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Extract from Wrath (Lavinia Urban’s Seven Deadly Sins Series) by Ava Manello​

Wrath

I roll my shoulders, trying to ease the tautness between them. It’s been a long day. The ache doesn’t lessen, not that I really thought it would, I really put my back into today’s job. The knot just to the side of my neck is solid against my hands. A hot shower should help, and if nothing else I need one to clean the splattered blood from my skin and hair.

Tossing my red chequered shirt into the trash can rather than the laundry bin I pause for a moment and take note of my reflection in the mirror. I barely recognise the dark lifeless eyes that stare back at me, hell, I barely recognise me anymore.  My dark hair is a little too long on top and has started to give in to the natural curl that I hate, although mum always told me it was a kiss curl and she loved it. The shaved sides are growing out and my beard needs a serious trim as well, I’m starting to look like a dark haired version of Santa Claus with a six pack instead of a belly, although there’s nothing good and giving about me.  I’ve been on the road for what feels like forever, looking through the door to my bedroom here in the clubhouse I have to ask myself am I really home? I’m more nomad than brother these days, a club enforcer hired out to the highest bidder to do the dirty work no one else wants or has the stomach for.

Constant anger fills my veins, fuelling the work I do. Every job takes away a little more of the humanity I once had, making it easier to become the numb shell that’s staring back at me in my reflection.

I don’t question the guilt of my victims, I trust that my Prez has done that already. I just mete out the sentence. I walk in, carry out the punishment asked of me, and walk out, leaving someone else to clean up behind me. This is what my life has become, I’m more machine than man, and I can’t see that changing any time soon. 

Life was good once upon a time, and I vaguely remember the sound of my laughter, but that’s in the past. A twist of fate and that life was gone, leading me to become the man standing here today. A man without a soul or conscience.

My brothers embraced that change. I am filled with anger, hate and violence and I use that to fuel the vengeance they ask of me. 

Easing off my leather boots I place them carefully on the floor, then remove the rest of my clothes, and grab a clean towel from the pile on the shelf placing it within reach of the shower door.

The steam of the hot water flowing from the shower head fills the small ensuite, my skin turning red from the punishing heat, the water swirling around the drain deep scarlet from the blood washing away. It’s not my blood, it never is. I’m too good at what I do. It’s the blood of yet another soul found wanting and deserving of punishment.

Closing my eyes I hear the man’s voice pleading for forgiveness, fake apologies that mean nothing to me. He means nothing to me. He’s just another name on a piece of paper that needs to be crossed off before I can move onto the next one. I don’t ask what he’s done because I really don’t care. I can hazard a pretty good guess that it involved taking or touching something that didn’t belong to him though from the way I was asked to deal with it. 

The heavy meat cleaver had been there waiting for me when I walked into the room, along with the victim strapped into a chair. The whole scene had been set to put the maximum amount of fear into him. The dim bulb had swung naked above his head, casting moving shadows around the room. There was no need for bright lighting or a clean environment, this was no surgical procedure I was about to carry out. The damp walls and dirt covered floor added to the nightmare ambience of the situation. 

I don’t know how long he’d been sat there, restrained and awaiting my arrival, staring at that cleaver working himself up into a state of terror, but I do know that he recognised me as I walked in. My reputation preceded me. I could see the resignation and fear in his eyes as soon as he noticed it was me. I’m an imposing figure in a normal setting, my six-foot four height often has me standing a full head and shoulders above my brothers. I’m not overweight, but I’m toned and solidly built. In this setting I looked like an avenging angel, and I guess that’s what I am.

Feeling the heavy weight of the meat cleaver I turned it over in my hand. It was well used, the blade keenly sharpened and the hilt had the nicks and scratches betraying it’s age. Without looking at the man I stood there for long moments just turning and inspecting the weapon I was holding, stretching out the anticipation and terror deliberately.

With one deft stroke my work was done, the strike was clean and his hand was severed from his wrist. Blood spattered everywhere. I turned my back on his high pitched screams and walked slow and steady away from him and towards the daylight. It wasn’t often a victim’s screams followed me as I left a scene, more often than not the silence of death filled the room instead. This guy was lucky, not that he’d see it that way for a while I suspect, but he’d been allowed to live. I often wondered why they brought me in for this kind of job, but my Prez had once told me it was the effect the sight of me walking into a room had on a victim. My reputation was enough to fill them with terror, suspecting I was there to snuff out the life they no longer deserved. 

It didn’t matter to me one way or another, I had a job to do and I did it. That was my life now. 

The water is running clear now so I pick up the shower gel and liberally apply it to my body, working up the lather and cleaning off any remaining evidence of today’s labours. When I’m done I’ll grab something to eat from the kitchen as I realise I haven’t eaten all day, then I’ll go see my Prez and find out what vengeance I’ll be dishing up next, because that’s my job. This is my life, it’s the only one I know, the only one I dare remember.  I can’t afford to remember a time before this, when compassion was a part of me, when I had a soul. I can’t be that man anymore. Too much has changed, too much has happened that cannot be undone.

I am a Cardinal Sin.

I am Wrath. 

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