A collaboration between Eloosive and Cheshire Grin, Routine is an exploration of the relationship between Willow Brown and her unnamed kidnapper.

The sun descended and the lights of the city rose to take its place, their soulless glow a poor stand in for the sun's life-giving radiance. Streets filled with, then emptied of, the dinner time crowds; traffic ebbed and flowed; and the heartbeat of the city echoed off of glass, pavement and steel.

In a darkened room on the 35th floor of the Marriott Hotel a man moved to the window, water bottle in hand, to resume his seated vigil. He brought a sleek pair of binoculars to his eyes and was rewarded with a close-up view of the penthouse of the Harrison building across the street.

"Right on time," he said softly as he watched the brown haired woman sit down at her kitchen table to dine alone. The man had been watching her for the last two weeks; now that he had her routine memorized it was nearly time to act.

Her name was Willow Brown, a twenty-five year old woman of average height and average looks. At that time she was between relationships, with no prospects on the horizon, and her only friends lived on the other side of the country. The only crime she was guilty of, the reason her life was about to be torn apart, was being the only daughter of a very, very rich man.

The man watching her placed his binoculars on his lap and stretched his arms above his head. He had slept most of the day in preparation for the coming night - just one small part of his own routine. Knowing his target would be stationary for another twenty minutes, he rose and moved to the brown leather couch where he sipped from his water bottle and surveyed his supplies.

A small handgun rested on the glass coffee table, one extra clip at its side - most likely unnecessary but the man was not one to leave anything to chance. Next to the clip was a roll of duct tape, a small black case and a hunting knife. A dark voice, buried deep within the cold, expressionless exterior, spoke of the desire to be given an excuse to carve up this willow tree.

The man grabbed his black leather jacket from the couch, slipped it on over a grey hooded sweatshirt and pocketed the matching gloves. He shoved the gun into his shoulder holster, slipped the knife into his boot sheathe and stuffed the remaining materials into an inside pocket. He returned to the chair at the window, his stride graceful, almost cat-like, and resumed his watch.

Two hours later, at 10:35 pm precisely, the last light in the penthouse was flicked off and the man released a long, whispering breath. He flexed each of his fingers, one at a time starting with his left thumb and ending with his right trigger finger - it was out of sequence but inside his ritual.

He left the room, dropped the access card in a potted plant in the hallway where his partner would collect it within minutes and took the elevator to the lobby.

"Out for your nightly stroll Mr. Stewart?" The man, whose name was certainly not Stewart, nodded to the desk clerk, drew his hood over his head and exited through the rotating doors without a word. In ten minutes, when the man normally returned, his partner would step into the hotel lobby in an identical outfit to take his place.

The man circled the Harrison building three times before slipping inside, stepping into the elevator and punching the access code for the penthouse suite.

The End

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