Photo Credit: Musical Burial by OfficialTwilamore
My hands are careful as the syringe pops through the rubber center of the bottle marked Oxyuranus microlepidotus. The plunger drags against the pressure of the liquid as it fills the plastic tube. I leave the needle submerged and my thumb presses down until the body reads point-ten milligrams. It’s more than I need.
The scrape of the door almost sends the bottle and syringe clattering to the ground. Thankfully, I haven’t pulled the needle from the top yet, and they fall into my lap.
“What are you doing?” Shin asks as he enters my room.
“Knock much? You almost freakin’ killed me. If that needle had been out . . .” I scramble to set the stuff on the table, press the plunger down and remove all the captured liquid. I’ll have to start over again.
“Whatever, my reflexes would have caught it before it pricked that perfect skin of yours.”
My head pops up to glare at him, but he’s inches away. A ghost in the flesh, he crossed the distance to me without a sound. His spicy scent and proximity has me momentarily tongue-tied.
“Besides, I did knock.” His index finger glides along my cheekbone.
“No you did—” I stop myself and his eyebrows rise. “Making noise isn’t the same as knocking, you know.” I want to pull back from him. To scoot my stool across the room, but his stare keeps me fixed.
“Exactly,” he says then backs away, almond eyes skidding across the room. “The General sent me to see if you’re ready. The target will be in the location at 1600 sharp.”
I bite my lip. It never gets easier, and unlike my teammates I’m not a sociopath. But it’s better than what my life could have been if the General left me in the orphanage.
“Saeth? Hop to it. We’ve got twenty before we need to be there.” Shin’s lips curve into a wicked smile.
“I would’ve been done if you hadn’t scared the living shit out of me just a second ago. I need fifteen,” I say then turn back to my desk.
“You’ve got ten,” he whispers in my ear.
I turn to catch him, but the room is empty and the door is once again shut. I hate ninjas.
***The wind stings my cheeks as Arash and I walk to the beach. He’s lanky but built, and the contents of the hidden compartments within his swim trunks make him the second deadliest thing walking the sand today. What’s sewn into my suit proves I’m number one. He grabs my hand as we approach the counter terrorist checkpoint. Just two teens out for a day at the ocean.
The guard checks our ID’s against our fingerprints when we place them to his hand scanner. “Have a good day,” he says and ushers us through.
Out of the guard’s sight, we break apart. Shin is somewhere behind us, and he won’t be going through the guard to get in. Knowing him, he’s probably already here.
“There she is,” Arash says. “Do your worst.”
My heart thrums in my chest. The target is younger than my usual, probably twenty or twenty-one. I unravel my beach towel next to hers. Her blond head bobs up and down to the music in her ears. Good. It’s better if I don’t have to talk to them. I catch my reflection in her large black sunglasses.
The towel is already warm from the heat of the sand by the time I lay out on it. Carefully, my left hand reaches down and finds the syringe stitched into a hidden pocket of my bathing suit. The threads come away without much effort and then I palm it to my other hand.
Without getting up, I uncap it one-handed, and hope it’s laced with enough lidocaine. By the time she feels it, it’ll be too late. With a soft prick into the meaty part of her thigh, my thumb dispenses the euphoric concoction first.
She sighs heavily and her head-bobbing slows. The General hates my process, but I prefer my targets to be blissful and unaware. Next, the plunger threatens to break against the thick polymer gel that separates the euphoria from the poison, but eventually it slides through.
Within seconds of removing the needle her heart will stop. I don’t need to check, she’s point-eight mills over what it takes to kill a man twice her size.
I lay there for another ten minutes, nausea rolling in my stomach, before recapping the sharp and getting up. “Hey can you watch my stuff?” I ask the target. She doesn’t respond, but this part is for show anyway. “Great. Thanks. I gotta pee,” I say and head toward the restrooms.
Once inside, I repeatedly vomit into the toilet, flushing every few seconds to eliminate the sour stench. Strong arms pull me up from my hunched position.
“Get your ass up, Saeth,” Shin says, yanking me to my feet.
“Here.” He hands me a piece of gum, and by the time it’s unwrapped and in my mouth, he’s gone again.
Arash leans next to the door. “It’s done I take it,” he says.
We trudge through the sand to the beach exit.
“Someday you’ll get a stomach for it.”
I nod in agreement, but somehow I doubt it.
(c) 2010, MB
Don't forget to check out my fellow YAFFer's stories based on the same photo: