BriarFox (gwydion01) wrote in build_a_story,

Part 1

Jack slid the empty glass toward the back edge of the bar, motioning for another one. Mal shifted in her seat next to him, nervously asking Steve for a drink of her own.
"Sure," the bartender smiled, "if I could see some ID." Mal sat back uneasliy, hesitating for a moment, then sheepishly feigned looking through her purse.
"Damnit, I'm sorry," she said, setting her purse back on the bar with a half shrug, "I must have left it at home." Jack snorted in a half laugh, sipping his new drink.
"And what is so funny?" she said in a harsh whisper as Steve turned to a different customer across the bar.
"Left it at home my ass," he said with a smile, "We both know it is right in your wallet like always, and that you are just too young...."
She shot him a look," And so are you..."
He smiled a little, shruged, jiggled his glass a little and drained it. "Go to hell,"she said curtly, realizing the gravity of her words only too late.
"In due time, my friend" Jack said flatly, picking up his coat and walking to the the door. Mal sighed and ran to catch him.

"Jack, look, I didn't mean anything by it. I'm sorry."
Jack swung his coat around over his shoulder and slid it on, "Don't be, I'm not. I'm a killer, Mal. I don't have any illusions about what it is that I do. It would be trite to feel remorse or remeber faces or names or any of that bullshit."
"How can you be so cold about it? You play with Life and Death! What gives you the right?"
Jack stopped mid step, shoulders hunched and hands in pockets, and turned to give her a bleak look. "It isn't a right Mal, it is a responsibility. I take responsibility for not only myself but for these other people. I take it on myself to decide fate, then I live with the consiquence of that action. I do it because I don't stop at decideing the fate, I take responsibility for it. Not many people can get past that first step. They break, confess, go insane. They want release from that weight they put on themselves. I don't always like what I do. Some have been truly innocent, yet they were still suffering. Sickness, disease, pain.....I feel bad for having to end it, but I'd feel worse if I had let it continue. But the rest, Mal..."
"Monsters....I know."
"True terrors who use authority or strength to inflict pain on others just to indulge their sadism. Like tonight. He runs a large company and uses that influence to force women into compromising postions, and that same influence to make sure they are discredited or...otherwise silenced....should they come forward to accuse him or try to defend against his appetites. That is what this is about. I have condemned myself in order to save others. I do things that everyone else won't do because I am ready to risk myself for what I think is right."
"I don't like it, Jack."
He turned and kept walking, "I know."
"I could stop you, I could call the police, warn them, warn him."
"You won't....I know you won't."
"Do you?"
"I do know. Because tonight, after it is all over, I won't have changed. I'll be Jack. But that man," Jack drew a long, viciously curved knife from a fold deep in his coat, "after tonight he will never harm another woman agan."
Mal stopped and watched as Jack continued forward, fading into the shadow of the moonless night.
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She waited a few moments, fingering loose change in her pocket left there from some recent transaction. Her eyes shifted; they roamed towards the bar, but were once more pulled to Jack's disappearing figure. There was restless indecision tearing at her, a few different options popping haphazardly into her mind. Eventually, Mal turned away with an uneven spin on her heel, her steps slow. She had always thought what he did was utterly and indisputably wrong. But, the way he had put it, the way it sounded, she almost wondered if she wasn't so against it.. But no, it was wrong. It was not for a human being to take Life and Death into one's own hands. Her steps became more sure, now, and there could be heard the soft echo of each click of her stiletto boots against the bricked surroundings.


Jack could feel Mal watching him, she never could let him go. Sometimes he wanted to just turn around and rejoin her, be in the basking rays of her easy smile and bright eyes, and let someone else do the dirty work. But when it got right down to it, there was no one else doing the dirty work. So he never turned around. Instead he headed deeper into the shadows; the places where the street lamps couldn't reach, and only the lowliest sharks prowled. Tonight was nothing different, and he knew exactly where he was going. He also knew exactly who he was going to meet, and how they would react. After so many outtings, it wasn't hard to make predictions. That had also been the reason he had almost come to his downfall; he had slipped up, made a mistake, counted on something that didn't quite pan out, and he had almost lost. But almost is the keyword, and he had never been as hasty since.
He fondled the steep curvature of the weapon concealed within his thick dark coat; his weapon of choice on this dreary eve. With each unhurried step he could feel it against his thigh, and it was a reassurance. The night grew darker, but his eyes were quick to adjust, and he found his way through the dank alley ways and without disturbing anything. He was quickly approaching the targeted building. He could see his rusty beige Oldsmobile parked just down the street. It had been sitting there since the previous day; it was there now for when he was through. It would provide his getaway. It was parked under a dim street lamp. The dirty light didn't provide much visibility, so it was of no threat to anyone. The distance between the sturdy framed male and run-down piss hole was dwindling rapidly, and as he approached, a rank stink penetrated the very walls, however thin they were. There was a side entrance he planned to use, but he took a quick peek into one of the windows. It was pitch black; nothing could be seen. It was what he expected. All the action took placed in the basement, in a far room.
He turned away from the window. He turned his head for a quick glance around, his grey eyes making a survey before he entered the building. Within 5 long strides he had come to the heavy door and pulled on the handle. Once slipped inside, the odor magnified itself, but surely to be nothing compared to the reek of the actual room. He walked unhindered towards the rear of the building, his boots echoing on the wooden flooring. It didn't matter if they heard him. He was ready.
The door at the end of the row was simple, nondescript. Jack came to stand in front of it, drawing the blade from his coat. Light glinted briefly across its swift edge.

