This story is by Salim R. and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The Master Killer.
22 October 1980, Friday, 15h03:22
Ten minutes left.
No need to hurry. Everything happens at its appointed time, doesn’t it? But each new job is renewed pressure: a new deadline; a potential for failure. I have never failed. I cannot fail. But the spectre of failure torments me.
Timing is critical.
My line of work demands punctuality. There is no room for approximation. The Boss has been very clear to me about it.
I have been doing this job for so long. Anybody else would have quit to grow cabbages, carrots, or what have you. But I am not just anybody.
I am special.
The work itself is routine. There is a list of victims whom I have to terminate at precise times.
Did you just tense up?
Please do not paint me a monster. Killing does not procure me any amusement. The satisfaction comes from a job well done. But there is no time to gloat over past successes; another assignment always awaits me. At all times, I use unsuspecting “agents” for my kills; I cannot risk revealing myself.
My schedule is hectic.
It’s nothing personal, I can assure you.
Take this job I have to perform in a few minutes…
The Boss has given me a list of today’s kills. My immediate concern are three persons. There are more on this list, but… everything at its due time. The first one, at 15h13:22, is unnamed. But it’s no problem; such situations occur now and then. The second one, at 15h13:23, is Anne Goldsmith and the last one, at 15h13:24, is Fred Goldsmith. Beautiful and rich people, these Goldsmiths. But everything has an end. So do enjoy your share of life before your time comes.
But I digress.
I know it’s hard to convince you of my sanity after sharing with you the details of my… shall we say “peculiar” line of work? People give me such bad names; the loathing hurts. Please see it from my point of view, at least once.
Bear with me for some ten minutes, and I will show you how I proceed.
Do come in front, so you can have a better view of the action. I will leave you for a few moments but will return at 15h13:22, the time for my first job.
I am a professional. You will see for yourself.
Allow me, however, to remind you of the time as it elapses. It is, in truth, more for myself than for you. I do not want this to be my first failure on the job; it could have unimaginable consequences.
The Ford, parked alongside Belford Street, has been purring for the last five minutes. Justin Butler checks his watch and taps the .44 Magnum in the inside pocket of his jacket. Fred Goldsmith should arrive in about seven minutes, about the amount of time it has taken him every single day for the past three weeks to make the trip from his office to his house. The ideal time when the job could be carried out is when he gets out of his Mercedes and walks up the stairs to the door; a window of twenty to thirty seconds, max. And it is the only time he is alone.
Justin glances at Remi di Matteo, who is sitting at the wheel, reading the day’s newspaper, a cigarette between his lips. You would think this army veteran’s face had been carved from granite. Justin was flattered when Remi approached him for this job. It is not every day you get to partner with a legend. But how can the old man be so damn calm? Justin’s heart is thumping against his chest. Yet, Remi could as well be enjoying the tropical sun under a coconut tree. Does this old-timer even have a heart?
They have rehearsed the kill more times than he can count. If they were to perform on Broadway, he would expect a spellbound audience to go hysterical for an encore. But so many things could go wrong. For fifty thousand dollars, some risks have to be taken, he reckons.
Why does the client want Mr Goldsmith dead? Justin shakes his head. Why should he care? This is just another job. Plus, his wife deserves a better house than the hole they are currently living in. But that sure is way more money than he is used to.
Justin turns sideways to face Remi.
“What if he is not alone?”
Remi shakes his newspaper.
“We have enough ammo.”
Justin becomes quiet for a few seconds.
“What if he does not show up?”
Remi turns a page and shakes the newspaper harder.
“We’ll come back tomorrow.”
Justin considers something else to say as he studies Remi’s profile. The old man shuts his eyes in annoyance. He removes the nicotine stick from his lips, exhales some smoke and turns to face his partner.
“You sure you are not wetting your pants, son?”
Justin’s ears redden. He was no old fart like Remi but, surely, that was no way to speak to a thirty-five year-old, especially in this line of work?
Remi examines his cancer candy and looks up at Justin again.
“If he comes… he comes. If he doesn’t… there is nothing we can do about it.” He takes a drag on his cigarette and exhales. Fumes of death cloud his face and disperse to reveal his steel-grey eyes.
“Let me tell you something… about my old man. He didn’t know how to read or write. But given the chance, he’d surely have won the Nobel Prize. He knew nothing about books… but he was sharp here…” Remi taps his temple twice with his forefinger.
“He used to tell me: ‘Son, always be patient. Everything happens at its appointed time.’.”
Justin’s ears are scalding hot by now. He wrestles not to blink first despite the lock of hair dangling in front of his left eye. Remi scrutinizes Justin for a few more seconds. He turns away, shakes his newspaper and resumes his reading as he chuckles.
Justin bites his lower lip and turns to face the windscreen. Blood rushes to his brain as his heart pounds harder…
“Here he comes!” he cries. A black Mercedes passes the Ford and stops about thirty metres in front of them. A door opens. Fred Goldsmith is getting out of the limo…
Remi throws the newspaper on the backseat and crushes the cigarette butt beneath his heel in the Ford itself – never throw outside; they are clues for the cops. Both he and Justin fumble their balaclavas out of their pockets and yank them on their heads.
Remi shifts into first gear. The car surges forward, passes the Mercedes and squeals to a stop. Mr. Goldsmith is next to the passenger door and is opening it. Justin draws his gun from his jacket and throws the door open. In five strides, he is at the side of the Mercedes. Fred Goldsmith turns round to face him…
Justin raises the gun to shoot, but his forefinger freezes on the trigger. Anne Goldsmith is getting out of the car, just in front of his target…
She is pregnant.
The couple stiffen as they stare at the weapon pointed at them.
“Shoot damn it! Shoot!” yells Remi.
Mr. Goldsmith’s hand goes inside his jacket. In a reflex reaction, Justin shoots twice.
The first shot hits Mrs. Goldsmith in the abdomen.
The second hits her in the chest. She staggers and hits the pavement with a thud, knocking her husband off balance.
Shaking, Justin fires twice again, aiming for the main target’s head. Blood splatters on the car. A gun slips from the victim’s hand as he falls on the lifeless body of his wife.
Justin turns round and dashes to the car. In one movement, he hurls himself inside and slams the door shut.
Tires screech…, and the car bolts forward, devouring the strip of road ahead…
Please allow me back.
Three more jobs completed. And at the exact time.
See how my agents operate? They work for me without being aware of it.
The smarter of you lot might have noticed the shots were some seconds before the time in my schedule of works. Have I failed?
Not at all.
When somebody is dying, it takes time for his brain and heart to switch off. I have never failed. And never will. Because, even though I might fear failure, I am incapable of it. I can only follow The Boss’s master-plan which is infallible.
It is written; it is Destiny.
You might be wondering, who the hell am I?
You already know me.
And I already know you.
Your name is on my list.
We will meet someday.
As all souls eventually meet me.
But for sure…
It will never be personal.