Bj - intense to begin with, avid description of the char's background. It even evoked a little sympathy. However, I found it too short; maybe that's just me; I remember shortness is key to this thing, so. . .
But still: Copyright, April 2002.
It was a sad day; we all mourned him. And her, his wife, the widower he was meant to leave behind: the tragedy of their deaths.
The newspapers reported joint suicide, but I knew better. I had been there, on that fateful day when the old man gassed himself in his Rolls Royce; I was there when she went into the garage, flicked the switch for the naked bulb - and blew both herself, her husband and half the street away in a flight of orange combustion.
I didn't really know why I was here. Pity, perhaps? I was too far cold for that. Guilt? Ha: I'd never felt guilt since my mother died at my birth. My heart was scarred, but I could live with it. I didn't see why anyone else couldn't.
Although admittedly, watching the seven or eight grandchildren walking down the aisle to kiss their grandpa and grandma on cold, naked lips that would no more shout or be sentry for air, there was a pang of. . . something. In my gut.
It was strange: I hadn't felt anything like that before.
In this tradition, we have a rule. It's so well known it's a cliché, but then don't the best rules always turn out like that? The rule is: No women, no kids.
It's simple. Even a brickhead like Jackie can remember it.
Somehow, I knew these children had seen me there, at the killing.
I was standing at the back, dressed in black like they all were, trying to blend in - blending in - with an air of one of the attendants. I would have carried the coffin down to the funeral hover if I hadn't ran.
It was sick, kinda. But the feeling I got. . . it was like flying, like the first time you get inside a rigged hover, and take it above the height governor, looking out over the tops of the scrapers.
I had a gun with me: I'd been told that was necessary; there were strict instructions, the kind that get deaf people and brickheads hurt. I wasn't supposed to use it. "For emergencies only", the Chengbao Ren said. I remembered what he said, and how much I hated him: he'd killed my fucking brother, for God's sakes. Not that I knew that then, of course. The tower was still burning when I got home; I could smell the stench of his tainted skin, burnt, from eight blocks over.
This gun was unique: it was an oldy, the type that used an attachment as a silence. He said there was no way of finding the killer if I used it. The cops had abandoned the tests for guns like these long ago. Energy pistols were the name of the day.
I grinned as I undid my coat. I watched the children go up the aisle: waited for them to return.
They were at the head of the line, trailing sobbing aunts all dolled up nice and pretty. There was an old man, the same age as the deceased, crying too. A brother I guessed. There was some likeness and I should know: I studied the old man's face for hours, and his wife's.
The gun seemed to come out of its holster of its own volition: it was like I had no control. I was grinning - I could feel the rush of blood, the pump of adrenaline - and I knew I would be killed for this. I just kept grinning, aimed the gun and fired.
Six times, emptying the clip.
I only stopped when I heard the wail of sirens, saw the priest in his black and white robes, that little purple towel he wears down his front all stained with blood. He was kneeling, praying. I was a dark angel; a tower of black framed in the open doorway. There was a slight wind, some leaves and packages blew in from the outside.
I turned and looked, saw the flicker of blue and red; knew I was done for.
I ran anyway. Running's better than just letting them come to you, eh? The grass felt hilly under my feet, uneven. My breath caught in my throat, and I realised I hadn't eaten or drank this morning. That's a personal ritual, before a kill. But I hadn't known, so how. . . ?
They got me eventually. Started firing from up a height: I had no chance, really. Fuckers got me in the kneecap, by accident of course. I swore at them, laughing. I would press charges.
But it went in reverse: I was pressed with charges, right up against a shitty wall with flaking paint, some tough-boy fuzzy-wuzzy beating me with his fists. It hurt, but I couldn't hit him back. I felt weak, as if I were about to faint. I tried to remember what I'd had for breakfast, then it came back to me, and I tried to puke on the fuzzy.
He hit me on the neck as I bent over, convulsing. Stun prod. I gasped for air as the needle came down. I saw it, writhing on the floor, but I didn't feel it. The pain in my head was far too intense for that; I could hear ringing bells, church bells.
It faded into darkness after that. I guessed they pumped me with some sort of catatonic, but I don't remember anything.
I woke up in some pokey little room with a window the size of my thumbnail and a bed as hard as the skin on my left foot. My arms were tied together with a brace fixed to the wall with some sort of chain. My eyes were blurry, and my head still throbbed; I could feel each heart beat pumping. I remember wondering how damaging a cerebral haemorrhage actually was.
The next time I woke up I was naked. They removed the chain connecting me to the wall - barbed wire, I saw now - and hosed me down, dressed me.
They brought me to you.
'And why do you think they did that?'
I dunno. But I'm still grinning. You're probably some kind of voodoo doctor, come to talk to my brain or something.
A coughing splutter, a wheezing sound in conjunction with the pain in my chest.
'Do you think that's true?'
Probably. Is there something I can get to eat in here?