Martin had always been good at hide-and-seek. In particular the ‘hiding’ aspect. Not only did he find unconventional hiding places no one thought of, he could also utilize the more common spots in ways that eluded pretty much everyone else. On several occasions, he had not been spotted, but rather stumbled upon. Sooner rather than later, the other kids had grown weary of his elusiveness and refused to play with him unless he was the seeker.
That was about twenty-five years ago. It had been almost as many years since he had spent any amount of time thinking about it. He was delighted to find that his skills had not waned with time. At least he had been about an hour ago. Right now, his thoughts were rather messy and distracted.
He spent the tiniest possible amount of attention to avoid tripping on the roots and stones littering the forest floor. Another small portion was spent looking for clues in which direction he was headed. But most of his thoughts were haunted by the scene he had witnessed.
How it started was vague at best. He recalled some disturbance at the entrance to the great ballroom, but at the time, it didn’t register as important to him. Why should it have? He was merely part of a crew hired to entertain the party. While he certainly was interested in the payment, for any other purpose the upper crust of society interested him about as much as reading the newspaper obituary.
Actually, given his current situation, he would be quite interested in reading the obituary in the following days. First, he would recognize a lot of names there, both personal acquaintances and celebrities. Second, reading them would mean he was still alive, which was a very tempting prospect right now.
He doubted he had any pursuers right now, but it would surprise him if they didn’t pick up sooner or later. If anyone had pursued him, they would surely have caught up with him the third or fourth time he tried to empty his stomach. The disgusting taste of puke still stung in his mouth.
For some weird reason, he was still alive, while everyone else at the party was dead. At least as far as he knew. After killing pretty much everyone, one of the assailants had pointed towards all hiding places containing people except Martin’s location. The others quickly closed in and made sure no one was left alive.
It was actually a bit debatable whether the pointing man was an assailant or not. He was certainly with them, but did not participate in the mass murder. Unlike the others, who fit as well into their tuxedos as a porcupine in a hug, he wore his suit with style. You’d almost be tempted to believe he chose to work with the others just to show how much better he could look compared to them. There was hardly a wrinkle in his suit, the tie was almost tight enough to choke him, and he kept his back straight even while walking, sharply contrasting with the other assailants.
As far as Martin could tell, the strange man did not carry any weapons. Yet he frightened Martin way more than anyone else he had met in his life.
If he had to put it into words, he would describe the stranger as uncaring. He displayed about the same emotional response during the shooting as one that watches mosquitoes get squashed. No anger, no remorse, no excitement, no fear of things that could go wrong — he had been completely unfazed.
Martin prided himself on being good at reading emotions. Granted, it was a lot harder than usual to read someone halfway across the room while attempting to remain hidden behind a large potted plant. Still, he had gotten an impression. An impression of someone doing their job, with the same meticulous effort and excitement as an accountant reading through pages of numbers.
That’s not saying the other gunmen weren’t scary. He preferred to keep his distance from any man wearing a gun and a wild look on his face.
Not that he needed to be scared of them anymore. As soon as the last partygoer was dead － fortunately not including himself － all the gunmen fell in the span of a second or two. The accompanying sound was like a crack of thunder. Martin turned towards the source of the sound, spotting a tall and thin man, walking down the stairs with a relaxed expression on his face, as if he didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. In his hand was a gun, probably some sort of pistol or machine gun. Martin’s mind was too preoccupied with horror to really pay much attention to it.
The two had exchanged some words, which Martin had completely failed to register. He had probably been in shock at that point. In fact, he couldn’t recall anything between spotting the two together and suddenly realizing he was getting way too hot for comfort. The place was on fire.
At that point, his survival instincts had decided that an escape was in order. Also at this point, he became aware that his violin, still clenched in his hand, had three bullet holes. He hadn’t even realized he was still holding it.
When getting up, he also discovered that he had sustained a wound himself. He was bleeding from his left side. As far as he could tell, it wouldn’t kill him immediately at least, but it hurt like hell.
Somehow, he managed to sneak out through a window in a room facing the garden. While he had no reason to believe that the assailants were still watching the mansion, he had no desire to hang around and find out, either.
While leaning on a tree in the garden, Martin had noticed the sound of police sirens. Had they been here long? He had no clue, really. His mind drew only large amounts of blanks, possibly from the shock.
Relieved, he started to make his way towards the cops. One step away from the tree’s shade, he spotted something that froze his blood twice over. He spotted Unfazeable talking to two police officers. For all his imagination, he could not for the life of him convince himself that they were discussing pleasantries. In fact, he was pretty certain ‘pleasantries’ was not a word in Unfazeable’s vocabulary.
He unconsciously released control to the lizard part of his brain. And it was definitely not in the mood for ‘fight’.