The Wall

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
The Wall is a short story that visually depicts mans struggle with morality and worldly desires.
Meet Joey Gunns. A retired CIA agent who is on assignment to protect the newly elected POTUS. He commands a ruthless crew of roughnecks whose job is to protect and serve at any cost. Tension run high as the new President introduces the world to "The Wall". A monstrosity of stone and concrete to separate the US and Mexican border. Chaos ensues at the unveiling and Gunns has to choose between his moral beliefs versus his quest for fame. This would normally be an easy decision for a ruthless killer like Gunns but something has changed in him. Why? How? Find out by reading my short story.

Submitted: February 09, 2017

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Submitted: February 09, 2017

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The Wall

 

4 more years!  4 more years! 4 more years!  The staunch crowd gathers around beneath a platform of pretentious figures.  They shout their allegiance to a leader who is revered like a god among them. The area, though outdoors, seems cluttered with bodies.  There is hardly room to breathe, let alone stand, as they packed around the altar like over-stuffed sardines. Each one was trying, as best they could, to get a better look at the Commander in Chief.  From his view at the podium, the one whom they had all come to see, waved and took in the sight of this sea of devotees, while I stood by watching, waiting…

 

Everything was on display as if I was watching a widescreen television. Here I was, a part of the action, watching all these people praise a man they didn’t really know. It was easy for them to fall for his antics, they were like cattle being herded in whatever direction he told them to go. The more flash he gave them, the more they wanted, but what they didn’t know was that all the flash was only a cover up for what he truly planned to do. And I was the one who made sure this person, my boss, whom I secretly refer to as Darth Vader, was able to go from point A to B without getting shot.  One would almost think I supported his showcase of arrogance, but hey, when you’re paid as well as me and my crew are, you can put on a good game face.

 

Years ago, no one could have imagined this day happening. The final presentation of the wall, now standing between the United States and Mexico, has been completed, and even more, the overseer of the whole project was none other than President Trump himself… His father would have been so proud.  Knowing that his legacy would carry on even after the embarrassing defeat he suffered to a woman over 30 years ago.  .

 

Her victory was so short lived, if you blinked, you would have missed it. Assassinated just after being elected, and the members of Republican party were all too eager to promise America deliverance from all their troubles if they were elected to take office. All the hopes they felt they lost when the first Trump was defeated, seemed to be renewed when his son was deemed the candidate of choice.  He took over, and just like that, the world changed.

 

First came the European financial collapse, which caused an international crime wave to erupt in the area.  Many European residence, both good and bad, sought refuge in the United States.  This, in turn, had both the U. S. and Canada closing their borders to all immigrants from Europe.  Not only that, but with surmounting tensions building between the U. S., Middle Eastern, and other Islamic nations, they as well were included in the lock out. It only took a few years before a bill was passed to extract all illegal immigrants out of America.  They started with the deportation of Mexican illegals, and continued until there was a mass exodus from the United States of all immigrants.  The U.S.’s reliance on China’s exports increased, making China and Japan the only true first world countries. Needing to find more resources for service and menial labor jobs, the U.S. turned to Mexico and passed a bill for a new green card program.  What Mexico didn’t realize that in fine print was a clause which allowed the US to take 25% of every Mexican peso to fund the building of the very wall we are celebrating today.  To say the least, Mexico was none too pleased and tension between the two countries are at an all-time high. Several cartels joined the Mexican government in resisting the US mandate to build the wall.  Countless humans both Mexican and American lost their lives in building the wall, many of them executed by a cartel extremist who calls himself “Don Juan”. My team and I have had several skirmishes over the past decade dealing with this madman, but to my surprise he finally tucked his tail and has not been seen near the wall over the last 6 months.

 

To make matters worse, the gun law reform act was passed.  Over time, the streets flooded with idiots and cowards toting guns. I thought all hope was lost. The country took on the air of  a sort of  Wild West where vigilante justice ran rampant.  A group of radicalists, named the Shadows arose from the chaos.  A militant band who believed in justice at any cost, they soon became a force not to be trifled with.  Their real power came from their ability to organize large strikes while remaining anonymous to the public.  It is rumored that the Shadows don’t have a leader, just a cause.  Of course, I thought this was all bullshit…that was until one of my team members was murdered by one using a long range sniper rifle and then disappeared without a trace.  To this day no one has been able to capture one of these shadows. I have made it my mission to be the first person to bring one of those covert bastards to justice.

 

You might be wondering where was the church when all these changes took place?  Good question.  Most people turned to the church seeking restitution from what looked to be the beginnings of Armageddon.  When they did this, they were met with disappointment.  Not only had the shift in government power affected “the world,” it had made its way into the most sacred of places.  Corruption, greed, and distrust rocked the faith.  The whole Christian faith was torn apart from inside when it was discovered that the now banished Pope was sleeping with little boys.  This outrage led to a powerful movement called the Awakening which through legal and some illegal means sought to the closing and dismantling of most churches within the United States.  People no longer needed religion… after all we are GOD’s greatest creation anyway, right?

 

4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!....

 

“Silence!” A voice boomed over the loud speakers, bringing the crowd to a hush, and demanding the respect of their undivided attention.  “Today marks a Momentus day for the United States of America, the greatest, most powerful nation in the World!” Once again the crowd roared with cheers, as his speech was interrupted with shouts of thunderous praise.

 

“Silence!” came one more unequivocally halting command.  A hush fell over the crowd once again.  All were obedient children under their father’s warning eye.

 

“Thirty years ago my father started this movement.  It is one that was necessary and beneficial.  One that allowed our great nation to rid itself of crime and petulance brought about by people who meant us no good.”  He looked to the sky, adoration gleaming in his eyes, and spoke as if his father were watching from heaven. “And Dad I am proud to say...This one is for you.” He blew a kiss to the sky, warranting a resounding ‘awe’ from the crowd.

 

“Silence!  Today we say no to more crime, we say no to foreign influence, we say no open borders and most importantly we say no to government of Mexico who has been unwilling and unable to stop their people from crossing our border and interfering with our way of life!  This ends today!”  The end of his speech marked the audience’s que to applaud, and once again sing his praises.

 

“Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump! Their voices echoed off the pavement like soldiers marching into war.

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen...I give you...THE WALL!”

 

“Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump...

 

Spurned on by the energy from the beat of the crowd’s praise, Trump excitedly announced the surprising highlight to his show.

 

“Light it up!”

 

I said LIGHT IT UP!”.....

 

Instead of a fantastic dance of lights and sound, the crowd was greeted with silence.  Anticipation quickly turned to confusion as the silence lingered. Finally, the president’s aid stepped onto the podium to try to explain this calamity.

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he said in a calming manner “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are experiencing...”

 

Bbbratt...Bbratt...Bbratt.... Everyone in attendance was familiar with the sounds that cut off the announcers words.  That was the sound of gunfire.  The silence quickly turned to chaos as the crowd began scrambling in all directions, trampling over one another, attempting to find shelter from the bullets raining down above them.

 

Everyone get down NOW!”  I barked the order while simultaneously running toward the man who paid me to protect his life.  “Mr. President, GET DOWN” “Mr. President…”

 

It was like time stood still...  AlI I could see is the bullet bearing down on the leader of free world with reckless abandon. Without any thought for my own safety, I leaped in the air in hopes to knock the President down and save him from his apparent fate. We both landed with a thud on the ground, me cocooning my body around his and rolling us to the corner at the edge of the stage where my partner stood waiting for instructions.

 

It appeared that my fast reflexes and innate ability to put myself in life threatening situations for a paycheck had once again paid dividends. It was only after I handed the President over to my partner that I noticed my shirt was soaked in a liquid far thicker than the sweat I initially thought it to be.  It gleamed crimson even with the black body armour stealth suit I was wearing. “Oh my GOD!” The President’s aid shouted in horror.  “ The president has been shot.” “Get him out of here” “ GET HIM OUT OF HERE NOW!”

 

I turned to the members of my crew who were awaiting my instructions.  The desperation in my voice gave away how serious I now thought this situation was  “DMoney get the jeep”

“Banannas, secure the president”

 

How did I get caught up in this mess? I wondered to myself, as I carried the President over to his limousine. Oh yeah he paid my team 1 million dollars for security detail.  He is a son of bitch but his checks never bounce.

 

“I got you Mr. President.  You are going to be okay.  Easy, Easy.” I escorted the president into the back seat firmly, then turned to my first partner after making sure the President’s position was fully secured. “Bananas get in beside him.  Make sure nothing happens!”  It was a command, not a request.  Even though I may not support the man’s ethics, or lack there-of, my country was important to me, and it needed a leader to keep it afloat.

 

While my mind was set on getting him to safety, It appeared that the wounded Sith of the Galactic Empire wanted to know everything that was going on.

 

“What the hell happened out there?”  “How did those son’s of bitches, get in here” “Where is….”.

 

“Try not speak sir…” You’re secure now.”  

 

I wanted to scream for him to shut his trap, or even put a fist right through his face.  Now was not the time to give a play-by-play of what I thought was going on.  Instead of biting his head off, I calmed myself, chose my words as wisely as I could

 

I turned to the President’s  traveling physician as he began working diligently to seal the wound in the president’s side.

 

“Doc will he be alright?”  He’s lost a lot of blood.” Before I could receive an answer, the president turned his eyes to me and said in a cold reprimanding tone

 

“Wait! I paid you a lot of  money ....cough  ...cough.  You find the SOB’s who did this and...AND....”

 

“Stay calm, Mr. President, me and my squad will sniff them out.”  

The Hunt

 

Most of the Wrecking Crew squad was already loaded into the HummV, waiting for me to join them.  There was no time to waste.  We had to find these bastards and we needed to do it before they had the chance to strike again.

 

I heard the engine of the waiting vehicle rev, just before I hopped inside.  D’Money was at the wheel, and pulled off just as I slipped my leg inside the door.  Each of the members of my crew were looking as ready as I was to bag and tag whomever was responsible for what we all felt was an assassination attempt on the leader of the free world..

 

I called them all out one-by-one, making sure I had there full attention “TDwag, Terminator, Dmoney, and Dapper, let's hunt!”

 

I was their leader, and they were my faithful troops.  The one called Terminator turned to me and confessed what had been pinned up in his mind for God knows how long.  “Bout damn time, I haven't killed anybody in a week.” I cut my eyes in his direction, knowing the urge was itching him bad, and the only way to scratch it out was to let him do what he does best.  Ruthless in his ambition to hunt, kill, and maim, this 6 foot 6, 300 pound muscle bound monster  was a force to be reckoned with. He was always the first to charge in and the last one to retreat. I picked him for my crew specifically for that reason.  Plus, it was better for him to be a mercenary than be on the other side of the law.  

 

The next person on my crew was chosen for his ability to keep calm in the midst of chaos.  He was the only one who could get through to the crew when I was not around.  His name was DMoney. We called him money because of the fancy attire he wore and his swagger.  D’ Money was the pretty boy of the group.  We used him whenever we needed a suit to infiltrate some of our more fancy events. The women all swooned over his big brown eyes and wavy dark hair, but his slim build and average height only added to the swiftness and flexibility he used when on the job.  D’Money was no ‘punk’ by any meaning of the word, he just chose to stay cool and level-headed.  It was a manner he wore like an extra layer of clothes, and most people were conned into letting their guard down right before he killed them.

