“Are you one of them now?” I asked.
“You know me,” he replied.
“No, I don’t. Not anymore.”
Our pistols were drawn from their holsters–their muzzles aimed to kill. One of us would die today, and the other would live on with regret. If only he had listened to me. If only he had turned the offer down. I warned him that he would lose sight of himself. But, he was stubborn. He wanted the thrill. He found excitement in the dangers that entailed. And because of that–a selfish pursuit–another member on our team had to die.
“I’m not one of them,” he stated, holding an unfamiliar, placid mien–a sign that he had, indeed, changed.
“You’re not fooling anyone.”
“I’m telling you the truth.”
“Why did you join them?”
“I didn’t join them.”
“We know what’s going to happen tonight. So spare me the lies.”
He hesitated–his gaze shifted to the dust-laden cement floor. It was an involuntary reaction, one that occured within a split second–one I was trained to spot.
“Fine,” he said.
The world was deep in slumber. There were no witnesses in the abandoned warehouse, where we would soon bury our relationship and the truth that came with it. The secrets shared would remain within the peeling, crumbling walls. And the blood spilled would fade to a stain no one would question. But before I put the case to rest, I needed to know how and why.
“How did they change you?”
“They didn’t change me. I’m still me.”
“No, you’re different.”
I had known him for ten years. And though people do change, no change can drastically occur within three months. His unemotional, nonchalant approach in the face of death was alien. I was confident he wasn’t the man I knew. Amongst the others, he had never been able to master such courage. Despite his enthusiasm for death-defying missions, he couldn’t stare down an enemy without a flicker of fear in his eyes. But that night, he could. He could pull the trigger–murder the man who had saved his life countless times–without any hesitation.
“Think what you want,” he said. “But I’m still me–a better, un-corrupted version of me.”
“Is that why you joined them?”
“You would too, if only you saw the truth.”
“I don’t do cults.”
“We’re not a cult. We’re a movement–a resistance against your blind faith.”
“That’s what all cults call themselves–a movement, a resistance, playing gods over humanity.”
“It saddens me how you fail to see the light.”
“I’m sorry–I’ve yet to attain enlightenment.”
“You mock me now, but you’ll soon regret your words.”
Yes, regret. Regret that I would soon have to end the life of the man I once called brother. Or regret that I would soon die at his hands. But the latter wasn’t an option. This enemy was growing at an alarmingly rapid rate. Their recruitment efforts–whatever they were–were working. Two of our men had died in attempts to leave their premises, one went missing, and two openly lied about their stance–one of which I had to put down six months ago. Five elite soldiers, trained to face the worst of humanity, now lost in battle. So I clicked the hammer of my handgun.
“You’ll regret your actions,” I replied. Still, I hesitated.
There were only three of us left. If the remaining of us failed, it would be the end of the Delta team. Would Epsilon succeed after us? As my finger grazed the trigger, I shoved those doubts aside. I had to do my job, so I said a silent goodbye to another fallen member. And just before he put a bullet through my head, I put a bullet through his.
As his body fell limp to the ground, I heaved a sigh. I had to dispose of another body, but not before I made the call. They had to know. They were waiting. After two rings, the Master answered.
“Has he gone to meet with the Lord?” Master asked.
“Then let us pray that the Lord has mercy on him.”
“I will pray through the night, Master.”
“Will you be returning to the temple tomorrow?”
“I cannot–I’m afraid they are watching me.”
“Then stay safe and be vigilant, my son. Our Temple of Eternity will keep you in prayer, too.”
“Thank you, Master.”
“Blessed is the pure of heart.”
“Blessed is the pure of heart.”
At the click of the phone line, I heaved another sigh. Master would soon send another member of our team behind enemy lines. It wouldn’t be me–I was the only one who could restore order if one of our remaining men fell. But should they fail, my time would come. With enough prayer, I have faith I can withstand the lies of the enemy. After all, as Master said, I own the purest heart amongst them all.
12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)