Fade To Light: In The Light Of A Shadow
Robert G. Hagans


To refresh you folks here’s the end of the Showdown in the House of God chapter to refresh your memory:
* * *
Tony Alba almost pissed his pants when he heard Gelati’s order. For the last half-hour he thought and felt like he’d been in some sort of watered down war zone. So much shit had happened today. First Gelati sends Berlett and Skye after Wentling and she kills Berlett and gets away from Skye. Then Gelati had sent Tony and his men after Wentling to do the job. Instead, Jessica ends up whacking 5 of Tony’s men, including Brian Finn, who had been a good buddy of his, and all but shattering Casey’s arm when she had tried to get away on the motorcycle. Tony had loved Brian like a brother; the guy had wanted to be an enforcer. He’d always kidded Brian about that. He was a good guy but a horrible shot. He couldn’t hit the broad side of Delta Burke’s ass. Still, Tony would be damned if he were going into that church to avenge him like some trigger-happy dumb ass with a deathwish. Which is why he couldn’t believe the words that he’d just heard come out of Gelati’s mouth. So he asked in a questioning tone.
“You heard me Tony! Get in there and take dat bitch down!”
Fuck that, Tony thought. He wasn’t a coward, but he wasn’t stupid either. It had sounded like WW III in there. He didn’t care how quiet it was in there now, the amount of muzzle flashes alone that he’d seen alone had looked like a million cameras going off at timed intervals for the last 10 minutes, and there were only two of them in there. Now that it was silent, it was even worse. You didn’t know if they stopped to reload or if one had killed the other, or (best case scenario) they killed each other. In any case, Tony wasn’t going out like that. So he said:
“Papa Gelati, Wentling’s already taken out almost 6 of my men, and there’s no tellin where she’ll be hiding or if she’s already dead or anything. Plus how do we know Skye won’t shoot us by accident (or on purpose he left out) when we walk in?”
“If you gotta better idea Tony, then I wanna hear it.”
Tony held out his arm, “Well what I had in mind was this sir.” Gelati turned to him; when he saw the object outstretched in Tony’s palm, all he did was smile again.
* * *
“You’re doing well Jessica,” Skye taunted. “For someone as busted and bruised as you are, one would think you’d be dead by now.”
“That’s because I’ve got more skill than you.” Jessica wheezed.
“Oh really?” Skye asked in disbelief.
“Doesn’t the fact that we’re evenly matched, even though I can barely stand on two feet mean anything to you?” Jessica was incredulous. Skye’s face darkened, she hated when people made her feel stupid, especially when that person was Jessica Wentling.
“You know what Jess, let’s stop all this fake-ass bitchin and hide and seek bullshit. You game?”
Wentling stood behind a pillar once more holding her gun with both hands. “What’d you have in mind Skye?” She breathed, the pain coming back as the adrenaline wore off. Jessica thought she would pass out.
“On the count of three we both step out into the open. Either one of us or neither of us walks out of here alive.”
“Playing for keeps?” Wentling asked.
“Always.” Skye said leaning against her own column.
“I’m game if you are. No fair cheating though.” Jessica tried to slow her breathing but it did her no good, every breath was fire, her body ached and threatened to give out.
“Killer’s honor.” Was Skye’s reply.
“1,” called Jessica after a moment.
“2,” Skye called back. A pause. The two women readied themselves. Deep breaths taken; a hammer cocked.
Two of the greatest female killers that ever lived emerged from their cover at the same time. Weapons raised they took aim on one another.
4 feet were planted on the floor.
3 semi-automatic pistols stood at the ready.
2 sets of eyes locked on the other.
One state of mind. And in that instant, time came to a screeching halt. The entire world, holding their breath, stopped….And then it exploded.
* * *
Tony’s surprise grenade rocked the already battle damaged church. Both Jessica and Skye were thrown to the floor in the explosion. Pews were torn to pieces and thrown around like lawn chairs. Luckily for the two hardened killers it’d been an incinderary grenade or the shrapnel would have killed them both. The grenade landing closer to the entrance than toward the middle where they had stood helped as well.
