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  • 1. Light/Dark
    “Come on, let’s go,” called Benji as he looked down upon the life-less man lying before him. He bent down towards the man, pulling a rectangle piece of paper out of his pocket bearing the words NEVER LEAVE THE SWITCH UNGUARDED, and placed the card on his rib cage.
    He stood back up to see April walking towards him, flashlight in hand, holstering her pistol beneath her coat. She asked, “Standard procedure?” but looked as if she knew the answer.
    “Yeah,” said Benji, now holstering his own pistol beneath his coat, “Did you do the rest?” He said this although he already knew the answer. He was merely making sure.
    April nodded and with that, they walked across the rubble-strewn floor and out the door of the large warehouse into the twilit sky. The air outside was bitter, but calm. They made their way for the car, which was parked four blocks away. As they walked, Benji thought of the events that had occurred within the last hour:
    He woke up and looked around at the clock, which read 6:30 p.m. He had been out the previous night until 1:00 in the morning (when he got home, he lay down on the bed and went to sleep).
    He had been expecting to be woken by the ringing of his phone for another assignment. Even as this thought came into Benji’s mind, the sound of his ring tone echoed through the room. He sat up, walked over to the chest of drawers, where the phone was sitting; looked at the screen, which read Dark; and answered the phone.
    “We found a group of them. It’s pretty straightforward, pretty easy,” came the voice of Rip, his boss.
    After Rip had explained all the details, Benji asked, “Who’s with me this time? Or am I going solo again?”
    Without hesitation, Rip said, “You and April seem to work well together,” and hung up.
    By the time Benji had changed clothes, reached inside his closet and got his favorite pea coat, loaded a magazine for a pistol, put his shoes on, and walked into the living room, April was already waiting outside. Not until this moment had Benji truly realized how beautiful she was, leaning against a black 1983 Monte Carlo, with her fur-hooded coat on, her sandy blonde hair shining in the light of the setting sun. He smiled.
    He went outside and looked at her then the car, and said, “Nice choice.”
    April got behind the wheel and they drove to the place Rip had instructed them, which was 30 minutes away. They parked in a deserted parking lot four blocks away from the actual destination point to be sure they would not be spotted. Then, they walked cautiously through alleyways toward the address Rip had told them.
    It was a big warehouse with a fence surrounding it; a man was standing on the outside of the fence with a rifle in his hands. Benji stood in the alley thinking of a way to get past the guard, but April was already ahead of him.
    She bent down, picked up a rock roughly the size of a softball, and chucked it at the man. The rock hit him dead on the temple and he dropped. She turned around to Benji with a satisfied grin on her face. Benji shook his head, and then laughed.
    “That’s not how I would have done it, but whatever works.”
    They crept along the fence, guns in hand. Through the door of the fence and along the wall of the warehouse they went until they came to a large metal door. April looked at Benji, pistol raised to the sky next to her face.
    “Ready?” she asked with a determined look on her face: She was usually cute and playful, like a cat, but when it came to assignments she was very serious. This was what Benji liked about her.
    He nodded, although he didn’t know she was going to go about getting their attention.
    April stood up—Benji followed—gun pointed at the large door, and kicked it. At once, the door erupted with vibrating metal sounds. They backed away into a large bush by the fence. Within a minute, the door opened up—like a garage door—and a short man with curly black hair stood in the doorway, surveying the area. April pointed her gun at the man and pulled the trigger. People began yelling inside, seeing the man drop to the ground, and they ran into the building, guns ready.
    Once inside, Benji shot every Light he could see, careful: not to shoot April and to avoid flying bullets. The fairly easy task was finished within five minutes.
    When it was over, Benji felt angry; he always felt angry after an assignment. The only reason he could think of was that the agency that he and April were in—Dark—and the agency of the people they had just killed—Light—were enemies.
    He and April dispersed, placing cards on each of the bodies.
    NEVER LEAVE THE SWITCH UNGUARDED.
    NEVER LEAVE THE SWITCH UNGUARDED.
    NEVER LEAVE THE SWITCH UNGUARDED.
