I KILL PEOLE FOR A LIVING.
For the right price, I'll take someone else's life for you.
I've been killing people as long as I remember, and that's saying something 'cause I don't remember anything besides it.
I've never known anything but my ability to kill. It's my life, my new memories, I excel at it. And It's the only thing I own.
It's just so simple to take a stranger's life, you don't know them, they don't know you.
Hell, I don't even know myself.
So why should I be bothered?
I close my eyes and take in a few deep breaths, savoring the intoxicating coffee-laced, chilly morning air while contemplating the joy of another day starting.
The sun is shining brightly, making my honey blonde hair look yellow. From under the café patio umbrella I’m lounging at, I can see the busy morning street, teeming with people wearing various forms of dresses, coats and jacket.
Some are hurrying, some are leisurely walking towards their destination. I smile at the old lady who passes by, thank the waiter who asks if wanted a refill for my now lukewarm coffee, watch the group of men near the counter drinking coffee and speaking to each other in hush voices, open the magazine lying down my table, read the news and pretend to be riveted to it.
But my real interest lies somewhere else.
My phone rings shrilly. I pull it out of jacket pocket and press answer.
"Goodmorning Sweety, how's your day starting?" Greets the voice from the other line.
"Just fine Dad."
"So how's the school project going?" he continues.
I look up as one of the group of men near the front goes over the counter to order something.
"Slow, but I'll finish it in no time I'm sure of it, don't worry too much Dad." I reply as I watch the man instructs the barista on what he wants then gets back to his chair.
"Good, good. I'm sure you'll do brilliant, you have never once failed me."
Of course I never fail.
"I gotta go Dad, project's gonna start." I press the end call and slid back the phone inside my pocket. Then I stand up too and go over the counter to order the special today displayed in colorful chalks in the chalkboard stand outside.
The Barista smiles staring at my eyes, “Is that blue or green?” he asks as he takes in my order.
“Blue,” I reply, smiling back.
“It looks gorgeous,” he remarks, “What’s your name sweetheart?”
I smile again, “Gemma, and why thank you.”
I get back to my seat. Couple of minutes later, the bell pings and the barista calls the man before me, he stands up to get his order.
Then another ping, my name is called. I once again stand up to take my order too.
I took my latte from the counter then start to walk back to my chair, but I feel like I should order something more to fill my stomach, I mean something might happen that will need my full energy, right?
The instant I turn around I didn’t realize the man is behind me and is about to return to his seat, my latte sloshes over to his pristine white long-sleeves, creating a brown map-like stain in his clothes.
“Oh my God! I am so sorry! I didn’t see you!” I apologise profusely, I put down my latte and hastily produce from my bag a handkerchief to wipe the stain. He wave my hand away and takes out his own navy blue handkerchief from his pocket and begins to wipe the stain, only spreading it even more.
“It’s okay, accidents happen.” He says with a wry smile, I glimpse a slight annoyance and irritation flash his face for a second.
“Really I am so sorry, maybe I’ll just pay for it.” I say, feeling guilty.
“No, no, its alright,” he places down his order in their table while his companions are looking at him, inquiringly. He waves the other man who stands up to assist him, I see wireless earpieces attached in their ears, bodyguards, I thought.
“I’ll just go to the bathroom to wash it.” He says to his companions who all nod imperceptibly.
I get back to my chair feeling uncomfortable, I twist my hand and bit my lip guilt bubbling in my stomach, so I followed the man to the washroom.
The washroom is almost at the back of the café, quite far from the main café itself, I pass by a small corridor then turn right. The washroom has an ornate door that strongly smell of varnish. I see the man standing before the sink, wiping off the stain in his clothes; he's so intent on wiping it he doesn't notice me enter.
He sees my reflection in the mirror above the sink.
“You know what its fine, you need not worry.” He says.
"I am deeply sorry, I mean...I know how much that cost...I'm willing to pay for the laundry expense or I'll just buy you a new one." I offer hesitantly, feeling deeply embarrass by the situation.
"It's perfectly fine kid," he says exasperatedly, "this is a minor accident and I am perfectly capable of replacing this myself." he forces a smile and continues to wash wipe the stain.
"Are you sure-"
"100% sure." he cut me off.
"Okay...your call...I mean I was just trying prolong your stay here...so since you don't want any help, then let's just get over this."
He stops mid-scrub.
I push the door close and lock it.
