He glanced back at the men in his cab. Oh, god, how had he gotten himself into this? There was a man bleeding out on his seat cushions!
Kyntak swerved to avoid a car. Damn buggies everywhere, stupid sixties remarketed. His Victoria is a bloody miracle car, mind you.
Seat cushions! If he didn’t kill himself driving too fast, or they didn’t kill him for driving too slow, or his boss didn’t kill him for letting two men saturate his back seat with blood, he would take a stiff drink and call his ex. She’d gladly smack him and tell him to get himself together. Nai was good at that sort of thing.
“Gas it!” Kyntak tried to comply only to find that the gas pedal wouldn’t go any farther.
“I’ve floored it already!” He called back. The man grunted. Kyntak checked the rear view mirror. Had he really just driven past a hotel and gotten pulled into a real life version of Street Racer? No. Way.
He was in Sydney Street Race 4: Cannibal Koala’s Return (or Transformers VIII, whichever grossed higher last month). Not that he had seen either mind you. He had a reputation to protect.
The dark skinned man leaned over the pale, prone figure. “Come on. Come on.”
Kyntak urged traffic to move. Why did every ruddy car in this ruddy city decide that to-ruddy-day was the best ruddy day for a ruddy drive?
“Friend?” he asked. A Honda honked angrily at him. He honked back. Bloody traffic.
The man didn’t speak for a moment.
“Body Guard, and adopted son.”
Kyntak thought on that. Huh, so maybe not an illicit drug league that would end his life as chum in the harbor? Well, he would still be benefitting the earth so there was that. It was better than say, cremation. He wouldn’t be any use then, now would he? Okay, he could make people sneeze. Still, not the best occupation.
“Unofficial.” The man added.
He slapped his son gently. A groggy groan barely reached Kyntak’s ears over the shouting of an enraged old lady. Who knew she could curse like a sailor?
“Damn it. Come on. We’re almost there.” Kyntak disregarded the uniforms waving Tasers at him. (Ha ha, he had the windows up.) The Ford Crown slammed into a rail and righted itself. Medics rushed outside. The man pushed them off.
“Help HIM!” They hauled the poor bloke from the back. Kyntak caught the image of a pale and sharp face. It contorted and the chest fell unevenly. Red stained the whole of his front, his white shirt sullied beyond rescue. Blood seeped from holes in his chest.
An arm barred him. “Sir, you need to leave. This is a restricted area.”
Kytnak grimaced as he stared at the guy. The car was irrelevant. “Just get someone to move it off to the side. I have to be here.” He tossed the keys to a bewildered guard.
“Go on.” He waved at them and they scurried off. Kyntak pressed his hands to the darker man’s shoulder. “He’s going to be okay. The doc’s here are the best this side of Australia.”
The man died on the operating table. The Prime Minister went back to work as usual. Life went on.
Kyntak drove around in his taxi wondering why the world felt a little more empty.
He glanced over the bodies streaming into the camp.
Night embraced him warmly. Her icy lips brought a chill and heat that only those on night duty knew. She was a gracious lover, but bitter and tired of the soldiers that came her way. Snow fell softly from the sky. She wasn’t as bitter, still young and fresh. Though now she wasn’t white, but a hazy gray, polluted with ash and death. She was tired too, too tired for one so young.
Those words would burn on the lips of every person to walk into that camp.
Kyntak saw the people surge forward, through the gates. They were so frightened, like lemmings. They all happily ran into any place they thought led to freedom. He propped his gun off to the side. This was a peaceful crowd, he surmised. None were runners. Well, none knew the truth.
They people, men, women, children, and elders alike, marched through the corridors and gates. They would all die at Auschwitz.
His breath formed soft, billowing clouds. He wanted a cigarette.
“Stop!” Kyntak peered over the edge of his perch. A small figure ran up to a soldier molesting a young mother and started beating him. Kyntak squinted in the harsh light. The figure was a young man, and he took on SS twice his size.
So much for no trouble.
Kyntak watched with mild amusement as his platoon mates were battered by a thin and wily creature. This one had spirit. His amusement ended quickly. One man managed to pistol whip the fellow hard enough to send him into a snow drift.
The kid got back up. Kyntak noted the dark hair and hot spirit. It warmed him better than brandy or scotch. It filled him to the brim with nervous energy. He felt like a child tinged red with anger. He felt like a teenager with his first girl. He felt like a man meeting a woman and knowing she was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. He felt the chill dissipate and warm heat curl into his chest. He felt all this for a boy with fiery eyes and dark hair.
A single bullet. It fired from the gun and into the young man’s head. Blood and tissue splattered over the snow, staining the greying snow red. He watched the people still and then panic. The men called for order and got it.
Kytnak stared at the body. A warm winter jacket and a pair of heavy boots adorned the figure. He guessed that the boy was from a well off family. The body would be stripped soon enough. He didn’t see a star on this one. Perhaps, a dissenter then?
He like the idea of that. This hale young, wild thing ripping up the fabric of the Nazi’s regime was pleasing. He felt a sudden chill. It gripped his heart.
