7 – Risk and Reward

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“Are you ready for this, Ren?” Vince asked, while Claire fiddled with the door.

“This isn’t going to be any more difficult than last time. Claire will open the door, I’ll go upstairs, and you can check out the basement.” Vince nodded at me. He seems to have expected an answer similar to mine. He was creating small talk.

“Push comes to shove, we’ll handle anyone who’s still inside.” I stared at Vince, eager for his reply. He certainly didn’t like hearing me say that. His eyes widened, and he broke eye contact. It seems like everyone was afraid of me.

“Finished,” Claire reported cheerfully. I took a miniscule step back, and motioned for Vince to go inside. He grunted, but obliged. I followed him in, but he took his time getting downstairs. It didn’t matter. I wasted no time heading upstairs.

I marched my way up the stairs, and checked every open door I could see, all of those rooms were empty. I then checked the rooms behind the closed doors. They were just as disappointing.

Suddenly, my lament was interrupted by a glorious scream coming from downstairs. I rushed down the stairs, and found Vince waiting in the basement. He motioned toward an empty doorway. I looked in, and saw the entire family. Mother, Father, even their little son and daughter. I held back a smirk.

“What are our orders?” I looked back toward Vince. He pointed to the phone next to his face, and said, “I’m calling Famine.” Odd. I could’ve sworn they had walkie-talkies last time.

I looked back into the room. The parents were covering their whimpering children’s eyes, and staring at me with a fear I hadn’t seen since I was quite young. I smiled at them, and moved a finger to my lips.

They shuddered even more. I turned back into the hallway.

“I know, believe me. Death had to have known these people were here,” Vince paused for a moment. “They’ve seen our faces. They have the potential to report us,” Another pause. “Famine, we have to do something. I don’t want to kill them anymore than you do.” It looked like Famine wasn’t even sure what to do in a moment like this.

I heard whispering in the small room. I turned back into it. “What are you gossiping about, friends?” I bore my eyes directly at the parents. They looked in opposite directions. One of the children was crying. “Come now, sweetheart, there’s no need to cry. This all be over before you know it.” The little girl’s silent tears became a tad louder. The mother tried to shush her.

“This is such a strange thing for you, isn’t it, Mr. Brown? To suddenly find yourself at the end of a barrel,” I unsheathed my gun, and pointed it toward the ground, “You’ve grown a tad too accustomed to your cushy way of life. Well, it looks like things are going to change real soon. You ought to sit back, relax, and enjoy your home for the next little while. It might not be here in the morning.” I kept my body in the doorway, but looked toward Vince.

“Famine is calling Death. She want’s to know what to do next before acting brashly.” Vince informed me.

“Well, I hope she makes it quick, because we don’t have a lot of time.”

Then, almost as if on cue, the Brown daughter screamed and tore away from her mother’s arms. In an instant, I turned around and shot her. My shot was precise, as always. Suddenly, there was nothing but screaming and noise. Vince vomited, and the mother couldn’t even bring herself to make a noise. A moment later, Vince roared at me from the hallway, “What the fuck are you doing!”

I shrugged. “Solving a problem.”

I experienced the next event in an incredibly slow manner, as if it took three times the amount of time to happen. I lifted up my pistol, and shot the other child, through his father’s hand still covering his face. I pointed my gun toward the mother, her eyes empty and dull, and shot her next. At last, I pointed my gun toward the screaming and raving father, and killed him last. All of this took only a few seconds, but it felt quite a bit longer.

After those three shots, I heard Vince vomiting more. It looks like he couldn’t handle death well, either. I made my back upstairs.

I made my out back, and Claire rushed to catch up with me. “I heard some gunshots. Are you and Vince alright?”

“We’re fine,” I replied, “I was just tidying up loose ends.” Claire stopped in her tracks.

Famine ran toward me, obviously furious. She tried to strike at me, but I reacted appropriately, and stopped the hit. “Calm down, Famine. I was doing my job.”

Famine broke away from me. “Fuck you, ‘my job!’ You just killed four people without a second thought!”

