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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #27

By Mark W. Meier

Part 27


The First Horseman

That parade marked the beginning of your meteoric rise in popularity. Pictures flooded social media of you hugging a “regular” person. The t-shirts and caps identified you, and speaking with one child after another in subsequent pictures and videos sent fans into a frenzy.

We met in your office at the state Capitol building. You handed me an envelope filled with cash. I hefted it and frowned. We couldn’t talk, because recording devices saved everything you said for posterity.

I sat in a leather chair across from your desk. “Congratulations on the parade. You made quite an impression.”

“My numbers have me at plus twenty.” You grinned as you sat on the edge of your desk. “In fact, I’m thinking of cutting your pay.”

My firm received a fairly generous stipend from your campaign to allay any suspicions about our meetings being inappropriate, but you spoke of our other arrangement. “I’d be happy to look over our agreement and discuss things with you. Could you stop by my office this afternoon?”

“Can’t do it.” You stood and turned to glance at your printed itinerary. You no longer used an internet calendar – too open to hackers. Your secretary gave you an updated list daily. “Important meeting across town at six.”

More like dinner reservations with your mistress, followed by a hotel reservation under her name. “Remember what I told you about defiance?”

Though my tone was light, you didn’t react well. “Not defiance, Leo. I’m busy.”

“You could meet with me at four and still make it to your . . . appointment.”

“Strategy meeting at three.” From across the room I could see that time slot was open. “That’ll last until at least four-thirty.”

“I’m disappointed, Bob. You need me more than you know, and cutting my pay is the wrong move at the wrong time.” Your envelope went into my briefcase.

I glared at you a moment before I moved toward the door. My look must have concerned you, because your eyes widened. Your right hand twitched toward your chest. I smirked. “Think about what I’m saying, Bob.” You didn’t stop me from leaving.

I exited the building. While hailing a taxi I had an imp return to you and try to stop your heart. It returned to where I climbed into the taxi and shook it’s head. An imp didn’t have the strength, thanks to the parade lady.

I scowled and gave the cabby the address of the restaurant where you were to meet Sheila. Along the way I slowly morphed my clothing into a stretchy track suit and altered my hairstyle.

I waited in a park across the street from the restaurant. Squirrels approached, begging for peanuts. People fed them, for some unknown reason. Probably to make themselves feel good after ignoring the suffering of the human scum around them.

Just before six you parked an unassuming car a block away. Hundreds of similar vehicles clogged the city. Wearing a bland, off-the-rack suit further disguised you. Neither one of us wanted to be recognized.

You approached the park across the street from where Sheila waited, staring out the window for her first glimpse of your arrival. I stepped out from behind a shrub and blocked your path.

“Your envelope was light, Bob. I need more money if we’re going to continue with making you the first horseman.” Even if the Brotherhood could generate stacks of money, we needed at least the semblance of legitimacy in order to maximize our impact of corrupting people like you.

You glanced at my attire and hairstyle. “Nice outfit. Did you change your hair?” You looked over my shoulder and waved at your date.

I grabbed your wrist. “I told you what would happen if you broke our agreement. I can’t accept your rebellion.”

“If you could have done something, you already would have. Whatever trick you used on me before isn’t working.”

I shook my head. “I’m serious, Bob. Don’t defy me.” I was close enough now I could end your life without a third party.

You placed your other hand on my shoulder. “Leo, I don’t need you, your partner Sally Shoen, nor your firm. I’m successful enough to carry through without you. You’re never getting another cent from me. You’re fired.” You pulled your trapped wrist free of my grip.

A fire built up within me. I had worked too many years to get you into a position to corrupt or dispirit one insignificant guttersnipe for Chamos. You couldn’t be allowed to simply go off on your own.

I pulled you into the park, part of me noticing Sheila stand to get a better look. Let her. The man in the track suit would never be seen again.

“You can’t fire me. My people would destroy you. I’ve shown that to you over and over again.”

You scoffed. “Maybe at one point you could. Like that time in D.C. Seems to me you can’t do that sort of thing anymore.”

Thanks to the parade lady and her ilk, he was right. As I tried to reach into your chest something stopped me – a force field of sorts. That didn’t mean I was powerless, though. “Don’t push me, Bob. You’ll regret it.” But you ignored me.

As you stepped past me to reach the crosswalk I signaled one of my subordinate Brothers. A stoplight cycled.

“Bob, I hate to break it to you, but you’re never going to be the first horseman. That title doesn’t apply to any human being.”

You paused at the curb and turned to face me. “I saw your papers, the schedule. Don’t try to fool me.”

“That’s all a sham.” And with that I shoved you into traffic, directly in front of a fully loaded dump truck.

I heard your date scream. I didn’t care. A faint whiff of brimstone curled up from your corpse and I smiled before vanishing in a puff of ecru smoke.

If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.

Next week begins Act IV: Windowed the Soul.

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