 

“Relax bro,” D’ Money crooned in his easy tone.  You're always getting us into trouble.” He laughed to soften the blow of his words against the look of hurt he saw cross Terminator’s face.  As quickly as the look had shown it disappeared.  Terminator was never one to let any emotion outside of anger outstay its welcome. Most of us were on the watch to avoid bringing this emotion out of him.

 

“Alright guys that’s enough with the sentimental babble, we need to go sweep the wall before those bastards get away.” We drove quickly to the Wall and filed out of the car, spreading out onto the grounds separately to cover more area.

 

We searched for over two hours before spotting a place barely noticeable to the naked eye.  It was almost completely covered by shrubs and weeds.  I probably would have missed it had I not slipped on the muddy ground.  Digging my steel-toed boot in deeper into the spot marked by my shoe tracks, I saw that there was a whole that, when cleared, could hold the body of a full grown man.  This was their hideout. Pretty smart to hide underground when everyone is expecting you to climb over the wall. I thought to myself.

 

I called my men over, quietly pointing out the newly discovered hide-away.  We climbed in one by one, hands pressed against the mud and mildew drenched sides.  It was dark, barely enough light to see five feet in front of us, and the smell would have been overwhelming to a regular civilian.  The place had to have been used longer than we imagined.  It was clear, from the foul stench of feces and urine, that some of the men who hid here weren’t able to come out for a long time.  

 

We roamed further into the tunnel, burrowing our way through parts where the water had carried the mud deeper into the underground passage.  Only the steady drip drip of the water off the roof of this dark place was heard between the five of us. We formed a straight line through a space barely long enough for each of us to stand.  Our trodding came to an abrupt halt when I heard whispers ahead.  Though they were muffled, I could still recognize them as the sounds of men talking. I turned to Terminator, right behind me, and signed for him to let the rest of the team know what direction we were headed.

 

It wasn’t long till we found them. Five men huddled in a corner trying stay warm and dry in what had become their home. I wondered how long it took them to dig out a space large enough to house 5 people.  An impressive feat for the looks of the pitiful souls who occupied it. All of them were scraggly and looked like they had missed a few meals, let alone baths for the matter.  One of them stopped shivering long enough to spot us moving in on them.

 

“ Yo homes!  Where's the party?  I brought some Cerveza.” Terminator said with his hands in the air, as if I had been invited to their special party.  

 

“I got your party right here Cowboy.” One of the men stood up as bold as a lion holding a 9 millimeter pistol in his hand. Judging by his appearance, he was no match for  the Wrecking Crew, but I admired his bravery and gumption..

 

“What are you Vatos doing here? He  continued.  We don't take kindly to intruders.  So I think you and your posse better turn right back around and head the other way before me and my….

 

BANG! It all happened in a flash. Terminator had pulled a gun from the small of his back and ended the poor bastard speech before he could finish.  There was not time for talk now, only action.  Knowingly or not these guys had entered into a fight to the death and experience was heavily on our side.  A rapid blaze of gunfire ensued and when it was all over four of the “hombres” lay dead , the 5th one critically injured holding his stomach to keep his guts from spilling out onto the mud beneath him.

 

His groans filled the room, grinding at my nerves.  I almost walked over to where he was sprawled out, and put him out of his misery. One clean shot would relieve us all of his piercing cries of agony. But we needed more information, and this man knew something.  For as long as I could, I would spare his life.

 

“Terminator!  What was that?!  You just  fucking shot the guy.”  T’Dawg exclaimed, looking at Terminator like he had stolen something from him.

 

“What’s the problem?” Terminator replied. “It was starting to get boring so I got the party started.  I mean we don't want to be out here a night do we?”  “ At least I didn’t get shot by those pathetic weaklings”  “You are getting slow in your old age T”

 

T’Dawg had been shot, but we figured what was new.  He always seemed to get shot on missions, but the wounds were never life-threatening.  We had even stopped panicking, figuring he was just a lucky bastard who must be immune to bullets.

 

“We need information dummy.” I interjected.  “One of them needs to be kept alive at least long enough for us to find out what we came for. We need to know who they are working for.

 

“Well ask Mr. Bleeding guts over there and leave me the hell alone.” Terminator responded defensively. His temper had already been tried by the fact that he was being questioned about his decision.

 

The man was bleeding out profusely. I wasn’t sure how much more time we would have to question, so I ignored the tension building up between me and my group, walked over to the man whimpering to himself on the ground, and tried to make my voice sound as comprising as I could.  

 

“Can you speak?” I leaned in and tapped him on the shoulder with the tip of my finger.

 

“Y-y-yes... cough, cough, cough.” His response was barely audible.

 

“Good.” I inwardly breathed a sigh of relief.  There was still a chance at finding out who the mastermind was.  “ Look, I'll make you a deal.  I will kill you quickly if you tell us who you are working for.” This was the best I could offer. I knew that if I didn’t kill him, my men would without a second thought.  

 

“Who..I...am working for?”  Cough, cough.  “Who I am working for?”...Cough, cough. Hahaha..hahahaha… Cough.  He laughed despite his pain. “You stupid Americans...I..I just wanted a better life (cough, cough, cough) for Me and my ninos....”

 

I pressed the front of my boot into his wound, bringing out an agonizing moan. “Lie to me again and will hang you up  by your guts and watch while you bleed to death.  Now, I’m going to ask you again.  Who do you work for?  

 

“Okay, cough. Okay you win.” Our victim threw up his hands in weak surrender. He hesitated a moment before continuing.  I could see in his eyes that he wrestled with the revelation he was about to make.  “This...is who I work for.”  He reached into his pocket, and my whole team braced themselves just in case he was attempting to make one last defensive move. I stayed close and watched as crimson covered fingers enclosed themselves around what looked to be a photograph. He pulled the picture up to his lips and kissed it. The sweat from his brow trickled down and combined with the tear spilling over the side of his face. Then hesitantly, he handed it over to me.

 

As I unfolded the picture,  and looked into the eyes of the of the dying man before me I felt unsettled about the choices I had just made. Reluctantly, I glanced at the picture to reveal the mystery behind this man resolve.
 

To my dismay, it was a picture of his 6 year old daughter.  In it she was smiling. Her eyes  looked full of hope. It pierced my heart because I knew what this little girl was yet to learn.  All the hope she may have had in her father was soon to be lost.  She was clueless to his fate, and maybe for now that was a good thing. She didn’t need to know that her father was lying helpless, bleeding, and smelling of feces.
 

My mind wondered how did the world get so messed up; and how did I get mixed up in all of it.  I used to be conscious of the assignments I took, I used to stand up to the bullies of the world and now I work for them. Why? What changed?  

 

I was torn in anguish over what I knew I had to do. How would my decisions change her life?  Daddy’s little princess would now be fatherless. Just another girl growing up in a cruel world without the guidance of a man’s hand.  She’d probably end up on a stripper pole or worse... And it would all be my fault.
 

Snap out of it... This is no time to get sentimental.  My men were watching my every move, and I had to show them that this mission was not in vein.  I had to make them think we had accomplished some type of goal.

 

BANG!  It was a mercy kill.  Why waste words on an apology when it will not be received?  Killing him and keeping my word was the best I could do for him now. .  His face glowed a crimson red, the blood gurgled up through his mouth.  His eyes stared lifelessly at the ceiling, and you could see fragments of grey matter seeping through the hole at the top of his head.  

 

 

“So who do we need to hunt Gunns?”  Who was he working for?  I heard the question, but wasn’t sure who asked.  My mind was still caught up in what I had just done. It felt like I was in a dream.

 

“This son of a bitch lied to me!” Way to think fast Gunns.  I had to come up with something.  No time for the truth here... Tear up the picture... Kick him... Curse him... Don't show weakness.  The leader always carries the burden in the weight of sin against the whole. The load was getting heavy.  Almost more than I could bear.

 

“Wild goose chase here guys. Let's get out of this hell hole and check on the President.”

 

Exhausted we returned to the HummV.  Get in the jeeps boys and let's roll out.  Our job is done here.  Like the good soldiers they were, they followed orders without a fuss.  Most of the team just wanted to get some much needed R&R.  We had been on this assignment for 2 weeks and keeping THIS President alive is no easy task.  Most people cried fouled when Trump won the election.  He was accused of bribing the state senators in exchange for electoral votes.  The allegations were never proven and most of the leaders of the resistance were discredited or mysteriously killed.

 

That is until the SHADOWS got involved.

 

The SHADOWS...a guy like me's worst nightmare.  How can you kill what you can't see?  How do you stop a group that is everywhere and nowhere at the same time?  These guys will burn your house down, kidnap your daughter, and steal all your money out of your bank account before you even know what happened

 

The ramblings in my mind came to an abrupt halt as I began to focus on how this all started in the first.  I was so caught up in the moment I almost failed to ask the obvious question that had alluded us this night.

 

“D’Money”

 

D’Money piped up from where he lounged against the passenger side window. “Yes, boss man?” He responded in earnest.

 

“Wasn't there supposed to a light show tonight for the wall presentation?”

 

“Yeah, I think so. “Why?”

 

“Because who stopped the light show? Those dumb asses in the tunnel couldn't pull that off!” “I thought to myself for a moment before continuing. It was beginning to become clear…

 

“ I got it!  The SHADOWS”  “It has to be them”  “Who else could have stopped the show” “What other group had more to gain”  

 

I sat up in my seat, reenergized from the discovery I had made.  “ But, how, how could they do it”  I thought to myself “How could they kill the power…. Where could they….“

 

“I got it”  I exclaimed loudly to my team and anyone else who was willing to hear me.  “ I know where they are”

 

“Boys, I got some hunting to do!”


 

 

 

Leviathan

 

Sweat dripped out of every pore in my face as I struggled to make it up The Wall. The height of this monstrosity was meant to protect those who lived inside its shelter and deter the ones we called illegal but, I wondered to myself as I struggled to maintain footing, did it really have to be this high?  It could have easily been confused with a maximum security prison enclosure, except it was the ones on the outside who were being kept away. Where is the elevator on this thing?  Focus, Gunns. I told myself, struggling to maintain focus as fatigue began seeping into my muscles.  It was so potent, I could feel it down to my bones. If everything works out as planned, you’ll be considered a national hero by day’s end.  

 

The Wall, which stood as a monument of security for the people living inside.  It had been drilled into the citizen’s minds that this place was impenetrable, but I knew better. I knew of an organization called the Shadow were as ruthless as they come. Only the could have devised a plan to shut down the fireworks and light show.. I imagined myself as the first person to ever catch a Shadow and arrest him.  It only takes one for all the dominoes to fall.  My purpose was clear to me now, and went to my task of finding them with laser-like focus.

 

I continued to climb, digging my feet into the cement surface as far as they could go, until I came to the last step.... Finally, I had made it to the top.  All I needed to do now was find the control tower and I could catch them.  There is no way they were able to leave after the site was locked. Nobody is that good.

