Although he couldn’t see her, he could feel the warmth of her sleeping body. He quivered at the thought of how close he was to the seventeen-year-old celebrity. Hannah Jane Hillcrest was within easy reach. Tonight she slept uncomfortably, shifting positions for hours. He wondered if maybe God sent her a premonition warning her of impending tragedy. He thought that would be unfair of God, because like everyone else, God also has to play the game.
Over the last five days, he meticulously mapped a layout of the house and furniture. He could have easily walked room by room blindfolded.
During the past four hours, he played the scenes over in his mind. He was about to begin another game with the FBI.
Even after thousands of years of constructing one detailed plan after another, he still felt a certain degree of uneasiness. The game depended on one domino toppling the next and so on down the curving line. Even after thousands of years, the authorities around the world have never won the game.
He had been waiting since dusk in the darkness of the bedroom. Around eleven o’clock, Hannah Jane and her friend Michael McKay had come home. Michael was a second-rate model, once a poor slum kid with handsome features fortunate enough to bring him some celebrity status and a modest career. The gossip magazines currently battled back and forth over whether Hannah Jane and Michael were romantic.
Both were asleep. It was time to begin the game.
With stealth movements, he slid out from beneath the bed. The menacing shadow rose in the moonlight and gently sat beside Hannah Jane. The bedsprings creaked slightly, which stirred Hannah Jane, and then she settled again.
In the dark, he watched them sleep, their chests rising and falling. He wanted to kill Michael McKay. He wanted to mutilate the arrogant little bastard bad enough that Michael’s mother would turn her sight in disgust, but Hannah Jane was the one he wanted.
Ready, get set, go!
He pulled a syringe from his overcoat pocket, removed the plastic cap, and leaned toward Hannah Jane. The needle pierced the crook of her neck. Her eyes suddenly popped open. Her big, beautiful emerald eyes studied the darkness, frantically searched the night, and then found him. A scream nearly tore loose, but he expected it and quickly smashed his gloved hand over her mouth. The fluid was fully injected, quickly racing through her veins, consuming the young woman.
Just before she slipped back to unconsciousness, he leaned in close, his lips a light touch against her ear. In a gentle whisper, he said, “There’s no reason to be afraid. There’s no need to worry, child. Everything is going to be all right because I’ve been sent by God.”
Michael McKay sat up. “What’s wrong, baby?”
A hulking figure stood from the bed. The figure reached for something. In the moonlight, Michael could only watch in complete disbelief, transfixed by what was happening. Something sliced through the air with a hiss, coming at him like a fine-edged sword. Michael felt pure agony as the object struck the bridge of his nose. He let out a howl of pain and threw up his arms to ward off another attack. The effort did little good because he could hear the object coming at him again.
Michael quickly dodged the second blow by rolling off the edge of the bed and collapsing to the floor. He couldn’t find focus. His legs wouldn’t hold him up. He scampered on his hands and knees, fleeing like a frightened and injured rat toward the bedroom door. The intruder cut off his escape. The assaulting object came swiftly down on him once, twice, and a third time. Michael felt a sickly crunch as his left arm broke. Bones also gave way as his shoulder blades were struck.
When the assault ceased, the intruder knelt beside Michael and leaned in close so that he would hear the words clearly through the pulsing anguish.
“I’m going to let you live, Mr. McKay. You’re going to live because you’re a person of sadness and distaste, not a true thing of beauty. You’re not like Hannah Jane, nor will you ever be. Her misery and torment will give me the strength and motivation to continue doing all the terrible things that I do because I’m the corruptor of humanity. No one seems to understand that because of me, millions have died.”