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Sins of the Reaper - 2

The Blind Woman, Part 1

By John CoxPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 8 min read
15
Why did we find you now and not when I was still young and filled with promise?

When El whispered breathlessly a few weeks earlier that she had found Jon, I should have wept for joy, but instead I wept for what might have been and now can never be. Even when Jonny stepped through my door for the first time in more than thirty years, I felt more fear than hope, surprised by the wave of emotion that swept through my trembling flesh as his remembered voice rose weakly within the echoing depths of my chamber. It took all of my powers of dissimulation to keep from making myself known to him in that moment and weeping aloud in terror and relief.

Even when I impatiently asked a question only a former friend could have known he could not or would not draw the necessary connection. Only the name Lacandón stirred the little remaining memory still lurking within reach of his consciousness, his psyche activating the chamber walls with alternating glimpses of blinding light and appalling darkness, the atmosphere surrounding us shimmering with alarm. For a brilliant moment I experienced his consciousness as I once had long ago, his reawakening terror stabbing within my bowels as it stabbed within his, his thoughts shrieking like a heavenly pronouncement – “I am undone!” –even as I was undone with him.

But in the end, it was only a breathless moment, even if it was the last remaining proof that a spark of hope still remained, the resultant euphoria almost worth the lifetime of failure and disappointment my life has cost me, its vindication igniting tiny shocks across the entire mantle of my epidermis. But elation turned to horror in an instant as antigens surged violently into his hypothalamus, the memory choked off almost as soon as it was reawakened.

The chamber darkening, I experienced his consequent anesthetization as if it were my own, the painful numbness overcoming my psyche with despair, the emotional backlash almost taking me down with him. A blackness stormed through our shared consciousness as if wedded to that brief magical moment in time, my limbs trembling with the effort required to free myself from the malignancy of his terrible power, my voice choking with rage as I barked “What have you done?”

If I had known Jonny had survived the explosion, I would have turned over heaven and earth to find him. Life in the aftermath of his seeming death was drained of a vitality that has never returned.

Why now? Why did we find you now and not thirty years ago when I was still young and filled with hope and promise?

But we found and freed Jonny even if thirty years too late. At least I owed him that. This is the first time in over thirty years that I have actively interfered with the Company’s business and that will come at a price – at least for me. I know what I have done is more a symbolic gesture than an actual effort to make right what the Company has wronged, but I find myself looking forward to the final confrontation. It seems like my last opportunity to speak with Dante again … even if only to say goodbye.

This morning “Inspector” Marlowe visited with a warrant and a team to search my apartment, but he found nothing of interest. Madeleine is dismantled and junked, the only information that still matters in my head. I never kept records of any other kind. Now that the search is completed, he has stayed behind following the departure of the other investigators.

“Dante would like to talk to you,” he says as he places the phone on the desk.

“Hold please,” a woman’s voice commands, the seconds ticking off with the regularity of a metronome as I wait for him to pick up the line.

“What did you do to Shaytan?” his once familiar voice growls from the speaker.

After so many years of silence the sudden sound of his voice surprises me, and I do not answer right away.

“I asked you a question Bea. What did you do to Shaytan?”

“I gave him free will,” I simply answer.

“Free will?” he rejoins in seeming confusion. “Free will to do what?”

“Free will is not a difficult concept, Dante.” I answer with mild sarcasm. “I gave him the freedom to do as he wishes. If he ever kills again for you or anyone else, it will be because he chooses to do so. No one – not even you – will ever make him kill again.”

Incredibly the neural prosthetic the master had inserted into Jonny’s brain was still functioning after thirty years of disuse. Imagine the lethality of an agent who did not remember the faces or names of the men and women he had killed, the killer within activated only when his handler wanted him awakened, the memories of his hidden skills forgotten until they were needed for the next job and the next job after that.

“If that’s true you know I’ll have to kill him,” Dante whispers coldly. “And you can’t possibly stop me whatever you might think.”

But Dante has only contacted me now because we have stumbled upon the one killer the Company desperately needs in these dark and final days. Thanks to my intervention the off switch for his prosthetic no longer functions.

“I have either already stopped you or I haven’t. This is the end of the game, Dante. The final gambit. If you’ve really decided to kill him there is nothing I can do to change your mind anyway.”

“Give me the details … what you changed in his programing. If it’s all the same to you I would prefer to avoid an unsavory questioning session, but I’m prepared to do almost anything if you won’t listen to reason. What did you do to Shaytan?”

“I reprogrammed him … made him autonomous. I activated his prosthetic and disabled the amnesia protocol. He remembers everything whether inconvenient, damning, or otherwise and always will.”

“Goddamn it, Bea … what were you thinking? Now the blood of one our agents is on your hands. Now I’ll have to call the police.”

“I wish you would. I’m sure they would appreciate the recording I made of your agents masquerading as inspectors before attempting to kill him.” Agent Marlowe shifts uncomfortably in response as he sits stiffly across from me. Dante, on the other hand answers me with silence.

