Categories > Books > Hannibal > Daylight Dies
Disclaimer: The characters herein are the property of Thomas Harris. No copyright infringement is intended.
Daylight Dies, pt 2
Starling abandoned her stolen car a couple of streets away from her bolt hole, a tiny apartment in a less than salubrious part of town. Finding a long raincoat on the backseat was a bonus, and she buttoned it over her bloodstained evening gown, and tucked the Glock into an inner pocket. There was nothing she could do about her feet, and the harsh concrete and tarmac of the pavements ground dirt into her grazes and glass cuts. The sharp retorts of pain from her soles kept her focused.
The car journey had provided unwelcome time for reflection, away from the immediate danger. The blurring neon lights and amber streetlamps of the city’s roads flowed together in an almost hypnotic pattern of light and colour. She was aware of herself driving, aware of other traffic and road users, but separate from herself. She watched herself from behind her own eyes, but another made her operate the vehicle. Then it came, the stunning realisation that something was missing.
The stranger driving the car with her body kept the vehicle on the road, as Starling crumpled inside, a black hole the result of a wound too deep and too sudden to heal. She felt it like a phantom limb, a missing piece of her that should be there. Now, that piece was gone and it left a vacuum, promising to draw the rest of her in after it.
But Clarice Starling was strong. She knew that, as well as he did. The car had not ploughed into a wall or lamp post, and Starling herself hobbled on foot the rest of the way to her destination. She used the pain of her feet as rungs on a ladder of anger, climbing it steadily to keep out of that gaping nothingness that threatened to consume her.
People passed her by. She ignored them as unworthy of her attention on this most momentous day. She had experienced loss and grief many times before, but it still felt odd to her that everyday life carries on for the rest of the world, even if your world has ended. She moved through the evening crowds, and was alone.
The shabby apartment block that housed her bolt hole was a welcome sight. Starling paused across the road, looking up and down it for any sign of wrongness. She could not spot anything that looked out of place, so crossing the road quickly, she slipped in with a group of students and chose to take the stairs rather than the elderly lift.
Gaining the safety of her apartment, she locked, bolted and put the chain across the door. She did not seriously think that the place would be compromised - she rented it completely separately from Dr Lecter, under another identity and without his knowledge. Starling was old enough, and wise and cynical enough to know that fairytales do come to an end, and it had seemed sensible to maintain a back door, a way out.
It was quiet and it was dark. She flicked on the kitchen light and left the door open, allowing a pool of light to spill out into the living room. The grotesque shadows and deeper darkness of the far corners suited Starling’s mood perfectly. She was aware of a growing shadow in herself, and she knew that turning the lights on would not drive it away.
She stood in the middle of the living room, arms hanging limply at her sides. She just didn’t know what to do. The question revolved in her mind - what next? It hung there, but every time she reached for it, it slipped away. She could not even think of the next ten minutes, let alone the next day, two days, three days, week, months…
She trembled like a delicate aspen in a high wind. She sank slowly to the grotty carpet, curled up against the base of the sofa, folded her arms around her knees.
The sound that came from her could not ever be described as grief, or entirely so. It was a snarl reminiscent of an angry cat, a breathless kind of sob of the sort that comes when the sense of one’s own uselessness washes over one, and it was a high note of pure mourning, a keen of absolute despair.
She shook with sobs, burying her face in her arms. Around her, life continued. She could hear people without, going about their nightly business. Cars, sirens, voices raised in pleasure or anger. Life continued, but for her it seemed to have reached the end. She stood before a chasm, and the yawning void there was so tempting…
It was too easy to give in.
Starling raised her head and glared with ferocious intensity at an unoffending bookcase. Strands of hair stuck to her cheeks, damp with tears. Her puffy, red eyes took on a calculating look. Grief was in every line of her body, but her every fibre burned with a rage so cold it took her breath away. It was so cold it felt clean, pure. It was awesome in its clarity, and she suddenly felt that she could do anything.
Dr Lecter had always felt that artificial morality, that imposed by society, was something that restricted a person from becoming a whole, complete human being by the very fact that some experiences and feelings were deemed to be outside of society’s accepted morals, and therefore inhuman and monstrous. He had contended that if a human could do or feel something, then obviously that action or feeling was an essential part of being human. In the time she had spent with Dr Lecter, Starling had learned that the only set of values worth valuing were those that meant something personally to you. She had discarded those that were useless to her, or false. Obedience and subservience to an establishment, loyalty to those who hate you, a hypocritical attitude to the value of human life, all these she had found unworthy. So what does a person do, who has lost everything that mattered, and who no longer plays by the rules?
Clarice Starling smiled, and it was a frightening sight.
Pain was a constant in the world. It was always there, and, like shit, some people had more of it than others. Some people had an unfair amount, she mused. And some people didn’t have nearly enough. Some people didn’t know what pain was. Some people had no idea.
Starling considered it her bound duty to educate them. People, covert operatives with no identification, had burst into her home and caused her pain of the sort that crippled and broke the weak. They had taken the life of the man who had shown her what life truly was, shared with her what she had been missing all those years. They had killed one of the few people that she gave a damn about in this mad world.
The thought snuck in; what would Dr Lecter do?
She was astonished to hear herself laugh, although it was brittle and unamused.
Why, he would redistribute that unfair load of pain, of course. Redistribute it slowly and, well, painfully.
The thought gave her a boost of savage glee, of confidence that perhaps she could do something after all. She knew it would not bring him back, but it was something. She knew she could do it, and what was more, she knew she would enjoy it too.
That thought didn’t frighten her, as it once would have done. She was different now, different even from the creature Dr Lecter had wrought. How different, though, remained to be seen.
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