Memoirs of an Assassin #6 – Phantom Pain

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.

  1. The First of Many
  2. Score a Point for Dear Old Dad
  3. Tough Choices
  4. Ignorance is Bliss
  5. Painful Memories

I hope you enjoy reading this installment of memoirs of an Assassin
I look forward to your comments and suggestions

26 comments On Memoirs of an Assassin #6 – Phantom Pain

  • Good story. It’ll be interesting to see what he chooses. As for your question, I’d say just what you did is the best way to go. If you see the employer as a female, do it and make a note for all to see. Seems fine to me.

    • Eric,
      I’ve never revealed the employer as male but stated things like “one mans sick and twisted game” in past installments. If I were to go back and rewrite I think they would be minor tweaks.

      The choice is actually revealed, subtly, in the “journal style” entry at the head of the story. I was afraid that it would be too subtle but I didn’t want to take the story much further than I did.

      Thanks for the comment, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  • That’s a tough choice! Three fingers or the dog? I don’t really know which way I’d go.

    • Yeah, definitely a tough choice, given the character traits of the killer. One of my biggest hangups was putting a value on a dog and fingers. Wasn’t sure if the numbers were sky high or far too low.

      Thanks for the comment

  • I missed the bit at the beginning, so glad you pointed this out, now I’ve re-read I like the subtleness of it!

    I miss hearing about the games he plays with his targets, bring back the goriness! Is he going to be able to carry on as an assassin now? I hope so!

    • I was thinking this little lull in the killing action was needed to drive the story forward. I didn’t want it to get monotonous with gory game after gory game. Since you asked for it, I guess next week I’ll try and bring back the killing.

      Oh, and my thought was that the killer will adapt and overcome. The three fingers are on his non-dominant hand.

      Thanks for the comment

  • I have not read your other pieces-this being my return to Fiction Friday after a long absence- but I really enjoyed this. I will go back and read the earlier parts. I thought the woman boss felt natural and right. I always enjoy the complications and assumptions that occur when you mix up the genders instead of just sticking with just male or just female. I thought it was a great read.
    Thanks for writing!

    • Up until now I was holding back on revealing the emplyer and just envisioned them as a male character. When it came time to introduce them into the story, in a more active role, the image I had in my mind seemed weak. The story just seemed to flow better by swapping out gender.

      Amazing how much of a difference it makes.

      Thanks for the comment. I look forward to reading your thoughts on previous installments.

  • This is getting better and better, Walt. The first part to this story is great. The imagery is so well chosen and apt. I also like the sinister twists. Good change of pace, too.

    • As much as I like writing about the action and killing people off, I think this serial was due for a bit of a slow down to develop the story a bit. I’m thrilled that it has been so well received.

      Thanks for the comment

  • I love your writing style. Pulls me in and keeps me hanging on. I like that the boss is a woman; it really seemed to fit the story well. And of course he keeps the dog! A broken down shell of a man like that needs to love something or lose all his humanity. Well done.

    • Sometimes I worry about my writing style. This serial lacks any of that wispy sort of imagery. It feels a little dead but I suppose that fits the storyline.

      Thanks for the comment

  • Fantastic. I definitely want to read so much more.

  • You really do present your protagonist with some stiff choices Walt! I think how he responds to this dilemma will go someway to answering my question from last week. Nice work.

    • I think that when he looks at himself in the mirror, he sees nothing more than a shell that is completely dead inside. I think over time he may realize that he has a bit of compassion in him, despite what he does for a living.

      Thanks for the comment

  • This story gets better and better each time. I love the idea of the employer being a woman; sexy, provocative and deadly. It just fits better. Don’t kill the dog. Don’t kill the dog.
    But you know your character better than anyone else. This will be a hard choice for him to make. And you too. Good luck.

    • Terry,
      The answer to that is buried in the story. I was shooting for subtlety but I think I over-did it a bit.

      “Phantom Pain” is a pain that amputees get in their missing limbs/appendages. They are sometimes called “Ghost Pains” but I think Phantom fit better into my opening paragraph.

      Thanks for the comment

      • I read it again and Wow, how did I miss that? It was obvious. I guess I just got so caught up in the second part that I forgot he was actually reminiscing. And the first two paragraphs were great. Subtle but perfectly written.

  • I don’t think having her female breaks the story at all, but I do wonder what sort of hold she as a woman has over him to demand three of his fingers. It may be sexist, but I can see a male boss demanding & expecting that, but her? Less convinced. Maybe in future episodes you show us the power she has over him?

    • I haven’t revealed any sort of hold on him yet (I haven’t conjured that up yet) but in previous installments of this serial, I show his fear for his employer. This is mostly because of how twisted her mind is.

      Thanks for the comment

  • I’m loving all these levels of your killer… and I’m also wondering which way he will go. I think letting the dog live will be the first step to freedom, somehow!

    • It’s funny, when I started this serial I just envisioned this heartless killer. Along the way he has become complex, almost by himself. I just kind of spill the words onto the page and each scenario shapes him a bit more.

      Thanks for the comment

  • Wow, a nasty choice. But then, it’s a tough business. Imagine what life would be like if all our employers used these “motivational” methods? 😉

    Well-written, tense, and the female employer didn’t jar me at all. If you do need to make adjustments to the earlier installments, I’d bet they’d be only small ones.

    Great stuff here! I like the way this is going. And the narrator’s voice is cool to me. 🙂

    • All of the employer references in past installments have been vague. I think I’ll just need to change up a little wording in each piece to change over to a female employer.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the serial. Thanks for the comment and the kinds words.

  • I like the employer as a woman – it shows that the character just sort of… came out of your head like that, fully formed, if that makes sense.
    It’s good to get a better look at the narrator, too

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.