ASSASSIN

A short story by Rahul Dowlath.

Black combat boots pounded the gravel path, a cloud of dust flowering in their wake. The man stole a furtive glance behind himself, his adrenalin-focussed eyes darting behind his Oakley’s Plutonium lenses. Nobody in sight. Good. He continued down the twisting path, his lithe frame flickering like a white ghost between the trunks of the surrounding pine trees.

Finally, the man stopped at the edge of the woods. Overhead, a dark military chopper buzzed across the dull winter sky. Before him rose the weaving trusses of a bridge. A perfectly straight road cut a stark line to the other side, where a figure stood, silhouetted. The man slowly tucked one hand into his jacket, fingers tightening around the still-smoking Colt.

He stepped toward the entrance of the checkpoint.

*

Dmitri Matvei smiled, the thin line of his lips twitching into this unnatural emotion. It was going to be a good day: the best day of his, and many of the Brotherhood’s, lives. He surveyed the raucous crowd packed into the square below. He sneaked a quick glance underneath his jacket, where the .44 was tucked away. Glancing at his wristwatch, the young man made his decision. Below, the Senator stepped onto the platform, standing behind an elegant podium. Gripping the dark piece of death in his hand, Dmitri hurried to ground level, immersing himself in the chaos of the crowd.

It was time.

“… our ideals, and our beliefs, embody the spirit of a new dawn!” the Senator roared, sending the crazed mass into a frenzy. “We will not stand trapped within this cage forever–a path to liberation has cut itself down the centre of this metallic monster!”

Dmitri edged his way toward the planned vantage point. His eyes darted toward the escape route. It was clear. Perfect. He glanced up to where the Senator was delivering the rousing speech.

This must not happen… the single phrase droned like a machine gun, the voice of the Commander – his mentor – echoing in his mind. We cannot allow this to happen…

And so, in one deft movement, almost as if in a blur, Dmitri Matvei pulled the Colt .44 from his jacket. A single, muzzled shot whizzed through the cold wintry air.

With no time to spare, Dmitri flew from the courtyard before the raucous crowd even realised what had happened.

Up on the platform, a red rose of blood flowered in stark contrast to the white shirt of the surprised Senator.

*

The man standing on the far side of the cage-like bridge stepped forward slowly. He was dressed in a long, black trench coat. Dmitri quickly bowed his head in the greeting of the Brotherhood.

“Commander,” he intoned. The man stopped, and smiled coldly at the young assassin.

“You have done well, Dmitri. I am proud of you, my son.”

He reached into the depths of his coat and produced a sleek, silver pistol. Dmitri’s eyes widened in sudden fear, his body paralysed by the shock of this development.

“I… I don’t understand…”

The Commander laughed mirthlessly. “You foolish child. You are but a mere mechanism of this great machine of mine… if the Senator ascends the office, our cause will be naught. But disposing of him is only half the plan… you see, I cannot allow any second thoughts to creep into the volatile minds of my charges. It may disrupt the plan. I’m sure you understand.”

And in that instant, everything clicked into place, like the thousands of rivets holding the bridge together. Dmitri felt betrayed, weak… helpless. He felt trapped, as if the criss-crossing trusses of the bridge were confining him, pinning him down under the scrutiny of the dark eye pointing toward his chest. No matter what he did, he would never make it down that path to freedom. The stark line of the concrete road mocked his futile thoughts.

The eye suddenly gave a deafening crack! as a small, silver piece of death rocketed toward the young assassin’s vulnerable chest. The game was over. He had chosen to play this deadly charade, at the mercy of an unforgiving soul, and lost.

The lithe body of Dmitri Matvei collapsed to the floor, his Plutonium-lens Oakleys bouncing off the tarmac. Above the sorry sight stood the tall frame of the Commander, the silver pistol pointed down at the body. More shots rang out across the frozen air, ricocheting off the bridge’s frame.

A demented smile crossed the corrupt man as the silver eye of death smoked in the cold, winter morning.

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