So last year I started this short story series and then..life happened. I completely fell off and lost the spark for it. I’m pretty upset with myself because I really like this series and I need to finish it. So with that in mind I am posting the first installment in the series here for your reading pleasure.
God it was going to be a rough night…
Right off the bat I knew this mission was all wrong. The setup, the unknown target, the way Jack kept lighting cigarette after cigarette. He could feel it too. Something was not right about this. BASE had given us an address and we had packed up and headed out. I pulled out my favorite blade and looked it over one last time. It was just as sharp as ever. I made sure it was at the ready at all times. Sometimes things got tricky and you had to move in close.
Jack was patting his pockets looking for more cigarettes. I wasn’t sure what his real name was but everyone called him Jack. I saw his hand come out of his pocket, a limp cigarette gripped tight between his first two fingers. He could barely get his lighter to work his hand was shaking so bad and I was reminded again of how off this assignment was.
“What’s got you so shaky Jack?” I asked sheathing my knife.
My voice was hardly above a whisper but in the silence of the van it carried. His eyes went wide as if he didn’t recognize my voice, then he caught himself and glared at me.
“Lay off me Cat,” he practically snarled.
I raised my hands in a gesture of surrender. Jack was the only one that ever called me Cat. It was a personal nickname that he had handed out to me the first time he watched me kill a man. I had just been brought into the organization and everyone assumed that I couldn’t cut it. “Too soft” was thrown around often. It always surprised me that a group of strangers had labeled me soft just because I had a couple extra body parts to keep
The night I was dubbed “Cat” had been a night so different from this one. We had been tailing the target for six days and had found no clean way to get to him. He constantly surrounded himself with people and BASE had insisted we keep it clean and quiet. So we had waited, and then finally the opportunity had presented itself. The target had slipped outside his house to make a phone call to his mistress. The call had only lasted 46 seconds, but in that 46 seconds I had quietly moved up onto the porch behind him. When he hit the end button on his call I moved my hands around his body and slid my knife across his throat. He had opened his mouth to cry out but I was ready for that and quickly tied the scarf I was wearing around his neck and mouth. I held his body against mine as the life bled out of him.
I have always seen death as a very personal thing. When you die no one shares it with you, no one feels it with you. When a person dies they deserve a modicum of privacy to think their last thoughts and choose their final memories so I made sure he never saw my face. His final moments deserved to be his own not filled with the face of a killer. When I was sure he was dead, I had propped his body against the railing of the porch and slid back into the darkness just as the front door opened. It was the target’s wife, come looking for her husband whom she suspected of walking out during family dinner to call his mistress. I was back in the van cleaning my blade before we even heard the first scream.
From then on stealth missions became my specialty and I was called Cat becau’e I moved quietly and pounced on my victims. I would be a liar if I said it wasn’t accurate. After
that night I was the one who moved unseen and it was because of this very skill that BASE had demanded I work tonight’s job personally. They insisted that I go inside the house and make this kill. That right there was the start of the odd requests for this mission. Killing someone inside their home is something we rarely did and the people at BASE knew that. Going in a home meant risk of being seen by someone who isn’t the target. Going in the home meant learning layouts and alarm systems and sleep patterns. It was tricky, and I am a creature of habit. I don’t care for tricky. I looked over at Jack again. He was staring down at the floor between his feet. There was no other way to describe it, Jack was rattled.
“So what’s the plan?” I asked watching him. I was waiting for him to rip my head off again but suddenly he was all business.
“Target will be located in the master suite on the second floor of the home. We will be setup on a rise above the property at the rear of the house. One clean shot through the balcony doors, then we pack up and go home.”
“Why am I here then? I was told I needed to go inside the house.” This wasn’t adding up.
“You’re backup on this Cat. Just a safety precaution.”
“When did you get this intel?” I demanded.
“Before we left BASE.”
Jack was lying. No one had told us anything before we left BASE.
“What’s going on right now Jack?” I asked softly.
He knew I wasn’t buying it but Jack was a professional and he wasn’t going to tell me anything he didn’t think I should know. I could feel a knot building in my stomach and only one thought was doing back flips through my head…they were trying to take me out. My mind began to scan through past assignments and I tried to remember what could have triggered a black light for me. Had I seen something I shouldn’t have seen or heard something I shouldn’t have heard? I felt for the comforting presence of my blade but I was not reassured. Going up against Jack would not be an easy task. I had watched him kill a man with his bare hands and he was just as fast as he was strong.
“Take it easy Cat, this is just business as usual.”
There was nothing “usual” about our business.
“I’m cool,” I breathed but my eyes didn’t leave Jack for the rest of the ride.
Jack was the sort of man who declared himself a leader even when no one asked. He always wanted to run point, considered himself a master of the craft. In truth, Jack was a former Navy Seal who had been dishonorably discharged for touching little girls in foreign countries. I tried not to judge him for it but it was damn hard. The man had a way about him that almost made you forget what he was…almost. Sitting across from him in the back of the van all I could think about was who the target might be and where the driver was taking us.
We never knew who our drivers were. The windows up front had deep tint so that they could see out but no one could see in. Made it very easy to keep eyewitnesses from seeing
them, plus drivers got to live normal lives. They could go home to families and no driver ever worked with the same group. They never saw what we did, couldn’t testify to anything except driving people from place to place. Fancy delivery men, except their cargo is skilled assassins.
