Grandfather’s Assassin

This is an older, first draft excerpt from some material I helped a client develop for a comic series. I’m a sucker when it comes to stories with religious undertones that challenge the status quo… (as seen in my current Noir/Horror novel WIP). This story also had super powered assassins and Nazis… hard to mess up that mix. Working title was His Will be Done, don’t think the series ever made it to publication:

Munich. Nazi Germany, December 1940.

The dark mahogany panel slid across the confessional divider as the priest took his seat opposite Colin. Only a paper-thin black mesh screen separated the two men. Colin broke the silence. “Bless me father for I am sin…”

With a slight chuckle, an old comforting voice spoke through the shadowy veil of the confessional booth. “You can not be sin my son, this is cause for the devil alone. You have sinned, as have we all. How long has it been since your last confession my son?”

“I have never confessed before,” Colin paused weighing his words cautiously. “I guess, I must be damned?”

“Nonsense my son. Don’t get ahead of yourself. You are here now and God’s reconciliation does not expire. Now tell me, what sins of your life burden your soul?”

“I have lead a life of crime father. And through those ends, have killed eleven men in three years.”

A gasp escaped the priest’s mouth as he crossed himself. “Eleven men? Why my son, why would you do such a thing?”

“I was compelled to do them father, all but the first which I did on my own accord… but, in truth, the first was accidental.”

The priest pulled fourth a necklace of rosary beads and rolled them under his fingers. “Thou shall not kill and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment. The devil is a constant companion in our lives my son, ever lulling us to do his bidding… but we must refuse his temptations at every turn.”

“I did not want to kill any of them father. I truly wish I had been stronger… wish I had done the right thing.”

“The regret in your heart speaks to me my son. Right and wrong can become clouded when your own life is at stake, but no matter what the consequences to yourself, you must always choose to protect life–not take it.”

Colin paused in silence. “Tell me father, would you sacrifice your own life so others could live?”

Without hesitation the priest responded. “Without question.”

“And if you didn’t even know the men?”

The priest responded again but slower and more clearly. “Without question.”

“And what if the recipients of your sacrifice were bad, very bad, men.”

“There is no just cause in taking a man’s life my son. There is always another way, a different choice.”

Colin glanced at his wristwatch with concern. “There isn’t always another choice father.”

The priest grasped the rosary tightly in the palm of his hand, squeezing it with fervor. “Indeed there is always a choice. The one true grace from God we all share, beggar or king, is free will.”

“Why then did God give us free will, if using it leads us to sin?”

“The weight of our understanding is felt by choosing the right course of action. God has given us free will not so that we may anguish down the path of evil, but rejoice in all that is truly good.”

Colin sighed as he removed his tight leather gloves. His voice grew cold and direct. “You are a far better man than I father, for I can not choose my own demise no matter how noble the cause. I will always choose my own life.”

The priest noticed Colin’s change in tone and demeanor. Sensing he was losing the connection he had established with the distraught man, he panicked. The priest began speaking in a loud authoritative tone. “No matter how hard the decisions, God is always there for you my son. His light will shine on you through any darkness. All you need do is open your heart to him. Now, before we continue, promise the lord you will never take another man’s life.”

Colin shifted his body to directly face the dividing screen of the confessional. “I’ve very much enjoyed our talk father, but I would be lying if I made such a promise.”

The priest stammered for words. “Why–Why do you say such a thing my son!?”

“Because father, I am compelled to kill again this very night.”

Beads of sweat broke across the priest’s forehead as he brought the rosary to his old, dry lips. “No my son! You mustn’t say such things. Stay with me tonight. We will talk. We will find the answers together. The world is so full of killing, you do not need to kill anymore.”

“I’m sorry father.”

Colin placed his bare hands against the confessional screen and doubled over in pain. Instantly, the skin on his hands and face blistered and peeled. Green pustules broke open expelling tiny amounts of puss and copious amounts of sour milk, smelling vapor. Colin quietly cried out in pain, as his body seemed to decompose right before his eyes.

The priest sat ignorant to the transformation taking place on the other side of the confessional booth. Completely unaware that Colin Argus was no longer. In his stead Nox Argus had returned–returned to claim another life. The priest’s last words were ones of concern for Colin’s well being.

The priest burst out of the confessional with both hands about his throat. His eyes were blood shot and slightly bulging from his skull. His skin had turned pale with a slight green tinge and appeared tightly stretched about his bones, as if the water within his body had evaporated. Sweat dripped profusely from the priest’s forehead as he spun around tumbling into the torcheire burning incense. The priest and torcheire fell from the pulpit, crashing into the pews with a clamoring ruckus.

As the priest writhed in his final death throws, the blisters and peeling skin on Colin’s body slowed. The American wasted no time, stumbling out of the confessional and dropping down alongside the priest. Crouched over the corpse Colin slipped off a large golden ring encrusted with rubies from the priest’s left hand. It was the priest’s signet ring and ample proof Colin’s mission had indeed been a success.

Colin’s face dropped in somber grief as he looted the body. Were there no limits to the Grandfather’s reach? Is there no refuge from my hand? Colin’s eyes teared up as he looked up at the ceiling. His gaze met a mural depicting angels falling from Heaven. “Why god? Why must I continue this nightmare?” he spoke with soft anguish.

Colin turned away from the holy painting and slipped the priest’s ring on his own finger. The tight metal band tore part of his skin away exposing thick green puss. The wound sent a searing pain through Colin’s entire body. That’s why. The only thing that managed the pain and kept Colin from literally falling to pieces was the Grandfather. His guidance held Colin’s fragile psyche together and the suits he provided maintained his physical body.

The Grandfather was salvation. As long as he promised to rid Colin of his affliction, no matter how unlikely he might be to keep that promise, Colin held out hope. He would follow his orders without question. Colin reached into his coat pocket and extracted a small crumpled paper and pen. He drew a single line through the name Father Burke. He then uncrumpled the paper revealing a list of more than a dozen other names.

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