In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
August 25, 1993
Alone again in his barren house John tried to drive thoughts of the day from his mind so he could rest. Sleep, however, was out of reach as always. It seemed that every day that went by left him feeling a little more powerless. Thirty-five years ago he'd given up everything, and for what? To save a world that would only be lost anyway? For a world that was occupied territory? More and more he wanted to go back to that fateful night in March of 1958 and make a different choice. What would his life have been like then?
Would he be feared and respected? Would he have Power? Riches? Angie?
Returning to his room John sifted through the pile of dirty clothes on the floor and retrieved Gawain Wight's card from his pocket. He held it close to his nose and inhaled. Ink, sweat and the taint of gun oil overwhelmed him.
The Special Agent had told him to call if he needed anything, and there had also been an invitation to come back to Project Pharos. It had been an interesting offer but in his heart John knew that he had never worked for the Project, he had worked for Victor.
A sound startled him from his pondering. The distinctive rustle of a trash can spilling open. John let the business card flutter to the floor and crept back downstairs.
The felt desire to prowl bubbled up within him. In a different time he had truly hunted, Victor had always had some two-legged quarry or another to keep him occupied. Now he only had two choices, going out and looking for trouble like he had three months ago or sating himself with little hunts like this.
Sometimes he wished those men had killed him, he’d be at piece now, but there was always some part of him that rebelled at the thought of death. He wasn’t sure what he would find waiting for him on the other side, he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.
On the landing John crouched down as much as his wounded leg would allow and half-crawled, half-slithered along the bare floor. His straining ears told him that the invader was still in his trash, searching thought tins of SPAM and chicken salad for morsels of food.
John knew he had to be careful at the back door, if he opened it too quickly the hinges would squeal and his quarry would bolt, if he opened it too slowly his quarry would catch scent of his approach. The door opened perfectly, the night air was humid without being stagnant. John crept down the back steps and moved through the darkness with ease. The tall grass whispered against his bare flesh.
His first time, almost twenty years ago now, he’d only intended to scare the invader away, at least that's what he told himself. But as soon as he had the yowling, scratching quarry in his hands John had lost himself in that most primal of urges. With one bite he'd shattered its ribcage and gulped down its heart. It was a good thing because it gave him a way to quench the desires he fought so hard to control. There were dozens of their skeletons buried in his backyard, along with a pair of human femur bones, leftovers from the summer of nineteen sixty-three. The summer he went mad.
The quarry was in sight. It was gray-furred and emaciated, not much meat there at all- but he didn't do this for nourishment. He wondered briefly if there was something wrong with this one, by now all the others had become aware they were being watched. Not that it mattered, there were few diseases that could touch him. He was close enough to touch the cat and it was still desperately, clawlessly digging at the pile of plastic and metal.
It was almost too easy.
With the speed of thought the quarry was in his grip, but it didn't struggle- it went limp and began to purr. John found it grimly amusing, some lost pet trying to woo him with its final breaths. He tightened his grip and drew the still-purring quarry up to his already-parting lips. John inhaled, preparing to savor the moment of the kill.
He spied the name on the animal’s ID collar and dropped the cat with a surprised grunt.
It landed on its feet and stayed close by.
Realization made John feel weak in the knees. He looked down at the cat as it purred and rubbed its face against his bare flesh. He recognized its scent... how could he not?
It was as familiar to him as the odor of Ivory soap and baby powder.
“Lucifer?” he whispered.
The cat meowed and gazed up at him hopefully.