    Benji had always thought it was a clever phrase: when a light switch is unprotected, the lights can be turned off. What it meant to Dark was: the people in Light could be “turned off.” Then again a light can be turned on, clearing out the dark. But Benji didn’t worry about that.
    He called out for April to come on, then placed one last card on the body lying on the ground in front of him. They made sure each other had placed all the cards and then walked out of the warehouse to go back to the car.
    What brought him out of his reverie was April toying with his ear.
    Benji shook his head and said, “Oh sorry, what?”
    “I said, ‘Do you want to drive?’”
    “Oh. Yeah, sure.”
    She shook her head with a smile on her face. “You know, sometimes I wonder about you, kiddo.”
    “Yeah, me too.”
    They were now approaching the Monte Carlo. Neither of them looking at each other—or without warning—April threw the keys to Benji, and he caught them, jumping in the car.
    Benji looked over at April, taking in her beauty. She was sitting upright in the passenger seat looking ahead with a slight smile on her face. He thought that he was out of his league with her. He wasn’t good enough.
    Then, she looked over at him with that satisfied grin he loved so much. “Hey.”
    He shook his head to clear it and looked ahead with a smile on his face. “You wanna go back to The Nebula?”
    Her eyes widened and she gasped. “That’s just what I was just thinking. You can read minds?” she asked sarcastically.
    Benji gave her a complimentary gasp and asked, “You didn’t know?”
    “No sir.”
    They both laughed and Benji stomped on the gas pedal and sped off towards the Nebula, Dark’s headquarters.
    Forty minutes later, they arrived at a deserted land fill. Benji flashed the headlights of the Monte Carlo. A section of the landfill open up like a garage door and Benji drove in. They descended down a large tunnel until they came to a vast opening filled with various vehicles. Benji spotted an opening in between a BMW and a yellow Ferrari and parked the Monte Carlo. He cut off the car and got out, leaving the key in the ignition.
    They walked to a door in the far corner of the room. When they went through the door they were facing another long tunnel, although this tunnel was narrow—for walking through—and didn’t slope downward.
    “Doesn’t all this getting annoying sometimes?” Benji asked jokingly.
    April puckered her lips and asked, “Aw, Is little boy getting tired?” in a baby voice.
    They reached a door at the end of the tunnel and went through to an even bigger opening than the parking garage. The room was solid white, with an upstairs. There were cubicles all over the bottom level, which were solid white also.
    Benji said, “I’m going up to Rip’s office,” but April wasn’t standing there anymore.
    He looked around and saw her walking away with a short-haired brunette, both of their heads turned up in laughter. He smiled.
    He made his way towards Rip’s office upstairs. Along the way he waved to some of his friends. A young-looking man ran up to Benji with an excited look on his face.
    “Hey Benji!”
    He was the new member and a big suck-up.
    Benji sighed and said, “Hey Roscoe.”
    “Did you get ‘em good?” Roscoe asked too excitedly.
    “Mm-hmm.” Benji sighed again. “Look Roscoe, I need to go talk to Rip.”
    “Okay. Well, I’ll see you later!”
    Benji turned and continued to Rip’s office.
    The walls of Rip’s office were glass. Benji saw him sitting at his desk, looking at the computer. Rip was an old man, yet strong and persistent. The hair he had left was white.
    Rip looked up when Benji came in. He continued what he was doing once he saw who came in. “Have any trouble?”
    Benji chuckled. “You know April and me better than that.”
    Rip didn’t laugh. He kept looking at the computer screen.
    “Was there supposed to be?” Benji asked.
    Rip looked away from the computer screen at Benji. “After I called you, Shelly”—Shelly was in the research department of the Nebula—“came to me and said that Mark was at that warehouse you went to.”
    Mark is Light’s leader. He and Rip had been friends since the womb. During high school though, they had started to argue a lot. By the end of college they absolutely despised each other.
    Rip went to Dark and Mark went to Light. When Rip was just 40 years old, he took over as leader of Dark. Five years later, Mark became leader of Light.
    “But I didn’t see him,” Benji said.
    Rip exhaled through his nose. “That doesn’t mean he wasn’t there.”
    “Why would he be there?”
    “Probably trying to kill two of my best people.”