 

I struggled against the altitude of thin air, but still I stood tall. I was so high, it felt as though I could reach up and touch the clouds.  There was only one way up and down The Wall.  Only the top-most government officials had access, and only they knew exactly where the location of entrance was.  It was purposefully put there so that the government could keep an eye on what was going on, on both sides.  There was no way of finding it unless you were specifically told where it was, and even then, it was difficult to make it to the top.  So far, I was the only one who had braved the climb.  At least as far as I knew.  It was built for protection, with its inner walls lined with steel.

 

The Wall spanned all of the 1,933 miles that made the border between Mexico and the United States. It could very well be compared to the Great Wall of China with its size and purpose almost mirroring that of Emperor Qin Shi ‘s.  From looking at the plan during our security detail briefing the wall widens to accommodate a lookout area and control tower. “ Find the lookout and you find the tower” I told myself.  I needed all the encouragement I could get considering the walk I had ahead of me.  

 

After walking for countless miles I began to wonder if the so-called control tower existed.  I mean it is not like I have actually seen it before.  I knew it was real, but everything inside me said it must be a figment of my imagination.  My body had become wearied by this time, and I struggled to find the strength to keep moving.  The only encouragement came when a structure in the distance came into sight.

 

At first it appeared to be a mirage, an optical illusion set to trick my eyes into seeing what they longed to. I thought to myself, Wait!  Could it be?  Please GOD let this be it...Yes!!

 

I found the control tower.  It was reminiscent of one you’d find in a maximum security prison, but this one was fitted with meg guns all around the lookout point.

 

I was reenergized.  Every muscle in my body worked to move me toward my destination. My feet were on a mission, going from a paced walk to a full sprint as I hurried to get to the lookout point and find a good place to hideout to catch the vigilantes who I knew were hiding inside.

 

“Almost there, Gunns. Just keep running.  Nothing can stop you from your destiny.  Faster, Go Faster, Go…”

 

My intense focus left me blind to my surroundings.  I did not notice the large obstruction in front of me blocking my path.  My head hit the ground with a resounding thud.  A rush of pain flowed from my face and mouth.  As I tried to regain my senses,  I noticed that a few of my teeth were missing from my mouth.

 

 

What the hell happened?  “Damn my head hurts.  Am I bleeding? Did I fall?  How?”  I said to myself. I looked up and to my surprise,  I noticed a figure of man standing over me with all too friendly smile on his face.

 

“Careful there, friend” “You ran me over and fell.  Well actually, I tripped you...” I looked around bewildered, still recovering from the throbbing ache in my head.  Had I really just heard what I thought I did?  There was someone else on The Wall.  But how could that be?  Very few people knew about this location, yet someone else, whose voice I didn’t recognize, has his hand out to help pick me off the ground.  I slapped his hand away in disgust, regained my composure, and swung my head around to get a proper look.

 

“Who the world are you, and how did you get here?” I looked up and was blinded by the glare of the full moon, shining brightly behind him.  He chuckled in response, as if my question was a funny joke.  It offended me, but I waited for him to answer.  My head still throbbed from the sudden blow, causing a lingering fog in my eyes. I strained against the fog, trying to see who it was I spoke to.

 

The blur in my vision began to subside, and I finally noticed a man standing in front of me with his hand out in hopes to lift me from the ground. He wasn’t as big as I had first imagined, quite the opposite in fact.  He reminded me of Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid, with a form one could only describe as meager at best. His eyes were covered in a wide-brimmed straw hat which shaded half his face.  He was dressed in peasant’s clothes.  Nothing about this man stood out other than his voice, which rang in my ears like thunder.  It was either that, or the residual effects of my head injury.  

 

“Let me help you to your feet my friend...  He reached down and held his hand out to me for the second time. A smile spread gingerly across his face.  I hesitated to accept his help, choosing instead to stand up on my own.

 

“Now where are you off to in such a hurry?” He continued, unscathed, still smiling through his words.

 

“Look Chinatown, I don't have time for this.  I am looking for someone and you are in my way.” I tried pushing past him, and marching ahead of where he stood, staggering backward a little when he stepped to the side to block my path.

 

“Looking for someone you say?” He spoke calmly, as if addressing a child.  “Well, I know a lot of people, perhaps I can help you find him.”

 

I side stepped him once again, angry now that he was frustrating my plans with his constant questions, but his movements were quicker than mine and I was trapped once again.  My tone was sharp and offensive, but I didn’t care. “The only thing you are going to find is the hospital if you don't get out of my way right now!”  Move or be moved. He halted his steps, and we stood glaring at one another.  Then he smiled at me again, as if the fire in my eyes was of no consequence.

 

“Well friend as much as I would like to move, I can't.  You see I am kind of on a mission or a quest you might say and I...”

 

“Dammit, that's it.” I cut through his statement like a knife.  “Now you will have to talk to Sheila.” I reached inside my vest and stroked the cool steel curves of her handle. Sheila is my semi-automatic 9 millimeter glock.  I love Shelia, I take her everywhere we with me.  She is the wife I will never have. She never tells me no, never gets sick, or nags me.  “She’s got quite a temper, and you have pissed her off.”

 

Shelia was now focused square between the eyes of the homeless beggar before me.  If I wasn't so pissed off I would have given pause to ask how a beggar climbed a 1900 foot wall without being detected, but there was no time for words now, only action.

 

“Move now or lose your life Chinaman.” I cocked Sheila, and waited for him to do what I’d ordered. “I won't ask again.”

 

To my surprise, he didn’t flinch, nor did the look of glee leave his face.  “As I said before friend, I can't do that just yet.  How about we sit for moment and...”

 

BANG!  Sheila was tired of talking, Shelia was tired of wasting time.  Shelia knew my mission and how desperate I was to achieve my goal.  I was not going to let this homeless bastards take my glory from me.

 

As the gun smoke cleared, the reality of my actions hit me like another blow to the face. Blood and bits of brain matter sprayed everywhere.  The body left behind stood at attention, not having caught on to the fact that it was minus a brain.  I turned away, disgusted with myself.  Did I really have to kill a homeless Chinaman?  When did my fame become more important than a human life?  I looked down at Sheila, her initial allure didn’t strike me as intoxicating any longer.

 

My palms were sweaty, and the bile of my guilt rose up in my throat, singing a path all the way to my mouth. I could taste it now, and it was nothing but foul.  This had been happening more and more of late. The weight of my sins was persecuting me, and I was unsure of how much longer I could live with it.  Yet there was no time to dwell on the past. I had to complete my mission.  I needed to get to the tower. I needed to…

 

“What a minute, my friend... I told you that I could not let you leave.” That voice. It plagued my ears again, but I knew what I was hearing could not be possible.

 

Did the dead Chinaman just talk to me? Is my mind playing tricks on me? I began to question my own sanity. I could have sworn that I saw his brain get blown out of his skull. Was I wrong?

 

Terrified, I turned around to confirm what my ears had heard and there he was, standing with a smile still on his face, and a 6 inch hole in his skull. My reality had turned into the Twilight Zone.  “This cannot be real!  How?”

 

“I told you, I am on a mission and my mission involves you.”

 

I didn’t want to admit it to myself, but I was totally terrified.  It was by fear that I was driven back to Sheila, all feelings of disgust suddenly disappearing.  I clung to her handle once again, as if hanging on for dear life.  She didn’t seem so repulsive now.  As a matter of fact, she was once again my best friend.

 

My ears perked up, listening to a supposed dead man as he continued to speak to me.  His tone was so calm, yet his words filled me with malice.  I became fully aware of the tension in each of my muscles clenching. The rush of fear and adrenaline  was maddening.

 

“So you see...”

 

BANG!  BANG!  BANG!  BANG!  BANG!

 

5 shots assassin style.  I had to make sure this time. There was no turning back, and no time to waste.

 

“See you in hell friend,” I said as his body collapsed to the ground in a heap. What did he mean by his mission?  What did he want from me? There were so many unanswered questions that his sudden appearance produced, and I planned to get to the bottom of them, but later.

 

Focus, time is short and someone may have heard the gunshots.. I needed to move even faster now.  Time was running out.

 

Now that was uncalled for my friend.  You owe me a new body.  I really liked this one.” There it was, that voice again.  It was like a nightmare and horror movie wrapped into one.  Somehow the diminutive man had managed to regenerate and was now standing again.  Every last one of the bullet holes I so generously made were visible in his head, jugular, heart, liver, abdomen, shoulder, and leg.  I began to wonder if I’d actually died and gone to hell when I hit my head.  And this peasant Chinaman, who refused to die, must be the Devil come to torment me for all my sins.

 

“I can see that you are scared my friend, but fear not.  It will all be over soon.” I looked past him through the gaping holes in his body.  In them I could see the journey I traveled to get to this place.  It was long and grueling, so many lives taken, so much pain and misery and all for nothing.  This is how my story will end, trapped on the wall with a demon who will take my soul and my legacy.  I cannot let it end this way, I won’t.  I was not going to wait to see what evil would be unleashed on me.  If Shelia can’t do the job, then I will have to do it myself.  I pulled out my bayonet knife from my boot and charged at him in a violent rage.  A last stand I hoped would be remembered  when they put me in my grave.  “You WILL DIE, Chinamen!!!”  I shouted as I ran toward him hacking and slashing.

 

My name friend, is Leviathan.  Before I could reach him to deliver a violent blow,  A gleam of white light, so bright it could rival the sun, radiated from behind him. The homeless man before me had morphed into a supernatural being beyond description.  My mouth fell open. For the first time in my life I was at a loss as to what to do next. I dropped my knife, fell to my knees, and stood in shock at the magnificence in the size of this newly revealed divinity.  This surely was not a demon that had come to claim me, this was something different, much more pure and awesome. His radiance continued to emit until it became so bright I could no longer look upon him.. My body began to weaken.  I was overcome by the sheer power of being in his presence. I shielded my eyes against it, but when I dared brave to look up, I could see a wing span which seemed to cover the skies around us.

 

The meager man who stood carelessly before me just a few moments ago was no more.  I now had to look up to see if he was indeed the same person who I’d met lying in the middle of my path. He stood at least 7 feet in the air and the eyes which were hidden under a wide-brimmed straw hat blazed a fiery mix of crimson and gold. In his hands he held tightly to a broadsword which jewel encrusted handle.  The sheer size of it was more than a normal man could carry.

The blade glistened, a dazzling platinum, which despite the light given off by this angelic creature, seemed to have a shine all its own. Light reflected light and caused me to notice the armory worn across the chest of the mystified being.  It matched in color to the blade of the sword, and was specially made for battle.  I was sure this was the reason none of my bullets had any effect on this angelic being.  He looked to be a knight straight out of GOD’s army.

 

I was unaware of how much time had passed while I stood staring in awe. Surely it had to be a dream, though it felt so real.  As I stood, uncontrollably trembling, the being continued to speak "Now, this may hurt a little bit but it will be all over soon". This statement terrified me,I knew whatever he had planned would be done to me.

 

His body began to take on a spirit form, as he transformed again, this time into big cloud of white smoke.  As I watched helplessly, in awe of the wonders I had witnessed, the cloud of smoke rushed into my mouth and nostrils filling me up to the point of bursting.  It was too much, too fast, the rush of light was too great.  I opened my hands up wide in act of surrender as the smoke took over my body and soul. White light began to pour out of me from every orphus as  I shook violently.  One the spirit took control of me I finally collapsed to the ground and left the conscience world.