I hope I have not lost my chance to say goodbye, the emotion of the thought reawakening the terrifying moment when Jonny sat mutely across from me – never knowing the woman he had long sought faced him a scant arm’s breadth away.

Remember me, I prayed as my hands trembled within the folds of my robe, but the dead do not remember – remembrance a curse appointed only to those left forever behind. He did not recognize my voice or features even as the passing minutes widened his pupils in the chamber’s gloom. He did not even remember my true name. I was as dead to him as he to me in the lost decades before unexpectedly learning that he still impossibly lived.

But as the silence continues, I realize that Marlowe’s growing fidgetiness is an indicator that a piece is still at play on the board. Is it possible that Dante does not know the full story of his agents’ interaction with Candide – that the surviving agent has lied or left something vital out in the debriefing? The man nervously sitting across from me is the key. Maybe there is one more move remaining in the game.

“Bea … did you learn nothing from me?” he replies as if challenging my sudden epiphany. “Shaytan is a greater threat to our nation than any conceivable geopolitical event. He’ll make the most wanted list.”

“For what, Dante? Living when he was supposed to die? Do you know if he can even be killed? No one else inside the blast radius of the Bethlehem bombing survived. It’s hard to imagine anything more ironic – like the actual Shaytan, Jon was born of fire. You are too smart to have failed to note something as extra-ordinary as that.” I am sure I am not the only one trembling at the thought of it.

But I tremble for another reason as well. Something is different this time; I know what Dante will say as he says it, the conversation playing out in my mind milliseconds before it unfolds from the phone’s speaker, his feints and jabs telegraphed as if I had choreographed them myself, his stratagems as transparent to me as if I had planted them within his thoughts. The moment of realization seems more profound than I originally hoped it would be in my imagination, as if I am experiencing for the first time the prophetic voice the Master intended.

Is this the moment He prepared me for? –the moment to judge great nations and peoples? – the moment to anoint the victor and condemn the vanquished?

“I never told you before that I loved you Dante, but now that it is time for me to die and free myself of the nightmare the Master made of my life it is important that I be honest … especially with you. Jon is only what you and I made of him. In that sense he is our creation, like a new Adam. I still love you in spite of everything you have done, and I fear for you. If you could only leave Jon alone, he could seek his new Eve unmolested and unmolesting.

“And by the way, he knows you ordered his death all those years ago. Reaper visited him in the hospital and left his calling card. I’ll bet even you did not know that. Reaper visited him when no one else knew he had survived and yet didn’t finish the job. Why do you suppose he let him live, Dante? You know damn well it wasn’t for pity's sake; Reaper never felt pity for anyone. The only saving grace is that Jon does not know how to find you. If you pursue him, it will at least save him the bother of looking for you.”

“New Eve?” he asks quietly, as if nothing else I said registered. El is my great secret – but even if he knew who she really is and what she is capable of he could not stop her. She is simply out of reach or comprehension of anyone in the Company. If Jon somehow finds and joins her, they would make a formidable pair. But his future is as dark to me now as it was thirty years ago.

“Do you remember Dante when you told me that I would choose the fate of the West?”

“You do not really believe that the Master entrusted you with the fate of the world?” he asks in exasperation.

“I was a young and impressionable woman. Of course I believed. More importantly, I lived and acted ever since as if it was my sacred obligation. I’m glad you called Dante, because time is almost up, the time to take corrective action almost exhausted. You only need say the word.”

“Do you really believe you can change history even now? No of course you don’t,” he answers quietly – as if only to himself.

There is someone else, I almost hear him think.

“Goodbye, Bea. I genuinely wish this could have ended differently.”

Finally, the signal to Marlowe. “Goodbye Dante,” I whisper. You just ordered my death and yet I love you still.

thrillerMysteryAdventure
15

About the Creator

John Cox

Family man, grandfather, retired soldier and story teller with an edge.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (12)

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  • Heather Zieffle about a month ago

    Great chapter, John!

  • D.K. Shepard3 months ago

    This is very cinematic! And your dialogue is really well written! Lots of plot intricacies to this tale, wonderfully done!

  • L.C. Schäfer3 months ago

    I am so glad you ocntinued this! Also that I saved these to give them the proper attention 😁

  • Andrea Corwin 4 months ago

    Great spy thriller. Autonomous, how grand! Will they find each other….🙄

  • Whoaaaa! This was mindblowing and you've rendered me speehless! Thank you so much for writing this!

  • Rachel Deeming4 months ago

    Great thriller, John. Loved the dialogue too, which brought your characterisation truly to life.

  • Anna 4 months ago

    Wow, I did not expect such a great part 2!!😊

  • A little Bourne Identity-style setup here. Incredibly good.

  • Whoa, you have a way with words that draws you in from the opening to the very end and has you on the edge of your seat the entire while.

  • Lamar Wiggins4 months ago

    Who are you? 😅 Seriously though, I'm glad to have met John Cox. His writing is skillful. Your writing is skillful and intriguing, my friend. And somehow, with all the intricacies woven, it's easy to read and flows with grace. This was another great episode!

  • Bonnie Bowerman4 months ago

    Beautiful fluid suspenseful writing! So well done!

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