    Benji looked out the glass walls of Rip’s office, thinking about how close he had come to death. How close April had come to death.
    “Who’s that?” Benji asked, pointing to an average-height man with black hair and beard stubble on the first floor. He was just standing still looking up at Rip’s office with a hateful expression on his face.
    Rip leaned in his seat to get a better view of the floor below. He sat back down and continued once again what he was doing on the computer. “That’s Dave. He came in not long after Roscoe…”
    Dave was still intensely staring up into Rip’s office.
    “…He hasn’t been on an assignment yet,” Rip said. “I want him to go with you and April for his first one.”
    Benji finally looked away from Dave to Rip. “Yeah, look what happened to Roscoe on his first mission with Tim.”
    Roscoe’s first assignment was with Tim, a tall, skinny man who was not as good as Benji. They went to an oil rig to kill about ten Lights. (Benji wouldn’t even take an assignment that easy.) Roscoe walked back into the Nebula with a bullet in his right bicep.
    Rip actually chuckled at this. “Poor kid.”
    Benji got out of the chair. “Alright, well I’m going to catch some Z’s.”
    “Don’t expect to sleep long.”
    As Benji went through the door, he said, “Never do.”
    Benji went to find April. He needed to know if she could drive him home; they couldn’t just leave expensive cars at their houses, or they’d look suspicious. He went to her desk but she wasn’t there. But there was a note stuck to the computer. It read
    Benjiboy, I’m at the cafeteria with Rachel.
    He smiled. Then he walked to the cafeteria.
    April and the short-haired brunette—Rachel—were sitting at a table next to the far wall. His phone rang. The screen read April. He shook his head and answered the phone. “Hello?”
    “We’re over here,” she whispered.
    He looked back at where they were sitting. April was standing with her phone pressed to her ear with her right hand, the other arm waving violently through the air.
    Benji nodded. “Thanks for clarifying that for me.”
    April snickered and sat back down.
    Benji crossed the room and sat down next to April. Rachel smiled at him and said hey.
    “Can you drive me home?” Benji asked.
    Roscoe appeared out of nowhere. “I can take you home!”
    Benji sighed in anger.
    April shook her head and said, “He’s mine.”
    Benji looked at April and mouthed Thank You.
    April grinned satisfyingly and said, “Let’s go.”
    They said bye to Rachel and left. Roscoe stood there pouting.
    When they got to the tunnel leading to the garage, April stopped.
    “You want to race?” she asked with a smile on her face.
    Benji sighed. “We do this every ti—”
    “GO!” she screamed and sprinted forward.
    Benji ran after her but didn’t try his hardest. He let her win this time.
    When they were in the garage, catching their breath, April said, “You’re holding back on me, buddy boy.”
    Benji laughed. “Yeah, right. Which car do you want?” He already knew though.
    “The—”
    “GO!”
    He bolted away from her towards the gray Ashton Martin Vanquish. He heard her running behind him laughing like a child. He smiled.
    Minutes later, Benji slapped the hood of the car. Ten seconds after, April slapped it, still laughing. Benji laughed and, out of breath, asked, “You…didn’t…see…that coming?”
    She had not stopped laughing, but now she laughed even harder. She finally calmed down enough and, still out of breath, said, “That…was…good.”
    Benji laughed and said, “Has the student surpassed the master?”
    “Nope,” she said confidently.
    They got in the car and went to Benji’s house. When Benji got out, April rolled down the window and said, with the baby voice she had used earlier, “Now, baby boy, make sure you take a shower, and brush your teeth, and put your PJ’s on and…”
    Benji smiled a smile that looked more like a grimace and said, “Ha ha,” sarcastically. He turned and walked toward the front door. On the doorstep, he turned back around and saw that satisfied grin etched upon April’s face as she drove away.
    He went in the house, threw his pea coat off onto the couch, and went to his room. He fell onto the bed and into the crushing darkness of his dreams.
    ~ * ~
    Again, he woke to his cell phone ringing. This time it was in his pocket. He looked around at the red numbers on the clock. 12:30 p.m. He answered the phone. “Yeah,” he grunted.
    Rip said, “You’re taking Dave on his first mission.”
    Benji cleared his throat and said, “Alright.”
