Flash FictionWhereas most of the stories in The Assassin Diaries are more or less stand alones, this one picks up where the last one left off. (If you haven’t read ‘Cardinal Sin‘, I recommend getting on that before continuing.)

I’m not sure how long this linked story will last–that is, how many back-to-back vignettes will follow this specific story line. I could end it in the next episode, but right now I don’t feel like that’s what I’ll do. I see this becoming a more complex affair, which is important. I can’t say all of why without ruining an element of the story below, but suffice it to say this series presents me with both the opportunity to conceive of wildly different situations from installation to installation, and at the same time an overwhelming temptation to fall into a pattern and simply replicate previous events.

I don’t want to do the latter. Not to put to fine a point on it, but that would be bad. And boring. And not at all worth my time.

So, even if the unnamed assassin encounters similar situations, it’s imperative that he handle each differently. There will be no rinsing and repeating here.

Like the last few in this series, this one was written without a prompt. I hope you enjoy it.

background

To my mind, background check fall into roughly three categories.

First, there are the type anyone with an internet connection and a credit card can order. They return only basic information–previous addresses, employment history and some criminal records. It’s standard stuff, and truly not worth the money. Then there are the sort on which government agencies rely. These certainly delve deeper, in some cases even violating the subjects’ privacy as acronym toting agencies use Freedom of Whatever acts to access all kinds of restricted, private and even encrypted information. Better than the first, but still not up to my standards.

The background checks I order are of another stripe. They come at a considerable expense, for one. Sometimes the expense is monetary–at the extreme end, the sort you transfer funds to cover. Sometimes it’s a favor, like a job I wouldn’t otherwise take. It varies. My investigators are professionals, capable of delivering volumes of information within 4-6 hours, if needed.

I had a report on Alex in less than half that time.

It wasn’t the worst news I could have gotten. He wasn’t a fed or anything of that nature. I pride myself on flying both well below and miles above the authorities’ radar, sometimes simultaneously. Instead, Alex was simply a thief, and not a very good one.

He was embezzling money from his employer. Granted, he could have been much sloppier than he was, but it was far from the slicked scam every hatched. In part because there didn’t seem to be much of a plan at all.

The dossier told the story. He’d risen high enough within his company to allow for access to certain accounts. Accounts which weren’t frequently audited. Most likely, he hadn’t set out to steal. It was a crime of opportunity. He saw how easy it would be to take a little here, a little there, and he saw how quickly those small amounts could add up. To date, he’d stashed a few million away in (please his amateur heart) a single overseas account.

But there was a downside, and a rather large one at that. He would get caught. I was certain of it. He wasn’t the biggest crook in corporate America, but he was making enough ripples to warrant eventual attention. One day someone would notice the missing funds and begin backtracking. It wouldn’t take long to identify the source, and then Alex would be headed for prison.

It simply would not due for me to be one of his known associates. That was attention I didn’t need.

Unlike Simon, I didn’t particularly want to kill Alex, nor did I think it necessary. All I had to do was dump him and move on. He’d date others. If the authorities ever caught him, I’d be nothing more than one of the many men with whom he’s consorted, and that wouldn’t raise even one red flag.

I did it that night at dinner. It was a painfully cliché ordeal. A crowded restaurant and a conversation that didn’t even see the appetizer arrive at the table. He left, citing loss of appetite. I stayed, had two glasses of wine, and ate the entirety of the tomato bruschetta we’d already ordered.

And that, it would seem, was that. I made it almost six weeks before I changed my mind and decided I wanted him dead.

Flash FictionThis past week, I was talking to a friend about why I like this character. Part of my affinity for the unnamed assassin is that he has a moral code. It’s a fucked up moral code, but he has one and that makes him interesting to me.

My friend remarked that the significance of this can’t really be understated. Everyone has a motive. All of us, all the time. A character without motive is a flat, boring thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the hero or the villain, characters need reasons for doing the things they do. And being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is not sufficient.

The unnamed assassin has his own personal agenda. By it, he justifies killing for a living but finds a variety of other things offensive, from fashion faux pas to unfair accusation. Like a real person, there are inconsistencies. That’s what I like about him.

