The air was frosted with thick curls of mist as the rain poured over the artificial streets. It was pointless weather that had no flora to feed within the concrete builds and metallic roads. Though it nourished nothing, it still cultivated the world in ways it never intended. Pungent aromas of the grime-layered streets and saturated garbage brought out the vicious scavengers to claim their appetites. Meanwhile, the city dwellers hid from the violence of the torrential waters and creatures.
It never rained for a short moment but for hours. Washing the world for as long as it pleased, it tormented those who couldn’t stand the confinement it forced upon them. Once the thunder held its claps and the rain granted its mercy, quiet relief sifted through the souls of many.
On a midsummer’s night, another wrathful rain ceased, and a pair of mud-colored eyes glowered out of the large pane of a small diner. A tall, slender figure kicked his stool behind him and looked over to meet the eyes of the waitress who wasn’t afraid to capture his glare. She watched as he hunched his shoulders to fit his coat. The smirk that animated one side of his weathered face let her know the likelihood of a tip was something she should keep dreaming of. Passionless patrons traveled far out to the darkest sector of the ZOA. They were thrifty with their money and frugal with their empathy to those who lived under the scrutiny of red lights. They lived in harmony with their demented egos, rarely understanding what it was like to cast it aside.
Stalking along the crooked pavement, the man in a fine wool trench slipped his hand into a deep pocket to dig for his smoke. Though the rain was gone, a harsh wind never failed to trail after the downpour. Slanting his eyes against the frigid gusts of air, he surveyed the charcoal sky before glancing at the central tower. In the system of ZOA, skyscrapers of titanium and steel stood at the axis of each four zones. However, the metal monument within the foreigner’s eyeshot stood with a purpose different from its identical sister towers.
The farther the sun, the more the light of the tower’s clock illuminated. When a hint of the numbers was visible to the naked eye, it began its countdown with the number “12”.
He understood, in the faceless zone, the numbers beaming from this tower held a different meaning of time. Back in the sector he considered home, people saw time as a reminder, but the natives of the faceless sector saw a warning.
The puddles around the outsider reflected a bright crimson as the DLT tracks snaked high above his head. A sudden glance at the silver watch on his wrist made him eager to venture out of the unknown and into the Ivory Zone. Traversing the sectors was accessible to those who didn’t live in the struggling regions of the faceless city with crimson rails.
Cursing the wind underneath his breath, he was forced to huddle into the nearest alley to light a long, copper cigarette. Striking the flamer several times with his thumb, he grumbled under his breath as blue sparks refused to light his metal smoke.
“Fucking piece of shit,” he hoarsely barked, ready to cast the useless apparatus into the darkness of the alley.
Yet, the projectile never flew into the shadows, as the echoes of footsteps crunching against the bits of gravel gave him pause.
“Who the fuck is there?” his voice grated against the wind that raged from behind.
Peering eyes caught the tips of worn leather boots peeking from underneath the angled shadows. In no hurry, he slid his hand into his pocket and pulled out a genuine Sixty-Five Revolver. Little did he know, the one in the shadows was pleased with the sight of the small firearm; the knuckles of the unknown cracked and echoed.
Three silver bullets haphazardly disappeared into the darkness of the alley, but the marksman’s ammunition didn’t fulfill his intent. Blood sprayed out of the darkness and across the alleyway floor, but the body still stood.
“What the hell?” he whispered in awe.
His bewilderment soared as a grime-covered stranger emerged from the veil of the shadows with his hands cupped before him.
A young man uncovered himself from hiding. He was adorned in opaque sunglasses that were partially shielded by tendrils of unkempt black hair that swept around his neck.
His long and bony frame advertised a malnourished diet, and his bloodless physique swam underneath a buttoned plaid shirt and dark, mangled jeans.
A long, pale finger carefully rolled back and forth in the palm of the bizarre individual.
A smile crept on the shadow dweller’s face. With admiration, he proclaimed into his palm, “Silver.”
Though uneasiness bled into his hollows, the man in the trench declared with a crooked smile, “I have more for you if you want it.”
The enamored expression of a killer faded once his mark stepped further from the darkness. Under the dim moonlight, the mark shed light on his admiration. A silver bullet, picked from his palm, rolled between dirty fingers. Holding it high to the bright sky, his head twisted with amazement while he admired the blood-soaked metal.
