I wrote the initial concept for this during a writers’ meeting a few years ago. The prompt was “Well, this is embarrassing.” We were instructed to think on that sentence for two minutes then write for two minutes. What I wrote was amusing enough to me, that I had to come back to it and give it a little more legs. Oh, and the attached image was not part of the original but seems fairly appropriate (except for the missing mask).
So here you go.
Wyley coughed, brown, muddy water sputtering from his lips. Agony throbbed across his whole body as he picked his head up out of the murky puddle. He spit. A glob of red, bloody spittle splooshed into the dank liquid and disappeared.
“Ew. I bet that shit tastes naaasty,” a man said.
Wyley picked his head up and looked at the speaker—the man who had just beaten the living shit out of him. The fog of pain clouded his vision and made it hard to think, but he knew who it was. It was Raiv, dressed head to toe in his signature green and black body armor. Even his face was covered by a cloth mask with the image of a green skull.
As his thoughts cleared, he remembered where he was. Raiv had found him on the street in the slums of Avesta City. Rather, Wyley had seen him and ducked into this alley to hide. The man hadn’t been fooled and walked right up to the flexboard box he’d been hiding under. Everything else after that was a pain-filled blur.
Wyley wondered he had done wrong? How had he been found?
Just looking at his attacker made Wyley want to cry. Raiv was an assassin and tracker; one of the best. Maybe the only one in the system who could have found him. But, then… He’d rounded up enough debt with Mr. Lox at the Calibran Four shava tracks that whatever Raiv was charging was probably a pittance. Wyley knew that bookies, even high-level mobster ones, didn’t usually kill their clients for being late. Wyley, however, was more than a little late, so Mr. Lox might just be willing to make an example out of him.
He spit again, trying to get the rest of the taste of blood and dirt from his mouth. “It doesn’t taste great.” He cursed himself. He needed to get out of this. Being a smartass was not the way to do it.
Raiv’s mask shifted.
Was…was he smiling?
“I like you. You’re a funny little guy.” Raiv shifted his weight and took a step forward. “I feel like, if we weren’t right here, right now, we’d have been friends.”
What the hell? Wyley’s mind panicked and he grasped onto the man’s words like a lifeboat. “B-but we can be friends. See? I can be your friend. Haha. That was funny, right?”
Raiv’s “smile” disappeared. “Awe, see? Now you’ve ruined it. Okay, time for the killing part.” The assassin leveled his gun at Wyley’s face.
Wyley looked away and squeezed his eyes shut. The wine of the guns powercells filled his ears. Then…nothing.
Chancing a glance, Wyley peered up at Raiv. The man stood there staring at the side of his pulse-pistol, his mask twisted in what must have been confusion. All of the weapon’s power and indicator lights were dark.
Raiv looked from the gun to Wyley and back. “Huh. Well, this is embarrassing. I mean, I literally just used this, like… this morning.”
A new level of fear dawned on Wyley. At least a pulse shot to the head ended it quick. Wyley’s heart pounded in his chest at the idea of staring at Raiv’s mask as the killer throttled the life out of him. He suddenly felt the urge to pee.
“Oh man…” Raiv’s mask shifted from twisted confusion into a smile and he let the weapon dip. “You should have seen it. When that pulse bolt went through his chest? My god was it a mess. I mean, I’ve killed a lot of people, right? But this guy? So. Much. Blood!”
It occurred to Wyley that Raiv might not be all there, in the head. Now he really needed to pee.
Raiv laughed to himself a minute. Finally, he sucked in a lung-full of air and continued. “I guess with those engineered organs he needed all that extra red stuff.”
“Anywho!” The assassin leaned over and pointed at his gun. “This thing, I swear. The most finicky weapon I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still my favorite. What to do, what to do…”
A voice in Wyley’s head told him to speak up, to say something. Shear terror tried to keep his lips shut, but he gathered just enough courage to speak. “Y-you could just say you killed me.”
Raiv leaned back and gasped over-dramatically. “What? And not finish my contract? Although, with my gun on the blink what am I supposed to do? I guess I could strangle you or cut your throat, but the contract did specify to shoot you. I believe Mr. Lox’s exact words were to let your brains breathe.”
“B-but you could just go get another gun! I-I’ll wait right here.”
The crazy assassin laughed again and whacked Wyley on the shoulder. The impact sent Wyley sprawling to the ground again.
“Oh, oops! Sorry. You’re really funny. And, I almost think you might just sit there and wait.” Raiv looked at his gun again and smacked the side of it. The lights flickered for a second, sending a shiver of fear back through Wyley, but went dark again. “Well, I guess I could just track you down again. I mean, you’ll know I’m coming this time, but I don’t think that’ll help you. And, chasing you was fun!”
Relief sparked in Wyley’s mind, making him have to pee even more. “Really?” He climbed to his feet. His knees cracked and something in his back popped. More pain shooting through his body. He tried to keep his legs together in the hopes of staving off peeing himself.
Raiv shruged. “I don’t see what else to do.”
The assassin slapped the side of the weapon again and Wyley saw a flash of light. For a brief second, Wyley thought he felt a surge of pain in his left arm, but it was gone as soon as it appeared. A sense of numbness washed over him. This thoughts drifted around in his head like a cloud.
Wait. Had the gun just fired? Wyley looked around but saw no signs of the alley walls being scorched. Then his gaze fell on his own right shoulder. Or where his right shoulder should have been. Now there was just a massive hole in the seared flesh and his arm was lying in the murky puddle.
He turned to Raiv. The man’s mask had a massive oval in the center, like he was staring with his mouth open wide.
“I totally did not mean to do that.” Raiv looked down at his gun. “Damn.”
Wyley’s knees gave way and the world shifted around him. After a second, he blinked and realized he was laying in the puddle again on top of his own arm.
Raiv appeared over him, pulse-pistol pointed at Wyley’s face. The assassin shrugged. “Sorry little man, guess I won’t get to chase you again anyway.”
Wyley coughed just as there was another flash of light. Then there was nothing.