sales girl at the counter, her gesture indicating that the PVC dress didn’t work for her. The sales girl at the counter gave her an understanding smile.
The long-haired girl in the baseball cap and the dark glasses hung the PVC dress back on the revolving rack and walked out of the store into the crowded mall.