“What are you doing?" he looks up the mirror and stares at my reflection looking unnerve.
“We have something to do...I mean I have a project to finish, and we don’t want to be disturbed of course.” I explain.
"What are you talking about?" he asks again.
But almost at the same moment comprehension dawns at his face.
His mouth opens and closes like a fish out water, finally he's able to speak, "You did this intentionally," motioning at the stain at his clothes still, looking shock. His eyes dart from my face to the space in between us and to the door.
I pick up a towel from the rack then ball it up. "Yeah, did you like my acting? and...I know what you are thinking, I highly discourage you from doing so, its...futile." I reply toying with the towel in my hand. He looks at me up and down and swallows.
"You're just-just a kid," he stammers, "what do you want from me, and who sent you?"
I smile at him fondly like he's my dear uncle, "I was not sent, I was hired." I simply say.
Then in one swift motion I advance at the man he backs away but I caught him and jam the towel in his mouth, I turn him around, twist his arm into a nelson and slam his head down the tiled sink counter and pin him there while he yells in protest and pain, muffled by the towel. I smirk, rich people...they have all the money in the world but would not even bother to learn self-defence.
"I can give you anything! Money? Do you need money? I can give you a lot of money." he yells desperately, barely audible what with the towel in his mouth. He struggles underneath me, so I twist his arm harder making him stop and groan in pain. Then I pull out a 9mm silenced pistol from a secret compartment in my jacket and press the suppressor at the back of his head.
I lean in his ear and whispher “Money in exchange for your life? Highly appealing...I would love to accept your offer however you're a little bit too late, somebody had already paid me shitload of money to take your life,” he thrashes again so I grab a handful of his hair and slam his head down again, blood starts to trickle down his left temple, "You see...rich people live in the belief that they can use money to buy or take away a life...and there's me on the other side of the spectrum...who believes such idiosyncracy should be taken advantage of."
"You won't get away with this, I have a lot of connections, they will find you and torture you in ways you've never imagine." he hisses through his gag.
I cock the gun and press it again on the back of his head.
"Sure, I'll prepare a welcome party for them, that is...if they could find me."
His eyes widens in fear then he starts to thrashing even wildly. I pull the trigger and the man goes limp, blood spattering the tiles as he slides onto the floor lifeless. I shove the gun back inside my jacket, then I go over the sink, wet my hands and lean over the mirror to remove the blue contact lenses from my eyes and replace it with brown ones.
I hear footsteps outside. Immediately, I hid behind the towel rack beside the door, the same time it suddenly slams open. One of the dead man's companions rushes in gun raise, his eyes zero in the lifeless body at the floor, dismay racks his face. He raises his other hand to press the button in his earpiece to convey the death of their boss to his other companions.
Instantaneously, I step out behind the rack, whip another towel from it and twist it around his outstretch arm then bend it behind him, making him drop the gun. I hear a satisfying crunch as I punch his ear where the radio earpiece is located. Then I kick the back of his knee with tremendous force, he goes down with a groan. He swept his leg backwards that causes me to miss a step and tumble down. I see him grab his fallen gun and aims it at me.
We both stand up slowly. His gun aim dead centre at me. I raise my hands in apparent surrender.
His radio crackles and hiss but nothing intelligible came. Using the millisecond diversion, I pull my gun from my jacket. He shoots me, narrowly missing my head by a mere inch as I roll down the floor, then I retaliate and shoot him at the stomach. He falls down on his knees, with one hand attempting to stem the flow of blood from his lower abdomen, the other hand still firmly holding the gun and about to shoot me again. I shoot him again before he does, this time in the left shoulder. He attempts to raise his gun once more.
"For fuck sake, just die." I flip up and stride towards him. I raise my gun and shoot him repeatedly in the chest area. And just for good measure, I shoot him in the forehead. Let's see you move again after that.
The moment I straighten up, I hear movement behind me. I just had a moment's notice before I duck and evade the bullet that whizzes on top of my head. I grab hold of my assailant's ankle and pull him down. He goes down and attempts to fires at me again, he misses and hit the mirror on the wall which shatters into million pieces.
This is suppose to be a silent takedown, one more gunshot and everybody will hear us.
I pull the man's leg upwards to my chest and I wrap my legs aroud his thigh and twist his leg, he moans and takes aim at me. I extract my hand with difficulty and aim and fire at him too. My bullet finds it mark and the man's leg ceases from thrashing.
