Friday, July 24, 2015

Damned if You Do

March 9, 2015
[WP] A mercenary is paid to assassinate a mysterious man who the government believes to be the devil in human form.

Jackson thumbed through the file, glancing at the architectural plans, looking for security systems and frowned. A target this high-level with no security protocol?

"What the hell," he muttered to himself.

The photos were of a mom and her blonde boy who looked to be no older than seven. Both were to be exterminated for security purposes. You didn't get to Jackson's level of wet work without being a monumental risk to the public. But usually they were aware that someone was out for their blood. He'd never been assigned to a target in suburbia who didn't have so much as a burglar alarm.

"There has got to be some sort of mistake," he said, rubbing his hands over his forehead.

The marks' schedules ran like a day out of "Leave it to Beaver." Mom stayed home and kept house. Kid went to school, had high marks. Got in trouble for little things, but otherwise seemed like a typical kid.

He grabbed his phone and hit the number two on his speed dial.

"Hey, Jimbo, It's Jackson," he said.

"Hey, Jacks! What can I do you for?"

Fucking, Jim, he thought, rolling his eyes.

"What's the deal with this Nickerson folio?" Jackson asked.

"Hold on, buddy. Let me look it up," Jackson could hear typing through the phone. "Nickerson, Nickers - Oh, here it is. Shit, buddy that's a big one."

"I fucking know it's a big one, Jim, but have you looked at it? It's all manner of wrong. There's no security detail - just a kid and his mom. What the hell am I walking into?"

"Jeez, buddy, that is weird. But I don't know what to tell you. When I look for details it's fucking classified up the ass," Jimbo replied.

Up the ass? thought Jackson, who just sighed. "Well, if you find out anything. Call me okay? The timeline on this one is tight. I only have until tomorrow night to finish this. "

"Will do, bud --" Jackson hung up mid-sentence.

Well, the job should be easy enough. The pay was unreal.

He watched the house all day. The kid came home from school around 3 p.m., sporting a backpack with racecars on it. Eyes on the house revealed no visible camera, but he knew better than to rely on that. But even an electronics sweep didn't pick up any micro-eyes, or anything that wasn't a motion-sensor light. Not even a goddamn dog in the yard.

Jackson jumped when his phone started humming against his leg.

"Hey, Jim," he said into his cell.

"Jacks, I called in a few favors and got some intel on your job. It's weird, man."

"You don't have to tell me that, Jim. Spill it."

"Lynnie over at Central says that your hit is for the devil - with a capital D," Jimbo said.
Jackson laughed.

"Jim, if you didn't find anything you could have just said so."

"I'm not fucking with you, Jackson. I know that doesn't happen a lot. But, shit, man if you could see the file she sent me, it would curl your fucking hair. I wish - I wish you never called me about it."
Jimbo's voice sounded odd, choked. And Jackson realized he was crying.

"Just do your fucking job, Jackson and we'll all owe you one." Jimbo hung up and Jackson listened to the hissing silence for a whole minute before putting his phone away.

Hours crawled by. 3 a.m. was prime-time. Deep sleep happened then if it was going to happen at all. Even if someone did wake up, it would mess with their reaction time. As he approached he saw a light on in the kitchen. He could see the woman scrubbing the floor, on her hands and knees. Crying.
Well, that fucks things up. But he was out of time and that limited his options. But at least the door was unlocked.

He slipped inside and locked the door behind him. The woman didn't even look up, but she did stop scrubbing.

"Are you here to end it?" she asked.

When he didn't answer, she looked at him. Her blue eyes were red-rimmed and puffy from crying.

"They didn't tell you?" And she laughed, a watery hysterical noise that made the hair on his neck stand up. He had his nylon cord in hand.

"Can you do him first?" she asked, still kneeling and suddenly supplicant. "I need to see it. I need to know that it's done."

This is too fucking weird. Every nerve in his body was yelling at him to get out. But he was a professional. You finish your job or no one pays you ever again. Or worse, you get on someone else's to-do list.

"You have to be quiet," he said. Why are you even talking to her? You aren't supposed to talk to anyone.

But a smile broke over her face, and a look of such blissful relief.

"Thank you. God, thank you so much. You don't know what it's been like - "

He watched his hand snap out, and crack her across the face as though he had no control over it.
"Shut up and show me where he is," he said.

The woman pressed her hand to her face, a ribbon of scarlet blood poured from her mouth. Droplets hitting the floor.

Messy, thought Jackson. Amateur.

She stood and walked barefoot down the hallway. Leading him to a door that was covered with checkered flags and racecars. He opened it, and could see the form of a sleeping child inside.
The bed was the shape of a racecar. He adjusted his grip on the cord and went inside. Within moments it was around the child's neck and taut, cutting off blood flow to the brain in seconds. He held it tight for five minutes. The boy didn't even struggle.

The woman watched from the doorway, and odd smile quirked on her lips.

"I never get tired of watching that," she said. "I wonder how many will die before someone shoots me in the face. Do you think you can make it?"

Jackson knew he couldn't make it.

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