The Priest

The priest wore a black cassock with a crimson and purple cincture. Beneath these vestments, the priest wore a pale, synth-cotton jumpsuit and, oddly, Mars-manufactured slip-ons—the latest London Bay knock-offs, a sharp contrast to both the cheap jumpsuit and the priestly garb. His head was shaved, showing a faint touch of dark growth over an intricate Papal tattoo. He wore sideburns that were strawberry blond flecked with premature white and a sharp goatee that was braided with silver and gold coins, each stamped with an Arms of Merit by the Vatican minter. His blood-shot eyes were blue.

The coroner’s initial examination showed that the priest had died within the last three hours.

Alexei Yurovich Markov sighed loudly. He stood over the priest’s body and felt a deep twinge in his gut. Not nausea per se—he had seen enough bodies to last three life times—but a sort of anxious tightening that he knew had to do with the memory of his mother’s death seventeen years earlier. He had been a boy then, sitting outside a polished steel and glass tenement, head cocked back and watching the antiseptic-laced rain fall from a dark sky nearly pinched out of sight by the towering San Francisco skyline. He sat trying to catch the metallic-tasting drops in his mouth in a futile attempt to force the thought that his mother lay upstairs, in their lavish apartment, her insides eaten up by a nano-tech poison administered by his father’s enemies. The priests had emerged from the tenement first, somber, old, sick-looking in their own right. They had walked past his huddled form silently, old heads bowed, black cloaks billowing in the wet breeze. One of them, a priest he did not know noticed him and stopped. Alexei closed his mouth and looked up into the priest’s old eyes. The old man stepped forward and placed a thin hand atop Alexei’s damp head.

“She’s resting now, Alyosha,” the old priest had said, calling Alexei by his nickname, although how he knew it Alexei had no idea. “You should get out of this rain.”

“I’m swallowing the rain,” Alexei had replied. “It will keep me from being sick.”

The old priest stepped back, placing both hands in his cloak pockets. “No, Lyoshenka, it will only make you weak, wet and cold. Go inside.” He stared at Alexei who failed to move. Instead, Alexei had felt a deep emptiness well up inside, like a collection of shudders, and he began to cry almost explosively. He balled his gloved hands up and covered his face, weeping for what seemed eternity, but still the emptiness remained. Finally, when no more tears would come and he could no longer bring his mother’s once soft and gentle face to mind, he looked up but the old priest was gone.


The voice of the man standing next to him as he looked down at the dead priest snapped Alexei back to the present.

“Sorry,” Alexei said, shaking his head. “I don’t know him.”

The man, an officer in LAPD Inc’s security division, nodded and moved away, his thin, blue-black armored suit hissing and moaning softly as he did so.

~ by liberdementia on February 28, 2009.

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