From CNN.com Article:
– “Alexander Pichushkin went on trial last month in one of Russia’s most gruesome serial killing sprees, confessing to murdering 63 people, with the goal of marking all 64 squares on the chessboard.”
– “Most of the murders were committed in Bittsa Park, a sprawling wild green area on the southern edge of Moscow.”
– “The killings terrorized the capital and Russian media dubbed him the ‘Bittsa Maniac.’”
– “Experts at the Russian main psychiatric clinic have found that Pichushkin is sane.”
– “‘This first murder, it’s like first love, it’s unforgettable,’ Pichushkin is quoted saying.”
– “He said that he killed his first victim, a classmate, in 1992 when he was 18. Police had questioned him then, but no charges were filed.”
– “Most of his victims were men, whom he had lured to the park with the promise of a drink of vodka to mourn the death of his ‘beloved’ dog.”
His First Love, His First Victim
It was love at first sight.
No matter what anyone said, no matter what anyone did, he knew it to be true. This feeling that erupted within him as he stared out at the girl of his dreams, it could be nothing but love.
“Love at first sight…”
This quiet whisper to himself, it was hardly a statement, but merely, a fact.
Alexander Pichushkin was his born name, but it was more of a mask than a name. All his life he hid; hid from his responsibilities, his non-existent parents, his troubles. He hid from his life, all behind the mask that was his face, his identity.
As anyone could guess, all this hiding did nothing to make him look appealing to others, earning him the right of being the social outcast. He was the weirdo, the freak, or (his personal favorite) the Maniac of his school, according to the other students, which only made him want to hide more. Hide all the anger and hate that he kept within himself, so that no one could ever see.
But this girl. This girl who he had fallen head over heels in love with, without even knowing her name, she made him want to rip off his mask and show his true feelings to the world, in hopes that maybe she’d be able to peer through all of the hate and anger and see the little bit of love he could muster for her, and love him back for it.
If she would do this, when she would do this, they’d be able to go on with their lives hand in hand, deeply in love with one another, live happily ever after…
But love isn’t that simple, nor will it ever be. He knew this, just as much as he knew his love for this girl to be true. And it was this that held him back. At first.
So the days went by. He watched her from afar, learning all he could about his true love. She went to school, he went to school. She did her homework, and so did he. All while watching her. One could say that she may have been a positive influence on him, but this was not so as far as the other students of their school concerned, and so the rumors of the Maniac becoming a stalker emerged. But he didn’t care. He was with his love, and she was with hers, even if she didn’t know it yet.
And so he kept watching, kept learning. Her name turned out to be Aleksandra Nikitin – Alex and Alek, didn’t it sound great? – And she had a thing for puppies. They were all over her notebooks. He memorized her schedule, made sure she got to all her classes all right. He collected anything she discarded, like scraps of paper, and he was soon able to recognize her handwriting from miles away. He followed her home, from a distance of course, and soon found that she enjoyed going to Bittsa Park to play a game of chess with friends once in a while. He found out and learned all he could, it was like a drug, extremely addicting. He wanted to know anything and everything about his beloved.
And he found himself wondering: Was this really ‘Maniac,’ stalker type behavior? He didn’t think so. It was love in its simplest form, a very strong admiration for his one and only girl. But then things changed, something new was found out about his love, and his behavior from there did indeed become ‘Maniac.’
It seemed that there were other males who also believed Aleksandra to be their true love. She was almost always being harassed and bothered by guys just trying to score a date to satisfy their own distasteful needs. He knew it to be true. He saw it with his own mask-obscured eyes.
These males needed to know: Alek was his girl, his love, and nobody else’s. It would forever be this way. He had to show them what was what, show it to their very eyes that things would not ever change between him and his true love.
The question soon came up as to how he would do this.
It was the anger and hate that was leaking from his mask that soon gave him the answer.
Kill the men? No, that’d be illogical and risky. No matter how many men he’d kill, there’d always be more lusting after her, trying to take her away from him, and there was the possibility that one would succeed.
So there was only one other way: Kill Aleksandra. Rip off his mask for good, as she so kindly and lovingly allowed him to, and let everything flow out; the anger, the hate, the tiny bit of newly acquired love.
He’d kill her in the name of love. She’d be rid of other unworthy men chasing her and eternally bound to him and his love for her. She’d be saved. It was the only way.
And so the plan was set into motion.
