The Wages of The Sins: Part Four of The Cambrian Project.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
What motivates a person to kill? Anger, or something else?

Submitted: December 29, 2012

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Submitted: December 29, 2012

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It’s been a while since I could take a walk like this. I hardly ever get the time anymore. I think the church should be somewhere around here. I’m pretty sure I have a sin or two I need to confess, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen the father. He probably knows I’m coming anyway. It’s that time again.

I walked down the street, which was oddly quiet today, to see a young lady standing near an intersection.  She was wearing a white dress shirt and black pants. She at least appeared to be young but she had one of those ageless faces that made it impossible to tell. Her dark red hair was tucked neatly under a black cab hat that had the word ‘Chthonic’ written on it in red letters. A hat like that might make me want to consider changing occupations.

“Excuse me miss but you look lost.” I remarked.

“I could say the same.” She said as she turned to look at me.

“Now that you mention it, I do seem to have lost my way.” I laughed.

“It happens to the best of us at times.”

“Amen.”

“You’re looking for the church right?”

“You’re a perceptive one, either that or a lucky guesser.”

“I wouldn’t want to base my income on luck.”

“Oh so you work as a professional observer of lost souls?”

“More or less. I like to consider myself a guide.” 

“Then point me on my way miss…”

“Charon. From here it’s a right and then you go straight for half a block then you make a left.”

“Thank you very much miss.”

“You’re very welcome.”

I made my way using the directions I was given and ended up in front of the church rather quickly. I was surprised to see that there was no one around seeing as how busy this place tends to be. I walked through the doors of the church to see that entire place appeared to be empty.

Strange…

I thought about calling out to Father Erick to see if he was around, but I ultimately decided against it. I walked out to see a man wearing a black suit and a bright green tie. His dark hair was slicked back very professionally and his face was hidden behind the large camera that he had with him. When I finally caught a glimpse of him he appeared to be a younger man, early thirties at most. His eyes were a green similar to his tie and he had a very cold expression on his face. Like a man who’s only purpose was to get results. Something I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar to.

“Looking for the lord through a camera-lens?”  I asked.

I wasn’t serious but he seemed to take it in stride.

“If only my actions could be so righteous. I’m envious that you could come to that conclusion if only jokingly.” he laughed.

“Not all intentions can be noble for mortal men. I believe that on this world, even someone with everlasting life cannot remain entirely virtuous as long as he lives in this world.”

“Just as long as you know. You could say that I’m doing some location scouting for a project that my company is working on.”

“Is that so? Well I’m no saint but this is hallowed ground, and the father of this church is a good friend of mine so I hope it isn’t anything too secular.”

“It’s simply wildlife observation. We want to see if we can observe what makes certain animals in this location tick.”

“I hate to break it to you Mr…”

“Levi. Levi Athans.”

“Yes well, I hate to break it to you Mr. Athans, but there isn’t that much wildlife in this part of town.”

“Oh there’s more than you’d think. A startling amount really. They’re everywhere as long as you’re looking you can find them scuttling around, driven by their basest of instincts. It’s funny, they’re so unaware that the things they crave the most often times lead them to their own undoing.”

“It doesn’t sound like you think too much of them.”

“It’s not that I don’t think very much of them, it’s that there isn’t much too them. Any of them.”

“I get the feeling that you feel like your time might be wasted in this endeavor.”

“Sometimes I do, but I cannot allow myself to believe that. If I do then all of the time I’ve spent under that woman’s thumb would be for nothing, besides, I want to see the fruits of my samples. You see, I’m a collector. I collect and interpret data, sometimes from photos, sometimes from more hands on samples. It’s my humble duty, though I wish my talents could be put to better use, this is the task I have been given. My unbridled ressentiment will have to be quelled for the good of the cause. In any case, I must be going. Something is about to begin that requires my immediate supervision. Good day then.”

“Goodbye then.” I said.

I walked around the empty church for a while to find myself ending up at a bench nearby. I sat down feeling drained for some reason. I stared aimlessly into the sky above me and wondered what exactly Levi could have possibly been talking about. I know I don’t have the most free-time in the world but even I know that there isn’t any wildlife worth talking about in the city.  It was odd that a company would invest their resources in such a useless cause, and he was awfully vague about the species they were studying.

If I didn’t know any better he might have been talking about people.

