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Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Hours that Followed (1)

A lot of things about this moment did not make sense to him. For starters it was certainly his hand wrapped around the hilt of the dagger, but it was both of hers that grasped his one. Then it was her hands that turned the blade about and thrust it into her abdomen. The twist of the knife was a team effort albeit more of a reflex on his part. So when she looked at him, right in the eyes, in between the moments where her tears fell reluctantly towards his face she did one more much unexpected thing. She smiled. The next hand in play was armor clad; obsidian fingers wound tightly around her neck from behind, and pulled her off of the man on the ground. A horse stomps its hoofs impatiently in the distance while her rider throws this young woman into the dark night with little circumstance. The ground is soft but the cracking of her body as it collides with the dirt is audible. Quite loud in fact is the gut wrenching echo since the Earth herself is watching in silence. What a staggered and broken moment is this. This curious turn of events conclude in a rather predictable manner. The horseman raises his boot and promptly settles it upon the forehead of a shattered man already prone on the floor.

When Marko wakes up he peels the paperback novel from his forehead. He lets the dim light of the room wash his eyes out from the nightmare and slowly but sure he recognizes the sight of his living room. Bringing himself up off the couch induces a long drawn out sigh and a groan of indignation. Sean stood across the room shaking his head and holding his hand out for the book that, moments before, had been sent flying not so gingerly in the direction of Marko’s head. “Sean, there are nicer ways to say hello.” Marko tosses him his book and makes for the window so as to gauge what time of day it is. “Same nightmare?” Asks Sean. In response Marko offers a nod.  “Well buddy, at least you won’t forget what she looks like. Also, dibs on the couch.” And with that Sean leaves for the patio, cigarette in hand. Marko shakes his head and mutters to the empty room, “Welcome home brother,” just before heading down the hall.
He knew without looking there were four of them home. Sean out back smoking, Marko shaking the grogginess of sleep from his shoulders, and as he would soon find out, Eliot and Nick were vigilantly manning the command center. Opening the wooden double doors Marko sees Nick sprawled out on the sofa, six empty bottles of beer at his end of the table, and four laptops all but stacked upon one another compiling some form of crucial data or another. At the opposite corner behind a tall menacing chair sat Eliot, face down passed out over his keyboard. The word document on the monitor simply reads “jh,ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggh…” for twelve pages and counting.  The grandfather clock in the hall just behind Marko now told him it was 11:30 P.M. He winced at the sound of the pendulum. He was collecting himself for a moment as if to suppress an old memory. “Man Eliot, if you keep publishing these reports every other day you’ll find yourself sleeping through the sunlight hours like me.” Eliot lifted his head and turned around in the chair with a mixture of apathy and calculated genius that would rival any movie super villain. “Your reports are done every other day; the rest of the world looks for information on the remainder of the week.” Marko shrugged in surrender and sat down on the recliner next to him. Eliot looked over at Nick, “Oh shoot we can’t talk. We should let him get some rest he’s working on some vital stuff for a group in Florida.” Marko shook his head, “He’s fine, nothing short of a bomb or a life threatening emergency will wake him up anytime soon. And what the hell does Florida have to worry about, too sunny again?” Eliot who was very much not in the mood for humor made a face at Marko that he read to mean “How stupid I look as, is how much of jack ass you are right now.” “Fair enough.” Said Marko aloud. “I’m going to get a drink.” Nick stirred from his rest and mumbled “I could use one.” Marko turned to him and smiled “Just me this time pal. When I’m drinking alone, I prefer to be by myself.” In an instant Nick was under again. “Why are you going right now?” asked Eliot. “You know man, the usual. I need a drink,” the next part followed in a dull whisper: “And uh… Kiara is here.” Eliot propped himself up a little bit and looked around at the mess in the room, accepting there was nothing to be done on short notice he leaned back in his seat... Sean walked into the room and raised an eyebrow at Nick’s all but lifeless body. “It smells like death in here. And Kiara just pulled up, now if you ladies excuse me I shall retire for the evening.” Marko shouted after him, “Be good to my couch damnit. She’s all I got.” At this point Nick is wide awake and coherent. “So. Kiara eh?” Says Nick doing nothing to hide his grin of approval. “Stay classy boys.” Utters Marko as he sneaks out for the back way. Nick turns to Eliot who was already facing his direction. “Is it just me or is he dodging her something fierce these days?” Eliot replies “Kiara is the doctor; I think Marko is afraid she’ll get too into the science of the matter and treat him like a lab rat rather than her friend.” Nick fervently shakes his head at the thought before speaking “I think any man would want to be her lab rat. Just sayin’. This is something else.” The doorbell rings. 

Marko had a few drinks and kept to himself the rest of the night before he found himself shifting into neutral waiting at this particular stop light. From his periphery he spies an SUV pull up right beside him. This makes him feel uneasy. His eyes search the path before him first, and the mirrors around him second. Nothing else seemed to raise suspicion but this one car has him on edge. The light stays red. He looks over to see a very attractive young woman staring at him. He shifts slowly into first gear and grits his teeth. Then she smiles at him, so he calmly reaches for a knife. When the light turns green he doesn’t move. She looks at the road ahead and then back at him while her car stutters forward physically acting out the mental battle Marko could barely make out as it played across her features. She decides to drive on, rather gracelessly. Marko waits until she is out of sight. He isn’t entirely sure what nonsense he had just avoided but the man was quite content with having shaken her off his scent. He keeps off the main streets and takes his time. Naturally, when he gets home, he sees the same SUV from before is now parked in his driveway. Oh joy…

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