Outside, Papa Gelati looked on at the church. A big, satisfied smile on his fat face. Tony stood behind him, looking on with a mirrored expression. After the smoke cleared a bit, Gelati turned and began to walk back to his SUV. “Go clean up.” He ordered to Tony, the smile never leaving his features. The six, armed figures in black once again made their way to the chapel.
* * *
Jessica fought with consciousness. On the one side was her body, which was racked with pain and desperately in need of rest and air. Abruptly, she remembered to breathe and sucked in painful breaths of oxygen in short wheezing gasps. On the other hand was her mind, which recognized that the grenade had probably come from Gelati’s men and rationalized that if she was still alive (Wentling assumed she was), then Skye would be too. Mind over matter, it was not time to pass out. She focused in on her pain, using it to fight through the darkness, the uncertainty. Jessica opened her eyes and found herself starring at the painted image of Jesus on the roof of the church. As she watched, the image morphed into that of her father. She stared, remembering the same heroic chin with the same scar at the edge, the small frame that was lithe and flexible but hid his true strength. And the same knowing face, ruggedly handsome with those sharp blue eyes that seemed to peer into your soul. She looked up at her father and he smiled, the exact fatherly smile he had given her from the day he gave her life, till the day of his own death. Jessica stared, realizing that her father’s image was a sign—a call to arms. Her hands found the floors and she pushed herself to her knees. All senses came back in a rush. Eyesight as she viewed her Beretta among the debris on the floor, feeling the floor beneath her hands, tasting the blood in her mouth. Smelling the acrid cloud of napalm in the aftermath of the explosion, and finally her hearing--more specifically the rapid footsteps behind her, toward the entrance of the chapel. Wentling’s anger returned and she picked her gun up from the floor and stood to deal out some much-owed payback. She found Skye already standing, waiting for Gelati’s goons to appear with both Glocks raised. Skye winked at Jessica as she came to attention, then focused back on the entrance.
Tony and his men crossed the threshold and found Jessica and Skye to be very much alive, and very very pissed. The surprise barely had time to register on their faces before the two women opened fire with everything they had. Triggers pulling, bullets flying--total chaos. Unprepared for the ambush, Gelati’s men didn’t even get to fire back as they were brutally slaughtered. Nearly forty 9mm shells were fired into the kill zone, and the six men danced around like marionettes on strings as they jerked and fired their guns wildly into the floor, the bullets tearing unmercifully into their flesh and through vital organs, killing them all. By the time the three guns clicked empty, the battle was many times over. Guns smoked, there was blood everywhere, bodies lay on top of casings, weapons and debris. The chapel looked like some sort of blasphemous offering to the almighty. Lowering their weapons simultaneously, the two survivors looked at each other and smiled.
“Now,” Skye began, “Where were we?” And with that, they quickly retreated to the floor to reload. Jessica had already hit the magazine release and was pulling the other extended clip from inside her jacket when she hit the floor. Skye dropped one of her guns and reloaded the other, triggering the chamber forward and loading the first round. She was a second behind the Wentling, who chambered her first round and jumped onto the pew in front of her, running across toward Skye. She pulled the trigger four times, her fingers already numb, the shots all missing as Skye ducked and rolled, answering back with three shots of her own.
Jessica jumped from one row of pews to the next across from her. Skye moved around several of them and fired at Jessica as she moved, reducing the wooden benches to toothpicks. The Wentling never stopped, firing wildly behind herself as she moved to the nearby column for cover. Getting to the end of the pew, she turned, spinning down and crouching, aiming and squeezing off another four shots to cover herself before jumping down. She ducked behind the column, one shot ricocheting off the stone came close enough to hitting her for her own comfort. Jessica waited for Skye to move; knowing that both she and Skye were down to five shots before she had to reload.
