He had been watching her for the last few weeks. She was predictable. Every time taking the same path, that led to the seat at the top of the incline overlooking the pallid lake below. The path ran between two grass verges which were littered with decaying ochre leaves. A sudden thud made him quickly glance to his side, but it was only a lustrous conker, newly fallen; the last solitary fruit of autumn.
He moved stealthily forwards. The ground was damp and the dank leaves did not crackle underfoot; his polished patent shoes out of place in this earthy, natural environment.He could see her more clearly now. The collar of her suede coat upturned against the enveloping chill. Her long auburn hair draped around her shoulders, blending with the copper tones of the early morning sun that filtered through the ravaged trees. Her face was tilted upwards, lost in the languid rays. A hand rested lightly on the pram, which was at an angle so that it could not roll down the path, and rhythmically she pushed it back and forth, lulling the baby inside into a gentle sleep.
It was silent. The joggers and dog walkers had already left the park, but it was still too soon for the tourists to brave this soulless morning. It was an ideal opportunity and he would not miss it. Despite the quiet, she seemed oblivious to the sound behind her, absorbed in her own thoughts. In a sudden movement, he had the cord around her neck and was twisting and tightening it; feeling the abrasions through his smart leather gloves. He watched abstractly as her hands came up to her throat, grasping desperately at the ligature, fingernails digging into her pale skin, drawing blood in a futile attempt to fight him off. But he had left no room for error.
He was surprised at how easy it was. It had not been difficult before, but somehow he had expected something different this time. Sometimes he amused himself watching their faces as they died, revelling in his achievement, but today he just stared at the glossy hair until at last her body fell limp. Releasing his grip, her last trapped breath seeped out, condensing in the air, breaking the silence with a melancholic sigh. He shivered impulsively; the chill seemed stronger now as if in that moment autumn was gone and winter had arrived.
Only now did his adrenaline surge and heart vibrate, echoing loudly in his eardrums, as if calling all to the attention of his heinous crime. His dark eyes glanced around; the park was still empty and now he was anxious to leave. The baby, bereft of its comforting rocking, was starting to stir. Removing the cord and tossing it into the bin, he walked swiftly to the front of the bench. She had slumped sideways, hair cascading over her face, lying below a plaque which read;
Enjoyed this view
Turning sharply on his heel, he walked briskly back through the trees. He picked up his executive briefcase, which was propped up against a tree, and dusting it down, made his way onwards until he reached a path which led to the outer gate. Passing underneath its cold Victorian arches, dressed in his cashmere overcoat, he looked like any other professional. But he was a killer. A killer with no heart. He glanced at his elegant watch and grinned. He had done well, very well indeed.