The Darkness Of Today
Every second that is wasted on the battlefield in a war, is every second that a wounded soldier is bleeding to death. Every chance a medic got to save a life, they got killed. As I sit in a bar and reminisce about the days in the war, I realized just how much my life changed.
I watched in horror as people died. I held people as they died in my arms. I came home from the war. And no one, not one person, knew the horrors that me and my fellow brothers in arms saw. No one even thanked us for serving our country when we came home. So here I sit, inside this bar with my flask in my hand drowning myself with pure alcohol flashing back to the war.
I start to feel the alcohol taking affect as it runs through my body. Someone comes in and sits down next to me. It is a scum bag of the streets; a scam artist who steels what little money the poor and those in poverty have and keeps it for himself.
"How 'bout it?" He says as he sits down next to me. I merely stare at him and look away. He orders a drink. Gin. He orders shot after shot as I gulp the whiskey from my flask.
"You might want to slow down there, chief." The bartender says.
"Oh shut up!" I snap. I can't even remember his name or the name of the bar I'm in. I then look over at the dirt-bag next to me. How neatly dressed he is. With his crisp hat and pressed suit. I compare myself to him and realize I am dressed no different and smile to myself. But as I sit and stare at him, something in me changes. I become angry. A little voice in my head starts to talk in a dark, deep whisper.
"Do it," it says to me.
"No," I say to it. "I can't do it."
"Yes, you can," it says to me, "you know you want to. He's scum. He won't be missed."
An argument starts in my mind. My pure thoughts fighting that little voice. The small whisper wins.
Something in me snaps and I crack my neck with the turn of my head.
"Hey buddy, you okay?" the scum bag asks.
"I'm fine," I snap.
"Marc...you killed her brother. Grace, told me about these small episodes. When you saw that body of Mr. Gambini, you blacked out. You lost your temper, in other words. You can't remember because you let it take control." Brain said. "Marc you have been hearing a small deep, dark whisper. Haven't you?"
"Think Marc!" Flannigan snapped. "Think! You lose your temper and you let something else take control. Have you heard that whisper?!"
Marc felt every ounce of life drain from him. As he thought about it, he could vaguely remember the small voice, telling him to kill.
"Marc, you killed her brother. And you tried to kill them last night." Flannigan said. "I can help, and it won't interfere with your work as a private detective. I deal with this stuff a lot Marc." Flannigan continued.
But silence filled the room.
"You killed her brother. And you tried to kill them last night."
Those words echoed through Marc's head as he tried to figure out what to do next. "Oh my god.." Marc whispered to himself.
Silence filled the room.
Molly opened her mouth to speak but hesitated.
"Someone please untie me." Marc said. No one moved.
"Someone untie me, now." Marc said again. Again, no one moved.
"NOW!" Marc yelled. Molly looked over at Riza and nodded. Riza opened her mouth to object but stopped. With a swipe of her knife, she cut the rope.
Marc stood up and walked out of the room with those words spoken from the doctor. He walked out side, still covered in his own blood as well as dried blood from Gambini's body.
Marc sat down on the sidewalk. And for the first time in months, Marc broke down and cried.
It was a tense moment as they watched him go. Molly ran a hand through her hair, every nerve she possessed on edge. Yet she still turned to the man at their side.
"Thank you very much, Dr...is it Dr.? Thank you, Mr. Flannigan." She sighed, and was surprised when he took her hand, clasping it warmly, comfortingly in his for a moment. Somewhere there was a clock, resolutely ticking away.
Tick, tick, tick.
The sound had never been more apparent to the woman, wherever she went.
"I wish...I wish I could help him, that I could understand. But my brother. The only tie to my old life, to the family I had. Dead, because of him. For no reason. No reason at all. I don't know if I can forgive. I'll never forget, that's for certain."
Abruptly furious, she took her hand from Brians and dashed away the tears that had collected.
