Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Theme Story - Payback

Tonight was the night. I’d planned for days: tracking my target, purchasing the essentials, finding the opportune time and moment… I was giddy with the heady anticipation, the roaring fire in my veins heralding the long-awaited conclusion to my – and my victim’s – saga.

Victim. I tried not to laugh at the moniker. He was no victim. Sure, he was going to feel the slice of my knife, the  none-to-gentle massage of my strangling hands on his windpipe, and in that sense – the strictest sense – he would be a victim, but his deeds; his deeds had earned him so much more than what I was prepared to mete out.

I shifted my weight, the length of rope in my hands – paid for in cash, of course – alternately slackening and growing taut as some of my nervous energy seeped into my actions. I knew that there was no real risk of discovery. An expert poker player could probably tell what I was up to, as I was surely telegraphing my intentions through my demeanor and subconscious action, but my hiding place was perfect. I was obscured from the road, from the surrounding buildings, and had a clear line of sight to the doorway my victim used every night. With the cloud cover in the area blotting out the moonlight and the porch light having gone out some time last week, my disguise of darkness was absolute.

Lights shone through the bushes around me, moving in a slow arc – the headlights of my victim’s vehicle. I remembered that gray monstrosity,  its privacy-darkened windows obscuring any view of the driver. I’m sure this let him feel more at-ease about his casual callousness, his disregard for his fellow citizens of the world. I relished the chance to disabuse him of his notions of superiority. Today, his bill came due, and I was here to collect.

I remained still, even ceasing the motion of my hands, as he approached his front door. I saw him standing there in black shoes and gray slacks not six feet from me, and I ached to reach out and start the process early. My hand was halfway towards him when I hastily caught myself. His time would come, and come soon. What good could I be to the world if I deviated from my plan and failed to exact the revenge due to society – to humanity itself – from the hide of this miscreant?

The door shut behind my victim as the moment passed, and I listened for a telltale click. My research was perfect, but there was always the chance that he would change his pattern just this once. After a few moments of silence I smiled. In a neighborhood like this nobody ever locked their doors. I surmised that that would change after tonight.

I slipped quietly into the foyer, gently closing the door behind me. I left it open lest my victim heard the latch closing unexpectedly, but the blaring of the television in a room down the hall told me my precautions were unnecessary. I crept down the small hall, positioning myself flat against the wall next to the braying portal conveying the television’s auditory feces onto the aural landscape. Using a small hand-mirror I peeked around the doorframe, and smiled once again. He was sitting in a chair facing away from the door. I relaxed for the first time – this couldn’t be any easier if I had planned it myself.

I took a breath and moved stealthily into the room. This was the moment of truth – the time when all of my research, all of my creative energy came to fruition. Just me and my victim, a few scant inches separating us. I paused behind his chair, savoring the moment, and as the action on screen climaxed I struck, looping my rope around the victim’s neck.

The struggle that ensued could be described by any number of words. Epic. Brief. Desperate. Violent. But ultimately the word that was most apt was “futile.” Before long my victim had passed out from lack of oxygen, and I was able to get to work. His hands were quickly bound to his feet, and his body rendered immobile through judicious application of ropes and restraints. I covered all of the bases – wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, all tied together in a complex series of practiced knots that were as impossible to escape as they seemed to be to tie. This accomplished, my work was largely complete – I simply needed to wait for my victim to awaken.

At this point I did not have to wake long, as a couple minutes later he jerked awake with a curse. He struggled vainly against his bonds, then began to shout. I didn’t really listen to his words, as they were largely immaterial – I simply stepped forward and slapped him across the face. He shook his head and blinked a few times, his eyes settling on my masked head and, more importantly, the shiny knife I was holding in front of it. His eyes widened at this last, and his mouth cracked open to let forth some more verbal assault.

“Who… who are you?”

I smiled. These conversations all started the same way. They all ended the same way, too, but my victim didn’t have to know that. I took a breath and spoke, knowing the vocal distorter would do its work for me

“Someone you have wronged for the last time.”

The man shook his head. “Wronged? Who? I haven’t wronged anyone!”

I laughed, a mirthless sound that caused my victim to snap his mouth shut. “You all make the same claim, but I was there. I saw you, in your hubris, as you ignored all the hallmarks of a worthwhile civilization.” I began to pace around him as I talked, taunting him with his inability to move. “It’s such a simple thing. You wait your turn, then you go. You stand in line, then you receive your turn at the appropriate moment. But you, oh no. You….” I placed the knife against his cheek, causing him to shudder as the cold steel touched his face. “You thought you were so much more important.”

“Hey listen man, I don’t know what you’re talking…”

His voice cut off suddenly as I sliced, a bright red gash erupting on his cheek. He let out a scream of pain – sweet music to my ears paying in one second for all of the time I’d spent preparing.  I gave him a moment to quiet down before continuing. “Hurts, doesn’t it?”

“You… you son of a…”

“Don’t like being cut, do you? But no, you just had to be in first. You walked right past all the people outside that theater, and just jumped in at the front. “

I saw his eyes widen in recognition. “Wait, this is over a movie?!”

I didn’t let his outburst deter me. “You flagrantly flaunted the rules of society. You tried to be more important than the rest of the people who waited politely.” I sliced him again, his scream rising once more as I spoke louder to top it. “You had every opportunity to do the right thing.” Another slice, another scream.” But you chose the wrong action, and now….” I placed the tip of the knife into his nostril and leaned in close. “…now you will no longer be able to hurt others.”

I wish I could say my work took a long time, but my victim alas did not have the pain tolerance shown by some of my more ardent adventures. I finished my task in all of an hour, and before long I’d set the flames I used to cover up any evidence I left. As I left the room, I tried to ignore the sullen emptiness inside of me. It had been growing after each of my victims, lately. I didn’t question my motives – indeed, my work was the only thing I was confident in – but more felt less certain that my victims were serving as any kind of example. There is, after all, a lot of filth in the world – were they getting the message?

As I walked down the street, the amber light rising and flickering behind me, I started thinking about ways to publicize my work, to get the message out. Of course, for that I’d need another victim, and there was no shortage of those.

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