Heart Stoppers

Originally submitted to this prompt.

The moment his blade slipped through the air and into my rib-cage my heart stopped. I mean not literally. Well not just literally, figuratively it stopped too. Much like his had as he fell on top of me and into the edge of my wrist mounted blade. Not long afterwards his blood began to spurt downwards towards my chest in a waterfall of crimson, and mine shot upwards through that little incision he had made into mine with his kunai as my heart carried on like the little machine of flesh it was build to serve only one purpose: to pump. As our blood mixed in the space between our chests our eyes locked and I knew right then that this truly was love at first sight. Beside us a whimpering man dressed in nothing but a bathrobe lied in the fetal position. His whimpers were barely audible however, as the sound of the screaming woman standing in the corner covered in nothing but a bed sheet overtook most of his cries. But in my final moment I didn’t care for either of them, not anymore at least, now only my attention remained focused upon the man who stopped my heart.

By the way he was dressed I could tell we were from the same world. He wore cloth as dark as the night that covered him from head to toe only leaving a narrow slit for him dark brown eyes, to the utility belt around his waste which carried upon it a plethora of weapons, poisons, and devices meant for maneuvering around even the most secured fortresses without alerting a gnat. A get up not unlike mine except for the insignia above his heart in which my knife now penetrated. As his blood dripped from his heart a few droplets small enough for capillary action to take hold of soaked themselves into the embossed symbol. The hemoglobin filled beads wound themselves through the offset fabric turning the deep black threads into a scarlet stylized image of a silhouette of a man hung upside down against a diamond shaped background, the mark of a Caretaker, the second most deadly assassins in the world, next to us.

By the wide-eyed look in his eyes I assumed he too had seen my marking, now just as blood filled as the one on his chest, I presumed. That of a small bird perched upon a branch, a logo that meant nothing to the unassuming eye, yet to those in our world or those who feared us, that tiny bird sitting upon a twig meant one thing and one thing only: the Light had come. I hoped that he found that impressive, he’d be the only man who’d I’d taken a fancy in who saw what I really did for a living.

He must had grown weak because not long after the shock hit him he fell on top of me, his weight pressing my blade deeper into his heart and his into mine. I thought it would be more painful actually, but instead the blade felt warm and only grew warmer as the blood continued to drain from my body. He must had planned to use the cauterizing edge that the Caretakers were known for upon our mutual target. Although we had more successful operations than them, the Caretakers were exceptionally good at keeping a clean kill site. You cold walk into the room of one of their target who had been dead for days and you would think them only asleep until a week passed and their body began to rot. Meanwhile, our jobs tended to be a little more dirty with bloodstains and dismembered limbs everywhere. Caretakers strived for quality, while the Lights focused more on speed and efficiency. That diametric difference between us and our work styles would mean that we would probably would have never met. It’s been centuries since a Caretaker crossed over to the Light and vice versa. Our standards and training were just different, and when you train people like us from birth, well it’s hard to unlearn old habits, no matter how much you tried. It was odd that our paths crossed at all really.

There had been a few moment in history where both of our companies had been hired to take out a target. Usually for political or inheritance purposes did different waring factions aiming for the same target hire one of us, only for their rival faction to hire the other. This had lead to many-a-times a small run in between those baring the crest of the upside down man and those with the bird upon their chests to make contact in the field. Most of the time one of them would be faster than the other and take it the target first, but sometimes they’ll collide within the assassination itself. After a few disgruntled back and forths on who gets the kill, the fate of the subject will finally be decided and either a Caretaker or a Light would bring home the glory. Occasionally they’d both lie to their clients afterwards to claim credit in order to get payment, this was easier to do when either warring faction was so pissed off at the other for one reason or another that they refused to talk. But tonight was a strange night. Why would a Caretaker and a Light be both hired to end the life of a middle aged man with nothing but extensive credit card debt in his name? As far as I had been informed this was a simple “bill paying” operation. Perhaps the one who had hired us was just that pissed off a their target that they decided to call up on the Caretakers too, just to be safe.

Bill paying operations (or BPOs) as their name implied, were things we did to keep the lights on between political unrests and dead multi-millionaire patriarchs and matriarchs. Simple jobs usually involving feuds between regional crime lords or spouses who wanted their adulterating significant others out of their life. I had been given no details on this operation other than the basics where, when, how, but based on the presence of the naked screaming woman in the corner, my money went to the latter. Any trained assassin could easily to a BPO in a manner of a few short hours and then take the rest of their night to change back into civilian gear and hit the night life, catch up with fellow colleagues in the area, or take time for hobbies such as working on their manuscript over at the nearest 24 hour diner. BPOs didn’t require much focus for a job to be done. Perhaps that’s why I was I so sloppy leading to blade of a Caretaker slipping straight into my chest. Perhaps that was the same for him too.

The blade between my ribs had take on the warmth of a glass of hot coco on a snowy day now, I presumed it would be long before my body went cold taking me with it. Only then did I wish my blade was a little bit warmer to give him the same cozy comfort within his dying moments. So I did the best I could do. I mustered my strength and gave him a hug, hoping that what body heat I had left gave him the slightest comfort. He wiggled, at first, but soon gave up either out of accepting my offer or having very little strength left. I closed my eyes and watched the darkness come while the sounds of the crying man and the screaming woman grew muted until only silence remained. I waited for the light to come, but it never did. I realized then that we were the only light that waited for people at the end.

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