The Pendulum Clock

Val slipped through the open window. The security in this high-rise was lacking compared to many others she had visited. Perhaps the guards on the main floor were meant to create a sense of safety. Only a fool would think harm could or would come from one source. Luckily, tonight she was hunting a fool, but nonetheless she found it all alarmingly simple.

There were no cameras within the apartment. All the lavish furnishings and open rooms were left untouched. Spotless. No eyes viewed the precious artworks on the walls except the owner, and then only when he spared a moment to look. They were each worth over a million dollars. Priceless to some, mere tomes on the shelves in a lawyer’s office to others. Trophies. Benjamin Gally was a man who came to money easily through donation, inheritance, and bribery. He was a public figure who cared little for the public, which was why Val made him her next target.

She strolled through the parlor and prepared her catch before locating the controls on the far left wall. She scrolled through the library and found a tune she thought fitting to the scene. Miss Murder blew through the open room as Val hid carefully above the control unit. Benjamin Gally rushed into the room. He surveyed it briefly before walking to the controls and shutting it off.

“Hello,” he called to the emptiness. He was still in his perfectly tailored suit and tie, sans jacket. He pulled out his phone and Val whipped it out of his hand with the heel of her foot. In one swift motion, she laced the ribbon around his feet and hit the reel. He was lifted into the center of the room. His head swung only a foot from the polished granite.

Val stood, composed herself, and switched the music back on and dimmed it so a proper conversation could be had between them. She tied his hands behind his back. He was still too shocked to resist properly.

“Who are you?” he screamed.

“They always want to know who I am before they ask why I’m here. It’s rather annoying.” She circled around and sat down on the cold granite so she could look into his upended face. “I have no qualms about giving a dead man my name.”

“Do you know who I am?” he snarled.

“Of course I do,” she replied calmly, “You are Benjamin Gally. Founder of Handiman. Son of Christopher Gally. Inheritor of sixty million dollars and thief of five-hundred and seventy more. No wife. No children, at least claimed that is. No next of kin. That’s why I’m here.”

“What?” Confusion flickered across his face. “I’ve stolen nothing.”

“You’ve stolen plenty, or had it handed to you without question. No favor worth a hundred and twenty mil can be honest or easy. It doesn’t matter now. That money gets a second chance at helping people once you’re gone. In this state, the money of those who die without a will goes to the Board of Education. Maybe it can fund a library for all the intercity kids so desperately wanting an opportunity to grow up without finding themselves on the other side of the law.”

“Let me go and I’ll build that library. Twenty million. I’ll invest it into my property on fifth avenue.”

She pushed him so his face swung by her she spoke. “That’s the thing. You could have been philanthropic and built such a place. Helped thousands of people, but you only think of it now. When your life is on the line and you’ve lost the control you grew drunk upon. It wasn’t even your idea. And you have the audacity to limit the project cost to a measly twenty mil? You’ve probably spent more on hookers.”

“One hundred million then.”

“You don’t get it do you?” She pulled out a knife and watched it register in his eyes as his swinging slowed. “It’s too late for you. The only good you can do for this world now is to die.”

She pushed him again so he swung higher, then held the knife out in front of her. With each pass, she edged the blade forward until it nicked his scalp. Blood began dripping as he continued to swing like a pendulum in the room. Painting the glossy floor with a steady stream of life. The granite stripping the heat of each drop.

“You’ll bleed out in about forty minutes like this, maybe less,” she said, “The blood flows freely along the skull, and gravity will speed things along.”

“Who are you?” he repeated.

“Again with the who. Like it will make any difference to your situation now.”

“I have friends-”

“Yes, and they are on my list too. Don’t worry.”

“They’ll hunt you.”

“They’ll try, but they won’t find me. They won’t even try until they themselves are scared. Even then they won’t look. They will bolster defenses which will only make my work more interesting. It won’t slow me down. I promise.” She cleaned the small shade of blood from her knife and hid it away. “Besides, they wouldn’t have the slightest clue where to look.”

His face remained bright red as blood continued to drip freely from his scalp and through his soaked, matted hair. His features began to show the amount of blood he lost. The eyes attempting to drift backward. The mouth growing slack. His speech grew slurred.

“You….won’t….change any….thing… can….can’t hide….forever.”

“You’re right there Benjamin. All your buddies have had similar predictions.”

His eyes flashed a gleam of focus at the mention of his friends.

“Yeah, that’s right. Your missing friends. Carlton Dieson. Harold Bennington. I’ve made their acquaintance. Not much to them to be honest. Just anger and bitterness as they drifted into the ether. Leaving their spoiled bodies behind. Their money helped fund the much-needed public transportation renovations, but Governor Harris decided to keep a few million of those public funds for himself. It seems my list only continues to grow.”

She realized she had let her thoughts wander. Looking back at the man in front of her, swinging gently, making circle patterns in the blood pooling together at her feet, she realized he was dead. They never ask why, she thought as she stood up and surveyed her work. The music made its way back into her senses and the room seemed vacant. She was very much alone and she felt the loneliness creep within her.

Before it could grab hold, she disappeared back into the world she loved. She began dreaming of what would be done with the hundreds of millions Benjamin Gally just left behind for the public to better itself. The body that was Benjamin Gally hung in the high-rise apartment. The blood dripped, slowly spreading across the unforgiving granite, until the dripping slowed to a crawl and stopped completely.

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