The Hour of Death
I put a hand to the old-fashioned alarm clock on the shelf and received a small jolt
as though tiny barbs of electricity had shot through my body. One-fifty-eight a.m. I read on its hands. So the hour began…
Years ago these sorts of bells and whistles fell by the wayside, replaced by a more modern, stream-lined vision of a simple high-pitched shriek by a siren when it proved time to wake for the day. I didn’t really have time to be here, to search through the shelves. My job was two blocks over, but still I remained, looking for…something. Perhaps an idea on how things got so out-of-hand in life.
Quarantines. Curfews. Restrictions. A limit to the number of babies one may have. Didn’t such a thing as freedom exist at one time? I shuddered to think of who sat in the oval office now. Fear overwhelmed my slight build as I glanced about, as though even thinking of Elisa would bring the death legions down upon me. Once, we’d been friends, playmates since kindergarten. The thing that walked within Elisa now called no one such now.
It seemed easier to think of her that way. As another thing. Instead of the cruel dictator she’d become. Out and out lies during her campaign, promises to rebuild a new world. Well, she had done that. Just not with a heart or regard for anyone but herself. Within weeks of assuming office, she’d acquired absolute power to restore the chaos in the streets. People wanted new jobs? She’s give them those. Picking up their loved ones of the streets, their bodies used and abused by the system at hand.
No more did children laugh in the streets. Dogs give a welcoming bark. Cats rule the roost. There existed no relationships any longer, not husband, wife, son, daughter, or so on. Our only concern Elisa said lay in over-riding those who would challenge her. Assigned clothing to wear, our every thought, every impulse became owned by her.
We were cattle. No more.
But she had forgotten one thing. Where we came from, our ability to overcome the darkness, to bring the blade or righteousness down swift and severe.
I withdrew my hand from the clock, with the hope that no one would see.
But, of course, everyone had.
I was marked. This had become the last hour of my life.
Feeling within my skirts for the hilt, I scurried from the shop, taking care to avoid her dark riders. I stumbled across a drunkard, a gun by his side. Passed out, he had no more idea that I existed than that I removed his weapon. As I walked a plan formed in my mind. I stood in the capital, not a stone’s-throw from her headquarters. Yes, it could be done. With a smile, I entered the gates.
“I have a message for her ladyship, special delivery, only by my hands,” I told the guards.
Recognizing me and with a brief conversation with their commander-in-chief, they let me in.
No cloaked assassins waited inside.
She stood when I entered and held out a hand to me.
“Paige, it’s been forever.”
“Yes, it has.”
I felt the cool tip of the weapon as I pulled it from among my robes.
Her expression was startled, and yet a tad expectant. She sighed. “I knew this day would come, dear Paige.” She clapped her hands and several of her evil army stepped out of the curtains.
I blanched. So, they’d known all along.
She smiled at me. “You see one good turn of evil recognizes a hero when they see one. Did you really think, as my twin, it would be so easy to take my place? Some things can’t be faked.” She waved her hands toward me. “Go, take her to the fields. Make sure it’s done slow and torturous. She should share in my pain at having to tell the nation their last hope for salvation had died.”
I got off a few shots as they closed in but when I spun the sword in my sure fingers, they hesitated. My skill bespoke legends. I dispatched one then another until no more remained between us.
“So you would kill me with our father’s weapon?” Elisa said as I pressed it to her throat.
“As you killed him two days after his removal from office.”
She smirked. “He was weak. Just as you are.”
The clock reached two-fifty-eight a.m. An electrical current ran along my flesh, feeding on its fat. I thrust my sword into my sister, even as my own life dwindled. In the streets, I imagined the shackles of bondmanship falling off. The seven-years-debt had been paid.