October Stories: Departure

Carefully wiping clean the tools of his trade, the improbably tall man in the cream linen suit considered his sojourn in Miami. It had been hard work, much more difficult than he had anticipated. These people proved to be so indifferent to the fates of those around them that it took extraordinary measures to generate any significant amount of fear at all.

He glanced through the kitchen window to the pool, silver and black and indigo, and at the neighbor’s home beyond it. Most people attributed his work to a variety of sources; this year one detective had seen the signature he had left behind at each workplace. She had been fearless, and for that he credited her. She seemed to grasp something of his nature, what he was, his methods, his purpose, and yet she still continued her pursuit. When eventually trapped, her tendons sliced to prevent her escape, she had spat at him.

You won’t get what you want from me, she snarled. I will not fear you.

A slight smile flickered as he reflected on her crushed expression as he quietly explained his complete indifference to her fear. His interest was the terror her end would distill in her associates, in those who looked up to her. Her death was simply raw material.

She remained defiant for quite a while. Of course, once his work was complete he had arranged her features into a more appropriate expression of horror.

He drew a thick cigar from a silver case as he walked though the still, suburban house to the front door. He did not stop to review his handiwork as he passed, but he did pause a moment at one bedroom doorway. As he looked inside the moon-cast shadow of a Disney mobile slowly crossed his no-longer-pale face. Extraordinary measures, indeed, he thought. But hardly the first time.

Even though this season had been less productive than he wished, he enjoyed his visit to Miami. He had become rather fond of the rich cigars, for one, and even though he did not swim, he did enjoy the ocean. Its primal nature suited him.

However, now he must return to the cooler climates of the north, far from the sea. After a glance at the mirror beside the front door he changed his linen suit for black wool, an indistinctly old-fashioned cut. His deeply tanned skin paled, and his eyes lightened from brown to grey. But as his hand touched the doorknob he hesitated, and looked in the mirror again. Why not? he thought. I’ve just spent a month in Miami.

As he stooped to enter the waiting limousine, he looked at the reflection of his freshly sun-bleached hair in the tinted glass, and smiled. His driver shuddered.

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