Lights. Camera. Action.

The film begins recording as I turn to face my co-star. She wears a look of sheer terror on her face. It's very appropriate.

As I press the serrated edges of the knife against her throat I feel her vocal cords vibrate as she screams bloody murder. Or rather tries. I made sure the duct tape was nice and thick. 6 layers is usually good enough.

I move the knife up to her cheek and look into her eyes. They're bright blue. They go with her perfectly highlighted blonde hair the way peanut butter goes with jelly. Flawlessly. She's trying to plead with me I can tell. Then again, they always are. And they should be. Otherwise the film would be ruined.

As my eyes connect with hers, she starts crying again. Damnit. It's going to ruin the blood. The dark crimson is going to turn into a sickly pink color. The vibrant hues are going to be diluted by the tears. Not only that, but she's wailing. She's moaning and wailing like she's being tortured by the Spanish Inquisition. It's fucking annoying. She's ruining my perfect scene.

I give her a small cut across one cheek and she starts crying harder. The new tears are mixing with the new blood, creating a disgusting mess of a strange watery pink substance. I definitely can't film now.

With a sigh I turn off the video camera. The red light goes off. I turn back towards the sobbing girl and grab her face with my right hand. She struggles briefly and I grip it tighter.

"You could've been done. You could've been free," I say to her. "You can just stay here. I'll be back whenever to finish up." I let her go.

By now her crying has been reduced to quiet yet violent sobs. As I make it to the door of the room she starts crying loudly again. I throw an empty beer can at her as I pass by a counter covered in random trash and tools. I miss by a mile.

"Jesus fucking Christ," I mutter to myself.

I padlock the door as I leave. If anyone tried to get in they'd have about 10 locks to crack. Some require keys, others codes. Or a bolt cutter. Hell, some are so rusted I bet a hammer would break them. I should invest in some high tech stuff. Some James Bond shit. Sadly, I'm not earning much money for what I do.

You see, I'm not a director or even an actor really. Unless you use those terms liberally. Most people would call me a criminal. They'd be right. What I do definitely ain't legal. I prefer to call myself an artist. Last time I checked, film was an art. And I make films. I just wonder if snuff films count. In my book they do.

I take out a carton of cigarettes as I climb the stone stairs that lead down to my so called dungeon and up to a back alley. I light one as I walk onto the main street. Even though it has to be about midnight, cars are driving up and down the street and people are milling about. Prostitutes, Drugs dealers. Pimps. Me. Your average low-life. I finish off a cigarette and flick it into the street. It joins about 50 others.

Now you might be wondering how I got into the business I'm in. I blame my buddy Karl.

You see, Karl used to work the night shift at the local hospital. Well, I guess it's not local anymore. We used to live in a much nicer area.

Correction.

I used to live in a much nicer area.

Anyways, Karl, Mr. Security Guard, Mr. Acts Tough, Mr. This Badge Gives Me Permission To Kick Your Ass, Karl decided to try to get some bum away from the 'private property' of the hospital.

Like he even cared.

Karl was just bored.

So Karl starts harassing the bum, poking him with the night stick.

The bum went postal.

The bum was probably drunk.

Karl was probably drunk.

The bum leaps onto Karl, kicking and punching and clawing at him. Karl beat the bum to death with his night stick. He says it was self-defense.

I don't argue.

Karl ended up stealing the security tape of him killing the bum. It would've gotten him fired. It would've landed him in jail.

He gave the tape to me, told me to edit it, threatened to blackmail me if I didn't help. He didn't even have anything to blackmail me with but I went along with it anyways. I was going to college for video editing. He told me to think of it as practice. I told him they'd recognize a strange gap in the video if I tried. It was only my 2nd week of school after all. We hadn't learned anything extremely useful yet.

He told me I was useless.

I told him to steal another tape.

He steals one from 4 months ago. We copy it and leave it at the hospital in place of the bum killing tape. All this in one night.

The next day Karl tosses the video into a dumpster behind some bar. That bar became our favorite. The day after Karl panics and goes back to retrieve the tape and destroy it, finally realizing that someone could find it and turn it into the police. In all reality, I had been the one to tell him that.

When he looked into the dumpster the tape was gone. There was, however, a brown paper bag. He took it and opened it. Inside was 5,000 and a short message: "Write more please." It was written on a cheap napkin, no doubt from the bar inside. Karl brought it home and showed me. The next day he quit his job. He had found something that payed more.

The next day we moved. To a house about 3 blocks away from that bar. The house was run down and quite shitty. But it had a basement. And lacked neighbors.

I continued going to school. Video editing would only get more important.

Over the next 5 months, Karl and I made videos. We had a shitty camera and shitty editing software. I still use that camera. The software is better though. I guess that shows my priorities.

I never killed anyone. Karl always did it. It seems he lost any innocence he had after he killed that bum. Then again, it's not like I was any better. I could hardly call myself a saint. I was the one editing Karl's footage after all.

Karl always killed the so called scum. The bums. The prostitutes. No one was ever reported missing. Hell, no one even seemed to notice. Except the city council that is. They actually handed out an award for our city "cleaning up its act". In my opinion, they should've been handing that award over to Karl. He was the reason prostitution went down. The reason old ladies felt safe to ride the subway at night again. The reason parents let their kids stay out later.

