The silent night was rocked with a loud explosion.

At the entrance of the slums, the billowing smoke attested to the major damage brought on dilapidated dwellings. Pandemonium broke as awakened residents ran out of their homes, heads of families securing wives and children further away, evacuating as quickly as possible, wearing but their clothes on their backs.

Lefty was not willing to take greater risks than necessary. He was rightfully aware the narrow crisscrossing alleys would work against him. A well-placed ambush would be his undoing.

Of the six grenades he brought, he threw five at ten-minute intervals at different locations, calculating where he wanted most of the inhabitants should be. Lesser people at his target’s whereabouts, the better.

He moved silently from wall to wall, listening carefully for man-made noises, ready to defend himself from any attackers.

 – 0 –

Lucas jumped out of bed upon hearing the explosions, prepared for any evventualities. He suspected that the unnamed angel of death has arrived to claim his life.

“Don’t get out,” Marcus warned him. “He’s using the diversion to force you out in the open.”

Another deafening rumbling sound was heard: it was nearer.

“He’s approaching,” Lucas could feel his body trembling in fear.

Marcus tried to think. The killer could be armed to the teeth: he and Lucas were no match to face the man toe to toe. There was one element that would work to their advantage: the small alleys.

“Where’s your phone?” he asked Lucas, hiding under the table.

The teenager took it our of his pocket and passed it to his protector.

– o –


Lefty felt a stinging sensation on his left thigh. When he checked, a homemade rusty dart pierced his flesh. The enemy began their cloak and dagger offense.

For reply, he pulled the trigger and trained it to the suspected origin of the crude missile. Bullets rushed out from the end of the barrel, propelled individually to seek out their own targets: wood, metal, flesh.

There was a loud cry of pain atop one of the roofs: an enemy was hit.

“Die, you fools!” he yelled, continuing the barrage with a side sweeping motion.

He ignored the pain, his senses alert for more surprises. His enemies would try render him inutile before finishing him off.

The plywood wall behind him exploded in flames: a Molotov cocktail missed him by a foot.

Again, he rained them with bullets: empty shells dropped on the ground without let up.

Another fire was started; the closely knit dwellings built with light materials, salvaged from the dumps, ignited in seconds. The dry climate and the unfavorable wind helped scattered the flames to other areas.

Lefty enjoyed the conflagration, yelling uncontrollably in jubilation.

“We are all in Hell, people!”

A subdued zing passed between his legs, the bullet bouncing off the ground.

“You want my balls, huh?” he shouted laughing. “Take this!”

In full automatic, he emptied another magazine toward another row of huts. Reloading quickly, he followed through with two more in succession.

Tortured screams reverberated: female and young voices seemed to sing elegies, begging for mercy from deities they could recall.

Lefty’s conscience departed long ago. The vacuum in his soul would not distinguish between friend and foe. At that moment, everyone was against him.

– o –

“I can see him!”

Marcus ran outside unarmed; his purpose was to distract Lefty. He needed it to give Lucas the smallest chance to run away to safety.

“No!” Lucas shouted, surprised of the unplanned attack. “You’ll get killed!”

He ran after him, giving his legs all his strength to stop Marcus from his suicidal run.

“Come back!”

– o –

Lefty immediately noticed a figure who ran out from the shadows toward his direction. When he saw the man’s left hand missing, he grinned.

“Here’s something to welcome you, Marcus!”

He pulled out the pin of his last grenade and bowled it accurately forward.

“That’s right!” he shouted, adding, “Bring your protege along!”

And to be sure of it, Lefty fired a few rounds to slow Marcus down.

– o –

He was hit several times. But no pain could stop him now.

Marcus accepted his fate and jumped on the slowly rolling grenade. Only seconds to spare to save Lucas from the blast.

– o –

Lucas stopped, panting, disbelieving the sight of the ravaged body thrown out in the air, riddled with shrapnel.


(to be concluded)



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