On a busy commercial street there was a shop. It was tucked away between larger buildings, secluded and dark. Out of the flow of commuters, stepped a tall man in a dark suit, directly in front of the shop called TRINKETS AND TREASURES. Unlike the other businesses, none entered this place. He stepped forward, heralded by a small tinkle above the door.
Immediately he was overcome by stale, dusty air. All about him there were all manner of oddities: model aircraft, figurines of dragons, wizards…truly it was aptly named. His son would have loved it, he thought, smiling sadly. Behind the counter, a lanky, be-speckled teen looked up from the comic he was reading. His smile of welcome was replaced with a look of horror as he saw the man before him. He shot upwards, upending his chair with a crash and scattering objects everywhere.
“You couldn’t…couldn’t possibly” he stuttered “Couldn’t be, you couldn’t know…”
“I’m sorry Comrade”, the tall man said softly, in a husky Russian accent. He pulled out a sleek pistol, with suppressor already attached. Seeing his intent, the boy tried to run out a back exit, but made it only to the doorway. A soft sound, then the boy crashed onto the floor, a small red stain already spreading down the side of his face.
The man closed his eyes softly, “Target acquired”, he whispered. Tucking the gun away, he walked over to the exit. Taking out some tissues with his gloved hands, he gently wiped the blood spatter and brain matter away. When done he placed the bloodied tissues in a plastic bag, then turned to set about returning the desk to its natural state. Switching on the computer, he quickly accessed and activated the meltdown process. Every hacker had one; it would destroy all files, encoded or otherwise. He took one last look around, noting the dusty stairway in the corner, but seeing nothing untoward. Satisfied that his Mission was completed, he turned to leave and that’s when he heard it. A soft sound, a scuffle or sob that came from above. The assassin froze then swore softly in his native Russian; someone else was here, a possible witness. Stalking forward softly, he glided towards the stairs, walking up them on silent feet. He stopped at the top and looked around carefully. There were three rooms branching off from where he stood, one on either side of him and another directly ahead. In between them all were uncarpeted floorboards.
The man walked slowly towards the room ahead, making the floorboards creak only slightly. He reached the door in mere moments, turned the handle and withdrew his gun in one smooth motion. Facing him, however, was nothing more threatening then a toilet. He was in the bathroom. Frowning slightly, he turned around and tried the door to the left of the stairs. It was locked.
“Open the door Comrade,” he called out. Hearing nothing in reply, he tried again “Please, do not make me hurt you, just open the door.”
“Y-y-you won’t hurt me?” A teenage voice stammered, after a moment’s silence. “I-I-I don’t want to die, man. Oh god I don’t want to die.”
“No one does Comrade, that I promise you, now please. Open the door” The man closed his eyes, hating to lie but knowing that it was necessary. A moment later, he heard scrambling noises, followed by footsteps, then the sound of a lock turning. The door creaked open, revealing a geek’s equivalent of wealth; signed and framed posters of superheroes plastered the walls like a second layer of paint. Stacks of comics lay every which way, covering the small bed, and figurines/bobble heads stood tall, silent sentinels amid this geek’s abode. But what caught his attention was the computer screen in the corner- its glow filled the small room.
Before he could see just what was on the screen, a head popped into sight from behind the door, obscuring his view. The boy was breathing shallowly, sweat beaded his brow and upper lip, and he held an asthma puffer in his hand. Tears leaked from red-rimmed eyes, he sniffled. “Come in dude.”
The man silently crossed the threshold.
“Look man, I-I- didn’t see anything I swear, so you don’t—’’
He cut off with a gulp as the Russian raised his gun and gently placed the tip to his head. “I’m going to ask you something, once and once only” he said softly “I know you saw what happened, but only one thing matters: did you tell anyone?” here he nodded in the direction of the computer. The boy’s eyes flicked to it in alarm, answering the question, then returned slowly to the man’s face.
He looked away then squeezed the trigger. A soft sound, the brother to the one emitted only moments ago, was followed by the body crumpling to the ground.
Blood and brain matter was everywhere; too much to clean quickly. He went swiftly to the computer and was just in time to see a message pop up:
Message sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
He swore viciously, then accessed the ‘freaky geek’s’ information: 17, 22 Wellard Pl, Moore Heights. This was a distraction he couldn‘t afford, time was running out…
He activated the Meltdown process, turned, and stepping over the dead boy left the room. As he was walking down the stairs he noticed a small plastic statue of an embattled dragon; rearing above some human invaders. It was $5.99. He took out the correct money, placed it on the desk and left as quietly as he had entered, dragon in tow.
He could have gone to his luxury BMW, but instead he walked the distance to a bus stop where a vehicle awaited. He paid his fare and sat down as the bus clunked and rattled to life. Some moments later, he reached into his breast pocket, and took out his most prized possession: a fragile photo. Gently, he thumbed it straight and gazed down at his smiling family. His little boy, still fascinated by wizards, his baby girl with burnished golden curls held in the beaming arms of his wife. He swallowed painfully around the lump in his throat. And there he stood, a dark menacing shadow, grinning feebly—spoiling an otherwise golden picture.
“Soon, soon I will have you free” He pledged “I swear it by God, I will have you free!”