It was kinda funny in a sick way.

Over these 5 months we lived on the random money given to us by complete strangers. 1,000. 5,000. Sometimes 10,000. We weren't doing too bad.

And then Karl died.

He overdosed on Heroin.

That bastard had spent almost 20,000 on drugs.

I didn't even notice until I almost got kicked out of our house. Our rent was being spent on drugs of every kind. And I hadn't even noticed.

Karl didn't even get a proper funeral. I just buried him next to his victims. He deserved it. The bastard had only left me 500. That payed rent for a month.

The other 200 he left I spent on booze and food. That money he didn't really leave. I had found it under a floorboard in Karl's room. It had seemed so cliché.

After a week of scrounging up coins and food I decided I needed to find a job. Unfortunately, no one wanted to hire a 20 year old kid who dressed like a bum. A kid who was only taking 1 college class. A video editing class. Last time I checked, the fast food industry didn't need videos edited. My continuation of unemployment didn't surprise me.

I didn't get the idea to continue Karl's legacy until 2 weeks after his death. I had just got shot down at Arby's. I lost to a 16 year old kid wearing a T-shirt with some hip new brand on it. I instantly developed a hate for that brand. It's funny how that happens.

On the way back home I came across a woman who looked half dead. She was rail thin and the clothes she was wearing hung off her like they belonged to a guy twice my size. Her hair was ratted and tangled, the majority of it not even in the ponytail hanging at the nape of her neck. Her dark eyes were glazed over. The empty needle at her feet told me what I already knew. She was addicted to drugs. Probably more than one.

As I walked in front of her she stumbled into me, her hands gripping my jacket. I could smell the booze on her. She steadied herself but was soon stumbling again. She had stepped on the empty needle.

She grabbed me again, this time almost pulling me over. I grabbed her dirty hands and pushed her away. She just leaned in close and whispered 6 words. I could tell she had been dying to say them to anyone with ears.

"You might as well kill me."

I gave her her wish that night.

I don't know how Karl did it. He always seemed so detached. So apathetic. I wondered if that was how soldiers felt during war. I figured it was.

After I killed the woman I puked.

And then I drank myself silly at the bar. It seemed the proper thing to do.

When I returned I puked again, the body still propped up in the chair and everything. I then passed out.

When I woke up the next morning I could finally face the lifeless body.

Looking at it, I couldn't believe that it was me who had done it. I couldn't believe that I was the one who had slit her throat. Who had given her small cuts on her neck and face. Who had taken her life.

Cleaning up her body, my eyes landed upon hers. Her dark, dead eyes.

They looked exactly the same as they had before, when she was still alive. Alive isn't even really the right word.

She had been dead before I had killed her.

I finished cleaning up, even buried the body. The good thing about these addicts was their skinny little bodies. The effect of spending money on drugs instead of food, of smoking instead of eating. The way they saw it, it was going through their moths anyways. To them, it was food. It was their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was life. And it made burying them even easier.

By then it was nearly 2 a.m. I would have to edit that video. That was one of mine and Karl's rules. Everything was done at once. That way we wouldn't forget about something. And so we could destroy all evidence as soon as possible. Or at least get rid of it. Hell, we even deleted all the footage after the tape was made. Nothing would be left to tip anyone off.

Now, you may be wondering exactly what kind of editing we did. No, we didn't enhance visuals, save for your random fuzzy shots. No, we didn't add music. This wasn't a fucking music video. Mainly we just edited out anything compromising. A name slipping out, a location tip off, anything like that. Karl liked to talk as well. A lot. Which was also something I edited. No one would want to watch Karl conversing with a meth head for 30 minutes. Not even I did. So I'd edit that stuff out. Nothing major.

And then we'd drop it off.

Now you may also wonder how we kept our identities hidden. It was so simple but so cliché. We wore ski masks. The kind where only your eyes are seen. While filming anyways. Because unless you're on a skit resort, wearing a ski mask in public definitely sets you apart from the crowd. Besides masks we just wore clothing I dark, solid colors. We were instantly anonymous.

Abducting victims and dropping off tapes was different but 10 times easier. We just dressed normally. And we definitely didn't wear the ski masks. Two men walking around in ski masks would seem kinda weird. Even bank robbers don't take walks like that.

And that was that. Then we'd just wait a day or so. Our money and sometimes a not would be waiting for us in the same spot our tapes once were. It was so damn easy.

Overt time Karl and I discovered little patterns, things people liked, stuff like that. The prettier and younger the woman the more money we got. Double if she was a fighter. Of course, the prettier and younger the riskier it was. People don't forget a gorgeous face. Even that of a hooker. And while little Susie may be trying to rebel against her middle-class suburban family by prostituting, contracting herpes, and doing crack, some one was bound to recognize her face from the thousands of "Missing Child" posters plastered around. Men brought in less cash, which made sense. Although occasionally they'd get us quite a nice payout. And of course we left all older folk alone. We knew we'd be in trouble if we killed some poor guy's parents.

So there you have it. What started out a mistake turned into a profitable business. I didn't, however, think it would make me rich and catapult everything to the next level.