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Reaper

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My head was throbbing with pain. Flickers from a hanging bulb above me seemed like blurry flashes to my tired eyes as I sat on an old wooden chair in front of an equally-old wooden table, trying to drown the pain away with a full glass of water on my right hand-side, now left third-quarters, while at the other side lay a silenced pistol, the only friend that I could count on in my years as a high-profile contract killer. The gunshot wound on the left side of my stomach still felt unbearable beneath the red-stained swathe of bandages around my mid-section, although it would have been worse without the painkillers and the anesthesia shot I applied to myself half an hour ago. I had never known dragging my bleeding self the short distance between the hit scene and the shoddy getaway apartment could be so harrowing.

Sirens. Police Sirens. Even in my weary state of mind, I could hear them coming without looking out the window, its twin panes flapping from the gentle night breeze. Not just one, but from two police cars, and then came some more. It didn’t take long until the whole police department parked outside the apartment building with their cruisers and their black vans. I imagined they were then scrambling all over the place, evacuating civilians in the vicinity and blocking all possible exits out of the apartment building while the dark-attired spec-ops team geared up before they inevitably storm in for the take down. The whirring of helicopter blades filled the air outside while bright spotlights shone at the windows and balcony of my apartment. Apparently, I was trapped.

But that didn’t worry me. Or at least, it didn’t worry me as much as what had happened at the St. Lacroque Theater. The scene where I had been shot.

*****

I had a contract hit for a Francesco Orleon, a hot-shot politician famous for denouncing several other political personalities for getting their hands dirty in bribery. He didn’t really care much about justice; he also lived in a glass house, and he merely used the scandal to spearhead his own agenda of being elected as the next mayor of Paris. Naturally for such a politician, he had a long list of enemies, and he just happened to tick off the wrong sort of people – the sort who had strong ties in the organized crime business.

I was lounging rather excessively in one of the exotic resort islands in the Caribbean one day when I received an encrypted message through my ‘agency’, telling me that several distinguished ‘clients’ were looking for someone with my ‘special talent and high degree of skill.’ I made a call, planned a date and place, and all was set. The next day I took the first flight to Paris and met them there at a disclosed location. They gave me Francesco’s bio, particulars and other important information, and I gave them my word and my contract that Francesco won’t see another day after 28th of March, with a fee of $200,000 – a down-payment of $50,000 and the rest after the job was done.

Everything seemed to be going as planned. Francesco and his wife were at the St. Lacroque Theater, just like the info in his file said. And so was I, dressed in a black three-piece suit and a pair of shades, carrying in hand a briefcase of death. When the stage went alive with various exotic art performances, I was hidden behind a shadowy corner unpacking and re-assembling the sniper rifle that had been tucked in pieces in the disguised briefcase. I had Francesco in my scope and was about to pull the trigger when I heard someone shouting at me. It distracted me a little too much that my shot missed just about a quarter inch from his ear, but a quarter inch miss has just about the same effect as a quarter mile. I tried to snipe him again, but it was too late; his security team was quick enough to whisk him and his wife away from the opera house while everyone else ran in panic from the alarming shot.

Knowing that I’ve blown the job, I proceeded to my getaway plan. I snuck quietly out of the shadows and blended in with the torrent of the crowd rushing out of the theater, trying to escape from whoever pointed me out. As soon as I got out in the open, I whisked out of the crowd and lost myself into the dark labyrinth of alleyways. I ran through tight corridors amongst trash bins and juvenile graffiti, and for a moment I thought I was clear, but when I turned a corner, there he was.

The man, who was about my height, wore a shirt and slacks under a leather coat, stood only several feet away and was aiming his gun at me. “Freeze!” he shouted, an indication that he was with the law. I had a good look at his visage and found myself in a feeling of uneasiness. The way he looked at me was as if he had known me even before the events of that night. That was impossible, since nobody really knew who I was or what I looked like due to my thorough discretion in making witnesses who recognized me disappear. “You won’t escape this time, hitman!” shouted the person again.

