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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.

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-"

BLAM!

.................

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.


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Comments

The following comments are for "Write Off: Assassins' Code"
by Beckett Grey

The usual
The writing was good, but is seem rushed. At 787 words, the real estate offered was barely used. The writing for this story seemed to be a prepackaged storyline. (I'm guilty of that myself.) But, It seems that you barely took the time to add anything beyond that. I expected higher calibre work coming from the sites more prominent writers, but was left hanging with this one.

( Posted by: kross [Member] On: February 12, 2002 )

Nice
Nice. I wish it was longer, more drawn out. Creating more tension between the characters. Maybe building on the main guys past a little more. Also, I think this could have ended just fine at "BLAM!" - The next little bit takes away from it I think. Otherwise, pretty good story.

( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: February 15, 2002 )

Good Job
I liked the fast pace of this and the action. Of course a little of the ultra-violence is always good too. I love that stuff.

The ending my have gotten away from you a little bit and Jeff's characters are better developed. But your writing is very tight and as entertaining to read as any writer at this site.

In my opinion, you get a slight edge because Jeff didn't use the whole starter.


Good job Beckett,

Parteepants

( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: February 15, 2002 )

Kill Me
Something like that...could make a guy never want to pick up a pen again.

Someone tells me they HATE what I wrote- good, I got a big response.

Someone tells me they liked what I wrote- good, that's the point, in the end.

Someone tells me that I'm writing tripe- It's time to reconsider my options...

( Posted by: Beckett Grey [Member] On: February 15, 2002 )

Options?
As far as I can tell you only have one, "write more." You're too damn good not to. Ya know?

Parteepants

( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: February 15, 2002 )

Hate? Tripe?
I don't believe either of those words where used to describe your work. My only true criticism was that You didn't use the full word count to flesh the story out more. In all of your other stories you weave a rich environment for the reader, In this story though it seems more like we went straight to the climatic conclusion without the necessary build up. It could be the nature of the starter that lead the story this way, I've had trouble with the starter before as well. But, in no way does this imply that your peice was hated. I've enjoyed reading many of your works, but due to time constraints I've not been able to read them all. From what I've read I believe your an Excellent writer, with many great stories to tell. I just didn't feel that this particular story lived up to that level.

(Also the whole knife vs gun thing reminded me of 'The Professional')

I apologize if I came off harsh, that was not my intent. I tend to be a little cranky some times and that carries through in my post. Also in my attempts to be more critical of peoples writings, I may have gone a little overboard. I don't think I gave you the lowest rating, but my comments were probably the most critical.

Keep on writing, your work is well worth the read.

-kross

( Posted by: kross [Member] On: February 15, 2002 )

A late comment
I know I missed out on the voting for this series. Sorry, I have been preoccupied. The comment I would like to make is that you, Beckett, have had a wonderful streak of success in writing at Lit. Your ability is well documented with good comments and scoring by the readers. I don't think you should let one story that is perhaps not quite as well received effect you to any great extent. Start another streak!

( Posted by: The Hal [Member] On: February 17, 2002 )

It's not exactly a pen...
Just messing around, but it's not a pen when you type it up... Of course, if you're the kind that prefers to do more work, and writes it out before posting it... I see where you're coming from.

--Something like that...could make a guy never want to pick up a pen again.--

The trick is, try to see where they're coming from. I noticed that they didn't say that, but... You know, you shouldn't take what's on the internet too seriously. I know, even for me, it's a huge part of life, but you gotta remember that... It was one story. Maybe they like a totally different genre altogether. Maybe they're pricks that like destroying other peoples hearts. Listen, you should try to be happy with yourself for writing something legible, most of the people I know write stories about lost puppies and Candyland. Be thankful of your own talent, and don't let what people say get you down.

--Someone tells me they HATE what I wrote- good, I got a big response.--

A big response, or a stupid one.

--Someone tells me they liked what I wrote- good, that's the point, in the end.--

But it would kinda be boring if everyone said "Super story!" and "It was amazing! Write more!", correct? There's no controversy, and controversy is what makes writing interesting. It's an art.


--Someone tells me that I'm writing tripe- It's time to reconsider my options...--

It's time to reconsider the people that read your stories, not yourself.

( Posted by: Death Blade [Member] On: February 28, 2002 )





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