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Hurt

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Author's note: This story is an entry in Koromo and Empy's Song Competition. This was based off of the song "God's Gonna Cut You Down", by Johnny Cash. I Hope you all enjoy.

Sharp, blinding slits of light hit my eyes from between darkened clouds of pollution and smoke. It's been years since the world's gone to hell, and I've been in the middle of it for so long, and the only one beside me was my one and only companion. I've considered him my brother for so long, and it has paid me well. I don't bother looking over my shoulder or moving my attention as I finally muttered out, dragging my feet against the dirt battered, cracked pavement that was once a highway. Now it just lead nowhere. Nowhere important, any ways. Most of the highways and main streets led to other opposing gangs and groups that seemed to be more interested in bloodlust than survival. Of course, we were neither of those. We were the ones who kept them in line.

"Hey," I glanced up to keep my balance, my boots now causing me to stumble a bit every so often as the lip was stuck between the deep cracks. The impenetrable thick clouds of dust and heat made it impossible to be dressed in such a way as we did. I stopped mid-step, stomping my foot that was still in the air. I rolled my shoulders a bit, the pistols concealed in my pockets clinking and crushing together.

"Do you think we're ever gonna find them, anyways?" I turned my head to spit over my shoulder, huffing through my nose with impatience. I heard John sigh, slowly coming to a stop beside me as well. He put a gloved hand on my shoulder, the other hand holding up a small parchment with symbols and scribbles that only he seemed to understand. He let out a stifled laugh, shaking his head.

"Listen, Ezra, we've been on this same damn highway for about three days on feet, and I'm sure we're going to be for quite a while. At least three of them are in a group together, and they're pretty far gone. Hell, as much as I know, they might be behind us trying to get us as well." John moved his hand away to pat my back a bit hard, nearly knocking the wind out of me. I smirked, shaking my head. I couldn't believe him.

"So, it'll just be one huge loop like that?" I joked, starting off once more down the highway. John shrugged a shoulder, raising a brow.

"I don't know, but it could be. Listen, it'll probably only be a few days 'til we get there. If we're lucky, we'll be there by sun-up tomorrow if we don't sleep." Just hearing this made me instantly dread the thought. Going through this all made me want to dig myself into a hole to let all of this blow over - but that was to be expected with such a job as we had. John stuffed the paper in his back pocket as he trudged on, leaving me to stay ahead. I wrapped my fingers around the edge of my gas mask, tugging it down in to place over my face, rolling my shoulders once more.

"Once we get there... which will be around morning, I'm sure, since I'm not sleeping anytime soon," I chuckled softly, pointing a thumb over my shoulder to him, hopefully grabbing his attention. "You'll have to realize how important this is to me."

I shoved both of my hands in to my back pockets, huffing though the mask enough to cause the glasses over my eyes to slick up with fog. I held my breath long enough to have the fog thin enough to see at least a few feet in front of me.

"I'm pretty sure I do." John snickered, shrugging his shoulders up as he flipped his hood over his head to conceal his bright blonde - almost white hair. He raised a brow, looking up to me with amusement. "Ever since I suggested the idea, you were all for it."

"Yeah, you're right." I chuckled, shrugging my shoulders as well.

"Don't worry, man. We're go-" I stopped mid-stride, skidding onto my feet as I noticed something off. John stopped as well, quirking up a brow in curiosity.

"What, did I do something wrong?" He muttered out, a bit confused. I hissed between my teeth at him to keep quiet, grinding them hard as I jerked my head around. I stared at the ground for a moment, crouching down. Since there was nothing around but desert-like brush, sand, dirt and pavement - aside from the occasional few broken down cars, there shouldn't be anything that moved other than him and I. John, did the same, his chest moving up and down with his nerves. I did the same. I slowly reached up to gesture his attention attention to where I was pointing, nodding my head. In a hushed tone, I managed to mutter out,

"Someone's here, I can tell..." I didn't bother looking to see if John was tagging behind as I slowly walked towards the direction the figure was headed, my palms growing moist with excitement and nerves. As soon as I was a few mere steps behind him, he spun around on the heels of his boots, staring directly down to me. I gasped loudly, springing up onto my feet. John did the same, pointing a finger at him.

"What are you doing, don't just stand there!" he snapped at me, but I just stared. I slowly reached down to curl a finger around the butt of my pistol, glaring up to the other. I turn my head over my shoulder - but kept eye contact with the man in front of me. John sputtered out a mixed amount of words - mostly nonsense that I couldn't make out, probably because of my indiscreet focus on the new man.

