Originally just a piece of creative writing for my English class, I saw potential in it and decided that I could write more. A young assassin is on his first solo mission, he is confident, but the appearance of someone from his recent past shakes him.
Chapter one: One Bullet
Steel toed boots sank through the lush, low-lying greenery, sinking further still into the dark green carpet of moss that smothered the jungle floor. The man wearing the boots could hardly be called a man. He was 18, but he looked older. He had seen things that had changed him mentally. He was no longer the ignorant boy he used to be, back before his teen years. He knew the ugly truth of the world, and his job was in the thick of it. He stalked at a bent-legged, steady pace. The sniper rifle slung over his shoulder was a comforting weight, bumping against his left hip in time with his movement. His face was covered with camouflage paint, but underneath was pale white. His eyes were a cold, clear blue. He had messy, short hair, it had grown in the weeks he had spent in the jungle, and now a few brown-blonde strands hung down to his eyebrows. His face was slick with sweat and rain. It was afternoon in the jungle, which meant heavy, humid rain. The rain pounded against the upper canopy, plummeting down in deafening torrents all around him, accumulating in sludgy puddles of mud on the humus layer of the jungle floor. He was tall for his age, slim but also muscular. He had a name. Yes, he definitely had a name. He didn’t use it, though; there was only one man who did. He had a code name instead. He called himself Hawk. He had a fondness for the birds and fancied he was a lot like them. He was patient, quiet, calculating, observant and deadly. The rain mixed with the sweat on his face, accumulating on the tip of his nose and chin, dripping off in quick succession. He was soaked to the bone; his long sleeved camouflage shirt and pants were darkened with water. Still, he pressed on, checking his watch frequently, he was on a time limit. His target was due to depart on his private helicopter at 1:45pm; it was currently 1:28pm. He was confident that he would make it.
There wasn’t much further to go now. He stopped and took a large mouthful of refreshingly cold water from the metal flask attached to an elastic cord tied to his belt. He reset his pace, slower, more cautious. He was nearing the compound where he would set up. As he stalked onwards, he speculated about the fact that three years ago, he wouldn’t have been able to do this. Not the walk; no, that was simple. The thing he couldn’t do three years ago was kill in cold blood. Before the organisation he was part of had broken him into pieces, he was a boy. A boy that had stood in defense of the injured men, no matter his crime. The organisation had changed him. His real name, Alec, now seemed much too soft to belong to him. He was a cold-hearted killer, an assassin - a bundle of deadly glass shards tied together and thrown at target after target. He had been mentally attacked until his eyes, which previously shone with compassion and such a strong sense of right, now only glittered in the flash of a knife or the boom of gunfire. There was no emotion in his eyes, or his voice. There was certainly no trace of compassion or mercy. This lack of emotion made him the second most sought after contract killer in the world, the first man being his mentor. Being so near the top meant that he had many clients and just as many, if not more enemies. Alec took a dozen more steps and slowed to a stop. He had arrived.
The compound was a metal fortress, surrounded by a chain link fence topped with barbed wire. Alec picked his way through the undergrowth, settling into position, shielded by several large ferns. He had a clear view of the heavy steel door from here. Alec knew that the roof of the compound was excellently camouflaged, it was painted in mottled green colours, blending with the lush green jungle all around. But the walls of the compound were stark bare, made of thick, cold steel. Much like the bullet that Alec was now carefully inserting into the barrel of the Sniper Rifle, he would only need the one bullet.
Alec lifted the muzzle of the sniper rifle, and laid his soaking wet face against the cool black steel, his eyes were riveted on the compound door that was shielding Alec’s target from him. This was something like a ritual for Alec. He felt he was very much like the rifle he was holding almost tenderly in his hands, breathing against the cold metal. He, much like the gun, was a mere weapon; supremely adept at killing quickly and accurately, with little to no collateral damage. Alec kneeled on the soggy ground, pulling a suppressor out of one of the many pockets dangling from his belt. The suppressor was a narrow black cylinder that screwed onto the end of a gun’s muzzle to muffle the noise of the shots. Alec froze as the heavy metal door opened, grating on the uneven concrete covering the ground around the compound. He checked his watch with a quick glance. It was only 1:35pm. Damn it! His target was early! Alec gritted his teeth. No matter, he was ready. Alec lifted the rifle, resting the butt against the joint between his arm and shoulder. He had one finger on the trigger; his left hand was steadying the muzzle. His target was dressed in a black suit; he was in his late 40s, graying hair, strong build. But he was only flesh and blood. Nothing a bullet couldn’t penetrate at 3-400mph and at such close range.
He couldn’t miss.
This would be Alec’s one and only chance. After this, his target would be safe behind the bulletproof glass and reinforced steel body of the helicopter. Alec froze again. Someone else was exiting the compound through the heavy door. Alec felt the first surge of emotion in years lance through him. His trigger finger quivered ever so slightly. Standing meters away from him was none other than his mentor, the man who’d taught him to kill. He had taught him how to fight in both armed and unarmed combat, and the art of psychological warfare. The man was tall, dressed in loose, black clothing. His face was pale, his eyes dark and watchful. His hands were behind his back. To anyone else, he would look totally relaxed, but Alec knew this man well. He knew that this man was poised to kill, he could tell by the way he was standing, his feet spaced apart. Balanced. Alec knew this man better than anyone, and the man knew Alec just as well. They had, after all, spent years in each other’s company, sleeping in the same house, training, and killing. They had grown close. They trusted one another; they could even perhaps be considered close friends.
Alec felt a sliver of doubt worm its way into his mind.
