the sentient

It’s blackout and the streets are empty but I am running about like it’s the old days, a gun in each hand. Silencers on. I’m without any armor but we don’t use any. We’re invincible; that’s what we have been taught. I feel unnaturally strong and alert, aware. Yet deadened, somewhat. My lack of concern stems from some source I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s filling my veins with an erratic pulse of blood, potent with the need to move and perform. Meanwhile my thoughts are foggy but I am seeing things with clarity, if that’s possible. It’s as though I have been trained to not think, but still see. And see, I do.

I watch while a pair of nonentities scurry into a sewer. They’re no concern. They look like they could barely rub a penny together, if pennies were still in existence. Rats fill gutters at this time; it’s like they have evolved to know when humans are inside, and they can come out. They know the dark means safety. In what world do we live in, when the dark is more attractive than the light?

I am running still, the exertion nothing to me. My body was highly strung before they got hold of me, before they placed me in their program and made me their weapon.

I know my destination and what I’ll do when I get there but my thoughts have been dulled, like I said, and I can’t quite reconcile the meaning of this mission. Its priority doesn’t make sense to me, not in the back of my mind. I am just following orders.

Having made it to the building in question (my destination) I stow my guns away. I didn’t encounter any adversaries on the way which is strange. Usually there are a few dissidents out at this time of night, in wait, ready to take someone like me down. They know emissaries, oh, they recognize us. We’re the only ones without fear, without armor. We carry weapons and identities nobody else can get.

At street level, I take out my Clever-Grips and strap them on. I climb to the eighth floor and slide inside an open window. There in the apartment, I find a terrible scene waiting for me; a man beaten almost to death, laid sprawled on the carpeted floor; furniture tossed around and glass broken. I’m not sure what to do but thoughts that were suppressed come to the fore.

I see three others like me and they are stood over the target, who’s in a mess. The man’s wild eyes are darting though he can’t move his body. My eye registers several broken bones, wounds that won’t heal and the shock on his face when he sees it’s me. His eyes briefly dart to a photograph on a desk near the window and I see a woman’s face. I realize she may be in the room, or she may be on her way, or he may be trying to tell me she’s why he’s let them do this. She got away while he fought. I don’t know for sure but I see in his eyes, he only cares she’s safe. He is at peace to some extent. He is begging me to save him from more pain, and without thought, I hold out my weapon and shoot.

He’s not hurting, anymore. I know that.

The others register the kill and one of them mumbles into his radio, ‘Target down.’

Just like that.

My colleagues don’t rebuke me for ending a life before we got chance to interrogate him first. Neither do they bring it up that we could have shown him his own entrails – some of Officium’s dogs have done that before, for fun.

Killing is our business. So they don’t seem too unhappy. He’s dead, so what? I see that thought in their murky expressions.

We all pile out of the apartment together, heading for the stairs down.

I stand between these other men who bear no remorse, no emotion.

None of us speak. We’re all piles of meat employed to kill and perform.

Yet I know.

One thing, I know.

I am still sentient, to some extent.

In fact, I may the only sentient one amongst them.





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