The first time you met Diamonds Droog, you outsmarted him.
He was astounded, you’re sure of it. He hadn’t expected much from you and you ended up running him in circles. You won. It was a battle of wits, and you beat him.
So he beat you. With his fists.
He could have killed you, and that seemed to be his plan at first as he dealt blow after blow to your weak frame. Once he had you on the ground, once you could no longer get back up, he lifted his foot, meaning to bring it down on your face.
“This is far too easy,” he said, although in your memory his voice was murky and far away. You were barely conscious by then.
He knelt down next to you. Grabbing you by your disheveled hair, he lifted your head and examined you. “How can such a brilliant mind inhabit such a pathetic body?”
He dropped your head back onto the concrete, and your ears rang as new pain shot through your skull. He watched you for a moment more before shaking his head.
“I’m not going to kill you, my dear Inspector,” he said finally, standing back up and straightening out his clothes. “But I will make you wish I had.”
He walked away. Dick found you a while later, long after you lost consciousness. You were in the hospital for a month.
Soon enough you were seeing him everywhere. It wasn’t just on the job, crashing bank heists and investigating shady businesses. You kept bumping into him at the store, and at your favorite tea shop. He was polite, the very image of good manners. He would invite you to sit with him, would offer to buy you lunch. At first you ran. You wanted nothing to do with him. But over time it became apparent that he was not going to let you avoid him forever, so you started to spend time with him.
He made small talk. How was your day, lovely weather isn’t it? Little questions here and there. Requests to elaborate on something you’d said. Genuine interest in what you had to say.
Of course you knew what he was doing. He was collecting information on you. He was looking for weaknesses.
It was stupid. This man could beat you to death with his bare hands. He could send droves of goons to gun you down in your own home, he could use his political influence to ruin your life. What was the point in learning your weaknesses when he already had the advantage?
You were careful not to let anything slip.
You were alone with a pot of tea on a Saturday afternoon, staring into your teacup so intensely that you didn’t notice him sit down across from you. When you finally did notice, you jumped like a startled cat. He smiled his thin, insincere smile and motioned at a waiter, who brought him a teacup.
“Don’t stop on my account,” he said as he poured tea from your teapot into his cup.
“Being miserable,” he said before taking a sip of the tea. “I hope you don’t mind if I watch.”
“I-I do mind, v-very much,” you said, knitting your brow. “A-a-and it’s very rude of you to take my tea w-without asking.”
“You’re awfully agitated,” he said. He continued to drink your tea.
“P-please leave,” you said. You didn’t suspect he actually would, but you figured you’d try.
“Tell me,” he said, putting the teacup down. “What’s gotten you so upset?”
You frowned, but you told him all the same.
You thought it would be a fun idea to introduce Nervous Broad to Past-Future Pickle Inspector. You’re not sure why you thought it was a good idea, now that you think about it, but sometimes you can’t help but do dumb things.
He was more confident than you. That is to say, he’s as confident as you were when you were drunk, which you were when you created him. And he was such a showoff with is imaginative powers—are you that much of a showoff when you’re that drunk? It wasn’t long before she was completely charmed by him, and you were just standing there awkwardly. You’d been upstaged by your own temporal clone.
You tried to bring her attention back to you, but that just got her to call you rude. You were overcome by shame and excused yourself.
He leaned back in his chair and folded his hands together in his lap.
“I have a solution to your problem,” he said.
He nodded. “I’ll kill your clone.”
You choked on your tea. “Wh-wh-wh—wha—no, no, I don’t—”
“It’s no imposition,” he said, taking his teacup again. “I would take great pleasure in killing a part of you.”
“Th-that isn’t the problem!” You slammed a fist on the table, but it didn’t make as much noise as you hoped. Also it hurt. “Y-you can’t just k-kill him!”
Unimpressed with your vehemence, he finished his cup and poured another. “I can, I assure you. But don’t worry. I won’t leave a trace.”
“Obviously nobody will trace it to me,” he continued. “And therefore, nobody will trace it back to you.”
“Not that I suspect that anyone will really look into it.” He had no interest in your protests. “He is, after all, scarcely a person.”
“H-h-he is so a person!” You cried, trying to make up for your stutter with volume. “He’s—he’s a person,” you repeated, quieter.
“He is a creation of your mind, Inspector,” Droog said. “A drunken fantasy that lingered far longer than he was welcome.”
“H-he’s more than that.”
“Furthermore, he has betrayed you, his creator.” Droog leaned forward again, staring at you with those blank grey eyes of his. “As his creator you are well within your rights to end his existence.”
“No, no, no, no,” you repeated, shaking your head. How could he not understand? PFPI is your friend. Even if you really were mad enough to take such a drastic action, you could never live with yourself. You’d be overcome with guilt, and you’d miss him, and—
Diamonds Droog could do any number of terrible things to you. He could cripple you, kill you, destroy you socially and economically. He could do all of these things without effort.
But it was not your physical prowess that challenged him, nor was it your charisma or your financial clout. For one thing, you don’t even have any of those things.
No, it was your mind that did it.
He wants you to lose your mind.
You got up and stumbled inside to pay the check. He didn’t bother to stop you as you rushed outside. He sat and watched as you ran away.
You found NB on the street corner, looking for you. She told you that PFPI is awfully handsy. You made a mental note not to get drunk around NB, as you will probably get handsy too.
She apologized for not paying attention to you, and took your hand as she lead you down the road to some place or another. You passed by the café again, but Droog was no longer there.
You could swear you could still feel his eyes on you, watching. Maybe he is.
Or maybe his plan is already working.