    “But…” He sighed. “…you’re taking Roscoe, too.”
    “Wh—”
    “He needs more training,” Rip interrupted.
    Benji sat there for a while. Then he said, “He better not give me any crap. He needs to stay out of my way.”
    “They’re coming to pick you up right now. They have the coordinates. Should be there in about…3…2…1—”
    A horn beeped outside.
    “Thanks, boss,” Benji said and hung up.
    Benji walked into the living room and peeked out the window. A white Nissan 350Z was parked in his driveway, with April behind the wheel. He looked at the street and saw heat waves rising from the asphalt. He ran to his bedroom, loaded two pistols, and threw off the warm clothes from the previous cold night.
    Dressed in khaki shorts and a plain white t-shirt, he ran back into the living room, slipped on his Nikes and went out the door into the hot noon sun.
    April stepped out of the car with an annoyed looking expression on her face, but it turned into a satisfied grin when she saw Benji. All funny remarks and witty comments vanished from him when he saw what she was wearing. She was dressed in jean capris and a tank top with horizontal red and white stripes, both accenting her beautiful curves. Her hair was pulled back into a flirty ponytail.
    His stomach inflated with love and he stood motionless.
    Seconds later, April walked up to him, fanning him, and said, “Don’t have a heat stroke on me, now.”
    He laughed and gathered himself enough to remember a comment he was going to say to her. “You look like the Cat in the Hat,” he said, although not as well as he would have said if he had not been penetrated by her beauty.
    She looked down at her red and white striped tank top and giggled.
    The giggle seemed to calm Benji down to his regular self, because he asked, “Why did you look annoyed when you got out of the car?” without any awkwardness in his voice.
    April looked at him with a How could you ask such a thing like that expression.
    Realization occurred to Benji and he and April said, “Roscoe.”
    She whispered, “Also, that Dave kid. I think he’s emo.”
    When they got in the car, April behind the wheel and Benji in the passenger seat, Dave and Roscoe were sitting in the back, Dave behind Benji and Roscoe behind April. Roscoe was ranting on about something to Dave, who seemed not to care at all about what Roscoe was saying. Dave lived up to his emo classification. Along with his jet black hair and beard stubble, he wore a black t-shirt and black jeans. He sat in the seat with his head faced downward, but eyes looking straight at the back of Benji’s seat.
    “Visual,” Benji whispered to April.
    April looked at him and he mouthed the words Dave—Demonic.
    She seemed to have no problem reading his lips because she giggled softly. She backed out of the driveway and drove away from his house.
    “So, where are we going this time?” Benji asked April.
    Roscoe said, “We’re—”
    “I didn’t ask you, Roscoe,” Benji said, annoyed.
    “Come on now,” April said, “use your manners and listen to him.”
    Benji mouthed Thanks sarcastically and April stuck out her tongue at him.
    Roscoe saw this and said, “Ah, there’s something going on between you two, isn’t it?”
    Benji cleared his throat, because he felt embarrassed, and said, “No, no. I don’t like—”
    “Maybe,” April cut him off.
    Benji turned and looked out the window, smiling. “Maybe” either meant that she was just saying that to shut Roscoe up or she really did like him back. Benji hoped for the latter.
    Roscoe continued, “We’re going to an island. It’s out in the middle of a lake.” He squealed with excitement.
    April looked into the rearview mirror at Dave and said, “Are you excited, Davey?”
    Dave’s voice took Benji by surprise. He imagined that a deep grunt would come out of Dave’s mouth, but it sounded more like a teenager’s voice—deeper than a child’s, but not quite as deep as a developed adult’s. “Don’t call me ‘Davey’,” he said angrily.
    Benji felt angry at Dave for lashing out at April. “Look, kid,” he retorted, turning around in his seat to face Dave. “If you’re going to be with us, you’re going to listen to us and you’re going to have to calm down.”
    “It’s alright,” April said. “It was just a simple mistake.” She patted Benji on the shoulder as if saying Calm down, hothead.
    Benji turned back around and shook his head.
    “So, Dave,” April tried again. “Are you excited?”
    Dave just glared at her.
    April pretended like she zipped her mouth, locked it, and threw away the key.
