Author: WhereDidMyShadowGo PM
Never trust a criminal.Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Horror - Words: 1,218 - Published: 07-11-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3040872
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This short story had a 1000 word limit. I've never been particularly comfortable with (or fond of) either the genre, or the writing style I used here, so my guess as to it's quality is probably completely off. Anyway, enjoy! :)
I have seen unspeakable things in my life; often of my own doing. For this, I know you fear me.
I do not remember exactly how this started; this sick obsession of mine. I could not place a particular moment in time. What I do know is that I will never stop. There are things in my past of which I am not proud. I would like to say that any of these things involve my crimes, that they sometimes overwhelm my senses, and force my old eyes to flicker shut in hopes of reprieve. I would, if only to preserve the precious belief of 'humanity' within you. However, I am not a liar. For this, I am sorry.
But do not despise me; for me, this madness will never stop; for you, it will end with the last breath of my lungs upon this ephemeral plane. I plead with you on bended knees; let this old fool inhale one last breath of purpose. Let me rise to my prime just once more in this life, and I shall surrender my body, and my crimes, to the Lord.
I sighed as I read through the letter one last time. Old Scarecrow was the most wanted criminal in the state, or at least he had been until I got to him. That particular 'achievement' had been just what was needed to take me from inspector to superintendent, a title I had long striven for. In a way, it's funny. Once I had reached my desired rank, I didn't really want it anymore. At first, I had felt so proud of myself, like I had conquered a whole mountain of adversity, but when I realisedI had nothing else to strive for; no goals left to reach,and no one left to achieve them for, winning just made me feel hollow.
I never thought I'd have to face this; barely forty, and feeling like I'd already spent my time, but I've learnt that just what this place does to you; it sucks out your life, and turns the past into a messy grey fog of ill decisions and unfortunately timed events. The worst part is that you can't find a way out, regardless of how desperately you try. Failure after failure; misfortune after misfortune – you live your whole life out without even realising you haven't been living it at all. I suppose in a way I could relate to the criminal, and that scared me. Perhaps that was the real reason I had pulled the trigger – not so I could stop the man from decapitating his latest prey, but so I could feel that raw fascination that comes from witnessing an execution, without feeling guilty. Perhaps what I had done to avoid that feeling had made me realise that I was no better an individual than him. I wouldn't know – I don't like thinking about it.
After every case had been wrapped up, I had learnt to suppress the details, pressing the images so deeply into my subconscious that I could no longer see every mark, every strand of hair, every speck of blood burned onto the insides of my eyelids. Now that this case was closed, I proceeded to do the same. I lightly closed my eyes, breathing out gently. I let the memories surface. Suddenly, every photograph of the victims was battling to enter my sight. The scent of different locations overlapped one another like errant waves, each one fighting to drown the one beneath it. Even the metallic tang that blood lends to the air was present.
At first, I caressed the images, lightly plying them from the plane of my inner vision. This was enough toeventually remove evensome of the most graphic visions of wasted life. The lesser senses of taste, and scent, were mostly removed during the process of destroying the others. I had never been a big user of them. Eventually, I was left only with the hollow echoes of conversations. These mostly consisted of my workmates conversing about the victims' families, and assessing the extent of collateral damage. One particular conversation I had not been expecting rose to the top; tearing apart the others as if they were delicate leaves unknowingly floating into a wildfire.
A disbelieving voice resounded throughout my head. Unsure of what I was hearing, I clenched my eyelids tighter, struggling to place the situation. The voice echoed within my head once more, "No…put that down!" It continued, casting off the slightly muffled tone it had previously taken on. I felt my lids relax. I continued to listen, patient in the face of emptiness.
Nothing. Black encircled me on all sides, when suddenly-
A scream, followed by a dull thud, and colour filled my vision once more.
A man stood, one hand wrenching her mouth closed, the other gripping a bloody blade. Yes, I could remember now. The discrete scent of fear had clung to the air, as if too fearful to leave the scene lest it alert the murderer. That had been the one murder that hadn't truly been resolved by the Scarecrow's death. It had been the one crime I could not stop. I couldn't even identify the murderer, although I had been an eyewitness. The night I lost my wife…
My mind trailed off into a dark spiral of angst. I had refused to speak about that case. I had locked that night so deeply within me that not even I could release it. But now, suddenly, it had been given life. I inhaled sharply, a pang of emotion striking me so swiftly that I was suffocated. I had thought I could pretend to be over it. The Scarecrow was gone. He couldn't cause any more harm. Only I knew that night had not been his work, and that was what had my skin burning. The old man may have been discovered holding the murder weapon – the hunting knife that had killed my wife. The same murder weapon had been used at all of the most recent cullings. It had already been resolved as his crime, but knowing what I did about the true criminal – how he was in league with the Scarecrow, and had been for years; how he had been fuelling his sick obsession by leading stray animals into his home;leading stray humans into his home…even how he had given the man his favourite hunting knife as a gift to celebrate his last official 'spree'. Knowing what I knew about him, I could not feel at peace. Knowing that there was one man out there that I could never willingly expose as my wife's killer made my victory seem all the more shallow. I would stop hunting him, and I would pretend to be at peace, but I would never be able to forgive myself for not turning him in. I would never be able to forgive myself for being him.