Just then a man approached the bench from just outside my field of view. He wore a black trechcoat and dark sunglasses. His matted brown hair was an utter mess and he had lines on his forehead that showed a history of scowls and other uncomfortable looking faces. He kinda reminded me of the boss. I wondered if he smoked like him.

Almost as if on cue, he pulled a large cigar from his pocket and proceeded to search his pockets for a lighter. He spent about ten seconds searching and cursed under his breath when he couldn’t find one.

“Hey son, do you have a light on you? I have an incentive.” He said as he looked at me and drew another cigar.

“Looks like and offer I’d be wise not to refuse.” I remarked.

I looked in my vest pocket for my lighter and although I found it, something else entirely was troubling me. I was unarmed. It was a rare occurrence for someone in my line of work so it took me a second to compose myself after I had come to the realization.

“Did ya find it?” the man asked.

“Oh. Yeah…” I said as I drew my lighter from my pocket.

He sat down and we lit our respective cigars. After the nicotine kicked in, the man seemed amiable enough. At least that’s what I thought until I heard his next words.

“I bet you’re wondering where your little pea-shooter is, aren’t you?” He asked as he took a puff from his cigar. “Have you ever heard the saying ‘You can’t take it with you?’ it’s pretty relevant kid.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked, trying to remain levelheaded.

Is he from a rival family? Is he a hired gun too?

“I don’t really have as much patience as the rest of them, but I get that remembering certain things aren’t that easy for you test subjects so let’s take it from the top. How did you get here?”

“Who are you?”

“Oh right. My name is Nats A. or I suppose you can call me Satan.”

“That’s not a very funny joke.”

“Oh you’re going to wish I was kidding in a sec Sebastian Marino; 32 years old. Italian but for the sake of keeping things simple let’s call you white ok? Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois. Status: Deceased.”

At that last word I jumped off of the bench and reached into my vest again. Before I could realize that there was still no gun, Nats stood straight up and pulled a large pistol from under his coat and shot me in the shoulder. I won’t lie, getting shot hurts, but it’s not something I’m unaccustomed to.

“Damn I missed.” Nats said as he put his cigar down the barrel of his gun.

“You aren’t serious…” I said clutching my shoulder.

He fired two more shots into my chest, right into my heart. I went down like a sack of bricks and flat on my back, in a pool of my own blood, I gazed into the sky.

Oh yeah, that’s right.

I was a hitman working for a local crime family. I got entangled with them when I learned that my father had been working with them for years, and when they learned how good I was with a gun. If I remember I was around twenty years old when it happened. The boss, Antonio, treated me like a son which helped me get through my father’s untimely passing. All I ever had in the realm of insight was my father’s teaching and the word of God.

I became acquainted with the father five years into my tenure as an assassin, and though he in no way approved of my activities, he’d always lend an ear to a confession. I say that now as if I thought he had a choice. He was bound by his duty as a priest, but now that I think about it, he may have been trying to steer me in the right direction.

It didn’t work to well.

“Forgive me father for I have sinned.” I said from within the confines of the confessional.

“Again?” asked the father.

“You don’t really sound unbiased.”

“You don’t really sound apologetic.”

“I took a life that God brought into this world.”

“That’s your day job.”

“Give me a break.”

“That’s my line Sebastian.”

“What do you want from me?”

“That’s what I want to know. You come in here every time you’ve killed someone and yet you persist. It’s not forgiveness you want Sebastian so what is it?”

“I’d like to be forgiven. How else am I supposed to reach his heavenly kingdom?”

“You don’t even think that you belong there.”

“I’ve heard he’s very accepting.”

“You just want him to hear you out. I don’t think he takes to kindly to excuses Sebastian.”

“Hey, you’re still listening aren’t you?”

“It’s my job.”

Just then my phone began to vibrate in my pocket.

“Speaking of jobs…”

“Sebastian…”

“God be with you Father.”

I reached Boss’ office about ten minutes later. It was exactly what you’d expect a mafia boss’ office to look like.

Velvet.

Expensive souvenirs.

Guns under every counter.

The only thing that stuck out to me was the fact that he had Earth Wind and Fire playing at all times instead of Sinatra. It always made me chuckle when I walked in.

“What’s so funny smartass?” he asked as he sat with his feet on his desk.

“The fact that you still don’t know every lyric to every one of their songs.”

“I’m workin’ on it. Did Enzo tell you about the guy?”

“I already know him.”

“Would you say he’s an intelligent guy?”

“He dated my little sister.”

