35 – Metanoia

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I left my computer room downstairs, and went back upstairs. I was productive down there, time that I will not regret.

Well, until I got upstairs and saw my cold, half-eaten dinner. I sighed. I needed to reheat it and finish it. So I microwaved the meal and sat back down to finish. I lifted the fork to my mouth, before hearing a knock at my door. I sighed again, put down the fork, and answered the door.

It was Claire. “Hey, you’ve got a meeting with the horsemen. Famine wanted me to remind you.”

“I know. I was the one who told her we needed a meeting,” I replied.

Claire crossed her arms. “So? She still wanted me to remind you. Be happy about it.”

I smiled a bit. “Thanks, Claire. I’ll just finish my dinner, then I’ll head over.”

She smiled. “It’s a good thing you answered the door. Otherwise, I would have just picked your lock and waited inside. It’s kind of chilly out here.” With that, Claire turned and left.

“Goodbye, Claire!” I called after. She turned and waved as she walked away.

I shut my door and sighed one more time, for good measure. I went back to the kitchen, stuffed a couple of bites into my mouth, threw away the rest of the food, and walked outside to get to Famine’s home.

Claire was right. It was pretty chilly out. It was nine o’clock, the sun was down, and a cold wind blew. I was glad I never took off the jacket I had been wearing. However, even with that jacket, the walk was still cold. I jogged to get to Famine’s and out of the breeze quicker.

Once I arrived at the small home, I just let myself in. As I expected, the horsemen were waiting for me, chatting away. The only thing out of place were that there was no Eye of Death.

“Sorry I’m late, I only recently got your message,” I proclaimed upon entering. Everyone quieted down as I walked in. War gave me a slight smirk. Pestilence scowled at me. Famine looked a bit unsure of her expression towards me; that was what I found the oddest.

“Renegade. Sit down, will you? We have things to discuss,” War said, motioning to one of the seats at the table they were all seated at. I did as he asked.

“We were informed that you visited Death himself. Is this true?” He asked. I nodded.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Famine asked.

I shrugged. “Other things kept coming up. It must have slipped my mind after a while. Sorry about that.” Famine still seemed a bit apprehensive, but that seemed to give her some ease.

“Alright, that’s good. It’s also good we have other sources.” Famine pushed her hair aside, and returned to a more natural expression.

“Ren, what did Death talk to you about?” Pestilence demanded.

“Well, he told me I was very useful to him. He mentioned various instances that I took action despite what anyone else had said, and he told me I would be useful for him. He offered me a deal, and told me I would have plenty of time to think it over.”

“Details. What specific things did he offer you?” War asked.

“Let me recall,” I replied. I sifted through my memory, recalling every detail I could about the night. “Okay, here’s what I remember: He offered me a partnership with his company, which would come with stock and employment. He told me he wouldn’t require much more from me than what I already do. Beyond that, he made it very clear that we could discuss more once I decided to agree. He told me I would have as much time as I need to make that decision.”

War leaned in, with a grave look on his face. Pestilence was shocked, and Famine regained her look of concern.

“I see,” War stated. The rest were silent. “You haven’t made any decision on this yet, have you?”

I shook my head. “The only thing I’ve done is ask to use his website to test an algorithm I had been working on for a while.”

“Ren shouldn’t take the deal. That makes her an even bigger liability to us,” Pestilence said.

“Or an even greater ally,” War replied. “If Ren can get close to Death, we will have a greater sense of his motives.”

Pestilence chuckled and shook his head. “You really seem to want to undermine your friend. Don’t you trust him?”

War glared at Pestilence. “You know as well as I do that I can’t trust him anymore. He might provide us with funding, but that doesn’t mean his heart is really in our cause. At least, not anymore.”

“None of us trust Death, Pestilence. We haven’t for a long while. That’s why we’re having this meeting,” Famine said.

Pestilence sighed. “Right. Look, I don’t like this man being able to affect us and control us so heavily. We four are supposed to have equal weight in decisions, but Death seems to think that he can just take his funds and put them wherever he wants.” He scratched his chin. “Either way, this puts someone who we’ve known do dangerous things even closer to someone we trust. We can’t trust her, either.”

“I’m still here,” I replied. “You can just refer to me.”

“You aren’t a part of the discussion, Ren,” Pestilence informed me.

“Not this time,” Famine added.

“But this is ultimately my choice to make,” I said. “No matter what you say, I can do whatever I please. I am still an individual with my own goals and priorities. None of you can change that.”

Famine looked to the other horsemen. “He’s right. We really can’t do much more than make a suggestion.”

Pestilence sighed.

“Then you can vote as well, Ren. All four of our votes will determine what you do. Does that sound fair?” War asked. He always did seem to be the quickest to think.

“That sounds much more fair. Now, where were we?”

Pestilence mumbled something before Famine reminded us of the topic. “Ren has never lied to us about anything. Hell, the bastard knocked on my door and told me he was an officer with the intent to just entertain himself with our cause.”

“And that’s why Ren’s a risk,” Pestilence responded. “She’s motivated entirely by her own wants and needs, and could easily ignore anything we request.”

“So could any of you,” I said. “All of you could easily do something that the others disapprove of, and yet you still trust each other. I am a risk, just like every single member of this organisation.”

Pestilence was quick to respond. “That doesn’t mean that we should just let you run free. You are a greater risk than the other members, because you have ignored several orders in favor of your own agenda. Other members haven’t done so.”

I shrugged. “That’s true.”

War tapped the table. “That doesn’t mean that a risk couldn’t pay off. Ren hasn’t done anything that didn’t technically benefit us. Even if what was done might go against our own moral compasses.”