FBI, CIA, MI6; who knows who this guy was. He must have followed my case for months now, trailing the crumbs of dead bodies that I had left behind on my previous hits. You can’t be the most notorious and elusive contract killer in the gun-for-hire trade and not be pursued and hunted down by various law organizations around the world. The only reason the FBI didn’t put me on their Top 10 Most Wanted list was because they weren’t even sure that I existed. They had no name, no picture, no bio; all they had of me were spook stories about how politicians, company CEOs, celebrities and other famous figures took a bullet, poison, or a bomb under the car seat, while the perpetrator – me - vanished as if into thin-air. I was a ghost, a rumor, a ‘fabrication of the media as a result of public paranoia towards assassination conspiracies.’ I was that good.

But this guy in front of me, he knew that I wasn’t just a story, and that I was as real as the killings that I’ve done. And for some reason, I seemed to remember that mug of his from somewhere too, only that it was tucked inside the deepest recesses of my memory for me to know for sure. Perhaps I saw him on a contract hit I did three months ago in Peru. Maybe it was the job at Croatia. He felt like a recognizable shadow to me as I was to him.

I needed to act fast. The sound of footsteps rushing far behind me suggested that the police were on the prowl, and in front of me was a man with a gun. So I did what a desperate assassin would do after botching a mission and had nowhere to go; whip out a piece and let it settle things out. My hand was fast on taking out the silenced 9mm Glock pistol from my black jacket, but not fast enough to out-race the man’s trigger finger. Before I knew it, a sharp pain blew at my gut which had me down on my knees. I reached down to clutch the wound, and a warm, wet feeling surrounded my hand. When I held my hand up to see it, it was covered with a coat of crimson, with thick drops of blood trailing down from my palm and onto my cuff. It was then that my mind started to fail me as blood drained out of my brain and as it filled with feelings of doom and helplessness.

During all my years as an assassin, never had I been shot in any way. There were close calls, but to have a bullet traveling almost as fast as the speed of sound and sink deep into your flesh, the tremendous momentum coupled with the blunt end of the bullet piercing your skin and ripping through your sinewy muscles and tendons was a new, excruciating experience for me, which couldn’t come at a worse time than during that tense moment.

The man saw me kneeling down in pain from his shot and thought that he had me. But I was too stubborn to give up. With a small ounce of strength and a large keg of determination, I lifted up my gun and fired my shots. All of them missed him as he dodged aside and fell behind a wall. That gave me time to think before he comes out and pops another one that will take me down for good. I thought, and when I couldn’t think of anything, I thought harder. It was then that my mind was distracted by my watching my own blood dripping and trailing its way along the asphalt and filled the embossed texture of a man-hole cover.

That was it. I reached for the man-hole cover and tried to pry it open with one bloody hand while my other hand shot suppressing fire towards the general direction of the wall the stalker was hiding behind, hoping that he wouldn’t have the guts to spring out and take another round of shots at me. It didn’t take long before the man-hole cover popped off like a bottle cap, and a repugnant odor quickly rushed out of the hole and assaulted my sense of smell. Dubious movements and noises within the dark sewer made me think thrice about going in, but I had no other choice if I were to escape from this corner. And so I descended into the darkness, leaving my pursuer only air when he went out of his hiding for his turn to shoot.

The sewer was dark and grim. The tunnels were so devoid of light that I had only my outreached hands for navigation and my instinct as a compass as I waded through a stream of sewage water that was high up to my knee. The unbearable wound in my gut didn’t help, and my mind was racing, wondering over and over again who that mysterious man was and the consequences of him now trailing my every move. Sounds of rats and the creepy feeling that roaches were clinging onto my body made my skin crawl, but I steeled my nerves and stumbled forth until I came to a part of a tunnel with long light fixtures lined on the side of the walls. Then I came to dry pavement, and I walked for about half a mile through the twisted maze of tunnels and climbed out of the nearest man-hole and up into the streets above, to my relief.

I looked around the area once I got out, taking deep breaths of air to purge the vile gas that polluted my lungs as I checked on my wound. I found no exit wounds behind my back, so I figured the bullet was still buried inside my gut. I was in an alley leading out into a street, and I recognized the place. It was an unpopular part in the far edge of the city where the streets and sidewalks are usually empty as the clock approaches midnight, which is what I counted on to avoid unwanted eyes. Across the street and three blocks away was my getaway apartment, a fall-back place where I planned to hide if the hit job turns out to be a failure, which it did. I was about to cross the street when a young woman came from my right carrying a plastic bag, perhaps groceries and take-away dinner. She was probably walking home after closing shop, and she gasped, petrified at the sight of a bloodied man with wet slacks.

