POSTED 10/06/2018 16:37
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A black battered truck slowly reversed towards the men. The scavenger stood still, the wind on his face, and watched as the men roughly shoved Adam into the side of the waiting vehicle. Their leader turned around and stared at the scavenger, a smirk on his face.
“A deal’s a deal.” He jumped into the front of the truck and it screeched away, leaving behind a cloud of thick fumes and blinding dust. The bikes also revved off, humming like a swarm of angry bees.
He stood there and watched as the dust cleared, and the silence hit him. He stared at the man on the ground, his skull smashed in. He’d saved my life, he thought and looked up at the direction the truck went. He was conflicted, and the voices in his head weren’t helping. It was his choice to follow you; this one is on him, and not you, one of the voices said.
And yet he saved your life, another chimed in.
We’ve saved his life too, haven’t we?
“Yes, we have,” he said in a low voice, and squatted close to the dead man.
He wasn’t disgusted by the sight; he’d killed before, but the rage he’d seen in Adam had been astonishing. He searched the man’s pockets but found nothing of interest in it except a crumpled pack of cigarettes and a few Daris.
He stood up and walked slowly towards his bike. From the look of the dark moisture spreading on the ground, underneath the bike, he guessed that the tank had been bashed in. He grunted and stood the bike, then he tapped the smashed fuel gauge—he’d been right.
“Almost empty,” he muttered. His phone buzzed in his pocket, shifting his attention momentarily from the bike. It was an alert from his bank.
“Half a million Daris,” he read out loud. Then why wasn’t he happy? He tucked the phone back into his pocket, stared into the horizon and then got on his bike.
The house felt empty as he walked into it. Once upon a time, he’d been a bounty hunter and he’d handed over hundreds of bounties before quitting, then why the hell was he feeling weird about letting that guy go? Maybe it was because none of those bounties had ever saved his life before.
He walked up to a cabinet and opened it. Bottles of different colors lined the shelves, each either half full or empty. He chose a bottle and reached for a glass. He stopped and closed the cabinet, deciding that he didn’t need a glass.
“I wasn’t wrong, was I?” He asked himself and took a pull from the bottle. He sighed as the liquid raced down his throat, then he closed his eyes and took a longer pull. His vision became blurred by the time he dropped the bottle, and his movement swayed slightly. Placing the bottle carelessly on a stool, he dropped himself on a couch and heaved. He blinked rapidly and burped, his breath reeked of alcohol. He forgot about the bottle and raised his leg onto the stool, sending the bottle smashing on the floor, and spilling its content onto the carpet. He shrugged, not at all concerned.
“I was looking after myself, it’s what I do,” he muttered, his head spinning and his thoughts swimming about without any form of order. He took out the phone and stared at the message; half a million Daris. He’d get a new bike, and move out of this shitty district, and have all the women he can handle, which was a lot. He was set for at least a year, but why wasn’t he still happy?
He leaned back on the couch and closed his eyes. He listened to his slow breathing as it faded away, replaced by the voices in his head which became extremely loud. He heard his name, so he opened his eyes.
"Aaron." A voice called out. He looked around the room, which was covered in white light. The voice was familiar; soft and weak, like his mother's. And the way she called that name, a name he hated hearing, it had to be her. He walked around the room, surprised not to bump into any of the furniture. He looked closer and realized that he was in an empty room, white all over. He stopped walking when a large screen came on at the far end of the room. The room dimmed and the light from the screen fell on his face. On it was his mother, screaming and crying; a day he hated remembering, but one could never forget.
He shut his eyes tight, his lips quivering, and fought back the tears threatening to escape from his eyes. He’d watched from afar as his mother was killed, a long time ago. He’d tortured himself about that day ever since, if only he’d done something and not hidden like a coward. And now he was staring at the images all over again.
“Now you have the chance to do something,” he heard his mother’s voice say.
He nodded and then opened his eyes. He had no idea how long he’d been out, but he was soaked through with perspiration. He quickly jumped out of the couch, took off his shirt and began to think. He smiled and snapped his fingers, then he reached for his phone. He thought for a moment then he dialed a number.
“Jakob, my man,” he spoke into the phone when it connected.
