In the republic of Seattle, rain fell among the tall skyscrapers to the ground below. Bridges crisscrossed above, silver and shining wet. Their indomitable prestige and the power they emanated were designed to represent those living up above. Bridges spanned in networks from building to building and even on the chance that the sun might appear in the sky, those below would never know. The long steel and glass causeways were scattered with figures of the elite and mighty. Everything was clean and waxed. Shinny shoes against shiny floors. Segways and trams rolled along larger streets that tunneled through building after building suspended high above. And even above those, speeders flew at blistering speeds on digitally marked highways in the sky. All was chrome and shining silver.
At street level, the artificial lighting and graffiti left the world below in a darkened grey haze, drench-marked with the ever falling rain. The old busted neon lights, the inoperable stoplights, and the cracked streets of a once thriving downtown only pressed to those living there that their lives were decaying against the foundations of those above. The skyway bridges on high funneled the rain together and fell to the grey earth in sheets and veritable waterfalls that bore holes in the sidewalks and asphalt. Obsolete cars slogged by, sloshing through the endless puddles and potholes, barely pushing through the rain. It seemed as though the sides of the buildings were melting with the bleeding colors of the paint.
Water ran everywhere, flowing down slimy alleyways and past huddled figures with forked words and shifting eyes. Lone and forgotten shapes trudged along the buckling sidewalks along concrete walls. Glossy coats and black hoods pulled tightly to stay the cold and rain. People did not walk down there, they crept. Whether it be from one thing or another, man, woman, child, they all moved as creatures in the night, afraid of the light, and afraid of each other. Every few hours a shining police car would romp through with flashing lights and search lamps towards some shootout or robbery or escapee.
On one corner in particular, against the brick, there was a flickering green and blue neon sign. Just to the left held the spray painted letters U-N- so that above a heavy metal door, the sign read “The UN- Lucky 17”. The one dingy window next to the door casted a reddish glow out onto the sidewalk hat mixed with the colors from the sign. There was a crack that ran down the center of the streets along with deepening ruts from the cars. The street lamps buzzed and flickered. All around the bar were old stores shielded with gates or sheets of metal. A man looked about as he walked quickly. With a hiss into the gutter just outside, a cigarette dropped.
Through the heavy door and down a hallway lit by one hanging bulb, a red wooden door was the gateway to a dimly lit, smoky room. It had once been a very classy establishment. Red tables under red shades around hanging lights stained brown with tobacco. A round wooden bar area stood across from the door on the opposite wall. To the left a stage and a few collected tables sunk in a low space. A lone man with sunglasses stood on the platform and smoothly wound a slow soulful pitch on his saxophone. Its tune casted a weaving a velvet ribbon around the room as the notes spiraled through the minds of the patrons, each one of them lonely at their tables staring off as though they were trying to touch something long forgotten. The tune listed around the room, down the hall and out onto the street when the door opened for a moment.
The barmaid looked out the window as she cleaned a glass with an old rag, up through the rain at a rare space in the buildings that saw through the skyways and speedercars to the sky. The dark clouds covered everything but to her it was a feeling of solace to know that beyond those clouds a starry sky existed.
“-I missed this place…” came a voice that struck her back to where she was “ …No matter how bad things are, walking in here spurs you on to be unlucky again tomorrow.”
She didn’t need to look down to remember that voice. She knew it all too well despite the time that passed.
“What has it been, a year?” He said
“Its been three …” she said taking her gaze down from the sky and looking straight through the window at the derelict street.
Through the reflection in the window she could faintly see the profile of the man who sat at the bar. He was a tall thin dude with a black suit. He had messy short hair and a scar along his cheek. His coat and hat hung neatly on the rack by the door dripping rainwater to the floor.
“why did you come back?” she muttered as her eyes closed.
“I left before saying goodbye” he said smiling putting up his elbows on the bar.
His gaze fell upon her in a comforting glow. The music wound behind them as the tink of ice in glasses could be heard from the dining area. A lonely soul sat with his jacket and hat still on at the end of the bar while he nursing a whiskey sour at the end of the bar remaining unnoticed.
“You shouldn’t have come back. After you killed those people.” Her words were cobalt.
“For tonight” he said looking up from his hands “Can’t we just pretend that things worked out, that things aren’t so bad?”
She felt her chest well up and a tear in the trickle of water down the window. She put her face in her hand and said.
