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Marie couldn’t take her eyes off of him. He was sweating, absolutely terrified in anticipation. The smartest detective of New York City couldn’t figure it out. Rogers was a mess- ratty hair, stubble, dirt all over him. He had tracked Marie to this corner of town in a cat-and-mouse game that had entranced the city for years. NYPD had spent close to a million dollars trying to find her- the Skinner, of which was the murderer of at least 40 people. Well, they had found 40 people. The people who died in their apartments and slowly rotted away, forgotten in the hubbub of the city, by people who gave no thought as to what was in red brick buildings, the many musicals on Broadway, the protests, the parades, forgotten to time…
Marie swallowed and looked away. Her eyes were two different colors- a brown so dark it was black, and a pale silver-grey. She blinked.
“I suppose you deserve to know the truth, Detective Daniels,” she said. She sighed and took a seat on a crate. She kicked the foot of her most recent victim away. “In all honesty, I thought our little game was going to continue for a while more. I can outlast you; you know. I will live for longer than you. Look at you! Your greying hair, the way you panted up the stairs, that beet belly you have- you’re getting old.” She looked at her nails and crossed one leg over the other. “In this case, I thought our little game could go until you died.”
Detective Daniels gripped his gun tighter. He turned the safety off.
“Oh, don’t bother with that silly thing,” Marie said. “You can’t hurt me with that.” She waved a hand.
“I’ve seen plenty of people fall to this gun,” Detective Daniels growled, and he put his finger on the trigger. “I’ve seen people die to this gun. Guns hurt – hell, kill – everything I know,” he said.
“Then give it a try!” Marie yelled. She got up to her feet and ripped her shirt off. Her bare chest faced him directly, and she shaped her hands in the shape of a heart and put it to the left side of her chest.
“You’ve got such a large target, Detective Daniels, you can’t miss.” She smirked.
He pulled the trigger and she fell to the ground. Dark, thick, blood began to pool under her slumped body.
He dropped his gun and began to walk away. Though his hand shook, he called in for a clean-up crew, letting the people outside know he did the deed. The murders were over, done, and he could go home and smoke with peace in mind. He could pick up his kid from their mothers' without the worry that Daniel's ex-wife had become the most recent victim. He began to cry. 40 murders, maybe more, in three years. And it was over. Done.
He exited the old shipping facility and greeted the captain outside. Blue and red lights flashed, illuminating the wet asphalt that smelled like ocean. The blue in particular highlighted his sky blue eyes.
“You’ve done me proud, son,” the captain said. She patted him on the shoulder. “This… menace, off the streets for good. God, if superheroes were real, you’d be one!” She laughed. Detective Daniels gave a slight nod.
Someone tapped his shoulder, and he jumped.
“No need to get jumpy, man.” A one Detective Barclay smiled brilliantly and gave Daniels a pat on the shoulder. “Just wanted to say congratulations on pinning down one of the worst criminals we’ve had in a long time.”
“Aah, well, couldn’t have done it without the amount of support the precinct gave me,” Detective Daniels said. He gave a wistful smile, remembering the time Barclay brought him a cup of coffee on the first time Daniels pulled an all-nighter.
“Hey,” Barclay said. “Someone needs you.” He pointed to an officer waving his arms wildly and pointing at Daniels.
Daniels trudged over and the officer pointed inside the facility. Daniels entered.
“What, you need my help finding something? Isn’t that what you guys do…”
The door slammed behind him.
“Detective Daniels, I told you I would tell you what happened,” a voice said. “Please, come forward… yes, more… more… there, you’re good.”
Daniels stood, frozen. He peed his pants a little.
From the ceiling, Marie dropped and landed gracefully. Surrounding her were bodies upon bodies of dead policemen, drooling from the corners of their mouths, eyes glazed over. A few were missing chunks of skin, patches of hair, one was missing a finger, and another was missing an eye. Daniels began to sweat, cheeks flushed. He pulled out his gun, turned off the safety, and pointed it at her bare chest. The bullet hole was still there, still square on her heart- the blood had barely begun to dry as it oozed from the hole. He corrected his stance, right foot in front of the other, both hands wrapped around the Glock. He steadied himself, took a deep breath in, then out.
She could see the way he moved, the way the tendons and ligaments pulled and stretched, allowing his nimble fingers to swiftly turn off the safety. She studied the way his weight shifted, the way his feet moved, the ankles as they turned. Subtle expressions of hopelessness, fear, and stoicism fought for control of his face. His pores began to produce more liquid – more sweat – as she slinked over to him.
She began to finger her scalp as she slowly walked towards him. His fingers trembled. She got a hold of a seam of some sort and began to pull back on her hair.
“I told you, you need and explanation,” Marie said. Two gleaming black irises stared at Detective Daniels with a pernicious malice.
She pulled on her face, on her scalp. The skin fell off like a suit. She pulled at her shoulders and the skin folded. She gripped her chest, and the entire front came off. Black ooze slowly flowed from the seams, dripping all over the bodies of fallen officers. A drop landed in an officer’s eyes; he blinked.
Her feet, now bare, began to click on the floor. “Mr. Daniels, sir, you can open your eyes now,” it said.
Daniels began to hyperventilate but opened his eyes; before him stood a metal frame, roughly human in shape. A beating heart was held by a claw of some sort, manually beating the heart to pump black ooze like hydraulics throughout the frame. The metal was plastic and metal and had some shape. While the torso was mostly empty, a metal frame replicating a skeleton, the arms, the face, the legs were covered in plastic. The plastic was covered with scratches, pocks, and burns. The fingers were not covered in plastic and tapered to a needlepoint. The heart in the frame began to beat faster, faster, faster, and while the face provided no emotion, Daniels knew exactly what he was.
Daniels dropped his gun.
“Daniels, what took you so long, man?” Barclay said.
“Ah, that menace wasn’t quite done with life yet,” he said. “Stole an officer’s gun and shot and killed four, shot two more that survived. What a rascal.”
“Daniels, are you okay?” Barclay asked. His eybrows furrowed with concern. “I can’t imagine seeing that…”
“All in a day’s work, Barclay.” Daniels patted Barclay’s shoulder. He smiled at Barclay, the red of the police lights highlighting his wonderful black eyes.