The vigilante assassin drove across the state reaching the Atlantic coast at 4 a.m. He had a mission assigned to him by superiors he never saw. They contacted him online using code he read in articles posted on CHNNEWS.net. The title of the article often relayed his target. If not, he searched for keywords in specific order as he scanned down the paragraphs knowing the first sentence of each held one of the words he sought to learn.
Once he finished the assignment, he notified them using the same method and they deposited his fee in his online account.
He slowed, tapping the brakes lightly, bringing his old Chevy pick-up under the speed limit. With one hand, he wiped black sweat-dampened hair off his forehead. After a quick glance, he rubbed his fingers on his jeans. Replacing the truck with a newer model that had working air conditioning would happen once his employer paid for his current job.
Turning left onto Ocean Avenue, he continued until he saw the fishing pier. It extended far into the ocean on spindle-like splayed legs that were cross-braced as if the decking above weighed more than engineers had designed the under-structure to hold.
He parked and switched off the engine, the lights, released his harness and popped open the glove compartment. From within it, he removed a small cardboard box that he had picked up four hours earlier, from a locker at a bus depot in the state capital. The day before, he had received the key from the mail sent to a post office box registered to a local Baptist church.
Now, with the box balanced on the girth of his large stomach, he opened it and removed the .32 caliper handgun, checked the load, jammed the gun beneath his belt at his back.
He heaved his 290 pounds from the S-10, groaned as he straightened, and silently closed the door by leaning against it. The door handle pressed just below his shoulder blades.
He smelled salt air and heard breakers pounding the white sand beaches. In the distance, he heard laughter, voices of people sitting on balconies as if still partying, reluctant to sleep.
His steps were light for such a big man. He strode quickly onto the pier and saw one person standing at the far end, fishing. He smiled grimly, knowing the report from the handgun would be loud, echoing across the water and down the beach to the rows of hotels where the partygoers would hear it and call the police.
However, fear would not deter him. Success of the mission counted for more than his own life.
As he neared his target, he saw the man turn to him. An overhead light illuminated his eerie pale face. For the first time since choosing his role as assassin, he hesitated, unable to do more than stare at the face before him, the white priest's collar around the man's thickly muscled neck.
"What is your name, son?" the man asked him in a voice free of concern.
"You do not need to know my name, priest." He stopped walking, knowing he was too far for an accurate shot.
"Every condemned man has the right to know the name of his accuser."
"I did not accuse you. I act only as God's wrath."
"You are here to act out the results of the accusation made against me by your church fathers who condemn those who disobey. That, son, makes you an extension of the accuser. So again, I ask, what is your name?"
He raised the gun, centered the barrel on the man's chest, and pulled the trigger.
As he did, his victim flinched and dodged to the right. The bullet missed and lodged in the wood railing at the end of the pier.
He swung his arm to follow his target, and concentrated on succeeding, so missed his adversary moving as the man flipped back the tail of his black jacket, and lifted a long barrel .44 magnum from a holster clipped at the small of his back.
He fired the .32 again, missed, and then saw the huge handgun as his adversary grasped it with both hands, aimed, and pulled the trigger. Flames belched from the barrel.
He heard nothing before a giant's fist slammed into his chest spraying blood, tissue, and pieces of bone in a cloud of debris that reminded him an accident he'd witnessed the previous summer. A woman had stepped out of a restaurant after one more drink than reasonable, and into the path of a moving truck. She was dead before she hit the pavement.
He nodded and landed hard on his knees, heard his .32 clatter on the decking.
"Who are you?" he gasped with blood running off his chin.
"I am the vampire Blutleer, but you might call me Father Edwin, the assassin hired to destroy an assassin. That is as it has always been and as it will always be." The vampire raised the .44 as he strode to the vigilante, placed the end of the barrel against the dying man's forehead, nodded, and said, "They wanted me to tell you that there is no heaven or hell. Men who desired to rule the world created all of that from the words and deeds of a blessed man who walked the earth two thousand years ago preaching so he might change the lives of the downtrodden. When you die, it's over, light's out, pal. Hope you had a good life."
Then, with a ferocious grin, Blutleer stared into the vigilante's eyes. "I will enjoy watching your inner light extinguish, puppet, knowing that all of the deaths you caused have now been avenged. But do not to worry, I would never drink from filth such as you."
He pulled the trigger.