    After an hour of straight, changeless road, they came to a large lake with many boats along the dock. They parked the 350Z, got out, and walked to a wooden booth at the middle of the dock. The man sitting inside the booth was very old with a droopy face and was wearing a tattered blue sailor’s cap.
    “Good afternoon,” April said to the man, politely. Benji thought the cadence of April’s voice in a polite manor was beautiful. He smiled.
    The old man grunted in response.
    “We would like to rent a speed boat.” Without letting the man respond, she handed the man a wad of money and walked away. Benji and the other two followed.
    Roscoe looked up at Benji and asked, “Benji, how did she know how much it costs?”
    “This isn’t the first time she’s done this,” Benji said.
    “But, different boat rentals have different prices,” Roscoe pressed.
    “She’s a woman of business, Roscoe.”
    Roscoe’s face turned into one of perplexity.
    Ahead of them, April was walking fast, looking at each speed boat. Finally she came to one close to the end of the dock and hopped in. Dave and Roscoe got in the back. Benji untied the rope from the dock and jumped in the passenger seat, shaking his head.
    April saw him and said, “What?”
    Benji laughed and said, “You could’ve picked any one of those boats.”
    “Nope. Had to be this one. I like speed.” The satisfied smile appeared and they sped off across the water.
    Benji turned around in his seat to face the newbies in the back.
    Over the rush of the wind and noise of the boat engine, he yelled, “Alright, listen to us and don’t wander off or try to be the hero. Just follow our lead and you won’t get hurt. Understand?”
    Roscoe nodded violently, his eyes wide with excitement.
    Dave was looking out at the water with his arms crossed and an angry expression on his face. He was really starting to make Benji mad.
    “Do you understand, Dave?”
    Dave turned his head towards Benji, nodded his head uncaringly, and looked back out at the water.
    Thirty minutes later, a small island came into view. April stopped the boat. The slight smile, that she wore on her face regularly, changed into a hardened look of determination.
    “What happened?” Roscoe asked in a terrified voice.
    “April stopped the boat,” Benji said.
    “Why?” Roscoe asked, still terrified.
    “We’re swimming—”
    “Swimming?” Roscoe’s voice cracked.
    “Yes! Swimming! S-W-I-M-M-I-N-G. Swimming! We can’t just go up there with a loud speed boat.”
    “Oh.”
    Holding her nose, April jumped in the water. Making sure the two pistols were still tucked securely in the waistband of his shorts, Benji jumped in after her.
    Once under, he followed her. He heard a crash from behind him and saw Roscoe looking around for them through a wall of white bubbles. Roscoe found Benji and swam behind him. A second later, Dave crashed into the water and followed.
    Twenty seconds under the water, Roscoe swam up to get air. Benji rolled his eyes and yanked Roscoe back under. Roscoe coughed, sending large air bubbles up to the surface.
    Twenty more seconds later, they stepped onto sand and walked slowly up out of the water onto the beach.
    Benji handed Roscoe one of the two pistols he was carrying—he knew Roscoe wouldn’t have his own weapon—and asked Dave if he brought one. Dave shook his head and April handed him an extra one.
    “Okay,” Benji whispered, “like I said before: Follow our lead and don’t wander off. Roscoe,” he indicated the pistol Roscoe was holding with a nod, “that’s loaded and cocked. Be careful.” He looked over at April. She nodded once and he nodded back. “Let’s go.”
    All of them holding their guns up toward the sky with both hands, they walked up the little beach and into the forest. It was a very small island, so within five minutes they came upon a clearing with a small building in the middle. A few people were outside the building, but it looked like most of the Lights were inside the building.
    A gunshot issued, echoing off the building. Benji turned around and saw Roscoe holding his left foot, hopping on the other, screaming in pain. Roscoe had shot his own foot. Now, the Lights inside the building ran outside to join the few already out there, squeezing off shots from pistols and rifles. All together, it looked about twenty of them.
    “Damn it, Roscoe!” Benji yelled and ran out of the forest with April.
    They ran as fast as they could, darting from side to side, all the while shooting Lights. Benji heard bullet after bullet whiz by his ear. He then thought about Dave not being out there with them.
