Tender flesh, waiting -
For the dropping Guillotine -
Eyes Blank, Wide Open
– Technicolor Dreams
Chapter 1: Two-Face
The actors of life
Have their frozen smiles trapped as
They wait their cue to
Join its vicious cabaret
- Technicolor Dreams
Marais, First and Queen Mary, 2057
The frozen hell called winter lingered on interminably; an endless ordeal that was only barely endured. In these parts of the world, 6 months of bone-chilling cold followed by 6 months of sweltering heat had become the new normal. Everyone had long ago gotten used to it.
The man in the black trench coat stood statuesque at the corner of First and Queen Mary Boulevard, his breath visible in the soft, pale, February moonlight. The thin trench coat seemed to envelop him, a tarp over his slight, insignificant figure.
The constant puffs of breath were the only signs of life in the cold, lonely night.
His mind worked feverishly even in the still silence. His eyes carefully scanned the landscape while he retrieved memories of happier days, hidden in the tombs of distant time.
He remembered it like it was yesterday. It had been a beautiful Autumn morning in Old Marais; a day that overflowed with the promise of great things to come…the proverbial best of times. That was the day everything began its slow drift sideways. It all began innocently enough, but looking back, he knew immediately she entered the picture that there would be consequences. That was when the nightmares had begun. Once they started, they never stopped.
His thoughts trailed off, and when he looked up, there was a junkie shivering beside him. The junkie was dressed in a white three piece suit with matching white shoes and a top hat. He had a wild, desperate look about him. He looked like he would do anything for his fix. The man in the trench coat recognized that and was not above exploiting this weakness.
“What’s the price, going to be now, Killer?” the immaculately dressed junkie asked, his voice rising to a pleading falsetto.
“40 credits for 2 minutes” the man in the trench coat replied, his voice barely above a whisper.
The immaculately dressed junkie looked at him with a vacant, stupid stare, his mouth hanging open in the cold light. The gears in his vacant, techno-addled brain whirred.
That price was 40% higher than it had been only a few weeks ago. The first price increase would be the precursor to many more to come. Both of them knew it, but they also both knew that the man in the trench coat was the best at what he did, and that the immaculately dressed junkie could never get a better fix anywhere else.
Finally, the immaculately dressed man shook his head and said in his gravelly voice
“They don’t call you Killer for nothing…”
The words hung heavy as the immaculately dressed junkie looked at the man in the trench coat in quiet desperation. Finally, he tapped the bar code on his arm which transferred the 40 credits to the man in the trench coat who gave him the strange metallic patch that would give him 2 minutes that felt like eternity.
The immaculately dressed junkie half-skipped, half-hopped away to indulge his many vices.
The man in the trench coat watched him leave with a wry smile on his face. He should have felt something. After all, he was partially responsible for peddling the poor underclass of zone 2 with the techno-drugs that kept them docile, pliant and easily controlled by central authority. In place of guilt or shame or responsibility, he felt a deep emptiness. Everything had changed since she had entered his life, so abruptly and left with equal haste.
He took out the pack of cigarettes he always carried with him, even though he had never smoked a day in his life, took one out and held it out to the approaching figure.
“Good to see you, killer.”
Her green hair glistened in the moonlight. She took the cigarette, placed it delicately between her blood-red lips, and he lit it for her.
She took a deep drag and exhaled.
The pair stood silent as she finished her cigarette, until finally, after she had extracted every ounce of the precious, rare, drug, they walked across the snow-covered fields and disappeared into the night.
“You’re probably thinking to yourself, how could I have been so stupid? How could I have put myself in this situation. How could I have let this happen?”
The man in the white coat said this impassively, with only a slight hint of emotion behind his cold demeanour.
He fixed his cold gaze on the woman tied to the chair with a ball gag stuffed in her mouth. Her blonde hair was dishevelled and her piercing blue eyes were bloodshot.
The man in the white coat continued in his soothing voice.
“I chose you, and once I chose you, this was pre-ordained. There was nothing you could have done.
Now you’re probably thinking about your family. Your dear mother who lives in Albuquerque. Your father and how much you wish you’d told him you loved him before his tragic passing two years ago.
Those are good thoughts, and if I were you, I’d probably think them too, but I’d also spare a thought in your selfish ruminations, for me, and how difficult this was to engineer. Spare a thought for that. Because I can see the bigger picture in everything, is why I'm the one standing here and why you’re the one about to die.”
Her eyes went wide, and she began to shake and struggle at her bonds. More tears flowed from her bloodshot eyes and with the ball-gag in her mouth, the tears mixed with the mucus and dripped down her camisole.
The man in the white coat took a silk handkerchief from his pocket and tenderly wiped at her face.
“You still have fight in you. That’s good to see. In a few moments, I'm going to take your gag off. Now, you’ll have the temptation to scream or do something equally thoughtless.
If I were in your shoes, I’d think to myself, “what’s the harm? How could it get any worse. I'm about to die anyway.”
Remember, though how easily I managed to put you here, and remember your mother and your 17 year old sister.
You’d do well to remember. There are a million ways to die and some are worse than others. Resist the urge to scream, and I’ll give you a good death. I’ll only kill your body, but if you anger me, I’ll kill your soul before I kill your body. I will make you watch as I do unspeakable things to your mother and your sister, and then, when you’ve become a charred husk of who you once were, I will give you the tools of your own death. You’ve seen me at my best. You wouldn’t want to see me at my worst.”
He didn’t need to take her gag off. It was all part of his routine, his quest to control every aspect of his killing ritual, especially the victim, but secretly, he longed for their screams.
He removed the gag and waited 10 seconds. If they didn’t scream within the first 10 seconds, they would never scream. Most of the women he had captured and tortured screamed even after his speech. She didn’t scream. Where her eyes had once been full of love and full of life, he saw only twin black holes of despair. She had lost the will to fight for her life, regardless of the bleak odds.
That disappointed him. Without that glimmer of hope, the killing would be anti-climactic; worthless. Their fear, tinged with just enough hope was the aphrodisiac that powered him. The resignation that he saw in her eyes disappointed and disgusted him. He would have to find another more worthy specimen. There was no more joy to be had from this one.
He softened his gaze.
“You didn’t scream. That’s good. This will be more pleasant for you.”
He reached into his pocket and removed the shiny black pistol. She continued her futile struggle against her manacled bonds.
He placed the gun at her forehead. She looked at him pleadingly.
“Close your eyes. I promise this won’t hurt a thing.”
She closed her eyes, and that solidified his decision. There was nothing more he could get from this one.
Two shots, a spurt of blood across his face, a slump of her head and his work was done. He would dispose of her in the morning and would continue his quest for the perfect kill.