On the eve of his 18th Birthday and the Graduation of the Class of ’92, he followed Alek on her way home. He saw that she was heading towards the park she regularly visited, and noted that she was alone. No friends with her. Good, it was better that way. He doubled around and found himself at the Chess table where she sometimes played, and waited patiently for her to show up.
He sat down and glanced at the chess pieces. He never played a game in his life, but he knew the general rules and slowly gained an interest in it, ever since he learned that Alek enjoyed it. He casually counted all 64 individual squares, wondering about the possibilities each one held.
“Funny, isn’t it?”
He looked up, startled – and there she was. As beautiful as ever, with the most graceful voice you ever heard, Aleksandra was standing before him, talking to him. She held a kindness in her words that he never knew existed; with such magnificence that it made his eyes water with unshed tears. It was his first, and last, conversation with her. He wanted to make it count.
“What is?” he asked her with his own harsh voice, insulting her own. She sat down across from him, fiddling with her white pieces while he just stared at his black ones.
“Two completely different armies,” she gestured to both sides of the chess board. “But both just like the other.” She smiled. He stared.
“They’re both under the command of their King,” she continued. “But each has their own strategies. They all have the same moves, but one moves nothing like the other.”
“Both armies look up to and are devoted to their own Queen,” he quietly put in. “But each army completely hates the other Queen.”
She smiled and nodded.
“And,” he added as an afterthought. “The board, the pieces, everything – it’s all black and white. But nothing in life is ever just black and white, is it?”
She answered with another smile. “Care for a game?” She asked politely.
He actually considered it. He really did. But as much as he might have wanted to, he had to keep to the plan.
“I- I can’t.” He acted out and practiced this part in his head many times. Hopefully he could get it right this time around.
“I was on my way to visit my beloved dog, you see. He died recently, he was very old… I buried him in the center of the park… I visit him whenever I can. I was very close to him…”
She softened up immediately. He had played his part well, pausing at the right times, getting slightly choked up towards the end. Cruel it may seem, baiting her with her love for dogs, but he had to keep to the plan. He had to.
She held a hand up to her mouth and fought back small tears. “That’s terrible! You shouldn’t be alone at a time like this. Please, would you like me to come with you?”
He gave her a watery smile. “Of course.”
As they stood, he held out his arm to her, which she lightly took. They walked arm in arm to the center of the park, him leading her to the imaginary grave of his beloved dog. When they came to a spot where there weren’t any people around, he slowed down and came to a stop.
“Is this it?” She asked him hesitantly, pointing to a small patch of dirt at the base of a tree. He nodded sadly.
“What was his name?”
He hesitated. “Alex.”
“Poor, sweet Alex.”
She did not know his name then, so giving his fake dog his own name just to hear her say it may indeed seem cruel and manipulative, and even a little selfish. But hearing his name on her lips, it was enough to keep him motivated. He had to do this. It was the only way.
He looked down at their linked arms, their first and last time that they would be close. She must have caught his look of sadness, for she reached out to give him a hug. He gave in fully, and wouldn’t let go. He held onto her, desperate to keep her close for as long as he could. He didn’t feel her struggles to be let go or hear her cries of protest as he held onto her as if he were trying to crush their bodies together. Harder and harder he held till she cried no more, till her body went limp.
After a while he loosened his grip and gazed into her now lifeless eyes, hoping that her last thought was of poor, sweet Alex, who had also just died.
The mask was now off completely, never to be worn again. The anger and hate flowed out of him like a river, and the true Maniac roared awake like a wild animal, with the need to kill. Kill again, and kill many. From then on, a life without killing, murdering, would be like a life without food for this Maniac.
But, he had a sense of self control. He had a plan. And he had to keep to it.
Reflecting on past events and his first and last conversation with his one and only love, he decided that he would commit 64 murders total, one for every square on a chess board. (Mostly men, as a tribute to all the men that would not leave his love alone.) This way, all the possibilities of each square was covered, and he could create the perfect army. One that was all under the command of him, their King, and one that was completely devoted to their Queen: His first love, his first victim.
Maniac he may be, but he was not insane. He was not crazy. He had a plan, and he would not stray from it. He would not forget it, just as he would never forget Aleksandra.
“This first murder, it’s like first love, love at first sight: Unforgettable.”
This quiet whisper to himself, it was hardly a statement, but merely, a fact.