As a special present to all my loyal readers (I know you’re out there… I hope…) I have some more issuance from my brain-case. This writing though still has that new car smell, having been conceived and perpetrated within the last few hours. Its more or less a first chapter. There is more I want to do with it, and I’m thinking that if I get positive feedback that I may try and do weekly installments. To the phones!
“Honest Ahab’s Surplus Halloween and Gardening Supplies? No. No way. This is ‘all’ of the bullshit.” We’re standing outside a graffiti-adorned strip mall somewhere in Tennessee. Lost track of where exactly in the blur of fireworks emporiums, adult bookstores, and megachurches that have been all we’ve seen for miles.
“I know, it boggles the mind right? The place is practically a mecca for hacks. I’ve heard rovers just about make pilgrimage here, and even the repeaters like to frequent the mail order catalog.” That’s Jack, my coworker. Officially he’s supposed to be my handler, but most of the time I feel like I’m the one taking care of him.
“How is this place even legal?” I won’t deny, it’s hard to wrap my head around.
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with selling these kinds of things. Not even with selling them in the same place at the same time. Ahab is not strictly responsible for the aftermarket applications of the products he stocks.” Jack isn’t a lawyer, but technically neither am I. Two years of law school and a nervous breakdown left me with a boatload of debt and no real direction. So here I am.
“Ahab keeps his head connected to his neck by not asking any questions, but he keeps his doors open by giving us his complete no-bullshit cooperation when we ask for it.” When Jack asks for things, he typically gets them. He’s not a big guy by any stretch, but those ridiculous shirts he insists on wearing do prominently display his freakish coils of muscle. Seriously, they’re kind of weird to look at. If that doesn’t convince people then he has other, more direct arguments. This is why he’s my handler.
Maybe I should back up. Officially I am what is described as an undercover asset. Unofficially, I’m a professional high school student. At last, a chance to use my degree. Why in the name of all that is holy are your tax dollars paying my college loans? Well, because of hacks. “Hack” is sort of trade slang for serial killers, I really shouldn’t have to explain why. More narrowly it refers to the worst of the worst. The kinds of people, if you can call them that, that would give nightmares to every last American if they knew they were real. So, if the monsters are under the bed, that’s where we go. I’ll be honest, I never really… “blossomed” shall we say, so pretending to be a confused teenager isn’t really a hard sell. That said, I’m on this particular case sans-cover. This rover, that’s a hack who likes the open road, doesn’t actually work the high school angle. No, “The Spider” prefers families. The more wholesome and white-picket the better. He watches them and learns their habits, their patterns. Then while they’re away he sneaks into the house and just holes up there, in the attic or crawlspace or even inside the walls. He watches them go about their lives with him just feet away. He sneaks out at night to watch them sleep and collect little trophies from them. He does this for days, sometimes weeks. Finally, he kills them. You don’t even want to know how they’re found. His nom-de-jure is appropriate, if disturbed. I don’t want to seem cold or clinical about this sort of thing, but… there has to be a level of detachment, or else you’re just another victim waiting to happen. That’s probably the hardest part. You’re always too late for the first ones.
“So if the Spider came this way, then Ahab almost certainly saw him.” I’ve been at this almost eighteen months and I’m finally starting to get a handle on the profile, or I might just be glad not to have to sit through another algebra class for a while.
“That’s the idea. Also I thought I’d grab some tools. Been meaning to do some landscaping.” Jack doesn’t garden, despite what his meticulously maintained tan might suggest. What he does do is improvise distressingly effective deadly implements from common household items. He has a litany of black belts, and his single favorite topic of discussion is the history of Okinawan weaponry, immediately followed in order of rank by obscure Myspace bands, Star Trek the Next Generation, and my boobs. The last would bother me more if he weren’t gay, and also in the habit of decapitating people who are trying to kill me. We’re partners, and if we’re lucky this strip mall pit stop might end up saving some lives…