Prologue to an as of yet unwritten book, 7 Motherf**kers That Absolutely Deserve to Die.
The PR Queen.
He tongued the space between two of his bottom teeth as she sobbed at his feet. He explored the small shred of… whatever it was, and her eyes bled mascara onto the large square of duct tape covering her mouth. The .45 in his hand regarded her impassively with its cyclopean stare. The fact that he could not remember what he could have eaten to plant this irritating bit of hopefully edible detritus in his mouth bothered him deeply. He had a grand total of three things to eat in the past four days, and he could remember all of them distinctly. Therefore, judging by the jagged, papery texture of his mouth's new little hitchhiker, he must be forgetting something he ate.
A long, wavering moan made it past the duct tape and out of the woman's mouth, temporarily interrupting his mental investigation. Anywhere else, to anyone else, the woman would have been judged as beautiful. Her silken black hair was cut at an angle just below her ears in that kind of supermodel-reverse mullet commonly seen on goth girls and power executives. He figured she fell somewhere in between those two. Her eyes, regularly flashing with intelligence and a kind of seductive charm (a look that was obviously developed by practicing in front of a mirror for years), were now bulging and shimmering with tears. Her mouth, full and red, hidden behind a gray rectangle. He liked her better like this. Definitely.
The thing was, if he was forgetting something he ate, then he was essentially being cheated out of a meal. His stomach let out a timely growl, informing him that concept would most certainly not fly. He pushed the mystery bit back and forth several more times, hoping to dislodge it. Instead, he nearly cut his tongue, which was even more irritating. He closed his eyes, and tried to clear his mind. The series of three interlocking SWAT team style zip ties had her effectively hogtied. One for her wrist, one for her ankles, and to link the two together behind her arched back. It was a system that gave him a degree of confidence that she wasn't going to try anything while he dropped his guard. A system he would utilize on the next one, should the need arise.
He breathed in deeply, and tried to just remember. Instead of being able to retrace his gastrointestinal history, he instead saw the face of the only woman he had ever loved. He only saw the black and white footage. He only saw the time lapse of his beautiful girl in a cage. Dying.
He opened his eyes, and upon looking down realized that this time, the gun wasn't shaking. Steady and straight, it patiently waited for its master's command. It knew what it had to do. It knew what it was there for.
So did they all.
He knew that he had gotten all of the information he was going to get prior to duct taping her. Which wasn't much, but it was a name. A name to hunt down, a name that he would soon put a face to, and after that, he would remove that face. It was a simple rhythm as long as his quarry continued ratting out co-conspirators. Coworkers? “Co-something,” he thought to himself. Everything about the past couple of weeks was so fuzzy, so twisted.
He knew that what he was doing was wrong, but he was doing it to people that had done something so… much… worse. They would continue to do so without intervention, and he had no idea how long that would take.
"Bullshit!", Part of his mind screamed. "You're not a Superman, you're a goddamn Punisher. So do what you need to do, and get some fucking vengeance. End it." The haggard-looking man standing over the sharply-dressed crying woman opened his eyes.
"Do you have anything to say in your defense?" he asked, finally giving up on what remained of his conscience and the mystery bit of food firmly lodged between his teeth. “Oh, and it should be obvious, but don't waste your breath screaming for help. No one is going to hear you."
She violently nodded her head yes, making one strap of her little black dress slide down off of her shoulder. With his left hand, he ripped the duct tape off of her mouth. It was a deeply satisfying sound. The tape left a red rectangle where it had been, everywhere but where it had ripped off all of the lipstick from her lips, making them look like two nightcrawlers in a field of blood. The second the duct tape was removed, her whole demeanor transformed. The trembling, weak abduction victim turned into what he knew she really was. The Ice Queen. The bitch. The sadist. The head of DynaPharm's PR department. The woman whose job it was to deflect, distort, control, and otherwise manipulate the truth of what was really going on.
The woman wasted no time. "FUCK you!" She shrieked, before launching a wad of spittle out from between her two worm lips. The glob spattered ineffectually against his shoulder, but she was not deterred. "You know what? You know what? She deserved it. That fucking... whore got what was coming to her. Oh yeah, I knew what she was. I think you did, too. I think you knew that she was a dirty, nasty, filthy... CUN--"
Peanut. It was a peanut skin, or whatever that was actually called. He remembered now. After cleaning out his wound, but before downing the Oxy, he had managed to wrestle a small bag of honey roasted peanuts from the motel's singular vending machine. The small, winking peanut man on the wrapper had promised him a small respite from the hell he had been plunged into, but instead, all he had gotten was a tiny bag of mediocrity. The painkillers on the other hand… well, it was a small vacation, but he would take what he could get.
His culinary mysteries solved, he decided he had heard everything he needed to hear from her. "Enough," he said, and the .45 barked once. It was a harsh, dry sound that echoed off of the walls of the supply cabinet. The hateful thoughts that were formulating in her brain were now spattered all over the linoleum floor behind her in the form of crimson modern art.
Then, other than the ringing in his ears, there was a blissful silence that fell over the small room. The words had stopped. The words he knew that, despite his best efforts, would crawl under his skin and echo in his head. He made himself look the woman in the face. It was kind of his ritual, his closure at this point. Her once-pleading-then-hateful eyes were now slightly widened in surprise. Her mouth remained half open and forever unable to finish whatever horrific slur that was about to fly out of it. Otherwise, her features were blank. It took a few seconds for her body to realize that it was over and for it to slump off to his right. The woman's head bounced off of the disinfected floor, the black powder burn bordering the new hole in the middle of her forehead emitted one final wisp of smoke before all movement ceased.
Four. It took four bodies for him to realize that he wasn't going back. There would be no more comfortable Sundays, there would be no more hugs and kisses, there would be no more sleeping in. The remainder of his short life was going to be running, hiding, and… well, let's be honest, murder. Something clicked, and he realized he was a murderer. Euphemisms be damned, that's what he was.
He could all but feel his soul tearing apart in confusion as he realized he was okay with that fact. He might be reviled, he could be a murderer, just as long as he avenged her, his girl with the cornflower blue eyes.
"Four down, three to go,” he said under his breath. Making sure the barrel of the gun was cool enough to tuck down the back of his pants, he did so, pulled his hoodie over it, and left the room. The door clicked softly behind him. The woman did nothing.