Nobody has ever asked me to find anybody they didn’t want me to kill. I don’t mean to complain. Unlike others in our group, I have a clear objective, but it’s not the way I’d like to be defined, as a killer per se, except in relation to a job such as this one for instance, any more than the others want to embody their roles every minute of the day. Context is everything. In other groups, I’m the comic. We can all be healers, mystics, scientists, soldiers, maybe not scientists, when the need arises, and after all, if I were a killer only, the rest of the group would be dead. I’ve thought more about why I’m here than the rest of them; I know the parameters. This thing we’re tracking doesn’t, or things we’re tracking don’t. Our humorless cadre from defense are very interested in how it sometimes runs, other times leaps in ways that suggest flight, sometimes doubles and doubles again and then—could it be?—reunifies. According to our witnesses, it is a child, or children, a pupa, or several adults of indeterminate gender. We know it must be charming, for it makes friends quickly and, just as quickly, terminates its friendships with cruel efficiency. No, that’s sloppy; it may not feel any more than a butcher does about the messes it leaves behind. It will take a team of specialists like ours to run it down. Alone, I’m not enough because I don’t know what it wants. The analytical team swear by their better predictions, but they send me in first. I’m the weapon they carry for self-defense, the biggest they can find and the least hesitant, so that when the thing dies, they can pretend they wanted something other than to kill it.

Copyright © June 16, 2008 David Hodges

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