2. The Empty Man
If Malcolm had grown up in a neighbourhood rich enough to have a psychiatrist he would’ve most likely been diagnosed as a psychopath at an early age. Regardless of this fact he’d always known that he was… off. His blood had never boiled with the blind, directionless anger that guided everyone else in his gang. No his blood ran cold and his heart was as dark as the depths of the Atlantic. The only thing darker than Malcolm’s heart was his one sole hobby. For every kill his gang contracted him to do he would remove his victim’s right thumb. This twisted habit had all started because of something Mr Bishop, a kindly old man who’d been Malcolm’s only childhood friend had told him. ‘You know what makes us human different from animals?’ the venerable, retired teacher had asked a prepubescent Malcolm over a game of checkers. ‘We bury our dead.’ the proud, confident youth had replied. Bishop had chuckled at Malcolm’s reply before leaning in closer to Malcolm as if he were about to share a secret. He then lifted his right hand into position between both their faces and wagged his thumb. ‘These are what make us different from animals. Oh sure monkeys and apes have ‘em too but we know how to use ‘em to their full potential. I tell you my boy we humans would have nothing if it weren’t for these.’ Ever since that day Malcolm, someone who was often considered by both others and himself as cold and inhuman, had become obsessed with Bishop’s statement to the point where he collected these appendages in some vain hope that if he collected enough he’d feel complete or more human somehow. After the many years of service he’d provided to his gang Malcolm had but four things he could call his own. A small shack where he lived, ate and slept; a combat knife with a serrated edge which was his weapon of choice, a large sum of money due to the fact he had no friends, family or hobbies to spend it on and a large collection of pickled thumbs preserved in jars that served as the tally count for his numerous victims. While Malcolm kept the thumbs of all his victims on a shelf at the foot of his bed he kept one on his nightstand. It was wrinkled and old much like the man it had once belonged to.