by volta arovet
Summary: Vigilantes have been outlawed and Rorschach is the only one left still deciding whether or not to continue.
Warning: spoilers past the midpoint of Watchmen.
by volta arovet
Dead dog lying on the side of the road. Means something, or nothing, not sure which. Small patch of blood on road near the median. Blends with the oil slick. Pattern of blood as open to meaning as mirrored ink. Little blood on dog. Curled up. Took hours to die.
People walk by and don't see. People walked by and didn't see it dying. Instantaneous amnesia, a sight forgotten before it was remembered. Familiar somehow. Not sure why.
Face is locked inside a drawer. Feel naked, exposed. Have been faceless before. Never felt like this. Locked far away. Don't know if can put face back on. Too risky. End up like others, naked in court.
Work too important to stop. Work and they will make me stop. Crossroads to two dead ends. Have to think.
Nite Owl on front page. Bigger than Russia. Is retiring. Saw him yesterday. Passed in street. No mask. Looked smaller. Less. He saw me and looked and almost saw me but didn't.
Still tracking rapist. Getting close. Leads to leads.
Still feel exposed without face. Can see inside of drawer when concentrating. Dark. Scent of wood and dust. Everyone looking at me.
Missed too many days at factory because of last mission. Applied for new job. Asked for name. Almost didn't remember it. Working on assembly line. Gas mask straps. Dull work but not uncomfortable. Impersonal. One face in long line of faces. Machines make white noise; no one talks. Soothing. Easy to forget. Too easy.
Day turns gray. Worked sun up to sun down at factory. Mind numbed by hum of machinery. Didn't think of case at all. Watched gas masks go past. Imagined making mistake. Wondered what would happen. Someone notice it? Sit on shelf, unused, until thrown away? Someone's face turn purple, twisted until unrecognizable, collapse twitching on floor, never understanding why he died? Double checked all work today.
Saw man with sign on way home. "The end is nigh." Stopped and watched. Saw me looking. Seemed surprised. Don't know why. Didn't say anything.
Worked sun down to sun up on case. Close now. Can feel it. Not sure what to do after address is found. Doesn't matter now. Work now. Decide later.
Factory workers becoming curious. Talked with smiles, face full of teeth. Asked questions. Too many questions. Don't know answers or can't say answers. Laughed too much. Harsh sounds. Needed to get away.
Learned rapist's address. Must decide what to do.
Evening. Stood outside for hours. Watching. Rapist ate dinner, read newspaper, watched television. Peaceful, simple life. Went to sleep. Broke into house, watched over him. Peaceful, deep sleep. No signs of nightmare. Strange sort of innocence, vulnerability.
Must decide what to do. Must not give up. Can not get caught. Must be smart.
World would be better if he were dead. World says it wants us dead instead, leave the rapists and murderers and thieves free. Why chase rapist if no one wants justice? People reject justice. Maybe means people don't deserve justice. Let them live with the rapists and murderers and thieves? If they wish...
Dreamt of inkblot blood and oil spot. Means nothing, but might mean something.
Russia on front page of newspaper. Heroes quickly forgotten. Murderers rapists thieves mark the pages, same as before. Have done nothing. Nothing changed, before, after. Tried to kill Rorschach. Listened to drone of machines until mind was blank. Almost forgot the drive to continue. Mind will become numb if continue.
Invited to bar by coworkers. Decided to go. Forced smiles. Laughed at their jokes. Agreed with opinions. Moved like a proper puppet. Over time might be real. Equal parts frightening and soothing.
Passed by man with sign again. Again, was the only one who saw. Looked me in the eye. Nodded.
Spoke to man with sign. Asked if he thought the world was ending. He thought maybe it already had.
Said the sign was reminder. People too complacent. World too dangerous. Wondered how many were ready for own deaths, ready for others' deaths, ready for millions of deaths. Wondered how many were ready for change. Wanted to remind that things could change.
Learned that no one cared. No one wanted to be reminded, to be warned. Almost gave up but didn't. Hoped that some day someone would see, read, learn. Optimist with a pessimist's message.
Eyes passed over without seeing, without reading, without learning. Forgotten before being seen. More invisible than air.
Killed rapist. Did so cleanly and slowly. Broken bones. No blood. Died with eyes open. Preferred it that way.
Dumped body in front of police station with note. "Never." Signature. Only word ever given to police. Won't understand. Can never give up. Can never give in. Can never be stopped. Not even by self.
Removed face in alley. Picked up sign. No longer felt exposed. Walked to front of police station. Crowd had already formed. Police questioning people. Questioned everyone else. Eyes slid away from sign, from self.
Free now. Perfectly hidden. No excuse left to melt into a simple life. All that is left is a sign that says nothing and a mission resulting in nothing in a world desperate to prove that it is more than nothing. That is enough.