The night is cool and dark. Most are tucked into their beds for the night, resting up for the day ahead of them. However, tonight someone won't be going to bed peacefully. They won't wake up to tomorrows light and it will be my fault as it has been many times now. I realize that and yet, what other choice do I have...?
"Don't move." I say firmly, quietly. My gun is pointed toward the man and it makes a clicking sound as I pull the hammer back with my thumb. The feeling of it is all too familiar.
"Please don't! I-I can pay you; whatever you want!" The man pleads, his knees hitting the floor. His eyes are wide and his hands are up in surrender.
I grip the cold black steel in my hand tighter. I know I have to do this; I have no say in the matter. It's the only way to...
The moonlight hits my face as I take a step closer. The man's breath becomes shallow and his hands fall to his sides in defeat. "You—you're him...! The one called The Red Dragon!" He yells shakily, voice full of fear. He knows he won't survive. His life is over now.
"I am." I murmur and pull the trigger.
Cold, black, and alone
Stay away my love, it holds no mercy
A place with no door, forever trapped
You can't save me now
You hear my call for you
So somber, sad, and lonely
Death is not far
Please stay away my love
Still you come to save me from this hell
Your light breaks through the dark
My life is found
I see your face and all is okay
For you found me under all the lies
Now I know these words to be true
Because I love you
No life...no love
I remember when I first started hearing those words in my head, when I was thirteen years old. A girl I knew, Mina, was killed because of me. When Captain had told me, I started hearing that poem. Even now I don't know what it means, but I know that it made me feel somewhat sad and...lost. I heard it then too, when I pulled the trigger. It sounds so tortured and it always says the same thing. It's always that poem. I've heard it so much I doubt I will ever forget the words.
"Stay away..." I whisper to myself. All I know is that my job is done today and another will be awaiting me tomorrow. As always....and I dread it.
"Your job is to do as I tell you and kill who I want you to kill. You are a killer and that is all you will ever be good for. You know the consequences if you disobey me pet. Never forget who you are." Captain told me once before, when I was still new to the Renegades.
How could I ever forget something like that?
My next job is to kill the boss of a lower Tokyo mob, Hurachio Rujik. I feel the scowl melt onto my face as I walk down the dark alley. My steps are quiet and my black coat nearly touches the dirt covered pavement. The alley is the only place for me now, seeing that everyone is terrified of me.
The Red Dragon is everywhere, in newspapers, TV, even wanted posters. I even had the army after me once, but after a while they used up all of their funding and are now raising more money. They don't have many leads on me though since as soon as I finish a mission I don't stick around and I don't allow myself to be followed. I can't allow my efforts to go to waste, no matter how much I know it's wrong. Not when I have so much at stake.
As time passes while I walk I begin to think about how I became like this in the first place, just because there is nothing else to think about. I don't have any kind of life outside of the Renegades. I remember everyone would bully me or alienate me because of my eye color; my blood red eyes. I did whatever I could to hide them, but even so I kept getting bullied.
I just gave up and let them do what they wanted. I was young and didn't know what else I could do. I can't count the times I have woken up in the hospital. Even my parents hated me. I think they were the ones who despised me most only because I wasn't what they wanted when I was born.
Now I look up and see Hurachio's hideout, a small mansion surrounded by a concrete wall. Taking a deep breath, I jump and scale the thirty yard high wall. I grab onto railings and such, flipping and turning as I make my way up quietly and effortlessly; a piece of cake for me. A few guards are positioned around the grounds so I sneak through the shadows and make my way up to the roof, not making a sound.
That was the easy part, now to get to Hurachio. He would most likely be on the top floor, so I climb through an open window and begin to look around for some indication of a main room, where the boss would be. After looking around and avoiding any contact I come across a big mahogany double door with gold embroidery and handles, two people out standing guard. Found him.
I quickly knock out the guards and burst in. There he is, a man with a black suit and perfectly combed and slicked back hair, standing before a desk. Hurachio Rujik. He looks up at me, but doesn't look scared, more interested in something; interested in me.
"You are The Red Dragon." He says.
I point my black 44 magnum handgun towards him. Maybe he'll see I'm serious now, not that it matters any. "Correct and you are Hurachio Rujik, a murderer." I say coldly, my eyes narrowing.
"Last time I checked, you were too." He says slyly with a grin.
I tense up. I know. I know, but-- "It's my job, my purpose." I say firmly. I've been told that so many times by Captain that it escapes my lips easily. Sometimes I even believe it.
The few guards I didn't pummel are behind me in the door, their guns all pointed at me. Hurachio gives them a signal to lower their weapons. "There is a rumor about you...about you being a demon so bad that hell spat you out. Are you really?" He asks me.
