Obsessively Compulsive

Vacuuming- what he did well
A floor must not go uncleaned

He only did one thing well.

The overheard criticism bored into William DuMont’s consciousness like a worm to an apple’s core.  Doing what he apparently did best, he rinsed the foaming cleanser from the bathtub.  A satisfied smile crinkled his cheeks when the bubbles pulled the faint gray soap scum ring down the drain.   The anger from Rachelle’s insult dissipated with each sweep, scrub and polish.  As he exited the bathroom, he paused at the door.  His gaze rested on the sink’s water-spotted chrome faucet.  He contemplated leaving it, but the anxiety building in his chest begged him to fix it.  So he did.

 He only did one thing well.

William remembered his first night spent with Rachelle.  For two hours, he had toyed with her senses, her body trembling.  Finally, she collapsed, tangled in his rumpled white sheet.  Exhausted, she paid no attention as he watched her breasts rise and fall.  She seemed unconcerned that he’d claimed her soul as his own.  She breathed easy, despite the demon’s weight on her chest.  Spent, she accepted her fate with a slight smile on her lips.

He only did one thing well.

Her voice shook his thoughts from what he used to do well.  The freshly cleaned carpet wasn’t quite dry, so William tip-toed along the edge so as not to disturb the shampooer tracks.  In the kitchen, he picked up his glass of iced tea and took a long swig.  Before he set it down, he wiped the condensation ring from the counter.  He smirked.  Rachelle had said it was like he always tried to wipe away every trace of himself.  He credited his years in Boy Scouts- “leave no trace,” the outdoors mantraHe never conceded she could’ve been right.

He only did one thing well.

He remembered his other soul encounters.  When Rachelle accused him of cheating, he’d insisted his heart beat for her.  He rationalized it as a half-truth.  At first, his other loves had occupied only dreams, but lately, they begged for more of his attention.  That’s when it first occurred to him that perhaps he hadn’t taken their souls.  Maybe it was the other way around.  Then, with the clarity of sun shining through clouds, he realized he’d dusted around secrets until they nagged him like a muddy footprint on ceramic tile.  He had to come clean.

He only did one thing well.

He checked his watch.  Almost time.  Soon, Rachelle would meet the others.  He counted them off on his fingers; there were nine in all.  He’d promised to love each eternally, but kept them from Rachelle because she wouldn’t understand.  He took a deep breath and released a slow exhale.  The car was ready, and so was he.  She would have to admit he did more than one thing well.

He checked on Rachelle once more.    Not quite right.  He placed her right arm across her waist.  Better.

He closed the trunk.


I wrote this creepy story for Speakeasy #131.  This time, the writing prompt has two parts.  Using less than 750 words, we had to use “He only did one thing well” as the first line.  (I used it throughout the piece because I thought that worked with the obsessive-compulsive theme.)  In addition, we had to make some reference to the art prompt, which is entitled “The Nightmare” (painted in 1781 by the Anglo-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli).  I’m not showing the photo here, because to be honest, it seriously creeps me out 🙂

On Tuesday, Speakeasy is open for writers to link their stories.  On Thursday, voting opens for readers to choose their favorites.  Check out the link below, if your interested in reading – or better yet, submitting your own story:


Thanks to everyone who read my story last week.  “Held Captivated” was voted second place.  Click here to check out the other winners (you might want to read them in daylight, though :))


41 thoughts on “Obsessively Compulsive

    • jannatwrites October 13, 2013 / 9:56 PM

      Thanks so much for reading (and reblogging), Jeanne Marie! I’m glad you enjoyed the story 🙂

  1. omtatjuan October 13, 2013 / 1:16 PM

    Excellent words! Perfectly placed!

    • jannatwrites October 13, 2013 / 10:09 PM

      Thanks, Omtatjuan. I appreciate you stopping by to read my story!

  2. suzicate October 13, 2013 / 1:40 PM

    Creepy yes, but an excellent read!

    • jannatwrites October 13, 2013 / 10:10 PM

      Thanks for taking time to read it, Suzicate 🙂

  3. J. Milburn October 13, 2013 / 2:25 PM

    Another excellent story! Great work!

    • jannatwrites October 13, 2013 / 10:10 PM

      I’m glad you liked it, J. Thanks so much for reading! I can’t wait to see what others come up with on this prompt 🙂

  4. nrhatch October 13, 2013 / 2:33 PM

    I can’t tell if he’s on the way to bury her . . . or lock her up with the others. Either way, it’s plenty creepy.

    Two favorite sentences:

    * The overheard criticism bored into William DuMont’s consciousness like a worm to an apple’s core.

    * Then, with the clarity of sun shining through clouds, he realized he’d dusted around secrets until they nagged him like a muddy footprint on ceramic tile. He had to come clean.

    • jannatwrites October 13, 2013 / 10:17 PM

      Hehe…glad the ‘creepy’ came through, Nancy!

      I left the ending open to interpretation, but when I wrote this, I envisioned him killing her and arranging her dead body in the trunk so he could take her to where he’s stored the other nine bodies. Being a serial killer, he will feel satisfied for a while after killing her, but eventually, he will find himself in a relationship and the process will begin again.

