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Cleansing from Hell

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     This wasn’t what you wanted to happen.

 

       In all your years working this godforsaken job, you knew what to expect. Your nights, when you had tasks to carry out, consisted of hiding in the shadows and waiting for your target to make themselves vulnerable, before you pulled the trigger and called it a day. It was all just a waiting game for you, since your aim was nearly uncontested, and you knew how to end it all without your target having a clue what happened. Tonight, however, flipped everything you knew on its head. Tonight was going to be one of the hardest nights of your life.

 

       You knew from day one how this was going to play out for you, the moment your boss handed you the case file. You didn’t get a clear look at the name on the front, but once you opened the folder for the profile’s headshot, you froze up. You knew exactly who this was. Your boss had only stared at you funny, not used to seeing you emotional—or rather, to you showing any kind of emotion at work. By then, you knew how to take your feelings out of the equation, especially given your job as an assassin, but in those moments, everything you learned had undone itself completely. You were vulnerable, something you hated being when you weren’t at home.

 

      “What, you know him or something?” your boss had asked, almost laughing at how stunned you were. It was a laugh that, to you, was downright insulting; he wouldn’t have understood what this felt like. He didn’t have anyone left to live for but himself, and both of you knew exactly how that had happened. You didn’t know how to respond to him then, but you knew to keep your mouth shut. In an industry like this, going against your orders or even doing so much as stepping out of line was bound to get you killed. You had seen it happen to one of your coworkers, after all. You weren’t going to let yourself die for such a stupid reason, so you quietly agreed to the job.

 

      You should have known this was coming, though. You knew what he had accidentally walked into during his break. You knew because he came to you, visibly distraught. You were surprised he came to you, because you joined them in pointing guns at his head, swearing him to secrecy.

 

      You had a week to carry this mission out, and for six of those days, you put it as far off as you could. You just couldn’t bring yourself to do it. You couldn’t bring yourself to kill him. You couldn’t safely tell anyone either, so you spent most of your week huddled in the bathroom nearly sick from guilt. You couldn’t bear the thought of having to kill that kid. You couldn’t bear what that would do to his friends, your husband, having to live with that sin for the rest of your life…

 

      In most cases, you hadn’t a clue who your target was as a person, even after you’d finished them. Because you lacked that emotional attachment, you had an easier time justifying your awful deeds. This time, however, it was someone who you saw daily. Someone who was like family to you. As much as you tried, you couldn’t just cut that connection so suddenly.

 

      You felt the wind start to pick up, the loose tree branches around where you kneeled beginning to shuffle about. Dirt kicked up, spun into dust in the air, obscuring your vision just a little. At the bottom of the hill you’d parked yourself on was the night club the kid worked at, and as usual, it blared techno music that could be heard from a mile away. You were familiar with how things went around these parts, since you were asked every now and then to pick the kid up from work. On Fridays, his shift usually ended about now, and you’d meet him at the back entrance to escort him home. You knew what kind of sketchy things happened at this time of night, and you weren’t going to let him get hurt by any means, as long as you had a say in the matter.

 

      That’s how things were before, anyways.

 

      You felt your heart start to pound heavier in your chest. This wasn’t how you wanted this to end. You began to feel more nervous, the jittery feeling in your throat that followed you all week resurfacing as you watched the back entrance closely. Scooting behind a large tree so no one could see you, you took a moment to try to recollect yourself, but to no avail.

 

      Don’t let Zee find out about this.

 

      You peeked around the tree trunk again and threw on your night vision goggles, since your target wasn’t going to be under the club’s lights for long once he left. Almost as if you had willed it, you spotted the kid walk outside from his usual entrance, scanning the area before huddling his arms around his chest and starting slowly on his usual path home. You could spot that neon chameleon hood from anywhere.

 

      Don’t let Zee find out about this.

 

       You knew the kid usually walked home alone, since his shifts ended so late at night and it wasn’t like the shadow could just teleport him back, but you’d never seen him do it by himself. Of course you hadn’t. He seemed more cautious about his surroundings than when he walked home with you, nervously eyeing the sides from time to time. This filled you with overwhelming guilt yet again, as if you didn’t know how it felt already. You were supposed to keep him safe. You were supposed to be a responsible adult. You should have been guiding him right now, not hiding in the forest to take another kill.

 

      I’m sorry.

 

      You tried to swallow your fears and readied your sniper rifle, putting the scope up to your eye. You felt shakier than usual, the crosshairs jumping around your target. Your emotions started to swell, and your mind began to race. Everything started to blend together.

 

      I’m sorry.

 

      I’m sorry.

 

      I can’t let Zee find out about this.

 

      You didn’t know what you were doing anymore. You couldn’t process much of what was around you.

 

      Please forgive me.

 

      The kid stopped in his path, as if he knew something was wrong. You thought you saw him look for anything uncertain, but you couldn’t tell for sure. Were you hallucinating those lights? Did he use his magic to feel safer? Did he see you?

 

      Does he still trust me?

 

      Does he think I’m aiming for someone else?

 

      Your grip tightened around the handle, pressing down the trigger ever so slightly. An otherwise satisfying click followed. This was it.

 

     This was it.

 

     I’m sorry

 

     I’m sorry kid I’m sorry please forgive me don’t let Zee know please don’t let him know please don’t let anyone see this I’m sorry I’m sorry Zee please don’t hold this against me don’t let him know don’t let him see don’t let it hurt I’m sorry end this already just fucking END IT pull the trigger already stop moping sorry please forgive m him know don’t let him see don’t let it I’m sorry please forgive me don’t let Zee please don’t let it hurt JUST END IT ALREADY

 

    I’m sorry

 

    Leon

 

    Once you pulled the trigger and saw his lifeless body fall to the ground, everything around you went black.