A loud explosion. Big Bang. The beginning of a new universe. It took Anna some time to understand what happened. With a loud hum inside her head, the girl's mind was in an undefined state as the images began forming into her retinas. Soon, the conscience of the truth, which she considered to be the greatest tragedy in his life, brought back her sense of reasoning. She was alive. It took more than her wish to die. She had forgotten that the One she often ignored on purpose was above her. She had to submit to His desires, resigned, and thank Him for the grace of living. It was Him, and only Him, who could decide whether she should go, or remain, carrying the memories of her actions with her for all the eternity. Obviously, providence had chosen to contradict her wishes once more, but, for the first time, she understood. That was what she deserved. She had never paid back hate with love, so she deserved to be doomed forever, haunted by the images of her crimes. It was plain clear why her life had always been a succession of tragedies. Life was like a school for the soul, she existed to learn how to exert her godly facet while facing the challenges of that tormented world. But every time she had been called to prove that she had learn the most basic lessons, the darkness of her heart dominated her, and she had never been able to pass the test. Then, she was condemned to keep repeating the same class over and over again, until she finally learned the lesson, or her teacher gave up on her. They say God never gives up on any of His sons, and, Anna, as much as she tried and seemed determined to change, was unable to resist the impetus of
making justice with her own hands. It meant she was condemned for all the eternity, and maybe that overwhelming sorrow and that feeling of emptiness were already part of what they called eternal damnation.
The girl stood up and stayed for a while staring blankly at what she had done. The scene was horrible, not even the horror movies had portrayed anything that gruesome. Blood and rotten human flesh scattered everywhere, insects eating the remains of the five men she had brutally murdered. But those images failed to make a deep impression on the guardian's devastated mind, for they were just a drop in the ocean of the staunchly vivid images of the events that had caused that outcome.
Almost automatically, Anna started walking towards the back of the warehouse, where there
was a partially deactivated restroom. All she wanted was to get rid of all that blood that covered her body. She tore open her clothes and used all the water that was left to wash away the blood. Due to the long time of abandonment, the water was dirty, but the blonde guardian was not the least worried with hygiene; she wanted to get rid of everything that reminded her of the most evil act she had ever committed. She knew that it was not enough to wash away the memories of the act itself, and that her attempt of closing the circle was a great failure because it didn't help her forget about the tragedies of her past. Instead, it was just another tragedy for her to carry till her last days.
After washing the blood away, Anna took her old blue soldier suit and wore it. The suit was a bit tight on her chest and hips because in the last for years she had grown more curvaceous. However, she was hardly worried about her appearance. She had nothing left to do, nowhere to go, no ideas of what to do next. If her perfect vengeance plan had a failure, it was the fact that she didn't have any idea of what to do after she was finished. She counted on death, but she was a big coward when it came down to finishing her own life. It was her hypocritical way of dealing with her beliefs. Suicide was forbidden, and she would never commit it; homicide was also forbidden, but she have never thought twice before killing someone. The fact that all the people she murdered were criminals was not sufficient to atone her sins, and she was aware of that. She had to live with the guilty, and, unable to end her own life, she was supposed to live with that guilty for a long time.
Anna picked up some of her belongings and left, not even bothering turning off the lights or closing the warehouse door. If she were to be arrested, she would gladly confess her crimes. She knew that, being a rank III guardian, and having murdered proven criminals, chances were high that she would only receive a reprimand for the flamboyant method she used to deal with them. But, after what she had done, she didn't feel that she had emotional conditions of keep becoming a guardian, as if nothing had happened. In fact, her emotional conditions were almost nullified by then. She was so broken that it was difficult for the blonde girl to get a good grasp of the reality. In her mind, the impressions that came through her senses were either blurred or distorted. There was a
short-circuit in her mind, and her actions didn't correspond to her thoughts anymore.
As she left the building, it was very late, and there were almost no one in the streets. Anna had lost the sense of time while she was inside the warehouse, so she didn't know how many days have passed since she had ambushed Lizzie's murderers. It didn't matter, for she had no appointments in her schedule. Everything she had in her mind was to roam in the streets, without a destination, waiting for something to happen. She had no wishes of controlling her life anymore.
Walking like a stoned junkie, Anna barely could make any sense of what was happening on her surroundings. Her mind was so devastated that she seemed to be battling the hallucinations caused by an acid trip to get some grasp of reality. A blonde and gorgeous girl wearing a dress too short, walking down the dark alleys late at night, stoned, was not such a rare occurrence in large cities like Zema, so she probably would go undisturbed. Besides, if the need arose, she still had a boomerang stuffed into her backpack, and she was certain that, even in that state, she would be able to counter any threat.
