The dim city reflects off the moon. The moon reflects off of the blood. The blood is still and silent. He reached out and touched it. Pulled his finger away and saw the black viscous string snap, and become liquid again.

He went home when it was done, without delay, fearing fascination. It would have been undisciplined. He’d wait for the papers, too late to make the morning edition. He’d read about it in the afternoon. Before that, he’d walk the miles home. Then pull the gray camo sheet of the city over himself. And they’d never see him.

The killer is an exalted thing. The atoms of murder are in his sinews. He is without form, in the crucial moment. Only the killer knows how this is done. The moon is gone.

Afghanistan was different, though. Roads into shadows of death. Killing at home was different. Civilians die harder. They struggle strangely, fiercely. They want to know why. The Taliban threw their bodies at bullets. They died piously. He survived and came home to free will. People who were never there would write about it. They’d Google it, and construct fictions. They’d write about what he’s done tonight, and get that wrong too.

In his room, he has nothing to read. No radio. No cigarettes. No distraction. He sits and counts his breaths. The sun rises and the traffic thickens on the street below. He stands at his window, eating from a can, and watches.

Data translating into intelligence, poetry. He could write it down. But it’s better not to. Nothing is written down. No proclamations. There is no telephone. No bank account. No Keystrokes. No digital history. Pay cash. Full beard, sunglasses and hat. The ego is surveilled; the man is incidental.

The NSA is breaking inscriptions. Attacking every suspicion at once, never in sequence. Changing what they see, simply by seeing it. All of it collapsed into a single answer. The Dark. Endlessly scrolling code. Seven billion suspects. Corporate profit expectations dependent upon increasing war zones, death quotas.

The day passes. It’s 5:00 pm. He leaves to get a newspaper.

He’s made the front page. A photo of a police team at the scene. Latex gloved and grim. Killer Strikes Again, Fifth Victim. Another body. He shudders, reading on. The killer is known only by a chosen technique, and there appears to be no motive.

Of course there’s motive. A terrible one that cannot be spoken. Not even by him. But it’s there. Crouching in a corner of his mind. Nearly latent. Whispering to itself. Gloating over every act.

They trained him for this. They destroyed him. Rebuilt him. Fill him full of sharp and angled edges, piercing his skin from the inside out. He cannot sleep, but sleep is deadly. It’s sloppy. He continues without it. He remains a good soldier.

Tonight he’ll be still. The next victim will wait. Walk, laugh and love.

He’ll remain shadow, cast against a wall.


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