“Jesus, pardon, this guy’s an etch-a-sketch in a computer store.  Though I guess I had that figured when he borrowed money from us and blew it all on slots and cards.”

“You’re not serious?”

“How serious is stage four lung cancer?”

“Hand me a cigar and I’ll tell you in a few months if I make it there.”

“Sebastian…” he said as he started to sit up straight, “ I don’t know why you do it.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re the one who gave me my first stogie, Boss.”

“You know that’s not what I mean. Damn you got your father’s mouth on you, you know that? You know what else you got? His brains. Biggest wastes of talent I ever did see. When your father told me about his college scores I nearly shot him, and when I saw yours I had half a mind to shoot you. You know I’m not saying school is the only thing you coulda done but this is dangerous work Cameron and you got a lot going for ya. You’re smart, good looking, God-fearing, I’m sure someone could’ve found something else better to do with you.”

“Thank you, Boss.”

“Pipe down, I’m not done monologing. You know, ever since you’re old man died, God have mercy on him, I’ve treated you like a son. You know I don’t ask for much. What’s the one thing I always ask of you and the boys?”

“At the end of the day, make sure to come home alive.”

“That’s all that matters. I’ve been at this a while, I’ve lost too many good men. I’ve seen too many mothers burying their kids. I’ve even thought about hanging up my hat, but you boys keep me up at night, and how am I gonna put my foot up your asses if you’re in a coffin somewhere huh?”

“I get it, I’ll be back.”

“You take care, you’re all that girl’s got now, make sure you take care of yourself.”

“You too old man.” I said as I walked out.

I don’t know what got him so worked up. I was pretty good at what I did, something else I got from my dad. There were some times that I let my temper get the best of me and I spilled some blood here and there, but they had it coming.

The job was pretty straight forward. I found him walking around midnight. Poor dumb bastard got his car stolen so he had to hoof it. I offered to give him a ride and took him to a place we called “The Shack”. I had him knocked out before we got there and lit him on fire when he came to. Easy. I got a call from my little sister Mina when I was headed back to my car.

“Hey Min-“

“Sebby hulp me I’m loooonely!” she said.

“You sound drunk.”

“Of curse I’m drunk! Those bitches lef me alone to get shutfaced by myself! Lulu is prolly off screwin around and who knows what the hell that intern is doin!”

“Where the hell are you?”

“I’m at my usual watering-hole you troglodyte.”

“Gallows, got it. I’ll be there soon just don’t try to drive.”

“WHATEVER!” she screamed as she hung up.

“That girl I swear.” I sighed.

As soon as I got into my car the phone rang again, this time from Enzo.

“What’s up Enzo?”

“Trouble. The mongrels are acting up again.”

“Is it those same punks from before?”

“Yeah. They’re downtown this time though.”

“Good, I need to head down there anyway. How many of them are there?”

“Eight.”

“That’s it? They’re slacking. Hey Enzo, do me a favor will ya?”

“What is it?”

“Can you pick Minnie up from Gallows for me? She’s drunk off her ass and I don’t want her driving.”

“She’s drunk? You kidding, she’s gonna maul me!”

“I’ll owe you one.”

“If I survive you’ll owe me two.”

“Thanks.”

I was already halfway there when I hung up. These guys were in for it. I had the essentials packed since I was on the job so I wasn’t at a disadvantage by any stretch of the imagination. I weaved in and out of traffic until I saw them. They weren’t anything big, just a bunch of small-fries lead by a bigger small-fry. They had colors or some sort of dress code that made them stand out. It was all so stupid. What was stupider was the fact that I have to shirk off picking up my sister because they want to act up. It was frustrating.

I decided that the best to vent this frustration was to run over the first one I saw. I rolled out of my car and shot one in the knees. Two of them came at me with bats. I managed to block the first bat with my gun and I shot the other one from there before he could get and closer.

“You punks aren’t even really armed. What the hell is this?” I said as I took the bat from the one next to me and smashed his face in with it.

I threw the bat at the one farthest from me and knocked the knife from his hands before I pulled out another gun and shot him with it.

Two of them tried to run, but they didn’t get far. The last one tried to be smart and attack me from behind but I caught him with a knee to the gut and a bullet to the chest.

“Idiots.” I spat.

“Screw you…” groaned the one I shot in the knees.

“Oh you’re still talkative. Good, I was banking on that.”

“It doesn’t matter how many of us you take down. We’re gonna keep getting bac..”

