He races down the darkened alleyway that stinks of urine and puke. The sound of his feet pounding the blacktop echoes off the brick buildings that rise up on either side of him. He doesn’t look back. He has no desire to see what may be pursuing him. Instead, he focuses on the light that gently kisses the alley’s opening and heads for it.
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Fear is his only emotion as exits onto the city’s main thoroughfare. It normally is lined with beeping cars and cursing drivers, but this morning it is quiet. Even the sidewalks are empty except for the errant scraps of paper that flutter here or there. Sure, the streetlights still blink but there is no one to obey their commands. He thinks, "Maybe it’s this way every morning."
And as his pace slows to a walk, he reaches into one of the deep pockets of his knee length coat. He touches the cold metal of a weapon, but instead of feeling secure he feels only guilt for having used it.
"Damn!" he curses as he hears that measured tread from somewhere behind him. If he had ever been a horror afficianado, he would have thought back to the multitude of 80's slasher films in which the victims run, but the villain always walks. As it is, this comparison is lost on him. He probably wouldn't appreciate it anyway.
He had known, somehow, that it would come to this eventually. He was getting sloppy. His last few kills had been all-gun, and he hated that. Assassins don't have much by way of a code, but one steadfast rule among killers has always been 'Guns for show, knives for a pro'. The closer one could get to one's victim before making the kill, the better.
He'd been neglecting the rule. His kills were getting messy, uncoordinated. Hell, the last one had almost touched him. So they had sent their clean-up man to punch his card. Fine. He would show the man a thing or two before he met his end. Hell, he might even take the bastard with him. Or so he told himself. This clean-up man, this guy was different somehow. Every move he made brought him closer to his target. No mistakes.
And suddenly, there he is, at the end of the alley. A gaunt, pale figure in a tattered coat. He suddenly remembers that the man is called Seth. The figure's arm rises to its' shoulder, and there is a blur of motion to his right. A knife-blade buries itself in the wood perhaps an inch from his head. He recoiles, considers running, and instead kicks at the door of the building. It buckles inward, and he stumbles inside. There is an odor of disuse: animal foetor, rotting plastic, moss. A golgotha.
He throws himself against the far door, and it gives easily, spilling him into a pitch-black bathroom. He hits porcelain, feels around, and discovers that he is laying in the tub.
From outside: Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Then nothing.
He waits. Time slips by. There is no sound from outside, no movement, nothing. He begins to drowse, and once or twice comes close to slapping himself. Then, an unknown amount of time later, the door flies open and a figure comes hurtling toward him. In a flash, he draws his gun and puts four shots into it. In the bright flash that accompanies each he is able to see two things. One, that the figure is wearing Seth's coat. Two, that the figure is not wearing Seth's head- but rather, a ball of wet, decaying fabric. Shit!
He yelps in pain as a knife buries itself in the meat of his shoulder, and pushes himself up from the tub, making a mad dash toward the door. Another knife comes out of the dark, missing his leg by an inch, and he throws his shoulder forward, hitting something fleshy and yielding in the dark. He fires wildly in the direction it fell, then scampers out the door, into the street. It is getting lighter already, and he can see by the rays of the sun that no one is coming out of the building after him. He was out of knife range now, and even if Seth wasn't dead he'd have to catch up again. "I did it," he thinks wonderingly. "I'm alive. Maybe I'm not losing it after a-"
The man, whose name was not Seth, stands over the body of the assassin. Knives were good, no question there, but a man had to know his limitations. Assassins' Code was, after all, an oxymoron.
He turns, pockets his gun, and strolls away under the rays of the morning sun.
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.