 

 

 

 

 

The Reckoning

 

Now, that's better. He’s an angry little guy.  It’s much calmer in here.

 

Unbeknownst to Gunns,  Leviathan was now inside of Gunns’ conscious, the control center of the soul.  It held the record of all deeds; good or bad. After some searching, Levithan had found one of Joey’s fondest memories.

 

It was a small baseball field in Brooklyn, 1985, Gunns was 8 years old.  He could see the young boy held remnants in his face of the man he was to become.  He ran carelessly around the diamond in scuffed up jeans with holes in the knees.  All the built up tension, which settled into the lines of his adult face, was gone. He looked to be enjoying the life he lived, and not just tarrying through.  There were others who played, holding the branch cut from a tree in place of a baseball bat to hit with. The makeshift game had stirred an audience of peers, all waiting to take their turn to run through the dusty clouds of dirt, kicked up from the field. Each boy dashed around the aged plot of earth trying to claim their place in the winner’s pool, but Leviathan’s focus was solely on the young boy who would become the man whose body he had entered to change the whole course of his future.

 

Joey was up to bat, Crack!  This was the sound that whistled off the stick as he made a herculean swing.  The ball seemed to fly forever in the sky as they kids praised his skills.  That praise soon came to an abrupt halt as the ball made contact with the neighbor’s window.  CRASH!  The sound was all it took to make the kids cower in fear and begin to scramble for sanctuary.  Leviathan looked on, studying Gunns’ response to the predicament he found himself in.  Teary-eyed and fearful, Gunns walks over to the neighbor’s house to await his judgement. He would be accountable for the mistake he made...  Leviathan had seen enough.  I must be in the good deeds zone.  I will never find him here....better keep looking.

 

Bad deeds can sometime be well hidden in the spirit, depending on the person. It could be as obvious as a black hole or as minuscule as a speck of black dirt in a white hallway. He searched though little Joey’s stomping grounds,and  eventually found himself next to a sewer drainage hole on the side of the street.  Something about it drove him to go inside. It was an almost irresistible force which let him know that this was the place he was looking for all along.

 

He walked inside the concrete waste pipe and was swallowed in darkness the deeper he was drawn in.

He proceeded with caution, but was driven by a curiosity to find out the darkest side of the man’s whose destiny collided with his own. After all you never know what bad deeds you are going to witness, so you have to be prepared for anything.

 

The sewer was saturated in a damp film, and there was a faint scent of body odor in the air.  A bone chilling crunch was heard with every step, like walking on snails.  Carefully Leviathan pushed forward wanting to see which deeds he would discover.  To the left and the right of him he could see all of Gunns’ sinful acts.  It was like reading a visual book. Every little thing he saw described in intimate detail all the clandestine incidences most would keep hidden from the world. From greed, to gluttony, to lust, they were all there on display for him to gaze upon.

 

Leviathan looked on in dismay as bad spirits openly sat, feeding on the evil deeds of this one man. It was reminiscent of an all you can eat buffet. Little black cherubims, with ravenous hunger to feed on bad deeds.  Their gluttony was insatiable. As they fed, they multiplied and vice versa. Evil little demons feasting on misfortune and misery, constantly chatting in some incoherent language and fighting with one another for one more morsel. They begin as nothing more than babies, then quickly grow to adult size after feeding off of what buffet of sins Gunns had to offer.  The sight of this sickened Leviathan but he knew his ominous holy glow would keep him from being devoured.

 

Blinded by the darkness, Leviathan illuminated himself to get a better view of his surroundings.  This was risky, typically he did not want to kill any bad spirits feeding off a person's past sins, but he had no choice.  He had to get a better view of what was going on so he could complete his assignment.  He took another step forward and heard the devastating crunch once again.  He looked down, and to his astonishment, found that the brittle sounds grinding beneath his feet were not the waste particles he initially thought them to be.  The crunches were actually no small thing... He was stepping on the decomposing remains of spirits from past deeds. An entity greater than the ones he stood watching had been set loose, and was now feeding on the demons sabotaging the character of Mr. Joseph Gunns.

 

This cannot be good. He thought to himself.  One of the deadly sins has taken over...I must find this demon and fast before he takes over his entire soul.

 

Thus was the nature of the unseen world.  It was one many thought to be sheer cliché’ expressions; a personification of one’s inner self.  Few realized though, just how true the battle between good and evil really was.  Most of the time these two can coexist without the outward evidence of a war raging from within, but sometimes if the person commits the same sin over and over, he or she is consumed by guilt.  It is the guilt that allows this one deed to get stronger and more powerful within the spirit and, in extreme cases, it takes over the spirit as well as the body.

 

As Leviathan forged ahead, the demons partaking in the bounty of offerings began to notice his glow.  The maniacal creatures looked in awe but soon began to cower in fear when they realized who it was that shared their space. Trying their best to move out of his way, as he fearlessly moved in their direction.  They began to scatter like vermin when exposed to the light, making a clear path for him to pass by.

 

He moved beyond them, deeming them unworthy of his attention.  There was now one revealed who was more pressing to the pursuit of his purpose.  He had to find this all-consuming spirit before he weaved of permanent web of deception into Gunns’ heart.

 

The more powerful demon can manage to keep himself well hidden inside the soul.  The darkness of the waste pipe grew deeper, as he made his way further into the maze of tunnels.  The task to find him is a taxing one, and Leviathan grew weary as the search stretched on for  hours. The only sound to keep him company was the steady drip of the run-off of street water leaking from the ground above.

 

Desperate to end his search Leviathan sought guidance from one of the evil spirits cowering the corner beside him.

 

"You there,” Leviathan bellowed loudly  “Tell me where I can find the Alpha Demon.”  You know of who I speak.”  He squared his eyes so they were focused only on their target, and walked even closer to the pitiful soul.

 

The spirit gasped in fear, trembling from the realization that he had been found out.

"Who- who is this you speak of.  I know nothing.  Even if I did, why should I speak truth...I am sin... I am not worthy of truth-I know only deceit and falsehood… I-I"

 

"Speak now spirit!”  Leviathan’s voice thundered through the tunnel, the echo of the sound shaking a crack into the concrete walls. “You know the penalty for lying to me; don't you?"

 

The demon attempted to burrow himself deeper into the wall, but it was no use.  Truth was the only way out of this calamity “He-he-he is there." He pointed to the manhole covering three blocks from where Leviathan stood. "He is there," he repeated in anguish.

 

"Thank you, Leviathan turned toward the direction of where the demon’s finger pointed.  Being unfazed by the presence of evil, he kept his back to him and uttered one last statement.  “You can keep your head for your trouble." Leviathan turned once again, dismissing any further words from the spirit vermon.

 

"Wait!" The demon trembled, as he waited to see if Leviathan would respond.  "God's pet!,” he called once again, hoping the nickname would draw out a response.  “He has been feeding. You are one and he is many. He is powerful… You cannot win. Your light is weak here in the dark." There was a pregnant pause to allow his words to sink in. "You cannot win. You…"

 

"Hold your tongue foul creature!" Leviathan’s voice rumbled through the tunnel, once again causing the evil spirit to stammer back to his place against the wall.  "I am of the light. I bring GOD'S justice, mercy, and grace. I am the Order!" The ground shook and the demons around him trembled as the realization of who he truly was sank in.

 

"The..The Order... Here? Now?" I...I...”  The spirit held up both his hands in a motion to surrender. “Please don't kill me, please.  I…”

 

In an instant, Leviathan’s eyes flashed, and beams of white light shot out from them, hitting the cowering demon and splitting him into.  All that was left was a cloud of black smoke with the shape of what used to be still lingering against the wall.

 

Damned lying spirit. He thought to himself.  I hate asking one of those a question, you never know if they are telling the truth.  Is there really a powerful demon consuming evil spirits or was it all falsehood?

 

He was on guard just in case what he had been told was true. The rumbling of feet began to fill his ears, and soon the area was filled with the rest of the spirits who were dining at the banquet of sins.  Bearing witness to Leviathan’s glow, they too were enlightened to how powerful he truly was and were all too accommodating to ensure the War Angel was given plenty of room to find the place he was searching for.

 

Finally, he turned and found the tunnel’s exit, walking in the direction of where he was told. In just a few minutes he found himself standing in front of a small brick building on the North side of Brooklyn. He entered through the door without opening it, and saw a nine year old Gunns playing on the living room floor. A smile shined brightly on his face and he was entranced in a battle between the good in He-Man, and the evil schemes of Skeletor.  "You will never defeat me Skeletor!  I am He-Man the Master of the Universe," he exclaimed.

 

Leviathan sat quietly, watching the memories of Gunns’ past unfold.  He marveled at the innocence of the child who played before him. "The beauty of a child's spirit,"  he muttered softly.  "God is truly in the heart of a child."  The good vibes emitting from their abnormal experience came to an abrupt halt as the front door slammed closed.

 

BOOM! The sound ruptured in both their ears, and caused young Gunns to jump up.  He stood at attention and waited for his father to find him.  "Boy, where are you? Come here right now!"

 

A scared and confused Gunns scurried from the room, an underlying hopefulness to receive his father's warm welcome shone on his guiltless face.  He clutched his toys to his chest and approached his father’s overbearing presence; his voice filled with mock glee.

 

"What's wrong Poppa? Did you and Mom have fun at the movies?" He looked behind his dad, waiting for his mother’s image to grace the doorway.

 

The look on his father's face could have cut through stone.  His clothes were jostled about, his palms and face were sweating profusely.  A small speckle of blood slowly drew a path down the sharp curves of his face. Gunns watched the blood drop until it splattered onto his father’s white button down shirt, and made a crimson stain on the pocket.

 

"Your mother...Your mother...Your mother is…”  His father stumbled over his words, trying to find the right way to say them.  “Your mother has decided she no longer wants to be here with us son. Mom is  gone.”  He watched his son’s reaction.  The young boy’s face gave away the turmoil which suddenly started to churn on the inside.

 

"No Daddy,"  Gunns exclaimed " That can't be true..."  tears welled in his eyes, and a look of hopelessness shown on his face.  "She can't leave us! She can’t." His words were an empty demand that fell on deaf ears.  His father was lost in his own world; seemingly caught up in an occurrence in which he was reluctant to share.

 

"She can, and she did son."  The father finally spoke up after many moments of agonizing silence. "She’s gone, and there is nothing we can do about it."  "My sweet Margaret…” The words of endearment lingered in the air like a heavy blanket, covering this moment of sorrow shared between father and son.

 

Leviathan watched as the pair stood together in silence.  Gunns continued to cry softly, and just as he was making a move to lean into his dad for comfort, the father seemed to instantaneously transform from a loving parent into a malevolent beast. His tongue began to spew a firestorm of maliciousness which shot from his mouth like a bullet.  His innocent son, who stood waiting for his consolation was his helpless target.

 

"My Margaret loved me before you came along!" He looked down at his son’s wounded face, and was not fazed by the tears he saw there. "We were happy, we were free." Gunns’ father moved in close enough to make him even more uncomfortable than his sudden change in demeanor.  He glare was that of a man ready to go to battle "You!" He pointed down into the face of the helpless child. "You, did this." His accusatory words were salt in a freshly opened wound.  "You took my Margaret from me!"

