Look who’s back from the dead…It’s been awhile since I posted my last story, so hopefully this one will make up for it. This is story, is by far the longest one I’ve posted on here, about 6,200 words, so it might take a little time.
In addition to a long story, I’ve decided to push through my comfort zone as a writer and to tell this one in a completely new way, or atleast new for me, in reverse, beginning with the end. So as your reading, be aware that time is shifting backwards from the end to the beginning. When you get to the end, it might be worth reading it again in the other direction.
Standing Kill Orderlies
November 15th, 2007
Mace’s ears twitched at the sound of footsteps splashing through the puddles behind him. His knuckles cracked as he tightened his grip around the shaft of the umbrella held overhead.
Quickening his pace slightly, he fought the urge to run.
Tilting his head, Mace scanned the reflection in the glass of a small boutique to his left as the footsteps fell in sync with his own.
One man, average height, black trench coat, one hand at side, other in pocket.
Mace’s mind whirled through the possibilities.
Could they have found me?
The pounding of his heart sent deafening waves of blood racing to his brain. Letting out a slow breath, Mace turned into a darkened alley away from the lifeless Parisian street.
Spinning quickly, Mace pulled the pistol out from its holster at his side. Leaning against the cold wet brick of the building towering overhead, he quieted his breathing as he waited for the man to follow.
Seconds stretched indefinitely as the man’s footsteps approached the mouth of the alley.
Mace cocked the hammer of the pistol as the stranger stepped into the street light. The adrenaline coursing through his veins caused his muscles to tense as the man continued walking past the alley without even so much as second look.
Letting out a rush of air, Mace allowed his body to relax. A smile cracked his cool façade as he replayed the scenario and his over-reaction in his mind.
Cold water splashed over his foot as he stepped towards the well-lit street.
Mace went numb as he heard the unmistakable sound.
He saw the gun first as he spun around.
9mm with a suppressor.
The shadowy face of the man holding the weapon popped into view as a flash of light from the end of the pistol filled the alley.
Raindrops froze on their descent to Earth as the searing metal tore through Mace’s body. The umbrella clattered to the ground as he fell to his knee.
Crimson mixed with the rain as Mace clutched the hole in his chest. Through labored breathing, he looked to the assassin as the man took another step closer. Light from the street lamps accentuated the man’s features as he raised the pistol to the side of Mace’s head.
One Year Earlier
August 3rd, 2006
Caffey tasted the metallic flavor of blood in his mouth as he raised his throbbing head. The brightly lit room caused a new rush of pain as his eyes struggled to adjust. Blinking hard, his eyes came into focus on his daughter, Lisa, first. Bound and gagged, her wide brown eyes called out to him for help. Caffey’s mind immediately snapped to attention as he struggled against the ropes holding him fast to the chair. Blood seeped down his fingers as he writhed against his bonds. The door behind him slowly creaked open as Caffey watched a fresh stream of tears pour down Lisa’s young face.
A black gloved hand reached from behind him and tore away the strip of duct tape holding his mouth shut.
“What the hell is this? Who are you?!” Caffey said blinking away the tears from the stinging pain. “Do you have any idea who I…”
A gloved fist came raining down on the back of Caffey’s head sending his mind swimming as the room faded before him.
“If it’s alright with you…” said the man behind Caffey. “I’ll ask the questions.”
The scraping of wood against wood filled the room as the man pulled a chair around to sit in front of Caffey. He was young, late 20’s at most, with green eyes that popped in contrast to the black suit he wore. Given the strange circumstances, Caffey had to do a double take. “Robert, what are you doing?”
“I only have one question.” Robert’s voice was crisp, and deliberate. “Where is the device?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Caffey said, spitting a gob of blood onto the hardwood floor.
“No? You don’t remember?” Robert said massaging the palm of his hand with the other. “You killed your partner, Agent Caffey, and took from him, something that belonged to us. Now, let’s not make this anymore unpleasant than it needs to be.”