"Who is he?" I muttered to John - but just loud enough so the other could hear. The man snickered, clenching and unclenching his fists. In one hand he had a long, thick silver chain that wrapped around his palm and wrist, one end empty - but the other... the other had a large arrowhead-like blade attached to it. Before John could answer my question, the man chuckled. His large, muscled figure made me seem like a stick compared to him - and John no different. He had several piercings along his bottom and upper lip, several trailing down his eyebrow and cheekbones. His fair tanned skin seemed to be bleached between the slits of light from between the clouds in the sky. I narrowed my eyes, him doing the same. He didn't seem surprised as I was, which made me feel a bit uneasy on the encounter.

"Ban," he slowly began to whip the chain up and down with the makeshift blade slicing through the air, a wide, yet sly grin on his face. I took a few steps back, John doing the same. I slowly slid the pistol out and ran my thumb along the side - blindly switching the safety off. I raised the barrel up with one hand, the other staying at my side. As coolly as possible, I tried my best to stay calm.

"Listen, Ban, I don't want to do this to you..." I held my breath - my right eye twitching.

"But I'm gonna have to, unless you put your weapon down right now," I barked at him, but his expression didn't seem to be any different than before. If anything, he seemed more amused than intimidated. He didn't stop rolling his chain - but he raised his opposite hand. He motioned for something behind him to come forward, causing me to almost lose my grip on my pistol. I lowered it slightly, but still kept it aimed in front of me just in case. I raised a brow - now curious on who this mysterious secondary right-man was.

A taller, lanky female pushed past him, dressed in nearly all black, with stringy, long dark green dyed hair. Her piercing steel silver eyes seemed to penetrate through mine, leaving me one on two. She combed her bangs away from her eyes with her unnaturally long, sharpened fingernails, her hips swaying with her steps. In one hand, she had a painted over Glock 19, and on her back, held up with a strap, was the heavy AT4, which to me seemed that it was already loaded and ready for fire whenever the two seemed that they needed it.

"And you are?" She raised a brow, shifting her weight. She crossed her arms over her chest, sighing softly. I already knew what she was aiming for - to put me off guard. At least that's what I jumped to conclusions with.

"My name isn't important right now, ma'am." I said flatly, raising the pistol up as I stared at the Glock in her hand. She sighed softly through her nose, flipping the hair from her eyes.

"Sweetie, there's no use to hiding. Everybody knows your name, you know," she snickered, glancing over her shoulder to her partner in crime, shaking her head. She seemed to have some sort of tick about her - like she was hiding something... but I set that idea aside.

"You're known as the 'modern bull'. 'round here, sweetheart!" she giggled, shrugging her shoulders.

"And that's why we were sent to find you..." She looked back towards me, and her smile grew ear-to-ear.

"And kill you." Ban nodded his head in agreement, snickering quietly as well.

"By who?" I shifted my weight a bit, squeezing the handle of my pistol gently. The woman scoffed and rolled her eyes, shaking her head in disappointment.

"Do you really not remember?" She raised a brow.

"You're on that, oh, I don't know, agenda to assassinate those who oppose the laws of the new world?" She planted one hand on her hip, raising a brow. I flashed her a disgusted look. How did anybody know about that other than John and I?

"I don't know what you're getting at..." I muttered, looking off to the side.

"If you're the people I was sent to, as you say, 'assassinate', how did you get so far ahead of us?" She just laughed. Taking a few steps forward until she was nearly in my face, she pulled the pistol up close to my face. Where was John when I needed him?

"John!" I called out to him, but as soon as I opened my mouth to speak - she shoved the thick barrel of the pistol into my mouth, my eyes growing wide. I heard John a bit farther away yell my name, but I ignored it. He was too far away to help me, so I was alone. Quickly, Ban stepped closer as well, coming to a stop with his chain and arrow. He slid his hand up the chain to hold the arrow head between his index and thumb, holding it up against my neck.

"I know what your kind is up to," he whispered into my ear, snickering. He slowly pressed the blade further - the barrel of the gun slowly pushing farther in to my mouth. I tried my best to jerk away - but one of her hands were wrapped around my the back of my head to keep me still - causing me to squirm violently to get away. All I could do was scream helplessly... but that was when I had a sudden urge to keep going forward.

