07 December, 2006

The Addict 2

He would have to do it again. The old familiar pressure had begun to build. He held off from beginning for a time, until the need became almost unbearable. When he could stand it no more, he began to release it. As always, he began by picking where it would happen. He noticed a subway station marked on the map. A busy one. Two tracks crossed there, and several bus routes formed a hub on top of it. Suddenly, a revelation flashed into his mind, and he shivered with pleasure. He savored it until it began to fade. There. He would find the opening player there, and he would find it before any other planning took place. He donned the persona he would be, someone who would blend in and be invisible. Not exactly homeless, but not very gainfully employed, either. A just below minimum wage cash only laborer. A beard, definitely a beard. A flattened face, a crooked nose. No facial scars, nothing remarkable. This ritual had been performed so many times with the skill of the best Hollywood makeup artist, yet he was always surprised to see the stranger in the mirror. He smiled with satisfaction when he saw the final product. He would not be seen.

At the station. Crowds of people crushing against each other, trying desperately to hurry so they could wait as long as possible for the next train or bus. He shook his head at their ulcer-inducing impatience. Armani suits rubbed against Wal-Mart casualwear, while everyone avoided touching the scraps from the soup kitchen. The smell of human sweat and diesel exhaust stung the nose. The general murmur of ill-tempered communication mixed with the rumble of engines and assaulted the ears. The stark grey of the concrete everywhere resisted the city’s efforts to dress it up with cheap art. It was not a pleasant place to be. A brief stop between here and there, do not linger, the benches are not comfortable, the bus is here, time to leave, quickly now. He couldn’t help but smile; a small upturn of the corners of his chapped lips. Here he was connected to large portions of the city, and he did not know where the fates would lead him for the event. The uncertainty thrilled him as only a new sensation could. He would have to wait on the opening player to lead him where it would. He had never done that before. Who would it be? Looking, studying the overwhelming numbers of faces, he had another flash of revelation. A test. He would apply a test to find the one. He would ask random people for the time, and the first rude response would be the one. It would work; it felt right.

Several people gave him the time, though most were startled to be addressed. A couple were even friendly, exchanging a few pleasantries before moving on with the tide. Then he saw it. Before he even asked for the time he knew he would not get it from this one. A fat, but not obese, man in a yellowed shirt, loosened tie, and wrinkled suit, a newspaper under one arm, stuffing its maw with a glazed, jelly-filled doughnut. He sidled up, tapped the shoulder, and politely asked the time. A shrug and an obscenity. He felt the click, the world coming into focus, as fate chose a path. He remained at the station long enough to note which train he took then left. Once he was home, he went to doff the man he had been for the day, when yet another revelation came. They were coming faster than they ever did before in this game. This would be an exceptionally delightful game. He would remain as this man until the opening act. All of his planning would be by the man in the mirror. The chosen one would know it was being stalked. At least, the suspicion would be there. He was not stupid enough to do it too openly, but a glimpse here, a shadow there. This face would be familiar, but not recognizable to the victim when the event occurred. He snapped some polaroids so he would be able to reconstruct this persona again, then removed it.

For a month he followed the fat man, carefully laying out all his plans. No further revelations came; fate had set the terms of this game, and now left him to play it. He quickly found the fat man’s home and work, and plotted out its routine. The man went to work, eight to five on weekdays, then went home where it ate in front of the TV, or played some games on the computer, then went to sleep. Work, TV, sleep. Weekends only varied by shopping at Wal-Mart, and not working. No family at home, just some nosy neighbors with whom it did not get along. Small house, bad neighborhood. Dirt for a lawn. Here is where it would happen.

He followed the man, but the man saw nothing. He grew bold, even sitting next to it on the same bus, but the man saw nothing. Others saw him and noted him. As a result, he had been forced to establish his own routine and a background for the man he traveled as. There were still people who talked to strangers to pass the time on public transportation. He became Mark Brown, construction worker. By this, people understood him to do odd jobs at construction sites, since he carried no tools of his own, and did not dress as well as a regular worker did.

He grew to loathe the fat man as he would any insect. He had played with many people over the years, but never had he felt any emotion towards one before. He had been attracted to a couple of the women, but no more than he would have to any other pretty woman he passed on the street. He was a man, after all. But this man was only a shell of a man. It saw nothing, did nothing, felt nothing. It did not try to grow or better itself, only fill its gut and mind with worthless drivel. It was a worm, and would soon join its own kind.

He chose the weapon, the time, the escape route. The climax was building. The day came. Friday, so it would not be missed for a couple of days. He chose a time when he knew the neighbors would not be watching and let himself into the empty house. Used dishes overflowed the sink, food trash overflowed the garbage cans and surrounded the recliner in front of the TV. The stench of rot and stale alcohol nearly made him retch. The fat man was a pig in every way. Touching nothing, he sat down on the floor in the least filthy corner of the room. Hugging his knees to himself, he buried his face and waited.

The sound of the opening door some time later sent a shiver of excitement through him. He stood and moved to the center of room, pulling out the weapon he had chosen, and waited for the fat man to walk around the corner and into the room. The weapon hung at his side. It was an axe, but unlike most. It had a 36 inch straight hickory handle with a head that weighed about three pounds, the wicked curve of the blade balanced by a hammer stub behind it. It more closely resembled an odd, oversized tomahawk than an axe. It was beautifully balanced for throwing, but it would not be thrown this evening. The fat man came around the corner and took several steps into the room before realizing anything was wrong. It looked up and locked eyes with him. He raised his axe and buried it in the fat man’s forehead. As always happened, time had stretched for him. It took a very long time for the axe to complete its arc. The shock of the metal blade cleaving through the bone of the skull traveled in quivering waves up his arm and spread through his body. He saw a scream be lost before it emerged from the throat as the life drained from the victim. He felt the soul flee in these moments and leave behind forever its mortal husk. A spray of blood floated towards him and he tasted the metallic tang as a few drops landed on his parted lips. He wrenched the axe free as the body drifted to the floor, and a fresh spray of blood and a few bits of brain painted his clothes before the heart finally admitted defeat.

Time came back and he stood over the body for a time, panting heavily, trying to hold the adrenaline rush and the climactic ecstasy for as long as possible. At last, he left. He exited through the back and into the tiny yard behind the house, then climbed over the short fence into the yard of another house. Squeezing through the narrow alley between the new house and their neighbors, he emerged onto another street. Night had fallen and only one streetlight worked, several houses down the street. He turned and walked up the street, trusting the darkness to hide the dark, wet stains on his clothes. No one walked the streets tonight, nor was anyone in their front yards, as he knew there would not be. Not quite one block away, he stopped at a car parked by the curb, indistinguishable from the others parked by it. Inside, he quickly changed his clothes and face, and drove away. The game had been renewed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good post..