She had witnessed me, which I thought I couldn’t let her get away with. My hand was half-way towards my silenced gun in my jacket, but I second-guessed and decided that there had been enough shots fired for one night. Scared, the lady dropped her bag and ran away, probably thinking that I was a crazy psycho lunatic loose from an asylum somewhere and just gutted a homeless person. She might have went to the police to report me and have the entire department chasing after me as soon as they were certain that I was the man they’re hunting in the St. Lacroque incident, but my head was too woozy for such things to matter. The woman disappeared into the darkness of the night, never knowing how close she was from having a bullet swiftly embedded into the back of her skull.

I continued forth, crossing the street and hurried towards the getaway apartment with my head hunched and my hand clutching my gut to hold the pressure, with patches and splatters of red stain trailing in my wake. Finally I reached the apartment building and whisked pass the guy sleeping behind the reception desk. Since the lift was out of order, the flight of stairs felt like a descent into hell, with each step being a cringe-inducing torture as the malformed flesh in my wound twisted and turned. I was soaked in sweat and blood once I reached the 5th floor, almost drained of my mettle. Quickly I went inside my getaway apartment and locked the door behind me. But it still wasn’t over – I had to do something about my bullet wound.

I struggled towards the bathroom and opened the shelf behind the mirror up the sink. There sat a bottle of painkillers and an anesthetic syringe. The pain subsided a bit once I took both supplements, but the hard part was yet to come – the accursed bullet was still in me.

I closed the windows and the doors to the balcony before I turned the ceiling fan on three and sat down on one side of a bed. I took my jacket and ripped off my bloody shirt to give the wound some air, and I found out to my horror that it looked twice as bad as I thought it had looked like when I glanced it 15 minutes before outside. I took a deep breath and shoved a finger into the bloody hole, trying not to cringe as I probed for the bullet. I couldn’t stand the pain, so I reflexively pulled out the finger just before I cried out and fell onto my side. I collected myself and sat back up, determined to dig the little piece out before gangrene sets in. This time I chomped down a piece of white cloth and continued to shove the finger inside again, the pain much more excruciating the second time. Finally I felt a cold piece of metal touching the tip of my finger, and I kept digging and coaxing the bullet to come out of my flesh until it fell out and bounced off the wooden floor before rolling onto a floor mat.

I had only been through half the crude medical procedure – I had to stop the bleeding and close the wound before it gets infected. I took out the silenced gun from my coat, dislodged the bullet cartridge, and popped out a bullet. I reached for a knife from a drawer and carefully dismantled the cap at the base of the bullet so that I could access the gun powder inside. Once it was done, I sprayed some of the powder around my wound, and, with a piece of cloth once again in my mouth, I lit a match stick and dropped the flame onto the wound. My gut lit up like a firecracker, and the pain was too much that I fell out of the bed and rolled around the floor writhing and moaning in extreme agony. I lay on the floor for several minutes, taking rapid breaths while the sweat from my forehead and the pain in my gut evaporated under the healing winds of the ceiling fan. Soon the pain disappeared completely, and I got up and opened the windows and the balcony doors again to greet the calming draft of Parisian night air as well as admiring the nocturnal, romantic beauty of the City of Lights.

I reached for a roll of bandages.

*****

And that was how everything went. After a long shower to rid the funk from the sewers and a new black 3-piece suit fresh out of the closet, I sat alone in that small room with a thousand thoughts swirling up like a maelstrom in my mind. I lifted the gun from the table and stared at it, my draping fingers gently probing the cold, smooth surface of the man-killer, examining the nozzle, the butt handle, the recoil, every inch of it as if it was the clearest thing that I could comprehend at the moment.

“Attention, suspect!” boomed an all-too-familiar voice from a megaphone outside the building. “This is Special Agent Clarkson from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the man who shot you earlier. We already have the entire building surrounded. There is nowhere else to go. Drop your arms and slowly walk out of the building with your hands up!”

Clarkson. That name stuck to mind so easily as his face had been, seeing as this person had been my bane for most of the night. What was an FBI agent doing in Paris anyway? And even if someone had known that I would assassinate Francesco, how could they have known that I would be executing it precisely at this very night, at that theater? I couldn’t have possibly been tipped off, since I’m sure all my negotiations and contact lines were completely secure. This Clarkson person knew too much about me. Too much for either of our sakes.

