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Killing Time

copyright 2004, by Iron & Silver

Disclaimer:    These characters were created by Thomas Harris.  They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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Aardvark inserted one thick and nail-bitten finger into his cavernous nostril and twisted it vigorously. He then extracted it and proceeded to examine, at his leisure, the contents, before flicking the gobbet of snot into the road. He successfully achieved a distance of at least four feet with this strenuous exercise, not bad in the booger-flicking stakes at all.

Besides himself, there were two other fine young gentlemen inhabiting the sidewalk at this late hour, doing what such fine young gentlemen do best; irritating the hell out of other people.

Cracker nudged his mate Zack in the ribs, pointing down the shadowed street and grinning oafishly.

“Dey, guys,” he announced. “Check it oud.” Cracker had a cold, and while he currently sounded as doopid as he generally did, it was obvious that his nose was more in need of assistance from Aardvark’s finger than Aardvark’s was.

Even in the poor light of the glowing streetlamps, the three young men could see that the woman approaching them was beautiful. The light did no favours for her, but it did not need to, the lady needed favour from none. But it was really her manner of movement that caught the eye: she was as graceful as one of the big cats.

Fuelling the already well-stoked fires of teenaged male lust was the fact that this one appeared to be rich. Fun could be had and a little financial gain enjoyed by three of the people on this dark street tonight, at least.

Grinning widely in anticipation, Aardvark and his companions casually spread out across the woman’s path.

Having noted the presence of three youths loitering ahead, observed their body language and considered the possibility that one or more of them might be armed, Clarice Starling came to the conclusion that a confrontation was looming on the horizon. She sighed. Not again.

In the driver’s seat of the large sedan parked just a few feet away from Aardvark, Cracker and Zack sat a man, and only the rhythmic rise and fall of that man’s chest betrayed the fact that he was alive, and not a statue. Yes, the breathing gave it away, that and the slow narrowing of maroon eyes.

Judging by the fact that his presence in the car had been entirely ignored, Dr Hannibal Lecter concluded that the youth of today were woefully unobservant, and had not noticed him at all. Good observation skills, he reflected, were crucial if the herd was to avoid predation by those higher up in the chain of existence than they themselves were. He also considered that a lesson in that fact was due, if things went the way he could see them going.

Keeping her head high and approaching the youths with a confidence that was perfectly understandable, given the circumstances, Clarice Starling attempted to step around Zack. However, Master Zack had other ideas, and his arm shot out to bar her way.

Lecter eased the driver’s door open and uncoiled from the car’s interior. Metal gleamed for a brief moment in his hand, before he obscured it with his sleeve.

“Maybe you wanna stop here, lady,” Aardvark was saying.

“No, I don’t think so,” Clarice said after a thoughtful moment. “Maybe you gentlemen would like to reconsider before things get out of hand?” They really were stupid, she thought, resigned to going through the whole messy business. Honestly, who attacks an apparently solitary woman when she exudes confidence like shit exudes a smell?

“Open your eyes, gentlemen,” Dr Lecter said from behind. “The lady is not alone, and I’m afraid that you’ve rather inconvenienced her. That simply will not do.”

People react in different ways. Cracker leapt a foot in the air at the sound of that cultured voice practically in his noisome ear. Aardvark’s hand dived into his pocket and came up with his knife, and Zack spun around with his fists raised, ready to lay the chatty idiot out.

Quickly, and with an economy of movement that was wonderful to see, Dr Lecter relieved Cracker of both his cold and his jumpy nature – permanently.

Running, Aardvark decided in the instant that Cracker’s surprised corpse hit the floor, was a superbly good idea. Unfortunately – or the reverse, depending on how you look at it – his observation skills failed him yet again when he tripped over Clarice Starling’s strategically placed size six and bounced his face off the pavement.

Spitting blood and dirt, Aardvark looked up to see Zack sitting and clutching his thigh as his life’s blood ran in rivulets into the gutter. He looked almost as shocked as the late Cracker had. Frantically, Aardvark began to crawl away.

The entertainment provided by watching the unfortunate Zack bleed to death coming swiftly to an end, Dr Lecter turned now to the third young man, whom he had observed cowering in the space between two cars.

Under the impression that his rapid crawl had not been noticed by either terrifying party, Aardvark was not at all happy to be disabused of this notion when the man suddenly filled his vision, looking down at him with distaste, before crouching to better see his victim.

Visions of the future danced mockingly through Aardvark’s shaven skull. They were, without exception, short and full of immediate pain.

“We was only killin’ time,” he whined in terror. “We wasn’t doin’ anything wrong. I don’t wanna die! Idonwannadie, Idonwanna, donwannadie!"

X marks the spot indeed, Dr Lecter thought, gazing at the symbol on Aardvark’s t-shirt.

Youths of today, he mused, often possessed an amusing disregard for the consequences of their actions. He looked at the blubbering Aardvark, and smiled.

Zack and Cracker were very soon joined by their nose-picking friend, whose future was indeed short and full of pain.


copyright 2004, by Iron & Silver

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