A lamb to be sacrificed, part of the system of sacrifices and offerings required by Mosaic Law. The lamb was a stand-in: he received the "death penalty" for the sins of the people - the shedding of blood pointed out the serious nature of sin, i.e., how much of an affront it was to God. An annual event, IIRC. It foreshadowed the New Covenant (a superset of the Law) brought about with Jesus' incarnation on Earth - He became the Lamb offered as a once-and-for-all sacrifice.

In the Arab world, when one buys a house it is customary to purify it and ensure good luck by sacrificing a lamb. It is not uncommon to see the courtyard of a newly constructed house smeared with blood.

Before being sacrificed, the lamb should live in the new house for several days and come to feel at home there. The local butcher who performs the ritual should kill the animal with one motion so it feels no pain.

The lamb is eaten at an evening feast to which friends—but not neighbors—are invited. Once neighbors have been invited to your home, you are obligated forever after to offer them hospitality every time they knock.

Rachel barged into the cafeteria of the now-ruined Brookhaven Hospital. The place threatened to collapse at any time, but she was not leaving until she found Leonard. She was no longer concerned with making his death look like an accident. There was one bullet left in her pistol's magazine, and it had his name on it.

"Well look who decided to show up."

She turned at the sound of the familiar voice. There he was, seated at one of the few round tables that weren't overturned. In the swirl of dust in the beam of her flashlight he looked even more gnarled than she remembered; craggy, his eyebrows so long and curly they nearly met his eyelashes. He held a flask in one hand and a semi-automatic in the other.

"You son of a bitch." She took a step toward him, gun drawn, eyes trained on his vacant ones.

Leonard choked a little on the swig he had just taken. "Don't point that thing at me. You'll spoil my drink."

"I'm gonna spoil more than your drink if you don't start talking."

"Very well. What would you like to talk about?"

She took a breath. The air smelled of dry-rotted plaster and malaise. "You can start by telling me why you destroyed this place. No, scratch that...I want to know why you do anything." She cocked the gun. "And I want the truth this time."

"I've never lied to you, Rachel," Leonard said calmly, taking another nip. "At any rate, I don't know why you're so angry. You were right about me, after all."

"Yeah, I was right that the man who raised me is a homicidal, delusional fanatic. What can I say? I'm fucking thrilled."

Leonard shook his head. "You poor kid. You still don't get it, do you? I gave you a chance when no one else would. When you were two your parents tried to drown you in the toilet. I took you in when they didn't want you. I gave you every opportunity. But how was I to know that you would turn out to be just another non-believer?"

“I don’t believe in senseless killing! You tried to kill me too, remember?”

"But you survived. That has to mean something, right? But still you spurn God. Why?"

Somewhere in the distance, a rumbling crash signaled that the building was ready to crumble at any time.

"Damn it..." Rachel looked over her shoulder in the direction of the door, then back at him.

"Don't even think about it." Leonard raised his own weapon. "If I die here I'm taking you with me. The only difference is...I'll be going to a different place than you, Rachel."

The young woman burned all over with rage, but managed to retain her composure. "Fine. You really wanna know? Let me tell you. Your fucked up religion has taken dozens of lives and ruined even more...including mine. It is evil and wrong and it needs to die. And so do you." She raised her weapon once again.

Leonard smiled slowly and drained the remaining contents of his flask. "Rachel, Rachel," he said, shaking his head. "Don't you know that even my so-called 'evil' religion believes that two wrongs don't make a right? You stand there and tell me you don’t believe in senseless killing, while you point a gun at a human being. Would you really pull the trigger?”

"I've done it before."

He smiled. The dim light accentuated the dark cavities between his teeth.

"You don’t have what it takes to kill me."

Snap. "Shut up shut up shut up." Rachel screamed so loud she felt herself starting to black out, and charged the old man, pointing her gun directly at his head. The barrel pressed hard into his forehead, and still he smiled. And still she did not pull the trigger.

"See? It's not so easy when you know you can't win."

"Bastard." The mockery of his words and the smug taunting smirk on his face burned themselves into her consciousness and filled her with white-hot rage. A heavy silence lingered, broken only by the rumblings of a building preparing to collapse. Her finger tightened on the trigger.

POW.

A single gunshot broke the silence. Leonard froze on the spot, a look of shock on his face, and finally collapsed onto the table. His gun dropped to the floor from his slack fingers, and blood oozed from a single wound in his chest. Rachel watched aghast the entire time, and looked down at her own gun. It had not been fired.

"W...who's there?" Rachel turned to the door, flattening herself against the wall before peering out into the corridor. She saw nothing aside from the fine dusting of plaster that rained down from the rapidly weakening ceiling. She took one step into the hall, and heard something crinkling under her boot in the process. Looking down, she found a fresh sheet of paper; yet another hand-written note.

Thank you, Rachel. Without you I would never have been able to get rid of him. Your fight is now over, but mine has just begun. Someday we'll meet, and I'll explain everything then. Please, don't grieve for him. He was dead before he was even born. I'll explain that too. But for now I want you to leave this place. And live. Live for me, since I can no longer. You take care, Rachel.

A few minutes later, Brookhaven Hospital was leveled to the ground. The body of Leonard Wolf, as well as the evidence of his crimes, were buried forever. Rachel did not stick around to see it; she merely heard the roar as she walked.

The End

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