I was still deep in thought when several smoke bombs hurled through the windows and rolled on the floor, filling the entire room with black, suffocating smoke. Apparently the Gendarmerie Nationale, the French equivalent of the SWAT team, was about to go in. They were bringing in the big guns after me.

My time was up, and I needed to act fast. I finished what was left of the glass of water and picked up my gun, the butt handle squeezed tightly in my hand as I crossed towards the door. I avoided the windows – snipers had probably positioned themselves outside, ready to put me down at the first sign of my limb. Instincts told me that a team of six special-ops guys were rushing for my door right about then, so I just stood next to the door and spied through the peephole for their coming.

Just as I predicted, through the peephole I saw bulbously distorted images of the black team coming in from a staircase at the other end of the hall that ran straight facing my door. Each member hastily took their positions in front of my door as they wait for their captain to give the hand signal. I saw my chance in this and, with all my might, kicked the door down into pieces of wood and splinters. The team was taken aback from my sudden action, and if that wasn’t enough, the black, suffocating smoke that had stayed pressured inside my apartment instantly rushed out and enveloped them, bewildering them even more. I quickly stepped out and into their line of fire, and it was during that intense brief moment when time seemed to slow down for me. A hue of blooming sepia tone started to fill my sight which gradually came down to monochrome. It was the spirit of my gun taking over me.

Like a mongoose swiftly dodging the venomous fangs of a cobra, or a housefly whisking with ease through a barrage of swats, so was my perception and reflex when it came to close combat with firearms. All of us pulled the trigger, but I was like a formless phantom to them, swiftly moving through the smoke and evading their shots. I managed to plant three bullets inside three of their craniums. Another one of the remaining fired a line of rapid shots aimed at my face, but it was only a matter of moving my head just a little to the side as the bullets zipped pass a few inches away from my ear before I pointed my Glock at him and responded in kind.

Four down, and in a microsecond the other standing two were about to rain bullets at me. I dodged to my right when they fired their shots, all of them barely missing me as they punch holes through my flapping jacket. I landed on my side, and, with an aim that was perfect and true, I fired two bullets – the first one pierced through a guy’s throat, ripping his windpipe, while the second dug deep into another guy’s chest. The former victim died instantly. The latter collapsed onto the floor and tried to moan in pain before realizing that he was puking red from having his lungs drowned in blood. He tried to crawl away on all fours when I approached him, and when his fortitude failed him, he dragged and clawed across the floor like a slug. He flipped over to look at me, and I could see his eyes wide and unblinking at the terrifying sight of the Grim Reaper wading in smoke like a ghost and slowly approaching him in a three-piece suit with a pistol in hand, along with the ultimate realization that his death was near. I pressed one foot against his chest and, with my gun aimed at his head, swiftly ended his misery.

When the smoke settled, six agents of the law lay dead with their walky-talkies buzzing in French, and my perception cleared once more. I couldn’t waste any more time – the two hallways met together at one corner, like the shape of an L, the corner being where the door to my apartment was, or had been. I heard more voices of rushing boots coming up the staircase at the end of the hallway in front of me, so I turned to and ran for the other hallway for the emergency stairway. I passed four rooms on my left, and once I got to the fifth, I heard more of them coming up the emergency stairway. I was trapped, but it is when I’m cornered and desperate that I’m the most creative and resourceful.

I turned to the apartment door on my left and kicked the door open. I rushed in uninvitingly, hoping that nobody was in, and went straight for the balcony facing the roofless atrium of the apartment building. I looked up at the sky, the square opening of the atrium perfectly framing the crescent moon along with a formation of faint stars hiding behind soft sinewy clouds. I accidentally knocked a flower pot off the railing, sending it plummeting five floors down and crashing onto the rooftop of a garage below. It was a long way down.

But I had no other choice. I had to risk the fall. I climbed over the railing and, after a deep breath, leapt off the edge of the balcony. The plunge was a bit long, but when it came to the landing on the garage roof, it felt like I had broken every bone in my body even though I was perfectly fine and in one piece. I got up and brush the dust off my coat. I looked down from the garage roof and saw a couple of police patrolling along a tight corridor, and they were about to pass a spot right under me. When they did, I jumped off the roof and right onto one of them, instantly breaking his neck, while the other one stumbled and fell from my sudden descent. I hurried back up to my feet before he did, and when he was still on his fours, I got to his back, cupped my hands around his head and snapped his neck. The body count was raised to eight that night.

