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The Killer Inside Me

copyright 2001, by Kabochon

Disclaimer:    Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling were created by Thomas Harris.  He is used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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In the days after the botched Drumgo bust, Clarice Starling spent her time in her duplex, trying to regroup. She grieved for John Brigham and saw to burying him since he named her to take care of him should he fall in the line of duty. She herself had killed five people that day and the media was crucifying her. She received one call from Jack Crawford in regards to her hearing coming up in five days. Her ear still hurt from Evelda’s bullet. Clarice felt the world falling away from her. She knew that she stood to lose everything and that pained her but she was still too numb to feel its depths.

She walked into Ardelia’s side of the duplex to think. Clarice sat on Mapp’s couch and ruminated over the conversation that had taken place in the van. Had she said too much? Had her tone been nasty? Did she say anything that could have been misinterpreted?

The doorbell rang. Clarice snapped out of her thoughts and got up. She peeked through Mapp’s front curtain and saw the mailman returning to his truck. She opened the front door, called him, and signed for the package. The envelope was mauve, with silky threads in the fine linen paper. When she got inside, she looked at the address. It had been written in fine copperplate script.

Clarice retrieved her evidence-handling gloves from her purse and pressed the envelope, searching for some sort of telltale explosive device. She knew she shouldn’t open it here, she should take it to a fluoroscope. Open it here and she would get in trouble. Trouble. Right. Balls.

She pulled out the single sheet of paper and knew at once who had written to her. 

Dear Clarice: 

I have followed with enthusiasm the course of your disgrace and public shaming. My own never bothered me, except for the inconvenience of being incarcerated, but you may lack perspective. 

What’s your total now? Fifteen? Fifteen people over the course of seven years, starting with the unfortunate Jame Gumb and ending here with the stylish Mrs. Drumgo. Your record is better than mine, to say the least. How does it feel when you have to kill someone, my dear? How do you feel when you are forced to take a life? In some of those cases, do you think you acted hastily? Do you find, in your moments of rest by the washing machine, that other alternatives presented themselves yet you chose the quick way out? Think, my dear. Think long and hard. Really, did every single one you killed deserved killing? 

Clarice’s mind was a whirlwind of images and gunshots. Yes. No. Maybe? 

Were you able to sleep after each killing, Clarice? Did you, in fact, find rest after each murder? Were some of the victims truly so bad that you felt as though you were doing society justice by foregoing trial and conviction and becoming judge and jury yourself? 

There had been one where she’d felt little remorse at having to pull the trigger. Casey Dumont, a sadistic child rapist-murderer. Clarice shot him in the head when he charged another officer. 

See now, we are not so different, my dear. We are not so different at all. You are a murderer, Clarice…a serial killer. Do your deeds not proclaim this? Is that not what the tabloids are insisting? You are a killer and before you can begin to resolve your current situation, you must face that. 

The main differences between you and I, Clarice, are that you use a gun whereas I prefer sharper instruments, and that your badge justifies your killing whereas I need no such permission. Ultimately, that means you are accountable to the powers that be that gave you your badge, whereas I am accountable to no one but myself…and I do sleep easy at night. 

Embrace yourself, Clarice. Embrace who you are. Step out and be what you are. Release yourself from your justifications. Say hello to your dark side. It is there, has always been there inside you. It is where your rage is born. 

Tears began to drip on the heavy stock. 

The powers that allow you to do what is deemed your job will take that permission from you and turn you into a shield to cover them from their petty inadequacies. Clarice, I have always believed you to be more than what the Bureau has made of you. It is time you believed it for yourself.

If you find that you are indeed able to acknowledge who you are, this Sunday, place your answer in an ad in the agony column of the national edition of the Times, the international Herald-Tribune and the China Mail. Address it to A. A. Aaron so that it will be first, and sign it Hannah. 

Hannibal Lecter 

P.S. I do not need to stress the expediency of this request, do I Agent Starling? 

“No,” she said. “No, you do not.”  


Being that times for her were rough all over and she felt nothing but disgust for her superiors, Clarice kept the letter Dr. Lecter had written her. She had allowed herself to cry as she spent the next few days flashbacking over the seven years since becoming an agent. She had killed fifteen people, all in the name of justice. At the time, she felt she was doing her job. Never once, with the exception of the majestic Evelda Drumgo, did she feel any great remorse. She had become hardened by that aspect of her job. The Tattler called her the ““FBI’s Killing Machine”” and that was what she was. Hell of a peak for a brilliant start.

