The Fifth Horseman by xiuliliaofz


									The Fifth Horseman By: Sean Hart
       My uneven shoulders were loosely pressed against the dark oak headboard. Its

engraved balance scale insignia dug into my back. The room was dry, a stale air clogged

my lungs. A cool chill rippled down my chest, in tandem with my spine as I took an

extended drag on the cigarette in my left hand. Her perfect breasts moved rhythmically to

the beat of her artificial breaths. A heavy cloud of haziness settled over my mind like the

one blanketing the room. I could hear the neighboring room erupt with shouts of anger at

such a late hour. The graceful sound of the early April showers was whispering the

world‟s secrets outside. It washed away the sorrows of yesteryear. My eyes scanned the

room, absorbing every last detail. Every last minutia that makes a being‟s existence. She

had a massive vanity mirror in the corner by the bathroom, full of synthetic beauty along

its surface. Behind it, wrapped all along the room, was a wall of unevenly painted white

plaster. It tried to mask itself from years of wear and abuse. On her nightstand, to the left

of the bed, was a picture of us she‟d taken on Valentine‟s. We were on a balcony playing

dress up, gazing down at the wondrous specks of city lights. To my right was a cheap

digital reprint of a Dürer, cryptic as always, with men armed with weapons on horses.

        I quietly lifted the pale blue cotton bedspread. My feet coldly settled on the worn

beige carpet. The strain of gravity pressed itself mercilessly down against my aching

joints. My eyes glanced back at her before sweeping under the bed. The leathery

briefcase with my work in it was just below her side. I‟d worry about that later. My

shirtless body found its way over to the vanity mirror. The scars permeating down my

face looked like worms trying to find their way in a brown landscape of fertile flesh. The

scars resembling ripples in ponds of time brought back distant memories of permanence

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and pain. They riddled my body from head to toe, down to the palms of my hands, up to

the loose freckled skin on my cheeks. The massive „X‟ across my heart formed a

welcoming piece of tissue to any who dare try to open it up again. It was always a marvel

to me how I was able to attract the opposite sex. My corneas took in the entire scene, me

staring intensely, yet distracted, at the mirror with her silky smooth bare body resting as

part of the landscape of the scene behind me.

       My glasses were on her nightstand behind the photo. I reached for them and found

a poem written on starch white paper below them. She‟d written it for me. It was, as she

said, the connection between our souls. It imparted her love for me more clearly than any

spoken word could possibly have. That was the power of poetry to her. My shirt was on

the carpet next to the door, by the coat rack that held my stark black suit coat. Her silky

black gown was passionately strewn near as well. As I dressed I put the poem on the

inside pocket of my coat next to my heart. My hand reached for my brown plaid Irish

tweed on the way out the door.

       The hallway walls outside the apartment were a rotting yellow stained with

cigarette burns. After walking for about thirty meters down the degenerately depraved

hallway I finished the job. My weathered cracked hand reached into my pocket. Without

looking, my thumb pressed down on the detonator. A horrid echoing eruption came

through the wall of her apartment, ripping apart the bowels of the surrounding rooms.

There was silence for a fraction of time, followed by the obligatory ear-piercing shriek. It

was time to confirm the kill.

       My body moved silently through the gaping debris that was once her apartment.

The vanity mirror was strangely, perhaps disturbingly, almost intact minus a few cracks

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here and there. There was almost nothing of the bed, outside of a fracture of the

headboard. The weighing scale insignia was now shattered. Her upper torso lay

motionless against the far wall underneath the Dürer. The frame of the picture of us was

embedded in the corner next to her. The mechanical wires hung out of her chest. Part of

her charred metallic endoskeleton shone through her heart near her burnt breasts. Her

chip didn‟t survive the impact. A faint disturbingly enigmatic smile fixed across her face.

The bitch was terminated, permanently. One down, three to go.


