My shackled feet made clinking sounds as the chains rattled. I did not know exactly where they were taking me, but I knew what I would find at the end of the short journey. I was prepared. I kept telling myself that, but I would be lying if I said that there wasn’t a part of me that was still afraid.The two guards flanking me marched me into a small side room, their shiny, smart boots thundering echoes off the walls. They sat me down forcibly into a small chair, but not too forcibly. They knew my reputation, and were afraid. As they should be.
A man wearing a non-descript suit and hair to match sat down at the other end of the metal table. I could see the look of fear he gave me when he looked into my eyes. The sound of his gulp was audible, and I laughed. Once. Who was this man, and what was with this unimportant side trip?
“Well…” The man said, opening a manila folder. It was thick with the record of my exploits. “It seems you’ve been a busy man, Zachary… I don’t believe any of us know your last name…”
“Nor will you,” I replied, my voice flat. What in the name of Saturn did this man want from me?
“So be it,” the man said with a forced smile. “My name is John Smith.”
I snorted in amusement. It seemed the irony never stopped.
“Is there something funny, Zachary?”
“Do I scare you, John?”
“You don’t sound so convinced. You needn’t be frightened. Do with me what you will… I will not fight you. Not anymore…” I slouched at ease in my seat.
John Smith seemed confused, but shook his head and continued. “Fine.”
He took out a voice-recorder and placed it on the table.
“I already gave you my confession,” I explained, more than a little annoyed. “I dislike repeating myself.”
John shook his head and smiled. “I’m not with the police. I’m a reporter. I want your story.”
“My story?” I said in wry amusement. “Why would you want that?”
“There has never been a criminal like you. Your crimes are indescribable in their brutality and scope. You are a terrorist the likes of which this world has never seen. No one knows what your aims are. Who are you? Why did you do all the things you did? And why did you just give yourself up without a fight?” the reporter said, visibly animated by his enthusiasm. “I want to know your story, Zack. Everything. Please. I need this. The world needs this!”
I placed my handcuffed hands upon the table and leaned forward. “Is that so?”
“Yes, Zachary. I know you want to tell your story as well. The world needs to know the truth about you. I know that behind your complacent mask is a human being burning with the desire for others to know the truth about you.”
“Ha,” I said. “I am not a human being anymore. I am a slave. Indentured to my purpose in this life. And now it seems my purpose is to die…”
The silence stretched on for a few moments. John Smith touched the record button on the machine.
I nodded in resignation. “Very well…”
The reporter smiled and scooted his metal chair closer to the table in anticipation. I cringed at the loud sound it made in the small room. He gave a nod at my two guards, and they left the room quickly, eagerly.
When the door clicked behind them, I took a deep breath. “So you want my story?”
“All of it? Beginning to end?”
He nodded again.
“You do know, of course, that once you leave this room, your life will likely be forfeit. Same as mine. They will not want this story to leave this place.”
“What do you mean, who?”
“You can leave right now, and they’ll let you live.”
“No. I can’t do that,” the reporter replied with conviction.
I knew from the sound of his voice that he would not be deterred. There was no use in further discussing the topic. He wanted his story. Fine. He would get his story. I just wanted to be done with it. All of it.
“I’ve been called many names, in many places, but the one I prefer the most is also the simplest.”
The reporter twined his hands together and placed them on the table in rapt attention and excitement.
“I am but a shadow. My story begins with my childhood…”