“It wasn’t yours.”
“It wasn’t yours either, but that didn’t stop you from killing your partner to have it, now did it?”
“He was a traitor.” Caffey said.
“He was my father.”
Fresh blood oozed from the wound above Caffey’s eyes as he squinted them shut, trying to block out the memory. The blood stung as it dripped into his eye. Robert pulled a handkerchief from his front breast pocket, and leaning forward, gently dabbed the stream of blood blinding Caffey.
“It’s not what you think.” Caffey said.
“So it would seem.” Robert said leaning back in his chair. “Now, let’s try this again. Where is the device?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is that how it’s going to be?”
Caffey stared blankly at Robert.
“Very well. Bring her in.” Robert said into his radio.
Lisa’s muffled cries filled the room as the door slammed open and a large man dragged a bound woman in. She fell with a heavy thud on the floor before Caffey as the man exited the room.
“Jess! Look at me, Jess! It’s gonna be alright!” Caffey said the words as much for his sake as for hers. “Please, Robert. Don’thurt her. You don’t understand.”
“I don’t want to hurt her.” Robert said pulling a pistol from is holster beneath his suit jacket. “So tell me, where is the devie?”
“I don’t know!” Caffey said.
“I’m going to kill your wife, Agent Caffey. I’m going to make you and your daughter watch.” Robert said rising from his chair. “Unless you tell me where the device is, right now.”
Tears mixed with blood as they flowed down Caffey’s cheek.
“N…no…” Caffey said shaking his head as he stared into his wife’s eyes.
The gun went off.
Jess’ head jerked violently to the side as a cascade of her blood covered Caffey. Choking on his own scream, Caffey threw his weight forward towards his wife’s body. He crashed to the ground face first as he remained a prisoner to the chair he was so securely fastened.
“NOOO!” He screamed as his wife’s blood spread in a pool around him.
The sounds of the world were drowned by his scream. Caffey’s mind tossed and turned like a leaf on a river being controlled by an entity much larger than itself.
“I don’t have all night, Agent Caffey. Tell me where the device is, or your daughter is next.”
“I’ll kill you. I swear I will kill you.” Caffey said with his conviction-less voice.
“Not before you tell me where the device is.”
Caffey looked up at his daughter as her body convulsed as she cried into her mouth gag. Silence filled the room save the muffled lament of Lisa.
“Mace. His name is Mace Scott.” Caffey said staring up into Roberts eyes. “Mace has it.”
“See? That wasn’t so bad.” Robert said as he pulled out a knife and knelt down over Caffey.
“Please, don’t hurt my daughter. She’s innocent.”
“It’s not her I plan to hurt.”
Seventeen Days Earlier
July 17th, 2006
“What a shit hole. Are you sure we have the right place?”
“Positive. It’s not much to look at, but what’d you expect?”
“I don’t know. Not this.” Robert said weaving between towers of old pizza boxes and stacks of newspapers. “What’s his ETA? I don’t want to be here any longer than necessary.”
“Alpha team says he is in the building. He’ll be here any minute.”
“Good.” Robert said twisting cracking his knuckle between gloved fingers.
Robert snapped to attention at the sound of keys jangling in the hall. Locking eyes with his compatriot, they took up position on opposing sides of the door. The soft scraping of the key as it twisted into place in the lock reminded Robert of the countless mice likely crawling around this hoarder’s wet dream of an apartment.
The door slid open slowly. The light from the hallway cast the man’s shadow across the room as he stepped inside. Robert snatched the man’s hand as he reached for the light switch. With a twist off the wrist, Robert yanked the man’s arm behind his back and sent him sprawling forward knocking over a pile of old records in the process. Robert’s partner flicked the light switch and shut the door behind them as Robert dropped his knee into the man’s solar plexus and leaned in close.
“You must be Max?”