All of a sudden somebody pulls me in the armpit and lifts up my legs. I realize it's the other two guards outside. The man on my head twists my hand and I'm forced to drop my gun. I thrash and turn but both of the guards hold on to me like constrictor boas with their prey. I kick my legs and the instep of my sneaker hits the man holding my feet in the chin. He staggers backwards clutching his chin and drops me. I run backwards dragging the man behind me. The mirror crunches as the man's back hits it, I jab him with my elbow side by side then I turn, clench my fists, tense my leg muscles and with my sheer force aim a chin kick at him. Neck bones and sinewy snap as my foot connects with his chin, his head lolls to his side and he drops dead, broken mirror trails down with him.
I spin around and face the last assailant.
He clutches a dagger on his right hand and assumes fighting position and attacks. He swipes his armed hand inches on my face, I step back and evade it, then grab hold of his arm as it passes in front of me, pull it down and twist his hands. He drops the knife with a groan and with the flat edge of my hand, hit him on the shoulder with a chopping action, he yells and falls down to his knees. Then I bend my arm and hit him with my elbow in the nape. I grasp his hair and smash his face on the wall repeatedly until he goes limp. I release him and he writhes on the floor moaning in agony.
Panting heavily, I go over and pick up my gun then shoot the writhing man twice, however on the second shot, my gun clicks indicating that I had reach the end of the clip. I hid my gun back inside my jacket, look at all the bodies around me just to make sure that they are indeed dead.
I nudge each of the bodies with my toe, then I look into the mirror and fix my disheveled hair and rumpled clothes. I peek outside the washroom to see if anyone might have heard the commotion, but luckily, no one did. So without further ado, I head outside.
I turn left and found the employees exit. I try to open it but found it locked.
"Is there some problem?"
I twist around and see the barista upfront, who told me my eyes look gorgeous, looking at me. I swallow and smile at him.
"I am sorry...I didn't mean to this...but..." I look directly into his eyes and bit my lip, "my ex-boyfriend is up front looking for me...and I don't really want to see him...I just want to get away."
His face clears up and smiles back at me sympathetically, "Oh, of course...I understand," he fetches the key from a drawer nearby and opens the door.
"Thanks so much, I am indebted to you eternally." I said to him as I go out.
"No problem! just come back here and have a coffee or two again!" then he shuts back the door again.
As I walk out I pass by a dumpster, rip off my blonde hair and dump it on top of the other garbage, pull out a pair of thick rimmed glasses from my sling bag and don it. Then I slid out of my jacket, fold it and shove it inside my bag and walk out of the alley.
I pull out my phone again and dial a number as I pass by the front of the café.
"Done with project Dad, I told you I'll have it done in no time."
"I have never doubted you once," he replies jovially, "Come back home as soon as you can, the school has another project for you." then the line clicks.
I close my eyes and release a few deep breaths, savoring the intoxicating coffee-laced, chilly morning air while contemplating the satisfaction of ending another's day.
I stretch my arms up in the air and blend into the street teeming with people wearing various forms of dresses, coats, and jacket. I take each of my steps unhurriedly, leisurely walking to my next destination.
I receive another stinging backhand slap. I gasp and spit a glob of blood.
The chair where I am tied at rock backwards due to the force of it. I grit my teeth in pain, wishing that more cold wind blows through the window behind me to numb the pain in my cheeks.
I lost track of how long I am confined in this place. It's clearly an abandoned place, empty cardboard boxes were strewn haphazardly around, there were even blocks of brick stack neatly on top of each other, spider webs decorated every bit of the corner of the room, and a fine layer of dust covered the brown floor.
The man who just backhanded me walks over the table at the very far end of the room, which is laden with the stuff he took from me. I see him picks up a wallet and a locket then walks back to me.
He flips open the wallet and looks inside.
“Gemma Lesage…Hillary Banks…Ann Weber…Dylan Everett…Mia Brooks…” the mustached man throws my I.D’s off the floor one by one as he reads the names and then he looks at me, “you’re a bad case of schizophrenia."
“It’s not mine!” I sob. Another slap. Then he opens the locket.
“Is this man your father? I will surely visit him and tell him you’ve been a naughty daughter.” He takes my father’s picture then he chucks the locket at the floor and picks a sizable brick from a stack nearby.
“Please, not that one...my father gave it to me, its very important!” I beg.
He smiles at me condescendingly, showing a row of yellowish teeth. He slams the brick to the locket repeatedly until it was mangled “now it’s not so important anymore, is it?”