 

The younger Gunns stood stalk still, caught up in the shock of the moment. Before he knew it, his father’s hands, the ones which were supposed to serve as protection for his innocent life, were wrapped around his throat. He could feel the imprints of his father’s fingers rising to the surface as the pain began to envelop his whole body.

 

Just as the light in his eyes was about to flicker out, it all stopped.  As quickly as his father had transformed into a ravenous monster choking the life out of him, he changed back into the loving father was accustomed to.

 

Gunns could visibly see a cold shiver running up his father’s spine.  The horror of what had just taken place gripped him as the reality of his actions had become clear.  His hands trembled as he slowly removed them from around the young boy’s neck. He kept his eyes on the floor, no longer able to look into the irreproachable mirrors of his younger self.  He could feel the accusations being shot from those eyes, and he wasn’t prepared for the weight of the pressure.

 

Though he was wracked with guilt, Gunns’ father could not help thinking that if it wasn’t for the young boy,  he could have had her all to himself.  If it were not for him, they would not have had to sacrifice so much of their money so he could live a better life than they did growing up. If it were not for him… He had to put a restraint on his senses though. They were starting to wander into dangerous territory.

 

For right now, his son was all he had.  He needed to show him that he could be trusted again.  Without his trust, there would be no way he could use him to accomplish what he planned.  There was only one way he knew that; the same way he had been taught by his own father. His trust had to come from a place rooted in fear, and shaped by intimidation. This was the only way he could see regaining his son’s respect.

 

Love between the both of them seemed irrational and irresponsible at this point.  It would have to pushed aside to make way for more effective emotions.  He had tried the love thing, and it had led him to a world full of pain. Love inspires freedom and freedom leads to loss.  To impose fear on such an impressionable mind would guarantee that his son will never leave him like his wife did.

 

Gunn’s father now knew what had to be done and focused on the task at hand,  The father grabs his son in a seemingly warm embrace.  Gunn’s head pressed into his chest, and with tears rolling down his eyes says in a whisper, "Remember son you are born from nothing and you will always be nothing. Just like your father."

 

The young Gunns could hear the steady pounding of his father’s turbulent heart.  It beat the broken tune of a man who felt he had nothing else left, and although; just moments before, young Gunns’ life had been threatened by him, soon his heart beat too matched that of his father’s.

 

A rush of guilt flooded through the man whose job it was to protect the younger Gunns,, filling his mind to the brim.  The only explanation for his mother’s disappearance, and his father’s swinging mood had to be something he did.  But what was it?

 

“Daddy,” Gunns spoke up with a weak voice, breaking the deafening silence between the two.  “I’m so sorry. “ These were the words left floating in the dead air. His father would not entertain his guilt with a response, though he wanted so desperately for him to.  He needed his Dad to ease the pangs of condemnation’s sting, but there was something unseen weighting down the man who Gunns once thought of as the most powerful one in the world.  

 

He made an attempt to hand off his precious toy; a peace offering. He lifted up the He-Man toy he had been haplessly hanging on to. The father looked down at the toy, and for a moment, saw the pure innocence in the child he shared with his absent wife.  There was no love lost, no harsh accusations to cover up his trespasses, all of the affection he once felt for his son came rushing back as he stared into the indigo pools of his eyes. Tears pooled there, fighting not to spill over. But the intimate moment would only last a short while, as the rage of accusations began to bubble up inside him again.  

 

He looked down at the “peace offering,” taking in into his hand, attempting to squeeze life from it like he had his own son.  The gesture was not enough.  Suddenly, the toy went rushing from his hand, hitting the floor with a thud.  His foot came down and crushed his son’s most prized possession into broken pieces; a reflection of the way he felt. He would not be the weak man he once was.  It had not worked well for him, nor his family.  

He would not make the same mistake. He violently grabs Gunns by both arms and shakes him as to remove the foolish emotions of love and compassion from him.  Then leaning in he whispered in his ear.

 

“ Silly child there are no heros in this cold dark world  " It's just you and me son. Those were his father’s final words to him.  They seemed to echo their way through the room, and pierce young Gunns’ heart.

 

As the tears flowed down the broken spirit who was now just a fraction of the gleeful boy who was playing with his toys just a few moments ago, it all became clear to Leviathan. This was why he worked so hard to pursue the fantasy in worldly glorification, and adopted the mentality of  ‘kill or be killed.’  

 

“This was the moment I have been searching for.” Leviathan whispered to himself.  It was the moment everything changed; the moment where innocence and blind faith had been lost. This when the outcome on Gunns’ destiny had been shifted.

 

“ I  know now what I must do.” Leviathan continued, “ I must call out the darkness and bring it into the light”  His mission was clear.  The pieces were set.
















 

The Angel and the Lion

 

Leviathan cried out boldy  “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”.  Instantly, the hue of his broadsword  flashed a bright yellow light so full that it illuminated the entire house.  The memory he was encapsulated in was drawn back to and emptiness that took it’s place.  Everything was gone, the house, Gunns, his father, nothing remained except space and time.

 

Something or someone stepped out  into the light revealing itself from out of the darkness.  "Pretty, pretty light. Very, very bright. Pretty, pretty Light. Must see this sight." It’s menacing red eyes glowed with the light of the sword, as it was overcome by its radiance.  This was no man or beast who approached, this was something else entirely. It had a head of lion mixed with a body of a human; and not just and human. It’s frame resembled that of Michelangelo's David with sleek curves and chiseled features.  A crown of gold rested on top of it’s full mane, tilted ever so slightly to the left of it’s head.  It had an elongated chin, and long sharp fangs that hung out his mouth as he grimaced.  It’s entire body and face appeared to infused with gold, like King Midas, except this King seemed to have no remorse for his folly.  It was no surprise that the gold gleaming light was alluring to him.  It  had long, razor sharp claws on both it’s hands and feet. It had a long tail attached to it’s buttock but no female or male reproductive organs.

 

Leviathan had seen this one before “ Pride”  “We meet again”  the demon had fallen right into his trap.

 

The two of them stood, squaring off against each other; both ready for the battle ahead. The dark spirit stood even taller than Leviathan, with eyes the color of the reddest fire.  

 

The demon spoke in  menacing and terrible tone "Angel angel can't you see, this pitiful  putrid soul belongs to me.  Go away, go away, but the glorious gold light can stay.”

 

Leviathan studied the slashes on the surface of the demon’s face.  They were markings to signify his familiarity with war, but standing out as a staunch contrast to the ugly battle markings, was a crown which sat on top of his ragged mane. It was golden, and shined like the light in Leviathan’s sword. Laced into the circlet were diamonds that would put The Hope Diamond to shame.  There were five in total, and each one spoke volumes about how much this demon thought of himself.

 

"Do not speak your nonsense to me demon," exclaimed Leviathan.  "You are boastful, you are the bragard. You are the lions sin." Leviathan took a step forward, taking a bold stance against the demon’s presence.

 

Pride spoke again "True, true all is true. You know me, but I don't know you."

 

"You may not know me, beast"  " But you do know my kind. I am one of the 13. I am a part of the Everlasting Order.”

 

The prideful smile on the demon’s face was quickly turned to an evil snarl.  It thought to itself “ The chances of facing an Angel of the Order were greater than winning the lottery.  There were only 13 of them; 13 anointed soldiers of GOD’s army.  Each one with there own unique skills and weapons.  Each one as deadly as the rest….expect Absolution.  A long chill rolled down it’s spine when that name entered his thoughts.  Nothing it could have done could warrant what demon’s referred to as “Demons Bain” to be here.  No way it could be that unlucky.

 

Pride shook the terror from its mind and questioned "The Order?  Here, inside such a weak soul? His spirit is failing, his faith too old. He cannot be saved.  Many have tried.  He shall be consumed by the lion.  He will be  overtaken by pride."

 

Leviathan fired back "You dare stand in the way of  God’s will? You forsaken beast. Try you might, but you will most certainly fail."

 

Pride answered defiantly  "Never never would I  make that mistake"  "But God is not here, He sent you in his place." “Try if you must, and try you will”  “Pride will not fall” “It is the Order we will kill”

 

Pride let out a mighty roar which shook the ground they stood on.  Leviathan was dazed by the vibrations of the hellacious overture and covered his ears dropping his sword in the process.  

 

As the roar subsided, Leviathan quickly picked up his sword and regained his poise ready for the fight that loomed ahead, but nothing could prepare him for the events to come.

 

The ground began to rumble again, this time not from Pride’s roars, but from the pitter patter from thousands of little feet that began file in behind it.  Leviathan had underestimated the dire situation he was in as all of the dark spirits, the same ones, that were feasting on Gunns bad deeds were now standing side by side with Pride ready to fight with him. Leviathan knew there was no way out now, this would be a fight to the death.

 

It all happened in an instant.  The Lion and the Angel plunged into the battle head on ,each one dealing critical blows to one another.  Prides movements and attacks were as  graceful as a bullfighter, choreographed like a cirque du soleil  show.  It’s fearsome claws drove deep  into Leviathan’s spirit body. Leviathan's attacks were methodical, calculated, and strong driving Pride back with every mighty slash of his greatsword.

 

The battle raged on and on, neither one gaining much of a real advantage against the other .  Every time Leviathan would gain the upper hand, Pride’s little demon minions would come to his aid; and every time Pride would start to get the best of Leviathan, the Angel would emit pure white light from his spirit to keep the demon blind and confused.

 

Over time, the injuries suffered by both deities took it’s toll.  Leviathan’s spirit dimmed from a pure white to dingy gray, the impact of evil introduced into his spirit body.  Pride’s illustrious gold color faded as well, it’s left arm had been removed from his body along with a deep gash across it’s chest.  Pride’s stamina was waning, the battle had been won.

 

“It’s over”  Leviathan exclaimed, tired and gasping for air “Relinquish your claim to this soul”  “You have lost once again Pride” “Darkness, can never defeat the light”

 

The demon was one knee now, his gold body faded and bleeding some type of grey substance. His crown cracked, one eye shut, and one hand fully declawed from a mighty blow of Leviathan’s sword.  It knew the end was near, it knew it was overmatched, but it was Pride and this spirit could never back down no matter what the odds.

 

The look of desperation and fear overtook it.  What can I do? How can I win? It thought.  In a flash, it came to him and belted out another roar that shook the very being of Levithan.

In an instant, the remaining demon spirits began to climb up Pride’s back and chest.  They looked like an army of ant’s ready to serve their queen as trotted into his mouth.  Pride opened wide as they piled into his stomach and bowels.  It was gorging on evil spirits, trying not to regurgitate as they crammed down his throat.

 

Leviathan looked on in disgust, as the demons’ belly grew to the point of bursting. Was this his plan?  To kill himself instead of fleeing? He thought to himself.

 

The deed was done. No other spirits remained.  It was just Leviathan and the now severely overweight demon, who looked nothing like the adonis he once faced.  Pride braced itself and stood up, belly hanging down to his knees.  That familiar menacing grin back on his face.  It was up to something Leviathan thought  but what

 

The grin quickly turned to an agonizing cry for help. Pride was suffering immensely from something, but what was it. Suddenly it’s plan came to fruition, the missing arm that Leviathan had so gruesomely chopped off  had grown back. It’s chest had been healed as well, it was like new again except for dimmed color and the missing claws on it’s right hand.

