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The feeling of satisfaction was greater than she had expected.

More profound and genuine than she could ever have imagined. For the first time in her adult life she had discovered meaning and equilibrium-or so she imagined. It was hard to put her finger on exactly what it was, but she could feel it in her body. Feel it in her skin and in her relaxed muscles; a sort of intoxication that spread among her nerve fibers like gently frothing bubbles, and kept her at a constantly elevated level of consciousness, totally calm and yet with a feeling of being on a high. As high as the sky. An orgasm, she thought in a state of exhilaration, an orgasm going on for an absurdly long period of time. Only very slowly and gently did it ebb away, subsiding lazily into expectation and anticipation of the next occasion. And the one after that.

To kill.

To kill those people.

Some years ago she had been touched by religion, had been on the point of joining one of those religious sects that were springing up like mushrooms from the soil (or like mildew from the brain, as somebody had said), and she recognized her state from the way she had felt then. The only difference was that the religious bliss had passed over. Three or four days of ecstasy had given way to regret and a hangover, just like any other intoxication.

But not now. Not this time. It was still there after ten days. Her whole being was filled with strength, her actions with determination and significance; on every occasion, no matter how trivial-like eating an apple, cutting her nails, or standing in line at the checkout of the local supermarket. Awareness and determination characterized everything she did, for even the most insignificant action was of course also another step on the way, another link in the chain leading ultimately to the next killing.

To kill, and to kill. And eventually to close the circle that had been her mother's past and her own life. Her mission. There was a point to everything, at last.

She read about her first deed in the newspapers. Bought the Neuwe Blatt, Telegraaf, and several others, and lay in her room studying all the speculations. She was surprised by all the attention it had attracted. How much would they write next time? And the time after that?

She was slightly annoyed at the fact that she didn't have a television set; she even toyed with the idea of buying a little one, but decided not to. Or at least, to postpone doing so; perhaps she would be unable to resist the temptation of seeing and hearing about herself on the news on the next occasion, but it was best to bide her time. She could have sat in a caf'e and watched, of course, but that didn't feel sufficiently attractive. Not sufficiently private.

Because no matter what-this was a private affair, all of it. Between herself and her mother.

Just her, her mother, and the names on the list.

She had crossed one of them out now. Drawn a red circle around the one next in line. Late on Monday evening, she decided that the period of waiting should come to an end now. The scene was set. The stage design completed. Time to go out again. First the preludes, and then the act itself.

The killing.

A feeling of well-being spread underneath her skin, and when she closed her eyes, through the yellowish, fading glimmer, she could make out her mother's face.

Her tired, but imperative, expression.

Do something, my girl.

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