This is not the Rookie’s first rodeo with death.
The Rookie grew up surrounded by death: peaceful and benign ones, a grandfather passing in his sleep, taken by old age and a failing heart. There was the flip side of the coin – a younger cousin, life taken away as abruptly as a thunderstorm; a freak accident, charred limbs reaching out for help with what little life force left before falling limply to the ground. There have been blood and lightning and things that should not have happened but did and things that should have happened and did. The Rookie is intimate with death, knows full well the arbitrariness of the action, the senselessness of the reaping. Death does not discriminate. It comes for those who have not lived enough and those who have lived for far too long, and never is it fully welcome. That much, the Rookie knows.
But this – this is not something the Rookie is familiar with. This is a cardboard box in the kitchen of his too-small apartment, reeking faintly of malice and hate. This is a dark red slowly seeping through the brown cardboard, pooling on his tiny dining table for two. This is raising the flaps to find the severed head of an elderly lady, her glazed eyes open wide in terror. This is death in its most unnatural form, the most malicious and hateful, the most childish form of all – this is death forced onto an unwilling participant purely for the sake of entertainment, and the suffering of another.
This is the worst kind of death, and the Rookie begins to understand what the Detective means.
The moon tells him the world is too vast and death too rampant for him to keep up with every lost soul he sees, but the Rookie thought he could handle it. Now that it’s there on his kitchen table, sitting pretty in a box just for him, he doesn’t think he can handle it at all.