 

Leviathan moved in defense quickly as the Lion went on attack.  He was exhausted, the weight of his broadsword, and injuries from battle left him slow and sluggish.  He slashed at the Pride demon but missed terribly.  Pride took advantage and plunged his fangs deep into Leviathan’s neck.  The darkness seeped into Leviathian’s spirit body.  Only a small portion of his body gleamed white now, his strength almost certainly spent, anguish present on his face, this was a devastating blow.

 

Relentless,  Leviathan picked up the beast and slammed it hard into the ground.  He could not lose this fight.  He had to complete his mission at all cost.  He knew now that Pride would not submit as well.  I mean how could he?  Leviathan thought  “It’s vanity would not let it?  “There was no way…”

 

It all became clear, Leviathan called out to the Beast as it was preparing for another attack “Pride Demon” “I say your name” “Are you not boastful” “Are you not vain”

 

Pride was compelled to answer him “My Name, My Name”  “ You called my Name”  “I am Boastful” “I am Vain”

 

“Are you certain?”  “Is that plain?”  Leviathan spoke “You are flawed. You are not the same.  Your claws is missing.  How can that be?  You are perfect  You are Vanity”

 

Surprised by Leviathan’s response to mock him, Pride took a few steps back and examined the hand that was declawed.  Disbelief and confusion overtook the demon as it tried to come to grips with it’s imperfection.  Pride began to moan uncontrollably twisting it’s body back and forth in some hopes of figuring out the riddle put before it.  How could something be  imperfect  and perfect at the same time?  The thought consumed it, it no more desire to fight, to kill, to maim, only to time to look at his imperfection in hopes that it would magically grow back.

 

Leviathan wasted no time taking advantage of the Lions current state of confusion, picked up his broadsword and with his last ounce of strength struck the demon’s head in one smooth strike. "Ahhyeee" Lion head was removed from the demons body and crashed to the ground with a resounding thud. Pride had been slain.

 

It was finally over,  Pride’s head rolled on the ground, its red eyes still glowing.  Leviathan had won, but he knew the price of his victory was great.  He was also dying, but he had one last thing to do before, he had to complete his task.

Dizzy, Leviathan looked down at his wounds in dismay.  Time was short.  His spirit was fading.  

 

Like pieces in a puzzle, time and space resumed and the once battleground for Gunn’s soul returned to the small brownstone apartment where the 8 year old Gunns lay sobbing in the corner unaware of what had just taken place.

Now was his chance. Gunns was alone.  He would not get another opportunity. As steps turned into a slow crawl Leviathan would not be denied his chance to complete his mission.  The darkness had almost overtaken him now, only a glimpse of light remained.  With his last breath he whispered into the ear of the adolescent Gunns.  The frightened and confused youth listened intensely to what was nothing more than a small still voice in his ear, totally oblivious to the large angel total consumed by darkness and dying in a heap on the ground.

Gunns stopped sobbing, got up off his knees,  wiped his tears and entered his father's room.

His dad stood staggering in his stupor, even inebriated, he was surprised at how accepting his son was.  After all the things he had said to him, he still wanted a connection with his father.  Yet, there was something different about him, though he couldn’t put his finger on it. There was something behind the daring way his son entered his room. His whole countenance was different, and this just served to further puzzle him.  

A resilient Gunns stood in front his father, a  man who’d choked him until he was a last breath away from death, and had belittled him to the point of brokenness.  It was as if they were meeting man-to-man.  Gunns was no longer the timid little person who could be cast away into seclusion by his father’s negligent words.  Nor would he be taken down with his substandard treatment.  He would use each defective treatment he received as ammunition to become stronger.

"My son!" "My son" "I am so sorry" "I know it was not your fault" "I love you" " I love you"

A night of long conversations and bonding with each other ended in a long loving embrace.  

 

" Son after the awful things I told how did YOU know that I still loved you"  Gunn’s Dad questioned

" I didn’t know dad" Gunns said lovingly  "GOD told me"

 

 

The Righteous Path

 

"Die... Die!"  The words echoed through the air, with each syllable hitting Gunns' ears like a thunderstorm of rocks. He was caught in the fog between reality and a dream, yet he could no longer distinguish the difference between the two. Somehow, he seemed to be floating.  His arms and legs swung through the air as he struggled to gain control of his composure.  One minute he was fighting, and the next he was being sucked into a time warp which took him back into the world he knew.

 

He sucked in enough air to fill his lungs to capacity, and sat up with a start.  “Where is he? Where am I?”  He questioned himself out loud.

 

Gunns was exhausted and disoriented; still left to wonder if this was all a bad dream.  The last thing he remembered was running towards an old Chinese vagabond wearing a sun hat. The moment felt familiar, but at the same time, felt like an abstract of his imagination.

 

Blood gushed from the wound on his head; so-much-so, his thoughts struggled to come together clearly.  As they swirled relentlessly, he pulled a sweaty rag from his pocket and pressed it against the wound to stop the blood from spilling.  When he did this, he began to hear noises that sounded familiar coming at him from a distance.

 

He pulled himself up more to a complete sitting position, and looked around to find the source of the noise.  He could hear the voices of men.  The sounds of concern evident in their tone. He turned toward the direction of where the voices were coming from, and was hit in the face by the glare of the full moon..  The gleam seemed so powerful, his mind began to spin yet again.  An all-encompassing darkness seemed to welcome him into its arms.  He decided to rest there in that darkness for a while.  His bones would only allow for so much effort.  They were wearied, and needed to rest in order to continue on.  

 

An eternity of moments seemed to pass by before he was awaken. D’Money and the Terminator stood on both sides of him, holding up his limp feeble body, and calling out to him for a response.

 

"Gunns?! Wake up… You okay man?  Wake up!  What’s wrong?  Tell us so we can help you.”  They continued to plead as they watched his eyes, with the dimness of a dead man’s glare, roll up into the back of his head.

 

“What happened to me?”  Was all he could say after the excruciating moments of silence.

 

"Dude, you don't know?  You are on top of the Wall.  We found you lying next to this old dead Chinese bum." D’ Money said. Each man looked over at the decrepit corpse lying only a few feet away.

 

"Yeah" "This guy must have went all Karate Kid on you Mr. Miyagi style." The two men kneeling beside Gunns shared a weak laugh in an effort to lighten the mood.  “You are getting weak in your old age, Cap." Terminator continued.

 

Gunns attempted to laugh along with his men, but the pain was two great for even a smile to crack past its barriers. Besides that, he was still trying to put together how he had gotten himself in this position in the first place.  His mind raced through the past twenty-four hours, each one seeming to stretch out for decades instead of sixty minutes. In a flash, it all came back to him. He was running to find the shadows and then had tripped on man who appeared from out of nowhere. A cold shiver ran up his spine at the thought of their encounter. He didn't know why or how, but he knew there was something more about this man that he just couldn’t put his finger on.  

 

In the middle of his thoughts he could feel the hands of his team surrounding him.  They were moving him to a standing position, with the hook of his arms around both Terminator’s and D’Money’s necks.  The strength had yet to fully return to his legs, though he tried with all his might to stand on his own.  He was never one to be dependent on another person for help, and he fought against his stubborn pride to accept it, but in this instance he had no other choice.

 

As they began to turn away, the time it took for them to move in the direction of the tower seemed to go in slow motion.  For Gunns, this was excruciating.  For as much as he wanted to be here in the first place, he now wanted nothing more to do with this nightmare of a barrier which kept him from achieving his goal.  He suddenly couldn’t get to it fast enough, and if he had the ability, he would just jump up and fly over to the tower. "Just-Just get me away from this guy" Gunns said with a sense of urgency, as they pressed against his back to evenly shift his weight.

 

"Yeah, you know dead guys are real dangerous out here," Terminator replied, still snickering to himself.  He straightened his face quickly after gauging the seriousness in Gunn’s expression.

 

Gunns had enough and was in no joking mood. "Man, shut the hell up and get me to the tower now!"  "That's an order!”

 

"Sorry boss. I was just trying to lighten the mood a little bit.” Terminator said with a sullen look on his face. "You know we got your back." He turned and looked up in the direction of where they were now all headed.  " Now let's go find these shadows."

 

"How did you guys find me in the first place?" Gunns questioned, remembering that he had come up the concrete mountain alone.  "Didn't I tell you to get the hell out of here? Who is protecting the President?” He was shooting off the questions so fast he had to pause to catch his breath.

 

"We heard the gunshots and came looking for you.” D’ Money said. “Don't worry about the president, the rest of the crew followed him to the hospital. They took the Jeep, while we stayed back to make sure you made it okay."

 

"Okay…" Gunns responded, unmoved by their loyalty and dedication to his survival.  “But who is securing the vehicle? You know we never found Don Juan’s crew" "They could be.."

 

"Relax, Cap" Terminator cut in before he could finish. "Ain't nothing going to happen to the HummV.  Don Juan’s little henchmen know not to mess with the Wrecking Crew. Not after all the hell we have caused them."

 

Terminator is a fool but he may have a point, Gunns thought to himself.  Years of countless raids in Mexico have caused the notorious cartel to steer clear of us.  We have killed so many of his guys that I have lost count. However; the cartel is relentless and will stop at nothing.

 

Gunns thoughts were interrupted when he saw two figures running in the corner of his eye.  He had been out for long he almost forgot the reason he was up here in the first place.  The figures moving in the darkness reminded him of his quest.  Could this be it? He wondered to himself.  Have I finally found a member of the Shadows?

 

As the figures started to move in the opposite direction, he shouted out orders to his men to stop them. "Get them boys!  Now!" Without hesitation Terminator released his hold on him and started heading in the direction of their targets.  D’Money hesitated, worried about Gunns’ condition.

 

"But what about you boss?" He asked with a voice full of concern.  "You are in no condition to fight."

 

"Leave me here!" Gunns commanded.  "I will be fine.”  He ripped his arm out of D’Money’s grip and used all his might to stand on his own. "Get them and bring them to me!"

 

"But Boss, you can barely stand." D’Money stammered back at the force of Gunns’ release.  He was surprised at the amount of strength the man was still able to conjure even after all he’d been through.

 

"Nothing matters except capturing them.  My reputation-  Uh,  I mean OUR reputation is on the line. Do your job, soldier!" He commanded once again.

 

"Yes sir." D’Money relented. “Whatever you say.” He hesitated before he turned, then was off in a flash, pressing against the pavement to catch up with the Terminator.

 

“Don’t come back without them!  And don’t kill them either!”  Gunns shouted after them both. He stood by and watched as long as he could, before his strength failed him and he had to find a spot against the wall to rest.

 

The time waiting for his friends to return gave Gunns uninterrupted time to think.  There was something important about the man he encountered in the middle of the Wall, and the reason he was tripped up by him had some significance too.  He began to think that it wasn’t just some random mishap.  There was a purpose to the encounter, and he was determined to find out what that was.

 

What was it that the old man had said to him?  He wondered.  And why did he feel the need to kill him? There were too many unanswered questions, but one mission he knew for sure must be accomplished.

