This story is by Lina Wrangert and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
John stood in the illuminated corner that curved to a darkened space between two buildings, a gun tucked in the back of his trouser belt. The previous rainfall had left the streets desolate and would therefore lend cover against any spectators.
John´s chest heaved an agonized sigh and his fingers ran through his short, scruffy hair.
The telltale click of the entry-door to the apartment pushing open sent his heart rate accelerating. His fingers curled around the gun and he drew it from underneath his coat. His lips already twitched when he heard the sweet serenade of the killers scream inside his head, the bullet colliding in splashes of red and compliments of cerise when the metal piece splinters an opening through their skull. He never imagined such a morally wrong thought would bring him satisfaction.
But was he prepared for this? By killing the killer he would become one himself, on the other hand someone was guilty of Lilith´s death and what is an awful thug less on this planet anyway? He was bettering the world by getting rid of them.
Despite this, his hand prickled against the gun´s coldness. It was much unlike the warmth and comfort of his clothes´ soft fabric against his skin, they resembled a part of who he was, or at least had been. The dark metal structure in between his fingers was the contradiction of that, it held no part of who he longed to be. Yet he had to take action soon because the indistinct crackle of boots pressing pebbles beneath its soles caught his ears.
His chest hitched, the doubt dawned on him with the same weight the rain had poured him soaken with. He was soon going to be a killer, take the life of a living human being. His stomach churned and his head seemed to lose all oxygen required for him to stand up. His sudden lack of balance forced him to turn around and position his hands against the battered brick wall. His crooked fingers dug for the concrete´s stability his mind was missing.
His body had gone completely slack, like his saturated boots had been captured in the whirlpools of drizzle and prevented him to move. He drew a deep breath, tasted the chilly air in his lungs. He had planned this for far too long to be unsure of it. He had to remind himself that he did this for his wife, in her honour.
“Fuck.” He whispered in a horse tone. His bottom lip quivered and his heart pelted heavier. His fingers drew longingly to press the trigger but his mind averted this action. “Fuck!” He shouted without acknowledging that the person exiting the door must very well have heard him. All the buried resentment welled up and unleashed its destructive demeanour with a sickening noise of bones cracking in a square punch to the wall. He pounded it with such momentum, speckles of crimson red soon sprinkled its paint upon the surface.
His knuckles were left with carmine marks, swollen welts that were to only worsen if he could make it through this dreadful night. His hand had not approved of the deep impacts to the wall because it now contradicted him and sent his brain horrendous pain signals. He let a tearful and relieved gust of air break free. The pain sent his knees almost caving for the ground but it brought more peace to his mind than the intensified sense of wrongdoing. With the danger signals from the sight of blood mingled in his brain it provided relief from his splintered mind.
His colleagues at the forensic department had reassured him countless of times that if he ever needed support they would have his back like he had always had theirs. Liars. Where was their support now? They only avoided his darkened gaze of self-pity when he floated through the corridors like the hollow version of himself he was becoming. They were equally responsible for his wife´s uncaptured killer because they had dismissed John from the case he could have solved. His colleagues stood in his way to get what he wanted and that was enough to make even John dangerous.
The footsteps from the entry now operated in his direction. It was now or never and he had to take his chance. He either ended his own life or the accountable’s.
His coffee brown eyes peered down the gun and shifted into a darkened gaze with this devilish remain that much resembled what he feared he was becoming, a killer. Without consideration of how to apprehend the stranger, he pulled the hood up and his fingers mashed harder around the weapon.
He rounded the corner in a swift movement with the gun held by the side of his thigh. When his sight drew to the contour of a human form, the weapon flew up, aimed towards the shape. When the silhouette stepped into the fluttered lights, his stomach cramped and his throat caught in a burning croak.
In front of him was his wife. Under her arm, a stag of police files.
The gun´s aim dropped to the ground. His jaw quaked but could not set itself to speak, he could only utter a croupy, “How…” Lilith did not even give the gun a glance, her predatory stare fastened on John instead. “There was never a break in.” Her tone was cold, curt like they were strangers, and by this point that was what they were becoming. “Six months…” John whispered in a husky breath. “I thought you were dead, I saw your body.”
“Sorry, hun. I married you for one reason. I needed those police files and only you had them. I needed to get closer. But I didn’t need you after that, so they helped me disappear.” She paused for a second and let a short lived silence linger between them so that her words could sink into his head. “Who…” John´s voice came out more like a whimper rather than the harsch tone he had intended. “Who helped you…”
“One of your colleagues.” She finally casted her gaze to the firearm when John´s fingers steadied a firmer grip around the weapon. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry?” John muttered with the same deadened tone she was carrying. “You’re sorry!?” His broken voice welled into a full-blown, growling shout which sent an involuntary wince from her and she tightened her arms around the files. “How can you be sorry!?” John´s face almost crumbled, his expression torn with grief. A gut-wrenching sob tore his chest apart.
Before Lilith had time to take action, the gun took aim again. This time to himself. The cold, condensated barrel touched the bottom of his jaw and his eyes crinkled shut when his finger finally pulled the trigger.
Something caught in his chest, a hiccup of a sob when the gun clicked, but he could still feel the rasping snivel blazing his throat even after he should have been dead. “Give me the gun!” Lilith wailed, the files slipped from her grip and she scrammed for John´s hands but he writhed away from her fingers and at this moment the gun´s safety was inadvertently pulled down. “You’re not thinking clear -”
A deafening silence sharply cut them off.
John could sense the sound waves quiver through his bones and waver under his skin when the gunshot sizzled through air. The polymer-coated bullet split her flesh right open and burnt a small passageway where blood trickled out.
John´s perception of where he was and what event unfolded in front of him was like lost to the stratosphere. He was watching it from an outsider’s point of view, like a play waiting for the curtain call to reveal that it was only a show. But the curtains never came. The immediate realisation of what had happened only hit him when the weight of Lilith’s body stumbled forward and John´s arms caught her from colliding with the ground.
The wailing of sirens washed blue light over the scene and guns rattled to the pace of closening footsteps. His mind corroded like a broken gear-wheel and could only filter the police-mens yelling as incoherent nonsense.
John´s weary soul was descending into darkness, longing for an end to its long-lived suffering. His colleagues were to take him in now, the ones who had helped Lilith steal the files. John was not the criminal here but still he was the one to pay for the crime.
He came here to kill the killer of his wife, nothing more. The firearm still had one bullet left for that.