The Reaper.

The gun fell loose in his hand.  It dangled there beside him as he contemplated the city spread before him.  What part of the human brain, or was it the heart, that recognised the true value of the life that swarmed in those cluttered streets; those perfect apartment buildings; the gritty grotto slums?  Which part understood that for one to survive, the other must exist?  Was it the heart or was it the brain?  Which part?   The voice in his head taunted.  Oh that voice.  That voice that had haunted him since his first blooding.  It would never leave him.  Not in this god-forsaken city with its swarms of leeches.  They were the voices in his head.  They who had watched his every act, who had condemned the choices he made.  Didn’t they understand that with every death he dealt, there was a reason for it?

No.  They didn’t.  But it wasn’t them who had driven him to the rooftop with his prized weapon of death in his hand.  It was everything else.

“One, two, three…” he murmured stepping onto the ledge.  The bitter breeze of the deepening night blew his short dark hair in puffs around his head.  His girlfriend would have admired that.  That single image of him on the ledge, with that bitterly black gun dangling from his hand.  She would have liked his legs parted, standing strong, his back ramrod straight.  She would have draped herself off him and dared him to drop her.  And he would stare back with those iridescently cold blue eyes of his and she would pull back.  She wouldn’t show it, but she would be afraid, afraid of him and those cold emotionless eyes… but she would also hunger for him; for the white shirt that billowed about him leaving his chest bare to weather the cold.  For the way his dark denim sat neatly on his hips.  She would hunger for him.  If only it was him she hungered for.

He cocked his head to the side and stared at the atoms that paced the walkways.  He watched the tinier than tiny citizens going about their nightly leisure pursuits.  Each and every one of them knew who made it safe for them.  They knew he watched their every move.  Watched them until they made the wrong move.  And then they would meet the reaper.

They would know what it meant to meet their maker, to meet the reaper, not a person, not breathing or even rotting.  The reaper that sat in his hand.  They would know what it meant then.  When the dark barrel was pointed into their face and they were force to look into the darkness of their death.

He would clean the body up afterwards.  That sacred duty that he reserved only for himself.  He would let no one else touch the bodies he killed.   Not after the reaper had seen to them.  It would deface the work he had done.

The inhumane actions he took it seemed enraged those he protected.  The people believed he did more harm to them than good.  But no, he treated the bodies with the respect any human being deserved.  Because every being, when they’re dead, had no soul, no life anymore, in death, he surmised, they were all the same.  All equal, all bad, all good, all the same.  And thus he cleaned the bodies and prepared them for burial, wrapping white gauze around the body so they may be returned to their families.  Some say he is the kindest of all those who sat around the table.  Some say that he was least monstrous of them all.

But he was no kinder than the others.  He just had the one piece of humanity that the others had cut out of themselves after their first blooding.  They couldn’t handle the voices.

You can’t handle the voices!

“I can!”  He murmured to himself.  The lights dancing in the street below.  Some festival was happening.  He wondered if it was the summer or the winter one.

“One, two, three…” He edged closer to the edge of the ledge and gripped the butt of the gun tighter.

“One, two, three…”

The voices came after his first blooding, but he couldn’t tell it to go away.  He had wanted it to go away.  Every fibre of his body, of his heart, of his mind, of his soul cried out, “Go away!”  But the voices stayed.

The others said, “There is always a ritual.  Give your conscience away, give to a new born child.”

He remember looking at the little girl.  He’d been eighteen at his blooding.  And the girl, the girl had been twelve.  Innocent, with wide eyes, he had known she was the type of child to spend her time studying.  The type of child who was afraid of something, something that she would inevitably hold secret until the day she died.  She was the kind of child such conscience should be given.  But he couldn’t.  Not with those eyes watching him.  Not when they stared at him so widely innocent.

So he sent her away and acquired his girlfriend.  A girl whose heart was as cold as the innocent girl had been innocent.  She had thrived for the attention and he had given it to her.  Bit by bit her nasty presence took away his conscience, reminding him of his place, his chosen future, of the reaper.

Then her body lay on the table him and the voices, those horrible voices, they came back.  With every wipe he smeared on the dead girl, the conscience returned.  She had saved him, and he had not saved her.

The reaper looked so homely now.  Firmly gripped in his hand.  Could he do it?

Of course you can, the voices whispered deviously.

Just pull the trigger.

Pull it!

Pull it!

Pull it!

 

Oblivion was so pleasant.  He thought the reaper was gone, that his hand was empty, but when he opened his eyes, he knew what his hand stroked.  It seemed to whisper to him, One, two three…

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