The Greater Good

Ehsan Rajabian (Staff Writer)

The 6th of May 2016

James Russell had never actually taken a life… Never stopped a heart’s beating. Before signing up, he was told that he might have to do things that would turn him into a monster in his own eyes. But he didn’t understand the implications of those words at that time. He only considered the lives he felt he might save in the long run by becoming an informant. Russell was sent undercover to gather information that would help his government stop the National Coalition of Foreign Defense. Right-wing terrorists, they wanted to ensure their nation’s continued military dominance by butchering diplomats.

Their leader, Sheppard, approached Russell.

“James, it’s time we show the
world what we’re capable of. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and his kids are in the basement.”

Russell hadn’t gotten anywhere before. His hands weren’t dirty enough. He needed to uncover the names of the leaders of the other charters and knew he wouldn’t be able to get in touch with them without Sheppard’s trust. A moment’s hesitation. He damned himself silently.

“Hand me a gun.”

Hours later, the cameras were ready. The world was watching. Russell slowly approached the hostages: a scared young woman in a pretty dress, a university graduate and their father, the Foreign Minister. He felt every muscle in his body try to hold him back. Every step was a battle. Russell lifted his Beretta, looking into the eyes of the girl. Under her tears and panic, there was a beautiful face. His arms were shaking. While Russell was on the very
edge of tears, there was a brief moment where the woman could see she was not facing a ruthless killer. She didn’t understand.

He tried to whisper “I’m sorry”. Audible words were not understood. It was the barking of a puppy. A bullet pierced her throat. Russell watched her next birthday bleed away.

Then, the killer turned his gun onto the Minister’s other child. He was tired and wanted it to end. The thought of rotating the gun 180 degrees crossed his mind.

Angry, frustrated, exhausted, ashamed and guilty, Russell felt an animal take hold of his senses and left the young man in a pool of blood and lead with a permanent expression of fear and pain upon his face.

Only their father remained.

“Go ahead you son of a…”

His skull was opened by the next gunshot.

The 6th of May 2020

Since that moment all those years ago, Sheppard never doubted James Russell again. He was respected by a group of mass murderers. They grew to see a mole as a brother. That disgusted him. Russell lay awake at night, thinking of the many lives he could have spared since. “This was for the greater good,” he said to comfort himself. But Russell felt no such comfort anymore. He stopped believing in it. More than once had the broken man come to pressing the barrel of his pistol onto his forehead. Their screaming crippled him. By now, the G-men in suits learned everything they could about their targets. They put that to good use and annihilated them. But it didn’t matter to James Russell. It stopped mattering long ago. He brought his handgun to his left temple and saw the tears of the woman for the last time.

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