Why do we live? Many, I know, would say that we live because we do not want to die. Because we were placed here. Because we have a purpose. I disagree. We live because we don't want to hurt those we love, we live because we love.
These words echoe in every person's eyes on the battlefield. They look at each other, not with hate, but with understanding. No one wants to leave anyone behind, anyone who would morn their disappearance. No one wants to condem those they love to be left as the losers of a war that they did not choose to wage. Weighing the consequences of losing, the havoc that would enter the lives of their neighbour's, acquaintances and unknown friends, those who are surviving on the battlefield trudge on and ask themselves, " Why do we live?" only to come to the conclusion that we live because we love.
Ashley knew this, that's why she is still alive, not because she wants to be but because she loves her family. She even loves those in her family who many would deem appropriate to hate. Blood is thicker than water after all, and even when Ashleys life was ruined and broken by the one person she used to trust the most, she still left with the cars to save him. She still tried to rescue the person who beat her because she knew that alcohol and loss can change a person.
She knew that when the morning light filtered through the dusty windows, windows he couldnt be bothered to wash and windows she was to small and young to reach, that she would forgive him when his pleas of sorry reached her as she was laying bundled in a corner with a knife in her hand.
Ashley got used to clearing away beer bottles like they were the toys that evey other five year old had to pick up. Her eyes got used to seeing her uncle through the beer bottle lens as she lay cuddled by the hardwood floors. The bottle made the big man quite small, it contorted his figuire and soul and the frothy liquid quaked each time he lifted the bottle for a taste. It's poison quite clear in the way it explodes right from the bottle, reaching for his throat to corrupt him inside out. To make him forget and release his emotions that have been growing and needed to open its buds.
This liquid made to help a war veteran forget also made him lose himself to a monster that was hiding inside. A monster that would shudder and puff, it would scream and rage, its fingers trembling and shudderring causing tremors to run through its muscles making it strike out at the small child beneath it.
The next morning when the frothy liquid has run its course, the monster turned to man would beg forgiveness from the blood covered child hiding somewhere he would not fit. He ran through the house, crying, shaking and trembling. He would look around the house, trying every crevice and crack, repeating the words "Where are you Monkey?" over and over like he did when he was still a man, and she was still a child playing hide and seek.
Only this time the child knows that losing this game, dependant on who is really searching for her, could end in death or worse... she could live. But when she does confirm that the thing looking for her is the man and not the monster, she appears, like an angel that fell into his life. Complete calm rushes over him and he regrets not pulling the trigger from his gun at his desk job when he was the last man in the office. But he lives because he loves her, even if he has a weird way of showing it to her.
Ashley shakes her head, later he didn't live anymore, he merely existed in the realm of regret and alcohol. And that meant that he didn't love her anymore, but she still loved the man hidden by the monster, and secretly she hoped that he could be healed so that he could live again. That's why she didn't resent him when he let her be taken. The monster still lived, it lived because it loved alcohol, and thus it reigned taking all sounds of her normal childhood home from memory and filling it with rage filled screams.
The kettle shook and huffed as water boiled its way to freedom, allowing some of its brethren to escape as a thin veiled lie drifts past the eyes of an unseeing victim. The cups rattled against one another as they were removed with the briusqness of familiarity of an old resident. The teabags made small cries as their hands were torn from one another like a mother trying to cling to the child that is about to leave for her crimes. The water squelched and squirmed as it tried to avoid its final destination, an arena where no one leaves alive, drowning the teabag that swells with fear and sadness as it looks up through teary wild hatred. The small metal spoon clinks in resignation and anger at being used again to stir boiled water.
These were the familiar sound that filled the kitchen of Ashleys childhood refuge, now it's filled by the clicking of a bottle and the rattle of frothy liquid that advertises its purpose. To rattle and mix the lives of those that dare use it as a means of escape. To consume those that do not have a healthy fear of its power over men and woman alike.
When Ashley is creeping towards the man she has to kill, this is what she keeps repeating in her head, I live because I love.
The air smells of oil and sewerage, Ashley wrinkles her nose under the mask that hides half her face. The silicon molded to her face as if she were wearing a second skin. Gold, silver and black scales are painted on the silicon, a black Z engraved at the bottom reveals whose soldier is marching into battle and the decorative swirls and dots done in green and blue reveal the rank of this specific assassin. This soldier is a Siren. And not just any Siren, but The silver Siren. Anyone who is still in doubt whether the person who is adorned with the famous and fear instilling mask is the real deal, would not have to wonder for long.