Quickly I dragged their lifeless bodies inside the garage, fearful of anyone else stumbling on them. I undressed myself and hastily exchanged my bullet-ridden attire with one of the dead police; the police cap, blue shirt, black slacks, baton, shades, cuffs, pistol, badge, everything, right down to the most miniscule detail. A few finishing touches and I was done, and I looked exactly like one of them; just a cop amongst the army of law enforcers crawling out there that night hunting for a sneaky assassin. His walkie-talkie was buzzing, so I had to shut it off before I hung it on my belt.

I went into the nearest door, entering back into the apartment building. I crossed several hallways, brushing against several special-ops guys who were rushing upstairs looking for the hitman who was no longer there. Then I came through the main hall at the reception and out of the main entrance of the building for the whole army of police officers to see. Not one of them recognized me, which might had been credited to the shades and police cap that hid most of my distinguishing features.

I walked down the stairs from the main entrance to the sidewalk. The atmosphere was buzzing with activity as the cops were moving everywhere to do small errands, most of them uniformed while a few others in plain-clothes. I kept my cool as I mingled amongst the crowd of police who stood by their cruisers and their guns at the ready, yet I couldn’t help feeling like I was swimming in a tank of sharks while wearing a shark costume; the dreaded feeling that any one of them could bust me at any time. All it would take was an officer with a keen eye and a substantial amount of curiosity and it would be curtains down for me.

Then it dawned on me; perhaps I could take this chance and look around for my pain-in-the-neck friend Mr. Clarkson. My eyes were scouring the place for his face before I felt a hand tapped on my shoulder from behind. I turned around to face a cop

“Hey, buddy,” said the cop in French. “I got a couple of guys who went inside the building and they were supposed to come out five minutes ago. I saw you coming out of the building just now, so did you see either of them?”

I know French, but it had been a while since the last time I spoke in that tongue. Five or six years perhaps, and I was a little bit rusty. So I braced myself and spilled it out:

“Oh, les. J'ai trébuché dans eux quand j'étais là dedans. Ils ont dit qu'ils ont trouvé quelque chose que menerait au meurtrier et qu'ils allaient le payer la note.”
(Oh, them. I stumbled into them when I was in there. They said they found something that would lead to the killer and that they were going to check it out.)

“Oh, I see,” replied the cop, satisfied with my answer. “You know, you don’t really look too good. There are still one or two donuts left in the van up there, so feel free to help yourself.”

I nodded in agreement and turned away from him. Then my sight fell upon a police cruiser with its front driver seat door opened, the keys still dangling from the ignition. Nobody seemed to mind about the car, so I walked in and stepped into the driver seat as if the car was mine and closed the door. I turned the ignition until the engine roared, released the hand break, strapped on the seat belt like a good police officer, stepped on the clutch and pedal, and drove out of there to my freedom. I glanced at my rear view mirror to see the cops still clueless about my sneaky escape. Suckers.

It wasn’t long before I left the twist-and-turning streets of Paris and was cruising smoothly down the highway, abandoned by all worries of apprehension. I turned off the cruiser’s buzzing intercom and switched on the radio, although it was unfortunate that all the songs were in French.

Then I wondered about Mr. Clarkson. The man who had known me. The man who shot me. The man who would hunt me down as long as he breaths. The man’s existence threatened mine, and I couldn’t have that.

I had to kill him. Somehow.

*****

Clarkson woke up to the buzz of his alarm clock, rising up from his bed and yawned to greet the morning air in his lovely house in a Los Angeles suburb. He tapped the alarm and rubbed the crud out of his eyes just to be pierced by blades of light that came from the windows of his bedroom. When his eyes were finally well-adjusted to the early day, he turned towards the alarm clock again to see that it was 9 a.m.

“Gosh, I must have expired last night,” he thought to himself. It had been an entire week since the events that took place at Paris - the attempted hit on Francesco Orleon, the confrontation with the mystery hitman in the alley, the manhunt in the apartment building, all of them were still fresh in his head after all those days. He had been putting too much effort in the search for the hitman, and obviously it had taken a toll on his health by depriving himself of much rest. He had noticed this and decided to have the next day off from work.