Skye didn’t make the Wentling wait to long before she came around to flank Jessica from the left. Jessica moved to intercept, coming out from behind the column and jumping back up onto the pew and running the length of it. Both women were firing their last rounds at each other and missing. Jessica expended her 3rd round, 4th round, Skye firing her 3rd round, the bullets whizzing through the air; bouncing off the walls. With one shot left, Jessica took a flying leap off her pew, twisting her body in mid-air to take aim on Skye in that split second, with her head in her sights. Too late, as Skye fired her fourth round, hitting Jessica in the shoulder just as she squeezed the trigger, throwing off her aim. Jessica’s final shot was off by millimeters, streaking by Skye’s nose and striking the floor, spraying the blond haired killer with a hail of splinters. The surprise, shock and pain of being shot threw Jessica’s timing off. Her once graceful semi-somersault turned into a clumsy fall that ended with her smashing violently into a row of pews. Consciousness faded quickly as one of the holy benches shattered on the jarring impact of her fall.
The bright white light stabbed at Jessica’s pupils when she opened hey eyelids. She found that she no longer felt any pain, and that in itself was a surprising revelation, considering her current status. For an intense moment she wondered if she were paralyzed, but sitting up quickly quenched her of that fear. She looked about, surveying the considerable damage about the chapel, surprised now to be even coming to, and strangely in no pain.
Standing up caused a wave of disorientation; she staggered, then fell backward on her ass, but again sans pain. Then she saw it, or rather, she saw herself, her body lying on top of the wooden parts and debris that littered the floor. It was in bad shape, Jessica saw, there were cuts and abrasions all over her face, as well as her hands. Her body lay in an awkward twisted position, not moving, but still breathing, or shuddering. Jessica couldn’t tell which.
“Oh God!” she wailed, covering her mouth with her hands involuntarily. As she did, she was horrified to notice the same words were moaned from her body on the floor; the same tear was rolling down her cheek from her right eye.
“He can’t help you now sweetheart.” Skye sat beside the fallen warrior’s body, her Glock still in her hand. “Or maybe,” she laughed, “he’s the only person who can.”
“NO!” Jessica screamed and lunged at her nemesis. The body on the floor screamed as well, but didn’t move. She dove at Skye—and fell right through her, as if she didn’t exist at all. Certainly Skye didn’t seem to notice as she stared intently at the body. Landing on the floor, Jessica frantically began to grab parts of her body to reassure herself. She looked at her hands, then the rest of her. Her skin was translucent, with an almost eerie glow to it. She pinched herself, feeling the presence of her “skin,” but not feeling the sensation. The Wentling looked back to Skye who was gently rubbing the body’s sweaty forehead and lightly caressing her hair. Jessica and the body began to weep softly.
“Shhhhh,” Skye tried to comfort her sincerely, “It’ll all be over soon.” The blond stood, taking aim on Jessica’s forehead with the last bullet in her Glock. “I won’t miss this time Jess, I swear.”
The Jessicas continued to cry, “Please don’t do this Skye!” they begged.
“I’m sorry…but this is how it’s gotta be.” Skye steadied her hand, “Goodbye J.”
The final scream of Jessica Wentling was drowned out by the deafening roar of the 9mm shell that tore through her skull. Jessica closed her eyes as she continued to scream, but even still, a stunningly white light blinded her again. It faded into her consciousness, and then…Jessica Wentling was gone.
Skye wiped the splash of crimson from her cheek, discovering the tear that was falling from her eye as she did so. She studied the drops of salted moisture on her fingertip, then deposited them in her mouth, strangely engrossed in their similar salty bitter taste, taking comfort in it. She turned then, and made her way out of the church, not even bothering to collect her things. First, it was time for Gelati to pay the piper…and dearly.

The End?

This is the last chapter of this series. And because I really wanted to finish it, here it is. I hope all of those who have followed the other two chapters enjoy this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it. True this is the end of this series but I have plans for Miss Wentling and some of the other characters in a new one. If I get positive feedback, I will definitely it. For comments, questions and requests or even submitting ideas email me at [email protected]



Copyright © 2001 Robert G. Hagans
Published on the World Wide Web by "www.storymania.com"