"Honestly, I'm tired of crying this much." she said crossly. "You'll have to take it from here, my friends. There is someone at my apartment I've agreed to meet, and I've kept him waiting long enough."
And saying so, she exited the door and walked away into the night, not sparing a glance at the sunken form on the sidewalk.
He caught her scent long before seeing her.
This thought brought a lazy smile to his lips. He had been taught once, long ago, perhaps by his father, perhaps his uncle, that the key to a mans strength was his ego. Cogito ergo sum. He prided himself on being a predator, and so he was. A mastermind? Cold and bloodless as they came when exacting business. On the flip side, he believed he could charm any woman he saw fit to, and so he could.
The only flaw, he reflected, was the woman walking into the room.
Blue eyes swept over her, taking in her disheveled hair, blood-stained clothing and the dark shadows under her eyes.
"You look terrible." he informed her.
"Thanks." she shot back, but tiredly. "Look, if you aren't going to try to light this place on fire in the next 10 minutes, help me get this off, will you? I can't move my arm much."
He laughed, but rose, moving behind her to ease her jacket off one arm, then the other. He did it carefully, so much so that she looked at him incredulously when he tossed it on the couch.
"I figured that would hurt a lot more when you did it." Molly said wryly. He smiled that curious little smile again.
"I know, I could feel your tension." he said matter-of-factly. "You ought to let me look at that, you know. Its still bleeding."
Molly looked up at her husband with narrowed eyes. "It's quite alright." she said stiffly, drawing herself up and leveling her chin. "I think I'll survive."
"Don't be vapid and ridiculous." he told her in infuriatingly calm tones. "I'm not going to salt it or twist my finger around in it, if thats what you're afraid of. I just want to see."
"That requires me removing my blouse, and you aren't that lucky, Billings."
"I would remind you that there isn't any part of you I haven't seen unclothed at one point or another," he shot back, grasping the front of her shirt and flicking open the first button.
"Hey, hey, hey!" she snapped, brushing his hands away. "Don't push your luck pal. Turn around."
(oh, nuts. I forgot to log in as Billings. Sorry, thats from Jacks perspective.)
Jack waited patiently, and when he turned around she was clasping her shirt in front of her self-consciously. The flash in her green eyes told him that if he said a word, she'd shoot him, so instead he took her forearm and looked at the bleeding wound there.
"Grazed by a bullet, were we?" she nodded, and he wandered over to the hall closet, where he had ascertained there was a medical kit some hours ago. "Who shot at you?"
He returned and bandaged up her arm with a length of gauze, poking it experimentally when he was done. She hissed and glared at him, and with a smile he released her.
"I didn't want to completely disappoint." he said, then sat back down. She seemed to forget her state, because she released the shirt she was clasping to her front and shot up, stomping back to her room.
"Who do you think?" she called, and returned a minute later wearing a nightgown.
Jack nodded musingly, his eyes following her as she went to the cupboard and pulled out two glasses. "And what do you propose to do about it?"
Marc watched Molly leave. He did not expect her forgiveness. When he came to realize that she may never forgive him, he decided he didn't care any more. If he lost a friend because of this, then so be it. He could make more friends.
The man stood up and walked to his car. Whether or not the others were still in that room, he didn't care. He got inside and with out a word, he drove to his house, where he cleaned up. He took one last look at the bloody gray suit that he wore.
Out of the wardrobe, Marc pulled out a black suit. One that he often wore. He put on his shirt and tie. He pulled out his shoulder holster and put it on. He reached into his closet and took out his newest toys; two pearl white .45 caliber automatics. He pressed the release button on both guns and the magazines fell out, both revealing a full metal jacket. He slammed the magazines in the gun and slid the charging handles back, charging a round in the chamber. He holstered both of them.
He checked to make sure he had everything he needed before walking back to his car. He got in. Only he knew where he was going. There was one last thing to do. Before the night would be over, someone was going to be dead.