I wouldn’t want to be his friend. I’m not even sure I’d want to meet him, but I’m happy to read about him, and I find writing his stories to be a lot of fun.

This is the last piece of a series within a series–the three part story that falls under the larger umbrella of The Assassin Diaries. Read part one and part two before reading this one.

karma

After the breakup, I asked Leslie, my handler, to arrange to have Alex followed for six weeks. I know that sounds like stalker behavior, but it had nothing to do with the loss of personal connection. I wanted to ensure that he wasn’t already under investigation.

The lackey Leslie hired was good. He–or she, I really don’t know–provided me with detailed reports, pictures, video footage and even copies of Alex’s emails, voice mails and text messages.

Alex’s tail revealed what I had expected. In the weeks following the termination of our relationship he entertained a string of men. He hit the clubs, had a couple of dates, utilized (not one, but two) mobile apps to secure easy hookups, and even visited a massage parlor known for ensuring ‘full relaxation’. I couldn’t fault him, and certainly didn’t take it personally. His sexual appetite had been part of the appeal.

As a matter of fact, it was fortuitous. We were only together for a short time. Less than a month. The more notches on his bedpost, the less my name stood out on the list of his known associates.

By the fourth week, I was satisfied that no one else was watching him and that enough recreational carnality had ensued to protect me. I almost called Leslie to cancel the last two weeks of surveillance, but I’d already arranged for payment and, like my services, a refund was simply out of the question. Like a bet I expected to yield neither profit nor loss, I decided to let it ride.

Halfway through the sixth week, my feelings changed.

Tuesday of that week, Alex was on his way home. He’d taken the afternoon off to pay a social visit to a financially motivated sexual partner. He was undoubtedly high on the aftermath of the experience and most likely not paying as much attention to the road as he should have. He hit a dog.

The dog was a golden retriever, the companion of a 12 year-old boy who’d been taking him for a walk. He was also big. The dog, not the boy. Big enough to slip away from the child and dart out into the street. Alex didn’t see it and made solid contact before he could apply the brakes. The dog most likely died on impact.

I deal in death daily. One might think life means little to me as a result. Such is not the case. It saddened me to think of that boy standing on the sidewalk staring at a red puddle in the road that used to be his dog. But, tragic though that is, I could forgive Alex for hitting and killing the dog. It was, after all, an accident. I knew him to be an animal lover, himself. I can’t imagine that he would ever kill a child’s pet for sport.

What I cannot forgive is his reaction.

Seeing the damage to the grill of his SUV, he lost his temper. He yelled at the boy, even as the child choked back tears over the death of his canine companion. I have the entire episode on video. It shows a side of Alex I didn’t know existed. One driven by wild rage and almost no control. The poor boy fled the scene, undoubtedly terrified and heart-broken at the same time. He ran home, and Alex followed him, continuing his rant when he arrived.

Two days later, the family of that boy was served with papers. Alex intended to hold them responsible for the damages to his car. Here is a man with millions of dollars in the bank suing an upper middle class family for the damage caused when he hit their dog with his car.

Such a man is a sociopath.

I no longer cared about his theft or his carelessness in covering his tracks. And while I felt for the boy, I didn’t fault Alex, even for the death. However, I found his vindictive nature to be, in a word, appalling. That was when I decided he should die.

The funny thing about death is that it comes in many forms. There are living dead people all over the planet. I didn’t need a gun or poison or an elaborate set-up meant to look like an accident to end Alex’s life. I only needed my phone.

I called Leslie and made arrangements for a different lackey to submit an anonymous tip to the accounting department of Alex’s firm. I gave her very specific instructions to make sure the recipient of the tip would be the type to investigate rather than ignore. Within a month, federal agents raided Alex’s home, seizing his personal computer along with all his financial records. It probably didn’t even take three days to hack his offshore accounts.

He’s awaiting trial now, and not one fed has bothered to question me. I am but a blimp on the road map that is Alex’s sexual conquests.

Alex will, most likely, be convicted. That seems to be the prevailing opinion in the media. Without his foreign accounts, he doesn’t have the money to bankroll a team of attorneys. The general consensus is that he’s to be made an example. There will be no plea bargaining. No reduced or deferred sentence. No light security prison country club. He’ll be doing real time behind very real bars.

