The Edge

Somewhere in the city, a man fell to his death.

When someone dies, they don't come back. That's not how it works, not in New London, not anywhere.

But when the rules don't apply to one man, can he really be safe?

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3. The Race

Sticking his head through the glass of the doors to his apartment complex, and marvelling at how lax security was once you had no physical form, the man stared at the door to the elevator, wishing for them to slide apart and present to him the man he desired. Upon noting the digital display above the doors stating that it was in fact going upwards - and therefore in the wrong direction for his murderers escape - he pulled his head back out of the building.

This was going to be more difficult than he'd originally thought.

Scanning the streets for any familiar face, though faces had lost all meaning when you'd seen so many, he began to walk calmly through the streets and the throng of people who meant nothing to each other - literally, through them - he felt that tug at his toe again.

A crease of annoyance flashed between the man’s eyebrows, drawing the pale blonde hairs together and he directed his frown towards his still bare foot.

Why, of all places, does the link to my soul begin through my toe?

He had heard of many things in his time, but never someone's soul being centred in their big toe.

Pushing himself up onto the balls of his feet, he strained to look over the heads of the crowd. Then he thought he spotted him. No one else was wearing a red scarf, even as it started to drizzle. In this city, you only express yourself when in one of the underground clubs, where everything glowed brighter than it should, including the drinks. Picking up his pace to a run, he slipped through all the people in the crowd, running as fast as he could to catch up to his killer. 

He felt an odd sensation at being stood in the rain but never being hit by it, like he was stood in a bubble that was separate from the rest of the people, who packed in tighter and ducked their heads even more. No conversations were had in this district, people trekking around New London as if their life depended on it. Which in some cases, it did.

This guy’s scarf shows wealth, he thought, as he reached his side. Tilting his head and circling him, walking backwards to study his murderers face, noting hunched shoulders and his downcast eyes, staring resolutely at the space where his victims chest should be, the man thought he seemed ordinary, non-descript, plain.

"I'd so love to kill you, but unfortunately my body is currently in a state of uselessness, and I can't quite manage it. But no matter . . ." He trailed off, watching the man's face, and assessing the scarf.

“Because that scarf’s going to get you in trouble if you’re not careful”

The man’s eyes widened marginally in alarm.

The boy in the hoodie realised.

You can see me

Immediately, the scarfed man bolted left into the slow-moving traffic of the highstreet, dodging between cars and holding his hand up for a Taxi.

Our victim grinned at him as three taxis passed him by without slowing.

“In this weather, you’re really not going to be able to catch a taxi. Not dressed like that,” he pointed to the scarf.

“Who are you and what do you want?” The murderer hissed under his breath, glancing around him to see if anyone had overheard him talking to himself.

“Names lost most of their meaning a long time ago, but you can call me” he paused, thinking, “Black” he took a pointless breath, “and I would like to know why you pushed me off a building, and why I have this blasted thing attached to me” he wiggled his toe experimentally, feeling the strain of it tug against his toe again.

The man blinked.

“Is your soul in your toe?” he questioned, giving Black a confused look that was being granted to him by many a passer-by. He had spoken louder than intended, he realised. And upon reviewing what the strangers around him had just witnessed, he winced.

Black smiled, but his jaw muscle twitched in annoyance. He moved slowly, deliberately, carefully towards his murderer.

“I asked you, and going by your reaction, I’m going to hazard a guess that you don’t know either. Now. Why did you kill me? Many have done so before, but this one is just a touch more of an irritance, and I’d like to get on with my day as soon as possible. Healing skin that has already begun to rot will be most annoying . . .”

The man started walking again, passing through the end of the street to the famous river of blue lights. Nothing was real here. Not anymore.

He picked up his pace as he tried to leave Black behind him, convincing himself he was only feeling guilt. I helped my family, that’s all that matters. No one will know it was you. No one will miss him. They said, they said. 

"Hey" Black called, "Hey!" he caught back up to his side, "I'm much more difficult than that to get rid of, and believe me, there's not much you could do. You can hardly murder me again"

"Revenge" the man hissed.

Black blinked.

Revenge?

He had pissed off many a person, but he didn't think he'd done enough to warrant murder recently.

"What did you say your name was?"

"I didn't"

"Then tell me now"

"No"

"I'm dead, it'll hardly change anything. I would just like to be informed of why I am dead. You know - Closure."

The mystery man turned on the balls of his feet to face Black. "I'm Walter August. And I don't know why you're dead."

Black started walking again to join his new friend Walter, "August . . . August . . . I know that name."

"You do"

"But why?" He wondered aloud.

Walter gave him a sideways glance, "You don't get out much, do you?"

"Well no, it seems when I leave the house for too long I get murdered" he sneered.

"Would you stop calling it murder!" Walter hissed.

"Dear, you pushed me off a building, what would you call it?"

"Justice"

"What did I do? Just out of curiosity."

Walter took a quick turn away from the softly glowing river, and marched down an alleyway. The string pulled tighter against Black's toe as he followed him, and his pace began to get uneven.

"Where are we going, Walt?" he called

"Don't call me Walt. My mother called me that."

"Called . . . Oh! Did I cause her death? Is that what this is about?"

"No."

When Walt stopped at the end of the alleyway and turned, a sick feeling coiled around Black's stomach like a venomous snake, contracting as a poisonous heat spread up his spine.

Dead-end. 

How ironic, Black thought.

Walt's eyes began to grow darker and darker, like they were sucking all the lights from the brightest city on the Island.

"See you in the Afterlife" Walt whispered.

And then, the black string around his toe snapped.

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