"I honestly don't know." Molly said quietly, tucking a strand of red hair behind her ear as she poured some champagne into the glasses. It was an unspoken gesture; she remembered that it was his favorite drink of choice. "It's gotten so very complicated."
"Champagne?" he raised one aristocratic brow. "Are we celebrating?"
"No." she said softly, thoughtfully. "I'm just being ironic."
She came and sat next to him on the couch, placing both glasses on the low coffee table before them. Immediately, the familiar electricity crackled through the air, burning through her blood and charring her senses. Briefly, she closed her eyes, then picked up the glass, knowing alcohol would probably make it worse, but after todays events, she just needed a damn drink.
After a moment, he reached for his too, and she couldn't help the smile that twisted her lips. So he was feeling it too. It was such a strange thing, she mused. The pure magnetism between them, charging each breath like a stick of dynamite, until it seemed the very air they breathed could explode at a seconds notice.
Hate was as strong an emotion as love. Maybe when they mixed together, this is what happened. Strangely, they spoke, but Molly couldn't remember what they were talking about, she was merely noticing how they sipped their respective glasses and slowly, cautiously closed the distance between them, until with a muttered curse, he lost a hand in her coppery hair and dragged her mouth to his.
Well, Molly thought to herself dryly before she closed her eyes, some things never change.
Around her 5th or 6th glass, and a fresh new bottle, she led him to her bedroom, sufficiently intoxicated not to dwell on the repercussions. And when she accidentally tipped the bottle of champagne, and it poured over her satin sheets and pooled in a small lake of bubbly liquid, she decided to let the maids worry about it in the morning; she was busy.
Riza took a long look around the safe house. It seemed deserted now. “Hey,” she said, turning to Grace, “I think you should go now.” Grace nodded and swiftly left the room. Riza left as well, slamming the door shut behind her. There was someplace she needed to be.
The car pulled up in front of Riza’s house. She quickly made her way inside and upstairs, where she put something on under her clothes. There was an unsettling feeling that she could not shake. Something was going down tonight. And she knew just where she needed to go.
Fifteen minutes later she eased her car into a small open space across the street from Molly’s house. It was dark inside, save for a small glimmer of light which Riza assumed to be the from the fireplace. The front door was locked, but she could hear some sort of movement inside. Heavy movement. Her eyes narrowed. A man, or men, perhaps?
Standing back and looking at the building, she found an open window on the left side of the building. She effortlessly and soundlessly flipped herself inside, landing on the tips of her stilettos and her fingertips, almost catlike. From the next room over, most likely the living room, emanated the sound of muddled voices speaking.
Riza reached into her jacket and pulled out her pistol. Its metallic quality made it shine in the moonlight. A million thoughts raced through her mind as she braced herself against the dimly lit archway. Namely, who to shoot first.
A small pang of hurt raced through her as she remembered Molly’s eyes watering. The pain was very real, and very relatable. “Roy,” she whispered. But the feeling went as quickly as it had come. This was no time to be thinking about that.
Bracing herself, Riza flung herself into the open archway, gun cocked and ready to shoot. “Nobody move!” she shouted. She almost lost her grip, for standing right in front of her were Molly, Jack, Marc, and Grace, all with guns out and aimed. Everybody turned to look at her.
Two shots fired simultaneously.
Everything moved so fast it seemed to Molly that the world was a blur. And then she realized it was because she had been yanked from the place where she was standing to be clasped against her husbands chest, his other arm pointing a gun at Marc.
A human shield. She realized with surprise, then surprise that she was surprised. This was Jack Billings. Of course he wouldn't think twice about using her as a human shield-
she felt his arm move from the kick-back of his gun, he had fired a shot. So had, it seemed, Marc, who had aimed before Billings had pulled Molly in front of him.
White-hot pain exploded high on her right shoulder. She saw Marcs expression of horror before Jack released her and she fell awkwardly to her side.
Oh dear. She thought.
Because someone else had gone crashing to the floor as well.
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