by Maria Protopapadaki-Smith
Loki Treize had traveled a long way in both space and time to fullfil his mission - from his home planet millions of light years away to Old Earth, at a time a few centuries before he had been born. He had managed to escape his war-ravaged world in a stolen Chronambulist-10, and had landed in one piece on the mother planet. His mission was unsavoury, to say the least, but he knew there was no alternative. The boy could not be allowed to live.
The traveller eyed his target as he walked across the park towards it. Tommy Smurthwaite looked like any other twelve year old boy - textbook early Twenty First Century, in fact: baggy trousers, scruffy sneakers and hair messed up more through affectation than through play. Loki had to remind himself that Tommy's open, innocent countenance belied the legacy he would leave when he grew up. The hitman pictured the state of the world he had left, hundreds of years from now, and steeled himself further to finish the job he had started.
Tommy continued to play, oblivious to the threat he faced. Loki carried on walking towards him, slowing down more and more the closer he got. The hitman felt his stomach churn at the idea of what he was about to do. He is only a boy... - before the thought could take hold in his head he reminded himself of the preacher this boy was to become and of the seeds he would plant for the holy war that was to rage across the galaxies a few centuries hence.
Loki brought one more memory to the forefront of his mind as he lifted his weapon and advanced on his target. He saw his wife's lifeless body as he had found it that day, seven hundred years from now, eviscerated and branded, like other unbelievers, with the mark of the Prophet Thomas. The boy had to be stopped.
Tommy looked up from his game to see a man dressed like something out of a Science Fiction movie bearing down on him and aiming a weapon at him, the like of which he'd never seen before. He froze.
"Please, no", he said in a hoarse whisper. Loki squared up in front of him and pointed the gun at his head.
"I am truly sorry for what I am about to do, but I cannot let you live."
"But why? What have I done?" His eyes were welling up.
"It's not what you have done. It is what you will do." The hitman took one step closer so that the gun was touching the boy's forehead, between the eyes.
Loki braced himself to pull the trigger but made the mistake of taking another look at the child. Tommy's eyes were wide and he was crying silently, in shock. A wet stain had appeared at the front of his trousers. He looked even younger than his twelve years. Loki knew then he would never be able to go through with the hit. He lowered his weapon, his own face now streaked with tears. Better to be a failure than a monster, he thought as he turned and ran back to the Chronambulist-10 before the boy could raise the alarm.
Tommy never mentioned the incident to anyone, but would always refer to it obtusely as the moment he realised God had a plan for him.
5 days ago