Liz, Five Months Before Impact Day
Not satisfied with Rachel’s tampering, I kept researching. You could never trust someone like Rachel not to have an agenda.
Frustratingly, everything seemed to point to her being right. Which left me with a dilemma. If the target was just a test, we were the reason he would be dying. If I turned down the job, she wouldn’t send someone else in my place. He would live, but we’d get nothing. If I took the job, it was murder.
It was a trade, then. His life for information. And I couldn’t imagine any information being worth that.
So what do I do?
There was one thing I could think of. I paid a visit to Jason.
* * *
A stolen school uniform. A few careful tears. Arms covering my face. The scene was set.
I ran down the street, making a lot of noise. I chose Jason’s house, in a fashion that could only look random. I ran up to his front door, and pounded on it urgently.
He answered quickly, a look of surprise and concern on his face.
“Please, you have to help me!” I cried. “I don’t want him to catch me…”
How despicable to subvert that narrative and twist it into something vile.
“Of course,” he said. “Come in.”
He closed the door behind me, and I dropped the act. In a second, he had a knife to his throat.
“Don’t talk,” I said. “My problems get a lot simpler if you make me kill you.”
He nodded weakly, trying not to move his neck.
“I have awfully bad news for you,” I told him. “Someone put a price on your head.”
His eyes bulged.
“So now, consider this. If I kill you, I get what I want. If I don’t, someone else will. That’s how these things work. So let me ask you, why wouldn’t I kill you?”
Still no response. Good.
“Thing is, I don’t like killing. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And I did my research. I found us a little compromise. Are you willing to listen?”
Another weak nod.
“Good. So, here’s my proposition. You and I are gonna run a little grift. You’re going to do everything I say, and if you behave, you live. Work for you?”
Nothing. I pressed the knife a little harder, drawing blood.
“Don’t waste my time, Jason.”
“Better. Now, here’s some fun trivia for you. I’m a bit of an artist, and a bit of a drama kid. I’m very good at making very convincing sets, you follow? Shh. I don’t want to kill you. I just want people to think you’re dead. One person in particular.”
I lowered the knife. He kept trembling, but didn’t move.
“Now. Here’s the fun part. I’m gonna need some of your blood.”
* * *
I sat, and waited. Eventually, Miss CEO returned to her office. I smiled as she did her best not to react loudly. She shut the door behind her quickly.
“What is this?” she asked.
It was a fair question. Her office was splattered in blood. Specifically, Jason’s blood. His cold, lifeless body lay on the floor.
“A two-for-one deal,” I said.
“I knew this was a mistake,” she replied, but I noticed she’d dropped the demeanour from earlier. It was just an act after all. “You can tell your boss—”
“He’s not my boss,” I said. “And in any case, this is between you and me.”
“You had no reason to kill this man,” I told her. “You picked his name out of a phone book, or you might as well have. That’s not respecting my craft, Angela.”
“Shhh. Don’t. Look at him. Touch him, if you’re brave enough. I want you to realise what you’ve done.”
“Get out of here,” she said.
“No,” I replied. “You tell me who you really wanted dead.”
“I’m not stupid,” I said. “This one was a test. I did it, and now I’m here to say, don’t pull shit like this. Now, give me the real job, or I’m leaving this mess here for you to clean up.”
Her face paled. I gave her my most evil grin.
“I can’t, yet.”
“Yet?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“He won’t be in the country for another month.”
“And what, exactly, would you like me to tell my ‘boss’?”
“It’s the best I can do,” she said.
“Then you’d better hope the price is right.”
* * *
Jason didn’t wake up until hours later. The blood loss combined with the drugs I’d given him had made for a pretty convincing facsimile of death, but she hadn’t even checked closely. It almost felt like a waste.
“God, I feel like arse,” he said, rubbing his head.
“But you’re alive,” I told him. “You’re welcome.”
“Right. Thank you.”
“I think we’re done then,” I told him. “Forget my face, forget this ever happened. And don’t tell anyone. Ever.”
I didn’t wait for him to answer. I just left, and prepared for the real target.
Four Months Before Impact Day
I pulled my knife from the now-limp body, wiping the blood off with the inside of his suit jacket. Without his breathing, the room was uncomfortably silent.
So that’s what killing feels like.
It was uncomfortably easy. Humans really were frail creatures, and that was an unpleasant thought.
I stepped away from the body. I didn’t need to be around when the body was discovered. My job was done. Aidan would be happy. I was… empty.
I hope one day you appreciate this, Charlie. I did this for you.
Not that I ever wanted her to know. She was wholly and rather aggressively against killing, and doing it for her sake would only make her loathe it more.
As I turned to leave, I realised I was no longer alone in the room. My heart skipped a beat as I instinctively went for my knife, but whoever they were, they didn’t seem to be paying attention to me.
It seemed like a young woman, with a long black coat and blue hair. She was staring at the corpse, but she didn’t seem surprised, or even concerned.
Next Week: Vignettes