Sluggishly he got off from the bed, pushing the white sheets away from him before slipping on his comfortable fluffy slippers. He noticed his wife Amanda wasn’t on the bed next to him, probably off to her secretarial job at the law firm. It was Tuesday morning, so he figured Kyle and Kim were already in school by now. It was one of those rare moments when he has the entire house all to himself, although the morning felt weird to him - as if something was out of whack.

After a long, refreshing time in the bathroom, Clarkson came down the stairs in his casual shirt and shorts and headed for the kitchen, hoping that Amanda had left him with some grub for breakfast. Nothing, or it seemed that way when he looked at the kitchen table, which was clear except for today’s newspaper. He was about to open the fridge when he noticed a note stuck behind a magnet:

Scrambled eggs are in the microwave, honey. Take good care of yourself, kay?

xxxAmandaxxx

Clark turned the dial on the microwave to ‘medium’ for five minutes, making himself a cup of coffee while waiting for his breakfast to heat up. Very soon he was on the kitchen table eating his plate of warm scrambled eggs and drinking black coffee as he read the newspaper. He was glancing through the headlines on the front page when one suddenly caught his eye.

‘Mystery Man Hunter Still at Large a Week Later’

‘Darn it’, thought Clark as he was reminded of his duties again as the FBI agent who was in charge in apprehending the notorious assassin. He couldn’t help but feel that he was responsible for his slippery getaway from Paris that night, even after he had received several tips from reliable contacts about the attempted Francesco hit. The hitman could have killed another person right about now and it would all be his fault.

His coffee mug was already half-empty when he felt a mild pain suddenly coming from his stomach. At first he thought it was nothing; probably something bad he had eaten last night, but then the pain grew and grew to the point of intolerable, and it wasn’t long before Clark was on the floor moaning and writhing in pain, his hands clutching tightly at his belly for dear life.

He was painfully crawling towards the phone on one side of the kitchen wall when an ominous figure stepped into his view. At first he could not recognize the man through the terrible pain he was experiencing, but then it came like a flash. He recalled the face of the man who now stood before him, his stern countenance looking down at the pitiful Clarkson.

It was the Hitman.

“Don’t try to move,” said the Hitman monotonously, “It will only hurt more. Since you have about four or five minutes left, give or take, perhaps this is the best time for us to get to know each other.”

“You…you…how…,” mumbled Clarkson through his gritted teeth. The Hitman then walked over to the fridge and pulled a carton of orange juice, reached for a glass from one of the shelves and helped himself with the beverage.

“Oh, and don’t worry about your wife and children,” said the Hitman before drinking from the glass and wiping the yellow residue off his lips with a handkerchief. “It’s not my style to harm people unnecessarily, although the same can’t be said about the two stake-out officers who were guarding outside your house. I can’t help but feel sorry that I offed them too brutally. Maybe you can send my apologies to them once you die.”

“What…do…you…want...from…,” said Clarkson, now lying on his back in spasms, too weak to even finish his sentence. Greenish froth started to dribble out from the corner of his lips, and he could feel his vision fading as the whites of his eyes swallowed his pupils; both were symptoms of the deadly poison.

“What do I want?” replied the Hitman as he crossed to Clarkson’s side and crouched to meet his face, his fiery glare locked dead into Clarkson’s lifeless eyes. “I don’t want anything from you, Mr. Clarkson. In fact, my life was already fine and dandy before you came into my picture. You followed me around and struck me when I was most vulnerable. I can say this, Clarkson; that night was the most…unpleasant night I’ve ever had in my life, and it’s not something that I’m willing to endure again, ever.”

“You…monster…must…be…stopped…,” said Clarkson, now almost blind and barely able to speak. He was in his last breaths.

The Hitman grabbed the collar of Clarkson’s shirt and pulled his face even nearer to his, his ominous breath falling eerily onto the pale skin of Clarkson’s face. “I don’t blame people for calling me a monster. Hell, if I were them, I would call myself a monster. I’m a killer, and I’ve always have been. They say once you taste blood, it changes you forever. I wouldn’t know, because it’s been a part of my diet since day one. What is worth killing for, you might ask? I wouldn’t know, since I hadn’t any other choice. In taking a man’s life, all I can say is…it’s easy, and more difficult than you can imagine!”

The Hitman’s parting words only fell on deaf ears. Clarkson was already gone.

THE END
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