When Ashley stepped into the light, a black leather jacket became visible, covered in small patches, a map of where she'd been and who she's double crossed. The most prominent of these patches, a patch roughly as large as a woman's fist on her left shoulder, was the number 13. It was colored blood red and had a simple design. It was her number. The silent assassin, dice, the red wolf, all synonyms for the silver Siren, were incumbered in this design and jacket.
This number, once given to her by a government that wanted to demean and diminish their enemies children has now been taken from them. It was finally her number, although she was not sure that she wanted it. The unlucky number was given to a small, malnourished, pale child to mark her for death. This number however only brought destruction to those who apposed number thirteen. A faceless Warrior whose name was traded for nicknames and legends.
Anyone on the shipyard that night, would wonder who wronged miss Z in such a way that they are deemed important and threatening enough to warrant her use of The Silver Siren. That would have been a good question since Miss Z had given no such command. No one here was seen as important enough to kill, at least not yet. But Ashley, the girl behind the number, behind the mask and the leather, needed secrets and it was in places like these where unimportant names, behind legends and numbers could be found. Those who made the character, who knew the tales and secrets.
August something, no one knew his full name, he was a drunk that lumbered around the shipyard often after drinking a pint... or two...or three. He yelled and stumbled, he slurred his words and he was no one. His mask, number or legend whichever pleases you, however, was well known. He was the tin soldier, a man of no emotion and little weakness. And if he was at the shipyard, most would have tried to kill him. So August Something came instead, he needed to know what the enemy was planning. He also worked for Miss Z and was trained to be stupid, charming, obnoxious and anything else you could think of and he was going to die that night, for something worth more than gold and diamonds. He was to be killed for secrets and freedom.
The Tin Soldier had fought in many wars he fought hard and valiantly, not because he wanted to live, but because he wanted to spare his loved ones the pain of losing him twice. Once physically and once more when they realized they loved a monster. When his brother died, he poured all his love on one direction, and that was towards his secret girlfriend, Zerova. A powerful and independent woman who chose to love him, who chose to be vulnerable around him and she chose to trust him. He loved her and that's why he was still fighting.
Ashley crept towards the man on the dock, swaying and rocking, the man who was next to some men carrying unlabeled crates lending half an ear to their conversation. " we need to get these cates loaded, Boran wil be angry if it's late."
August, swaying and frowning was holding a silver object in his hand. Ashley stiffened and leaned back into the shadows, allowing them to engulf her, getting shot would bring her nowhere. Then she realized that he was holding a taperecorder.
The small object seemed even smaller engulfed in the big man's massive hand. The man who could appear feminine when he needed to enter forbidden quarters to gather gold, this person watched as the two men carrying crates disappeared onto the boat and Ashley saw her chance.
She stepped from the shadows, clothed in their black bleakness, August was taken aback.
"What are you doing here?" He eyed her suspiciously. Ashley held out her pistol, equipt with a silincer and motioned towards the small silver object she was scared of moments before because of what it may contain. Now she wanted it for the same reasons. August felt a dawn of understanding come over him in waves and looked at the young girl in front of him who was mothing the words "I'm sorry" . An understanding that was wrong had come over him and without knowing it he sealed the future in an ironlead casket. He understood that Miss Zerova had sent Ashley to kill him because she was entering what she had called the endgame.
August does not have time to react because Ashley came to kill and doesn't want to be caught. She doesn't want to run and jump over obstacles to get home. No, she wants to leisurely walk home, taking the alleys and backrodes that lead away from civilisation and cameras to solitude and secrecy.
A soft thump fills the noiseless canyon stretched between the two assassins and reaches across it like a bridge to connect the two lives for an instant. To overcome the adversities and differences between humans and allow connection between predator and prey for a while, to cause the sensation of regret for taking a life that had not needed to end.
It goes against instinct to kill when there is no reason. The natural laws are broken when a life is taken for selfish human reasons as war, silence, anger and secrets. The natural course of life is to kill for food or right to reproduce, to kill to ensure that your family lives off the soul that has been placed before them. Then dying happens in an instant, death comes quickly and no one is left with regrets over the expression their prey held when their soul was detached from their bodies.
Dying however does not come quickly when a soul is ripped from its perch without reason, without abiding by the natural laws of death.
