Pain, sadness, helplessness—these were all familiar. He knew the sick, slow sinking in the pit of his stomach when a bigger boy turned to him on the bus; the hollow, numbing emptiness that crept up his spine when Mum announced she'd be gone for the night (the weekend?) again; and he knew the sharp, bloody tang of panic that came when he heard the sirens outside his window, as he did every night, lying alone in bed and wondering when they'd come for him.
These feelings he knew, better than any child should.
Power, though—he'd never felt power before.
He built his power slowly, just one small brick at a time. It came at first in the realization that just as he was afraid of the older boys at school, he could make the younger boys afraid of him: by tripping them in the halls when the teachers weren't looking or by threatening to kill the class hamster, at night while everyone was gone, if they didn't give him money or sweets.
A smart boy, he soon realized that the ease of these small triumphs diminished their importance. Who couldn't make a six year-old wet himself, as amusing as it was to watch them cry and flush with embarrassment? The thrill was fleeting, and soon he sought a greater challenge.
Of course he couldn't confront the older boys directly. Underweight and underfed, he had no chance to compete on the field of physical brutality his peers preferred. His strength was in his intellect. He didn't need admiration of recognition—he stopped caring long ago what other people thought. Exerting his power, getting the best of someone without getting caught (or even suspected)—that was where his passion lie.
Most would identify Karl Powers as his first 'victim'. He might have been the first to die, but what did that matter? Death isn't the only way to end someone's life. Sometimes dying is the easy part. In any case, he had much bigger plans for his true victim.
You see: Karl wasn't the worst of them—not by a long shot. Truth be told, little Karl was hardly ever even there when his big brother Tom and his group of cronies were making their jokes and playing their games. Karl was quiet, unassuming—a fantastic swimmer and the apple of his family's eye. Oh, but wasn't it delicious, the look on big brother Tom's face—that stunned and vacant stare he fixed on the coffin as it was lowered into the earth? One might have called it 'broken', but he wasn't broken then—not yet. He would be, though; in time, he would be.
There is an art to revenge. It requires patience to follow that long and twisting path to its tragic and exhilarating denouement. Any playwright will tell you: you don't kill off the nemesis in the first act. You've got to save something for the finale.
"I will burn the heart out of you!" It feels so good to say it—to feel the rage wash over him like a flash of fever. He has a purpose again. It's been so long, so Goddamn long since he's had a challenge. He's almost giddy with the pleasure of it.
Perhaps he overdid it just a little with the theatrics, but he couldn't help himself. It's like a drug, that feeling of power, and his addiction is complete. Over the years, his threshold has risen, his tolerance grown—he needs a bigger dose to get the same high.
Thank God for Sherlock Holmes: intoxicating from the very first taste. What it will take to break him!
He hasn't felt this way in years, not since he watched them drag little Karl's pale and lifeless body from the bottom of the pool.
It makes him feel like a brand new man.