“Don’t call the cops.” And with that, my life became a nightmare. The voice was obviously made through one of those medical voice simulators; unrecognisable. Of course, the first thing I did was call the police and it was extremely lucky I used my mobile phone to do so, because half way through dialling my land line phone rang again. It was the ‘voice’, just “checking to see that I hadn’t been stupid”. The line went dead at the same moment the one on my mobile sprang to life.
In the days ahead the demand came; a ludicrous one given that I had no real money or assets to speak of. I said so, and was warned to get it, to rob a bank (laugh) if I had to, but to do it quickly because time was running out.
Anyone who reads the newspapers knows my wife was killed within an hour of being abducted. The reasons she was taken were widely speculated on but the simple fact was the whole thing was random. It could have been anyone, anywhere.
The following fourteen months passed in a blur. The friends we had had soon began making excuses and then just stopped calling. I can’t say I blame them, really. Some people don’t know how to take help; others don’t want it. I don’t know which one I am and it doesn’t really matter, anyway. I moved because I had to. Our house was repossessed by the bank when I stopped making payments, and I stopped because I didn’t go back to work. I spent my days, nights and weekends playing arcade shooting games on my TV, and that was that. Living rough and cheaply in a converted garage wasn’t exactly inspiring.
The only time I felt a spark of my old motivation was the day I heard about the trial, due to begin shortly. I heard it through the media first; the cops had long ago given up on me and didn’t need me to give evidence. I felt disconnected from what was happening, even as I walked and walked around the courthouse where the trial would take place. Here it would be decided whether the killer got two years in gaol or two and a half. That’s justice for you. The killer, apparently, had a drug problem caused by a disrupted upbringing. Well, that explained everything. In gaol the poor innocent murderers get courses to help them, because after all, it’s not their fault. Society, in the form of my wife, were the oppressors of this particular ‘victim’.
I tried to feel something, even anger, but I couldn’t shake the odd inertia I’d been gripped with. Should you invest that much care into one person? Should you allow yourself to become that exposed? Probably not, if you think this is the only life you get, but if you believe in the idea of lifetimes the choice isn’t so cut and dried. I believe in lifetimes. Sometimes I can feel my soul rippling out through eternity like a radar, looking for her in lives we haven’t lived yet, but always coming back without the ‘ping’ of recognition. That loneliness of eternity is terrifying.
I went places and did things because the body has requirements the mind can’t control, but I also hung on to enough general awareness to do some things that needed doing. And so it came to this. Here I was, perched precariously on the pitched roof of the building opposite the courthouse, with a non-existent line of vision. There was no way the police would let me get so much as a glimpse of my wife’s killer if I stood on the street, but that didn’t lessen my need to see who stole the future.
The police truck was late in arriving; I think they do that on purpose to minimise the amount of time the accused spends out of the cell. There’s no doubt I’d have missed their arrival had I not had my camera balanced on the roofline. It could see forward without exposing me to the glare of attention; I could see the digital screen at the back of it. I saw the truck finally roll into the laneway, stopping close to the secure entrance at the side of the building. The side door of the truck swung open, obscuring my vision completely. The police aren’t stupid; the van doors swing open on the street side to give cover to the assailant.
Scrambling up onto the roofline I got the best position I could, crouching, with a leg over each side of the roof. Already chambered, I fired one high-powered shot straight into the armoured door. It swung back toward the truck and for a few seconds there was my wife’s murderer, exposed, and down on the ground with a cop straddling over, trying to get things moving damned fast. I saw his head through my sight; it very nearly completely obscured the head of the murderer. I had a choice to make, and I had to make it damned quick. Should I fire through the cop’s head? And wouldn’t that make me just like what I wanted to kill? And then in a flash there was a gap, and I filled it. It was a supremely gratifying experience to see the side of the killer’s head explode as my shell hit. She was dead before she hit the ground.
Everything sped up then, as the cop pulled the now-lifeless body into the courthouse as fast as possible. No doubt I’d shown up on the security cameras which were bristling all over that building, but I was no longer in a hurry to do anything. I eased back over the roof and down the way I’d come. By the time I got there I had company, but they were keeping their distance. That didn’t surprise me at all; I was dressed in black, my pockets bulging with the fake gun handles and sticks of C-4 I was convinced would pass any inspection that wasn’t close range. To them, I was a walking bomb factory.
Time was not my friend. The slower this went the more the adrenalin would seep out of their systems; the more opportunity they’d have to negotiate with me. I raised my gun to them but, with credit to their training, no one fired. It was as I reached for the painted/fake trigger switch for the painted/fake explosives that the first shot rang out. The force spun me around and I lost my footing. Pain was rushing through me as blood began seeping out of me. True to their training, I had only been shot in the arm. I heard their footsteps rushing in and in a final burst of speed I came up to my knees and went for the bomb trigger. It was the last voluntary movement I ever made. Falling to the ground dead doesn’t count. My wife’s killer, now cooling across the road, had not only abducted and killed my wife; she had abducted and killed my innocence.
“Jesus Christ!” he muttered. “What a fucking mess this is.” He passed the note he’d found on me, after he had realised I had no real weapons and not even any more bullets. The note read: I’m sorry. That’s the difference between me and her. I’m sorry.