    He turned around to where they had stood and looked for Dave. He heard someone coming up behind him. He quickly turned around, shot the guy in the forehead, turned back to the forest and spotted Dave. He motioned for Dave to come on. Dave casually stepped out of the forest and ran into the fight. Benji stepped back into the forest—behind a big tree—and watched Dave for a moment.
    The way Dave shot the Lights looked as if he regretted killing them.
    Benji stepped back into the clearing and killed the last two remaining Lights. The three of them—Benji, April, and Dave—placed the rectangular cards on each body and went back into the forest for Roscoe. He was lying on the ground ten feet from the clearing, holding his left foot—but he was screaming anymore. For the first time in all his time of knowing Roscoe, Benji kind of felt sorry for the kid. He felt sorry because Roscoe probably wouldn’t be in Dark too much longer if he kept acting like this. He clearly wasn’t cut out for this.
    Benji and April picked Roscoe up and carried him to the beach, their emo sulker closely behind them. Then, April swam out to the boat and drove back to the beach.
    They laid Roscoe on the long back seat but there wasn’t enough room for Dave. After much silent argument from Dave—demonic shakes of the head—he had to sit on the left side of the back seat with Roscoe’s feet lying on his lap.
    April giggled. The playful cat was back.
    They drove back to the dock, got in the 350Z, and—
    “—I want to go back home,” Benji said. He was very tired.
    April saluted him and said, “Yes, sir.”
    He smiled.
    Five minutes later, April’s cell phone rang. She answered and then turned to me. “It’s for you, Banshee.”
    Benji took the phone from her. It was a pink flip phone with sparkly sequins. Benji looked back over to April with an expression that said What on Earth have you done to this.
    The satisfied grin illuminated her face and she motioned for him to answer the phone.
    “Hello?”
    “Benji, you won’t believe this!” Rip said, very excitedly. Benji had never heard Rip excited. This must be something really big.
    “What? What is it?” Benji was anxious now.
    “Just come to the Nebula. I’ll tell you here. You can bring April, and the other two, I don’t care. Just get over here.” He hung up.
    Benji closed the phone and handed it back to April. “Change of plans, recruit,” he said.
    April sat up straighter in her seat and held a salute.
    “To the Nebula.”
    She finished her salute and said, “Yes, sir.”
    When they got to the Nebula, Benji and April carried Roscoe to the hospital wing and then went straight to Rip’s office, Dave still with them.
    Rip was standing behind his desk with the happiest smile Benji had ever seen on him. Shelly, the girl in the research department, was sitting in one of the white chairs in front of the desk. She got up to let Benji and April sit down, but Benji passed it up.
    Rip looked at Benji and said, “Was everything okay on the assignment?”
    “Roscoe shot his own foot.”
    As soon as the words were out of Benji’s mouth, Rip said, “We found the Equilibrium.” He obviously couldn’t wait to tell Benji.
    The Equilibrium is Light’s headquarters. Finding each other’s headquarters is very hard to do. The last time either Light or Dark found one another’s headquarters was about one hundred years ago. This was a very special thing, especially for Rip. After all this time of being in Dark, he finally had the pleasure of infiltrating the Equilibrium.
    “Shelly found it,” Rip continued, indicating Shelly. “We’re going soon.”
    Benji couldn’t believe how quick everything was moving suddenly. “What?”
    Rip shook with excitement. Benji had never seen Rip this excited, never seen a man of his age this excited. “We’re going to need everyone.”
    “That’s great!” Benji was excited now too.
    Rip’s expression changed into perplexity and he said, “What’s wrong, son?” Rip was looking behind Benji.
    Benji turned around and saw Dave with a look of horror on his face.
    Dave looked at Rip and shook his head. He turned around and walked out the door.
    “Anyway,” Rip continued, “we’ll give you the details later, once we figure them out. This is going to have to take careful planning. We’ll be up all night forming a plan. I want you to just hang out here, in case we need you.”
    Benji nodded and he and April left Rip’s office.
    “You ready?” Benji asked April.
    “Hey, that’s my line,” April said. She did ask Benji this question on most missions.
    “Well, I am a fan of plagiarism.”
