Rain draws near. As the thick black clouds roll across the sky, one persistent phantom of my past comes to pay a visit. Like any courteous guest, I am presented with gifts upon arrival. First a dull ache, then a vivid rush of memories. My uninvited guest goes to great lengths to remind me of past decisions.
Unlike most of my memories, this dark and twisted nightmare of my waking hours comes with fondness. It was the first time since Jill’s death that I willingly offered a part of my self in return for companionship.
My visit with Uncle Joe was taxing on my emotions. I battled the urge to tear out his throat for nearly an hour before we parted ways. The scars of my past were freshly opened. All I could do now was douse them in alcohol and marinate in my self loathing.
I settled into my leather sofa with a bottle of Woodford Reserve in one hand and a glass of ice in the other. With a shaky hand I tipped the bottle and spilled the caramel colored liquid over the ice. Before lifting the poison up to my lips, Nika’s large puppy head gently found its way onto my lap. Her dark eyes looked up at me as if begging me to stop my form of self torture.
Something buried deep inside made me set my drink aside. With shuddering breaths I pulled Nika close. Her muscular body found a comfortable place to rest. Together we dozed.
I slept a dreamless sleep that lasted until dawn. Faint rays of the early morning sun trickled through my window. Nika felt me stir and sprung to life. Her stump of a tail wagged viscously as she leapt onto the floor and ran off towards the front door.
Man and beast, different we may be, but we are both creatures of habit. As she trounced around the yard to begin her day, I reached for my mobile phone and checked to see what mine had in store.
Not quite a surprise, my services were required in the evening. I was expected to enter a home in a wooded area and retrieve a metal fire box. If I were to run into the widower that owned the house, we were to play a little game.
“Ah, Aberdeen, how nice of you to join us.” That was the last thing I expected to hear after dispatching an middle aged mans head. Her voice was sickeningly sweet. A chill ran down my spine.
“Come to check up on me I presume?”
“Your job performance as of late has merited my presence. So yes, I suppose you can say that I’m checking up on you. More importantly, we have some business to address.” Without another word, my employer turned her back on me. Unsure of the seriousness of the situation, I followed her to a stairwell and began the climb into the attic.
The attic was illuminated by three bare bulbs spaced sporadically throughout the room. In the center of the room stood two stocky men. One held a metal fire box, the other a pistol grip shotgun pointed in my direction.
“I see you’ve found what you were looking for. It would seem as though this job is complete. What business do we have aside from payment?” On the outside I was picture-perfect calm and confident. On the inside, I felt as though I would have a nervous breakdown.
“Payment is precisely what we have to discuss. You collected on our last assignment without completing your task. You owe me $250,000 in addition to what we will call liquidated damages.”
“Perhaps you could break it down for me?”
“There isn’t much to break down. You were hired to kill off a family, one of which you allowed to live. I have been informed that you walked away from the residence with the dog.”
“You arranged for me to come to this house and kill a man, all so that you could confront me? I don’t understand Vix, why all the sneaking around?”
“You do know how I enjoy games, Aberdeen. The killing was a twist in the game, your target arrived moments before you did. We already collected the case when he arrived and thought we would stay for the show. I must say, it was rather boring.” To punctuate her displeasure, she rolled her eyes and waved a hand at the henchmen to come forward.
“Fair enough, I broke the contract and you’ll be repaid $250,000. Is that all?”
“We have to discuss liquidated damages.” An evil smile spread across her lips and crashed against my emotions like a wave.
“What are the terms?”
“You must make a choice. Your first option is the death of the dog plus $75,000 for my trouble. Your second choice is something of yourself that I have accessed at $100,000.”
“What is it that you value you at $100.00, and the dog lives correct?”
“That is correct, the dog lives. As for what I want, three fingers from your left hand, delivered by you.”
While writing this piece I decided to make a change in the story which may or may not have been realized. In the past I envisioned the employer as male, in this piece the employer is clearly female. Having the role played as a woman seemed a better fit, so I left it as it spilled on the page and decided against editing to make the character male. I’d like your input on this, does it break the story?
This installment of Memoirs of an Assassin was inspired by a writing prompt from Write Anything’s Fiction Friday. That prompt was “A covert trip into an attic reveals something unexpected.”
In addition to submitting this piece to the Fiction Friday crowd, I have also included it in the #FridayFlash Twitter group. For more information on that group, and a listing of all entries, please head over to JM Strother’s Mad Utopia.
Memoirs of an Assassin is an ongoing serial. To get caught up from the beginning, please use the links below.