Quite a prize for such a short piece!
Unfortunately, I didn't make it into the top five, but life goes on and I'm going to keep on writing.
Here's the story I entered:
The Seventh Day
Time and silence. Those are their weapons,
and they go on forever.
He stood over the man, watching. The man, huddled in the corner weeping softly was, in truth, barely a man, being just past his eighteenth birthday. But his age did not matter, he was slated to die. Actually, his age did matter insofar as it matched another, recently deceased.
He decided it was time. He pulled out his gun and pointed it at the man and finally spoke.
“Your day has come.”
He pulled the trigger.
He held the paper and stared at the story. It should have been on the front page, the headline screaming out at him, at everyone. But of course, it wasn’t. It wasn’t even in the first section. Instead, it was buried in the middle of the ‘local news’. As always, details were sketchy and the story riddled with inaccuracies. Allusions to a broken home, drug use, gang violence. He read between the lines to find the truth.
He focused on the one part that was always present, “resisting arrest”. Six officers heavily armed, one young man on his knees. Yet still, “resisting arrest”.
He put the paper down and picked up his cup of tea; he had a long day ahead.
The call came first thing in the morning. No greeting. Just a simple, “You have work.”
He got up, threw on sweats and sneakers and made his way down to the corner store for a newspaper. Once back, he set the paper on the table and turned to the stove. He put the kettle on a low flame and went to take a shower.
The kettle whistled as he toweled off. He grabbed his robe and padded back into the kitchen to prepare tea. He preferred loose leaf – it reminded him that even in small things chaos reigned. Yet chaos was what he and the others were determined to combat. He made his tea, sat at the table and perused the paper, looking for the article he knew he would eventually find.
He found his target easily enough. The blitheness with which some people walked around, especially in his part of town, never ceased to amaze him. It was a simple task to follow the young man into the subway and onto a train, the young man’s blond hair acting as a beacon. He used his newspaper as a shield to avoid detection. A fitting choice, as he read the story again and again.
The young man traveled five stops before getting off the train. The man waited until just before the doors closed to hop off and follow. The station was in one of the nicer parts of town. The man was glad he’d opted for slacks and a button-down shirt rather than something more casual. He hated to stand out. It increased the chances of being remembered.
The young man lingered on the platform, taking photos of graffiti gracing the posters lining the tunnel walls. For a moment, the man considered a different approach besides the usual hunt: walking up to the young man, starting up a conversation about photography and graffiti. Gaining his trust then striking. He smiled bitterly and shook his head. What was he thinking? The whole purpose – the whole point – was anonymity. His own and the target’s. Even knowing the young man was possibly a photographer was more information than he needed or wanted.
The less he knew the better. Sympathizing – or worse, empathizing – with a target only made the job harder and left him questioning his purpose. It happened once before. He vowed never to let it happen again.
He stopped woolgathering just in time to see the young man disappear at the top of the escalator. Quietly cursing himself, he set off in pursuit, remembering to appear casual.
The young man stood at the doorstep chatting with a neighbor. He had no choice but to continue walking lest he arouse suspicion. Fortunately, when he stopped ostensibly to tie his shoe, he’d seen the young man check his mailbox. Identifying an apartment number would be simple. He lingered at his laces long enough to overhear that the young man was going to be home alone all evening. He smiled, blessed his luck, walked on.
Entering the building was easy: no doorman, the latch was loose. He sauntered down the hall and up the staircase to the young man’s door. He hesitated a moment, patted his side, reassured by the weight of the gun.
He raised his hand to the doorknocker and rapped several times.