I have seen unspeakable things in my life. Damage. Destruction. Death.
I have felt the very moment when life exits the body. The frenzied panic giving way to a slackening of the limbs and a glassy eyed, empty stare. The moment when the soul passes through, unseen yet keenly felt in the emptiness left behind.
I carry around with me the blood of my victims, their screams and their stories. These well worn horrors stalk the earth with me, casting a shadow which one can’t help but notice. Do you see it in the set of my mouth? Or is it the jumpy gaze, the tightness in my limbs?
I break through the pulsating, unrelenting throng of people, rushing to get to their homes and families before the heavens open again.
Without wanting to, my eyes scan the crowd. It’s easy to pick them out once you’re tuned into it. The slowness while everyone else is rushing. The deliberate reluctance to talk, interact…to simply be. They may not even realise yet. But I do.
My work is quick, almost disrespectfully so. An initial meeting where I nod my understanding as the victim passes on their wishes in nervous, stilted phrases.
“…fascination with hanging. I see it over and over and…”
“…I just can’t imagine doing this every day for…”
“…I’ve always wanted to feel the sensation of being …”
The catch? My victims seek me out. The premeditation is done on their part, by their rules. I merely play the role they’ve spent years writing for me. The one I may not have been born to play, but the one I now wear like a suit of armour.
I think of the job ahead. The quiet yet confident words that cracked across the line. The familiar, measured tones of the broken soul on the other side, teasing at something I thought long buried.
Do I remember them all? It’s hard not to, but the details blur. An abused child. A man who’s lost everything. A victim of rape. Sometimes I imagine the lives they’ve left behind. What happened to the little boy, the mother, the husband?
I don’t judge. It’s just a job like any other. Some can’t see another way out. Courage, religion or something else entirely keeps them from making the only decision which could possibly bring them peace. These people I pity.
Others simply need to get rid of the evil coursing through their veins. These deaths I relish. Who knows how their sickness will eventually manifest itself, how many innocent lives they’ll take. I cringe as a stray memory suddenly rears its ugly head. Three little bodies all lined up like matchsticks, a figure hovering behind me in the doorway. I swallow the bile and feel my resolve strengthen. They need help.
That’s where I come in. I try and keep a low profile, but if you know where to look, who to ask, you’ll find me.
Crossing a busy intersection, my mind turns to the girl and her story. A broken home. Emotionally unhinged, living a shell of a life. Just another variation of a tale I’ve heard before. I dig my hands deeper into my pockets and take a deep, contemplating breath. Although the story’s familiar, something was a bit off in the delivery. A quiet strength which almost made me shy away from taking the job. But I owe it to her, and my reputation. Something like that comes out and a carefully crafted career is over.
I round the corner to the pier. It’s quiet here. The cacophony of car horns, mindless chatter and shrieks of happy children fade into the background. I check my watch. 7.15. I’m always early. They’re always late. This is normal. They like to peek around the side of a building or from behind a car, not realising that they’re following the same lines etched by the many who came before them, and the many that will come after. They like to see the hands of the last person who will touch them on this earth. How tall is he, what is he wearing? Trivial information that makes the unfamiliar easier to digest.
I lean against a wall, one leg over the other, the tension in my leg belying the casual pose. There have been times I’ve been taken by surprise. I may work alone, but I’ve got connections, if you know what I mean. I trace the outline of the pager in my pocket.
A figure turns the corner, boots scratching on the gravel. She walks alone, confident against the biting wind. Adrenalin immediately begins to course through my body. Her trench swings with each step. The first prickle of unease make the hairs on my neck stand up. I push myself off the wall, clutch the pager in my hand.
Her boots are rhythmic, and each step renders me immobile. Her halo of curls come into view and her lips part in the familiar curve of her smile as she comes to a stop in front of me.
That smile. The three small bodies, all lined up…
‘I thought I’d never find you,’ comes the hoarse voice that sends despair through me. The same voice…but no, different somehow.
I push the trigger. I push it again and again, and as do I watch her face. A montage of traitorous memories I thought I’d buried long ago overwhelm my senses. The day we first meet. Our first date. The birth of our first child…right through to that last memory, in that filthy kitchen.
Burnt toast. Torn clothes. Twisted limbs. I’m jolted back to that day with the three even bodies. Small, lifeless bodies of the kids stretched out in a neat, tidy line on my kitchen floor. A figure cowering behind me at the sight in front of her, hands pulling at the same curls almost touching my face now.
Blood. So much blood.
‘All the innocent lives..,’ she shakes her head, holding up a crumbled bit of paper…a newspaper clipping? ‘How?? How could you..?’
I unscramble the clipping, my mind fumbling, slipping through all the bodies since that day. My mind focuses on the words on the page ‘Suicide Killer – days are numbered’ I dimly become aware of cars pulling up all around me, doors slamming, shouts blazing through the night. It’s as if it’s through a haze. All I can see are all the bodies…
‘I…I just wanted to help them,’ I manage. ‘to make sure no one else gets hurt… …the way we were.’
She cups my cheek, sadly shaking her head ‘Shhh, it’s over now.’
I’m suddenly aware that I’m being pulled away, hands roughly pulled behind my back, my head gently pushed to fit into the back of a car.
I watch her for a moment, left standing alone amidst the chaos and I wonder, who’ll come for me?