I smoothly slid the clip into my .45 and pulled back the hammer. Morality, no longer a valued consort, screamed incessantly through the dark, distorted labyrinth of my mind until every cell in my reticent body vibrated. This was its pitiful resistance against the coming guilt that would soon suffocate me.
I rapped my white knuckles on the worn hard wood door until they throbbed red from the impact. Then at that moment of perdition all my body's complaints faded away and there was nothing but pure adrenaline coursing violently through my veins, carving its artistic path through every deadened nerve ending in my cold body. My senses sharpened with this rush. I stood in avid anticipation as I listened attentively to the dull clicking of latches undone.
The door opened. My heart raced, pounding hard against my quickened lungs. Then her screams of pain shuddered through the back of my mind; the remembered screams of lost innocence. I raised my gun, and took a secure footing to brace against the recoil. My finger tightened around the trigger
"Bang, bang, bang" pounding out a three beat rhythm, perfectly timed with the throb of my tattered heart. The tiny fragments of hot lead sliced through the stale, insipid air and through the unsuspecting flesh of his upper torso, splattering my impassive face with a collage of his blood. The expression contorting the features of his hardened complexion at that brief instant was priceless. He was purely and simply stunned. I almost smiled. He fell to the floor with the finality of a heavy thud as his lover came screaming into the door way and threw herself on top of him in desperation.
She was my cue to exit the stage, and so I maundered casually down the buildings synthetically lit corridors with a heartless stride as the fleeting pain of guilt began its quick ascent, threatening my every forward movement. But it was done, another contract filled, another inked name marked off a never ending list in this persistent war: this struggle for blood, vengeance and retribution.
I awoke on the couch. Not where I'd fallen asleep but at least it was in the same building. I awoke trembling, my mouth agape screaming, my skin sickly pale and sticky with collated sweat. His face flickered translucently across the lens of my mind, burnt into my waking vision as though id stared idly at the sun for far too long. Three days had passed since his death, and still he remained with me, haunting me like some malignant spirit refusing to take rest.
The mediocrity of morning sun filtered through apertures of curtain-less windows and stung my nocturnal eyes as I uncoiled from the couch and groped the coffee table for my cigarettes. I withdrew into the cool shadows and lit one, inhaling the soothing promise of an early death, the poison breathing life into the deadened nerve endings of my cold body.
My next victim was already inked into the pages of my mind where he would stay until his untimely death. I absently showered and dressed myself in the usual raiment of in-descript black as I sifted possibilities through the filter of my mind. It would have to be cleaner this time; gun fire would not suffice in a heavily populated area, which is where it would happen. And it would happen. I would consummate my revenge.
I felt hollow beneath the skin. My veins dry, darkened canals, worn and decayed. As if my insides were a coarse imperfect labyrinth; a web of catacombs, their walls trembling in chorus to the screams of his ghost. But it would pass soon and there would be another victim after him.
My eyes grazed the edge of a switch blade, deciding its suitability. I snatched the knife from the coffee table, shoved it in my coat pocket, and left my dust coated home to brood in its sparsely used state.
I blended into the crowd, assimilating perfectly; my face disdainfully cloaked with a mechanical smile: a mask of superficial mirth betrayed and safety pinned in place. I weaved my way through the throng of happy amusement park patrons, apologizing politely when I bumped into them. We moved on opposing tangents, destined to intersect. As I drew closer adrenaline began to tear its erratic path through my veins, heightening my senses. I withdrew the knife and held it concealed beneath the length of my wrist.
Then I heard her voice again, it echoed through every cell in my brain and sent erratic tremors pulsing down my spinal cord. I heard her screaming as they raped her in front of me, felt her anguish thicken the insipid air as they cut off her fingers one by one with garden securteers. In a single fluid movement, at the exact instant we collided, I thrust the knife into his upper torso, parting his ribs and penetrating his lung with the blade. I brushed past him as though nothing had happened, and then disposed of the weapon in a near by waste bin.
As I disappeared into the crowd like an evanescent ghost the very pit of my soul seemed to tense in preparation for the weight of coming remorse. As I listened to the vocalizations of shock and horror that rippled through the crowd one voice rose above the distorted mass of background noise. It had a sharp edge to it; each syllable was crisp and clear, anchoring itself in the vast expanse of a moment.
I awoke tangled with twisting shadows and the hard remnants of a nightmare. I awoke outside this time, in the vastly over grown garden, dirt beneath my broken finger nails. The face of my latest victim haunted me still, flickering across my vision in a sequence of bright images like the flash of an expensive camera. I scrambled to my feet and stumbled back inside, craving the taste of a cigarette.