That makes me smile.

Were I more spiritual, I might call it Karma. It seems fitting. Steal, lie, even kill all you want, but don’t piss on the graves of your victims. That’s going too far.

Flash FictionIt’s time to (very briefly) revisit the nameless assassin. I haven’t written a story about him in a while, and this week’s prompt was a good match for his verbose nature.

He does so like the sound of his own voice.

Sadly, this story doesn’t really get at his overall character. If you’d like to know him better, check out the full series. It’s kind of fun.

As has been the trend lately, the prompt is from The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘fine’, ‘jargon’, and ‘pecuniary’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

customer service

Ideally, I’m a ghost. In and out without a trace of evidence. That’s my preference. But the client was adamant. She wanted him to know.

Fine. It’s not my style, but fine. Customer service and all.

Of course, he had questions. I suppose that’s fair. I’d feel similarly inquisitive were I in his shoes. So I tried to be respectfully, chiefly by being frank.

“Candice hired me. In the parlance of my profession, you’re the mark.”

“But why?!” he pleaded.

I shrugged. “Pecuniary needs.”

I’m not sure what confused him more. The gun at his head or my jargon.

Flash Fiction

I heard someone reference the game “Fuck, Marry, Kill” this past week, and it immediately struck me as the basis of a story. After all, there’s a name in there. If you tease it out.

When I started this, that’s all I had. A name. But it flowed right into The Assassin Diaries beautifully, even though the unnamed assassin isn’t the primary character. I couldn’t resist. He’s my favorite hitman, after all.

And Mary. I’m definitely going to have to write more about her.

fuck mary kill

It was a joke. A lame-ass joke, and it stuck.

It was my first job. I needed an alias, and 19 year-old me thought “Mary Kill” would be funny. You know, like people would hear I was coming and say, “Fuck! Mary Kill!”

Here’s the thing about hitmen. Hit-people. Whatever. They’re not the most jovial individuals. I didn’t even get a snicker.

Instead, they just started calling me Mary. I wasn’t about to tell them my real name, and that first job actually went really well. It was a two-and-two – double marks, double frames. The deaths didn’t even appear to be related.

I was suddenly the goddess of death. With a stupid fucking name.

But the contracts came pouring in. Contrary to what you might see in movies, attractive female assassins are rare. Most assassins are former military. They’re a rugged and resourceful crew. I’ve met a few lookers, but most of them are downright homely. And honestly, that helps. You don’t stand out.

I came into a killing career a little differently. You know that myth about the med student who strips on the side to pay her way through college? That’s me. Only I don’t strip. I kill. And it’s not for college.

I know I’m supposed to feel bad about it. The killing part. I don’t. The lion doesn’t mourn the gazelle.

My shrink tells me that makes me a psychopath. I flash my gun, he looks unimpressed, and then we get back to talking about my mom.

The point is, my personality doesn’t fit the profile. Like, at all. I’m young, I’m easy on the eyes, and when I’m not plotting a lucrative death, I’m doing pretty normal shit.

I go to dance clubs. I hang out at bars. I even date. Sometimes. Guys are morons.

Oh, but I know what you’re wondering. How does a girl like me get into a career like this? I have a connection.

My mentor would likely cringe at that title. He’s all business, most of the time, at least. Very proper. He was supposed to kill me, but I talked him out of it.

Okay. That’s a stretch. I just showed him my ID. He doesn’t do minors.

But I was an epic loose end, and I wasn’t really digging on the parental units, so I made a deal. I wouldn’t say a word if he’d take me in and teach me the craft. I have ambitions. I need a bit of cash to bankroll my dreams.

How very The Professional of me.

He was understandably hesitant. But he’s a softy at heart, even if he doesn’t want anyone to know. And he’s really guarded. I don’t even know his name.

He told me to just call him “Simon.” He said it with an absolutely wicked grin.

I did my first mark a week after I turned 18. Simon got paid, but that was my kill. It was more than a year before he put me in touch with his handler and I got a proper job. Since then, it’s been faster kill, pussycat.

And everyone calls me Mary. Fucking Mary Kill.

Laugh it up, asshole. It doesn’t phase me. Just pray no one asks me to pay you a visit. I’m one helluva first date.