It has been raining for quite a while now. The rain drops are beating against the window panes. Their clattering on the rooftops can be heard too, now that the streets have gone silent. It is raining quite hard. A man is sitting in an arm-chair near the window. His eyes are fixed on the window; lost thought in perhaps, but his hands keep moving efficiently, almost as if it has life of its own. It keeps holding up the coffee cup to his lips at intervals of mathematical precision. His lips too, sip almost identical amounts each time. One would think some unearthly mechanics at play. Suddenly the click of keys followed by the unlocking of a door is heard. A few moments later, a man enters the room. He has already taken off his coat and hat before entering the room. Now he sets his attention to the fire, putting in a few small wood pieces to keep it going. He then looks at the arm-chair; looks carefully, even with some caution perhaps. Then he heaves a sigh, walks upto the arm-chair in a matter of fact manner and lifts the body out of the chair; carefully setting it on the ground beside the chair, before taking the seat himself. On the ground the puppet lay absolutely still, no signs of the life it had been portraying not minutes ago. The coffee cup was on the table, empty. The man now poured some cold coffee into it and started taking sips. Sips of mathematical precision.
It seems today the hunters were taking a break; or maybe they had lost interest. Either way, today felt peaceful. The puppet had been west-face's idea. Pretty neat he had made it too. They were alike, he and the puppet, except that its life did not come from a beating heart. The man let out a mild, almost inaudible laugh. Did his life come from a beating heart either? Maybe they were more alike than he thought. Taking a cigar out of the case lying on the table nearby, he lit it. After letting out a puff or two, he eased himself on the arm-chair, once again trying to look out through the window. The rooftop of the house on the opposite side of the street came into view. He kept staring at it, but his mind seemed to be elsewhere; thinking of a thousand outcomes of all they done so far and all they were about to do. Wondering about how it'll all end maybe? He took the cigar and shook the ash off in the ash-tray. As put it back in his mouth, his eyes went once again to the rooftop. His eyes immediately grew sharper and all his body went in a state of alert. Though it was hard to make out exactly in the haze created by the rain, a figure was visible on the rooftop. There was no way to figure out much more. All he could tell was that, whoever it was, it was waving and gesturing to someone in this building. Yes, clearly in this building. Maybe to him? It would be more risky if it wasn't him than if it was. He turned off the lights and moved away from the window. His gun was always belted to his waist. He sat down to smoke and wait; just in case.
It was almost dawn when he woke up. He opened his eyes and yawned, stretching out his hands. The cigar end lay stubbed in the ash-tray , though he had no idea when he had finished it, or when he had dozed off. A knock on the door brought back his alertness. He took out his gun from its holster and with creeping footsteps to the door,, he opened it with a slam, holding up his gun, ready to shoot. Standing nonchalantly on the other side of the door, now with a gun held to his head, was west-face. He looked up at the gun and as if it wasn't there, he resumed lighting a cigarette. "Morning", he said. " Yeah morning ", was the reply. West-face entered and helped himself to some coffee. While pouring out another cup, he looked at the other man, who was now making his way to the bathroom. " Hurry up east-face", he shouted. "Be right there", was the reply. ( TO BE CONTINUED)
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