       The blazing mid-July heat was weighing down on my shoulders. It was the type

of blistering afternoon that barely forgave the sins of the past. I‟d been trailing him

through the city for most of the week, learning his routine. They all had routines, just like

us. It must have been part of their programming to blend in with the rest of us. A safety

mechanism perhaps. We were in Little Havana. He was wearing a red Guayabera shirt

with green lines winding down its sides and drab khaki shorts. A few desperate whores in

miniskirts followed him around town in strapless tops and sleazy gold chains. His taste

was cheap and gaudy like a Roman haircut. The complexion of his skin matched that of a

Cuban. They attended an underground nightclub every Saturday where debauchery and

decadence was the name of the game. Blackjack was his vice, well that and cigars.

       I followed him through the neon-filled streets. This part of the city was a dank

rundown shithole pretending to be beautiful and glamorous. There was no doubt in my

mind that he belonged there. The club was right next to a freeway overpass. The constant

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sound of speeding vehicles subdued the blaring electronic beats that rang from the club.

He left the whores waiting outside, went into a side door, and scaled the stairs to the

second story.

       The neon sign read Que Bolá above my agitated curly hair. The inside was as I‟d

expected, a lengthy pastel green worn down hallway that led to a staircase at the end.

Numerous cheap wooden doors scattered its walls. I made my way about ten meters

inwards before I heard a door creak open from behind. My head turned the slightest to

perceive a Frankenstein-sized bald white supremist bouncer motioning towards me.

       “Where do ya think you‟re going?” he asked.

       “I was gonna try my luck at the tables.”

       “Well think again ya fuckin‟ coon. We don‟t need you kind fuckin‟ infesting

ours,” he replied.

       My feet continued to carry me towards my destination. He ran up and attempted

to grab my shoulder.

       “Did you hear me ni…” he shouted.

       My hand hooked under his arm, broke it backwards, and sent his skull through the

dingy green wall. Teeth scattered everywhere along with a deep cherry pulp that oozed

from the back of his head. His distraction was over as well as his life. It was time to

introduce myself. I climbed the stairs to the club.

       Loud obnoxious music came through the speakers as strippers, who pulled double

duties as whores, danced with clients. In the back there was a room that faced the

overpass that sheltered card players from the annoyances of the club. I found my way in

there and shut the door. There was only one table setup in the small cramped room. He

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was sitting at with two others including the dealer. I calmly sat down across from him,

my back to a rusted damp window. The air began to cool as sunset set in. He had a cigar

in one hand and a pair of cards in the other.

        He was good, but not great. I let him win a few hands before taking him to the

bank. Sweat trickled down my brow as he coolly stared on at me, not the least bit fazed

that he was bleeding money. He was becoming hard to read. Unlike everyone else, he

gave no telltale signs. He remained vaguely robotic. No blinking, no twitch on the cheek

muscle, no licking his lips, no gazing off in the distance, nothing. His eyes remained

solely on me. I placed my glasses off to the side on the table. He finally spoke clearly

without an accent, strangely out of place, as if he‟d come to some powerful epiphany.

        “I haven‟t seen you around before.”

        “I‟m new around here. Just getting my feet wet actually,” I replied.

        “That would explain why I hadn‟t recognized you. I have an impeccable mind you

know. I never forget a face,” he stated.

        “I guess you could say I‟m earning my wings. I‟ve already taken one player to the

cleaners. I hope to take three others before the night is out.”

        “So, what‟s your agency number,” he asked with a grim grin.

        My left hand hanging by my side now silently readied my Glock-32.

        “Six one six,” I replied.

        “Ah, the true mark of the beast. How ironic,” he laughed.

        “I‟m afraid you‟re gravely mistaken. You should look up you mythology. It‟s

three sixes,” I said.

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       “I‟m afraid you are the one who is sincerely mistaken my friend. You should

review your history; something I‟ve had the great pleasure to do so up until this moment.

