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.
"I'm not going to put one in your leg, I'm going to shoot you in your f**king mouth!-"
"Then put your money where your mouth is, and do it!" Jack yelled.
Silence filled them. This now the fourth time he had a gun pulled on him. He was ready for any sudden movement by Jack. Marc came to talk to Molly to try and make amends.
But here was Jack Billings, the one man Marc hated more than anyone in the world, making things worse.
For what seemed like minutes was only seconds. Marc's right finger moved for the trigger. Jack saw the twitch and quickly grabbed Molly as a human shield.
"No body move!" A woman screamed from behind Marc.
It was at that instant; Jack grabbing Molly and pulling her in front of him, someone screaming from behind, Marc squeezed the trigger twice rapidly.
The first shot went wild but the second shot hit the wrong target. It ripped through Molly's right shoulder. The bullet exited the back of her shoulder and grazed Billings' arm. Molly fell to the ground, bleeding from her arm. Billings stumbled backwards and pulled the trigger. His bullet too went wild.
Everything happened too fast for Grace McDowd, 29 years old, to react. His stray shot hit her square between the eyes. Blood sprayed from the back of her head and she dropped like a rock.
At the moment her body fell, all hell broke lose. Shots were fired from all directions.
Riza had almost no time to react. Grace was standing just a few feet in front of her. She watched as a stray bullet from Marc’s gun went straight through Grace’s head, exiting out the back and then…
A sharp gasp erupted from Riza’s lips as the bullet continued on its path, straight into her chest, knocking her backwards to the floor. She heard her gun fall with a clatter to the ground beside her.
Her eyes bugged out as she clutched at her chest. Riiiiiiipppp. She tore off her jacket and ripped off the bulletproof vest she had put on earlier that evening. Lodged straight where her heart should have been was the bullet. Riza winced. It hurt like hell anyway.
She heard a groan issue from Marc. He must have gotten hit too. Riza was suddenly, inexplicably angry. This couldn’t happen. Not again. She sprung to her feet and grabbed her pistol, dodging sideways and aiming a couple of shots at both Marc and Biliings. “You f*cking bastards! STOP IT!” Riza screamed at the top of her voice.
As Molly sunk to her knees and stared at her arm in disbelief, the sound of hot metal hitting flesh could be heard in the cool nighttime air. Billings spun backwards and collapsed on the ground, clutching his right arm. Marc gave an excruciating yell and grabbed his midsection, eyes turning red.
Riza hit the ground hard. She saw Molly get up and heard the click of the safety on her gun being released. A lone gunshot rang out. Then Riza blacked out. There was silence.
Marc felt the white hot pain rip through his mid section as a bullet from an unknown gun was fired. He grabbed his side, yelling and falling. The adrenaline rush was too much and Marc staggered back up. Jack Billings also staggered to his feet. Both men shooting at each other. Marc limped behind a tree, where as Jack ran to his car. Marc fired two more shots. One bullet scored a hit and Jack fell but was not dead. Marc didn't want to kill him. Not yet. Jack crawled to his car, bleeding from somewhere in the waste.
He looked around. Riza was there; out cold. Grace was dead. Her beautiful blue eyes, now a cold gray color stare at the sky. Marc knelt down. The pain in his side tore through him and she grunted. He closed her eyes and looked back at Molly who was also unconscious.
"My god," he said as he got closer to her. The bullet damage was bad. She'd be badly scarred for the rest of her life, and it would be a miracle if she didn't get arthritis in her arm because of this. Blood still poured from the wound. It was good and bad.
It was good because that meant she was still alive. But bad because that mean barely. She lost a lot of blood and was now in a state of shock, which caused her to pass out. He hefted her with his one good arm, and placed her in the backseat of his car. He left.
Marc pulled Molly, who was still barely alive, and losing too much blood now, out of his car at the hospital. "My friend here has been badly injured. She needs help, now." Marc said.
Three doctors and two nurses took her immediately. "Sir," another doctor said, "If I may say so, I'd say you need to be looked at."
"I'm fine," Marc said.
"No, you're not" the young doctor said.
After an argument, Marc agreed to have the bullet pulled out with a set of tweezers and six stitches. The bullet had pierced but had not gone very far. It dug into his skin and stopped instead of just grazing like it should have.
Marc went back to Molly's house. Riza was gone. She had probably woke up after he left. She was probably pissed at him for several reasons, one in which he left her here with Grace's body. And well..frankly, she had every right to be mad at him. Grace's body had been removed as well. Investigators and police officers, taped off the scene. Marc turned and left with out a word.
