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Death by Injection
Horror for October

Serial Killer William Burke (1792–1829)

I’ve not done one of these every year, but several of the last few years I’ve written an October fiction horror story, which somehow end up usually being a comedy or similar. Go figure. But this year, this isn’t your author’s standard comedic horror story. I’d say this is at least a PG-13 rating, maybe edging into an R rating due to one scene of violence, that while not graphic, you’ll probably fill in the details in your head.

But don’t let that scare you. (Ha!) What might really scare you is I’m attempting to infuse life into an overused horror trope: the serial killer. One way I’m doing that is I’ve got two mysteries going on for you to solve from this 997 word flash fiction: what is the way the killer multiplies and what is this story an allegory about? Figure that last one out and it will make perfect sense why I chose a serial killer story despite its overuse.

So, without further delay, here is “Death by Injection.”


A man stood in my living room. I jumped in my chair and gasped. “Who are you? What do you want?”

He smiled under the brim of a hat and reached into his trench coat. “I’m The Injector.” He pulled out a syringe.

I froze in shock. The mass serial killer stood in my house? Why me? Why now?

The number of his victims defied description: over 5000 a year. No one knew how the killer brought down so many; impossible for one man.

But his MO was consistent—chemical injection. It didn’t drain life quickly, but extracted it over months or years. One didn’t merely die, but adopted death as a companion. This man had put many in hospital and hospice alike.

Yet people rarely thought about it. The news no longer covered his victims. The sheer volume had numbed society’s conscious. That is, until the killer attacked them or someone they loved.

Likewise, I didn’t think it would ever happen to me. I knew better, but that’s the truth. Now reality felt so unreal. This couldn’t be happening, but there he was.

He stepped forward extending the needle toward me. “What is your astrological sign?”

That seemed an odd question considering his motive. Best to humor him. The more he talked, the more time I had. “Gemini.”

He shook his head. “To bad, and so young too.”

I nodded. “Yes, that’s right. And I have two kids who need their mother. Their dad died last year in an automobile accident. Please don’t do this. Have mercy!”

He continued to make his way toward me. I knew the killer had no moral compass. He’d killed many in worse situations than mine—an equal-opportunity killer.

I held out a hand. “Wait! At least tell me one thing before you sentence me to death.”

He paused and cocked his head to one side. “An unusual request. Most simply scream at this point and try to get away.” He nodded. “Go ahead and ask.”

“How can you kill so many people everyday? You’re just one person.”

He laughed, and haunted echoes filled the room. Death dripped from his words. “You’ve got it wrong, my dear. I am many. I multiply and infest this world with fear.”

I wrinkled my forehead. “You’ve been cloned?”

He shook his head. “My birth occurred in July.” He proceeded to move my way again.

What did his birthday have to do with anything?

Contemplating the answer to that question would have to wait. How to escape his death wish was paramount. One fact I’d read suggested the earlier one fought back, the better the chance of escaping him or getting a small enough dose that the doctors could heal one. Now was the time to act, but what to do?

I leaped up and dashed to the kitchen. He followed at a quickened pace. I opened a drawer and pulled out a large carving knife. Despite holding it in a threatening position, he failed to stop. His eyes glowed with the greed of power as he thrust the syringe toward my chest.

I held my arm up to block his attack and swung the knife into his gut. He grunted and for a moment his face lost its smile, and his eyes their glow. But instead of falling to the floor in a pool of blood, he stood taller and the grin returned to his face, followed by a mind-numbing laughter that chilled my soul—taunting me with thoughts of giving up.

He pushed harder against my arm, shoving me against a wall. My arm trembled under his forceful muscles, the needle inched toward my chest. Months and years of pain and grief filled my future, replacing dreams and goals that I’d hoped to achieve, and family to grow old with. I couldn’t lose that. I had to do something.

A sideways glanced caught the microwave next to us. It was a long shot, but there was nothing for it but to try. I swung my free hand to the appliance, popped the door open, and held down the door sensor with one finger while my thumb hit the automatic one-minute button. The microwave sprung to life.

His grin vanished. His eyes drooped. The needle stopped its advance, quivered, then slowly started to move toward him. It was working!

Encouraged by my success, I shoved back at him harder. He stumbled backwards while his mouth opened to wail in pain. I grabbed the knife from his gut and swung it at his neck. It buried itself deep into his jugular vein. My stomach retched at the sight of blood careening over his body, but if I were to survive, I couldn’t stop. I sawed with the knife, digging in deeper, until his head hit the floor with a thud and his body collapsed with it.

I sank to the floor, trembling, I still held the knife in my blood-soaked hand. In disgust I threw it onto the floor. I’d never killed anyone, and it didn’t lessen the blow knowing he’d been a serial killer, knowing if I hadn’t, he’d killed me. I struggled to catch my breath.

“Mommy?” My five-year-old son Vince stood in the entryway. His wide eyes soaked in the scene.

I attempted to act as if nothing was out of the ordinary. “Son, go back to bed. You’re dreaming. Everything will be fine in the morning.”

He nodded. “The man who gave me a shot was a dream? Okay, but he was still scary.” He turned to head back to his room.

My mouth dropped open. “Oh God, no!” And Vince’s birthday was in July. But what did that mean? My eyes opened wide. He had said, “too bad,” when I had told him I was a Gemini. If being born in July is why there are many of him, that means the injection doesn’t kill them, but . . .

I wanted to weep, but instead shook with fear.

About R. L. Copple
R. L. Copple enjoys a good cup of coffee and a fun story. These two realities and inspiration from the likes of Lester Del Ray, J. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, among others, caused him to write his own science fiction and fantasy stories to increase the fun in the world and to share his fresh perspective.
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2 Responses to Death by Injection
Horror for October

  1. John Boyden says:

    A good story. Yes, you should put it in an anthology.

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