I then see images flashing through my head. 'He's a demon!' 'What're you gonna do monster, try and kill us!?' 'Why don't you go back to hades where you belong?' 'Go back from where you came from!'
I stay silent, staring at the man as I have no answer for him. Maybe I am and I just don't know it. Maybe this really is what I'm meant to do.
He chuckles. "Then maybe it's true, maybe you are a demon!" He says and laughs.
Glaring, I aim my gun toward the spot between his eyes and pull the trigger, holding it down until there are no bullets left. The hammer clicks against empty shells until I release the trigger.
All bullets fire, but not one of them hits their target. A girl bathed in a soft white light appears in front of Hurachio, but I can't see her face. She almost looks ghostly. Everything seems to slow down, even myself, as she sings the poem I have heard so many times before.
"No life... No love...." She sings and the bullets hit her, the bullets meant for Hurachio.
She lets out a cry of pain and falls to the hardwood floor, lying in a white puddle I can only imagine being blood. Then she disappears like a whiff of smoke. I stare, unbelieving. What happened? How did she know that poem? What was that anyway?
Somehow during the weird vision I dropped my gun and five guards had surrounded me with theirs pointed at me. Hurachio walks into the circle and chuckles then picks my gun up from the floor. I could have quickly picked it back up if I weren't so confused and astonished by what had just happened.
"Why would you put blanks in your weapon?" He asks me, chuckling as if he knew all along he wouldn't die tonight, his overconfidence showing in his white grin. If that 'girl' hadn't protected him, he would be dead.
"Blanks?" I whisper, staring at the floor. Then I realize what he's saying. They didn't see the girl, so they think the bullets were blanks, but how? The bullets were real. She couldn't have been.
"You will regret trying to kill me." Hurachio says coolly as he steps out of the circle. "I bid you farewell Red Dragon!" He chuckles with a swift wave.
Then I hear the sound of five guns go off and I taste blood in my mouth. Everything becomes fuzzy as I watch the floor get closer and closer, inevitably hitting my head hard on the wood floor. My body feels like it's been ripped apart and everything is so blurry. It's as if my eyes are now full of fog and my ears are ringing from all the gunshots.
I begin to feel as though a truck is sitting on top of my chest and it's becoming very hard to breathe. Is this it? Is this where it all ends? I haven't become strong enough to avenge Mina yet though. I can't die now.
Soon, I hear mumbling. From the few words I am able to make out; they are going to dump me in the bay. Then I hear Hurachio say, "Give him his gun back. We'll at least let a murderer die with his only friend."
Such a foolish thing to say... You know nothing Hurachio... Nothing at all... They put my gun in its holster on my right leg. I see small flashes of light I assume coming from a camera; evidence of my end. He'll probably make millions off the pictures of my death, having been the one to kill me.
The next thing I know I am engulfed in freezing water. It may be summer, but the water is cold just as everything I have ever known has been; cold. Deeper and deeper I go; and it keeps getting darker. I can feel my life slipping as I sink. Soon, I am engulfed in darkness.
The Next Day--
Birds are outside chirping; happy there is a blue sky today and that the breeze is nice and slow, carrying the scent of the sweet grass and hay. The air is clear and the day is just simply beautiful. Yep, it's going to be a good day today. I can feel it.
"I'm going to the store Mama!" I call the sound carrying through the whole house.
"Okay Honey, be sure to pick up some extra milk. Oh! Take Jeremiah with you." Mom calls back from somewhere upstairs.
"I will." I call back then sigh to myself. Ugh, Jeremiah? Fine, I'll make him carry the bags for me. I walk out of the house and go into the barn where Jeremiah is feeding the horses. I start getting out my saddle and bridle. "Hey, Mama said you have to come to town with me." I tell him, hoisting the saddle up over my horse, Sugar, who is a red paint.
He sets the bag of feed down and I brace myself for whatever he plans to say next. "And why would that be?" He asks as he turns around, a big grin on his face.
He has short brown hair that curls at the ends and blue-green eyes. He's twenty-two and doesn't have a solid career yet. He stayed here to help out around the house and with the animals. He doesn't want to admit it, but he worries about us a lot. He thinks he has to be the man of the house and stay here to keep us safe. It's a bunch of bologna.
"I don't know, maybe because the list is so long. It is grocery day." I say dully.
He smiles. "Okay, I'll get Black Jack saddled up." He says.
We are in modern times and we don't have to ride horses, but the truck needs maintenance and it's not that far into town. Besides, the horses need their exercise. The town is used to it anyway; it's very small. Most everyone knows each other by name.