 

“I’m too close to give up now.  I’ve come too far to do it. Everything I’ve done has led me to this.”  He said it out loud as if the air around him would respond.  As the silence drowned out all the noise from his pain, he began to look as though he’d received an answer in the wind. Suddenly he remembered the feeling of being lost.  The dread he had after killing the little girl in the picture’s father.  There was no way he was the hero he’d set out to be after that.  He had become so self-absorbed, he’d failed to see the bigger picture of where his actions could lead.  This must be the reason why he’d encountered the man in the middle of his journey.  His presence was a road block which had tripped him up, and for a while, kept him from reaching his destiny. It was in this way of thinking that he had found the purpose in the dead Chinaman’s appearance.

 

The feeling of guilt and remorse overtook him.  He chased these characters who called themselves the Shadows like they were monsters, but the true monster had been with him all along.  The monster was well hidden in a camouflage that would fool even the keenest eye.  He lurked in broad daylight without even being seen, an all-consuming champion of disguise.  Gunns had done a good job of disguising it but ,the real monster faced him every morning he woke up and looked in the mirror. Too many innocent lives taken, too many bad decisions made, so many sins he’d lost count.

 

Gunns took both fist and pounded them against his face, ignoring the pain and giving into the flush of guilt racking his body. There was no turning back on how far he’d come. He could only allow the past to hold what he’d done in its unforgiving hands, while he tried his best to put as much distance between the memory of it and now.  It was the only lifeline he could grip which kept him from being driven into the bottomless pit of insanity.

 

He thought of the little girl’s face once again. By now, the smile he saw spread across her lips in the picture, was probably long gone, and replaced with the endless sulk of mourning.  His heart sank as he thought of the little girl he’d never have.  He could picture how precious their relationship might have been; how she would look up to him and he would have nothing more to prove because to her, he would already be a hero. He pictured his little girl’s smile, one which matched his own, with eyes the color of amber, and so deep you could dive right in for a swim.

 

A voice was calling out to him.  One he could imagine was his daughter’s. “Daddy,” she was saying; over and over again as if in a cry for help.  He wanted to go to her; to rescue her from whatever had her calling to him so urgently, but the little girl who once seemed to be right by his side, was suddenly unreachable.  The sound of her calling to him rang in his ears until he could no longer take it.  He was helpless to save her, and this was a position he had never known before. His heart wrenched with self-condemnation.  A father was supposed to be there for his daughter. He had a duty to protect her from everything bad this wretched life had to offer, but the little girl was behold his realm of reach.

 

Suddenly, he was driven back into the present.

 

"Boss?”

 

"What?”  He looked around frantically searching, but for what, he didn’t know. "Yes-yes, I’m  okay. Did you find them? Did you bring them to me?” Gunns asked, gathering his composure enough to not sound as crazy as he felt.

 

"I told you, we got your back, Cap" said Terminator  replied as he dumped the two fugitives of justice in front of him.  They trembled in anticipation of their fate. "Besides, I like to hunt more than you do. These bastards were tough to catch, but we got em." He continued, ruffing the collars of both the captives.

 

"Good job as always, boys,"  said Gunns. "The Wrecking Crew strikes again.” His smile was weak, but at the moment, was all he could manage. “Now remove their masks, and let's see what we are dealing with."

 

The mask were swiftly snatched from the faces of the two prisoners, and the sight of the Shadow members outside of their scary clown facial coverings was a disappointment to Gunns. These were just regular everyday people. Ordinary. Nothing about them stood out.  Insignificant and boring even.

 

" You will never get any information out of us.” The woman spoke up boldly.  "We will die for our cause." She trembled as the words fell from her lips.

 

Terminator immediately slapped her  hard across the face with the back of his hand. "Shut up! You speak when spoken to.  Do you hear me?  Not one word unless we tell you to say it.”

 

He stood over her like a tyrant, reprimanding a traitor, and ready to strike at any moment. Her eyes turned hard, and in them you could read her blatant defiance. The female captive looked into his angry face without flinching when he coiled his hand back once again, opened her mouth, and met his threatening presence with a full serving of the crimson liquid he’d drawn from her lips.

 

"Oh, Okay" Terminator said with a startled look on his face. " This bitch has to die".  Enraged Terminator  reached  down toward her neck, intent on snapping it in half.

 

A resurgent Gunns stepped in and caught him by the arm.  "Stop it now or be stopped.  Do you really want to piss me off?" “I am impressed with the young woman’s gall”

 

 

Terminator drew in a sharp breath, and blew it out in a huff, looking over at the girl with fire in his eyes. “No sir.”  as he reluctantly submitted to the command.

 

"Now stay over there, while I question these guys" said Gunns pointing to an area away from where the captives kneeled.

 

"Sorry about that"  "My friend has no manners" Gunns walked up to the captives kneeled. "Allow me to introduce myself.”Before he could get the next words out of his mouth the  male captive  interrupted him.

 

"I don't care who YOU are. You are one and WE are many.  We are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. We are the face of justice. We fight for freedom, true freedom. What do you fight for? Serving a President who only cares for the rich and powerful. Denying people an opportunity for a better life.  Fighting for an establishment that had held back the poor and different for generations. You make me sick. You’re no  hero.” At the end of his speech, the male captive took his turn and spat in Gunns’ face.

 

Instead of reacting, Gunns fell into a stunned silence. The Words that the captive had spoken hit him like a ton of bricks.  It was as if his whole life was playing out in front of him, and he was so wrapped up in the thoughts that he didn’t even take notice to the slimy bodily fluid as it made a trail down his face, fell and then fizzled on the cold surface beneath his feet.

 

He was taken back to a time when he was young.  His father had just come home and told him that his mother was never coming back.  He remembered how heartbroken he was to know that she had left him behind with a man who didn’t have the capacity to love him the way he needed to be at that age, but his father was all he had.  He clung to him,  a man who said that there were no more heroes. The words of the man kneeled down in front of him echoed those of his father’s, and he was heartbroken all over again.


 

."What?"Gunns said silently. " Why did he say that?" "Why did he say that".

 

Gunns’ father’s words replayed themselves until the noise was  almost deafening.  "There are no more heros".

 

Gunns tried to drown out the voice in  his head but he couldn’t.  He started pacing frantically in a circle with his hands on his ears  shaking his head back and forth. " Stop it! Stop it! Stop it please! Make it stop!" Everyone present, including the captives, looked at him with stunned faces.  They were sure he was losing his mind.

 

BANG.  The sound came suddenly, and disrupted everything.  Gunns insane plea for help was answered, but not in the way he expected. The loud noise had calmed the stirring in his mind long enough to see the reality of what just happened.

 

The once proud prisoner was now hunched over; lifeless. His brain had been blown out, and you could see the dimmed light in the sky through the hole in his head.

 

"Wait! Why?" exclaimed Gunns.

 

"Yo, you told us to make it stop so I did.  That guy was getting on my nerves anyway, and we don't need TWO hostages right?" said D’Money, who was calm and remorseless. To him taking a life was routine. "I am worried about you boss. You are acting like a lunatic out here.  It's embarrassing.” He stood back and watched him for a response.  " Maybe I should question the girl."

 

"No,” shouted Gunns. "I am okay, just a long day. I got this, stand down."

 

"Whatever, man, D’Money stated dismissively. "Just hurry so we can go home.” D’Money walked over to join Terminator, who was standing just far enough to make Gunns feel like he had his needed space.  The scouls on each of their faces mirrored the other.  Both were becoming increasingly impatient with Gunns and his insistence to be in control; not to mention his steady progression into the loss of reality.  

 

Gunns could see from the side of  his eye, the two of  them speaking together, with hushed words.  He didn’t have a clue what they were saying, and why they chose not to share it with him, but for now, there were more important matters at hand.

 

"Why?" cried the girl captive.  She weeped helplessly over her fallen friend. Her face was decorated in blood splatter and tiny particles of brain matter.  "He never did anything to anybody?"

 

Terminator, who had been watching to see if Gunns would finally come out of his stupor and respond to the belligerent woman, had had enough.  His short temper would no longer allow him to stand idly by and watch this thing spiral out of control.  He walked back over to where Gunns still stood frozen, next to the weeping woman, and the dead man whose body was no longer fully erect on his knees, but rather half leaning toward the ground. Ignoring the look on Gunns’ face as he passed him up, and rolling his eyes in disgust, he went over to the captive, her cries sounding more like nails on a chalkboard instead or someone in mourning, and addressed her again.  

 

"Shut up  bitch!” He said, still fuming over her show of disrespect.”

 

"I said be quiet Terminator. Let me handle this!"  Gunns interjected weakly..

 

“Oh really?  Then show me Cap. Show me how you can handle it then.  Get her  to talk!” a  defiant Terminator said, fed up with the delay in the process of getting rid of the captives once and for all.

 

"Are you questioning my authority, soldier?” Gunns asked.  There was hurt behind the anger in his voice.

 

D’Money stepped in to answer.  "Yes, Cap we are.” They both squared off against the man who they had looked up to their whole career.  The one whom they had never before questioned, but were now willing to risk their livelihood and friendship for the sake of duty. "You are not yourself. Prove to us that you’re still here to finish this mission. Get her to talk,Cap." He said the words, but there was no depth of loyalty in his voice; no belief that the man he’d admired for so many years would follow through on his world.

 

Gunns swallowed the words which threatened to spill from his lips.  He couldn’t believe the gall of  the two men whom he had trusted with his life. He felt cornered and rushed.  Everything seemed to move faster than he had the capacity to control. He wanted to push forward, but couldn’t find the strength to do so. The sweat in the palm of his hands began to feel sticky. The pounding in his chest beat a rhythm of his fear.  It was so loud that he had no other choice to respond to it, rather than the two men waiting to hear what he had to say next.

 

He managed to cover his fear outwardly, walking over to the girl, and grabbing hold to her ponytail, pulling it back with more force than was necessary." Tell me what you know,  or I will finish what my associate started."  He commanded, waiting for her to say something.  When she still chose not to respond he repeated himself, almost pleading this time for her to comply.

 

After watching her partner being gunned down so mercilessly, the woman visibly shaken. She tried to cling to every last bit of her dignity, but she could feel it slowly fading. She almost gave in to the men’s commands, but remembered her vow to be true to the cause. Reinvigorated by the promise she made to herself and the Shadows, she pulled from every bit of strength she had left and murmured what she expected to be her last words.  "I will never talk. You will have to kill me first." She held her chin up, and straightened her back, an action which punctuated her words.

 

"Damn. " A surprised Terminator spoke up.  This time with admiration in his voice. “ This bitch is tough.”  He looked down at her and smiled, suddenly turned on by her bold mannerisms. “ Do you have boyfriend honey?"

 

"Calm down, T." D’Money walked over and punched him lightly on the shoulder. “ Alright Cap,” he  turned to Gunns and said. “ Lets just take her back with us.  Then we can test and see how tough she really is.” He snapped his fingers together as if an idea had just hit him out of the blue. “I think I’ve got some torture tools back in the Hum V.  Lets see how quiet she is when we cut off a few fingers.”  He and Terminator laughed as though they had been told the funniest joke in the world.

 

Gunns was reluctant but he knew D’Money was right.  She was not going to break easily. He felt that he had no other choice but to go along with what the two men had planned.  There was a definite loss of respect for his authority in the air, and right now he was in no position to challenge it.