"Ezra!" John's voice grew louder. He must be closer, I thought to myself. I slowly gripped tighter on to my pistol, raising it up to aim at the woman's forehead. Though she was close enough that our noses were almost touching, I could barely fit the gun between us. The end of the gun was pressed against my forehead, as the barrel was against hers.

"Ezra, you can't just let them do this, c'mon!" It almost sounded like an order from him. I closed my eyes tight as I wrapped my index finger around the trigger - inhaling sharply.

Bang.

I tumbled backwards as the gun's whiplash impacted me as much as her, a small stream of dark blood trailing from the middle of my forehead down the bridge of my nose, and then down to the corner of my mouth. A fine line was just a mere two centimeters deep in to my skin on my neck from the blade, a small trail of blood trickling down and staining my sun bleached shirt with a dark red. I raised the gas mask to wipe the blood away from my mouth - the heavy taste of iron making me shiver. I lower the gas mask back over my face - Ban switching his expression from excited to surprise. Nearly tripping over one of the cracks in the road, I hear John stumble forward and bump in to me, but I dared not move. I nearly stumbled forward from my dizziness, but I stayed on my feet as steady as I could.

"What are you doing? We gotta go!" He pounded against my back and shoulder blades frantically, trying to get me to move, but I was too long gone in thought.

"No. These are the ones," I mutter, raising the pistol once more. John stopped almost instantly as he heard, nodding his head slowly. I felt him move away from my back, making me aim better than I have. Ban began to swing the chain as fast as he could, throwing the chain forward and nearly slicing into me. I shoot without thinking or aiming - something that I wish to never do, but had to. The bullet went clean through the right side of his chest. He made a variety of short, cut off moans and gasps as he dropped to his knees, one hand on the wound and the other on the chains. He looked up to me, and I stared back down to him. I took a few steps forward and pointed my pistol to the top of his head, causing him to start to hyperventilate.

"Oh, God..." Ban muttered, squeezing his eyes shut tightly.

"It must be embarrassing to be taken down like this, hmm?" I raised a brow, smirking slightly. I pressed the end of the barrel against his head hard, pushing it down against his skull. He gasped loudly as I stopped mid-way, making Ban more frustrated than he already was.

"Just do it already," Ban groaned, but I didn't let it happen so fast. I slowly raised the pistol from his head - making him look up to me with confusion. I slowly shifted the pistol from my right hand to my left.

"What are you do-" He stopped mid sentence with a loud pained scream as I curled my index and thumb around the bridge of his nose and pressed my fingernails deep in to his eyes - pushing them out one at a time. His screams were satisfying - knowing that I've finally had the job done, and right where I wanted him to be. John tugged at my shoulder hard, but I didn't stop.

"Stop, right there! This isn't what I needed!" He snapped at me, but he couldn't stop this. I've been waiting for this for a long while, and now I've had him where I wanted. As his mouth was open wide as he'd been screaming, I juggled the two dark jade eyes between my fingers in my gloved hand - shoving both deep down his throat. His screaming soon turned in to chokes - but I kept his mouth closed with my hands. I had both of my heels on his wrists so he couldn't move much anymore.

Some say that this apocalyptic world would get to us - and I beg to differ.

It makes us stronger.

As soon as Ban stopped moving, I slowly moved myself away from him, sighing through my nose.

John put a hand on my shoulder, squeezing it gently. I looked over my shoulder to see him - sighing through his nose softly.

"Took you long enough," I chuckled softly, flipping my safety back on and putting the pistol back into my pocket.

"Great job, man." He smiled his same modest smile, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Listen, I'll get back to you once you have more to do. The boss'll be happy to know you got it done."

"Boss?" I raise a brow, doing the same. Was he just messing with me?

"Who's this 'boss'? I thought it was just us."

"You don't know, do you..." John shook his head, sighing. He slowly reached up to slide his pale hood away from his head, his white hair shining brightly. His pale skin and bright blue eyes becoming apparent to me. He tilted his head to the side, sighing through his nose softly. He slowly outstretched a hand to me - in which I hesitantly took. My fingers almost instantly went through his hand. I jerked my hand back - making me jump almost instantly.

"What the hell?" I looked down to my hand, then back up to him. He smiled softly, nodding his head. My expression quickly turned from surprise to fury, clenching my teeth tightly. The only thing that he said, out of a million other things, the thing that made me furious the most, were a simple five words that would haunt me to this day.

"I'm all in your mind, Ezra. I am God."

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