The man’s dark brown hair fell over his eyes as he scanned the room for meaning.
“Wh…wha..who are you?”
“You can call us the reckoning”
“Rec..kk..oning for what?” Max said.
“You killed a man, Max.” Robert said rising to his feet. “You can’t just do that and hope to get away with it.”
“I didn’t kill anybody.” Fear flashed across Max’s face as he sprung to his feet. “You must have the wrong person.”
“Why do they always deny, deny, deny?” Robert said turning to his partner.
“Max. You killed a man by the name of Mr. Barnett a little over two years ago. Let’s cut the playing dumb part and get down to why we’re here.”
“How could you possibly know that?”
“Remember Mrs. Smith? Little old lady ratted you out.”
“That crazy old bat? You can’t possibly believe her; she had brain surgery for god sake.” Max said backing his way through the maze of clutter.
“So you deny killing Mr. Barnett?”
“Of course.” Max said. “I would never hurt anyone.”
Robert could feel his impatience mounting as he glanced back at his partner with a raised brow.
“Alright, our mistake.” Robert said pulling his pistol from its holster.
“Wait, wait, wait, What’re you doing? I just told you I didn’t do anything.”
“I don’t believe you, and that makes me want to hurt you.” Robert pulled a suppressor from his suit pocket. The sound of metal scraping metal as he twisted it into place sent a visible streak of fear coursing through Max.
“Ok, ok. I did it, but it wasn’t my idea. I was just following orders.”
“Orders? I didn’t realize you guys filled those types of orders.” Robert said watching Max fidget in place as he stared at the pistol.
“He was going to die anyways. I was just helping him. Putting him out of his misery.”
“And I suppose you got paid for your little act of mercy?”
“How much? How much was that life worth to you?”
“$250,000.” Max said hanging his head in shame.
“I see you put it to good use.” Robert said studying the small one bedroom apartment packed to the brim with garbage and knick-knacks.
“I mean, I uh…”
“I don’t care about that.” Robert said. “All I want to know is who ordered the kill?”
“Um… I think it was Coffee… Mr. Coffee. Or something like that.”
Robert stared blankly at Max, fighting to hide the rage building inside. “Do you mean, Caffey?”
“Yeah, that’s him. Mr. Caffey.” Max said sitting down on a dark brown recliner. From the table beside him, he grabbed a pack of cigarettes. “Gotta light?” he said meekly.
Robert withdrew a lighter from his pant pocket. “Smoking will kill you, ya know?” he said as he flicked the lighter to life. Watching the red ember dance from the end of the man’s cigarette, Robert continued processing Max’s revelation.
Caffey’s been right under our nose all this time.
“How long have you worked for the hospital?” Robert said pushing thoughts of Caffey from his mind for the time being.
“Ten years, give or take.”
“Ten years, huh? And in your professional opinion, what makes you think that man was terminal?”
Max tapped the end of his cigarette into a pizza box on his side. “That man was in bad shape. His face was all bandaged. Some sort of horrible fire accident. That man was in a lot of pain. I helped him, I swear it.”
Robert sifted Max’s words through his head as he absent mindedly tapped a finger against the side of his gun.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Max shifted in his seat, spinning the cigarette nervously between his fingers, as the silence in the room continued well past what could formally be considered awkward.
“So, who was he anyways?” Max said taking a shallow puff from what was left of the stub of a cigarette before grinding it out in the ceramic ashtray next to him.
A wrinkle of irritation creased Robert’s brow as the break in the silence snapped him from the thoughts that had so fully consumed his mind.
“Geoffrey Barnett.” Robert said as he turned and walked to the door.
“What’d he do? Why would somebody want him dead?”
“For all the same cliché reasons that anybody would ever want to kill anybody else; money, power, jealousy…” Robert stopped beside his partner at the door. Bending over he picked up a red metal canister from beside the door. Fumes of gasoline wafted from the end of the spigot as he handed it to the man beside him. “Or maybe revenge.”
