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August 01, 2005
A Story, Bit-by-Bit
Superego: Part 5 - A Psychopath's Vacation
So Dip wakes me up when we land on good 'ole planet something-or-other. I guess each planet is unique in its own way - like each person is unique in his own way - but I'm more concerned with what's the same. What things can I expect no matter where I go? What behavior can I expect no matter what sort of sentient I deal with? This is how I survive. This is how I live.
As you know, my job is to kill people. There are two main parts to that job - the killing and the not getting killed. The second part is never specified in jobs I'm assigned by the syndicate, but, if I die, I don't get paid... and I only consider a job done when I get paid.
Most of the time my jobs involve going some place I've never been killing people I've never met. But, when you've been so many places and killed so many people, it all starts to blend together. I can predict most citiesí layouts from all the other places I've been. I can predict how people react when I barge into a place shooting from all the other sentients I've shot down. Of course, I'm surprised every now and then (surprises make things interesting), but it's happens less and less often.
The way I see my career as a hitman going is I'll either end up dead or bored (guess which one I'm betting on).
Now, interacting with people gun to gun is one thing, talking to people in what most would consider a normal everyday interaction is extremely difficult for me. As I freely admit, I'm a psychopath - my mind does not work like that of normal sentients. I have very little human emotions and completely lack what people call morals or values. I'm just incapable of them. To me, killing a man is just another action - like eating, sleeping, walking, etc. I understand the concepts of "guilt" and "horror" that people might have in reaction to violent actions, I just don't share them. I have no desire to share them. But, I still need to interact with normal sentients without them thinking (correctly) that I'm a psychopath, and that means I have to act like a normal human.
And that's harder than you might think.
Quick question: What would be the expected reaction from a crowd of people who saw you stomp to death a child's puppy? I bet you could answer that right away. Me, it took a couple minutes to logically deduct (and, no, I didn't find out that hard way). What most people just "know" without effort is mentally taxing for me.
So, yes, I avoid people. First thing I did when landing on planet-something-or-other was buy a few supplies (you can usually be curt and emotionless in simple financial transaction without standing out) and then went out to some remote area to practice shooting.
I like shooting... even more since the surgery to my brain. I actually have a part of my brain separated just for targeting things with my left hand. When it works right, I'm actually perceiving and targeting two things at once - it's really hard to describe other than to say itís fun (and, yes, before you think I'm a total freak, I do have fun - I just don't smile when I do). Shooting is most important, anyway, because my whole life revolves around killing people, and I do that primarily through shooting (I'm okay with hand to hand combat and know a little demolitions, but fast and accurate shooting is my bread and butter).
It's nice to have a purpose in life. Most people - almost all - have no real focus. That basic nature they have and I lack pushes them through life with little logical analysis. I, on the other hand, always know why I'm doing something. I shoot so I can kill better. I exercise and eat right so I'm physically fit enough to run after people I want to shoot. And, because it's needed, I talk to people, because it helps to understand people to kill them.
Oh, and I like nature shows. Always great predator/prey dynamics going on with non-sentients that I find useful. Not much else on T.V. is very interesting. I could watch the news, but that mainly just gives me insight on news anchors and news editors - not common targets. Also, dramas are nearly useless because that just gives me insight into actors, writers, cinematographers, and directors - also not common targets. I get plenty of new ideas, though, from watching non-sentients either kill or survive seemingly certain death. When you get someone to a life and death situation, there's not much separating him from an animal.
If I weren't so disciplined, I'd spend all day watching nature shows (Dip watches them with me; I don't think he gets too much out of them, though, based on the question he'll ask which usually deal with specifics about the creatures we watched). Because I am disciplined, on my downtime, I go into town and talk to people as part of my training.
I do not think you can understand how quickly this mentally drains me. I use a few rules to keep from getting into big trouble, the main being I do not use violence outside of finishing a job or defense of my own life. I don't even kill insects; that might seem to take it to an extreme since everyone else kills them all the time, but I just know I'm going to run into some situation where killing an insect is inappropriate, and I don't want to waste mental power on figure when that is. While in town on planet something-or-another, some alien tried to pickpocket me. I just gently swatted him away. Maybe breaking his hand would have been appropriate, but too many variables to consider there.
No violence is enough to keep me from looking like a psychopath and instead, at worst, appear as someone who is simply rude. I try to do better, though.
It's funny (as in odd; not as in makes me laugh); what most people would consider hard sentient interactions are the easiest for me to imitate just by observation. Picking up women, for instance - so easy it's not even a science (yes, lock up your daughters; this psychopath can seduce about any woman). My lack of an emotional investment helps, and I just follow a few routines I've figured out. Mainly not useful interactions, though; never been assigned to kill a bar-hopping human female.
The real challenge is what most refer to as chit-chat. Someone tells me about their life or day, and I am supposed to react and reply in some standard manner I've yet to fully decode. I have this slight smile I use (bad when smile not appropriate), and I have this head nodding rate for listening (too slow, not noticeable; too fast, people look at you weird). Have made up life and days I got from listening to other people to use in response ("Well, you should have heard what happened to me today..."). I'm getting very good, but I still laugh when I shouldn't or don't laugh when I should. I usually try to recover by blaming the fallibility of the universal translator. If I run into someone speaking basic human, then I just have to play along with that I'm intolerably rude and anger the person into storming away (rude people are quite common and not suspicious).
On top of all this, sentients are extremely boring as a rule. And, as I said, they all seem alike; I'd swear I keep running into the same people no matter what planet I go to. So itís all this mentally taxing work for so little gain. Still, I learn a little bit each time I attempt talkee-talk, and you never know when that little bit will keep you alive or help keep someone else not alive.
After a week of training on planet something-or-another, I finally get a call back from Vito. Talking to him is easy since it's mostly just about being threatening, and, when threatening, the complicated graces of normal conversations are thrown out the window.
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