19. Tonight would be number 19. This knife had last been used for number 17. A woman, he didn’t even remember her that clearly, who had pimped out her two children, a boy and a girl, he remembered that much, in order to buy drugs. She had also gone quietly, accepting her fate and letting him do his job without a fight. 18 had been an old man. He was in the hospital, being eaten alive by some disease, cancer probably. For the most part the machines he was hooked to were the only thing keeping him alive. That and his family. They were zealous, intent on spending a fortune prolonging the suffering of this man as long as they could believing that extending his life was some sort of mercy, that his life should be dragged out despite his pain, despite his anguished cries throughout the night that kept the other patients, or his family on the few rare occasions they actually visited him, awake. “God wants him to live,” they said, “God will make it better.” Jack didn’t know what God had to do with it, if anything. It didn’t matter. Jack had asked himself once that maybe he was the hand of God, doing His work. God works in mysterious ways it was said, after all. Maybe he was one of those ways. But if so why didn’t he feel more guided? Why didn’t things fall more into place as befitting a Chosen one? He had stopped thinking about it a long time ago. Chosen or not, there were too many questions, and the answers didn’t matter. He still knew what he had to do. He had unplugged the man, let him pass, his body collapse under the weight of it’s own disease, then plugged him back in, letting it appear as though he had passed on his own. In those last moments, as the man wheezed a final breath, Jack thought he heard him say “Thank you.”

Jack reached silently for the door, closing his eyes. In those few seconds, he remembered. He remembered why he had come, why he was there in the first place, why he was a killer. He remembered her. Karen. It was why he was here, and why Mal, even though she hated what he did, did not stop him. His wife, Mal’s sister, had been raped and murdered in hers and Jack’s room. Jack had returned home and walked in just to see the man slit her throat and leave her to die, climbing out the window and into the yard, and running. He had held Karen as she gulped for air, gurgling and choking, he had screamed for help and held a towel to her neck to try and stop the bleeding. He had looked into her eyes and the life, the flicker he had loved so much, faded and vanished.

He had found that man, Evan, 3 days later. He had made him suffer, bled him, broke every bone in his body, and butchered him. At the time Jack had vowed to inflict as much pain on that monster as he knew how, feeling that some way with each scream his own anguish would dissipate, that vengeance would make his own pain go away. But it didn’t. He had felt better for a little while, grinned smugly when the news told of how the police had discovered the grisly scene. Jack had not been a suspect; he was too smart for that. Besides, who really mourned the death of a serial rapist? But as the exhilaration faded, the pain was still there. Every time he walked into the room, or saw her picture, took a shower it was right there, as sharp and driving as ever.

The blood, the screams, the pain, the vision all had passed when he opened his eyes again. Jack knew that he could never have Karen back. But he knew what the man in the room ahead did, the weak whimpers coming from behind the door told him as much, and he knew that he could never have his life back again, but that what he did tonight might give someone back theirs.

He held the knife tightly and reached for the doorknob, turning it slowly and pushing the door open, light flooding the hall. He stepped inside the room, swift as a shadow.
Jack sat in the silence of his dark apartment room, absent-mindedly smoothing the blade of the weapon with a buttery cloth. It was a small room, mostly bed. A few posters from years back still remained on the walls, but were beginning to curl at the edges. There was a small bedside table, atop which sat the obligatory bedside lamp. Jack continued the rhythmic motion, his eyes following the reflection of the moon on the wall from the sheen of the talon, but weren't really looking. His face looked tired; his lips were drawn and he looked almost skeletal in the ghostly light. A high-pitched squeal followed by a sharp horn blast from outside startled him into reality, and he set the blade down. His grey eyes fell upon a leather bound book lying on his bedside table. He reached for the ancient thing, opened it from it's previously tied state, and dug out a pencil from somewhere inside the folds. He flipped on the little light, and sat hunched over on his bed. Thumbing through the pages, he paused at one entry and read for a few moments. Quickly, though, he had found the next blank page, dated it, and set to scribbling. He would write and doodle and express until dawn, when he finally folded up his sacred possession and slid it into the drawer next to him. Burrowing into the covers, it didn't take long before he was dead asleep.

Tonight had been especially trying for Zach. It was like an S&M whore house, but not all participants had been willing. The emaciated women had been handcuffed to bed posts and sprawled out over filthy mattresses. There were gags, blind folds, whips, chains, lots of leather and metal, to be basic. Photographic and visual and audio recording equipment sat on dusty surfaces. There were three men, all of them over weight and slobs in their own corruption. Piteous moans and squeals were dominant in the heavy atmosphere, reeking of sex. Lighting was sparse, and was born from hanging yellow lamps.
It had been a fast job, like most. Uneventful and predictable, like most. But still it was a horrible burden lifted from the victims. Some ran to hospitals, some ran to shelters, some ran home. It was a blessing, but not a miracle.
There was satisfaction on Jack's part. Endorphins ran wild, coursing through his body, and it was his high at the end of the night. Sometimes he wondered if there would be any reprecussions to his actions. So far there hadn't been.. a parking ticket here or there, but he was intelligent and had never been so much as suspected in any of this. The fear of getting caught was minimal, a steep contrast to the obligation he felt, but did not resent, to do what he did.