's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Sympathetic craft

Submitted by gozuforce

He was starting to lose patience. Having to do his job in public was bad enough, especially since the train was so crowded, but he had been tailing the man for two hours now, he still didn’t get any occasion to grab the sample.
His target was very easy to spot, mind you. Slightly overweight man wearing a brown coat and a black tuxedo with very thin green lines, tall enough to not disappear in the crowd. But he never got close enough to do anything, and then they entered the subway so it got even worse.
At least the man had the good taste to have enough hair for easy sampling.

As always, he knew nothing of the target, only enough to identify him and his destination. He wasn’t interested in learning who or why he had to kill, knowing he would get his payment for it was be enough.
The rest is for those who want to rise in the hierarchy, partake in the politics of the crime world. That curiosity is of course at best a dice roll, and if you ask too much you usually don’t have the time to regret it. Thinking about it, he probably had made that true for at least a few of those would-be rising mob boss.

He would never fall in that trap though. He was just not interested in that. All he cared for was getting his bills payed and exploring his field of expertise thoroughly. Thankfully, his job actually filled both criteria pretty easily.

Although, moments like that would frustrate him too much for his liking. Time was going to run out. Eventually, the man would leave the subway train, and things would get more complicated. Theoretically, he could do without the sample, but it would make things too tenuous and he knew any mistake on that step would have consequences. Since no occasion showed up, he had to force one out. He stood up from his seat, slipping by a few passengers, and got to his target’s back. He hated doing that kind of thing, that felt like exposing himself. He was not a trained spy after all!
Well, too bad. He had no choice. So he pretended to wait for the next station, standing right behind the man’s seat. With the seat hiding his hands to most of the passengers, making sure nobody saw him getting his scissors out of his was easy. The tricky part was actually making contact with the hair without raising the suspicion of his target. He had to slide the cutting tool on the seat’s backrest while the man’s head was not quite in contact. When the head bobbed back, the touch of the scissors got confused with the seat itself, inadvertently lodging a small bit of hair caught into the pair. Then he just needed a quick gesture to cut and bag the sample, the train covering the sound.

The man still looked behind him, having felt something of the blades, but the operation was already over and the tools hidden. So the target turned back.
He smiled. The most dangerous part was over. After that, it was just a matter of getting out of view and fulfilling the required operation.
So he left his position, finding a spot further that still had the target in sight but away from any curious eye that would follow his moves.

He took the bottle out of his bag, checked quickly the markings behind the label in case they had got smudged, and taped the sample on the bottom. Usually, he would also try and have a photo of the target. It is a pretty delicate process, and any element that strengthen the connection is useful. But that was not an option for this case, and he was pretty confident his experience with the craft and the additional markings on his artifact would be enough to get past that hurdle.
He glanced around a last time. No one seemed to have noticed him at all. So he closed his eyes, doing his best to visualize the target, then to see him as the bottle itself. At the same time he had to mentally repeat the proper sounds. Those weren’t words from any language living or dead, not even syllables really. They were sounds that wouldn’t really translate into writing, but unlocked something in reality. A sort of link between things that got highlighted when certain ideas of sound were evoked.

He felt the tingles that informed him the link was activated. Everything was ready, he just had to trigger the reaction. Still, he waited, just until he was about to leave the train. Only then did he unscrew the bottle cap. The sound of someone falling didn’t stop him, and the train was gone before the passengers could warn the driver.

Aside from thinking it’s all fictional, people have a lot of misconceptions about his particular craft. For one, they tend to refer to it as “voodoo magic”, when in fact nothing really similar to that exists in voodoo culture. The real name of that art is sympathetic magic, and it has its origin in Europe rather than Caribbean. People also expect to see it perform on dolls that transfer pain on a target, but actually, the object used is mostly irrelevant to the success of the operation.
The craft is all about links between things and beings emphasized with the mind, pure visualization given power. Sure, it’s easier to do with a doll, but if you can use any object, you are less suspicious, and you can perform things that just wouldn’t make sense otherwise.
To break a fluorescent lamp linked to someone’s bone, and have said bone pulverized, to have blood flood of someone’s mouth because you spilled a glass of water, to see someone die of old age in the span of a mayfly’s life(a very difficult but incredibly rewarding experience), or even just having someone punching you jump away from the pain. Here is the real deal, those are the experiments he lives for.

While it was a new effect, that train operation was actually really straightforward. The bottle was the body up to the neck, the cap was the head, and the head moved like the cap. It was as simple as that.