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Miguel Raymundo C.

WFW (Mata)

CW 10

A Matter of Time

Done? Arlen asked.

He had disarmed Madison of her handgun grabbing the barrel in a sharp,
twisting motion as he upset her balance with a deceptively gentle-looking
nudge at her hips, sending her blundering a few feet away; the gun
dismantled in moments. His eyes were half-closed.
Hm? Cant a girl play around for just a little more? said Madison, keeping
her footing as well as that suggestive smile of hers.
She paused for a while, meeting Arlens empty gaze. She let her tongue
stick out a little in playful jest then, like a bullet, lunged for Arlens right eye
with a blade, hidden just for this moment. Problem was Arlen knew of this
moment as well.
With Arlen tilting his head to the left in an infinitesimal angle, the blade only
managed to pierce air. The loose momentum extended the strike over
Arlens shoulder, leaving Madisons arm open for Arlen to grab. Arlens eyes
remained in half-closed boredom.
Madison giggled.
Such a tease, you always dodge just barely.
Only way to keep your high jinks interesting for me just barely.
Madison had snuck in Arlens apartment during the odd hours yet again,
stirring him from sleep to set up her own way to say hello. Arlen, however,
simply dismisses these murderous hellos as if shooing a fly. He doesnt
sense any true killing intent in these advances of hers: nothing more than
petty pranks. Moreover, even if the intent were present, he calculates in
all probability no threat whatsoever. He need not worry about her.

Arlen tightened the grip around her wrist, coercing her hand to drop the
blade. Twisting her arm in a lock, he turned her around and restrained her
from behind. In delight, Madison let out a soft squeal.
Always so rough. I like it.
Turning despite the joint lock, Madison managed to face him again, still
smiling to suggest that her flexibility wasnt just limited to combat
encounters. She narrowed the distance further as she pressed herself
against him, looking up to hold his eyes with her own.
Arlen couldnt help but feel a soft yet firm sensation outlined in a lithe
warmth. Her scent assailed him. Arlens eyes fully opened.
The smile on Madisons lips widened.
Morning came. Madison was gone, but her scent lingered on Arlens bed.
She was a rogue that way. Shed be at one place from Arlens experience,
that can literally be anywhere for a moment and be gone the next. As
simply as Arlen could put it, Madison has always been there ever since he
got into what he does. She came with the job a professional hazard, a
rather annoying one that tries to kill you but then doesnt really. The humor
in such antics wasnt unapparent to Arlen. They were alike in craft after all.
She got serious once, however. It was that time and with that other person.
Arlen was genuinely vexed with her for a time, but like with all other things,
that whole chapter along with that other person fell into his sardonic
disregard. Nevertheless, a serious Madison or not, Arlen knew that he could
easily dispose of such a nuisance should he chose to do so. But he didnt.
As for Arlen, he sat up and turned a hollow look towards the clock, forever
ticking in mechanical monotony. It never gets tired, huh? Arlen observed as
streaks of the new day invaded his quarters.
Eventually, Arlen made his way down the building of his apartment where
the bar he tended was. Waiting by the door of the bar, the sight of a familiar
figure greeted him. A pale ember lit up in the caverns that are Arlens eyes.
Arlen was the first to speak.
Give me a few.
Take your time.

With that, Arlen unlocked the door and stepped in, leaving the figure waiting
again outside. Moments later Arlen re-emerged from the door and nodded.
The figure entered.
The whole place was illuminated in a white-orange haze. Jazz tunes from an
indistinguishable source tipped the air as a pool table lounged sleepily at the
center of the establishment, set in a game of 9-ball indefinitely. Looking at
the place plainly, its nothing out of the ordinary, yet, somehow, the place
deflected attention away from itself while maintaining a presence all the
same. Being strikingly unapparent, the only accommodations present were
five wooden stools in front of the bar itself.
Arlen took his place behind the bar table as the figure sat on one of the
stools directly across. The figure across spoke first.
Been a while. So, you still into those haikus of yours? Been a while too
since you showed me some.
Arlens face grew cold as he blew out a sighing reply:
pleasantries deviate from
actual agenda.
Now thats what Im talking about! Haikusve always suited you. Cold.
Precise. Calculated. And, actually, makes you sound more like an ass.
Damn straight!
The figure let out a laugh, but Arlen was quick to pierce through the heart of
What do you have for me, Victor?
Eager as always, eh. Theres nothing wrong with that, Arlen. No, nothing
wrong. Youre into this kind of business, good. Thats good. I mean, hell,
youre making a name for yourself: when our clients want certain
somebodies to have their funerals a little early, its your name they ask for.
And thats something. But, in your case, Arlen, theres a thing called being
too eager.
Your point?
Your last job, Arlen. Too reckless; even for you.

