(A Short Story)
May 16, 2020
The room was sunk into deep darkness, except for flashes of a flickering yellow lamplight which illuminated the table it was on. The man behind it was busy shuffling different documents from one register to another. He seemed to be old, although not too old; around fifty years, with a thick mop of curly hair and bushy brows that were knit together in a frown.
He had been working like that for hours – shuffling documents, writing things down in a notebook that sat lifelessly on his desk, and then continuing to shuffle. He seemed to be in deep reckoning when the wooden door of the room creaked open, and a young man walked in. Without a word, the teenager pressed a simple white envelope on the man’s desk and left, but not after receiving a nod from his manager.
The man ignored the letter and continued working for a few more minutes, then snapped shut the registers and placed his notebook neatly on one side. He stretched and yawned, and then his eyes fell on the envelope.
Sighing, he took the delicate thing in his hand and tore open the plain, red seal. He stuck two slim fingers inside the envelope and brought the contents out. There was a piece of snowy white cardboard with a smooth surface and rounded edges inside it. In the middle of the card – the exact middle – were two words.
The man read them. He then read them again, in case he is being mistaken. Finally, he blinked his eyes several times and read once more.
A chill went down his spine like the cold breath of a long-dead ghost. The card in his hands began to rattle, not because of some earthquake, but because of his hands, which had started to tremble. They were shaking just like his fat lips which bobbed up and down in uneven movements.
He took a sharp breath and slammed the cardboard on the desk. Then, slowly, he pulled open one of his desk drawers with a moving ‘creak’. Inside, along with some recycled papers, were several newspaper clippings. Three of them, to be exact. He pulled all of them out, and looked over the one dated the oldest.
The front page showed a large, vivid picture of the dead body of a poor baker surrounded by police officers and emergency doctors, even though the gaping hole right through his chest had made it clear that this man could not live. In his hands lay a piece of thick cardboard, white and plain, with a letter written in the centre of it. The letter “I”.
The killings began about a month ago. Three people were murdered at random, with no resemblance to each other, and each time, the killer left behind a word or a letter.
First, a poor baker from a village, with the letter “I”.
After that, about a week later, a billionaire was found dead in his room with his throat cut, holding the word “HAVE”.
The third one was a woman; a freelance writer who wrote children’s poems and stories for a local magazine. She was killed in her little library, hung onto the shelves, and she held the word, “FINALLY”.
The man glanced at the table; at the card he had just received, and a thousand thoughts started to move inside his head. All the memories, precious moments before he arrived on this planet; the wars that destroyed his world; and the escape he made to save his life from those enemies. Rather, one enemy, to be precise. One enemy, who hunts down every single person who has displeased him, even if the person is in another planet, or universe, or even dimension; his next goal becomes hunting the person down and making sure he leaves the world the worst way possible.
Three clippings, which made sense now.
“I. Have. Finally.”
He looked at the two words given to him for the last time in his life:
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