 

The desperate woman  looked Gunns in the eye, even as he grabbed a tighter hold to her ponytail.  "Save me,” she said.  "You don't have to do this. Please, let me go. Save me.”

 

In a rush of emotions, Gunns finally has a moment of clarity.  No longer would he do what others wanted him to do. He could not be a slave any more, not even to his own selfish ambitions.  He suddenly longed for the innocence of the young boy he once was.  The one who thought the world was full of promise, and wanted to do his part in making it a better place for everyone.  Back then, he thought everyone meant all people at once. A task which seemed really big, but not impossible. He now realized that saving the world didn’t have to mean saving everyone at the same time; it could start with just one. He could be the hero his father said never existed, and it could all start by saving one person at a time.  It could all start by saving the desperate woman pleading for her freedom in front of him. Even if it meant he would lose his position; maybe his life as well, he felt compelled to do all he could to become the hero he craved to be. This time though, he would be selfless in his efforts.

 

The gun in the shaft at his side seemed to speak up.  It was calling to him.  He answered the call in an instant that was quicker than his mind could keep up with.  His body went into defense mode.  This time, it was against the two men he’d worked side-by-side with for many years.

 

Terminator and D’Money were seasoned warriors, so he knew, as he pointed his gun at them, what he was up against. There was no turning back now.  His mind was made up. He clicked off the safety, and then seemed to float out of his body, just above himself, to watch the scene play out. He told  his stunned teammates to get on the ground and put their hands where he could see them as he approached cautiously, still holding onto the girl. .He was terrified of what his actions would cause, but the feeling of doing what is right was too strong. Gunns continued to hold onto the captive until he had kicked both men’s guns, lying on the ground next them, a safe distance away.  Then he released her, telling her to get as far away as she could.

 

She did as she was told, quickly untangling her wrist free of the ropes which bound them. As the last piece of rope fell away and  his former captive disappeared in the distance, Gunns felt truly humbled by the opportunity to do the right thing for a change. For the first time since he was a boy,  he felt truly free.  

 

The broken pieces in his life seemed to be in the initial phases of coming together. He would keep watch until she was safely out of sight, then turned his attention back to his former comrades still lying on the ground.

 

"So this how it ends for us huh boss?" D’Money spoke up.  The fire in his voice pierced the air between them.  "What do you plan on doing with that gun, shoot me?  What about all the times I saved your life? You’d be dead without me." He allowed for a pregnant pause between his statements to punctuate his words.  "We followed your lead without question. We were loyal to you and this is how you repay our loyalty.” He fought against the strain in his neck to turn his head and look Gunns straight in his eyes. “If we have no morals it is because you made us this way" "You said we would be rich and famous.  All we had to do was follow you. Then when we are moments away from achieving our goal, you turn on us. We’re your boys man; like family.”  The hurt in his eyes was reflected in each word he spoke. “Just kill me and get it over with." His head fell back to the ground, a physical sign that he was prepared to surrender.

 

"You are right," said Gunns solemnly.  I am to blame.” Gunns’ head hung low as well.  He glanced over at his men, both seemingly ready to give in and allow him to shoot them.  The sweat from his brown dangled, just above his eye lid; feeling heavier than it should have been.  Everything in his life seemed to bear a burdensome weight. Outside of setting the woman free, what else had he done right?  Now he was about to do the unthinkable.

 

He looked down at the vile weapon he held in his hand.  It began to move and turn itself toward whom he thought was the real enemy. His own hands were betraying him.  He watched the barrel move closer and closer to his left temple.  The voices in his head all fought for the chance to be the first at telling him to pull the trigger. Each nerve ending in his finger took hold of the grip, causing the firearm to shake against his skin. The sweat from his brow filled with moisture, and dangled heavy enough to mix with the stream of his tears. He could taste their saltiness, a bittersweet comfort against the heat of the moment.

 

"Thank you for your service,” he finally said, giving into to the only voice of reason inside his head.

 


 

 

Retribution

 

Gunn’s knew when the gun left his hand that it would possibly be his end. A  sacred rule had been broken. He had turned on the very men who had been responsible for saving his life many times before.  

 

Things moved quickly now, after cuffing Gunns, the two men both took turns expressing the disappointment behind his betrayal through each blow from their fist. There was no fight left inside to defend himself.  He gave in to the consistency of every blast. Though the pounding seemed to never end, he felt he deserved it all.

 

By the end, both eyes were completely sealed shut, and he had only his hearing left to rely on.  The sound of a zipper being undone seemed louder than it normally would have been.  He couldn’t tell if it was Terminator or D’Money relieving themselves in his open wounds, but he would bet money that it was the former of the two.

 

The flow of urine continued to pour out over his body and seep into Gunn’s many open wounds. No matter the agony he felt, Gunns never let out even a whimper.  He knew to show any more weakness to his former crew would mean his ultimate demise. The only thing keeping me sane was the resolve of my most recent deed.  I saved her.  He thought to himself.  I saved her.  Though his dignity had been demolished, this was one thing they could not take away.

 

“I still can’t believe he wimped out on us,” said Terminator.  “To think I actually had respect for this clown.” The two men grabbed Gunns up by each shoulder, roughly standing him to his feet.

“Look, I am as mad as you are,” said D’Money.  “But to his credit, he took his beating like a champ. He paused to think for a moment before continuing. “Maybe something crazy happened to him up here.  Maybe he hit his head too hard.” He was trying to rationalize the extreme turn of events. “I have been with Gunns for 6 years now, and I have never seen him quit on a mission; not once. All he talked about lately was catching a shadow, and then he get’s one he lets them go. Something is not right.”

 

“Man, forget all that,” Terminator chimed in belligerently. “ Cap pulled his gun on us!  We should kill him just for that.”

 

“Normally, I would agree with you,” said D’Money “but this is the Captain we are talking about. Not only have we saved his life, but he’s put himself in harm’s way just to save ours too. We have to find out what happened to him.”

 

“Fine,” said Terminator.  “Let’s say the old Chinese man poisoned his mind. How we going to get the old Gunns, back?”

 

“The same way we get everyone to do what we want.” D’Money responded.  “You ready for some good old fashioned torture?”

 

“ I like where this is going,”Terminator chucked out his approval. “I have always wanted to see how hard the Cap really is. Let’s get out of here.”

 

Both men hoisted Gunns up roughly, and gripped him under the arms, carrying him off in the direction of the waiting HummV.  Gunns followed blindly, coughing up blood along the way, and leaving a trail of scarlet spots in his wake.  The only thing that was keeping his fear of what was to come from going into overdrive was the fact that he was content with his final decision to set that woman free. He had committed to doing a deed which was totally not selfish, and saw it out to completion.

 

As the three men approached the bottom of The Wall and headed for their vehicle, Gunns could feel the shift in the atmosphere.  He knew that he probably wouldn’t have much longer. The ground beneath him was hard and unforgiving.  It tore through the material of his pants, and ate away at the skin on his knees.  He had been dragged for so long, he was no longer able to remain upright under the harshness of the haul.  

 

Terminator and D’Money shoved him into the vehicle. They began to taunt Gunns repeatedly while pulling out the torture equipment.

 

“Here we go Cap,”  D’Money said as he lit the file to the welding device.  “Now,  I am going to burn your left eye out of your socket.  Would you like that? Hopefully that’ll make you explain what happened on that wall between you and the dead man to make you turn on us the way you did.”  He could already feel himself becoming emotional, and chastised the feeling for daring to show up while he was trying his best to settle a score.

 

Gunns scooted further into the vehicle, his body naturally hopping into defense mode.  There was only his instinct  to rely on, since the subtle slits in his swollen eyes would allow for little focus. He could feel the heat coming from whatever it was D’Money was holding, yet he refused to give either of them the satisfaction of full submission.  They wanted him to beg for mercy, but he could not do that.

 

The men stood in silence while they waited for some sort of response.  The absence of noise was deafening, and each man could feel their patience grow thin as they tug-of-warred their resistance to the other.

 

“Oh come on now Cap, you’re the one who’s supposed to be all hard?  Show me!  Show me how hard you can be now Cap.”  D’Money responded, finally putting an end to the splitting silence.

 

“Please, be a hardass” said Terminator.  He stood behind D’Money waiting for all the action to go down.  He was excited for his revenge. “I want to see how much pain the mighty Gunns can take.  Hopefully he won’t disappoint.” He laughed even though inside he knew his rage covered emotions that ran much deeper than he would ever be willing to admit. Terminator was always good at trashing useless feelings like honor and trust.

 

Gunns was still coughing up blood. He knew if he wanted to live, he would have to say something.  Behind the gurgle of froth piling up on his tongue, he managed to push out three words. “I saved her.”

 

The two men  looked at each other dumbfounded. “Is that all you have to say to us? Man, come on Terminator.  We’re wasting our time with him.

Terminator stepped up without hesitation, to hold Gunns down.  D’Money leaned in with him to start the process.  They were both so distracted by what they were doing that they didn’t notice the approaching vehicle coming at them.

 

DMoney looked up just in time to see two military style jeeps barreling towards them at full speed. In a panic, DMoney and Terminator released their hold on their former Captain and braced for impact.  Gunns fell further into the HummV’s bottom floor motionless unable to move from abuse he had taken.  There was no time to escape, no time to prepare for the impending and imminent doom.

 

The jeep makes a powerful battering ram; Terminator and D’Money are thrown from the doorway of the vehicle and crushed against The Wall behind them. Breathing heavy now, they attempted to free themselves from the Wall and the Hummer, but it is no use.  DMoney’s guts were now outside of his body and Terminator’s left arm had been severed from his expansive frame.  Both men stared into the moonlight sky, knowing that the scent of death was upon them.  Gunns was still trapped inside the HummV.  He groaned as the broken handle from the door tore into his arm.

 

The smell of gas started to pierce their nostrils.  Terminator’s ears perked up, and he could hear the liquid spilling from the tank onto the ground.  He tried again to push the vehicle away, using all of his strength, and pressing his body beyond its limits.  He looked over to his left, where D’Money was slouched over, appearing to go in and out of consciousness.

 

“Come on man!” He cried as he struggled to gain an edge on the imprisoning metal.  “Money, you gotta wake up.  I can’t get this thing off by myself!”

 

The driver of the military vehicle got out and began a slow approach toward them.  DMoney and Terminator  watched helplessly as a familiar face twisted into an evil grin.  It was no other than Don Juan himself.  He and his Cartel lackeys had struck and struck hard. A closer look would reveal that the Don was holding a  grenade in each hand.  The men’s eyes, he was staring into, began to widen as they watched him pull the pin from each of the destructive tools and toss them under the mangled HummV. As his smile widens, he watched Terminator and DMoney’s futile and desperate efforts  to break free.; a last attempt at to cheat death.  

 

“Wrecking Crew.” Juan bellowed proudly  “I wanted to give you a hombres present for all of the trouble you've caused me over the years. See you in Hell!”  These were the last words he spoke before running for cover inside his waiting vehicle, and driving off.

 

Both Money and Terminator eyes close as a hush falls over the vehicle.  Gunns reaches his right hand to the sky and manages to eck out the words “GOD SAVE ME”…….

 

The car explodes in a loud boom and a mushroom cloud of fire.

 

THE END?




 


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