He pulled out his flask for a little artificial warmth instead.
The world faded in and out. Blurs cascaded over him. Where was he? What was happening?
Everything appeared blurry. It was all in soft focus. He felt warm, like a fuzzy kitten, or a hot towel, or a cup of tea. He wanted to melt into that heat. Oh, it felt so good.
What was he doing again?
He felt a hand on his cheek. It felt a little cool. Why was that? This blur was cold. It pulled him closer. He could hear warbling. Were there birds? Was there something singing? He could tell it wasn’t pretty.
Whatever, he thought. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. Oxygen felt like syrup and he was slowly downing in a waffle.
Another cool hand settled on his face. It chilled his skin, almost frosty. He wanted to pull away, but he just couldn’t. The finger tips were calloused, but fluttered over his cheek like a lover made of ice.
He blinked his eyes open long enough to see a face screwed up with tears. A few fell on his face, warm and salty.
I’m sorry, he thought. I’m sorry for making you cry.
The darkness stole over him. It stilled his limbs and his breath. He waited feeling his body rock with the sobs of another man. The pain and sadness faded away. He closed his eyes and wondered faintly if he had waited just a little longer, would he be able to wipe away those tears? Why had his White Lady told him to plunge that needle into his arm?
He closed his eyes and slept.
Kyntak stared at the people there.
He hadn’t seen anyone since the bad man took him from school. His mommy told him not to talk to strangers and he did just that, but this man grabbed him and hit him until he couldn’t stay awake.
Kyntak didn’t know what happened next, because he woke up outside his body watching the man dump it into a hole. He remembered seeing a little girl in there too. He’d met her once at the park, before her name was all over the television.
His mommy had told him that she’d been taken from her mommy and daddy. That’s why they put her face everywhere, just in case someone saw her. Kyntak had looked everywhere for her. He hadn’t seen her until then.
One groaned when they unearthed another skeleton. “Oh, god, another one?”
“That Crexe was a sick bastard,” another said. Kyntak stared at the skull. It was his skull. He knew it.
He’d never seen his own skull. He looked at all the men. Why couldn’t they see him?
He yelled and yelled his little lungs out. He cried until he knew that there was no limit to his tears. Not one person turned their head. Kyntak reached out to grab one. His fingers slipped right through. He looked at the men. Why couldn’t he touch them? Was he… was he… a ghost?
“Hey, are you there?” Kyntak turned to his left. A man in a dark coat looked at his skull. It was cradled in his hands, like he was carrying something that his special person would like.
The man sighed and stared at the where the eyes should be. “I know that I probably sound crazy, but…”
“Your mom still loves you. It’s been twenty years. You would be twenty-five years old now, the same age as me, and have three younger sisters. Look, I don’t know your name, but if you’re out there, know that your mom can finally stop worrying. She knows where you are. She’ll see you wherever you are eventually and the bad man that hurt you will never hurt anyone again. I can promise you that.”
“Thank you.” The man smiled at the skull, like he heard. Kyntak grinned.
He climbed up on the table and passed right through the skull. He kissed the man’s nose.
Kyntak saw the man smile gently and stare right at him.
“I would have liked you, you know; if I had grown up,” Kyntak whispered.
“Oh, look at that. The poor thing.” Kyntak turned to what the woman was pointing at. On the steps of his building lay a curled lump. A patch work of fabric molded around a being and that being was still.
“He must have frozen to death.” The temperatures in Chicago’s winters were not something to be trifled with. He knew himself, being caught once or twice in the cold after a few drinks, that the wind was relentless to anyone unprepared.
He approached the body, no the boy. Dark hair peeked out of a hood and pale skin, even without the ice, lay beneath it. He saw thick dark lashes too feminine for that face. The features were sharp like the icicles above his head. Kyntak would have sworn the lips to be cherry red, if they weren’t the bitter blue of death’s kiss. He couldn’t be more than seventeen.
“Damn it.” Kyntak pulled out his mobile and dialed emergency services. They wouldn’t’ be able to help, but that might catch someone’s attention. Someone who knew this boy.
He glanced over the body and finally to the piece of paper in his hands. Was he waiting for someone? He blinked back tears. And whoever that was, they left him to fend alone in the cold. He prized the paper out of the boy’s stiff fingers. It wasn’t a note at all, but a playing card. Kyntak looked from the card to the numbers on the building’s directory. He stared at the face and wondered, “how could this happen?”
For the first time since he saw his friend and boss from the king-sized office on the corner die of a bus bomb, Kyntak cried. He cried for a boy that he knew was his friend’s son. He cried for the young life lost. He cried that he hadn’t done a single thing to protect the only thing left protecting.
He cried when the ambulances arrived.
Kyntak bit into his sandwich. It had ham and swiss and mayonnaise and lettuce. It was a good one, better than he ever had at the orphanage. His gun rested on his knee. He wouldn't need it. Not for this particular prisoner. He stared at the lump asleep on the bed and smiled.
For some reason, the emptiness in his chest was gone for the first time in his life.