I kicked him in the face so hard I knocked a few teeth out. I knew where this was going. I didn’t feel like dealing with it.

“You disorganized little shits think you’re going to run this town someday huh? HUH?!” I shouted as I grabbed his collar and pulled him up to me.

He was shaking. Obviously afraid. He should have been.

“You don’t have one-billionth of what it takes! You’ll never be anything more than shoplifters and thugs, you hear me?! That’s it! So stay down or I’ll crawl into your damn anthill and burn all of you fucking vermin!”

I threw him back on the ground and put a hole, or two, in his head before I drove off. By the time I reached Gallows they were already closed. One of the bartenders was still up so I decided to ask if they say Enzo take my sister home.

“Nah. She was on her way out before he got here…” the guy was talking like he was about to pass out. Apparently he had never worked the graveyard shift.

“Wait what?!” I yelled.

I picked up my phone and I was about to call Enzo when I saw him calling me.

“Ok…Seb..I want you to stay calm when I say this ok? Minnie left the bar before I could get there. She got halfway back to your place when she drifted into the wrong lane and almost hit a semi. She flipped the car over a few times but someone had already called an ambulance by the time I got there. She’s on her way to a hospital right now and I’m headed after her. I’m sorry Seb…”

“Don’t worry…it wasn’t your fault Enzo. I told her not to drive home. Is she headed to the hospital north of Boss’s place?”

“Yeah.”

“Ok…thanks.”

I ran outside the bar and hopped into my car. I drove to the church as fast as I can and ran inside. I threw myself at the altar looked up at the stained glass mural above me.

“Hey! You hear me?! This isn’t about me ok! I know we aren’t on the best terms but I need you to help my sister! She’s all I got left! She needs to make it through this! Please! I don’t care if you don’t ever hear me out, just don’t her yet!”  I shouted.

I stood at the altar for almost an hour before I decided to leave. I headed to the hospital to check on her as soon as I left. According to the doctors, as banged up as she was, she was going to pull through. She wouldn’t be able to walk on her own for a while, but she should be fine as long as she went through intense physical therapy. I went to visit her the next morning. She was already awake but she looked like the life in her had already left as she stared blankly out the window.

“Hey Minnie.” I said as I knocked on the already opened door.

“Oh hey Seb.” she said as she sat up “Those flowers aren’t from Enzo, are they from you?”

“Yeah. How’re you holding up?”

“I could be a whole hell of a lot worse. I guess I could be better though.”

“Why did you try to drive home?”

“You were taking forever.”

“Minnie that-”

“It’s stupid. I know. I’ve made a lot of stupid mistakes. Trust me, I get that. I screwed up so bad this time that I can’t even walk around and complain about it. I’m going to be out of work forever now.”

“You’ll get disability.”

“I don’t even care at this point.”

“Minnie…”

“Everything I’ve ever done has been self-indulgent and pointless. Look where that’s got me. I guess I can’t blame the girls for ditching me. Lulu has a lot of her own crap to sort out, and that intern of mine is such a sweet girl and I’m such an awful influence.”

“Hey what’s gotten in to you? Why are you beating yourself up like this?”

“I’m just done Seb. I’m tired and I quit.”

“Hey-”

My phone started to ring before I could finish and I was met with a quick scolding from the nurse.

“You gonna take that?” asked Mina.

“But..”

“Just go ok. Don’t even worry about me.”

I kissed Mina on the forehead before I left the room to answer. It was Enzo again.

“Hey Seb, where are you?!” he asked sounding panicked.

“I’m at the hospital with Minnie, where the hell else would I be?” I asked.

“I thought so, the others thought you were at the church. Those punks from last night have the place surrounded. I think they saw you leaving there once and thought it’d be a good place to find you after last night.”

“What?! Are they still there?”

“Yeah. Why? Hey Seb, don’t do anything stu-”

I hung up and left the hospital so fast I forgot that I was nowhere near equipped to deal with that many of them, but I didn’t care, I had to kill all them.

As soon as I pulled up to the church I could see them all with a bunch of cheap weapons and gun they’ve stolen. When I got out of my car I saw one of them step forward. He was taller than all of them and had a ridiculous haircut. Typical bullshit gang leader. The sight of him made me want to puke.

“Come inside, let’s talk.” He said with a condescending smirk.

His smirk faded quickly when he saw his men on either side take a bullet in the shoulder.

“You have ten minutes.” I spat.

