Sunday, 25 July 2010

This One-Sided Showdown

Kauffman laughed incredulously.

“You can’t expect to stop this, why even bother coming? Look at you, your arm and leg are broken, you’ve lost an eye and who knows how much blood. There’s gotta be bits of you broken inside too. We dropped a building on you.

“Your friends are gone and you were always the least of them.”

Art smiled through the pain. He shifted on his crutches, making himself more comfortable. The doctors had wanted to keep him in hospital for another month, then bed rest. He never listened to doctors.

“My friends? I’ve only ever needed my own company.”

A look of puzzlement crossed Kauffman’s face. There was no way the idiot posed a threat, but the delay wouldn’t matter and the thought that Arthur Bellam had lost his mind was an intriguing one. Intriguing and very satisfying, so much better than just breaking him physically.

“You don’t remember them? Knife Joe? Sharp Sally? Billy the Bright? The elites you sent after me, again and again, while you cowered in your bunker. The elites I killed off one by one. You must remember the videos, Billy’s was particularly vivid. I watched that again only this morning, to get me in the mood. You have to be in the right mood the day you kill a country.”

Art seemed to think about this, his brows creasing a little. He was still smiling.

“You killed no one, and you’re going to kill no one. You talk too much.”

Kauffman gave a little snort of frustration.

“If you’re going to make no sense then I’m bored of this conversation. Your intrusion, your life in fact, is over. Today I finish the job, I kill the last elite.”

Kauffman reached down to his holster and drew his Reiberg 50, overkill at this range for sure, but overkill was his motif.

He didn’t fire.

He blinked.

Someone was standing behind Arthur. She draped her long, slender arms over his shoulders and across his chest, resting her head on his shoulder. There was a certain Slavic look to her narrow features, although her long blonde hair looked bleached, rather than natural.

Someone else was leaning against the bench just inside the entranceway. His arms were broad and muscular and overly hairy; thick, dark, curling hair that spread across his shoulders, beneath his khaki, oil-smeared tank top. He casually picked at the grime beneath his nails with a combat knife whose blade seemed oversized even in his massive hand.

Art’s eyes glowed. Then he was limned in faint light and someone else, the light, stepped out of him, fully human in form but with unclear features, no more than contours and the suggestion of an expression. He was bright to look at, you could not directly do so without squinting, but he didn’t seem to brighten the room. He was not a source of brightness, he was brightness itself.

“There is only one elite, Doctor Kauffman. Whatever I choose to call myself, however I choose to appear.”

Kauffman shot Arthur.

It was a clear headshot, but there was no neat little bullet hole in Art’s forehead. It was a Reiberg after all; Arthur no longer had a head.

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Sally said, her face smeared with pieces of Art’s.

Joe looked up from his nails and smiled.

“Why on Earth would you think I can die?” Billy said, though he had no mouth.



(author's commentary)

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