After a while, the blonde guardian saw herself in front of a wall. Lights flickered constantly, stimulating her retinas in a disorderly way. The images and sounds were confusing to her. She was not aware that she was standing by a large synthetic led screen installed in front of an electronics store. "...only fifty hundred meseta..." Anna had no idea of what she was doing there or where she should go. "...warm and sunny, occasional showers at evening. Minimum temperature of 70F..." That strange feeling, of being completely lost, enhanced by the notion of having no destination, was unacceptable. She was still alive, and she should not give up like that. "... Palman governor scheduled a visit to Parolit on tuesday to discuss the restoration of interplanetary trade..." As much as she tried, she would not be able to live the rest of her life pretending she didn't care. Her mind was devastated, but still, Anna was completely healthy. "... analysis on the explosives used in Arima by terrorists indicated that the dynamite was of exclusive use by army..." She couldn't give up life by giving it up only spiritually. All her strength and vitality, all her body, senses and instincts were still working perfectly well. They could still be used for good or for evil. "...wheat prices skyrocketed in Palma. Local authorities are enforcing food factories to replace wheat for other ingredients in order to keep food prices in control..." As much as she hated to admit it, Anna knew that being good or evil only depended on her. Part of her wanted to die, burying once and for all the memories and the subsequent feelings the tragic events of her past had built; part of her still wanted to succeed, to prove herself worthy the last chance, to atone for her sins, to mend her mistakes. "...more about the Climatrol case in a few minutes..." The purest and truest wishes of her soul were still extant; Anna still longed for being a good woman, a helpful worker, a good friend, a good wife and mother. "...Suelo's chocolate and sweets. 1000 years sweetening your life..." If only she was not condemned to eternal damnation, she could use the last events to finally put a stone on her past and move forward. "...Duke Casba & Sons pianos: Maestro Ustvestia's first choice..." If there was still a chance, would she be strong enough to resist the evil influence? Would she make the light conquer the darkness of her heart? "... agent Rolf Landale and his team returned to Paseo after a brief visit to Zema while investigating the Climatrol incident..." If only there was a way, that time Anna would not fail...
"Come back, prodigal daughter!"
"What?" Anna screamed, confused, frightened. That voice seemed to come from inside her head, unlike the noise that came from outside, which was partly filtered by her broken mind.
"Come back, prodigal daughter!"
The voice repeated again. As Anna looked at the led panel, she saw a pixelated image of the same face she had seem after she had finished her last execution. The girl became so disturbed that she fell on her knees, holding her head in her hands, as if she was under severe pains. She started sobbing copiously. An intense fear dominated her mind. Somehow, she knew it was not a byproduct of her madness. So, why did He start talking to her? She didn't deserve that, she was not worthy. She was the last person alive to deserve that.
Frightened, the girl stayed weeping, in the loneliness of the night. A long time had passed before she finally recovered her will to keep walking. She still seemed to be in the same trance as before, but something had changed. Just by looking, no one could tell what had happened, but that Anna was not the Anna who left the warehouse. Like a tank, the blonde guardian advanced through the streets, unstoppable, trampling every obstacle that appeared in her way. She didn't seem to know what she was doing, or where she was going. But one thing was for certain: Anna was not completely at loss like before. Under the impression of the mysterious appearance, she had something in her mind.
After a few minutes, walking through a twisted path that didn't make any sense; a tortured course where she seemed to take just to prolong her suffering, the blonde guardian finally stopped in front of a building. Despite the hour, the doors were open. The girl sighed, and hesitated. Maybe her illogical twists and turns had the purpose of buying time in order to make up her mind. Since the meeting with the mysterious image, Anna's state of mind was gradually improving. While she was still shaken, she didn't seem to be disconnected from reality anymore. All her troubles came from weighing the possibilities of succeeding or failing. She seemed inclined to answer the call, and her suffering was due to fear of not being able to sincerely do what she was asked to do. The past was still too fresh, the blood too fresh on her hands. There was no place for trying anymore: either she did or she didn't. Her devastated mind was a testimony of the severity of her dilemma.
Entering the building briskly, Anna didn't notice, but her sudden entrance scared the young woman at the counter. The pink-haired girl almost screamed, in terror. She was alone in the small room, that had just the counter where she stood, two chairs for people waiting their turn in case there was a line, and a steel booth. The light was so intense inside the booth that one could not keep staring at the glass window for more than a few seconds.
When the girl realized it was a woman, she sighed in relief. But her safety feeling lasted just a few moments. Anna put the money on the counter by hitting it, noisily. Without looking at the girl, she barked "Paseo!", and walked towards the steel both. Flabbergasted by the teenager dazzling behavior, the girl in the counter soon noticed that the benefits of obeying Anna's orders silently far outweighed the urge of asking her questions or telling her that the teleport process cost sixty meseta, and not five-hundred. The girl valued too much her teeth to risk them over such a triviality. Anna's military attire, and the thickness of her arms were reason enough for the clerk to stay quiet. Besides, Anna's bloodshot eyes and frenzied countenance where the last detail to convince her to program the teleport equipment to transport that woman wherever she wanted to go.
Anna was aware of her thwarting behavior, but she had no desire of acting in a different fashion. That was her first contact with someone else after the disturbing events which had destroyed the remains of her sanity, and everything she hoped for was to make that interaction a non-interaction. She knew that, in the fragile state her corrupt mind was, it would take just a word to make her have the poor attendant's skull crushed under her boots, and that was something she didn't want to do at that moment. Looking down, Anna pondered about the future that waited her. It was not the first time she would use the teleport machine, as it was the standard transportation mean between large cities. She wondered if it was possible for her to answer the call as she faded out in the teletransporter, her molecules dissolved, and with that, all her sins, traumas and tragedies. Then, when she materialized on the other side, Anna would be clean, pure, innocent again, like the ten-year-old dreamy girl she used to be. Back when she was beautiful, her soul was pure, not tainted by evil. Starting from the scratch, learning how to be a good woman by looking at the girl she used to be.
However, Anna knew that it would not come to pass. It would take her months, years, maybe
all the eternity for her to change her ways and redeem herself from all the mistakes she had made. As the booth door opened for her to get inside, she hoped that, at least, the first part of her reverie could become true, disappearing in the blackness of the night, forever.
As Anna took one step into the light, the only thing in her mind was the image of that benevolent man calling her back to His Kingdom of Love. And a warm feeling invaded her soul as her molecules faded out inside the teleport booth.