I could feel the vehicle slowing down and I felt my heart start to beat a little faster. I can’t describe what I was feeling in that moment as anything other than a rush of adrenaline. What was about to come next was not for the faint of heart. It was a job for predators, those who stalked, hunted, and killed. It was for people like Jack who had lost sight of anything but his own desires and for people like me who were at home in the dark. The van came to a complete stop and I felt myself go still inside. I reached down deep and found that most empty place inside myself and I settled in. This was a mission and I had a target to eliminate. Across from me I could tell Jack was going through a similar ritual. His hands were resting lightly on his knees and he was breathing deeply through his nose.
“You know I hate it when you watch me Cat.”
I couldn’t help smiling a little. We heard two sharp knocks on the side of the van.
“Get your big gun.” I said.
I put in my ear piece and slid open the van door. BASE suddenly spoke with the first bit of real info they had given me all night.
“Thermal imaging has confirmed that our target is in the master bedroom. Jack line up the shot through the double patio doors to the master suite.”
BASE agents always used voice modulators to distort their voices so we wouldn’t know who was giving out these orders.
“Can do,” Jack said.
I lowered the volume on my ear piece just a little. Jack was pulling a case from under his seat. Said case contained a Harris/McMillan 86 Sniper Rifle which was Jack’s favorite toy. I checked my own gun which was much smaller in comparison and made sure there was a round in the chamber. Then I put on the safety and put it back in its holster on my hip. I checked my vest and made sure my hair was pinned in place. Getting hair in your eyes was the worst.
Stepping out onto the bluff above the house we were targeting, I let my eyes adjust to the darkness. Once I was acclimated, I scoped out areas of cover and waited for Jack to pick his post. He picked a smaller rise and settled in. Same routine as always; assemble gun, cross himself, then put his eye to the scope. I moved away from him and sat down on a patch of grass. The rifle was upgraded with the latest tech so the fact that we had almost zero light up here was no problem…thermal sensors picked up everything.
Looking down at the house I was amazed at the amount of space it took up. It was a beast of modern architecture, hard angles and glass everywhere. It never ceased to amaze me the way people with lots of money chose to put themselves on display for everyone to see. This particular person was living in a glass and cement box that left them wide open to the public. How easy it would be to climb down this rise at the back of their property, scale the low level cement wall, and take away any sense of security they ever thought they had. It was when I had thoughts like this, dark thoughts like this one, that made me wonder if something was truly wrong with me.
“BASE, we got a problem,” Jack was saying.
I looked over my shoulder at him. I was sitting crossed legged on the ground not 3 feet from him in a state of complete awareness and there was no problem that I could see.
“The patio doors on the balcony are closed and they’ve got blackout curtains. I can’t get a clean line of sight. With my view obstructed I can’t promise you a clean shot.”
Watching Jack I couldn’t help but wonder how his thermal imaging scope could see through all this darkness, but not blackout curtains. Then a voice was speaking directly to me.
“Agent we need you to get inside the house and open those balcony doors so that we have a clear shot to the target.”
My eyes never left Jack.
“Security system?” I asked.
“Also disabled. We’ve got this covered from our end now do your job agent.”
“Business as usual,” I said rising from the ground.
Jack looked up from his position on the ground and smiled at me. Maybe he meant to be reassuring but Jack was not my friend and nothing he did was reassuring.
Without another word I turned and began to make my way down the bluff. My steps were slow and measured. I couldn’t risk twisting my ankle or making any more noise than usual. I made it to the cement wall around the perimeter without incident and with a running jump I was up and over the wall. I dropped into the yard with a small whoosh of sound and then went completely still.
“Do they have a dog?”
“Records show no ownership of pets.” The reply came quickly.
I scanned the yard for the quickest way into the house. I could go up the drain pipe and straight onto the balcony but I ran the risk of awakening them when I picked the lock. I decided against that and chose instead to enter through the back of the house by the pool.
“How many people are in the home right now?” I asked moving towards the sliding glass doors.
I stopped in my tracks.
“There’s only one person in this entire house?” That made no sense. A house this size had to have hired help on the premises.
“Agent! Are you questioning our ability to do our jobs?”
Was I questioning? Damn right I was. I looked back over my shoulder to where I knew Jack was laying in wait. I couldn’t see a hint of him of course but I could feel him there
watching me through his high-powered scope.
“Jack…?” I couldn’t help it.
“There’s no one else in the house Cat. You’re clear.”
I went to the patio door and checked to see if it was locked. It wasn’t. Someone had left this house wide open to us. I moved inside the home and made my way as quickly as I could to the stairs. I took the steps one at a time, making no noise. From what I could remember of the layout I knew the bedroom was to the left. The door was slightly ajar and I pushed it open just wide enough for me to fit through. I could hear soft snores coming from the bed. My eyes adjusted quickly. The bedroom was the size of a small apartment with the bed positioned in the center of the room. It could have fit at least four people. I tried not to smirk as I walked over to the balcony doors. After sliding the curtains back, I unlocked the balcony doors and pushed them open.
Suddenly I was thrown into stark relief as the security lights at the back of the house, that were supposed to be disabled, blazed to life. The light was harsh and lit the dark room up like a Christmas tree. I heard a noise behind me and turned around. There in the bed was a small boy. He couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. His small face was looking out at me from the mound of pillows surrounding him.
“Mommy?” He called, wiping sleep out of his eyes.
I moved quickly to the shadows but there was no shadow dark enough to protect me from what came next. I heard a whistling noise that I knew was the sound of a bullet flying
past my right ear and then a hole appeared directly in the middle of the boy’s forehead. Standing there in the dark shadows of the opulent bedroom I watched as his eyes rolled to the back of his head and his small body went limp against the pillows. The blood came fast and filled the room with the sharp, tangy, odor of someone’s life force leaving their body.
With a stiff jerk of my head I looked back toward the rise where Jack was waiting and then I heard
Amber Mosby “Forgive me if I don’t get excited…”