Grace's funeral was two days later. Marc showed up but kept his distance. For an hour, everyone said something good about Grace. Marc looked around but didn't see Riza or Molly. They were probably here but closer up front in some spot he couldn't see. When everyone started to clear the area, Marc made his way toward the casket.
He pulled out of his pocket, a rose and placed it upon the casket. "I'm sorry I put you through this Grace. I'm sorry I let you down." And that was it. He turned, pulling out a cigarillo and lit it walking back to his car.
Unsure if Molly had showed up to Grace's funeral, Marc went back to the hospital to see if Molly was still there. "What room is Molly Maltese in?" Marc asked the receptionist.
"Maltese..Maltese..." She repeated looking at the paper. "It looks like she checked her self out earlier this morning, sir." The young woman said.
Marc nodded and walked away thinking about the past few days. He could never go back to his safe house any more. Not after all this.
Marc went home and changed clothes then went to sit in his office. It was quiet without Grace there to talk to. He sat staring at his desk. In front of him was a piece of paper; blank, and a pen. As much as he wanted to write that note to Molly, he couldn't. She had been through enough. And it was his fault.
He reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a flask full of whiskey and took a big gulp of it. The alcohol burned his throat as he swallowed. After a few large swallows, he could feel the alcohol starting to take affect. He put the flask away.
Marc pulled out his two pistols and unloaded them, placing them in his desk drawer. He sat there in silence for hours, thinking about what he could do. Thinking about what he SHOULD do. He placed his elbows on his table and buried his face in his hands. He didn't cry but he felt every urge to.
He didn't expect Molly to forgive him. If she did, that would be her decision. But the trust..that would be completely different. She wouldn't trust him for a long time. And he knew that. So he accepted that.
Riza would probably be the same. Marc wasn't sure how forgiving either of them were. He had never angered them like this. Let alone, let his anger take control. One thing was for certain. He wasn't about to let that happen again.
Just as Marc was going to pack it in and go home, someone knocked on his door. "Come in," Marc mumbled. The door opened, and in walked a familiar face.
Molly was not in the mood.
She had checked herself out of the hospital earlier that morning, even though her shoulder was killing her and she could use the drugs. No, Molly detested hospitals. The only good things that happened in hospitals were babies being born, and hers had been delivered in a strangers car en route to the place, because back then she hadn't had a dime, a car, or a friend to her name.
So she had license to detest hospitals as much as she liked.
Jack had come by, but she had pretended to be asleep. Thats what she had done for the majority of her friends, in fact. She didn't feel like talking much. She hadn't bothered going to Grace's funeral. The guilt and the anger ate away at her too much.
In fact, within the hour of her release, she was holding two tickets for the ship that would take her to Shanghai, and from there to Cairo. She wouldn't bother saying goodbye, she needed time to herself and her daughter. So she had packed sparsely and locked her apartment door behind her, driving to the docks with a grim face. Her daughter said nothing, just looked ahead with curious eyes.
It was Dr. Flannigan. He walked in and sat down at Marc's desk. Marc looked up at him. The detective looked like he had gone to hell and back. Flannigan had only knew so much as to what had happened. The only information that was given to him was that something weird had happened to Marc. He changed. He had lost control of his anger. Brian hated to see Marc lose friends such as Molly and Riza. According to them all they had been friends for quite sometime. "We just want out old friend back." They told him.
"Marc." Brian said with a pause. "I'm here to help. You've destroyed your relationship with two of your closest friends and if you want them back then-"
"I'm fine," Marc snapped.
"No you're not." Dr. Flannigan stated. "Marc, you've completely gone off the edge! You've destroyed Ms. Maltese's life!"
"You don't think that I don't know that already?!" Marc yelled back.
"Marc, will you listen to me for just one damned second?"
"Why? So you can tell me how many lives I've ruined?"
Brian sat back in his chair.
"Okay, Marc. What are you going to do?" Brian asked.
"What do you propose I should do?" Marc asked.
"Frankly, I'm not sure, Marc. We can start by talking about your past. What causes you to lose your temper. I was told something about you and a voice...Marc...how long have you heard that whisper in you head?" Flannigan said.
Marc paused. "Doc..I don't need any help."
The doctor looked down. In the right corner, he noticed a duffel bag. "What's in the bag?"
"Personal items, doc."
"Like what? You planning on leaving?"
"Marc, where do you think you're going?"
"I'm not sure yet."
"You going to leave the country?"
"No..that's a cowardice move. Just leaving the city..I'm not even sure if I"m going to go or not. It's a choice I haven't made yet."
"Marc, I can't let you leave."
"Yes, you can." Marc snapped. Marc got up and walked out of the office leaving Flannigan by himself.
Lyra entered the room and looked around. There was no one, except Dr. Flannigan, looking very anxious. Lyra walked up to where he was sitting, clutching his head in his hands.
