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How could he let this man go free? It was clear that Gray was stronger than the Network suspected, and more aware of his own evil than a sane man should be. Alan knew that a simple nudge would not work. He was supposed to go back to the Network, report what had happened, and let them decide what to do. But Gray's barrage of image and emotion had shown Alan that the Criminal planned to rape again that very night. This he could not allow.
Alan stepped out in front of Gray. The Criminal recognised him instantly, knowing that the angry young man standing before him was the intruder in his mind. Gray attempted to attack Alan, to assault his mind as he had before. But Alan, strong and trained, easily blocked Gray's assault.
Alan bored into Gray's mind like a cannon shell, tearing and ripping as he went, fragmenting the Criminal's mind. Thoughts and images were bent, distorted, Gray's own victims becoming monsters, their screams becoming shrieks of laughter. Alan erased a portion of the Criminal's memory and filled it with bizarre images of creatures with disjointed legs, insects crawling over Gray, and mind-bending realities of which Tchelitchew and Dali would be proud. Then he wired the images directly into Gray's consciousness, and created a closed loop that would force the Criminal to experience it all over and over, for the rest of his natural life.
Alan withdrew from Gray's mind, watching as the Criminal curled up on the ground, blubbering insanely. What he had done was expressly forbidden by the Network, but Alan didn't care. It was his opinion that Harold Gray deserved nothing less. Idly, he wondered about what action the Network might take. He pulled out a packet, extracted a cigarette, and lit it. For several minutes he stood over Gray, watching the insane man trying to brush invisible centipedes off his body. Finally, he reached down and stubbed out his cigarette against Gray's temple. The former Criminal never felt it.
Smiling, Alan turned away and walked off into chilly night, whistling.