This idea came to me in the middle of the night. It's the reason why the noticeboard on my wall is covered with scribbly little drawings and notes, which I wrote there last night as a reminder.
I've been a policeman for years. Longer than I care to remember, really, for it has been my whole life since I was just a young man. When I signed up, I didn't know what I was letting myself in for. I wanted to drive fast. I wanted to catch criminals and have high-speed car chases and gun battles. I wanted to seem like a hero, like the ones I'd read about.
Of course, once I was in the force things were much difference to how I'd expected. One of the first men I caught (and failed to arrest, I might add) was a rapist and child murderer. The second was a paedophile. The third was another child killer. After about five years, the idea of glory had gone right out of my head. But the overwhelming thing which remained was the fact that the worst crimes I ever saw were against minors. Against children. Against innocents. People who couldn't fight back, who didn't have a way out, who were helpless in that situation. . Perhaps they were bad simply because they were against children, but I didn't think so. They were bad. That was all there was to it. When I saw the ages of the victims, I was horrified.
I was married myself, to a lovely girl named Annabel, and we had two young sons, both under the age of five. Every time I read of a child being violated or murdered or molested, I couldn't help but think: that could have been my little boy Will. I could have been Jake.
It could have been my son.
And I swore that I'd end it. I vowed that I would hunt down these heartless men that destroyed lives and families, and lock them away for good. Perhaps I'd send them to America, to sit on death row until their final moments. Because they deserved that as much as a child deserves a life, a chance, a future.
And so I travelled from one end of the world to the other, crime scene after crime scene, searching for the evidence that I needed. The police force refused to endorse my actions; I quit. They begged me to return, to help them; I did, but not for their sake. My family needed the money, for my wife could not work because of the children, and while I freelanced we were losing out on the salary I could have had. It was no time for pride or stubbornness, and I went back to the force.
She begged me to come home, Annabel did. This hatred, this longing for vengeance, was consuming me, and she was afraid of it. She feared that if I gave in I would become a wild thing, and that was why she fought long and hard to get me to come home.
"I'm just trying to make the world a better place for our children," I told her as she stood with the tears streaming down her cheeks. "I'm trying to make it somewhere they would like to live, somewhere they would be safe."
"I know," she said. "I know. But..." Staring at me, she struggled for the right words, and though I could see them in her face I let her speak. "This is destroying you. Everything you are - you're no longer the man that I married, Peter, no longer that peace-loving man. What has happened to you?"
"But I'm still here," I told her, pointing to myself. "I'm still Peter Matheson. I haven't gone anywhere. I'm still here with my silly floppy hair and my silly dark eyes, just as you said I was all those months ago."
Then Annabel looked at me with something akin to despair and moved away. I called out to her. "Annabel, where are you going?"