I look up at the gray clouds on the horizon and start to wonder when they will be here. It's going to be a rainy weekend. I wait for a few minutes until Jeremiah is ready and we ride out. I sigh, partly not wanting to go into town, but maybe if Jeremiah is with me it won't be so bad.
"Don't worry sis, I'll make sure nobody picks on you." Jeremiah says with a mushy tone.
"And who's going to keep you from picking on me?" I ask, looking over at him. He shrugs, unashamed.
Yeah, I haven't ever been treated fairly. I'm always nice to other people, but they always seem to reject me. All because of my pure white hair. I was always bullied in school, so I quit and started homeschooling. I already finished and got my diploma though, so I help around the house and earn my allowance that way.
Sometimes people mistake me for an old lady if they see me from afar. I guess my being different scares them. I wish they would see past my outer appearance though and get to know me. Then I would have some friends. That is my biggest wish right now; to have a friend.
As Sugar trots down the road I feel my spirits lift up. I love the feeling of the breeze flowing through my hair; it almost feels like I am flying. Getting a little carried away, I bump Sugar with my heel and she goes into a jog. I nudge her again and we are flying!
"Go Sugar Go!" I yell happily.
Jeremiah gets competitive and is soon flying in front of me. I catch up to him and stick my tongue out at him. We laugh and decide to just watch the scenery. I watch the tree's pass by and then we are on the beach. The water is deep blue and the dark clouds above it seem to make it look somewhat haunting or eerie. The shoreline is hypnotizing as the tide sways in and out. I watch for a few seconds as we pass them by. Then in the rocks next to the cliff side I see a strange black lump.
I pull back on the reigns. "Whoa Sugar." I say and she comes to a stop.
"What is it?" Jeremiah asks, stopping beside me.
"I'm not sure." I say, looking at the thing in the rocks. Staring at it, I bump Sugar and she walks toward it. "I wonder what that is. I've never seen it before." I say quietly.
Jeremiah follows and as we get closer I realize it's a person! He looks about my age. What is he doing here? Maybe he's taking a nap. I hope I don't spook him. We stop next to him and I jump off Sugar's back then kneel down by his side. We both gasp once seeing him up close.
"What the...? What in the world happened to this guy?!" Jeremiah breathes as he kneels on the other side of him. I just shake my head, not knowing what to think.
His clothes are soaked with blood and sea water. I see one, no wait, two bullet wounds in his back. Jeremiah and I turn him over and there is another one in his left arm and one in his right. Plus exit wounds. Blood is dripping from his mouth and head. I almost can't believe what I'm seeing.
Miraculously, his eyes start to slowly open. He suddenly grabs the collar of my shirt and pulls me forward, my head snapping back at the sudden movement. I yelp and my heart races. What is he doing?! Jeremiah grabs his arm and tries to pull him off, but he won't budge at all.
"Ie! Watashi wa mohaya sore o shinaidarou!" The boy yells his eyes tortured. They are so red from the saltwater.
His eye lids droop and his arm relaxes then he falls back onto my lap, unconscious. I stare at Jeremiah; he stares back at me. I reach up to fix my collar, but the seam has torn apart and my hands shake from the shock. I take a deep breath, calming myself.
"What do you think he meant?" I ask with a weak voice. What language was that anyway? Chinese?
"That's what you're asking? What about why he just tried to attack you?" Jeremiah asks, his anger rising.
"He was scared! I mean, look at him! We have to help him!" I say. Jeremiah's expression turns to a glare. "We can't just leave him here! I refuse to and I'll get him home by myself if I have to!" I protest.
He lets out a sigh of defeat. "Fine..." He says quietly, knowing I'm right. He pulls the boy off the ground and lays him on top of Sugar.
"Just go slow, we don't want him to loose anymore blood." Jeremiah tells me as he helps me back up into my saddle.
"Yes, I know." I say and start walking Sugar back toward home. Jeremiah follows behind me, watching the boy carefully.
My anxiety rises as each second passes by. I know that if we don't get some help for this boy soon, he'll die. I don't want that to happen. I feel that if I let him die, I won't be able to live with myself. I can't let him die. His life is in my hands right now.
Soon, I finally see home getting closer. "Mama we need help!" I yell at the top of my lungs. When we get to the front of the house she is standing on the porch staring in shock at the boy lying there limp. "Mom he's hurt really badly! He's got like five gunshot wounds!" I tell her, jumping off Sugar. My hands shake from the adrenaline.
"O-okay...!" Mom says, rushing into the house. Jeremiah pulls the boy off Sugar's back and lays him on the porch.
"What now? What do you think we should do?" I ask. Everything is happening so fast. I have never been in this situation. I don't know what to do.
"Well, maybe if we can get his shirt off it'll help, so Mom can get to the wounds faster." He says.