‘Why is he here?’ Alec asked himself, his mentor didn’t know about this mission. Alec slowly shook his head, any sudden movements would alert his mentor; the man had the most observant eyes Alec had ever known. Alec leveled the sniper rifle and peered through the scope. His target was right at the center of the crosshairs; he would be shot in the chest. He would be dead before he hit the hard concrete. There would be very little pain, and his blood would leak onto the concrete, to be washed away by the rain.
Alec exhaled slowly.
The man went down in slow motion, a dark red stain blossoming through his suit. He slumped to the ground. It had been a clean shot. Alec slung the rifle over his shoulder and took one more glance at the compound. His mentor had vanished. Panic clawed at Alec’s heart.
Alec was experiencing the same fear that he had felt at his old training sessions with his mentor. His mentor had made Alec walk into an old warehouse and find a place to hide; his mentor would come in five minutes later and hunt him down. It was like a game of hide and seek; except much more terrifying. The only difference was that this was real. The fear was almost intoxicating. Alec’s mind kept screaming at him to slow the hell down. He obliged. Slowing to a cautious stalk, his breathing was coming fast, his heart thudding. He wished now that he had packed more ammunition.
Alec didn’t stop moving for half an hour. It felt like more. Alec had finished the water in his flask, he was still thirsty, his mouth bone dry. Every breath felt like sandpaper was being rubbed against the inside of his lungs. The bushes to Alec’s right suddenly exploded in a cloud of green, Alec barely had time to react before he found himself pressed into the ground, a knee dug painfully into the small of his back. His attacker had Alec’s wrists pinned behind his back, holding them there with one of his own large hands. Alec thrashed wildly until he felt the cold metal of a gun pressing into the back of his head. The man lowered his face until his mouth was above Alec’s left ear.
‘Caught you, little Alec.’ He hissed, a smirk playing on his thin lips. Alec grew rigid, the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end, an involuntary shudder passed through his body and his breath hitched. His mentor had found him.
‘Wh-what are you doing here?’ Alec asked. He could only just see the man’s face in his peripheral vision.
‘I had to check on you.’ He replied simply. Alec felt the man’s hand move upwards, the long fingers running through his hair, they tightened into a fist and Alec bit back a cry of pain as his head was wrenched back violently. He didn’t realise that his hands were free.
‘Why?’ Alec replied through gritted teeth.
‘I know how I affect you, Alec,’ he purred, somehow his voice was still menacing. ‘Plus, I can’t pass up the opportunity to hunt you down, your fear of me is so…motivating.’
‘I’m not afraid of you!’ Alec spat, the man’s hand slid from his hair to his throat, and the gun slid to his right temple. His hand closed slightly on Alec’s throat, pressing his fingers into the flesh under the corner of his jaw.
‘Your pulse is quick, that indicates fear.’ He said in a matter-of-fact tone, ‘I’m the only one here, what else could you possibly be afraid of, little Alec?’
‘Let me go!’ Alec hissed, feeling increasingly vulnerable with his throat bared.
‘If I were one of your target’s bodyguards, do you think I’d let you go?’ he asked. The hand around Alec’s throat tightened; it was only slight, but Alec squirmed, the sniper rifle was digging uncomfortably into his chest and stomach.
‘Fortunately for you, I dealt with the guards.’ Alec’s mentor said, shifting his knee upwards ever so slightly. That was all Alec needed. He rolled lightening fast, the hand around his neck was wrenched away, and he sprang to his feet, poised for a fight. His mentor straightened, rolling his shoulders back leisurely, and cracking his neck, he smirked.
‘Are you sure you want to do this, little Alec?’ he asked, his head cocked to one side, gun held loosely in his right hand.
‘The last time you took me on like this, you could hardly move for days.’ his mentor sneered.
‘As if you’re worried about that!’ Alec snarled. His eyes were narrowed to slits, his hands balled into fists, held expertly at chest and throat height. His messy brown-blonde hair was now streaked with mud, and was plastered to his face by sweat and rain. His cold blue eyes were hard and calculating. Blood oozed from a small gash on his head, he had struck a small rock when he had rolled on the ground. His mentor’s smirk widened minutely, and he lunged.
The fight lasted only for a few minutes. Each man knew how the other fought, so the fight was almost like an aggressive dance, perfectly executed. Deadly. Alec aimed a roundhouse kick at his mentor’s solar plexus; the man leaned back out of range and grasped Alec’s foot before he could bring it back. An excruciating pain lanced up Alec’s leg as his mentor twisted it savagely. Alec overbalanced and, with a cry, toppled once more to the ground, landing this time on his back. His mentor knelt over him, pinning Alec’s legs to the muddy ground. He couldn’t lash out, he was immobilised. Alec was breathing heavily, glaring furiously up at his ever-calm handler. His body went rigid as the gun, a Grach MP-443, was pressed against his forehead, then dragged lower to rest over his heart.
‘What’ll it be, little Alec?’ his mentor whispered, voice still devoid of emotion, ‘head or heart?
Alec knew this game; he had played it before. He simply stayed quiet, simply glaring and trying to calm his ragged gasps for air. The humidity of the jungle seemed to refuse him oxygen. His leg throbbed painfully. Alec was disgusted at how childlike he felt in his mentor’s presence, as if he was still the inexperienced kid he’d been three years ago. He swallowed hard, his mouth dry as the gun made its way back up to his forehead. The cold metal bit into his skin. His mentor pressed hard on the gun, forcing Alec’s head back into the soggy jungle floor. He watched Alec intently, eyes hardly wavering, almost never blinking. Alec licked his lips nervously, not breaking eye contact. His mentor’s face gave nothing away as he flicked the safety off. Alec’s eyes widened, his heart rate increased, as if it were trying to get in a lifetime’s worth of beats before it was stopped. Alec’s breaths came fast and shallow, his demeanor finally breaking; his expression grew pleading, he was unable to reign in his terror.
His mentor smiled grimly.
The gun shifted ever so slightly.