Clarice looked at the calendar. Monday was the date of her hearing. She had no illusions. The silent phone meant a sure death. They were going to sacrifice her, or rather, turn her into the shield to take the media bullets that were being fired at them. Somebody had to be blamed and Starling had long been given that responsibility. Even Jack Crawford was limited in his ability to help her. He had one foot out the door and the other on a banana peel, and even his fondness for her would not be enough.

When you were institutionalized, as Clarice had been all her life, you learned to live by the rules of the institution. You learned to think inside of its box. You learned to like what it liked. You learned to put your foot where it told you. You had to. Otherwise, you wouldn’t survive.

Now the institution that she respected and promised to uphold was spitting her out like a premature baby. Was she able to survive in this world without her institutional instincts? Was she indeed, strong enough?

The answer to that last question required her to think about Dr. Lecter’s words.

“How do you manage your rage?” was the question he had asked her in a previous letter.

“I don’t. It manages me.” This was the truth. Her rage simmered at times and required periodic tamping or escaping. She had learned to channel it into her shooting, which had enabled her to be interservice pistol champion three years running. John Brigham had been awed by Clarice’s skill with her weapon and respectful of her ambidexterity. She never told anyone that her anger made her such a good marksman.

Clarice never denied the relief target practice gave her. It was wonderful, capping everything in sight. Sometimes she visualized Paul Krendler’s head as her target and it never failed to produce impressive results. Clarice’s mastery of her weapon was another thing her male comrades held against her.

She had come to depend on her sidearm and boot stash. It was cold hard certainty in an uncertain world. So she went around cocked and locked all the time, only using it when she had to.

But had she had to all the time? Dr. Lecter’s words haunted her. She had shot fifteen people and only now was she able to clearly surmise if each and every time required her capping the suspect. Evelda’s was a definite yes and Jame Gumb’s was as well. The other thirteen, she would have to roughly say that twelve of those were a yes and that left one.

That one had been in another drug bust gone sour and he’d been a kid of seventeen. It had been dark and he’d raised what appeared to be a weapon at Clarice and John. John threw down first but it had been Clarice’s slug that had killed the boy. And even when she'd determined that it had indeed been a weapon he’d aimed at them, she had been saddened at the waste of a young boy's life.

“I could have shot him in the leg. He would have still been alive.”

But she didn’t allow herself to take that thought further and carried on in her duties. She was expected to kill. Either that or get shot herself and she wasn’t ready to die yet. Still, Dr. Lecter’s words made her see things for what they were.

“You are a killer.”

“I am a killer.”

“Your badge justifies it.”

“I am a federal agent.”

“You are a murderer…just like me…”

There was no denying that. She had killed as many people as he had, and in a shorter period of time. Numerically speaking, that put her near the top of the list. And what made her different? That frigging badge. When taken away, she was no different than any other serial killer. That realization left a sour aftertaste.

They were going to take her badge. Paul Krendler, furious over her dismissal of him, was going to see to it. Clarice put her head in her hands.

“I have nothing else…nothing else…no one else…no one….” She wasn’t going to involve Ardelia in this. Ardelia was well on the way to becoming a profiler and Clarice was not going to smear her career.

Could it be, that down in the dungeon, she had met the only person who would ever truly understand her? Would, in fact, be the beacon when everyone else was deserting her ship like drowning rats?

“Embrace your dark side…embrace who you are….”

Good and bad exists inside of all of us, defining each other by contrast like squares on a checkerboard. Who can say which rules in any given situation? There are times when inherent good in anyone is overshadowed by the bad and later we try to justify. Sometimes we can. But the bad is always there…always a part of us. To truly know thyself, we must embrace the bad in us with the good in us.

Know thyself. Know thyself. Be what you are. Truer words were never spoken.

Clarice Starling, staring down at the last piece of redemption she ever expected to receive in this lifetime, chose to know herself. She picked up the telephone and placed an ad in three major newspapers. The ad was simply stated…one line only: 

A. A. Aaron:

I am what you say I am. I have embraced me.


She knew he would be her deliverance.


copyright 2001, by Kabochon

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