Famine nodded. “Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what Ren should do. Ren, what have you thought about this deal so far?”

I cast aside the thoughts of does Death care? aside, to give my most honest answer. “Death sees me as an asset to his company. I didn’t accept his deal yet because I knew he might simply want to take advantage of me. However, I didn’t outright deny him because it is very true that he has resources that can heavily benefit me.” I paused. “Although, he gave me a bicycle I’ve essentially refused to use, if that makes you feel any better.”

Pestilence sat up and laughed. “That does make me feel just a little better. So petty.” He shook his head and sat back into his chair. “Doesn’t mean I think you should take this deal, though.”

“Personally,” I continued, “I think taking the deal might help me reveal his motives. If I discover his motives, we can determine what it is he’s really after. I also don’t think his goals align with,” I motioned to the other horsemen, “yours.”

I continued, “Death has eyes everywhere, and he can watch you anywhere he pleases. For him, it’s a one-way mirror. We just see shoddy reflections of ourselves when we try to look at him.”

“Yeah,” Pestilence agreed, “That’s true. But if we send you to the other side of the mirror, how do we know you’re coming back?”

Famine shook her head. “We don’t. But we also don’t have any other chances of peeking behind the mirror without Ren. As of now, I vote that Ren takes the deal.”

“I don’t!” proclaimed Pestilence. “It’s been made very clear by Ren herself that we can’t keep her in check. We can’t trust her.”

“No, we absolutely can’t,” War agreed. “We can’t control Ren. However, I can trust Ren. Ren has stuck their neck out for us multiple times. Despite actions we may disagree with, they have ultimately benefited us. We should trust them to do the right thing. I vote Ren takes the deal, and spies on Death for us.”

Pestilence shook his head. “One to three. Alright, Ren, looks like you should be taking the deal.”

“I haven’t voted yet,” I responded. Pestilence chuckled at that.

“Okay, Ren, what is your vote,” Pestilence said. Despite seeming like a question, it really wasn’t one.

“I’m still undecided. Taking this deal with Death puts me at a greater risk in my job as a police officer. It’s a conflict of interest, and being a part of this organisation is conflict of interest enough. Taking a second conflict could easily put me at greater jeopardy.”

Pestilence scoffed. “Death knows exactly what kind of risks you’re involved with when you take his deal. He knows the value of having you. He won’t make you do anything that would lose you your job. You have nothing to lose by taking this deal.”

I shook my head. “Honestly, I feel like I do. When he offered me the deal, he was just so damn conniving. There’s something wrong and I can’t put my finger on it. I vote that I do not take the deal.”

War cocked his head at me. Famine gasped and then sighed. Pestilence just laughed.

“This is an unexpected turn of events,” Pestilence said. “That means it’s a tie. How do we plan on tie breaking this? A coin flip?” He laughed again.

“I’m not sure how we should break this tie,” War stated. “Typically, Death’s vote would have greater sway in ties. Here, we don’t have anyone with greater sway but Ren.”

“Perhaps he shouldn’t take the deal, then,” posited Famine. “It is still his choice, isn’t it?”

The room was silent. No one knew how to handle the situation presented. I sort of had hoped that the vote would decide for me, but now I have to make the final decision again. Damn it.

Pestilence broke the silence, “No. Ren, take the goddamn deal. I don’t trust you, but your reservations about this situation is nothing compared to our reservations that we’ve had for years. You are going to take this deal, discover exactly what Death wants, and then you are going to listen to us when we tell you what you should do next. Three votes to one. Take the fucking deal.”

Famine and War simply stared at Pestilence. He looked back and forth between the two of them. “I’m breaking the tie. There has never been a rule against changing votes, has there?” War shook his head. “There hasn’t.”

“Good,” said Pestilence. “Then it’s decided. Meeting adjourned.”

War shrugged, stood up, and left. Pestilence said he’d go out for some air before he came back in, and Famine simply stayed in place.

“I recruited you. I don’t know what to do with that.”

“I don’t either,” I reassured her.

She sighed. “Fuck it, whatever. I don’t need to regret our choice. For some god forsaken reason you managed to get Pestilence closer to us, and had us vote unanimously. Whatever you did, it was genius. I’ve gotta give you credit for that.” Famine leaned back in her chair, regaining the confidence she usually had. “I should have recruited you a year sooner. Ha!”

I shrugged. I hadn’t done that on purpose. I also didn’t know what to say to her. “I suppose that’s why you’re one of the horsemen, and I’m not.”

She shrugged in kind. “I was just in the right place at the right time. Skill- no, competence only had so much to do with my position. We have much more work to do if we’re going to change anything. Good luck, Ren.”

I stood up from my chair, and slid it under the table. “Goodbye, Famine. I’ll let you know what Death’s plot is.”

Famine waved me off. I exited her house. Pestilence was outside, waiting as he said he would.

“Don’t fuck this up, Ren. I’ve put trust into you for this. Don’t make me regret it,” he said as I walked by. I stopped walking.

“You really care about the others, don’t you?” I asked.

He laughed, once. “That’s what happens when you work with people for so long, and have an important cause to fight for.”

“That’s admirable, Pestilence. Putting others before yourself.”

“What are you getting at?” He asked. He was glaring at me now.

“I’m not quite sure. I’m… learning some things. I might learn more.”

Pestilence shook his head. “I’m heading back in. Stop being a nutjob, alright Ren?” True to his word, Pestilence went back inside, laughing the whole while.

“I think I’ve actually learned less from that interaction,” I said to myself after he had already walked back in.

Next Chapter

Author: Kay Walker

I write short stories, and post them to my site justmynarratives.com

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