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The Secrets of Singapore Valley

p. 8 of 10

          “Pierce stood up,  real calm. He brushed off his hands and said,  ‘No, no—I really wouldn’t say that.’

          “I said,  ‘Are you pretending to be my friend so you can research me?’

          “He strode to the other side of the table and started pacing.

          “He said,  ‘Look, Bob—this project I’ve got going on around town—I can’t have people seeing that it’s happening.  We’ve established a program that is virtually undetectable. The pattern is not easily recognized: to date,  any incidents that have been reported have been interpreted as isolated episodes.

          “‘And in some cases,  speculation has arisen – naturally – that the violence being reported could be linked to the Singapore Valley Slayer.

          “‘Now—this is not about us trying to pin anything on you.  It’s about making sure signal-to-noise stays more on the side of noise when it comes to what the SVPD is picking up about my project. Because when they’re looking for you, they’re not seeing us.  We need you—no, scratch that, Bob—I need you.  Out there.  At large.’”

          “I said,  ‘Pierce—are you saying you watch me so I won’t get caught?’

          “And he said, ‘I’m on your side, Bob.’

          “I told him I wanted to leave.  He shrugged and said sure and went and punched a code into a console, and a space in the wall slid up.  I saw his passcode.

          “He went ahead of me, down a staircase, and came out at the part of his house where the guys from Xanterre worked.  We walked down the hallways.  He poked his head into a room here and an office there and did his boss thing, checking on his guys.

          “There was another place where he had to punch a passcode into a console and a space in the wall slid up.  Then we were in the foyer.  He walked me to the front door—patted me on the shoulder.

          “He said,  ‘So see you soon, man, huh?,’  and walked away,  and that was the last time I saw him.

          “I was in a daze.  Because none of the basic things I had always relied on seemed true anymore.  I was knownMy methods were known. I wasn’t a ghost.  And I didn’t even feel that craving to kill.

          “That night at home, I was distracted—I didn’t hear a word that Paula and the kids were saying.  At one point, Paula asked me where I was at, and I absolutely cannot remember what I said.  Because I was somewhere else, Meredith.  But maybe not where you would think.

          “I couldn’t stop thinking about Nancy.  Nancy,  my first fiancé,  who jilted me.  I wanted to figure out why she was on my mind again, so I needed some peace and quiet.  So I told Paula I was having a problem at work and I was going for a walk to think it through.  And then I went into the backyard and down the secret entrance to my dungeon, to get some space.

          “And thinking about Nancy down there,  I realized something.  I had really believed Nancy saw me, and would always accept me and love me for who I was.  But then she rejected me,  and I lost that closeness with her forever.  And I became a different person,  but almost all the time I was being someone else—pretending for the world.

          “And then one day,  Pierce arrived in my life,  and he already knew who I was.  And out of nowhere, I had a companion.  Actually, it’s hard to admit that now—that I ever thought that.  But I was naïve, and I thought he was my companion.  And then I lost that companionship,  that feeling that there was someone else in the world with me.  Just like I had with Nancy.  Like it would always be my fate.

          “Thinking back on my life, I saw how it had all been built around keeping my secrets.  But how sometimes it would be easier to just not have secrets.  And how I didn’t really have my secrets anymore.  I had lost my secrets.

          “And I started thinking it might be time to stop.

          “And all during the next weeks, I kept thinking of reasons to stop.  I would be on the store floor,  or driving somewhere,  and I would realize it was a pure win.  I wasn’t in the shape I used to be in anymore,  so why not give up the danger?  I didn’t need it anymore.

          “And besides—it was what Pierce didn’t want.  All this time, I’d been covering for him.  Now, all my extra noise would go away, and the SVPD would have a chance to pick up his signal.

          “So I started feeling very good about my decision, and I started getting very cheerful.  Everyone I saw was my best friend.

          “But then a new thought came to me—just drifted into my head one night,  when I was relaxing.  I thought about the people of my community. And I wondered whether at night they thought of the Singapore Valley Slayer and had no idea he was retiring—but didn’t even doubt he was out there, planning his next capture. 

          “And I felt the whole town waiting for me.

          “And in a way,  that was good enough.  I was still playing with everyone, and I didn’t have to do a thing.

          “But I wondered why I was retiring—was I really done, or was I just reacting to knowing that Pierce was watching? Retiring wasn’t fully up to me, because as soon as I started to look for a project, right away Pierce would know—as soon as I started thinking about one, he’d be watching me, if he wasn’t already.  And I couldn’t hunt while I was being watched.

          “He was still up there in his mansion, thinking I was some asshole who needed him to swoop in and intervene so I wouldn’t get caught.  And I was not willing to retire until I was sure it was my own decision.

          “So I had to talk to Pierce and tell him to stop monitoring me, and that is why I drove to his house the day he was killed.  I went there to confront him, but I didn’t shoot him.”

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