by Henry Wyckoff
A crossover between Highlander and The Sentinel
Standard disclaimers apply
Latro's face was a storm cloud as he walked down the street. The clouds overhead were a severe understatement of the swirling thoughts in his mind. All he saw was blood, and the lightning that had flashed on a hill nearly two thousand years ago.
"For what reason?" he asked aloud, oblivious of the passing stares he got. "How could a punishment of that magnitude fit such a trivial crime? A crime that people laugh at on television sitcoms and home video?"
The scene in that Jerusalem street, outside the tavern, superimposed itself over his vision in the present era. The pompous disciple falling to his knees, unable to even breathe, and the shocked gasps coming from the other men. No form of sympathy, but more shock that a barbarian would treat them with such disrespect.
"We were occupying your insane land!" he yelled. "Of course we'd treat you with disrespect! That's what drunken soldiers do!"
The face of the King of the Jews, after all these years, was still an afterimage in his mind, the one face with the one voice that he remembered, even though he could never remember the faces or voices of his family and friends of that era. Just Jesus. That wasn't even his name. A Greek corruption. But names weren't important, just as the name of their God wasn't important.
Whole lifetimes could be wasted on those four consonants. Just four scribbles.
There was one thing they'd had right; get the concept down first. The concept of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit was quite frightening to him. The concept of eternal life meant being reborn again and again after dying from anything from a plague to a hidden spike trap, then enduring the pain of recovery and seeing the dead and dying around you.
"Where is your mercy? I do judge you by the fruit of your actions. You curse me without forgiving my actions, and you ignore the rest of the world."
Two men suddenly made themselves known. Men in blue. Police officers. Latro could see the genuine suspicion, fear, and concern in their eyes. Concern was obviously the last in line. "Excuse me, sir. There are a few people who might be concerned for your health. Are you all right?"
Latro laughed until it became a scream. "All right? You're asking if I am all right?" He started sobbing and didn't realize that he had fallen to his knees until he felt one of them grab his arms.
("I don't smell alcohol," he heard a whisper. "Drugs?")
("He might be disturbed.")
"Sir? Is there anything you need?"
"Leave me alone." He stood up and shoved them away.
"Did you serve?" the silent one suddenly asked.
Latro stopped dead still and turned around slowly. A black-skinned man who'd started to lose some of that shade. His eyes didn't display any lack of seriousness. He wasn't an Angel, but he wasn't Joe Donut either. "More times than you can count."
"There are people who can help you. I can help you. I was there." He was the right age. It still showed too, if you knew what to look for.
Latro shook his head. "Wrong war. Wrong enemy." He turned to walk away and nearly lost it when he felt another hand on his shoulder.
The cop held up his hand defensively. "You're not a threat to anyone, so technically, we can't take you in. But you still need help. Take this. If you ever change your mind, call the man on the card. Any time, day or night."
Latro didn't take the card, walking away. "Leave me alone."
In the distance, he could hear the two cops talking. ("What the hell was that?")
("Look, while you were in diapers, I was getting the hell scared out of me in Vietnam! More men died coming home then they did over there . . . ")
He walked and walked. Not quite aimlessly -- he just let himself go on autopilot while his emotions and memories turned round and round, the tears falling from his eyes as faces of death superimposed themselves over his vision. All the faceless people walking past him meant nothing, because he knew that underneath all that flesh were grinning skulls staring back at him, laughing.
Laughing at him, knowing that in the end, they were luckier; they got to die.
"Damn you," he muttered under his breath. "If death is the one thing you deny to me, I swear, I'll give it to all your beloved Angels. They're your true chosen ones! Not even the Jews were. You know I've done it, and you know I'll do it again, so why not stop me? Or do you enjoy this? The game? The killing? The struggle between myself and any agents you might throw my way? Or is it the randomness you thrive on? Not knowing what will happen next, and letting your pieces move themselves?"
The scared and worried people giving him extra space were of no importance to him.
"It truly redefines free will; will you choose to get killed by Latro or by God?"
He smiled, feeling something close to sexual pleasure as he felt the handle of the axe, given to him by Odin. "Tonight you'll be splitting the skull of an Angel."
* * *
Angela knew she wasn't dreaming, but at the same time she knew she wasn't quite awake. She saw the streets covered in mist, and the monster from her dreams. A drifter with long hair, unshaven, with piercing eyes that looked directly at her.
He whipped out an axe with blood stained into the shaft and along the edge. "You're next."
"Who are you?"
"Either you're very ignorant, or you have a total lack of tact."
She ran into the crowd of people who seemed more like zombies than anything else. Not the living dead in the physical sense, but very much so in the spiritual sense. Nobody even frowned as she pushed her way through their ranks. "Help me! Somebody help me!"
"Yard sale . . . " she heard one old woman mutter. "There's a yard sale on Pentrose."
"Beer . . . " a man was muttering.
When she tried to run, she was bombarded with all their mundane thoughts.
"HELP ME!" she screamed once more, but to deaf ears.
She reached an alley, and for a moment, debated on entering it, but didn't. Instead she entered an office building -- the kind with the big lobby. Nobody was here.
"The lights are on, but nobody's home."
Screaming, she saw Latro perched on top of a large pillar thirty feet up. She hadn't seen him enter the building. "Jesus said that it's easier for a rich man to go to Heaven than for a rope to pass through the eye of the needle. There must be something to that. LOOK!" He waved around. "A busy day, AND NO SOULS IN SIGHT!" His hysterical laugh was horrifying to hear.
"What do you want?"
He leaped off the pillar, his trenchcoat almost lazily flapping like the wings of a vulture. His arms were extended to full length, as if he was about to hug her with the axe and rifle he held in each hand.
* * *
Angela screamed, flailing in the air, or at least she tried to. Blair was valiantly trying to keep her from injuring herself. "It's all right!" he was nearly shouting. "It was just a nightmare!"
A few moments of calm and silence, and she finally got her bearings. "Blair, what's happening?"
He looked exhausted. "I wish I knew. For the last hour, you've been having these intense nightmares -- even with the sleep medication -- and they wouldn't stop." He looked at the vial of pills skeptically. "I guess these didn't work too well. I was afraid you'd be like this 'til tomorrow morning."
"I didn't know what was real or a dream. It seemed so real."
"It sounded like it from my end. Especially the last few moments."
She closed her eyes, and opened them back up. The last thing she wanted was sleep. "Blair, can you make me some coffee?"
His face was apologetic, "Sorry. All we have is tea."
"I need to say awake."
She could almost see the light bulb suddenly above his head. "I have something new. It's called 'Wham!' -- it's a highly concentrated form of guarana, used by the Amazon Indians to stay awake."
Angela couldn't help but start laughing.
"What?" He looked as if he'd stepped in something disgusting.
"You. Just being you." She shook her head, not wanting to explain.
* * * *