Categories > Books > Hannibal2 Reviews
Sometimes you only appreciate what you have when it is gone.
Disclaimer: Dr Lecter and Clarice Starling belong to Thomas Harris. No copyright infringement is intended.
Golden sunlight slanted in through the wide French doors, filling the lounge with light. Motes of dust danced in the sunbeams, spiralling to the tune of the old piano.
Heart hammering in her chest, Special Agent Clarice Starling of the F.B.I. forced herself to relax her grip on the .45, and stepped smoothly into the side stance that presented as little as possible of her torso as a target. Not that she expected to get shot. Behind her, McCullen slipped into the room and took up a ready position to her right, pistol aimed.
The piano player looked up slowly, choosing his own time. She knew that gaze all too well, and it hummed.
"Clarice." His pointed tongue ran briefly along his upper lip, like a snake scenting the air. "Good morning."
"Dr Lecter, we can be civilised about this, or we can do it the hard way. Down on the ground, please." Starling was quite proud of the fact that her voice did not quaver in the slightest.
He smiled, rising smoothly to his feet. "But where is the fun in that?"
"Please don't do this, Doctor." She did not want to plead.
"On the ground!" McCullen barked, the faintest note of panic rising in his voice. He was young. Too young for this, she thought.
Dr Lecter stepped around the piano stool, his smile turning to a smirk as he stared at the frightened young man.
"Please," she whispered as the sharp report of the 9mm. behind her shattered the delicate silence.
Dr Lecter blinked and looked down at the red rose spreading across his white shirtfront. A double tap just above the heart. Gently, he brushed his fingers across the wound, and examined the result. Stepping backwards, he hit the piano stool. His legs folded and he fell back across it, hand hitting the piano keys as he fell to floor. The notes jangled harshly, and faded to nothing.
She was moving now, and it felt somehow wrong. Jerky, out of place, like bad stop motion animation. Moving through the sunbeams, moving to his side. There was a pulse at his throat, faint and fluttering. She held her fingers against it, knowing that it was failing.
"Agent Starling!" McCullen's voice sounded far away and muffled, as if she heard it across a park in thick fog. She ignored it.
His eyes were dimming. She felt for his hand and found it, held in her own, hating the slick feel of his blood on her skin. She held his gaze as it faded. His fingers clamped around hers with a dead man's strength as he arched, spluttering and gasping, and died.
She did not know how long she knelt there, but it seemed either seconds or hours before men's hands were on her, pulling her away. She heard voices fading in and out of her hearing. They talked of procedure, of duty, of responsibility. Somehow, she was at fault. That didn't matter. She always was.
The fault she acknowledged lay before her, being photographed like some obscene trophy. Would he have backed down if she had been alone? She thought he might. They would have talked. She had so much to say.
In a way, she almost envied McCullen. Not the young man's impending celebrity, but the act itself... She had always thought that, should it come to it, she would be the one to pull the trigger. She had earned it, she more than deserved it. She had dreamed of some kind of closure.
Some kind of closure... Was this kind better than none? Her bosses would be delighted. The press would go bananas, and McCullen would get his moment in the limelight. She wished him all the luck in the world. They would stamp the file 'closed' and trot it out every now and again as a curiosity. Everyone would be happy.
Starling wrapped her arms around herself and stepped away from the body, going to the patio doors. The view from here was spectacular, the English countryside rolling away before her in a patchwork quilt of green and dazzling yellow, fading to the sea in the distance. He needed views like this after eight years in a glorified cement and plastic box.
Deny me my life... my freedom... just that.
She had made her choice, and God knows he would have preferred McCullen's.
She blinked, feeling the burn at the back of her throat, the itch in her eyes. They had so much to talk about. Life stretched before her, suddenly empty. Who would have thought one man could claim so much of her that beyond him there was... nothing.
She was Clarice Starling. She was a warrior, and she would not mourn him in front of these men.
The case was closed, and she was living proof that you never appreciate what you have until it is gone.