Memoirs of an Assassin #3 – Tough Choices

Money is the root of all evil. Such a laughable concept. During my extended stay on this earth there is one thing that I am absolutely sure of, a mans pride is the muck that evil pulls itself from. If money is the root of all evil, pride is the rich soil which nurtures the growing weed.

By giving a mans pride a gentle nudge, you can turn the most intelligent individual into an absolute fool. I learned this important life lesson by becoming a fool myself. After purging this world from one heroin addicted soul, I was eager to accept my due praise. I must have appeared as little more than a child waiting for his ego to be stroked after a job well done.

“You’re one sick son of a bitch, Aberdeen. Drinking a mans beer as you fill his body with poison. Yes, one sick son of a bitch”. The muffled words through the receiver brought forth a wave of euphoria. I was putty in my employers hands and it took nothing more than a little rough praise.

In one smooth motion, my pride swelled and the next task was laid at my feet. In a complete lack of judgment I accepted, without fully understanding the risks and complications involved, my next assignment. The latest of the deranged games included multiple pieces and would have to be set in motion like a fatal Rube Goldberg machine. A complicated series of actions to achieve a simple goal, to still the hearts of those deemed unworthy of life.

**********

“Help!” The scream was shrill and crackled through an old baby video monitor. The sheer panic jolted me from my near sleep state. I shifted in my chair and settled my eyes on the small screen to see my work unfold. After a few disoriented steps, my letter was discovered.

Dear Mrs. Burns
For a reason unknown to me, you have been chosen to participate in a fatal game. With this letter you have surely found your game accessory, a loaded Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum. It is loaded with a single cartridge, so please do not waste it.

You have been locked inside a metal cargo container in a place where we will not be disturbed. At the far end of this container you will find your brother. He has been drugged and lies unconscious as to not distract you.

The objective of this game is simple, you must either choose between your brothers life or that of your own. Like all decisions in life, there will be consequences. In the event that you choose to take your own life, I will then take the lives of your immediate family. If you choose your brothers life, I will take the lives of his immediate family.

You have fifteen minutes to make your decision. If no action is taken before time expires, I will leave you both here to die slowly while I seek out both families.

PS
I expect that this will be an extremely difficult decision for you to make. To help you along I have left you a coin. If it helps, you can always flip for it.

Best of luck
Your friendly neighborhood game enforcer

Kara stood looking at the letter for what seemed like an eternity. In reality it was no more than four minutes before she picked up the gun, followed by the coin. A low ping flowed through the speaker and I watched the dim light glint off its silver surface as it turned in the air. I could not see how it landed, but she fell to her knees and sobbed at the result. A moment later she pulled herself off the floor and strode away into the dark corner of the shipping container.

“I’m so sorry Jimmy, I hope you can forgive me”. Her words were followed by a muffled pop through the steel prison. I heard her sobbing as I walked off to set the rest of the game in motion.


This weeks piece of creative writing was inspired by the Fiction Friday Meme on Write Anything. The prompt was “In her right hand a woman holds a loaded gun, in her left, a coin that just came up ‘tails’“.

This piece has been included into the #FridayFlash Twitter Group. For more info on that group, and to view a collective of stories, check out JM Strother’s Mad Utopia.

23 comments On Memoirs of an Assassin #3 – Tough Choices

  • Wicked story! What a horrible decision to have to make.

    • Eric,
      I was going to have her choose between herself and someone she loved but it seemed to cliche. By broadening the scope to include the victim and their immediate family, I thought it would make things a bit more complicated and have more of an impact on the reader.

      Thanks for the comment

  • I originally had the idea that the coin toss would be the result of a game where it was her life or her boyfriend’s life – but I thought that idea was too close to this series of yours.

    Again I love it. I’m worried how your mind works but I love it. Actually I’m impressed of how many different things you come up with.

    I can see the improvement in your writing since you started this – especially with this series, I think you’ve found your forte!

    • I think that each of these writing prompts come with a couple of obvious directions the story could go in. This week a coil flip determining who dies seems like the logic choice. I haven’t read very many entries just yet, but the ones I have read do a good job of not running directly into that cliche. Instead, everyone seems to be putting their own twist on the coin flip as to not make it too obvious. I find that very interesting and can’t wait to read some more.

      I feels strange to keep seeing the same praise. “I’m worried how your mind works but I love it”. I guess if my current career doesn’t work out I can always get into the business as an interesting assassin. Now if only the sight of blood didn’t bother me so much. LOL

      I’m glad you are seeing an improvement in my writing. The more I write in the first person perspective, the more I like it. There is just something about conjuring up inner dialog and allowing it to spill onto the screen, without filtering it into the third person, that keeps me interested.

