Gregor Heimler: Lights in the Dark
You know why I don’t off myself? Why I don’t just put the barrel down my throat and eat a lead lunch? It’d be so easy. I mean, I been hurt; bad. I’ve seen things and been places that’d make a normal person just wanna check out early, thanks for visiting, have a nice trip. My best days are behind me, and they have been for a while. I mean, I wouldn’t even have to do much. Slow down on the throttle a little when the autocannons line up. Boom. Say goodnight. It’s not hard. Hell, living’s harder. But you know why I don’t just sit back and let the reaper take me? Why I make the cloak and the scythe wait one more day?
It’s the little things. I know it sounds dumb, but when the big stuff’s gone, well… That’s all you got left, and man, those things are sweet. I wanna know who’s gonna win the championships next year, and if they’re ever gonna catch Monaghan on The Bounty Hunters. Those things keep me going. Call it curiosity, or adventure, whatever. It’s what keeps me going. The smell of fresh snow in the morning before anyone’s walked on it. The rhythm of a stripper’s hips. Watching a new guy’s face light up when he sees his ‘Mech all lit up and grand for the first time. Knowing that the last sound Diane Haussman ever heard was her baby crying in the other room before I caved her skull in with a toilet seat. The little things.
I’m not a good guy; I know that. I’m about as bad as they come. I’m not gonna blame anybody for thinking it the same way I’m not gonna blame anybody for doing it to me. I’m no victim of circumstance. I did all this to myself, and I take full responsibility. I didn’t make the mess, but I sure as hell never tried to clean it up, either. So it’s my own fault I got dirty. Karen Wen, that bitch. Man, you should see her. Eyes like burning coals, long, strong legs, like a mountain goat; breasts that could feed a thousand young. Man, I loved her. Still do, I guess, may she rot in whatever Chinese hell she finds herself in. Maybe the hell of having your face ripped off and drowning upside down in a vat of iodine and razor blades. Anyway, yeah. Karen picked me up when I was at my lowest, and she put me on my feet. Hey kid, she says to me, buck up. We’ve got some bad news to deliver to some people, and I want you to be the messenger boy. Bang bang. Worst news there is.
You know, when she’s on her game, and I mean really on, you know? When she’s riding high she clicks. I don’t think she knows she does it. Hell, I know she doesn’t know. It’s her tell. Never call Karen’s bluff when she’s clicking her teeth. Short, sharp little movements. Click. Click. It’s pristine, like a sharp knife chopping vegetables. Click click. She still gives me chills. I can imagine those perfect white teeth behind those ruby red lips and I get the shakes. Heh. No idea if it’s fear or anticipation. Didn’t know then, either. Probably never will. Maybe there isn’t much of a difference when you get down to it. Click click. The things she made me do.
Anyway, we’re talking about offing myself, and man, if there was any time where I was gonna do it it was Cathay. Face down in the dirt and the stink, blood and shit in the gutters, hoping somebody’d come along and knife the bum for fun. That’s what my plan was. Hide in a hole until the spiders ate me alive. I shoulda been dead in hours. Instead here I am, years later, telling you about it. A kid did pull a knife on me, once. He must have been, hell, fourteen maybe? I wasn’t quite as broken then. Military reflexes, man. He had a knife, then I had a knife, then he had a knife again, only he was holding it by the blade, and not with his hand. Maybe he made it to a hospital, I dunno. I didn’t stick around to find out.
You know, they tell you that a man who’s got nothing left to lose ain’t afraid of anything. Well they’re wrong. Dead wrong. When a man’s lost it all, well shit, he’s afraid of everything. The pain of loss sticks with you. It digs down deep into your bones like frost and it never leaves. You start thinking everything’s gonna hurt you, everyone. And if you’re lucky, then you’re wrong. And if you’re right, then, well, you end up like me.
Fear’s powerful, man. It’s like a nuclear reactor in your gut that refuses to let you stop moving. Dart left, look right, get shit done. Hurt them before they hurt you. And man is it effective. Fear teaches you to think before you act. It digs down and finds the parts of you that you don’t like to admit are there, and it uses them to save your life. A strong man never thinks of hiding in a woman’s bathroom, waiting for her to get home from work and ambushing her when she’s unarmed. That’s a job for the fear. The fear tells you that she shot you once, and she’ll do it again. The fear tells you that she’s gonna go around armed and wary everywhere she goes. The fear tells you to find the place where she feels safe and to splatter her brains across it like a new fucking paint job. The fear gives you an edge.
Good thing the kid was too young to remember anything. I don’t want that kinda shit on my conscience.
Do I feel good about what I did to Hausman? No, I don’t feel good, but you know what I do feel? I feel safe. I feel like the murdering bitch had it coming, and if I didn’t do her then she was gonna do me. She comes up to me, in the middle of a public goddamn park and puts a laser through my chest like it’s fucking personal. She didn’t have fear. That bitch had anger, and that’s why the job didn’t get done, and why I’m still breathing and she got a closed casket fucking funeral. Fuck Diane Hausman.
Man, that got dark there for a second. Sorry. I’m trying to keep this light, but some shit just sets me off, you know? I mean, yeah, I was angry too, I’ll admit that, but it was still self defense. It was cathartic self defense though, I‘ll say that. She looked really goddamn surprised. I didn’t know she had a kid. Wouldn’t have stopped me. Didn’t stop me. Probably saved that kid from growing up to be a homicidal maniac like her mom.
I mean, I get why she did it. I don’t hold it against her. I left Diane Hausman to the wolves. When she got surrounded I fucking bailed. It’s war, man. Shit happens. I felt bad about it for years. I didn’t know she survived. I didn’t know she was a goddamn POW. If I’d found out sooner then maybe things would have changed. I coulda mounted a rescue mission. I coulda done some kind of penance for abandoning all those people on the field. But you know what? I didn’t know. It didn’t happen. Instead, what happened was she got out, found me and tried to kill me. And I get that. I don’t fucking approve of it, but I get it. I hope she gets why I did what I did too. All of it.
Anyway, what was I talking about? The little things. Offing myself, right. No, that’s not the answer, man. Never has been, never will be. There’s so much out there, you know? I can feel it tingling across my skin when I think about it. New worlds, new people, new opportunities. Harlech, Solaris City… They’re the best damn cities in the world. I haven’t experienced nearly enough of either. I’d love to go back to Solaris, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Karen’s still pretty pissed about what happened, I’m sure. But Harlech’s pretty close. You can get anything here, and I mean anything. You want a NAIS scientist trussed up and ready for delivery? Shit, I can get you that in a week. How about a prototype fusion engine that’ll fit into a personal vehicle? Two days, tops. Naked pictures of The Black Widow herself? Shit, man, I’ve got those in my pocket right now, let’s talk business. You’ll have to talk to somebody else about getting a sex tape though. I don’t deal in snuff films.
This is who I am, man. This is what I do. It’s what keeps me going. This is my candle in the darkness. Welcome to the wonderful world of Gregor Heimler.