Thursday, March 3, 2011

Heavy Type - Jacob's Bell

by John Prins

Amidst the roaring, it was a sound like a tiny bell that captured Jacob's attention.

Cycles ago, when he was still with his mentor, Jacob had first truly heard the bells. They had hung in the window of the training halls, where the wind would knock them together. After practice, the class would sit and meditate, trying to achieve calm. Their teacher told them to listen to those bells.

If you could find where the ringing of the bells ended, he had told them, and where the silence that followed began, you could center yourself. The world would fall away and you would be suspended in that fraction of time. Nothing else could intrude on that moment, if only could find it and hold on.

Jacob had spent a great deal of time trying to find the space where the sound stopped and the silence began. His teacher had been right, though. The few times he did find it, the rest of the world lost its importance, and you could bring focus all your concentration inward. Sometimes Jacob had wondered if that space only existed within; if you found the division of sound and silence by creating it yourself. It didn't matter. All that really mattered was the center.

Jacob listened to that little bell, amidst the clamor and the echoing. He looked inward and tried to find the end of the sound, while people around him screamed in terror and tried to run away, trapped in the press of the crowd. He tried to ignore the great roaring that echoed off the nearby building walls, the sounds of passing traffic.

Those sounds weren't important. They wouldn't have distracted him from finding the beginning of silence. But the moment slipped by, as if Jacob was grasping for smoke. The calm that he sometimes found was denied him, just when he truly needed it. What had distracted him was his eyes.

Having lost the moment, Jacob continued to stare, staring down his arm, down the gun he held in his hand. Through the trailing smoke he saw the gang member, his pistol still clenched in his hand as his arms spread wide and he fell backwards. A red mist framed the falling criminal, testimony to Jacob's long hours of practice on the firing range. Jacob's arm slightly shook as the Hsi Tsang slaver collapsed to the pavement and his blood settled to the ground in a long pattern of crimson dots. When the moment passed, Jacob finally lowered his shaking arm and remembered to start breathing again.

Seven cycles in the Peacekeepers, and this was the first time he had ever had to take a shot at anyone. The first time he had fired in defense of his own life or the life of others, and he had torn a fist-sized hole into his target, killing him instantly and leaving him shattered on the street, like a puppet with its strings cut.

Jacob looked down at his feet, his chest heaving and blood racing from the adrenaline. Beside his boot lay the spent 11mm casing. A tiny bell that had rung out against the pavement to announce the end of a life. A tiny bell that changed the world Jacob lived in. Jacob suppressed a mirthless grin.

It was no longer a surprise that he couldn't find the start of the silence in that little bell. Not when the changes it heralded would continue to sing for the rest of his life. Jacob would be hearing that little bell until the day he died.

[Next: Jacob's Watch]

[John Prins] [Heavy Type]

The above article was archived from Heavy Type: A Heavy Gear Fan Fiction Website as part of the Hermes 72 Archive Project. It has been edited from its original form and is used without permission.

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