Be sure to read Hunt before this.


The nightclub’s pulsing beats seem to rattle my bones, the subwoofers somewhat disorienting. The cacophony of voices, music, and laughter is almost deafening. The place’s aura of drugs, sex, and alcohol is palpable in the air.


I absentmindedly fix the sleeves of my shirt, tugging at the unbuttoned cuffs. The stool beneath me vibrates, as does the drink in front of me. I haven’t touched it- I only bought it in the first place to fit in.


I tilt my head up toward the ceiling, where lights of various colors flash at a furious rate down at me. Something that could loosely be called music rings in my ears.


I take a deep breath in. I can feel the smoke in the air across the back of my throat.


I close my eyes.


A sort of calm washes over me, the blaring sounds of this place attenuated, the smells less invasive.

One year.

Exactly one year since I crawled out from the Tower’s miles-long shadow, since I was reborn from the ashes of Edo Edi Essum. One year since I came to my revelation, since my life began anew. Another second ticks by, and I open my eyes. The crowds of people are there again, pressing around me. I can feel the air they’ve breathed floating around me like a halo. I sigh. I’m not one of them, however much I might look like one. I’m not human, no matter how much I’d like to be.

But I suppose there’s no time to dawdle and dwell on negatives. After all, there’s work to do. I inhale deeply, and exhale again.

Tonight’s the night. The night a primal, sacred need is satisfied. The night my humanity is stamped out and obliterated to make room for a far more vicious part of me. The night the Ritual is fulfilled yet again. The night Anthony Thompson, aged 31, draws his last breath. I can feel the glass syringe in my pocket as I stand up from the stool, scanning the club and marking my target. The hunter inside me thrills to see the top of Thompson’s head slightly above the rest of the crowd as he makes his way through it, heading toward the exit.

I make my way after Thompson, following him surreptitiously. He doesn’t notice as I begin to close in on him, only a few meters away by the time he reaches the door. Outside, I make sure to follow at a safe distance, careful not to arouse Thompson’s suspicion. The cool night air plays at my clothing, and although I can’t actually feel the cold, I know it’s there.

I’ve already put my kill equipment in the trunk of Thompson’s car, and I begin to close in again as he nears it. Reaching into my pocket, I slowly withdraw my syringe, taking the plastic sheath off of the needle. It’s almost time. My shadow- self quivers in anticipation. If I had a pulse, I imagine it would be speeding up. I’m only a few feet away from him now, and I can feel my anticipation building. What better way to celebrate my first birthday?

He’s reached his car. I take in a breath and exhale. It’s time. Thompson sees my shadow on his car, his whole body tensing in surprise. He whirls around. “Who the f-“

My needle is in his neck before he can finish his sentence. I press the plunger, sending a sizeable amount of M99 into his system, the fast- acting tranquilizer doing its work. Thompson slumps back against his car, unconscious in seconds.


Thompson’s barely conscious form lies supine on his kitchen table, which I’ve wrapped with sheet plastic to prevent blood from getting on it. Thompson himself is bound immobile by five layers of cellophane wrap. The anticipation wells in me as I take scalpel in hand, slicing a circle in his chest, perfected by dozens of kills. I can feel the corners of my mouth curling into a smile as Thompson screams.

I don’t answer is pleas for mercy, picking up my handheld saw next. It whirs to life as I flip the switch. I lower it to the circle on his chest. Blood and bone particles spray across my face as Thompson’s screams play harmonic counterpoint to the scream of bone against metal.


Back at my apartment, I languish on my couch, plunged in total darkness save for the glow of my television. Thompson’s Cartridge sits on the coffee table as I flip through channels, paying special attention to news channels. I called 911 as I left Thompson’s home; the breaking news should be on soon. Infomercials… reality TV… infomercials… sitcom… Ah, here it is.

“-Thompson was found dead in his home just an hour ago. The killer’s method was nothing short of macabre, removing a large portion of the victim’s chest until he died of blood and oxygen loss. Anthony Thompson is believed to be the latest victim of the infamous serial killer known as the King of Hearts-”

I can’t help but grin a little. King of Hearts? I’ve never heard that one before. It seems I’m making a name for myself as a serial killer. Somewhere inside there’s a twinge of sadness, a twinge of guilt. But there’s also peace, peace and calm at the completion of the Ritual. I pick a small piece of organ tissue out of my hair.

“… Body of a young woman was found today in her home near the downtown area. The murderer apparently slit her throat, draining her of all her blood. More disturbing, however, was the fact that her eyes had been gouged out-”

Suddenly, I’m back in reality.

“-And the skin appears to have been flayed from her left hand.”

I blink, staring at the bleached remains of my own fleshless left hand.

“The victim has been tentatively identified as one Angela Sm-”

The room goes dark, and it takes me a moment to realize that I’ve turned off the television, and am now sitting bolt upright. What is happening? A woman named Angela, with her eyes gouged out and her throat slit, the skin flayed from her left hand…

Someone knows.

Someone knows about me. About who and what I am. About Angela.

And they’ve just sent me a message.

Continued in Scrutiny.

Part of the series Labors in Futility.
Last modified on 2013-06-05 09:09:50Average Rating: 1 / 5 (1 votes)Viewed 3408 times

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