"Dr. Flannigan?" she asked.
He looked up. Apparently he hadn't heard her entering the room, and was startled at the sound of her voice.
"Oh - hello, Miss - er - er" Flannigan stopped.
"Cornwallis. Lyra Cornwallis," said Lyra. "Please call me Lyra."
Flannigan nodded. "I have seen you before, haven't I? About a couple of weeks ago... near Marc's house, if I'm right."
"You must be mistaken, I haven't been anywhere near Marc's house before," replied Lyra.
Flannigan looked bewildered. "Surely it was you? But -" he faltered. "Was it your twin, Louise, then?"
Lyra didn't reply. She just looked at him for a few seconds and finally said: "Could be. I don't know where she'd gone, so I can't be sure. But what is this about Marc leaving the country, Flannigan?"
Flannigan heaved a sigh. "It's a long story, Lyra. Sit down," he said, and started telling her everything that had happened. "... and so I have no idea whether Marc plans to leave or not. I -"
"Quiet!" Lyra interrupted. "Someone's coming."
She turned around,but couldn't see anyone. Then she could hear footsteps again. She drew out her gun, and stood ready with her finger on the trigger. Marc stood with his left hand on the door's handle, and his right hand on his gun. But he made no move that showed he was going to start firing at her or Flannigan.
"Lyra Cornwallis," Marc said. But he didn't say anything else. He just stood there.
Flannigan looked at Marc questioningly. "What's your decision?" he asked.
"I'm not leaving; I'm not a coward. I will stay here, in this country, in this city. But not in the same house," he finally said. "And take this bag," he added, looking at Lyra. "I have put in a few items, and there are two notes there. One for Riza and the other for Molly. Give them the notes." He left. Lyra followed him.
Marc made it about maybe 500 yards away from his office before Lyra Cornwallis caught up with him. "Walk with me," he said to her. And she nodded.
"Lyra," Marc started with a pause. "I'm not the same person I used to be...something in me has changed. Something is in me, that I can't control."
"Marc, I don't-" Lyra interrupted but Marc cut her off.
"Just listen for a second," He said as the walked down the street. "There is something in me..I've got.....a monster in me and it's something that I have to learn to control. I have already lost two of my friends because of this "thing". One friend is six feet under right now and it's my fault. I may not know you enough to call you my best friend, Lyra but I know you enough to trust you, and I know your reputation around the city.
"Lyra...I want you to do me a favor." Marc continued. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small folded piece of paper. "The pain inside is too much for me to do this." Marc scribbled down an address on the paper. "Give this letter to the parents of Grace McDowd. This is their address. She wasn't my girl friend or lover or anything like that. But she and I were close friends."
They stopped walking and Marc turned toward Lyra. They stared at each other for what seemed like hours. "I've got to go." Marc said. And he turned around.
"Where are you going?" He heard her ask.
"Right now? To send a message to someone." Marc said.
And with that, he disappeared into a large crowd of people.
Louise came home after a tiring day, only to find that she'd lost the key to her house. She didn't even have a duplicate. She thought back to where she was before coming home and went back.
"My memory's really bad now," she thought. "I hope I can find it, or I'll have to spend my night somewhere else." Just as she turned round a corner, she bumped into a man.
"Watch where you're going," he growled. Louise apologized and quickly went on. She reached the shops she was in a few minutes ago, where she must have lost the key. She started searching. A little while later, she heard a voice:
"Louise, is this what you're looking for?"
Louise turned around and saw Molly. "Hallo, Molly! I wasn't expecting to see you here - how are you?"
"I feel better now, though my shoulder still hurts," Molly replied. "Your key," she added.
Louise took the key and thanked her, watching as she (Molly) went into one of the shops nearby. Then she remembered the paper Marc had told her to give to Grace's parents. "Better give it now," she thought. She walked up to Grace's house, which was quite near the shops. She rang the bell and waited for the door to open.
"Louise? Glad to see you here!" It was Grace's father. "Come in, come in!" he said. Louise saw that he was in a good mood, and didn't want to remind him about his daughter.
"My wife has gone out, she'll be back in a few minutes," Mr. McDowd said. "What brings you here?"
Louise took out the piece of paper from her bag, and looked at him. "I have to give this to you," she said. "It is a message from Marc Lacrimosa," she hurried on, as he looked at her questioningly. "I can't stay here long. Good day to you." She left the house, but didn't go away. Instead, she stood in a place where Mr. McDowd wouldn't see her. Just as she stood there, he came out.
"Louise?" he called out. "Oh, she's gone." He shook his head and went inside again.
Louise crept out of her hiding place and walked away quietly.
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