Thats what keeps it fun for me.

Fun? God damn, Arlen, get a bullet stuck between those dead-fish-eyes of
yours or some shit like that and see then if you can still call that fun.
Oh, thatll be the day.
A strong light kindled in Arlens eyes albeit for just a quarter of a half-second.
He snuffed it out quickly and changed the topic.
Whats the job now, Victor?
Sighing, Victor pointed to a bottle of scotch, and Arlen poured some of the
golden liquid into a glass. After taking a few sips, Victor broke the silence.
Seriously, the higher ups can really grip you by the balls. Anyway, its a
meth lab two towns away, by the docks. Therere only two connected
buildings in the area; the slightly taller one is where you want to get at.
Thing is, only real way in and out is through the other building a
warehouse, abandoned, to keep a front; you know how that kind of operation
And where am I in the equation?
Pretty straightforward, in two days, half an hour before midnight going into
the third, client wants you to get your ass over there and take out the
production crew. Your preference as to the how; just leave the building
Can I expect resistance with firepower?
I could request for some intelligence to be reconnoitered interested?
No. Ill manage.
Why I even bother offering every time. Besides, Arlen, when have you ever
been contracted for a job without that kind of resistance?
Arlens lips stretched upwards in a faint smile.
Working hands shall be
Stilled and a contract fulfilled.
All ere the third day.

One more thing, Arlen.

As a friend and I know you dont have many please, dont have too
much fun.
Ill try my best.
Victor stood up and made for the exit, as if nothing had happened.
A few hours later, in the late afternoon, the door swung open for the first
time since Victor left. An old man of around mid-seventies came in. Around
this time, he would come by every day. The decrepit man was the only
regular at his bar, and Arlen had to master himself from cringing every time
the old man limped over the excruciating distance between the entrance to
the farthest corner of the bar table. He didnt mind having a regular or two;
what irked him was the fact that it was this old man.
With a wheezing voice, the old man ordered his usual glass of brandy. Arlen
would barely pay him any regard as he placed the glass of brandy in front of
him. Arlens eyes spewed a frigid loathing all over the withered visage
sipping the spirit in between coughs.
The old man stared stupidly straight into space; his eyes lifeless like dull,
glassy orbs. Wrinkles on his face drooped up and down to mark the rhythm
of his breathing as a bony hand wobbled the glass of brandy towards a
toothless mouth and away. Despite the old mans pathetic frame lurched
tiredly on the face of the bar, Arlen was able to peel away a considerable
number of years from the husk. There sat an image of a man in his prime.
There was the apparent lightness in his feet step with the way his feet were
poised. The bulk of his arms conveyed power, yet its tone implied dexterity
Much more, however, his eyes shone with an unwavering
confidence that could seemingly grind mountains to dust. Yet the image was
a fleeting one. Slowly, once more, the image reverted back to decay. The
image of the formidable man watched itself helplessly as it withered back
into the old man sitting and sipping brandy. Arlens stomach threatened to
retch itself inside out.
After a while, the old man finished his drink and paid his tab. On infirm legs,
the old man staggered to exit as Arlen watched his hunched back recede
from the premises of the bar.