    “You don’t have to steal my beautiful work,” she said sarcastically.
    Benji laughed. “Do you have a patent on it?”
    “For my benefit—Yes,” she said and then left Benji to look at her satisfied grin before turning away and walking off.
    He smiled. Then he walked to his cubicle and sat down in the white computer chair.
    The time in the bottom right corner of the computer read 3:00 p.m. He laid his head back and rested. Soon, he fell asleep.
    When he woke, the digital clock on the computer read 4:01 p.m. He had been asleep for an hour. He sat up straighter in his chair and ached in pain. He told himself not to sleep in a computer chair ever again and then looked around his desk.
    There were folders, a stapler, etc. Normal office supplies. But now there was a small manila envelope lying in front of the keyboard.
    “Hey Benji,” a recognizable, but annoying voice said from behind him.
    Benji swiveled around and saw Roscoe standing at the opening of his cubicle with a cast on his right foot.
    “Two broken bones and a torn ligament,” Roscoe said in a macho voice, trying to look tough. Obviously, he had forgotten who caused the injury.
    “You need to be more careful,” Benji said and swiveled back around.
    “Y’all brought me in there, sat me down,” Roscoe continued as if he didn’t hear Benji. “She X-rayed my foot…”
    Benji zoned out from Roscoe back to the manila envelope. He turned it over in his hands and saw that no writing was on it. He slowly folded in the tabs and opened it.
    A small rectangular card fell out upside down. Benji’s eyes widened in terror and he flipped the card over.
    NEVER LEAVE THE SWITCH UNGUARDED.
    Benji screamed, “ROSCOE, GET DO—”
    A loud smack echoed around the main room of the Nebula and Roscoe dropped, blood spilling from his head. Benji spun around looking for the source of the shot and saw Dave on the second floor with a sniper rifle in his hands. Dave was a Light. That explained his attitude, the regret for killing Lights, and the horror when Shelly found the Equilibrium.
    Hundreds of Lights poured in from the tunnel leading from the garage, various guns in their hands, and mixed in with Dark. Benji stood up, took the pistol out of his waistband, and fired the last three remaining rounds in the magazine.
    Then he ran out of the main room along a dark hallway until he came to a very large room filled with weapons. A lot of Dark was already in there getting weapons for them and friends back in the main room holding off Lights. Benji grabbed two pistols and put them in his pockets; a shotgun with a strap and strapped it across his chest; and an automatic rifle, which he held in his hands.
    Benji ran out of the weapon room, along the dark hallway, back into the main room and up the steps to the second floor, looking for Dave. He spotted Dave standing ten feet from where he sniped Roscoe. Dave saw Benji and ran.
    “Come back, you coward,” Benji yelled and ran after Dave.
    Dave ran along one of the halls upstairs until he finally came to the end. Benji shot the rifle, but Dave opened up a door and went in. Benji ran to the end of the hall and stood for a moment.
    He expected Dave to shoot at him the moment he came in. Nevertheless, he opened the door quickly and ran in, spraying bullets. But it looked as if Dave wasn’t in there.
    The door shut behind him and Dave was standing there, looking at Benji through the scope of his sniper. Benji darted to the side a millisecond before hearing the sniper fired. The bullet grazed his left ear. Benji pointed the rifle at Dave and unloaded the magazine. Benji ran out of the room and back down the hall.
    He looked down into the main room below. People were in one-one-one fights. The room was loud with gunfire and yelling. It looked about the same amount of Light and Dark fighting. An Equinox. Light/Dark. Fighting to the death.
    Benji thought about April and wondered if she was alive. He searched the crowd below and finally spotted her in battle with a woman. She was giggling like a little child. Apparently, she hadn’t had time to get into a determined mood because of the surprise of Light. She still fought determinedly, although the playful cat was pouncing. It was a beautiful mixture of emotions that made Benji love her even more. Benji ran down the steps and joined the fight.
    After ten minutes of fighting various Lights, Benji heard rustling upstairs. He turned around and looked up to the second floor. Rip and Mark were fighting. They weren’t using guns, just pure muscle. Benji sunk back into shadows and watched the intense battle between two old friends. He could hear Rip taunting Mark. He was trying to weaken him. It was a good strategy.
