Self Inflicted Wounds by J. David Jaggers

I check my watch, 2:45 pm. I pop two more capsules of Adderall, and a half dropper of liquid psilocybin. It’s an old Special Forces trick I use for long term focus. The kind of focus needed to sit thirty-six hours staring through a scope. The kind of focus needed to kill a man.

At 3:17 I feel my heart kick up a gear as the amphetamines hit my bloodstream. The psilocybin is more subtle. It crawls up my spine like a Day-Glo centipede and burrows into the back of my skull. My pupils dilate and the street below begins to breathe. You have to be careful. Too much and the walls start to drip like hot wax but if you get the dose right, the world becomes sharp, carved in high relief.

My target keeps a tight routine which makes the job easy. Fridays he meets another pedophile at a local café and they exchange thumb drives of God knows what. They always sit at the same table, the one overlooking the park. The view from my room gives me a clean shot. Through the scope the cobblestones ripple and shimmer like they’re underwater.

Did I take too much? Maybe, or I’m just getting old.

My watch beeps. 3:30, it’s time to get ready. I sink the butt of the rifle into my armpit and adjust the reticle. A body appears in the chair and I exhale, finger on the trigger. The man at the table is gray haired and balding at the crown, not my target. I relax and watch. He turns and looks right at me. The left side of his face is missing and I can see brain through the shattered bone. His mouth opens and pale worms fall out in a tangled mass.

I push back from the rifle and rub my face.

“What the fuck just happened?”

I take a deep breath and put my eye back to the scope finding the table. It’s empty now.

I jump up and part the blinds to look down on the street. The man with the busted cranium is now standing directly below my window. It takes me a minute but I recognize him. He’s the attorney I killed last year for seventy five grand.

A small crowd starts gathering around the dead man. They’re all faces from my past. The rotting reminder of contracts fulfilled. There’s a woman in a wedding dress badly burned. I can see her charred skin flaking off in strips. Another man stands with his neck gaping open, his larynx shows white through the layers of pink flesh.

I killed them all.

I back away from the window and rub my temples. Am I losing my mind? Psychotic breaks are not unheard of in this line of work. The guilt and stress can be too much for some, but not me. I have no conscious. I’m a goddamned machine. The drugs must be fucking with me.

I stare at the 9mm sitting on the dresser, looking for any change in its shape; looking for signs that I’ve overdosed myself. I see nothing but cold steel. I look out the window again and the corpses are gone.

Maybe it’s time to rethink my chemical enhancements.

As I break down the rifle, I hear footsteps in the hall. I grab the pistol from the dresser and ease over to the door. Through the fish eye curve of the peephole I see them, all of them. I see their decaying faces hanging like warm dough and their angry eyes. The door splinters with a sharp crack and I fall back on the floor.

They move in silence, filling the room. I can smell them, the earthy smell of my sins. I sit paralyzed as a bloodied hand reaches out and takes the pistol from me. I feel the cold muzzle press against the side of my head and I close my eyes. In the small space before the hammer releases, I pray they won’t follow me into the darkness.

Someone hears the shot and calls the front desk. When they enter the room, they find a man dead on the floor, a single self-inflicted wound.

*

Bio: J. David Jaggers lives in fly over country where he spends his days in the white collar world and his nights feeding the thugs, pimps and enforcers he keeps caged in his basement. He has been, or is scheduled to be published in Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama, Spelk and Out of the Gutter magazines.

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