Quentin Pierce believes all of this, but he doesn’t exactly care about it. Right now, he cares about two things: trying to forget his past, and his work. Sometimes, the two go together. In fact, it’s because of that that he’s where he is right now: inside a building, aiming a gun at some monster watching a large crowd of people.
The building, the people, Pierce, and the monster are in a place called New Havenrock. After the war, it was one of the few places left standing and habitable. It wasn’t exactly a huge place, more a small town than anything, but the residents didn’t care. All they knew was that it was safe, and free of monsters.
Or, rather, it was.
About a week ago, New Havenrock cut off all communications with the rest of the world. Some remote surveillance determined that a certain monster had broken past the walls and defenses that New Havenrock, much like every other habitable place left, had. And, of course, it wasn’t some small monster like a Technovore, which can only wreak so much havoc. No, it was a Mentalis.
A Mentalis (or, in its plural form, Mentali) is a small sentient glob of goo that attaches to a host and controls the host’s mind. A Mentalis is pretty dangerous, not only because of its mind control abilities, but because it isn’t some wild beast like most monsters. No, the Mentali are sentient, cognizant, and deadly. It’s also emotionally manipulative. To kill a Mentalis, you had to kill the host. Considering the Mentalis can make the host speak, and say how he/she is still in there, they were pretty hard to put down.
Now, a normal Mentalis is bad enough. However, some Mentali have the distinct ability to control large crowds of people. These Mentali are rare, and some thought they were extinct.
What’s going on at New Havenrock proved otherwise.
This Mentalis seemed to have converted all the residents of New Havenrock (around 600 or so people) into its army of flying monkeys. What’s worse, this Mentalis seems to be readying its army for attack.
The people were loading weapons, refueling hovercrafts, and putting on body armor.
Upon discovering what was going on at New Havenrock, the government decided to send a Slayer, someone specially trained to take down monsters. When they found Pierce, he was working on forgetting his past by drowning it with a bottle of scotch.
He was drinking at a bar called the West Point, an establishment frequented by Slayers. A country song droned on in the background, while some Slayers were recounting their exploits against monsters.
Pierce wasn’t paying much attention to the music, or the stories. He was just trying to ignore the voices in his head, screaming in terror. He was trying to ignore the images replaying over and over, their dead bodies on the ground, faces frozen in terror –
“Mr. Pierce?” the man asked.
Pierce had turned to see a man sitting on a barstool next to him. The man was dressed in a black suit, with slicked back hair.
“Yeah?” Pierce asked in a hoarse grunt.
The man explained what had happened at New Havenrock, and made him an offer: kill the Mentalis for a lot of money.
Quentin thought about it.
The voices started coming back.
Pierce was given directions to New Havenrock, and some pills. He was told that the pills made him psionically invisible, so the Mentalis couldn’t control him. Pierce just nodded.
He drove for days, killing monsters on the way in his RV. Sure, the vehicle was obsolete, but Pierce didn’t care, it worked for him.
He finally made it to New Havenrock.
And now he was in a building, his sights trained on the head of the Mentalis. It’s easy to tell who it is; a Mentalis just attaches itself to the back of its host’s head, and doesn’t even really try being subtle.
He takes a good, long look at the host. It looks pretty short, almost like a –
It’s a kid.
Pierce hadn’t been told that.
He sees them again.
His small hands holding onto hers, blood covering both of them.
“No,” Pierce whispers to himself. He has a job to do. If he does it, he’d be saving many lives and getting a lot of money.
But, a kid…
No, stop that. It’s a Mentalis. It stopped being a kid a week or so ago. Now it was just a monster that needed to be put down.
So why is it so hard to do?
The door handle starts jiggling.
Pierce curses to himself. Maybe he’s psionically invisible, but that doesn’t make him actually invisible. Someone must’ve seen him.
His sights are still trained on the kid.
The door handle has stopped jiggling, and now there are knocks on the door.
The kid looks directly at him.
Their eyes were open, staring at nothing, mouths stuck in an eternal scream.
The knocks are getting louder, it sounded like they were trying to break the door down.
The kid has fear in his eyes. The kid is still in there, dammit. How could he do this?
“Help me, daddy!”
The door broke open. Whoever was on the other side is coming for him.
“I’m sorry,” Pierce whispers.
The kids falls. The people stop. And a small part of Quentin Pierce dies inside.
After everyone found out what happened, they treated Pierce like some kind of hero. He was the man who freed them all; to them, he was a hero.
Except, whenever he looked into the eyes of the kid’s parents, he saw their real feelings.
He was child killer, putting down an innocent boy. He was no hero.
He was a monster.
A part of Pierce felt the same way.
Pierce got back into his RV, and drove home, his tears staining his steering wheel.
He tried to ignore the small, painted handprints inside the vehicle.
He tried to ignore the screams in his head, and the image of the kid he shot.