Die Like A Man
Behind the badge is an assassin. Behind the assassin is a monster with scars to hell and back.
Operators like Alistair Rohan never die; they retire and go into law enforcement. It's a pay cut. The hours are bad and he must keep his secrets hidden. Distrustful peers morph his name to “Alice” and keep a careful distance. It’s not his total lack of fear or his indifference to pain that drives friends away, but little things like how he wears long sleeves in the summer and disappears when off duty. Attention to detail earned him high marks in the academy, but his field-training officer once commented that it seemed like he was always planning a hit, always ready to send bad guys straight to hell without a trial.
* * *
“Yeah, he’s a hard worker, but he has one purpose, and it doesn’t involve mercy.” (Anonymous training officer)
“He’s good to have on your side in a fight; just stay out of his way.” (Officer Henry Baxter)
* * *
The creature inside wants out. He is a paranormal punisher with a past that would ruin a lesser hero. Can society really blame a man shaped by his father’s sins? And if that history has led him to defend the weak, who’s going to question his methods? He follows the law obediently, never takes a sick day, and risks his life for people who call him a freak. The man has his good days; he even lets his partner drive, despite having spent thousands of dollars honing his skill in courses normally reserved for celebrities and millionaires.
And that brings us to Monica, because she was the first to match strides with the officer no one quite understands. She sees something no one else dares to look at. She trusts him, defends him, looks forward to the adrenaline-filled calls when everything is on the line. If she weren’t grieving for her fiancé and trying to break the glass ceiling, or at least resist the female cop stereotype, she might ask him out. But that’s not something partners do, is it?
* * *
“Ro says he doesn’t like music, but you know he’s singing on the way to work and jamming the air guitar, right?” (Officer Monica Skeffington)
“If he found a treble clef, he’d either arrest it or beat the hell out of it.” (Sergeant Miller, Watch Supervisor)
* * *
Rohan knows a secret. Evil devours its own, reaching up between good deeds and honorable intentions. Bad news for a man with a vendetta, because he’s about to pay full price for his sins; right after he takes out the man who made his formative years an exercise in pain tolerance. He left the cold reality of the Assassin’s Guild behind and cherishes the rules of law and the routine of service more than anyone would believe. But he is what he is. He does what he does. Iron self-control can only take him so far from perdition.
He dreams of worse things than his need to punish wrongdoers. Nightmares don’t stalk criminals. Shadows don’t run down evil men. That only happens in movies, and Rohan doesn’t like movies any more than he likes music.
He wants to be normal and good. Every day spent obeying and enforcing the law brings him deeper into the promised land of friendship. Monica trusts him. He’d never betray or hurt her. He’d never let anyone hurt her. And perhaps he’s starting to fit in. His beat buddies know he’s nothing if not reliable, like an attack dog with sketchy obedience training. Even his sergeant is starting to trust him with the toughest calls and recommend his work to detectives.
The only problem is Rohan’s former Guild partner – a man he thought he killed.
The clock turns for the killer behind the thin blue line. Something wicked pursues him with the unrelenting pressure of undeath. Darkness stalks him where he fears to travel, hating the animal he fears to become, and stealing friends and loved ones to set the trap.
* * *
He didn't accept, didn't want to accept, the reality of his heritage, his genetic condition, or whatever it was that made him a monster. Yet, his ability to become the ultimate creature of violence was just another weapon. He wasn't a monster because of how he looked or what kind of claws he had in a given moment, but because of decisions he made.
(Die Like A Man was edited using the Triangulation Services of BZ Hercules.)