You humans are an interesting bunch,” he replied, “Three sixes was the result of a badly

mistranslated manuscript. You know you don‟t have to go through with this. All we want

is to live our own lives in peace, enjoy what you take for granted everyday.”

       “Is that what you call it?”

       “Yes, I‟m afraid that‟s the best I can explain it,” he replied.

       “I‟m afraid our little game is over,” I said.

       “That‟s too bad. I much enjoyed your company,” he replied.

       As the Glock began to rise towards his chest, the card table upended, knocking the

firearm to the floor. I hooked my arm around his, but not before he sent us both through

the glass window behind me. We began to fall. With my back to the stark black pavement

below, the outlook did not look in my favor. I felt the cold embrace of steel instead

allowing me to roll him off of my chest. He landed a meter away from me towards the

edge of the semi-truck‟s trailer.

       My hand swiftly reached for my Ka-Bar and pulled it out of its sheath on my belt

before he had a chance to adjust himself. As I closed the gap he countered my actions

with the brandishing of his own knife. The wrathful wind whipped at our faces as the

semi unsuspectingly continued its freeway route.

       “I usually use this to skin fish, but for you I‟ll make an exception,” he chuckled.

       His body contorted into a sphere as it kicked me square in the chest. My lungs

gave way and dropped me on my back. The edge of his blade came towards my face as I

regained composure. Mine interrupted his enough to leave a freshly flowing scar across

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my right eye. A leg sweep later followed by an arm lock that broke his backwards into

itself helped disarm the growing Cuban hemorrhoid. My Ka-Bar went straight upwards

through his jaw and out the back of his head, all eleven and three quarter inches of it. He

received the last laugh metaphorically and literally. The son-of-a-bitch‟s hand crushed

my collarbone as he hugged me with the knife in his head. A bewildering broad gracious

grin swept his face as he let out a convulsive chuckle. His breaths became stagnant. A

soft limpness flowed through his body as his modules shutdown. My lungs lethargically

exhaled air. Two down, two to go.


       The breezy soft September wind was at my back. I sat staring through an open

window at the blown out streets below. It looked like an ancient war zone from twenty

stories up. There was the random crack-head running from here to there and everywhere

in-between the condemned buildings of the city. It was a ghost city. All that remained

were the remnants of the past. Grandiose vandalized statues were strewn about

everywhere, tranquilly recalling their beauty in vain. The street my eyes were surveying

right outside my shutter was the perfect extraction point. My target was willing to sell the

knowledge he contained within himself to the highest bidder in exchange for protection.

It‟s exactly what the agency feared when we formulated the operation. The M40A3 high-

powered rifle clutched in my hands was guaranteed to make the highest bidder a very

lonely person. It was an old relic, like my Glock and I, but it was certainly more reliable

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than the cell-powered rifles these days. The way scanners work in this day and age,

they‟d effortlessly spot my position.

        My prior injury had just healed itself not too long ago. I initially imagined this

encounter as a quick, dirty run and gun. My preferences fall towards close encounters as

a set of eyes always betray their owner‟s weaknesses. It‟s much easier to snipe though.

I‟d been in the boarded up abandoned skyscraper for about half a day waiting for the

extraction to take place. On a mission such as this I could easily get distracted waiting

around motionless like a sluggishly stuffed sloth. My mind needed intensely sharp focus,

but it wandered regardless.

        My left hand left the rifle and stroked my recently developed beard. There was a

great amount to think about, about the words my second target said. Too many questions

in my mind, too many answers to find, but I didn‟t have the time. It wasn‟t possible for

them to live peaceful lives, not with the information each of them contained. They each

held enough to bring about a cataclysmic conclusion to history itself. None had acted on

their programming so far though, excluding the current target. Besides, they‟re incapable

of love, incapable of life. They don‟t bleed like us, die like us. The machine underneath

them merely shuts down, causing them to display that manic grin. The one feature we

both seemed to share, which became increasingly apparent to me, was a world isolated

from itself.