“What do you want from me?” I whisper.
He strides towards me and I immediately flinch but he just kneel in front of me and speaks, “Tell me…who sent you?”
“No one! I don’t know what you are talking about!” I cry harder, making my cheeks sting all the more. He runs his fingers through his thinning hair with a look of extreme frustration on his face.
“Kiddo, I’ve hurt more people than I can count and do you know why I did it?” I shook my head fearfully, “because they lied to me…I hate it when people lie to me…especially the young generation they are so much prone to lying.”
I look at the man with his thick eyebrows and unflinching cruel eyes, they definitely say he believes that I’m lying. I feel the clock ticking away and my time diminishing little by little.
“Okay…”I said in a small voice, “I’m going to tell the truth, its…its…in my bag, they have asked me to give you something.”
The man strides away hurriedly towards the table. I inch towards the nearest window with my chair scraping loudly, he did not even look back as he is so intent on checking my bag.
He rattles my backpack and calls out, “Is it here?” he asks sharply, I nodded fast, afraid that he might come back and slap me again. He unzips it hurriedly and a hazy powdery smoke issues from within.
“Probably my powder spilled.” I murmur as I inch further to the window. He overturns my backpack spilling the contents all over the table, a cloud of powdery smoke burst along with it; I saw the bottle of powder cap-less it must have been removed while they were chasing me.
“Where is it?” he asks as he peers again inside the bag, then he forages through the items, inspecting each of them.
“Its there, I swear…just look.” I replied.
“You better be not playing any tricks or I will cut off your tongue.” He says threateningly.
“No, no, no please!” I beg.
Couple of minutes later he straightens up, looks up the ceiling while he licks his lips, there's a growing look of displeasure in his face.
“You’re lying to me kid,” he says silently, “I said I don’t like liars.”
“I didn’t lie! It was there, you must have noticed it!” I said desperately, the wind blows again I took in lungful of air, I feel like the oxygen in my lungs was thinning in fear.
He turns his back from me then I hear some metallic clicks. When he faces my way again I see that he's holding something that looks like it's used for tooth extraction. I’ve seen enough movies to know what is going to happen next.
“NO! I SWEAR YOU’VE SEEN IT!” I panicked. He strides towards me clicking the instrument menacingly. I waited for the inevitable thing to happen with bated breath, the clock ticks away like a bomb about to explode.
Mid-way he stops and staggers.
Then he falls down on his knees clutching his stomach, a look of intense pain mars his face, blood starts to trickle down his nose.
I tilt my head towards the window and took in another lungful of fresh air. Finally, I thought. Everything is going exactly as is suppose to.
“There it is, they wanted me to give you…death…and you found it, didn’t you? I told you I wasn’t lying not all kids this days are impulsive liars, it’s the first thing you’ve seen actually.”
He looks up at me slowly, his face turning purple. His eyes bulging from its socket screaming the question he cannot verbalize. I nodded as if answering the question “yes, you’re right it’s the powder…Pollunium-210, hard to get your hands on but easy enough if you have the proper connection, I was wondering why you keep looking when it’s all over you!”
He gives a huge heave and starts vomiting.
“According to theory it could kill 20 million people,” I say conversationally as I untie the ropes from my wrist, “but no worries…the mankind is safe and I’m safe that’s why I’m here near the source of clean air, that amount would only suffice to kill you.” Finally I am able to remove the tie and rub my irritated chaffed wrists. “And incidentally by the way do you know that it was believed that Polonium-210 was the culprit for killing Alexander Litvinenko? You know that officer of Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation? I’m quite sure you know him.” he only retches and moans in response. I watch as struggles to get up but slids back down in his own vomit, then I notice he's clawing furiously at his pocket, obviously I cannot come close to stop whatever his doing.
Ear-spitting alarm wails all over the place.
“I guess that’s my cue to leave,” I stand up immediately and goes over the window ledge, a strong gust of air buffets me as I look down.
A 6-foot fall, easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy nothing I can’t survive.
I look back at the man, “I have only like half a minute and counting, by the way thanks for destroying that locket and that man there? I don’t know who he is I just picked it somewhere…so I guess this is it-”
The door crashes open interrupting my dramatic farewell, about a dozen of men spill in guns raise, lasers forming into single point trained towards my back. 10 seconds and counting, I thought.
