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Ink-Bled Bystander

A Split Wolf Hair

By Oneg In The ArcticPublished 3 years ago 6 min read

Who was he trying to kid? It was obvious that at some point he would get caught. His profession could only remain sustainable for so long. And boy was it sustainable; cash without end in sight along with all the solitude a lone wolf could want. He wished he could say it was guilt free. But in the nights when he wasn’t on rooftops getting blackeye-d from his too trusty scope, the ghosts tortured him.

As he was roughly hauled by unforgiving hands into the back of a police car, he blissfully recalled his pre-haunted youth. They said he had potential, a prodigal archer. At barely eleven years old, he had the hawk’s eye and the lion’s balls to strike the center target from a 100m away with barely a bat of an eyelash.

Regardless of skill, his popularity wasn’t one to be raved about. One Halloween as a scrawny Robin Hood in bright green tights was enough to dismantle any sense of pride he had in his craft. The queerness of the costume paid no complement to the queerness of his social standing, skill or no skill.

Pick up the bow and arrow, they said. Imagine the bully as the target, they said. Aim, steady, fire, they said. Uncap the silencer and dismantle the piece swiftly, they said.

“Dead”, the news headlines read.

Another tally for the book, and another family of grievers added to the list.

The last kill was a set-up. Or maybe he was just tired.

So, when they came for him, he ditched his records and keepings for when he would inevitably be released from the clutches of the authorities and returned to the claws of the corporate corrupt.


Although lone wolves tend to avoid communication, sometimes they leave unintentional clues for others of similar lifestyle. Which was probably how the confused partially spiralling-without-purpose teen accidently stumbled upon a knapsack of treasures. He actually did stumble, and he tripped ungracefully too; big stacks of cash aren’t that light and fluffy.

Most teenagers would have jumped for joy if they had found a bag full of bills, but this was no ordinary teen. He felt burden. The weight of the bag slumped heavily on his shoulder as he walked home as if it wasn’t just another Tuesday.

It wasn’t. And as he flipped through the stacks until he eventually flipped through the little black book buried underneath, he understood that.

This money wasn’t conscience clean, regardless of the washing of dollar bills. As much as any teen would have loved to buy the next new novelty, he knew that if he did, it would never sit right with him. So, he read the book as if it was a holy bible filled with all the secrets finally underlined and highlighted.

Schedules, names, locations, notes.

While multi-crossed out names screamed target, the rest just ink-bled bystander. Collateral. None of those names were crossed out. Hope?

It wasn’t too difficult to figure out what the worn-out gym bag meant: a little black book, thousands of dollars, a conscience, thousands of regrets.

Maybe the mainstream movies didn’t spill enough detail, but when the killer writes an apology letter to each individual victim, page after page, one tends to realize that not everyone is truly heartless.

So why go through with it?

This teen couldn’t solve that mystery, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t try to and repair the damage that was caused. He found himself unable to hate this unknown owner of tainted treasures, but he was yet to understand the motives behind the dirty work.

As he flipped yet again through the bills and read through the book cover to cover, he knew he couldn’t properly spend it on his own selfish desires. His conscience would be heavier than the bag if he did. But maybe he could lighten the lives of a few and it would return some sort of balance to the grim world.

So, he did.

Anton Luca DeRivia Family 1#, Address…


As he sagged in the cheap orange plastic chair that creaked with each passing movement, he allowed his gaze to settle on the small box television set in the corner of the recreation room.

He had long ago accepted his fate to rot in the federal prison system, and now focused inward; usually ignoring the rowdy lives around him. His cellmate paid no attention to him, and he probably did what most would have recommended; stayed low. Most barely even acknowledged him as he drifted through the days, keeping out of the way and with his nose usually in a tattered novel.

The recreation room was unusually empty for the time of day, but he payed no mind to it. What did catch his attention finally was the sound of a female newscast and the images of homes he didn’t want to have recognized.

“We are here with one of the families that have recently received a large sum of money from a mysterious donor. This is no coincidence apparently, as the families are strangely linked together by their tales of grief. Let’s hear more from the family themselves.”

“It hasn’t been easy with the murder of my husband, it has been especially difficult for the kids, but we’re trying.”

“And what did you find on your doorstep two days ago?”

“There was a large envelope just lying there on the doormat, I almost tripped on it. And when we opened it, there were thousands of dollars! It was quite exciting.”

“Was there anything else?”

“There was a note with some messy handwriting, nothing we recognized, and it said, ‘Sorry for your loss’, that’s it!”

“Well there you have it, so simple yet meaningful for a family recovering from the loss of a loved one. This is the fifth family that we’ve discovered receiving the same surprise in the last two weeks. You can find out more about this story on our website at www-“

He knew it was his money. He knew the homes and families too well to ever doubt that. He had spent days, sometimes weeks, hiding out and observing. He knew each member’s schedule and daily rituals.

Someone must have found his bag, and quite frankly a part of him was relieved. At least those families got something for their pain, the pain that he had caused. He hadn’t allowed himself to sink into those thoughts on the job, he focused mainly on his target and ignored the families that would inevitably be impacted.

Keep it detached.

But now, as he sank into the plastic chair, he flung open the Pandora box and faced the demons of consequence. Maybe this was a sign, that he could begin to forgive himself for what he had ultimately done. At least they got something in the end.

And so did he, as he felt the rigid metal plunge into the side of his neck. The pain shooting directly up his cranium and down his chest in spurts of blood. The hot breath of an unknown enemy draining him of his.

He had gotten his end too. Because life is like that sometimes.


About the Creator

Oneg In The Arctic

A storyteller and poet of arctic adventures, good food, identity, mental health, and more.

Co-founder of Queer Vocal Voices

Some other rad writers to check out:

James ❄️ TheDaniWriter ❄️ Melissa

RiverJoy ❄️ J. Delaney-Howe ❄️

Water is Life ✊

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (4)

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  • J. Delaney-Howe4 months ago

    This is incredible! Excellent work. Kept me engaged the entire story.

  • Excellent story. This was actually the first story I read by you. That was back in the days before hearts and comments were available. This is your absolute best work.

  • River Joy4 months ago

    Wow. You're just so freaking talented. This was tense and riveting. Really enjoyed this one.

  • Mother Combs4 months ago

    Great story. Love the ending the most

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