It was time to leave him a message. After all, it’s always friendly to call an old friend after returning home from a long absence. He had acquired the pen on his way back into Garrison. Now, all he needed was the paper.
Gloria Martinez held on to the envelope in her hand as if it carried the wealth of a Nation. For two days, she’d waited outside of that ticket office, and it had paid off. In a less than two week’s time, she’d be front-row for the first Allison Lance concert in six years, since the pop star decided to retire and raise a family.
She adjusted the way her backpack hugged her shoulders as she turned a corner. She hadn’t paid nearly as much attention to how she’d packed her belongings this time. After all, she’d been rushed. When she packed to camp out for tickets, she’d had plenty of time. Once the pack was straight and comfortable, she swung her purse around and slid the envelope inside.
She knew George would have no interest in going. He hated Allison Lance’s music. Her best friend Barbara might want to go, but Maria was the biggest Allison fan Gloria had ever met, so it might be nice to offer the extra ticket to her. Or maybe she’d take Amy. Or Denise. They were always fun. Whoever she took, she had to make a decision pretty quick, or she’s end up having spent the extra money for nothing.
Tucking the purse under her arm, still hesitating to fully let go of the tickets, she stopped at the “Don’t Walk” sign and looked around. The Entertainment District was well-lit and crowded, probably one of the safest parts of the city, but the crowds did make it difficult to get home in a hurry, and she desperately needed to get those tickets safely tucked away on top of the microwave.
When the sign changed to “Walk,” she dashed across the street and fought the crowds to get closer to the buildings than to traffic. Impatience is rarely a good copilot, and so at the first opportunity, Gloria slipped away from the crowds to cut through the maze of alleyways, trying to make up some time.
The man with the knife appeared out of nowhere. He demanded her purse and her watch… and Gloria hesitated. Normally, self-preservation would have led her to just surrender her valuables, but those tickets… she’d waited so long. Her hand slid into her purse. The thief took her hesitation and motion as resistance, and swung his blade towards her face to show her he was serious.
The glint of silver stopped its motion just before striking her skin. There was a sick snapping sound, followed by the chiming of the metal striking the pavement. The would-be robber’s eyes widened as a punch struck him just below the rib cage, forcing out his breath and stunning him long enough for a second punch to send him to the ground.
Gloria stood stunned for a second, then turned to praise her benefactor for his timely intervention. Her eyes were rimmed with tears of relief as she began to speak. “Thank–,” but her gracious words caught in her throat as she saw the man’s face. She fought a scream as she stumbled back, her hand still in her purse
Her rescuer advanced, and Gloria’s hand closed around a little something she’d packed to make camping out on the city streets a little safer. As the man moved even closer, the taser came into view, and she pressed the switch as the contacts touched the man’s chest.
Instantly, the man began to jerk about against the flow of electricity. His arms flailed and his body convulsed, his eyes looking wild and surprised. Gloria continued to hold down the switch as the man continued to keep his feet despite the current forcing his seizure.
Then, as suddenly as he’d begun to convulse, he stopped, and his hand snapped out to grab her wrist. His first two fingers held down her thumb, keeping the taser live, as he moved her hand upward with unnatural strength. Smiling at her, he stuck out his long, pointed tongue and touched it to the weapon’s contacts. His eyes grew even wilder as the device’s charge flashed across his smile.
His left hand snapped up as quickly as he’d moved his right, grabbing Gloria by the throat. His thumb and forefinger rested neatly beneath her chin, his lower hand pressed against her shoulder blade. But even as she started in silent terror, he did not squeeze. Strangulation was not his intent. His smile still growing, he shook her hand with his right and sent the taser finally falling to the ground.
And then, without explanation, his left hand began to widen and grow, stretching itself and pushing her head and shoulders apart as it did so. The pain showed on Gloria’s face as her neck strained under the pressure, trying to stretch but growing ever more limited in its capacity to do so. After a few seconds, the horrid popping of separating vertebrae became the only sounds she could hear through the excruciating ringing in her ears.
He finally had the paper he needed. It went limp, but he held it in the same position, stretched as it were to better contain his message. He pulled the pen off his belt, ten feet of copper wire, and coiled it tightly around the dead girl’s neck, making sure to fill the gaps in the separated spinal bones to keep her neck extended and disjoined. Finishing out her “make-up,” he pulled out her own lipstick from her purse and drew her mouth into a too-wide mockery of a smile.
He carefully removed all but the most essential articles of her clothing and, taking out two sets of handcuffs, he locked one on each ankle. He used the other ends of the cuffs to hang his message upside-down from the nearest fire escape. As she dangled there, her arms limply reaching towards the ground, he added the final touch. In a few seconds, gold spray paint covered her arms from elbow to fingertip.
Stepping back to survey his work, his own smile widened. He’d dotted all the “I’s”, and crossed all the “T’s”. His message was perfect. He dumped the rest of the contents of her purse on the ground around her, and hung the purse over one of her draping arms. A woman should, after all, look proper for her suitor.
Turning away, he folded an envelope and tucked it into his back pocket. He wouldn’t want to lose that envelope, after all… without those tickets, he’d miss the concert… and he already knew exactly who would be coming as his guest.