Living for that long is just not right, Arlen thought. The door swung open and
shut back into place.
Two days had passed, with half an hour left before midnight going into the
third. Arlen faced the entrance of the abandoned warehouse, a gaping maw
of a behemoth bloated with darkness. His face was stone-cold as ever, but a
tempest was slowly brewing in his eyes, grey lethargic clouds coalescing into
a nimbus of life. With a pair of both blades and handguns, Arlen let the
behemoth swallow him.
The inside of the warehouse was a labyrinth of rusted steel. Lines of crates
channelled the cavernous expanse into forking paths, and only silence
Yet Arlen was unfazed by the ruse of the labyrinth, being led by the promise
of blood: be it his targets or his own. As he strode, Arlen perceived a
presence apart from those that were expected to be there. It was watching,
waiting. He didnt sense, however, any true killing intent from this rogue
presence; moreover, even if the intent were there, he calculated in all
probability no threat whatsoever. He need not worry about it.
Arlen felt that he was close to his mark. Going up the corner ahead, he
muffled his steps even more and took a peek. He was right. Beyond the
bend, a couple of feet away, stood two armed sentries flanking a closed
double-door with light from the inside leaking slightly at the gaps. Behind
the door, Arlen estimated at least twenty more. He smiled his faint smile.
Lives like dominos.
A ruse for the first motion.
The droning of lead.
Arlen thought as he took a single bullet and let it drop to the floor. The
metallic echo reached the two guards, and they looked up in alert, keeping
their guns on the ready as they moved to investigate.
Behind the door, the bustle of the room was disturbed by a bloody shout
coming from outside. The guards inside reacted instantaneously, forming a
blockade in a radius from the door with the rest of the workforce joining them
after arming themselves.
Two gunshots whooped outside followed by
another shout. Footsteps made their way unmistakably towards the doubledoor, and the armed men tensed, pointing their guns at the source of the

sound. The crescendo of footsteps came to a dead stop, the last step
sounding as if right next to the double-door on the other side. On that note,
the gunmen unleashed a heated assault. Metal slugs pierced through the
double-door with bone-shattering ease until the magazines were emptied.
The gunmen looked satisfyingly at the double-door now riddled with gaping
holes. Surely, the infiltrator was likewise riddled with similar gaping holes.
They eased to reload.
Amidst their reloading, the remains of the double-door flung open with a
crash. Wielding two blades, Arlen dashed into the fray, his eyes roaring
flares. He waded into the sea of confused men and poised a stance that
heralded the immediate bloodletting that ensued. In an instant, with a flick
of the wrist, Arlen whirled into a storm of steel. The zing from the blades
sheer speed was cut by numerous cries. Arlen maneuvered like a hot wind, a
whirling dervish, a leaf fluttering with the blowing wind no single bullet
grazing him as he cut each gunman down in fluid motions. Flesh met steel;
limbs flew about; blood spilled in pints. Arlen was alive.
Somethings wrong, realized Arlen as he was revelling in the melee. He was
starting to breathe heavier; his blades felt heavier. The deftness in his step
was ebbing away. To his horror, Arlen was getting tired a feeling alien to
him. He severed an arm from one of the sentries though he noticed that it
took more strength than usual. He sent a bullet through an eye, yet he
noticed that it took him more time to aim the shot. He weaved through
retaliation after retaliation though he noticed that he shouldve reacted
sooner. Somethings wrong.
Whatever it was he felt was wrong, it wasnt beyond redemption. After all,
his still terrific display was over relatively quick. The men, who before were
menacing with their guns, were reduced to fleshy stumps. Arlen heaved in a
breath, blew it out, and sheathed his blades. His eyes were still burning, but
they were troubled. He walked away but not with the usual swagger of
Making his way back in the warehouse, Arlen sensed the presence again. It
was behind him. He shifted and brought an arm to turn aside a knife blow
that came from the same direction. Madison had come to say hello.
On edge are we? I know! I can relieve that tension of yours, if you like.
That suggestive smile of hers came to view once more while she continued
to dish out a flurry of blows at Arlen. He parried her attacks easily and

tripped up her footing with a harsh sweep, sending her blundering a few feet
away. He was quicker to dismiss her.
Not right now.
Someones in a bad mood.
Madison, as she was wont to do, lunged at Arlen, with her knife keen on him.
Arlen could see the strike coming, clear as day. All he needed was to step to
the right to dodge it. And he was going to, but the image of the old man
sipping brandy came to mind.
He stepped into the strike.