    “Long time, no see, bud,” Rip said.
    “Shut your mouth,” Mark growled.
    “How’s Karen?” Rip asked.
    Mark huffed in anger. “She’s dead, you—”
    “Oh, calm down, Mark,” Rip said.
    They fought silently for a while. Rip dodged a swing of Mark’s fist and laughed. “We both know who’s coming out of this alive.”
    “Yeah. Me,” Mark said. He pulled a pistol out of his pocket and pointed it straight at Rip’s chest.
    Benji felt something small and hard hit the back of his left hand and he screamed in pain. He held his hand up to his face. His hand was bleeding profusely and a clean hole was in the middle. He had never been shot in the hand before, so this was a new pain. He turned on his feet and saw a man standing with a pistol pointed at him. Before the man could shoot again, Benji shot him in the chest with one of the pistols in his waistband.
    Benji swung the shotgun on the strap around in front of him and grabbed it in mid air. Then he ran upstairs with intense anger seething from him.
    Rip was lying in front of his office, blood spilling from his chest. Mark was nowhere in sight. Benji knelt down beside Rip, silently crying.
    Rip couldn’t die. Benji had always thought Rip was indestructible. He. Couldn’t. Die.
    Rip seemed to have trouble breathing. He was straining to get breath in.
    Benji realized that Rip had to say something and said, “What? What is it, sir?”
    Finally, Rip managed enough air to say, “I’m fine.” Then his eyes closed and all breathing stopped.
    Benji looked up, tears streaming down his face.
    “Looks like your boss isn’t as good as you thought he was, kid,” someone said from behind Benji.
    He turned around and Mark was standing there. Benji jumped up and ran at Mark, screaming in anger. Mark jumped out of the way and punched Benji’s back. Benji fell, but didn’t scream or show that Mark hurt him.
    They punched and kicked and dodged for what seemed a long time. Quickly, Benji looked down to the first floor. Every Light was dead—along with some Dark, tragically. The remaining Dark was watching Benji and Mark.
    Benji looked back at Mark and mimicked, “Looks like your agency isn’t as good as you thought they were.”
    Mark looked down into the main room and his expression turned into horror.
    Benji grabbed the shotgun hanging from the strap and pointed it at Mark.
    “That’s not fair,” Mark said.
    “Tell me how pulling a gun on Rip was fair,” Benji said angrily and then pulled the trigger. Mark flew backward from the power of the shotgun down onto the first floor and slammed onto the ground. It was over.
    The room erupted into applause and cheers. After they were finished, they came upstairs and crowded around Rip’s body. Everyone’s face was sad, women were crying, and even a few men were crying, including Benji.
    A man broke the sadness by asking, “What now?”
    Benji wiped his eyes and said, “We have to have a memorial service.”
    The man said, “Yeah, of course. But I meant, who’s going to be the boss now?”
    A girl walked out of the crowd and said, “Benji.”
    Benji looked at her with a slight smile on his face and said, “That’s nice, but I don’t think I can—”
    “Benji,” the girl chanted slowly. Soon, everyone joined in.
    Finally, Benji put his hands up for silence and said, “Okay.”
    Everyone cheered.
    Benji walked to the hospital wing, a few people following behind him who were doctors.
    They bandaged up his left hand and he walked back into the main room, looking for April. He spotted her standing in a cubicle close to the tunnel leading to the garage, talking to Rachel. Whew, she was still alive.
    He walked to the cubicle and stood in the doorway. April saw him standing there, waved goodbye to Rachel and walked with Benji to the tunnel.
    “So, what’s up, boss?” she said when they were in the tunnel.
    Benji sighed. “Oh, stop. It’s going to be weird being called ‘boss’, especially from you.”
    April looked perplexed and said, “Why me especially?”
    “Because you’re special.”
    Silence passed. And then, of what feeling he had left in his left hand, he felt something. He looked down and saw April’s fingers interlocked with his. He looked back up and she was facing him with that satisfied grin.
    “I love you,” Benji said.
    “I love you too, Benji,” she said confidently.
    He had never heard her say his actual name before.
    He smiled.