This story is by Zeina B and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I’m in my car, loading my gun with a silver bullet, as you do. I’m about to write the last chapter of this son-of-a-biscuit’s life. As I’m preparing myself, I remember what mama told me when she was still herself.
No time to get sentimental. I head towards the building on my left. I’ve been tracking him for two weeks, and this is finally it.
I was packing Lizzy’s lunch for school when I saw the worrisome headlines. Three young men and a teenage girl were declared dead of torn-out hearts. I’m talking literally having their hearts torn out of their chests, not some romantic shit. I knew right there and then it was my kind of job.
It’s true, the pay-check isn’t that great -mainly because it’s inexistent- but you get some pretty darn good benefits. Who needs dental when you can smash a bullet through that monster’s heart?
I’m in front of the house. It’s show time.
I easily kick the door down and slowly walk in. I pass through the kitchen, and reach towards a bedroom. I enter. He sees me, and doesn’t seem surprised.
“I thought chasseurs would look tougher in person,” he says calmly. His blinds are closed, and there’s only one lit lamp. I can’t see him well, but his voice is raspy and his posture inspires power. His strange sense of serenity gives the impression that he doesn’t think he’s in danger. He’s wrong. By the end of this, I’m going to have one less bullet. And I don’t waste any bullets.
“I see you’ve heard of us,” I reply, pointing my gun at him, ready to shoot.
“Is that really necessary?” he says, nodding towards the gun.
I’m stunned. “Yeah. What do you imagine is gonna happen next?”
Mama’s last words ring through my ears: ‘I don’t need to tell you to take care of Lizzy, but I will. Take care of her, and be a good role model. Do our job, kill as many monsters as you possibly can, but never tell Lizzy. Let her live without monsters. Let her be a kid.’
I’m brought back to my job by his grating voice. “I’ll make you a deal,” he proposes, “You hear me out. If you’re convinced, we go our separate ways. If not, I’ll let you shoot me without a fight. You won’t lose anything if you give it a shot.”
I pretend to think about it.
“I just want a chance,” he adds.
“A chance to do what, rip more hearts out, Beiber? Are you about to say that I’m the real monster, and that you’re just trying to survive while I do this for kicks? If your argument is that I’m the twisted one, you’ve already lost.”
He’s lost either way. But if listening to some sob story will save me possible injuries that I’ll have to explain to Lizzy, I’m all ears. He looks at me expectantly.
“You have three minutes,” I say. He smiles briefly.
“Since my transformation sixteen years ago, I’ve been eating the hearts of dead bodies. I got a job at a morgue, for this very reason. No one gets hurt.”
He walks closer to the lit lamp. Our eyes meet.“Four heartless dead bodies beg to differ,” I say, pointing my gun back at him.
“I was bit sixteen years ago. But my son, he’s fourteen. So my sickness was passed down to him. His name’s Eliot. He’s doing great in school. In maths and history more so than in English, but he’ll get there, I know it-”
“Your point being?” I think about Lizzy. She excels in English. She just got another A.
Still, I’m getting impatient. A bullet needs to be shot.
“Eliot is sick. It’s bad. He almost died. He needed fresh hearts. I just, provided them. Isn’t that what parents do? Provide what their kids need? Take care of them when they’re sick?” he pauses, “I did what every parent would do.”
“Stop romanticising this crap and making it sound like you didn’t kill four people. What makes you think your kid’s life is more valuable than four others?”
“Every parent does. Ask anyone who takes care of a child. Each and every one of them will tell you that if they can save their kid, or someone else’s, they’ll save theirs.”
“Sure, but they wouldn’t kill four people in the process. You lose.”
With one less bullet and one less monster out there, I head “home” before Lizzy gets back from school. I’ll burn the body later. Maybe this way Eliot can say goodbye to his dad.
“Lizzy, I’m back!” I yell when I see her shoes and her pink backpack near the door. I’m excited to see the kindest soul that ever walked the earth. She runs into my arms.
“Shawn! How was work?”
“Boring, as always. I should have listened to you. Shouldn’t have become an accountant. Numbers. Numbers. Numbers.” I drop my weight on the couch.
“I got you a gift, to make your day less boring!” she sits on my lap, so excited that she’s jittering.
“You know that’s not how birthdays work, right, birthday girl? You’re turning eleven and you got me something?”
“People get presents for Jesus’s birthday,” she smiles proudly.
“Did you just compare yourself to Jesus?” I smile back.
“That’s not what I meant,” she seems hurt. I kiss her cheek and she cheers up. “Open it,” she says, handing me a badly wrapped package. She’s barely eleven. It’s perfect. I take it from her and unwrap it slowly to tease little impatient Lizzy. Inside the box is a black bracelet with a weird symbol I can’t decipher.
“It’s magic,” she says, “to protect you from monsters.”
“Lizzy, it’s beautiful. Almost as much as you.” I hug her again.
“What are little sisters for?” life beams from her face as she laughs wholeheartedly. She passes the bracelet through my hand.
“But Lizzy, I won’t be needing that. You know monsters aren’t real.”
I take a deep breath, “I’m sure. Now, put your shoes back on, we’re going to grandpa’s to celebrate your day.”
“Yay! I hope he made lasagne. He makes the best lasagne EVER!” she exclaims, “Was mom a great cook too?”
“Nah, mama was a terrible terrible cook. You’re lucky I’m still here.”
She laughs, and runs to the edge of our tiny rented apartment. We’ll be leaving here soon, to wherever the next job takes us. I hope Lizzy didn’t get too attached again.
“Hurry up,” I add, “I bet grandpa even has your Hogwarts letter.”
Later that night, I feel something crawl next to me. I know it’s Lizzy.
“Why are you in my bed?” I ask, anticipating her answer.
“I’m scared,” she says, pulling the blanket over her head. I get under it with her, and caress her hair.
“I already told you, pumpkin, monsters aren’t real.”
“How do you know they won’t get me?”
I know what I have to do.
“Because, I’m here.”
When Lizzy falls back asleep, I go back to that forsaken house. I have to get rid of the other body anyway.
This is my job. If grandpa can stab mom’s guts to send the demon possessing her back to Hell, I can do this. We get rid of monsters. That kid is responsible for the death of four people, whether directly or indirectly. That’s a monster to me, I repeat to myself.
The front door is still broken. I go in. It occurs to me that the kid might no longer be here. He probably took a run for the hills when he saw his dad’s body. That wouldn’t be the worst thing. Maybe he’ll take it slow somewhere remote, and I’ll have to come back for him in a few years.
I hope Lizzy is sound asleep.
When I step inside, Eliot is hunched over his dad’s corpse. Even mom’s cooking smelled better than this.
When I look into his hurt and terrified eyes, I see myself in him for a moment, but I quickly shun that thought away.
To not make it harder on myself, I shoot him before he can say anything. Three seconds later, two bodies lay on that floor.
As I set them on fire in the backyard, I hear the sound of approaching footsteps. I get my gun out, ready to fight. However, I instantly recognise that the face illuminated by the burning fire is Lizzy’s. She looks horrified. I can’t blame her.
“What are you doing here, Elizabeth?” I say angrily. I never call her that.
“I hid in the car… To play with you… I heard the sound of a gun shot… Fire? Did you do this?” She looks at the gun in my hand.
“You killed them,” she states with absolute certainty.
“You shouldn’t have followed me here. Should’ve stayed with grandpa.”
“Shawn, you’re scary,” she pauses, “monsters are real.”
I’m sorry mama.
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