Dying turns into a ghost that follows the killer. It follows the killer through their dreams that become tinted to create the nightmare that the bereft soul had to endure those years it took for the blade to cut to the heart, for the bullet to reach the brain. The ghost follows the killer to windows and mirrors, reminding them of what they have become. A killer, they have become a killer. They cannot be classified as a predator anymore, because they did not abide by the laws of nature. The ghost that hovers near them acts as an epigenome that makes their DNA different from those of the souls that walk the sidewalk beside them.
As the bullet tore through the brown coat stained in beer and peanut shells, leaving a trail of threads and blood spatter in its wake, August stared at Ashley and mouthed the words, "It's not your fault."
Ashley stared at him, unblinking, and felt the guilt well up inside of her, she realized that he believed that Miss Z had sent her to kill him. She couldn't exactly place the flavour of betrayel that was rising to the surface of his grey eyes, but she could sense his resentment towards Miss Z and knew that getting to his vault of secrets would be so much easier.
She never corrected him in his assumptions, and even though he was a killer like she was, his death was the hardest for her to get over, maybe because she let him die in a lie.
August, the Tin soldier, stared at her, teeth bared as blood bubbled to coat the yellowing chompers, his last words grunted out in a last attempt at hurting the only person he loved. " Use for...yourself. Computer...under floorboards... password...Bangladesh. To be free..."
The grey eyes shone in an attempt to make Ashley understand that this was her final way out. She nodded. Of course she knew this, that's why she was here, but in an attempt to make up for letting him die of false beliefs, and a bullet, she let August be the hero once more. She let him think that he had rescued her. Just this once.
August had lost his belief that he was loved, he stopped loving and thus he stopped fighting. With these last words, he died, eyes losing their light and turning dark grey as cobblestone that has been in often use. He died because he hated.
Ashley stayed with him until all the light had faded from his eyes, she felt that she needed to do something decent. When he had passed away she stood slowly, she had refrained from touching, scared that traces of him can be left on her or that traces of her can be left on him. She looked around, but couldn't see a soul that might have seen her and jeprodize her mission, to escape. So she started walking, taking back alleys and thinking.
She was thinking of all the things she could have been, a dancer, a student maybe even a normal girl. Instead she was a killer, a victim looking for an out. She had just killed a man in the worst way possibly, she made him lose his love and belief that, that love was real.
Ashley pondered this love of his, she believed that he held this love for Miss Z, or miss Zerova as she was formally known. She wondered where this love came from, she couldn't imagine Miss Zerova reciprocating it since Ashley firmly believed that Miss Z was incapable of any emotion. But as she saw the light in his eyes die, she knew that they had to have loved one another, what other reason would Miss Zerova have to stay alive, she had no one else.
Ashley felt some of her guilt melt away as she walked towards the old pipe that would lead her to her dank, empty room with no love and no memories. She would have to steal the secrets another time since it was almost time to report to the mess hall. Then she would be free, finally able to return home.
The rusty pipe was starting to decay at the edges and was blending in with the earth in which it was buried, it was a silent memory of a past before this wretched place was used to train sirens. Ashley found this little escape when she was rummaging through some old manuscripts. She saw some rough sketches of the asylum turned training centre, when it's construction was still being planned. She spotted a pipeline leading under the sparring room, the basement and two quarters, one of which was her own. That night she could swear that she felt a draft coming up from the floorboards, and so she worked each night. Her fingers digging into the floorboards pulling at the nails that hold the lid of the pipeway closed. Blood dropped on the boards, staining them, her fingers were ripped from their labour, but she had succeeded. She pried the floorboards loose, and stared into the abyss. There was a tunnel, Ashley knew that she wouldn't be able to escape just yet, she needed some insurance. She needed secrets. And so she started planning her escape, she was about to go home.
Ashley walked up to the hole running under the small hill. Dark and gloomy, the hole looked quite foreboding, but to Ashley it was home. She looked into it and smelled the damp air as it wafted towards her, to her it was like the smell of cookies baking at home. She giggled like a little girl, which the darkness gladly swallowed. The darkness swallowd her laughs and spit back a voice that sent chills down her spine.
"So this is how you get out?" The voice was icy and thin but sharp as a dagger. Miss Zerova...Ashley quickly hid the taperecorder and looked at the woman emerging from the darkness like it was her home. "Come Siren, you have been given too many liberties..."
Ashley groaned inwardly, no doubt she would receive quite a few lashings for this. When she saw the map, she knew the other quarter was that of their fearless captor, Miss Zerova, she had just assumed that the woman's access was blocked as she never blocked the outward entrance. How stupid of her to assume.
Merci pour la lecture!
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