Contributor: MARK SLADE

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I was lying face down on the beach tasting the sand mixed with salt water in my mouth from the ocean's waves repeatedly smashing me in the face. I opened my eyes to a blurred spiraling sun in the damning sky, sending shock waves to my brain.

When my eyes finally focused correctly, I saw Alban lying beside me, dead. A puddle of crimson forming around a black hollow chasm that was once where his left eye had been. His otherwise smooth golden skin on his face had not a scar nor a blemish. He had a dark, ludicrous smile on his face.

I started to rise and discovered the WW1 Colt .45 revolver firmly in my hand.

I jumped up, dropping the gun. “No!” I screamed.

I backed away, cursing at everything and everyone. It was happening again. This time, it was my turn. And I can't understand why God and the universe hates me so.

Alban and I had met a few days ago in the local cafe in Madrid. Stephanie had put us together, she was my contact in the states. Hooking me up to different thieves around the world, all of us apart of the Raven syndicate, providing rare items to the rich and often obsessive people one could meet. Alban was known as the Magical Arab with sticky digits, one of the best thieves from Palestine.

Alban knew where this WW1 Colt revolver resided, It belonged to one Humus Titus. Another of the rich the Ravens had done a service for. But this particular item we had not acquired for him. It seemed Titus stolen this item from the British museum. An item they were not ready to part with.

The revolver has a bit of history to it. Apparently this revolver had belonged to an English officer who who needed medical attention. The officer and a German soldier were lost in the outland of the battle of the Rhine. Caught in the barbed wires that were among ghostly trenches of ill-fated dead, the German soldier cut him loose and as a thanks, the English officer shot the German dead. As Alban relayed it to me, those who fire the weapon is doomed to be killed by the one that had just been killed. And the cycle can not be broken.

Words we should have paid heed to.

It's not the death part that worries me so....


It's the rebirth that I hate so much.

We did as the job required. We broke into Titus castle on this very beach. No problems whatsoever. No guards, no guard dogs, no homeowner, no troubles. In and out like it was nothing. We had rowed over from the island to the north in a small boat. It was only five miles to the beach and Titus castle. We were not taking our lives in the ocean's hands.

At least I didn't think so until the storm came. The storm turned everything inside out and we lost the oars. We were adrift in the ocean with a violent storm swirling around us. Alban had a terrible idea running through his head. He no longer needed me, alive or dead. He drew the .45 revolver on me.

“I can sell this to the Raven syndicate on my own. I don't need you to take my share of the profit.” He said.

The skies behind him were split in two by flashes of yellow-orange lightning and Alban's face was completely drenched by torrential downpour.

Anger had filled me up. I dove upon him and grabbed hold of his hand that held the gun. It fired twice.

As I pushed his hand up to the dark sky with bright slashes across it. That bullet was torn from the barrel and had disappeared into the darkness. He pulled his hand back down, the barrel of the gun facing me. Just as he squeezed the trigger, I jerked his hand backwards. The bullet exploded from the thin barrel and entered Alban's left eye.

I took the gun from his limp hand. Just as I sat on my side of the boat, a strong wind lift the boat into the air....

And here I am, on the beach with a dead Arab.

Oh, God!

I feel it happening.

My skin on my body has become irritated. A burning sensation was inside my chest. The skin was slowly torn right above my heart and lungs. A hand has shown through a bloody mess....golden skinned hands....then arms.....

Just before a dark veil drapes across my eyes and I slip away, I see the same thing is happening to Alban's dead body. As his chest splits open a pair of pale,white hands appear...

The rebirth has begun.

The rebirth of both of us.....

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