“What’s that for?” Max’s voice trembled as he jumped to his feet.
“Make it look like an accident.” Robert said ignoring the man’s question as he pulled the apartment door open and stepped onto the spongy brown carpet of the hallway. The revelation that it had been Geoffrey Billings own partner, Agent Caffey that had ordered the hit was still circulating through Robert’s mind as he made his way out of the apartment complex that he was barely conscious of the fire alarm that had just sounded behind him. In the still, muggy summer evening air he took a moment to look back at the building. Lazily, he let his eyes drift upward, rising on the crescendo of the fire alarm to the fourth floor apartment where the blaze had already penetrated the glass of the window to send tendrils of flame dancing toward the blackened night sky.
“Smoking will kill ya.” He said to nobody in particular as he walked away.
Two Days Earlier
July 15th, 2006
“Come in, come in. Please, don’t mind the mess. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had the opportunity to tidy up.”
Robert stepped into the old woman’s pristine house and doubted it was even possible to make the room any cleaner. Tidy and neurotically organized in the kind of way only possible to an individual with OCD he presumed.
“Please, Agent… um… I’m sorry, what was it again?”
“Barnett, Ma’am. Agent Barnett.” Robert said taking a seat on the only surface in the room not armed with a doyly.
“Ah, yes. Agent Barnett, I’m so sorry. My memory isn’t quite what it used to be. Not since the surgery, you know.”
Robert watched the woman as she bustled around the room. The heavy, sweet aroma of something baking wafted into the room from the kitchen bringing back memories of his Grandmother. It had been a couple years since he had seen her, not since the funeral. The memory filled him with a momentary longing before he remembered his purpose.
“Mrs. Smith, if it’s alright, I’d like to ask you a few questions about a police report you filed last year.”
“Of course.” She said placing a tray of tea on the coffee table as she plopped down into the couch opposite Robert. The overly softened cushions rose up around her as her weight sunk lower making her appear even smaller than before. “My daughter, Amanda, she’s the one that was with me at the hospital during my surgery, you know, said the case had been closed. Would you like some tea?”
“Yes, please.” Robert said shifting forward to the edge of his seat to take the small saucer and cup from the woman’s outstretched hand. “And yes, well actually, the case is closed. This is something that I’m doing, sort of on the side, if you understand.”
“So you do believe me!” Mrs. Smith jumped to her feet surprisingly quick for somebody of her age taking Robert slightly off guard as he recoiled in his seat. “Nobody else would believe me, not even my daughter. They all said I was having a terrible dream induced by the surgery and drugs. I knew that couldn’t be the case, though. I just knew it.”
Robert sat and listened as she went into a rapid fire account of the night in question. Stopping occasionally to clap her hands together excitedly as she accentuated certain points in the story only to resume her pacing about the room, which Robert likened to a gerbil trapped in a clear roller ball. Finally, having exhausted herself telling the story down to the finest level of detail, Mrs. Smith let gravity pull her back down to the heavy cushions of the couch which Robert was sure would swallow her whole this time.
Panting heavily, Mrs. Smith leaned forward to grab the kettle of tea from the coffee table.
“No, please. Allow me.” Robert said snatching up the tea pot in his left hand. With his right, he swooped up the elderly woman’s porcelain cup stained red around the corner from her bright red lipstick.
“You’re so sweet. I notice you don’t have a ring, you aren’t married by chance Agent Barnett?”
The question caused Robert to pause with the tea kettle in hand with a look upon his face that must have betrayed his confusion.
“I mean to say, my daughter is also single. Maybe once you solve this case, I could put you two in touch?”
Robert used Mrs. Smith’s interruption to slip the contents of the vile he had been palming since arriving into Mrs. Smith’s tea.
”That’s very sweet of you, but I’m afraid I’m married to my work at the moment.” He said handing her the cup of tea.