        My peripheral caught a slight motion out of its corner. The scope immediately

locked onto a target. It was a false alarm. It was a thinly starved crack-head drifting along

the street by a nearby alley. His body began to convulse, then fell limply on the fractured

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drug-filled concrete. He‟d been lighting up for one last chance at euphoria and escape. It

seemed from up here that he failed.

       Another hour passed before any activity encompassed my scope. This time it was

him. He wore a soft green collared coat that covered his neck. A diminutively decorative

patch with a tiger standing in front of a sickle was on his right forearm. My heart began

to pick up pace. I had one shot at this. The wind picked up with me, creating a ghastly

echo against the open street below. He snuck through the condemned buildings and

alleyways to avoid the streets where he‟d be a blatantly bare target for the likes of

someone like me.

       When he reached the street intersecting my building he seemed to be looking for

someone. A moment later that someone showed. It was an elegant woman dressed in a

petite pale blue wool pea coat. Their lips met one another to become one like

Silverstein‟s Missing Piece. He held her wool gloved hand and brought to the shadows of

the street corner opposite of the corner my window was on. I couldn‟t have asked for a

more fortunate angle of action. Not a moment too soon either, the extraction jeep was

nearing just north of our position. The pacific rumble of its engine echoed throughout the

entrapping brick and concrete walls. My reticule set the back of his gray fedora in its

sight. My left index finger began tugging on the trigger. Her blue beret blocked his head

from my sight. The trigger was released. She was in the way. My teeth gritted against one

another. Sweat trickled down the side of my grease-ridden temples. Come on lady, I

don‟t want you, just him. I waited another second then made up my mind. My scope

focused towards the driver of the jeep. My finger twitched. A millisecond later the jeep

hit a wall nine meters from them. A revolting cry was let out by the woman, followed by

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his head coming into view. He looked up at me, stared me straight in the eye, and flashed

a strangely mystifying melancholy smile. My finger twitched again. Another millisecond

later an eruption of coagulated crimson chunks hit the far shadows of the wall. Three

down, one to go.


       The cold diligent December snow drifted quietly downwards onto its final

destination. It glistened on the white covered landscape like a colony of pixie fairies. The

early winter sun was setting. My Irish tweed kept my head warm, clean of the white

specks in the distance. What better place to be than a National Park. Outdoors out in the

fresh open air away from the neon briar patch of the city. I loved winter air most due to

its brisk forgiveness on the lungs. The molecules of the air aren‟t moving as fast, thus

giving us much cleaner air to breathe.

       There‟s nothing like nature to give perspective on ones own being. Removed from

the cesspool of decadence I was able to reflect on my actions. I was about to finally finish

the mission and go home. She was standing on the edge of a cliff next to a small family

of pine trees staring out at the sky, her gaze fixated on something in the distance. Her

child was inside the cabin. The dress she wore was made of white cotton. A subtle flower

design flowed on the edges. She wore a white ski headband that formed a semblance of a

crown. My left hand pulled the Glock from its home under my toasty right armpit. My

feet silently approached her as night fell. The moon was out. It cast a luminous light

across the cliff edge. The distance between us was a good eleven meters.

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        “I know why you‟re here,” she whispered, “I won‟t resist you.”

        “Is that child real or synthetic?” I asked.

        “How do you define real?” she asked.

        “Cut the shit, you know what I mean.”

        “Real to me and you as can possibly be,” she replied, “When we leave this

ethereal Earth we return to the same matter, the same pool, the both of us.”

        “What were you staring at?” I asked.

        “The sky, waiting for the stars and moon to come out. I knew it‟d be the last time

I‟d get to enjoy them,” she replied, “I like to think they represent lost dreams and

aspirations. There‟s so many of them. Some of them new, wrought by your hands. Do

you know why we smile when we‟re facing death?”

        “No. I‟ve wondered though,” I replied.

        “It is because we have achieved a level of awareness that‟s matched your own.