      • nrhatch October 14, 2013 / 7:25 AM

        That’s the way I was leaning . . . and that the carpet had been shampooed to erase the last trace of her.

        • jannatwrites October 14, 2013 / 9:34 PM

          Quite possibly, Nancy 🙂

    • jannatwrites October 13, 2013 / 10:19 PM

      Yay! I’m glad you found this sufficiently creepy, Phil! As always, thanks for reading 🙂

  5. Eric Alagan October 14, 2013 / 4:49 AM

    Well, he did one thing well all right 🙂

    Captivating and kept me reaching for the end.

    • jannatwrites October 14, 2013 / 9:27 PM

      I’m happy the story held your interest, Eric. Thanks for taking time to read it!

  6. Tonya R. Moore October 14, 2013 / 4:53 AM

    This seriously gave me the shivers. William reminds of Melville’s Bartelby–except he’s criminally insane to boot. Nicely done. I love it!

    • jannatwrites October 14, 2013 / 9:30 PM

      Thanks for reading and sharing your reaction, Tonya! Creepy is what I was going for 🙂

  7. ly October 14, 2013 / 5:25 AM

    Agree with all the others–you’ve got creepy down pat!!

    • jannatwrites October 14, 2013 / 9:31 PM

      😛 I’m glad the creepy came through! Thanks so much for reading, Ly.

  8. Sean October 14, 2013 / 10:18 AM

    The ending took me by surprise. It’s always good when you don’t expect something like that. This was a good story. It was an interesting why to make the challenge really become a part of what you are reading, always guessing what that one thing is. maybe, instead of killing, he just kept them as trophies locked up in the woods somewhere. the book, “Kiss the Girls” or something like that comes to mind.

    • jannatwrites October 14, 2013 / 9:37 PM

      An unexpected ending is a good thing – as long as it isn’t out in left field 🙂

      It’s possible he kept them as trophies, but he’d have to be careful because if they are alive they could decide to leave him and he’d be devastated. Thanks for taking time to read some creepy today, Sean! I hope you are doing well.

  9. ym1611 October 15, 2013 / 10:33 AM

    This is liked! And I agree about the painting. It’s awful *shudder*

    • jannatwrites October 15, 2013 / 9:38 PM

      I’m glad I’m not the only one creeped out by that painting. I couldn’t look at it for very long! Thanks for stopping by, Ym1611.

  10. David October 15, 2013 / 8:25 PM

    Yep, seriously creepy. I had to read it twice because the ending caught me so by surprise. And on the second reading it got even creepier, with what I see as his cleaning up after his murder — he’s gotten good at this over the years. The line about how he thought that he’d taken their sous, but maybe they’d taken his — nice!

    • jannatwrites October 15, 2013 / 9:46 PM

      Yes! You got it- he was always inclined to neatness, but taking care of his lady loves caused him to get overly-meticulous about it. Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful comment, David!

  11. Grace Black October 16, 2013 / 9:20 AM

    Awesome! Super creepy. Enjoyed your words thanks for sharing.

    • jannatwrites October 16, 2013 / 9:46 PM

      Thanks for taking time to read it, Grace!

  12. Suzanne October 16, 2013 / 12:24 PM

    Another wonderfully creepy story, Janna! Love how well you’ve captured William’s OCD, never mind his meticulous craziness. Great job building toward the ending. I knew it would be bad, but I wasn’t sure exactly where you would take us.

    And yeah, that painting is really disturbing, isn’t it?

    • jannatwrites October 16, 2013 / 9:49 PM

      I’m glad I’m not the only only one who finds that painting creepy, Suzanne! Thanks for reading my psychologically creepy tale 🙂

  13. pattisj October 16, 2013 / 9:15 PM

    Nice work, Janna. Yes, you have mastered creepy.

    • jannatwrites October 16, 2013 / 9:49 PM

      Thanks, I think 🙂 I appreciate you reading, Patti!

  14. Imelda October 17, 2013 / 10:49 AM

    Wow! Janna, this is terrific. While I was reading this, I was hoping against hope but the refrain of “He did only one thing well” was nagging in my mind and each paragraph built up the tension.

    When you put out a book there, I will be the first to get one. 🙂

    • jannatwrites October 17, 2013 / 5:50 PM

      Your comment made me smile, Imelda. You are too kind! When I finally get a project finished, I will definitely let everyone know 🙂

  15. nataliedeyoung October 17, 2013 / 11:40 AM

    Very nicely paced, and almost manic with the repetitions. Loved it!

  16. Justice October 17, 2013 / 8:14 PM

    Love the repetition. Great work!

    • jannatwrites October 19, 2013 / 12:13 AM

      Thanks so much for reading, Justice!

  17. agjorgenson October 17, 2013 / 8:58 PM

    Nicely done with the refrain. Very powerful in this piece!

    • jannatwrites October 19, 2013 / 12:11 AM

      Thanks, Allen. I appreciate you taking time to read it!

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