“Of course, of course, and I’m very thankful for that.” She said raising the cup to her lips. “You’re the only one too take my claim seriously at all.”
Robert felt a twinge of regret as he watched Mrs. Smith eagerly finish off her poisoned cup of tea.
One Day Earlier
July 14th, 2006
“Director, I was running a search on one of our deceased agents and came across a possible link to one of the black flagged items.”
“Oh? Which item in particular?” Director Beckton said pressing the full of his weight on his forearms as he leaned across his desk. Taking the file from the Agent standing at attention from across his desk, he flipped open the gloss black folder. Skimming the words on the first page, the Director felt a sudden jolt of excitement as it streaked its way down his spine. “Is this correct? How sure are we of these findings?”
“I can’t say with any certainty at this point. I brought this directly to you.”
Director Beckton carefully placed the folder on the desk before him.
What a stroke of luck.
Who would’ve guessed a police report filed by a seventy year old grandmother in some backwater town in Virginia would bring him one step closer to the ultimate weapon. With his fingers he outlined the shape of the small black box pictured on page two of the report. He could feel the hunger growing in his stomach. At long last, he might finally have a way of obtaining the device, the thing that would guarantee his absolute control, absolute power. It was so close, he could taste it.
“You’re the only one I can trust on this. Assemble your team, and follow up on this immediately. I want you on a plane tonight.” Beckton said rubbing his sweat moistened hands together. “It goes without saying, but let me say it anyway. Failure is not an option. You will come back with the device. Am I understood, Robert?”
Two Years Earlier
January 22nd, 2004
“I still can’t believe it.” Mace said carefully comparing his reflection in the mirror to the passport he held cradled like a precious jewel between his fingers. “This really is top notch work.”
“Sure is. Now give me that,” Caffey said plucking the passport out of Mace’s outstretched hand. “We can’t afford to leave anything they might be able to use to find you.”
Mace stood in the doorway of the bathroom with his hands pressing in opposite directions against the doorframe, as if trying to push them apart. The heat from the fireplace burning across the room sent waves of warmth coursing through him as he watched Caffey throw the garbage bag of his personal belongings into the blaze. The flames lapped higher as they consumed all trace of his existence. For a moment, Mace thought he might feel himself fading into non-existence, like a spirit fleeing the earthly world as the items within the garbage bag began to wither and turn to ash.
“Here’s everything you’ll need from this point on.” Caffey said as he threw a black duffel bag across the room. Mace snatched the bag out of the air. Lowering his weight on the edge of the bed, he unzipped the bag and rifled through its innards.
“I have to pick up Lisa from hockey practice. If you need anything, you know how to get in touch with me.” Caffey said as he checked his phone beside the hotel door.
“Thanks.” Mace said cocking his head to the side to look at the man. “With any luck, I won’t be seeing you anytime soon.”
Mace could feel Caffey’s eyes taking him in. There was no glint of familiarity, not that Mace could blame him. They had done their job too well. That was the point after-all.
“You take care of yourself Mace…” Caffey said pulling the door open. “and that device.”
When Caffey had left, Mace pulled an unassuming little black box from within the duffel bag.
Such a small thing to die for. He thought as he let his eyes drift back towards the fire.
Two Days Earlier
January 20th, 2004
“I have to admit, I’m a little scared, Amanda.”
“Mom, everything is going to be okay. I promise.” Amanda tightened her grip on her mother’s wrinkled hand. “The doctors are going to take good care of you, their some of the best in the country.”
“I know, I know. I just don’t like the idea of somebody poking and prodding in my head.” The old lady said rubbing her daughters hand compulsively.
“Nobody is going to poke anything, Mrs. Smith.”
Amanda and her mother turned their head in unison to see the young doctor silhouetted in the door frame. The light shining from the hallway made his white lab coat shine brighter than normal making him appear to Amanda as some sort of clipboard holding angel.
It’s probably best to keep that thought to myself.
