“As you know, I’ve always been invisible, and that’s how I like it. Maybe it was because my father worked at a nuclear facility. Maybe it was because my mother was a witch. My back story doesn’t matter. What matters is I’ve adapted quite well to my state of non-being, and have come to relish the privacy it provides. The problem is, I have compulsions, and when I have these compulsions, my blood becomes visible. My entire circulatory system can be seen and it remains visible until my desires are satisfied. That is why these compulsions cannot be resisted. I know I should have told you, but I’m sure you understand it’s a bit of an embarrassment.
“What are these compulsions, you ask? I wish it were something as simple as counting all the cracks in the sidewalk, or as mundane as knocking the hats off people I passed in the street. No, my veins and arteries will be visible to anyone in my proximity until I take a life. I have to kill. I discovered this almost by accident. The first time it happened, I was standing on a street corner reading a man’s text messages over his shoulder. He had been cheating on his wife, and it was quite maddening, seeing him speak disparagingly of his wife to his mistress. I wished him dead. Suddenly, a child standing behind me shrieked. Then the woman whose hand she was holding shrieked. The adulterous husband turned around, and he shrieked too. I was perplexed as to the cause of all this shrieking until I looked down and saw my hands. They seemed to be composed of a multitude of red and blue threads, floating about in the breeze as I lifted my arm. The man came at me, fists raised, and in my panic I pushed him. He stumbled back into the street where he was dispatched by a school bus, his blood splattering on my calves as the bus carried the rest of him away. Instantly, I was invisible again.
“I spent the next few years roaming about, working my job as a telemarketer by day and killing by night, my rage fueled by the sound of a thousand groggy voices suggesting I should go to hell. It wasn’t the ideal existence, but I was happy enough. Then came Robert Doverman, a private detective hired by the family of one of my victims. He tracked me relentlessly, seeming to have no problem accepting that the man he pursued was invisible. Amazingly, he just took it for granted that such things were possible, making me wonder what kind of other cases he’d been working on.
“He finally caught up to me last night. I was wearing the clothes I’d bought at the thrift store to cover my pulsating veins—I didn’t like spending a lot since I would be leaving the clothes behind once I was again invisible—when I came upon a man sitting alone on a park bench. I crept up behind him, ready to bash his head in with the hammer in my pocket, when I noticed he was unusually still. It was then I saw the cardboard tubes between the ends of his coat sleeves and the gloved hands taped to the newspaper. It was a trap! I started to tear off my clothes, figuring a mass of veins and arteries would make a less appealing target, when a bullet tore into my shoulder. Doverman was taking no chances. Another bullet whizzed past my head as I dashed off toward the woods at the end of the park, frantically working at the buttons of my shirt.
“I got the shirt and pants off, but blood, visible blood, streamed out of my shoulder, painting my arm red. That would be a problem even if I could erase my circulatory system with another murder, but I couldn’t think about that. I had to concentrate on getting to the woods ahead of Doverman. In the dark, surrounded by the branches and vines, I might have a chance. Reaching the line of trees, I dove onto the ground and crawled off to the right, pausing to catch my breath behind an oak. Doverman came crashing into the woods a few seconds later running past me. I knew it wouldn’t be long before he thought to backtrack and track me by the trail of blood.
“I remembered there was a stream that ran through a clearing often frequented by campers and I sprinted toward it, pressing hard against the hole in my shoulder with my right hand while my left arm dangled uselessly at my side. I was bleeding more now, from the shot wound as well as from the countless tears the branches had made in my flesh as I plowed through the brush. That stream was my only hope!
“As I reached the clearing, I could see the light from a campfire. There were only two of them, a teenage couple snuggling on a blanket before the fire. If I had a knife, I could have slit their throats and become invisible again before they could make a sound. The hammer might have worked if I hadn’t dropped it back by the dummy on the bench. I looked around for a stout branch, but didn’t see anything heavy enough I could be certain would do the job with one quick blow to each of them. If I had to make more than one stroke killing the boy, the girl would certainly scream, bringing the detective down on me before I could reach the water. I would have to sneak past them. I crept to the far end of the clearing and dashed across, making it about halfway before stepping in a rut and falling on my face. I must have grunted when I hit because a second later the girl was screaming. In the glare of the fire it must have seemed like vines were sprouting from the earth to take the shape of a man as I rose.
“Run!” I shouted, hoping they would make enough noise to confuse Doverman. Maybe he would end up chasing them instead. The girl seemed willing to obey, but the idiot boy took out his phone and held it up to record me. Can you believe it?”
“Kids today are morons,” said the voice on the other end of the phone.
“Anyway, Andre that’s how I got the phone. I was so angry! I rushed at them and strangled the boy while the girl ran off.”
“The detective didn’t catch up to you?” asked Andre.
“Of course he did. He’s standing over me now. He was nice enough to let me call you to say goodbye. He’s really not a bad guy. Smokes too much though. He might have caught me sooner if he paid more attention to his health.”
“What’s he going to do with you?”
“Nothing. I’m done. Bleeding out. Soon I’ll be invisible forever.”
“Can I speak to the detective?” Andre asked. The soon to be invisible man handed Doverman the phone.
“Yeah?” Doverman asked.
“What are you going to do with him?” Andre asked. “I assume you won’t just leave him there.”
“You’re his pal,” Doverman said. “You figure it out. Just be sure to come and get him soon. We can’t have invisible corpses stinking up public property.”
“That might be a problem,” Andre said. “In about an hour my bones will turn to jelly and I’ll be a shapeless blob for the next few days. It’s a condition I got from my father.”
Doverman hung up and headed back to his car for a shovel, cursing all the way.