Our job was, as our boss told me, to rid the world of evil – except what our boss failed to see was that evil was in all of us. It was there, deep down inside. Some chose to supress it, some chose to embrace it. I suppose for me, we embraced it under the illusion we supress it – because how hypocritical would it be for a cold-blooded killing machine to assassinate another for being… well… a cold-blooded killing machine?
Crouching down, I aimed at the old target that was surely needing replaced. It served me well with target practice for well over five years. My partner's calloused hands scratched over my delicate exposed elbows and helped me steady my aim. “I hope you’re not losing your touch, Jessica,” he mumbled, his breath skimming over my ears, sending involuntary shivers down my spine.
I wasn’t losing touch, I was losing hold of my resistance against my emotions – it’s naturally what would occur if you were within close proximity of a guy like the one holding my elbow. Of course, Jessie saw me as no more than a parter in his occupation. Out of the job, I was no-one.
“You wish, Jessie. I could shoot you down any day,” I said as while releasing the arrow that parted the air like scissors would part paper and, after a split second, hit the target right in the middle of the bullseye.
“Beginners luck,” Jessie grumbled as the arrow slipped and tore my beloved target directly down the middle.
I grinned up at him as I stared into his perilous dark brown eyes. “Says my five year experience.”
Jessie’s eyes softened as he gazed down at me. It was the perfect moment for me to tell him how I really felt, or for him to lean down and just tell me through actions instead. Of course that was wishful thinking, and it was also against the rules. Instead, he patted my head like I was an obedient younger sibling and grinned ear to ear.
“Proud of you, Jessica.”
It was a rule of upmost important – it was something that got our agents killed when broken, and it was a rule Jessie would never break; to fall in love was strictly forbidden - among targets, fellow agents, and civilians. Jessie was never much of a rule breaker – especially when it came to a rule that could quite possibly harm others in the process of breaking.
I would say he didn’t know how to live a life, but this was his way of surviving for the both of us.
I got up from the target booth and watched the few other agents skitter about with their doings, dressed in a similar black uniform embossed with a badge containing a microchip with all our personal details. Just a precaution.
The room was a cemented grey, unpainted and decaying from years of use and neglect. It was time soon that headquarters be relocated.
The grey bolted door ahead opened revealing an old balding man, with a developing pot belly, and a greasy face. Boss. “Kids, we need you – we have ourselves a new mission.”
“Peters, it’s our week off – give us a break, will you,” Jessie yelled over the noise in Peters direction. His first name was Matthew, but you only ever called him that if you had a death wish.
“You’re here working out vigorously on your week off?” His New York accent rang out, as he flapped about some papers he held in his right hand. “Look, this is an important client and you’re the only guys available right now.”
I cast him a look. “Glad to hear we’re your first choice.”
“If it weren’t for your parents-,” he started, but Peters thought differently and backtracked. “Never mind. Just follow me.”
What he meant to say was that if it weren’t for my parent’s early demise, I probably would never have lived the life of an assassin – but they’d gone, and I knew too much for Peters to let me off into the normal world. As for Jessie, he arrived at the centre with no recollection of who he really was. He was contained in a cell for the first year, but it became apparent he genuinely had no idea who he really was. All he knew now was the life of an assassin.
We followed into the familiar dimly lit office that emitted a sense of no-good. I suppose in my whole seventeen years of life, I’d learned that when I sensed something was no good I was always right. It’s not like I thought my occupation was that of an angel – I knew I was doing the devil's dirty work.
We both took our places on the musty smelling sofa opposite the desk that Peters sat behind day after day. “Let’s be quick with it – I was wanting to take Jessica here out later. You know, early birthday celebrations. It’s not every year you turn 18.” That was the first I was hearing of any celebrations. I gave him a look – unsure if he was telling the truth or a fib to get out of a job.
“Just listen to the man, Jessie,” I grumbled.
Jessie snickered a little.
Peters laid a few papers before us, turned in our direction. “Target is Mister James Phillips – All you need to do is take him out as quietly as possible and get out of there.”
“Usually you tell us why we’re taking them out. Not going to elaborate this time?” I asked, skimming my hand over the papers, blank for the most part and lacking in the usual details.
Jessie snatched the papers from my hand and flicked through them. “Who’s this important client?”
“Me,” Peters said.
“Never mix personal affairs with your occupation, Peters, you should know all about that!” Jessie chided playfully, riling up the boss with every word.
Peters rose from his desk. “There’s an underground crime ring connected to Phillips. If we don’t take out Phillips soon, the general public will be aware of or existence and you know what that means? Authorities, Jessie, authorities.”
Of course, Jessie already knew all of that, no doubt- he just loved watching our boss squirm. I’d gathered that Jessie had this undying hate for the boss that I’d never got to the bottom of. I presumed it was from his days in imprisonment below the training centre – when we had no idea who he was or how he found us.
Although we operated in conjunction with the government, it wasn’t official – they turned a blind eye in return for help we offered them with individuals who either knew too much or didn’t cooperate. If the media got hearing of our existence, our connections would do nothing. I suddenly realised the scope of the situation.
“This is Phillips' address, and these are his family members. You locate him, you find out who he’s connected to, and you destroy them all. No mercy, you hear me?”
I’d never seen the boss so agitated, so frustrated and… scared? While that fear fell onto my shoulders, it didn’t effect Jessie. Instead, he grinned, like he hit the gold. I wondered what he was thinking.
Jessie rose abruptly and shook the boss’ hand. “You can rely on us, Peters.”
But somehow I saw that Jessie wasn’t taking this as seriously as I thought he should.