The third time I see Tox hacking a body is during my first kiss.
His name is Nathan Skree. Not the boy I was about to kiss. The man Tox was murdering. I’m sitting outside the University, in an area we like to call the Smoke pit. I had my first cigarette here. It was midnight after the party.
“I think I like you Sam,” the boy in front of me says. He reaches for my hand and smiles.
There’s a figure behind him. Once again, like a shattered piece of glass. But this time it’s different. Shadows creep around him, as if terrified to take a step closer. A halo of light illuminates his actions. Tox is at it again. This is his past. This isn’t Tox now.
“Ex..cuse me?” I reply, my mind teetering on the edge of realisation. I’m hearing voices now. And smells – smoke. The boy in front of me, the one that eventually kisses me, still doesn’t realise. I feel sorry for him afterward. He goes off – talking about how much he adores for me. That he knew I was special ever since he realised my affinity for Stephen King novels. I don’t know what the fuck that means. Tox has my complete attention.
He can’t be more than fifteen years older than me. Mid thirties perhaps. His left arm, covered in blood, glints in the misty moonlight. It’s made of chrome and steel and cables. Kinetics, for a time, were allowed to walk around with such contraptions exposed. For a time. Eventually, when people started using them for bar room brawls, and for beating their wives, and for murdering their children, something had to be done. They were replaced. A few held onto the technology – many got rid of them out of fear.
I know it’s the Chains again. It’s all over the news. Business men and celebrities and housewives. Children and fathers and nomads. All over the world. Links. Spiritual bonds that defy all explanation. And me? Well, like with many others, mine’s with a serial killer. Nice.
The boy in front of me edges closer. He’s breathing heavily. I don’t know what to do. Tox is saying something to this Nathan. Whispering in his ear. It is then that I realise that the forms are changing. Like a passing storm, Tox is no longer there. By the time the boy kisses me, I have to close my eyes. I hope when I open them, he’ll be back again.
I open my eyes. Tox is sitting there, next to a bench. He’s dressed in prison overalls – dark blue with an electronic tag over his right arm. This is the now. Tox at this exact moment. He’s smoking a cigarette.
I can smell it. I don’t know why I couldn’t care less about this boy. Maybe I just like the idea that he’s watching me.