“Wait!” I scream, all of them pause hesitantly, "If you shoot, this places is going to explode!" I declare. They look suspicious and unnerve at the same time.
I count the seconds towards the timer, hopefully my calculations are precise. 6…5…4…3…“Okay! Sayonara, suckers!” I jump off the ledge as bullets whizz pass my head followed by a loud explosion, debris rain down on me as I fall.
I land in a roll, cursing a lot of mothers as pieces of broken window glasses cut my arms. I stagger up, my shoes crunching on the mixture of debris and glasses. I look up to the window where I jumped a while ago, nothing but black smoke came from it. I can almost visualize another questioning look of the mustached man as he asks me how did I make the place explode.
Simple enough: I stuck in between the foam of the backpack some improvised explosive devices or IEDs as commonly called, then I placed the trigger inside the locket and by deceptively leading him he destroyed it and that triggered the timer for 30 minutes. And the rest was just a matter of pinpoint-precise time calculation.
I roll my ankles and shoulders to check if I broke anything. Satisfied I’m still in one piece I start to walk away from the scene.
I find the black sedan of my target, now the dead mustached man with horrible teeth and eyes. I know it was his since I’ve been following it for a week. I pick up a heavy stone and throw it at the driver’s window. I pull the lock then snuck inside to hotwire it.
As the car purrs to life, a ringing sound issues from the car’s glove compartment. I take out the phone and see an unknown number; I tap the answer button.
“You look a mess.” Says the clear, crisp voice from the other end. I stare at the center of the steering wheel where I installed a miniscule camera two days ago; it just looks like it was part of the steering wheel.
“Yeah…all’s well that ends well.”
“No liabilities at all?”
He gives me a congratulatory remark, I even hear him clapping slowly, twice.
“So how did that upgraded Polonium work?”
“Suffice to say it was remarkably fast-acting, compared to the Litvinenko assassination.”
“Hands down to you, it was your idea after all,” then he claps again, “now patch that pretty face up, we don’t want that scarred forever, do we? I’ll check on you later and by the way the payment was deposited already, I’ll fax you the account details.”
I nod at the camera then the line clicks.
I drive away towards my apartment. My identity as the assassin ends for the moment and my other identity assumes position.
Before abandoning the car in some empty parking lot, I look for anything inside it that will cover my hideous visage. Luckily I found an Armani jacket folded at the backseat which is twice my size and reeks with the scent of tobacco.
I cover myself fully with the jacket and walk into the lobby of the condominium I am currently taking residence.
I must’ve look completely out of place that the usual guard blocks my pathway.
“Your keycard madam?” he asks clearly but polite.
“Uhm…I lost it, but I expressly asked the concierge to keep me a spare.”
The guard shakes his head, “I am sorry Miss, I cannot-“
“Ms. Tyler Alloway!” calls the concierge. The guard peers at me closely; slow recognition dawnsat his face then he apologizes profusely.
“No its alright, I do look like a homeless person that just suddenly barge in it’s okay.” I tell the guard. He goes back to his station looking embarrassed. Then I approach the concierge, his eyes widen slightly as he takes in my appearance.
“Ms. Alloway…would you like some medical assistance?” he asks slowly.
“No, no, no, I’m fine just some minor accident in my part-time job…and I lost my keycard…again.”
The concierge shakes his head smiling, he passes me a spare and he jokingly reprimands me, “Ms. Alloway if you weren’t a well-esteemed resident, you will be banned from this place.”
“I know Andrei," I reply chuckling, "and I am grateful to you.”
“You sure you’re fine?” he calls again as I go for the elevator.
“Sure!” I show him a thumbs up, he nods and smiles.
My unit is on the 35th floor. I check on my appearance through the glass door, my face doesn’t look as bad as I expect, my cheek has a large purple-red bruise and my lips are bleeding. The glass doors open and I walk towards my unit.
The first thing I notice is the slightly ajar door of the electronically locked unit. I stop dead and throw my eyes around for any form of weapon. I come up zilch. So I decide to just walk slowly towards my door and push it silently.
There's nothing suspicious as I step in, I immediately crouch and pull a handgun hidden underneath the carpet. I cock the gun; it echo loudly around then I continue to crouch forward.
Then there's a sudden loud clatter from the pantry. What the hell is that?
I inched closer to the pantry, my forefinger ready to pull the trigger for any sign of hostility. I hear a muttered curse. What? I straighten up and walk slowly to the pantry gun still raise.
And what I see surprises me.