I gave her a blank look. “You’re kidding, right? If you and the others didn’t want deaths, then why did you send Vince and I in with guns?”

Famine retorted quickly “In case someone tries to shoot you! Fucking fuck, you’re in the police you should-” She stopped yelling, “Oh. Right. That- that makes sense. Either way, I don’t think the other horsemen are going to want you around anymore.”

“You fail to understand something, Famine. I know where you live. I know that Shelby is a part of this. I could have you shut down faster than you believe. It’s too late for you to try and dismiss me. If you want me gone, you’re going to have to kill me.” Famine held her sight to the ground. Her hands were shaking. I prepared myself for an honest brawl. It’s clear we both have training, so I might actually be challenged.

“Famine, don’t,” Claire stood in between us, “He’s not worth it. Just take a few steps back, and think about the situation. I mean, he did solve our problem. And the rest of us didn’t have the lack of morales to do that.” Claire looked at me. I wasn’t sure if she was afraid, thankful, or angry. Her expression was new, but I knew it wasn’t admiration.

I looked behind me, and saw Vince being held by another, a cigarette loosely hung in his mouth. He was a bit too far away to tell, but it looked like he was shuddering.

Claire started to pull Famine away from me. I heard her take a chopped up breath; she was crying.

Another came and approached me. “What did you do, Ren?”

I gave them a look of contempt. “I did my job. Go do yours.”

I walked away from the house and stared at it. It would be destroyed at any moment.

I watched and waited. Time needed to pass faster. Everyone needed to work faster. This job needed to be done fast. My gun is quiet, but not quiet enough to avoid completely being heard. Four corpses are lying in that basement, and if we don’t destroy this building now, there will be even more, both police and arsonists.

“Ren. I’ve heard about you. Come with me. We have a few things to discuss.” I turned my head to the man before me. He was completely disguised. I shrugged, and walked forward.

“No, no, Ren. Walk toward me. You’ve done your job. There isn’t any reason for you to stick around.” I stopped, and charged at the stranger.

I held his hands at his sides. “Who are you?”

He didn’t flinch. “I’m here on behalf of Death, who wouldn’t be caught dead committing these crimes. He has a certain reputation to keep. Thus, sir, it’d be best if you let me go and come along.” I let his hands go.

“What does the almighty “Death” want?” I gave the stranger an accusatory look, but I don’t think they saw it.

“Death heard about your so called “transgressions” just a while ago. He didn’t see it that way. He thought that you took the proper actions, and wanted to reward your efforts,” He chuckled, “Do you take credit?”

I returned the chuckle. “Credit isn’t very secure for someone who doesn’t own his own bank.” The stranger nodded. “Good thing the gift you’ll be receiving is much more practical. Death has been watching you since day one, and he already appreciates your work ethic.”

The street light passed over our head, and none took its place. This stranger was leading me back into the slums. I found myself on guard again, ready for any sign of an ambush.

“Death is rather important, and that’s why he can’t afford any sort of risk. He has many eyes wandering the city, and I am only one of them. Even now, as I’ve already revealed myself, I still remain anonymous, and even change the way my voice sounds. Hmm, perhaps I’ve spoken too much. I can get carried away, considering I have no one to tell about this. Death’s eyes can’t know each other, in the same manner one of your eyes can’t see the other without aid from a reflection. Surely, you understand.” The stranger continued his pace, and didn’t actually expect a response from me.

“I haven’t had an opportunity to speak in an intellectual manner for quite some time. I rather enjoyed it. Anyway, when you go to your home, you will find a rather nice bicycle in front of your front door. We might have tried to get you a better vehicle, but you’ve seen the price of fuel in recent times. A bicycle will serve you better.” Then they simply left.

I know nothing about that stranger. I only knew that I returned home, saw a new bike on my porch, and brought it inside. I have to assume that the stranger didn’t bring it. I also assumed that the stranger only walked me most the way home to keep me distracted.

It was a very uneasing experience, and I hoped to forget the details of it in the morning.

Next Chapter

Author: Kay Walker

I write short stories, and post them to my site justmynarratives.com

3 thoughts on “7 – Risk and Reward”

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