He sat quietly in the space between moments. Then as he was about to get up,
“why did you come back!?” she said loudly into her hand.
He sat in motion his eyes widened. The man at the end of the bar looked up.
“If you had just left I could have forgotten all about you and got on with my life, but you just had to…” She threw the rag hard against the windowsill.
“… I wanted to see you again, especially after what happened, and especially before what needs to happen”
She began to let her sadness slip and her face tightened with stifled breaths and sobs.
“but if that’s how you want it-“ He got up to leave and turned.
She composed herself as best she could and felt his hunched body amble over to the coat rack. Paralyzed by the implications, the love and the pain of memories she did not move.
He looked back one last time while he put his coat and hat back on. She had her finger between her lips and held a glass across her midsection. Unturning she stood like a beautiful statue, her green eyes glossy in the window and the red ribbon in her hair. He left without a word.
Too late she realized why he had returned.
She turned quickly “wait-!“
His black coat fluttered around the corner and out the door
Huddled in his coat he stomped out the door and made a right around the corner. Through the hard Seattle rain like an endless stream of muck on his mind. He frowned with his head low, but he couldn’t let this stop him. He came back to Seattle to settle a score, why he had been run out of his business, why he had spent the last three months running from gangsters and police.
Then a shrill faded voice
He turned his head- and saw her standing in the rain on the corner, arms stiff, getting drenched by the downpour.
She looked up at him as he approached, his face softened, the tears were masked by the rain. Her eyes flicked as raindrops ran over her eyelashes. Then as they neared, they felt themselves pull together out of some force beyond them. Under the rain and the skyscrapers in the depths of scum ridden streets, they embraced and kissed passionately, letting the rain fall as though for one instant their cares were nothing, that time and memory fell to the pavement with the streaming raindrops and splashed apart.
Through the cold water they felt each other’s bodies pressed against each other, their warmth, and breath for one sweet moment of peace.
Then, after some time, he pulled away.
He looked at her for a moment and she looked back to him, into those wild blue eyes.
“…now you can start to forget” He said
He was about to leave but she pulled him closer. The water soaked them and she needed to yell above the crashing water.
“I Love you Deren” she began “I’ve always loved you and you know that…But I can’t bear to go on wondering whether you’ll be alive or not tomorrow. Why don’t we just get out of here, we can go north together.”
“Once I take care of that two faced bastard and his crew, you won’t have to worry”
“For God’s sake don’t you hear yourself!? How many people will you kill over this! You’re a murderer! ” she said gripping his coat harder.
He pulled backwards and walked off.
Then, as she stood watching him in the storm, a figure ran around the corner behind her. She heard his footsteps and turned around. It was the man from the end of the bar. His jacket was pulled up tight around his face. Why would he need a drink that badly to run outside?
“no” she whispered.
The man raised a gun towards Daren who was walking hurriedly but unaware of Sora who stood watching. She ran at the assassin.
“STOP DON”T DO THIS!” She yelled out
Daren looked back at the sound of her voice but didn’t comprehend the imminent danger and continued.
The assassin tried to knock her aside, but she latched on to his arm. The man tried punching her, but she twisted his arm back and brought her foot underneath sending him to the floor with a crash. The assassin dropped his gun and quickly Sora scrambled to pick it up. The assassin pulled a knife and started to get up quickly.
The gun shook in Sora’s hand “Don’t get up! Or I’ll shoot…I’ll kill you!” her eyes strained as she looked down at the assassin.
In her mind she reeled, she couldn’t kill him, she pleaded over and over in her head for him to run away, leave and go on living.
“Your no killer” said the assassin “guns are for bad people, give it here!” He rushed at her; the knife bit into her side, the gun went off. She felt the defining bang and the mechanism of the trigger before anything. The assassin expired with the exit wound knocking his hat off and collapsed to the ground in a puddle. The scene stood in front of her of the dead man in the rain. She killed him.
The gun suddenly felt like it weighed a ton in her hand, and she dropped it into the gutter and it fell through a storm drain with a splash. Looking down she saw the knife, and the blood seeping through her shirt and flowing with the rain like the graffiti on the walls. She gasped for air and tried to cover the blood. She fell, a feeling a numbness tingle through her, stemming from the blade. There next to the assassin, the blood mingled in the running street water under the skyscrapers.
She muttered as the headlights from Daren’s car casted out to the street from an alleyway.
“don’t let them kill you.”