The alarm buzzed with a hostile ring that jolted Aaron Casper awake from a somewhat alcohol educed slumber. He was sat in the recliner in his living room, which was engulfed in darkness besides the blue light emitting from the television in front of him.
“That time already.” He murmured to himself.
He stood up from the chair. His dazed walk to the bathroom resulted in his feet shuffling through the remnant paper bags from “dinner” the morning before and empty glass bottles. He reached a light switch on the wall and flicked it on. The rays of white light that cast the darkness from the room invaded his eyes. He shut them. It would take a moment to adjust, it always took a moment to adjust. He felt his way down the hallway, still dragging his feet behind him, to the last door on the right. He reached for the door knob, but felt only empty space.
“Open already” He thought to himself.
The half awake, half asleep states that Casper often found himself in were getting harder and harder to get out of. He noted that it was a miracle he got up for his alarm today. He flipped the switch for the bathroom light, and stepped inside. The digital clock on the counter read “1615”, and the dark window reflected that number. The sun fell early and rose late this time of year. Casper picked a pill bottle up of the counter. The label read “take two daily for depression and anxiety - refill 2/30”. He had read the label yesterday too. He noted that he was now in the habit of rereading things often, and thought it was peculiar.
He set the bottle back down without ever opening it. He then opened the mirror cabinet and grabbed a yellow box with a blue company label that read “Genesis Co.”. He opened the box and removed one of the prepackaged needle syringes. He sat on the toilet and placed the syringe to his neck and pushed the plunger. Almost instantly, his hangover was gone.
He stood back up more alert and looked at himself in the mirror. Looking back at him was a pale man with dark features. He noted every detail of his complexion. There were bags under his eyes, and his hair needed a cut. He hadn’t shaved his face in four days, and had built up an impressive amount of stubble for that time. His eyes were bloodshot and he was breathing through his mouth due to congestion.
“What a mess” He expressed to himself.
He pulled a drawer open below the counter. In it was a straight razor with an engraved wooden handle. He picked it up and opened it. He inspected the blade and noted its sharpness. He caught a reflection of his eye in the blade. He changed his mind and placed it back in the drawer. Next to the straight razor's spot, was a disposable safety razor, which Casper would use to shave. He ran the razor down and around his face without a second thought, and without a single knick or cut. He then tossed it into the lined bin next to the toilet. His toss had missed its mark, and the razor fell to the floor. He couldn’t bring himself to pick it up.
“Later” He thought.
He walked across the hallway to the bedroom. He removed his shirt and tossed it onto the pile of dirty clothes at the foot of his bed. The digital clock in the bedroom read “1645”. Casper acknowledged that it was too late to bathe, he would be late for work. He grabbed a clean shirt from the dresser, and put it on. The black cotton blend felt restricting on his skin, but he ignored the feeling.
He walked back down the hallway to the living room. His work pants and boots sat piled together in front of the chair from earlier. He grabbed the pants and shook them out before putting them on. He sat and put his boots on. There was a noticeable lack of polish on the black toes of both boots. This bothered Aaron, but he had no time to rectify it. He stood and tucked his shirt into his pant line. He walked to the kitchen and opened the fridge. There was little in the way of food. However, there was the protein mix in the cupboard. He grabbed it and mixed it with water from the tap without measuring powder to water ratios. The taste was awful, but it satisfied his desire to eat.
Casper walked to the kitchen counter where is duty weapon sat. He picked it up and inspected it. He removed it from the holster and dropped the magazine. He pulled the slide back on the gun to eject the chambered round, and caught it in midair without looking. A flick of a lever and the slide came loose, and off the frame. Capser looked at the weapons internals. He noted that it was clean and well lubricated; as it always was. He reattached the slide to the frame and locked it to the rear. He put a fresh magazine loaded with subsonic 10mm rounds into the weapon. He dropped the slide, chambering a round. He then dropped the magazine again to replace the round he chambered. The gun went back into the holster, and then into his waistline. One spare magazine found its place next to the firearm.
Aaron put his jacket on, which comfortably concealed the weapon. He then grabbed his bag and went to leave. Before he could exit, he remembered to turn off all of the lights in the apartment. He walked back down the hall. The awards, metals, and one picture in particular mounted on the hallway wall glared at him. It was as if they were begging for his attention. He did his best to avoid making eye contact with them as he turned off the lights in both the bedroom and bathroom.
He then had to walk back down the hall. This time however, he couldn’t help but look at the wall decorations. The first was a photo of his graduation day from the academy. He was shaking the hand of one of the instructors in the photo. He filled his shirt out with an impressive physique, and had the stature of a confident man. But that was almost eight years ago.
Next was a display case of metals, certificates, and awards. Casper was considered an “elite marksman” on paper. He has participated in, and won, more than two dozen shooting competitions on various forms of firearms with various sorts of challenges. He had every single “challenge coin” from his department for the first five years of his service. Some were awarded for acts of community service, others for various other department tasks. There was even a life saver award given to him for taking emergency medical actions during a terrorist bombing a few years back.
The third decoration was a photo. He only glanced at it for a second before looking away. Around the frame hung a ring. He couldn’t bare to think of it any longer.
On his way out, Casper grabbed the last remaining lights and the TV. He pushed the front door open. His senses were assaulted by the noise of the city and the smell of the urban populace. The air was cold and bitter, but the darkness of the night felt inviting. A glimmer of actual joy passed over Casper as he walked to his vehicle.
“The hunt is on” He stated quietly to himself.