“Oh, I know, Dr. Arnold. I’m just more than a little nervous is all.”
“Well, I assure you everything is going to be quite alright.” He said quickly crossing the room. “Now, if you’re ready, we’re going to be taking you in in a few minutes. I just wanted to stop by and see if there were any last minute questions or concerns you might have?”
“That’s so sweet of you. Amanda, isn’t that sweet?”
“Very sweet, Mother.”
Amanda pretended to be looking at something on the other side of the room. Anything to avoid what she knew would be her mother’s awkward attempts at creating a love connection with this poor unsuspecting Doctor.
“Now that you mention it,” Mrs. Smith said. “It occurs to me that I know next to nothing about you, Dr. Arnold. Are you married? Do you have children? I notice you aren’t wearing a wedding ring.”
“Mother…” Amanda said letting the words slide out in a low growl.
“No, it’s okay. It’s perfectly natural to want to know more about the person who will be doing your surgery, and to answer your question, yes I’m married, no children though.”
The wave of relief that swept over Amanda felt like a cooling rain as she thanked the god who must be watching over her in her time of awkward social need.
“How about any questions about the surgery itself? He said without missing a beat.
“I can’t think of any at the moment, but if anything pops up I’ll be sure to let you know.”
“Great, well I need to go prep for the procedure.” he said placing a hand on Mrs. Smith’s shoulder. “The nurse will be right in to take you down to the OR.”
“Thank you, doctor.”
“Remember, I’m the one taking all the risk, so just relax and stand watch at the door. I’ll come get you once I know he’s dead.”
Mrs. Smith felt like she was swimming as the voices from the hall coaxed her from her drug induced sleep. Her body was slow to respond to her commands as she propped herself up on an elbow. The room was dark, save the dull pulsing lights of the machines tethered to her via tubes and wires.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
The machine monitoring her heart rate quickened its report as she lay back onto her pillow, the “Call Nurse” button gripped for life between her fingers, as the door to the room swung open. A shadow, silhouetted by the hallway lights, slid into the room sending a tremble of fear through Mrs. Smith’s body as it quietly shut the door throwing them both into darkness.
The darkness consumed the reference of time as Mrs. Smith lay paralyzed by the unknown.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Her ears strained over the sound of another heart rate monitor and light snoring calling out from across the room in a weird rhythmic discord as the two sounds danced around one another. The sound of softly shuffling feet approaching the patient’s bed opposite her own sent a wave of panic jolting through her body. Willing her eyes to adapt quicker to the darkness, Mrs. Smith held her breath as she watched a shadowy figure lean over the sleeping man.
Wrestling with her memory, Mrs. Smith struggled to remember if the other patient had been present earlier in the night when she first awoke after the surgery. She was mostly certain that her daughter had been there, but despite her trying, she couldn’t remember what they talked about.
Everything was a jumble. Everything was wrong.
Mrs. Smith finger jerked, pressing the button between her fingers in response to the heart rate monitors abrupt change.
Light from the hall flooded the room as the door suddenly swung open.
Startled, the figure leaning over the man leapt back.
“She’s awake.” The voice from the hall said in a low whisper.
“I’ll take care of it.” said the specter across the room.
“What’re you doing?” Somebody help, please.” Mrs. Smith said while frantically pressing the button as the shadow quickly descended upon her.
“Mrs. Smith, everything is alright. You’re just having a bad dream.” The man’s voice betrayed the tension he himself felt, only adding to the hysteria sweeping over Mrs. Smith.
She struggled against the strong hand that pressed against her shoulder, causing her to sink deeper into the mattress.
This is it. After all these years, this is how I die! She thought as she felt the steely prick of a needle piercing her flesh.
“No, please don’t do this.” She begged.
“Shh… just go to sleep, Mrs. Smith.”
Mrs. Smith recognized the voice as the effects of the drug took effect.