I nod and pull the boy's coat off while Jeremiah holds him up. I get his shirt off and lay my head on his chest to try and hear his heartbeat. The blood doesn't bother me at this moment. I stay silent, listening.
"What is it? Has his heart stopped already?" Jeremiah asks, anxious.
"No... His heart sounds fine. It's not racing or slow. It's just...fine." I say, confusedly.
"That's strange." Jeremiah murmurs. I nod and sit back up. "Wow, he looks a lot worse than I thought." Jeremiah says. I look down sadly at this poor boy.
"What's going on?" A small voice asks. I look over to see the twins on the other side of the porch, staring at him.
"Jade! Harmony! Go in the house! You don't need to see this!" I tell them, trying to cover the boy with his jacket so they don't see the blood. Jeremiah gets up and takes them into the house as I hold onto the boy.
Mom rushes out. "Come! Get him into the house!" She says.
Jeremiah rushes out and picks the boy up, trying to be careful. Then he rushes back into the house and into the kitchen. I follow anxiously, my heart pounding and tears well up. I can be such a cry baby at times like this. I just don't know what to do.
"Listen carefully Kiara. You need to concentrate very hard on closing these wounds and forget your worries right now. I can't do this alone. He needs you." Mama tells me, looking me dead serious in the eye.
I look down at him, lying on the table looking so fragile. If we don't do something now he'll die. I take a deep breath and nod, reaching for the first aid kit on the counter. Then we start to stitch up and clean his wounds.
Mama was a nurse until a few years ago and she has taught me many things about caring for injuries and such. I know I'm not as good as her when it comes to fixing people up though, but I know she can handle this. I mean…I think I do.
It would be really difficult to take him to a hospital anyway. The closest one is in the next town, an hour away, and he would surely not make it that long. It would be better not to move him either and we can have a doctor come to look at him later.
We finish cleaning the blood off his back, arms, head, and chest and stitching up the wounds. Then we wrap his arms and head in a bandage. We turn him carefully back over onto his back, so as to wrap a bandage around his chest while holding his head up. I look down at his chest and see something that has been hidden behind all the blood until we cleaned it off.
"Mom..." I murmur quietly, shocked by what I'm seeing.
"Yes... I see." She says, just as horrified as I am.
There on his chest is a huge X shape scar. It's old, but still...it's terrifying. Who would do something as terrible as this? It couldn't have been from an animal, because whoever had done this made it so it would look like this. It's a perfect X mark covering most of his chest. Why would someone do that?
"Let's not think too hard about it Kiara. This boy may not want us knowing too many things about him. We are strangers after all. Just don't say anything about it after he wakes up, okay? We want him to feel as comfortable as possible." She tells me.
I breathe in and nod. "Yeah…" I murmur, clenching my hands. We wrap the bandage all around his chest.
"So I guess he's going to be asleep for a while." Jeremiahs voice says from behind. We turn to look at him.
"Yes, we should take him to a comfortable place and let him rest." Mama says.
I look around. "Where are the twins? I was sure they would be all over us asking questions and stuff." I ask.
Jeremiah grins. "They're out picking wildflowers for the sick boy." He says. I smile. So he had managed to get their mind onto something else for a little while. "Where should we take him?" Jeremiah asks.
"Well, I do believe that someone should keep watch over him at all times. He is in a coma and could crash any moment." Mama says, trying to say it easily.
I look down at him. He seems fine at the moment, but what about in the next hour or the next day? Would he still be here? We know nothing about him. What would we do if he does die? How would we tell his family and friends...where ever and whoever they are?
Jeremiah sighs. I look back up at him. "I wonder what he meant though when he yelled at us... What language was that?" He asks, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning back against the wall.
I think back on his words. 'Ie! Watashi wa mohaya sore o shinaidarou!'. I should go to the library later and try to figure out what that means.
Mama lets out a long breath. "I think we should put him in the guest room and take turns watching him. Sound good?" She asks.
Jeremiah and I both nod. He walks over to the table as Mama goes upstairs. I follow closely behind as Jeremiah carefully carries the boy up the stairs and into the guest room. Then he lays him down on the bed under the window.
"Okay, now we wait." Mama says.
Jeremiah leaves the room and I sit down in the chair next to the bed. I look down at the boy then back up at Mama. "What should I do while we're waiting?" I ask.
She smiles at me. "If you hold his hand maybe he will be able to find his way back to the world. Another presence beside him may be exactly what he needs." She says.
I look down at the boy then reach over and take his hand gently. Yeah. This is what he needs, someone to stay close to him. That's something that everybody needs, someone near. I sigh and hope that it won't be too long before he awakens. What if he never wakes up? Then we'll never know anything about him. Not his name or background; nothing.
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