I did not remind Harley of that conversation, and he didn’t mention it either, but I still couldn’t get rid of that feeling. I was walking around with a gaping hole in me, thirsty for an answer, an explanation. In the eyes of usual men, my life was quite interesting as it was – making a living as a contractor, taking dubious jobs from even more dubious men. A highly trained individual with the ability to secure precious items for transport, or to guard a certain person with my life. I had a pretty good name for myself, warranting me with some highly-paid jobs but also a lot of harsh memories. But I was getting weary of that kind of lifestyle. Although still strong and agile compared to the average folk, I was getting older with every day (nearing the start of my fifth decade as a living, aging being), feeling my abilities weaken compared to their peak. The morning after a job was always the worst, with every bone and muscle in my body cramped up as if they were trying to swallow themselves.
My, would I truly give anything to be a normal, ageing human being once again.
Because of my considerably advanced age for a contractor and an incident just a couple of months ago that got my hand-weapon license revoked, I had little to no work at all to keep me busy. I guess it is the main reason my mind couldn’t let go of that peculiar event. It always bulged aggressively into my thoughts at one point or another during the day, questioning itself and my sanity. I could tell Harley was concerned about me. He was my trainee once, and now a full-time partner, so he knew me well. Both of us could easily read each other’s emotions and feelings, as it was a crucial part of a job where you sometimes do not have the luxury of discussing tactics or asking for orders under heavy pressure. But as easily as Harley could have read my thoughts, he also knew that I had little interests of discussing them and so he let me be. I wish now that he would’ve tried to approach me. It is one of my biggest regrets that I haven’t talked with him about it myself. Perhaps some pain could have been averted.
I do not precisely remember how much time passed from that weird evening. It was a matter of mere days. I was sitting in our living room, reading a book and cocooned in my own thoughts. It was a hot day, like it should be in August, and the sun was still up. Harley was out, providing a small escort for some local merchant. Harley found our forced vacation tougher to handle than I did. He was still in his prime, and a man of fine skill. He didn’t have his license revoked as I did, so technically he could accept contracts of his own. Offers indeed came, each one as lucrative as the other, but he refused them all at first as some act of solidarity. I found it incredibly stupid, and I let him know that on a daily-basis. ‘You need to keep yourself in shape Harley, you are still not at your peak of abilities yet!’ I used to tell him. That wasn’t true, as Harley maximized his potential a long time ago, but he had the habit of resting on his laurels. ‘Besides, we could use the money,’ I urged at him from a different perspective, ‘We are incredibly close to squeezing the last penny out of our savings, and this apartment isn’t rent-free!’ ‘No,’ Harley used to reply, ‘I will not accept a single contract until you receive your license back. The fact that mine wasn’t taken away does not mean that I wasn’t to blame as well!’ ‘Who gives a damn about who’s guilty?!’ I used to argue back, ‘We need the money!’ Eventually Harley gave up and started to take on some smaller contracts, although unhappily, just to pay the bills.
A loud noise suddenly cut through my thoughts. I was startled, as I couldn’t find its source. It was heard again, and I have horridly realized where this sound was emerging from, and why it was so familiar – it was a sound very similar to cloth being torn apart aggressively, come from deep inside me. In the blink of a moment I was torn apart in two and the living room vanished. The pain was excruciating. I could barely see anything through the pain and blurry chaos I witnessed, traveling through what seemed like entire galaxies in mere moments. Suddenly I was thrust onto a hard surface, minutes passing by before my shocked mind realized it was the filthy ground of an alleyway I was resting on. I tried to stand up, shivering from this horrible experience and the surprisingly chilly weather. ‘What in the name of all Gods happened right now?’ I asked my frightened and clueless self, ‘How was I transported here? Where am I?’ questions kept flowing and I had none of the answers.
My vision, which was incredibly blurry at first, started to refocus. ‘I recognize this place!’ I thought to myself, ‘It is the alley next to the old Theater.’ I have noticed another thing, a thing that baffled me as I had no reasonable explanation for it – the sun, which was shining as if the evening has only begun only minutes ago, was already gone as the night took its place. I did not have enough time to fully comprehend what was happening, as I suddenly heard a sound behind me. I turned around quickly, just to see what I have already feared to see – A man, wearing a cloak as black as night itself, holding a knife. His face was covered so I could not recognize him, but it was the least of my problems at the moment. He lunged towards me, with an obvious intent to do me harm. I turned and started to run as fast as I could, navigating my way through the trash and dirt that littered the alleyway. It wasn’t long time before I reached the dead end at the end of it. I turned around, ready to defend myself, but I tripped in the process. The cloaked man was mere feet away from me, lifting his knife… when that horrid sound was heard was again. The sound of myself tearing apart like an old pair of trousers. The alleyway disappeared, and I was thrust onto my living room floor, sobbing uncontrollably.