“What is it, Aaron?” Jakob’s uninterested voice spilled out from the phone’s speakers.
“For one, don’t call me Aaron. Only my mama called me that, and she’s dead.”
“Speak, Aaron. I’m a busy man, you got your money, what do you want?”
He chuckled. “About that, I have to come along and watch the exchange, don’t you think? I mean, I caught the bounty, didn’t I? Just like old times, so where’s it going down?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Jakob said abruptly. “And I’m not telling you anything. If that’s all, I have to go now.” Just as he spoke, a bell chimed twice in the background. The scavenger smiled and nodded. “No, that will be all.”
He tossed his phone aside and smiled triumphantly. The bell chime had been loud, and there was only one place in Eden that had a bell which chimed: the old church in middle town, of course. He snapped his knuckles, wriggled his hands, and then walked down the corridor into the room opposite his bedroom. He typed in a code into the keypad on the wall and the door clicked open. The door scrapped against the floor as he pushed it open. He stepped into the dark room, then he flicked on the light switch.
“Oh, yeah,” he smiled and rubbed his palms together.
He only came into this room when it was scavenging time, but now was a good a time as any to get in here. The room was built like a cube, and shelves were built into each wall. Each shelve had weapons of all kinds: hand guns, rifles, explosive devices, and the more sinister demon blasters and dream catchers – the names he called the special weapons he took with him to the realms of the nightmares.
He grabbed a black bag and began to toss guns into it, not taking his time to select but just grabbing whichever one caught his fancy. He opened a built in wardrobe and changed into a black vest and black trousers. He also grabbed a bracelet which he fused to his wrist. I wonder if this still works, he thought and pushed a button on the bracelet. It lit up and then expanded over his body in the form of a thin green light, rendering him invisible.
“It still works,” he chuckled. He slung the bag over his shoulder and walked towards the door. He stopped and reached for a low shelf, grabbing the sheathed blade on it. The blade reminded him of Adam, so he decided to take it and possibly give it to him as a peace offering.
And what if he doesn’t forgive you? A voice in his head said.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
The Methodist Church of Eden had long since moved to its new headquarters in the upper section of the city, leaving behind the wrecked old church which had become a notorious ground for illegal activities. If you needed someone to disappear or you needed a particular hard product which was ‘rare’, chances were that you would be referred to the old church. The funny aspect—or possibly weird—was the fact that it operated like a leased building; not more than one illegal operation could be run in the place at the same time, and the old church was run by a group of criminals, the Heathens, who had first come across the old church.
The scavenger crouched on a ledge a few miles from the old church and watched it closely. The cloud was getting dark, which was not exactly surprising because the weather in Eden was as unpredictable as everything else. But it was a good thing, the coming darkness. He just hoped he wasn’t too late. The tall church building, though slanted to the side, still stood solid. The windows were smashed in and sealed up with wooden boards, and so were most of the doors, leaving only one major entrance. The bell on the tower by the right chimed, echoing loudly, the sound travelling past him and into the town behind. At one time, years ago, this bell had told people when to go for church services, which was mandatory.
He adjusted himself and lay beneath the water-proof covering of an old stall. His weapons bag lay close to him. He unzipped it and took out a binocular. There wasn’t an ounce of fear in him; this was what he did regularly, and in far more dangerous locations, like when he went to hunt dream essence from those grumpy nightmares—he thought of them a grumpy, but they were indeed dangerous.
He surveyed the area through the glasses and watched as a black truck pulled up. He thought it odd that they were just bringing the bounty over the church now. What have you guys been up to? He asked himself as he watched them shove a man through the door of the church. Several armed bounty hunters, most of whom he knew, were posted at the entrance. Others patrolled the area. It wasn’t going to be difficult getting down to the church; the area was surrounded by thick bushes, enough cover for him to hide in.
“Time to move,” he said and reached for his bag. He rose up to a squatting position and was about to move forward when he picked up a crunching sound behind him. He turned around sharply, but it was too late. The blow landed hard on his head and he fell down.
“I knew he was up to something. Take him in with the bounty; we’ll kill him once the exchange is complete.”
He watched through the numbness in his head as someone stood close to him and dropped another blow on him. The voices instantly faded away and everything became dark.