Strand: Extract from Chapter One

The perfect ligature should always be made of natural materials. There was something special, something wonderful about the feel of the strands between the fingers. Man-made fibres didn’t have the same texture at all. Man-made fibres clumped together, melding and losing their individual natures as each strand became a weak, indistinguishable part of the whole. You could touch a man-made rope, for example, and your fingers would not be able to sense each strand, discrete, separate, autonomous. And that was what he liked the most.

His whole frame shuddered. Waves of ecstasy surged through him as he fought for breath. Sweat broke out and cooled rapidly on his skin. He exhaled, and opened his eyes. He looked into hers. Her eyes were blue. There was a memory of fear still held in them, but all too soon she had gone into that other world, beyond his reach, and it was over, his glorious moment of exquisite intensity.

For a few moments he stroked her hair, her face. He lay her carefully down on the bed of grass, taking the greatest care not to bump her or jolt her. She was so beautiful. He smoothed the tumbled hair, brushing it back from the corner of her mouth where it was trapped, from the forehead where it was plastered by her perspiration.

He straightened her clothing. He placed her hands neatly folded on her breast. She looked perfect. Did her blue lips smile at him? He thought at least there was the ghost of a smile. She was happy, then. And he was…

Well, he was he relaxed and happy, but the wet patch on the front of his jeans was cooling rapidly in the air of the late autumn afternoon. And the sweat too. He began to feel chilled and uncomfortable. He needed to leave.

Just another minute, he pleaded with himself. It was always like this. He didn’t want to leave them, it hurt so much to tear himself away. He couldn’t leave just yet, it was all so beautiful, and he felt so content.

The wonderful thing about natural fibres was the way they bit into the flesh, each separate strand working with its fellows to embrace her skin and hold it firm. The skin was squeezed by the strands of the twine, puffing over the edge of the twine just a little. He could almost feel the grip. It had thrilled him to watch the colour of her face change.

Her eyes were glazing now. Much of what made her human was going, leaving behind a nothingness that he didn’t like. It was disappointing how quickly it was over. If only he could find some way to make it last a little longer.

Reluctantly he got to his feet. He peeled off one sheer latex glove to stroke the back of his hand across her lovely cheek. A fond farewell. A sad farewell. He turned and walked away, his heart full of sorrow.