We sat down in front of the altar. He was unarmed as far as I could tell. I had a gun in both of my hands and very little patience.

He opened his mouth to say something but I cut him off.

“Where’s the Father?” I asked.

“He’s out at the moment.” The leader said with a laugh.

I shot him in the foot.

“Let’s try that again.” I said.

“We have him tied up at our hideout!”

I shot him in the other foot.

“You’re running out of extremities. I’d suggest shrinking the nose Pinocchio.”

“WE KILLED HIM!”

I shot him in the shoulder.

“Who says you guys are the only ones who get to be on top, huh?! What about the rest of us?!”

I shot him in the other shoulder.

“So what if we killed one priest?! How many of my sons have you taken from me?”

“Let’s count.” I said as I aimed my gun outside.

I pulled the trigger and I could hear a scream from outside.

“One.”

I aimed my other gun at the opposite end and pulled the trigger. Another scream.

“Two.”

“Wait! Do you know what you’re doing?! This is hallowed ground! The wages of sin is death and you’re the biggest sinner in the room!”

“You killed a priest, surrounded a church with weapons, and now you’re trying to quote scripture. I feel like that’s debatable.” I retorted as I pointed the gun in my left hand at his head.

“If you kill me you’ll never make it out of here alive!” he screamed.

“Let’s test that theory.”

Just then I heard the stained glass around us shatter as Molotov’s were thrown through the windows from the outside setting the inside ablaze.

“Hey! That’s my trick. You’re nothing more than a bunch of petty copycats, you know that?”

“So what if we are? Even an ant can-”

I shot him in the head before he could finish his line.

I hate people like him.

I fired four more rounds on either side of me and heard eight screams from outside the church. It took them a second but they finally started to fire back. I ran from the altar and headed for the broken window at the end of the church. I was almost there when an explosion knocked me flat on by back. I moved my hand to my abdomen to feel the broken splinters of glass that pierced through me. I was losing blood fast and my consciousness was fading quickly.

I looked up to try to find the depiction of God on the broken mural above me, but he wasn’t there.

“Get it now, Subject Three?” Satan asked as he stood over me.

“If I’m dead, then why the hell am I here?” I asked.

“So we can study the Sin of Wrath. You were all over that one weren’t ya? We believe that what you call sins are really all that motivates you, and ultimately what gets you here. I would say you’re living proof of that but that would mean that you’re still alive.”

“That wasn’t it…”

“Oh really? Tell me, what was going through your head when you left your sister alone twice? Because if it was anything other than ‘I’m going to mess them up’ then you’re more full of it than Levi. You were so gung-ho about the whole thing that I was surprised when you didn't get back up after that explosion put you down. What do you think happened to your sister after you left? I can tell you for certain that she’s in a better place than you are, unfortunately for her, it happens to be pretty close by.”

I reached into my pocket one more time to find my gun actually there this time. I pulled it out and pointed it right at his face.

“Where is she!?” I shouted.

“Dead. Unfortunately for you I can’t let you see her right now.”

“THE HELL YOU CAN’T!”

I fired a round but he was no longer in front of me. I reached into my vest to grab my other gun and I frantically looked around to find him. I saw him about two meters behind me and I shot at him and I just kept shooting. He never stood in the same place so I ended up shooting everywhere. For some reason my guns never ran out of bullets, even though they should have, but I was pissed off I couldn’t even tell. I just kept shooting, and shooting, and shooting. When I finally stopped to look and see what I was doing, I was standing in the middle of the church, or at least what used to be the church. Almost everything had been obliterated. The only reason I could tell it was the church was because of the pieces of stained glass and bullet shells that were at my feet.

“This is all that was left of the place after you died. You did this. They wouldn’t have come if it weren’t for you, nor would they have killed the father.”

I knew he was right. I had been fighting the truth this whole time but I knew I couldn’t fight it anymore. If I could then I’d still be alive right now. I fell to my knees staring at my faint reflection in the stained glass. I could barely even see myself through all the dirt and blood.

“Now that you’re all synched, I guess I’ll pay your sister a visit.”

“Wait…can I see her..?” I asked.

“Do you realize who you’re asking? Aside from the obvious, you almost shot me.”

I didn’t say anything,

“It’s not for me to decide.” He said as he vanished.

The floor began to shake as a great wall of darkness and giant teeth surrounded me and the church.

All I could bring myself to say was “I’m sorry.”


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