Chapter 9. Pretty Mask
 

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The gun shot not only stunned Alex but the guards too. In their entire career, they had seen the loving relationship of the daughter and the father. Their pointed hands became loose as they witnessed the cold blooded murder; right there Alex kicked a few and got out of their hands. Some punches to the guard standing beside him made the guard nearly unconscious. Alex snatched they cuff keys from his fist and ran to the door.

Before the guards could make their head clear or hear Block’s instructions to kill him, he had been gone far.

Far from Christy; whose blood had now started to dry on the pavement. Alex turned his head while running and threw a last but deep glimpse on her dead eyes that were open and watching him. Pain had been frozen in them_ forever.

Life had become a pool of strangers coming and leaving, wrapped in their own worries and laughter that had nothing to do with him. He lost the counting of days and night; time was all the circle of a clock that kept on completing its cycle without knowing its habits_ without knowing how important that circle had become for the crowd in suits.

For him, it all came down to Christy who was gone but her dead eyes haunted him in the nights. He had managed to escape the NYSO but her memories followed him everywhere. He ended up being confined in the swing of a small job, a flat and a bar down the street.

It was one similar evening of those gloomy glamorous bar nights. He sat on a chair across the busy bartenders and looking into the glass that was half filled with golden alcohol. More her bleeding face flashed to his mind, more he sipped onto the liquor. Every sip pushed her thoughts few inches away from his conscious, but then they hit him back with more intensity, hence he drank more. He had no interest to look around; his inner demons had kept him occupied for good.

The people around him also seemed to ignore him completely because he wore an old coat that had been on him unwashed for more than two weeks; and old shoes those were fractioned towards the heels and toe tips. Partially, his attire was to hide himself from the NYSO men, but somewhere it was also because he had lost interest in life. His only companion was dead, and his heart had died along her.He pushed the empty glass away and placed the money under it. Then he spun to a side on his chair and intended to get up with a heavy heart; right then a voice of a bartender rang bells in his ears.

“Take the change!”Christy? He startled as he heard the voice but then he lowered his face again; it must be another illusion of her voice, he thought.“Keep the change, miss.” He spoke slowly while fixing his folded cuffs.

“But you gave me 500!” she spoke again.

This time Alex was stunned to realize that it was really her voice. He spontaneously turned to see her_ and there she was. Wearing a cap over her straight hair that fell down her shoulders, she looked at him as if she didn’t know him at all. Her petite hand was extended towards him to hand him his change, but he went on staring at her for long till she had to speak again to get his attention away from her face.

He grabbed the change, just to make sure that he wasn’t dreaming this time. Had alcohol been playing with his nerves? Or was this real?

He looked deeper at her. The same eyes that had been gazing at him dead in his dreams were now alive and looking back at him, her lashes flapped over her cornea normally.

Alex stepped backwards, as if afraid of what was happening. Then he just ran out of the bar without looking back. It had been two years, and now this sudden sight of Christy had left him spellbound. He panted heavily and stuck his back at the side wall of the bar. People came and went, but he only stood there and looked at everyone for another three hours.

At last as the clock struck 2:10am, he saw Christy coming out in an overcoat and tied hair. She didn’t peek around and plainly walked towards the North of street.

Alex started to follow her by keeping a fair distance among them. She stopped by a coffee shop and while taking some creamy coffee and sandwich, noticed him standing with her. A wave of surprise swayed over her pretty face.

“Hello” she waved at him as an ice breaker.Alex couldn’t say a word in answer. He tried to speak but he just ended up swallowing his own saliva.

“Do I know you?” Christy said in a confused manner. Alex again just looked at her in utter disappointment and wonder. How could she refuse to recognize him? He looked around to see if there were any NYSO guards who might be responsible for her statement; but he found no one.

Christy seemed uneasy; probably felt that he was a mad man whose mind didn’t respond to action. She became cautious and walked away from him.After she was at a fair distance to him, Alex again followed her up. He turned roads and streets and tried to walk up to her house.

Christy unlocked the door of an apartment on the ground floor. This time Alex had hid himself well. He peeked through a flowing curtain and followed the voices.

To his extreme surprise he saw Christy being dumped by two little kids who were excited to see her back home. A tall man in towel stood at some distance n rubbed towel in his wet hair. Alex couldn’t believe it. He nearly ran towards the back side of the apartment and pushed himself voicelessly into an empty room. The reality was spread in front of his eyes. Christy was there in the pictures on the shelves with her husband and both kids_ even her marriage photos were framed beautifully. She looked so happy, glowing like a perfect maiden in those.

How was that possible?As Alex stared at the photo, a sharp bang on his head knocked him down. He fell on the floor with a painful scream and saw that it came from Christy’s husband who had figured him breaking into the home. Before there could be another move, Alex shouted“Wait! Wait… listen to me Christy”

Christy was standing beside her husband; she bent forward at him surprisingly.

“How do you know my name?”

“I know you Christy. Have you forgotten me? How is this all possible? Did you survive Block’s bullet? Please tell me Christy.” Alex tried to explain in hysteria, “Please try to remember, I’m Alex. Do you remember Artex park city? You and I?”

“I don’t know you” Christy stuck to her husband in horror and nearly whispered to her husband “I don’t know this man. Please get him out of home he is mad”

“He is for sure…” her husband snarled at him. Both of them got hold of Alex despite his screaming and explanations. Soon enough he was thrown out of the home.

Darn!

Alex laid there on the wild grass and dirt like a dead meat. He couldn’t believe it. He was stunned and astounded how Christy had treated him just a while ago. He didn’t bother to get up and kept on staring into the sky. Dark sky with loads of stars and no sun, he slowly crawled to a side and rested his back against a nearby tree.

Night grew deeper; the lights of the home were off after sometime. But he kept watching at the windows and doors as if trying to imagine her inside the home.A little hope still remained; he lingered on to the hope of getting his Christy back.

What if, the moment could be reversed where she had lay against him and told him that she loved him? What if he could hug her again on the building top where they were lastly snatched apart from each other? Tears slipped through the corners of his eyes and were silently absorbed in the mud.

The sleepless night passed, as the twilight began to shake the sleeping birds, he saw the door opening with a creak sound. Alex sat up alarmingly. It was Christy with a frame in her both hands that hid against her chest.

She walked straight to him; he tried to stand up but Christy asked him not to. She sat with him and displayed the frame.

Alex’s eyes wide opened at the sight. It was the same photo of her and David Block that he had seen in Block’s home.“Christy?” Alex leaned towards her but she sprung back and took the photo back.

“Yes I am Christy. But not the one whom you know, Alex”“What do you mean?”

“The truth is bitter but you must accept it and leave me alone with my happy family.”

“what… what is the truth? You are Christy, Block shot you down two years ago and you survived”

“No! the truth is…” Her eyes filled up with tears,

“Christy that died 2 years ago was a clone of mine. I’m the real David Block's daughter, and I have never met you Alex, I don't know anything about you.

”She paused and bit her lips,“

I ran away from Block long time ago as I realized his evil acts. My clone Christy was the only one to survive the experiments that’s why Block kept her by his side like a daughter.”

She looked at him again. Her eyes were the eyes of Alex’s Christy, they were alive too, but they weren’t full of love for him. She wasn’t her.

She wasn’t his Christy who had been snatched from his arms on that bloody building top; where she and he had somehow known in their hearts that it was their last dawn together.

The real Christy was now going, leaving him on his own to decide for himself.

To get up or don’t_ choice was his to make.