[Writing Prompt] A serial killer becomes a licensed psychologist and kills his victims by slowly getting them to consider suicide.
"Bruce? Dr. Kuhr will see you now. Bruce?"
"Hm? Oh, I’m sorry, I must have drifted off. Thank you."
Absentmindedly, Bruce walked into the office. When he looked up, he was perplexed. Rather than the stereotypical psychologist’s office- bookcases lining the walls, old-fashioned mahogany furniture scattered throughout the room, a couch for patients to lie down on, instead Bruce walked into an unsettling space.
The smell was the first thing that hit him. A faint herbal scent, not particularly pleasant nor displeasing, but it invited you into the room to see more. However, there wasn’t much more to see. The walls were bare, void of any color, just an unnervingly pure white. There was no furniture, except for two curved white chairs facing each other in the center of the room. No lights, save for one dimly lit fluorescent bulb hanging in between the two chairs. The rest of the room was covered in darkness. And there, on the other side of the room, was but one window, where the doctor stood, looking out as the rain poured down on the city.
"I’m sorry, is.. is this the right room?"
His back turned to the door and his arms folded across his chest, the doctor didn’t move. As he turned to go back, Bruce had already begun to regret this visit.
"I must have wandered into the wrong room, I’m looking for Dr. Kuhr’s office. I’ll just go back.. I’m sorry for disturbing y-"
"Oh no, don’t you worry Bruce. As a matter of fact, you’re right where you belong."
Confused, Bruce turned back around only to find that instead of standing by the window, he found the doctor sitting in one of the seats, just outside the light.
"You don’t mind if I call you Bruce, do you? Somehow I just have this feeling, as if we’ve met before."
"No, I suppose not.. But I don’t believe we have, doctor."
"Oh, well that’s quite alright. I believe we’ll get to know each other quite well today. Now why don’t you have a seat?"
The doctor gestured to the seat in front of him, and despite the growing uneasiness, Bruce felt compelled to oblige.
The chair was considerably more comfortable than Bruce had expected, and as he sank into it he began to relax, something he hadn’t been able to do in years.
"Let’s get started, shall we? Tell me Bruce, what’s been on your mind?"
"Well doctor, throughout my whole life, I’ve just felt.. under-appreciated. I’m 52 now, and I’ve spent my entire career in law enforcement. Every night I show up to work, and sometimes there are good nights, but sometimes there are bad ones.."
"I take it there’s a story there, hm?"
"Yes, actually.. I recently lost my partner.. He was so young. I had trained him for years by myself, and he was beginning to grow into the man I knew he would eventually become. He was one of the only people who understood exactly what I’ve gone through for this city, all the sacrifices I’ve made. His name was Jason. He wasn’t just my partner.. He was my best friend."
The tears began to fall as Bruce recounted the story.
"Last week, we were just doing our normal rounds through the city and we got into a bit of a scuffle.. He wanted to take point that night, but I didn’t think he was ready. I could tell he was angry with me, but I didn’t expect him to go off on his own. When I finally tracked him down, it was too late.. He had walked into a trap. He died in my arms.."
"I’m very sorry to hear that, Bruce.. The loss of a loved one is one of the hardest things to cope with. I can tell he meant a great deal to you, and no amount of happiness will ever be able to replace what he provided, no matter how hard you try.."
"I.. I suppose you’re right," Bruce said.
Looking up through his tears, he found the doctor sitting up, leaning toward him. Sitting at the edge of the light for the first time, Bruce could just barely make out the doctor’s face. His skin was a pale white, almost as if to match the walls around him. His face was lined with wrinkles, but rather than wrinkles of old age, the doctor had the kind of wrinkles one gets from smiling and laughing all throughout his life.
"How odd," Bruce thought.
But it was the doctor’s eyes that struck him the most. Behind a pair of subtle glasses, the doctor had the kind of eyes that pierce through to your soul. Wide open, they stared intently at Bruce and slowly the uneasiness came drifting back. The doctor rose, his eyes transfixed on Bruce. As he began to speak, Bruce just barely noticed his lips curl faintly into a smile.
"Let’s try a relaxing exercise, shall we? I want you to close your eyes. I’m going to turn this light off, and I want you to focus only on the rain outside and the sound of my voice."
Unsure of what to do, Bruce hesitated.
"What’s the matter, old friend? Don’t you trust me?"
Bruce took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
The light bulb clicked, and all he could see behind his closed eyes was darkness.
Startled by a pair of cold hands massaging his shoulders, Bruce heard the doctor’s voice behind him.
"There now, that’s much better.. I want you to focus on the rain. Just relax.."
Raindrops drilled against the window. It had been pouring for the past week, but never this hard. Suddenly the roar of thunder echoed through the city and a flash of lightning lit up the skyline.
"Under-appreciated and dealing with a loss, hm? That’s quite a bit to have on your plate there, Bruce."
The doctor’s words became slow and deliberate.
"Tell me, how bad has it gotten?"
"Come now, Bruce. We don’t have to use such trivial formalities. We’re old friends, remember? Call me Josef.. Joe for short."
"Alright Joe.. well, it’s been pretty bad lately. Sometimes, I just feel so alone.. Every now and then my mind goes back to.. to just ending it all."
"Is that so? Then let me tell you Bruce, you’re not alone."
"What do you mean, doctor?"
"Well once in a while, I think about it too.. How easy it would be to just end it all, no? To just stop all the pain, once and for all. So tempting, isn’t it?"
"Ye- yes, I guess it is.."
"And just think about all the people that would finally learn to appreciate you once you’re gone! You would finally get the recognition that you deserve, don’t you think?"
"D- doctor, what are you saying?"
A cold sweat broke on Bruce’s forehead as the tension in the air grew. Something felt very awry about this visit.
"Shhh, just relax, Bruce.. I want you to trust me.. I’m going to give you something that will ease all the pain. I want you to open your hand."
Reluctantly, Bruce opened it.
He felt the doctor place a cold, metal object in his hand.
"What is this..?"
"I think you know what it is, Bruce."
It had a handle that fit perfectly into his grasp. It felt faintly familiar..
Bruce’s stomach churned as he realized what it was.
And judging by its weight, Bruce could tell it was loaded.
"D- doctor, what are you doing?"
"I want you to feel how easy it would be, Bruce.."
The doctor’s voice wasn’t behind him anymore. Bruce could hear him walking slowly walking around his chair as he spoke.
"I want you to know that you can do it."
Bruce’s collar was drenched. He knew this wasn’t what he came for, but at the same time, the doctor wasn’t wrong..
By now, he felt the doctor standing right in front of him.
"I want you to put the gun to your head, Bruce."
Something about his voice was so compelling, so commanding.
Bruce lifted the gun to his head.
"Are you ready, Bruce?"
"I- I’m ready.. Yes. I’m ready."
"Good, good. I think you know what you need to do. I have but one question left for you, old friend."
Bruce felt the doctor’s face just inches away from him, his breath as slow and deliberate as his words.
"Look at me while I ask you, Bat."
Suddenly, the light flickered on and the doctor took Bruce’s face into his cold, petrifying hands.
Bruce’s eyes jutted open to finally see the doctor for who he really was. Jagged eyes locked onto his, mouth agape with a terrifying smile across his entire face.
"WHY SO SERIOUS!?"