“There’s nothing more pleasurable than killing a panicked man,” his calloused fingers gripped tight around the back of my neck. “There’s no greater joy than killing a man who’s given in entirely to fear. Some kill with a rifle, at a remove. I’ve never cared for that myself. I like to look a man in the bloodshot eyeballs and smell his sweat. I like to see him try to envisage all the terrible things I could possibly do to him right then, while knowing that his darkest and most horrific imaginings couldn’t cover all I’m capable of.
“Absolutely I’m a sadist. I know that. I relish it.
“I make sure he knows it too.
“Before I go to work on him, I always give him my smile. It’s my Bastard’s Smile, that’s what I call it. And I know if he hasn’t soiled himself before that moment – if he’s somehow held off the dread of hopelessness – he will certainly lose control of himself then.
“Fear is the key,” his grip loosened on my neck. “Up close, provoking that sick feeling of the wrong kind of adrenalin. And that, my young friend, is why I’m giving you the chance to run now. You might think I’ve underestimated you, that you can escape, that you might – with luck – even live through this day. But I promise I will catch you and, when I do, all you will be able to taste is blood and fear.
“Now,” he licked his fleshy lips. “RUN!”