Hades’ slightly-distorted voice whispered over the walkie-talkie. “Take another left at the end of this street. There’ll be a security camera pointed right at you on one of the side shop’s backdoors. Keep outta its way. You don’t wanna mess up this time!” He hissed, the same way he hissed at almost everything he said. I took a careful turn to the left of the street, eyeing the camera he had just mentioned. It was a moving camera, that turned from left to right. “Okay, okay. Stop crawlin’ up my back, Dude. It’s annoying. And might I remind you who’s fault it was the last time we messed up?” I sprinted towards the camera the second its head turned away from my direction and pressed my back against the wall underneath it.
“For the billionth time! It wasn’t my fault! It was yours, jerk!” Hades hissed. Boss had said that most of the cameras around here couldn’t pick up audio, so I wasn’t worried about how loud he yelled. Pissing him off was so much fun.
“Whatever. I just got away from the camera. M’on Taunton now. Where to next?”
Hades seemed to want to continue the argument but dropped it and continued with the directions. I heard him sigh. “Continue straight. Keep to the shadows and don’t let anyone see you. The target usually hangs around the alleyway at the end of Taunton, right of Weston. If we’re lucky, we’ll catch him alone. If he’s got his friends with him, eliminate them all. Although, from Boss’ research, he should be alone. Don’t let him know you’re there, make it qui-”
“Yeah, yeah. I know. We already went through the whole procedure, so clam up already. You sound scared to me. Is there a reason you’re being so cautious about all this?”
“Boss is literally on my throat, Rashid! He made it really clear how angry he’d be if we fail again. You don’t have to worry about it since you’re his favourite. He always listens to you, whether or not you’re right. I hate you, just letting you know, although you probably know that already.”
I chuckled a whispered laugh. “Okay, I’m there,” I state, suddenly turning very serious. No more jokes.
“Okay, I’m shutting off my talkie. Keep yours on so I could hear what’s going on. Good luck.” Then it fell silent. The alley was a bit ahead of me. I could feel my pulse beat faster and my palms sweat. I held my breath and closed my eyes for a while. My sister would die if she knew what I was doing. She had always thought of me as a hero, and here I was, about to assassinate.
The night breeze was peaceful, lurking with the air of danger. I closed my eyes.
She was a whole new story. I had abandoned her long ago, unable to take the burden of responsibilities after my parent’s accident. I was too young to take care of her on my own, so I just ran away. I cried later. I felt so bad for leaving her, an eight-year-old orphan girl. No parents, and then, no brother. I didn’t know what had happened to her. I wanted to go find out about her whereabouts, but that would be very difficult now. I was so occupied with doing business with my new friends. They gave me directions. They gave me purpose.
I opened my eyes to the present and withdrew the knife from my pocket. Sneaking up to the alley, I pressed my back up against the wall listening quietly for breathing. There was silence for a while and then, I heard it. The smallest hint of breathing. He was alone. I glanced behind the wall, readying the jump attack but stopped abruptly when I caught the target staring at me. Right in the eye. He was sitting on the ground leaning back against the wall behind him, looking depressed. He saw me, yet made no move to run. I walked in, sliding my knife back into my pocket. He sat still, watching me approach. “I’ve already seen it,” he rasped.
My heart skipped a beat. “Seen what?” I asked. He looked away and closed his eyes, head leaning back.
“It was only a matter of time before one of you goons came after me. I was ready.”
“So you know I’m here to kill you then?” I asked, revealing the knife from my pocket and holding it out at full length in front of him.
“Yeah, I know.”
“And you’re going to let me?”
He slowly stood up and I raised the knife to his throat to keep him from running. “What are you gonna do?” He glared, the moon’s light reflecting off his golden eyes.
“I don’t intend on dying tonight.”
He took his hand out of his hoody’s pocket. He flung a blade out of the pocket knife, and before I knew what was going on, he slashed it forward. I barely managed to dodge it on time. A sizable rip slit opened on my leather jacket’s sleeve. I inspected it, before returning my attention to him. “This is a very expensive jacket, and it happens to be my favourite, too,” I said. A sad look stained his face.
“You have more pressing things to worry about,” he said and jumped at me again. I hopped to the side and slashed my knife at him. I felt the blade make contact with my skin. The guy staggered, blood beginning to drip from his arm. He grabbed it and then turned around with a death glare. He leaped forward again, and I made a neat slash on his other arm. He yelped and fell on his knees.
This guy doesn’t know how to use a knife. Leave that, he doesn’t even know how to fight. Killing him would almost be worthless.
He stood up again, tears cornering his eyes. “Any moment now…” he whispered. I raised my eyebrow. He grabbed his knife again with quivering hands and charged. I jumped out of his way. A pang of guilt stung my heart as I continued to dodge his sluggish attacks. He was younger than I was by a small margin, yet much less experienced.
“He made it really clear how angry he’d be if we fail again…”
Hades’ words stung in my mind. I had witnessed Dodge’s anger once, and I didn’t like it one bit. I kicked the boy hard in the stomach and he collapsed back against the brick wall, beat. The knife clinked away. I closed the distance between us. He breathed heavily, and a few tears fell from his angry eyes. I towered in front of him. “I’m sorry kid. I have orders. The Soulles cannot tolerate witnesses of our crimes. You need to be eliminated.” I raised the knife above him, “Rest in peace, kid.” The knife slammed down hard, followed by a horrifying scream. Then, silence.
My heart beat a thousand times faster as I stared down at the golden eyes staring back fearfully. The knife was stuck snugly inside the wall, millimeters from the boy’s ear.
I couldn’t - I couldn’t kill him.
I pulled the knife free from the wall and stood up with a sorrowful expression. The boy slumped down, still staring in shock, his mouth wide open. I put my knife in my pocket and kneeled down in front of him. I took out some bandages I had brought for myself and bandaged his arms. I got up and put on my hood. “Listen, kid. I can’t bring myself to kill you. Run. I’ll tell the Soulles I’ve killed you to keep them away. Never cross their paths again, or we’ll both be dead meat. Understand?”
He nodded, still as if in a trance, and slowly got up to his feet. He swallowed as he picked up his own knife. The loud sound of sirens blaring in the background steadily grew louder.
“I…” The boy looked at me over his shoulder. “I had called the police prior to your arrival. I told them I would be in danger and to come here at around this time. I’ll, uh… I’ll tell them it was my friends playing a prank on me. I won’t tell them what happened.”
I stared ahead, unbelievingly. He was really going to cover up for me, even though I was millimetres from killing him?
“But what about your arms?”
“I’ll tell them it was self-harm. My parents will confirm the fact that I’m suicidal.”
“What? Uh, never mind. You don’t have to.”
“If you’re willing to risk your life for mine, then the least I can do is save you from getting caught.”
He ran ahead without another word, into the cold summer’s night, with the sirens blaring in the background. A smile formed on my face despite the risk I was putting myself in.
“To save one life is like saving all of humanity, and to take one life is like killing all of humanity…”