Image by Mark Renney
They are part of the System, all of their names are still somewhere in the records. Only once and it is always something insignificant – a job application perhaps or a club membership.
If one of them has been mentioned in a newspaper report or a magazine article and it isn’t in any way connected to their wrongdoing, to their fall from grace, then Tanner may choose to leave it, to let it slide.
He is unsure now why he had done this, even more perplexed as to why he continues to do so. Tanner supposes that in the beginning he had been testing the System and had expected someone would notice. That someone from up above in the higher echelons would come calling and he would be reprimanded, hauled over the coals as it were.
But this had not happened and Tanner is all too aware that he is way past the point where he can hang his head and apologise for his ineptitude and promise to try harder, to do better.
Tanner is the best of the Erasers, the most vigilant and dedicated and yet he has played Them, whoever ‘They’ are.
His rule-breaking over the years has been so subtle that it has not yet registered.
But the names remain and this is undeniable, it is a fact.
Image by Christine Renney
The trails Tanner was assigned to follow were merely ones made of paper. It wasn’t necessary for him to dirty his hands with anything other than the written records.
These trails always began at the traitor’s last known address; a house or an apartment, sometimes just a room, a rented box. But whichever it was, a mansion or a bottom bunk on Skid Row, it was the subversive’s final abode, their home.
Tanner wasn’t required to enter and to rifle through their belongings and he was thankful for this. He hadn’t any desire to sift through all of the things that they had gathered over the years; the heirlooms and memorabilia. It didn’t matter to him if they had been train-spotters or stamp collectors or fans of the operettas of Gilbert & Sullivan.
Some of it he could guess at – the framed certificates and sporting trophies. These, of course, would be destroyed and anything else of any real value would acquire a new price tag ready to be sold.
Image by Christine Renney
Tanner had always managed to navigate his way through life unnoticed. He became acutely aware of this when he first began his work as an Eraser. Ordinary looking and extremely reserved, even as a young man Tanner realised that this did not fully account for the uncanny ability he had for melting into the background, for making himself all but invisible.
There was something inside of him, an innate skill, a gift even, albeit one he hadn’t asked for and wasn’t sure that he wanted. He realised also that, given the line of work he had chosen, if he were to hone his skill and nurture this gift it could be very useful.
It seemed apt to Tanner that he, whose job was the disappearing of others, could move around unnoticed, was an invisible man as it were. But whenever Tanner glanced in a mirror nowadays he was shocked by what he saw. He was a little man, short and hunched, the pallor of his skin matching the grey clothes he always wore. His thinning hair was white and his face was deeply creased and lined. He was a ghoul, his was a face that featured in nightmares, that appeared toward the end, just before dawn.