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Chapter 1: Deconstruction of the Family
(A Year Later)

Robert Berrisford did regret some choices he had made during his life. Some because his actions had hurt people he had loved (Oh, Rachael) and some because he hadn’t hurt some people enough, like Manticore (and that monster in the disguise of a piano teacher).

Robert was dying, not so much from any disease but from a lack of purpose. It was his heart, but not anything his cardiologist could diagnose or treat. He did not have anything or anyone to live for. Beloved Rachael was dead and Robert had let the monster live just to watch his suffering.

But he wasn’t suffering enough for his sins.

With all the media and governmental attention given to the transgenic situation these days, that thing had probably forgotten about Rachael. Too busy, too many other pretty women before his eyes. (Manticore seemed to create the beautiful things, for camouflage.)

Rachel didn’t deserve to be forgotten, by anyone, especially not by her killer.

And with Robert dying, that monster was the only one left who could remember her as she had been, vibrant and vivacious. Robert would not let him forget or move on. The plan had been seeded when Robert had seen that thing at Rachael’s gravesite, but then Robert had wanted to leave the monster with no hope. He had wanted to tear out that thing’s heart.

He had succeeded, he knew that.

He would succeed again. Now, when the monster was trapped with other monsters, Robert would pass along information that he would not be able to investigate about the son Rachael had borne. Robert would have to time it carefully. It had to be sent just before Robert died. He didn’t want to face the source of Rachael’s destruction again. Robert was sure that the monster would come straight to him for details and confirmation and Robert wouldn’t give him that much surety. He needed to be absolutely sure that Rachael’s nurse was un-findable, as well as any doctors that had known about the pregnancy. He would leave no clues behind. It would eat at the monster, the questions that he would never be able to answer.

The best part of the plan was that literally no one knew the identity of the woman who had walked off with the baby, not even Robert. And Robert didn’t know if she had kept the child, or had given it away. No one could connect the baby to Robert, Rachael or the monster.

Honestly, he didn’t care. The baby had failed to bring back to life the most important person in the world. That was all that mattered. Robert knew that his life would have been drastically different if the child had woken Rachael. Robert would have been a very proud grandpa. He would have worked at his desk with a giggling child hiding at his feet, like his mother had once done. Robert wished for that life sometimes, but he never once wanted that life if Rachael wasn’t in it.

Never once.

Robert was tired.

And mad.

He lay on his (empty) bed (in his empty house) and stared up at the ceiling (in the ghost quiet). The musician he had hired to torture that thing was long gone. She had been paid and sent along her way, since her services were no longer needed. Robert couldn’t stand to hear Rachael’s music (played by someone deliberately imitating Rachael’s style) anymore than that thing could.

Robert smiled evilly. He could torture the monster even more. He would include a note in the papers, telling him that a copy had been sent to the government agents hunting down the transgenic menace. That would make the monster wild with helplessness.

Robert wouldn’t actually send the copy to the government. They were almost as much to blame as the pretty monster that Manticore had sent and he wouldn’t be doing them any favors. Dodging the agents that they’d sent after him had probably done just as much damage as the bomb. As much as he wanted the monster to suffer, he wouldn’t lift a finger to help those bastards.

Robert reached over to the bedside table and picked up the envelope that had been waiting for months for this moment. He pulled out a pen and scrawled his message to the monster.

Satisfied, Robert sealed it. His hands shook only a little, the lack of nutrients in his body was taking a toll. He opened the alcohol bottle that he had saved for this moment. He poured himself a double and patted his work.

Obviously, the transgenics had some connection with Eyes Only and with the people at Jam Pony. Robert knew the name that the thing had been using since Manticore’s destruction; he would simply use Jam Pony to deliver his message. Some poor person at Jam Pony probably thought that the monster was their friend. That person would ensure that the thing got his mail.

He would have the housekeeper send it out tomorrow and then die in peace.

Yes, Robert liked that plan.

He only wished he could witness the monster’s reaction. That revenge would be sweet.

He would sleep deeply tonight, even knowing that tomorrow was his last day.

The revenge tasted so sweet.