      Thanks for the comment

  • Hey Walt, good to see you back here after the birth of your gorgeous little girl.
    Your writing has definitely become tighter and leaner, and much more focused.
    I’m also intrigued by the ethical dilemmas and choices the main character and his victims are forced to make, as chilling and uncomfortable as they are.
    Good stuff.
    Adam

    • Adam,
      I am a bit surprised. I thought that when I was able to sneak away from baby duty to do a little writing my mind would be all out of sorts. The little break I took seems to have cleared out some of the clutter I had in the back of my mind.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the piece.
      Thanks for the comment.

  • I had not read the other installments in this series, so I read this cold. It certainly pulled me in. You created quite a dilemma for Kara, and made the coin flip that much more necessary. (She may choose to sacrifice herself or her brother but making the choice to eliminate the family, too. That added the additional element needed for the coin flip.) I also became interested in the larger story as well. Good job.

    • Scott,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the story and were able to follow it without difficulty. After I published it I realized that I forgot to link to the earlier stories and was worried that it wouldn’t be able to be easily picked up cold.

      Thanks for the comment

  • Perfectly nasty. You are right the scope of not just taking out the victim but also their entire family really cranks up the mean! When I read something as startling (and well written) as this there’s a pathetic little voice in my head going “wait for it, wait for it … the hero will turn up any second now.” Thanks for not feeding the voice.

    • Jason,
      I have that same little voice in the back of my mind telling me that I can’t just let this person die. When writing these stories I just have to tell it to shussh so that I can kill them off in the way that the story intended.

      Thanks for the comment. I’m glad yo enjoyed reading it.

  • Nice! I was waiting for the hero to swoop in and save the day as well. I like it because it’s in the style I would have ended it.

    • John,
      There is most certainly a part of me that says someone should save these people, but that just wouldn’t do the story justice.

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading it
      Thanks for the comment

  • Chilling story. She seemed to come to terms with her decision so quickly. I’m curious, though, about the risks and complications for the assassin that you hinted at. The story feels incomplete. Always leave them begging for more, right?

    • Shelli,
      I was also a bit concerned about the short time in which she made her decision. If I were in her place, I think I would have dragged it out as long as possible. In my mind I thought of her having no concept of time, locked in a steel cargo container, when something inside her just clicked and her decision was made. Its tough trying to bring that out in the story when I’m keeping the viewpoint locked on the killer.

      This is an ongoing work, so more there shall be 🙂

      Thanks for the comment

  • Sheeeeeeit. What a decision to have to make.
    Not that it’s necessary to the story, but I am left wondering how/why this woman and her brother were chosen to be victims of this game. Reminds me a bit of the premise of the Saw films

    • In all three pieces of the story I have left the assassin ignorant as to why the victims have been selected. Given time, and future additions, I’m going to have to craft a tie in for all the victims and make some sense out of it. For the time being I’m just sort of plucking people and scenarios out of the air and inserting them into the story.

      Thanks for the comment

  • As a mother I can understand how quickly she made her decision, as awful as it was. And yeah I think by having that extra twist she was forced into a different decision than what might have otherwised happened. I read it cold too and it pulled me straight in. The only thing I found confusing was that the assassin’s mention of the letter came right before the woman’s letter so I was trying to figure out why he was reading her letter! Figured it out by the end though ;).

    • Stacey,
      I didn’t give any thought to the diary entry at the start of the article and the letter to the victim being confusing. Being that this story is from the perspective of the killer, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have presented the letter in a different manner. I just drafted it up and surrounded it in blockquotes so that the reader knew what was going on.

      While it seems to have worked, I wonder if that was the proper way to present the information in this type of writing (First Person Perspective of the Assassin).

      Thanks for the comment

  • What a dilemma, and so beautifully presented.

  • Wow. Mrs. Burns was deemed unworthy and now she has to play a game with the executioner. Unworthy she may be, and yet she could not have the blame of decision fall to her solely. She needed to pass it on to a spin of a coin.

    A very good, very frightening story!

    • Marisa,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I didn’t want to make the decision easy on her and felt that involving additional family members would put a grim twist on the story.

      Thanks for the comment

  • I knew this prompt would be a good one. I am glad you continued your assassin saga. This is going to be a great novel. I love the first paragraph. Look forward to more of your stories.

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