“Why? Why ar… doooin…to me,” her tongue grew heavy in her mouth as she fought to expel the words. Relief swept through her body as she allowed gravity to pull her head back down to the pillow uncontested. “Max… Why?” She said before nodding off.
Amanda Smith brushed aside the feeling of annoyance that was creeping upon her as she forced herself to listen, attentively, to her mother’s story.
“You believe me, don’t you?” Mrs. Smith said, finally allowing a long enough pause in her ramblings to allow a response.
“Mom, you’ve been through a lot. You had brain surgery less than twenty-four hours ago. The amount of drugs you’re hopped up on is staggering to say the least. I’m sure this was all just a bad dream. You’ve always disliked hospitals, but this is taking things a bit too far.” Amanda said rubbing her mother’s hand. She knew how important it was to her mom to feel like she was being listened too, being valued, but this was ridiculous. Murder? In the hospital? Absolutely ridiculous.
Mrs. Smith’s face imploded to form a giant wrinkle as she frowned her disapproval.
“Just ask them. Ask them if there was another man in this room last night.”
Amanda scanned the room. It was exactly as full as it had been the day before when she had visited her mother after the surgery. Reiterating the fact that she had been, and still was, the lone occupant of the room proved a useless tactic against her mother, however.
“Just ask, you’ll see. They must have brought him in after you left and then of course they got rid of the body after they killed him.”
Throwing her hands up in defeat, Amanda rose to her feet. “Alright, I’ll ask. I’ll be right back.”
The nurses’ station was vacant as Amanda approached. Leaning against the counter, she attempted to peak a look through the open office door on the other side of the desk.
“Hello?” she said in response to the sound of rustling paper from within the office.
A man sitting on a leather chair rolled into the doorway. “Oh, hey there.” He said springing to his feet. “What can I do for you?”
“I’m sorry to bother you, do you know where I can find one of the nurses? I just have a question about my mother’s room.”
The man approached the counter as he scanned the hallway in both directions. “Agatha is probably on her rounds. It’ll just be a few minutes ‘til she returns. I’m one of the orderlies, though, maybe I can help?”
“That’d be great. My mom just had brain surgery, and I think they removed the part responsible for logic and reasoning, but she swears she woke in the middle of the night and there was another man in her room. He wasn’t there when I visited last night, but she is convinced he must have been moved in after I left.”
“Well, it’s not unusual for us to put more than one patient in the same room. This is a small hospital, you know?”
“Of course, of course, but could you do me a favor and just check to see if maybe there was another patient in there last night? It was room 203.”
“Sure, if it’ll make her feel better.” the man said bending over the computer terminal before him. “Just one sec… room 203, you said?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“Your mother must be Mrs. Smith? She’s quite the talker, so many stories. Such a lovely lady.”
“Thanks, she’s definitely one of a kind.” Amanda fiddled with the pen connected by a small metal bead chain to the counter.
“So, it says here she’s been the only one in that room since her surgery.” He said looking up from the screen. “Is it alright if I ask why she wanted to know?”
Amanda cracked a smile. “She believes a murder most foul took place in there last night.”
The man’s smile faded ever so slightly. “Well then, that would be cause for concern, huh? The orderly from on duty last night made a note that your mother was thrashing in her sleep and he gave her some sedatives to calm her. Must have been a very realistic nightmare she was having.”
“She has quite the imagination, so that’s not as surprising as you might think.” Amanda said pushing herself away from the counter. “Thanks for all your help, uh… I’m sorry; I don’t think I caught your name?”
“Max.” the man said extending his hand. “Glad I could help.”
One Day Prior
January 14th, 2004
The phone vibrated in the passenger seat next to him. Picking it up, he looked at the caller ID.
Geoffrey let out a breath and allowed the phone to ring twice more before answering.
“Yes, sir?” he said wrapping a gloved hand around the steering wheel.
“Agent Barnett, do you have the device?”