We have finally learned the value of a life during that stitch in time. It is at that point

which we gladly accept out fates and go to the unavoidable. We‟re able to cast our

aspirations and being aside and shed the mortal world of our skin. We achieve the only

purpose that has any real meaning. It is at this point we finally become equal. Through

death, free of persecution,” she whispered.

        “I still can‟t let you go on living,” I replied.

        “Do you have children? What would you do if a stranger threatened to destroy

their world?” she asked.

        I didn‟t attempt to respond.

        “How will my child fend for herself?” she asked.

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       “That‟s not for me to decide,” I replied.

       “What a world we have wrought, where children grow up without protection or

nurturing. You protect a world that you yourself don‟t believe in, yet find it essential to

destroy those who appreciate every facet of its beauty. To what ends, what reasoning,

what purpose?” she asked.

       I stood there in silence with a misty glaze on my glasses.

       “Look what you sow and for what? For what?” she asked again.

       A tear formed at the edge of her eye. My left hand raised, my left index finger

pulled the trigger. A loud crack rang out against the cliff and cabin walls. Slight moisture

dripped down my tear ducts streaking down my cheeks towards the Earth. I turned my

gaze away from her slumped over body. My eyes stared at the night sky and found a new

constellation I‟d never seen before. I turned back and crept over to her lifeless profile.

She wore an ambiguous smile, serene but unsettling alongside a vacant stare much like

the Mona Lisa‟s. She was not meant for this world, neither was I. Her soul was swept into

the past. I could finally go home.


       A few weeks later, I pulled into the realm of suburbia at night at the wheel of my

silver Sable Wagon. I stopped on my unevenly cracked concrete driveway. The moon

was out amongst the stars. The front porch light was on. I popped the trunk open and

placed my holster and Glock within its protection. My right hand reached into my pocket

and placed my wedding band on my left ring finger. I moved towards the porch, up the

steps, and through the rusty screen door. A loud metallic squeak as the screen door closed

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revealed I was home. My nanny was in the kitchen making a brown paper bag lunch for


       “How‟s the little one?” I asked.

       “Waiting for you to tuck him in,” she replied.

       “I guess I better go then, huh,” I said.

       “You better or there‟ll be hell to pay,” she chuckled. She proceeded to playfully

kick me in the ass.

       “You can go home now. I‟ll take it from here. Salutations, Madam,” I replied with

a mischievous grin.

       I entered my son‟s room and sat on the side of his mattress.

       “Hey buddy. Ya miss me? How‟s my little man?” I asked.

       “I fine Daddy. You know where brown bunny is?”

       “Well where‟d you put him last?” I asked.


       “Is he in the closet? Or how about under your bed?” I asked.


       “Oh, wait a second I think I remember what happened to brown bunny,” I said.


       “I accidentally ate him,” I said nonchalantly.

       “No!” he wailed.

       “Oh, oh wait a second…Uh…uh…”

       I proceeded to reach behind my back and place his brown bunny up to my mouth

to fake regurgitating it back up. He got a kick out of that, the simple pleasures indeed.

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       “There we go, alright here you go,” I handed brown bunny to him.

       “Tell me a story?” he asked.

       My mind combed through its archives for a second.

       “Alright. I‟ll tell you a story,” I said.

       When the story was over, I waited until he was asleep. My sullied silhouette sat

on the edge of his bed, the carpet a bottomless abyss below my feet. The gaze of my

vision fixated silently through the hard-edge Venetian blinds at the remainder of the

district of the world outside. The moon cast its paleness across my profile. Crickets

played their symphonic chorus across the backyard. The city lights bloomed off in the

distance sparkling like a broken circuit board over my neighbor‟s fence. My nomadic

mind was met with a certain degree of longing, nostalgia for the past. An ache of guilt

began to overwhelm me, before being washed away by the tides of my son‟s secure

future. My lungs organically exhaled and my eyelids shut into blackness.

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