The once trigger-happy man instinctively pressed the safety of the revolver, but he quailed once he spotted three wounds that decorated his target’s chest. Dry lips trembled at the site of the bleeding holes near the heart of his victim, and his victim was still standing.
“You should be dead,” the shooter whispered in fear.
“Then kill me,” the wounded insisted, returning his shade-covered face to his watcher.
A bruised ego sent the revolver off again. Another bullet drilled into flesh near the heart, successfully pushing his victim back. More blood splattered across the puddled ground and worn boots. To the attempted murderer’s dismay, the target didn’t welcome death as was demanded.
Both bodies were stiff as the songs of the wind serenaded above the silence that troubled the dark alleyway. The bloody fingertips of his mark pressed against his pale forehead and dragged the opaque shades down his face. Uncovered eyes were fixated on the puddle brewed with blood underneath his boots. The man in wool heeded bright reflections of red in the bloody water, though the railways above them were not lit by a passing train.
Wet fragmented trails of red painted an already filthy face. “I told you to kill... me.”
“You fucking piece of shit! I’m going to fill your entire body with bullets until you die!” The murderer raged and aimed his gun.
The victim cracked his neck to one side; his bones rang in the alley. “Give them to me.”
The intent of a trigger failed as bright red irises suddenly bore into the eyes of the gunman.
The red gaze trapped the man in wool. Under the trance, a thin ring of red formed around his mud-colored irises, and without his control, his arm pointed the barrel of his weapon underneath his chin. Sweat condensed the gunman’s deeply porous skin, while the red-eyed man raked his wet fingers through his black hair to clear the dark greasy tresses that screened his abnormal eyes.
Under red scrutiny, the predatory tables had turned. The victim was unable to move his body, though he quaked inside with fear. Taking a deep breath of musty air, the red eyes analyzed the body of the rare firearm pressed against the flesh of its owner.
The mechanics of the small pistol were beautiful. The dirty young man knew the gun itself was as light as a feather, only the bullets in the cylinder could give it meaningful weight. A smile was eminent as he recalled how beautifully the explosions from the barrel sharply vibrated as it emptied into the darkness. The smile grew broader as he remembered how easy it was for the man to pull out the little gun– he was able to guess the number of remaining bullets.
Suddenly, he recounted how reckless and ignorant their society could be; and undoubtedly, his wealthy prey held a habit of wasting silver shots inside of the brains of the poorest that lurked for food and shelter.
His focus retreated to another bloodless face. Curiosity wove in his whisper, “Do you like how it feels to bury your metal into flesh?”
“Fuck you,” the helpless man cursed through his teeth.
The glowing eyes circled the stiffened body, as he crooned with melancholy, “The real question is: why can’t it be the other way around? It’s not fair to hold a weapon and be ignorant of what it does.”
Suddenly, the prey closed his eyes in fright, but that sank the heart of his watcher. A bloody palm slapped the side of the sweaty face. The red-eyed man’s thumbs forced open resistant eyelids, making his victim see red once more. But the ring of red began to fade before the predator could look away. With faded influence, his prey closed his eyes once more.
With time working against the hunter, he firmly gripped his hand around the aimed wrist, and bargained, “If you keep your eyes open, I’ll let you go free.”
The man refused to listen.
“Please... open them. I still have something else to tell you. If you listen, I promise to let you go. You have my last word,” the young man begged again.
The tightening grip was inconsistent with the new tenderness in his voice.
Nevertheless, the man who visited the faceless sector was accustomed to a life where he was the receiver. Consistency couldn’t deny the gift of freedom, and he tore open his eyes. Though, regret sunk in as a ring of red circled in his eyes once more. With no choice, he listened to a curled set of lips grant him liberation.
The young man that crawled from the darkness of the alley never lied to the man. He kept his agreement, and smiled with adoration for he knew he was going to witness beauty after his brittle voice sang, “Pull.”
Another sea of blood flowed in an alley in that midsummer’s night. A pale face was stained with rivers of crimson. Quietly, he admired the last tremors of life that left a body covered in a skewed imitation of the red rails suddenly shining above them. Transfixed to the carnage, he rested beside the casualty. There, he put his ear to the blood-soaked chest and listened to a heartbeat’s fading melody.