“Yes, sir. I just acquired it from our friend.”
“Excellent. Return to Operations with it immediately.”
“I’ll be on the earliest flight out, sir.”
Geoffrey ended the call and tossed his phone back on the passenger’s seat. Releasing the tension in his neck, he allowed his head to drop back onto the headrest as he let out a long breath, the muffled sound of traffic passing by calmed him as he thought through his mission.
The sudden interruption to his meditation caused Geoffrey to reach for the pistol at his side as he turned towards the passenger side window. Cold air blasted into the car as the door pulled open.
“Scared the shit out of me, Caffey.” He said grabbing his phone from the seat so his partner could sit.
“Serves you right for napping on the job.” Caffey said as the car shifted to the side in response to the man’s weight plopping down in the seat.
“Just dreaming of when this will all be over.”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself, we’re only just getting started.”
“I know.” Geoffrey said sliding the key into the ignition, and with a twist of the wrist, the car purred to life.
“You sure you still want to go through with this? It’s not too late you know?” Caffey said as he held his fingers against the hot air blasting from the vents.
“We both know it’s far too late to back out now. It’s not about what I want anymore.” Geoffrey said merging into traffic. “Whatever happens to me, the Director cannot get his hands on that device.”
“Then God help us.”
“God doesn’t have any place in his heart for men like us, Caffey. Not anymore.”
Geoffrey blinked back tears as he stared up into the white lights overhead.
This is it. This is where I die.
It was a morbid thought, and self-hating one, of course, but it brought an odd type of solace as he lay there on the surgical table watching Caffey speak with the doctor. He watched as his partner handed the doctor an envelope before the two men turned and crossed the room to where Geoffrey.
“Mr. Scott,” the doctor said tucking the envelope away into a back pocket. “Everything seems to be in order. We’ll begin as soon as you’re ready.”
Geoffrey’s eyes darted between the doctor and Caffey. He was poised on the edge of a precipice and found himself balking at the idea of jumping.
Maybe it wasn’t too late? If he got up now, he could be at the airport within the hour, on a plane within three, back at headquarters within eight. There would be no evidence of any of this. All he had to do was the one thing he couldn’t.
Give the device to the Director.
Untold lives were at risk if he did that.
Lives that would be on his head for giving that monster such unbridled power.
“Mace….can you hear me?”
The words pulled him from his inner turmoil.
He knew it was going to take a while to get used to his new name. No doubt even longer to get used to his new face.
“Yeah,” he finally managed to say. “I just need a minute with my associate.”
“Of course, take as long as you need.” The doctor said as he retreated to check up on the medical equipment across the room.
“You alright?” Caffey said bending over so that Geoffrey could feel the man’s breath against his face.
“Yeah, just a bit nervous.”
“I’d be nervous too, what with a name like Mace Scott. Why did you choose such a ridiculous name, anyways?” Caffey said raising his eyebrows to feign profound curiosity.
“Shut up,” Geoff said propping himself up on an elbow. “Your best friend is about to die here.”
“Best friend? That might be a bit of a stretch.”Caffey said trying to break the tension. “And don’t be so overly dramatic, you’re just getting a new face.”
“Hopefully it’ll be an improvement on this one.”
“Anything would be.”
Geoffrey smiled at his long-time friend realizing it might be his last.
“Now relax,” Caffey said. “Everything is in place for you to fall off the map. The doctor and the orderly have already been paid. I contacted the Agency and told them you collapsed on the way to the airport and you were being taken to the nearest hospital. All you have to do is go to sleep. When you wake up, you’ll be a whole new man.”
“Thanks, Caffey.” Geoff said lowering onto his back. “Promise me one more thing.”
“Of course. Anything.”
“Look after my son. Promise me you’ll take care of Robert.”
Thanks for reading. As always, leave a comment. Tell me you love it, tell me you hate it, at least tell me something.
© 2012 Anthony Vicino