“I’ll protect you, I promise.”
Inside a little glimmer of hope shone through my heart. It was soon stamped out by my brain. I knew she couldn’t keep that promise; no one could. Her intentions were there and for that I was thankful. Nothing could hide the truth though: I was on my own.
“Thanks,” My voice cracked slightly as I looked to the floor, tucking a loose strand of my auburn hair behind my ear.
Without waiting for a fabricated answer, I ended the phone call before flinging the device across the room. Shards of glass flew in all directions. Pent up anger build rapidly inside of me; I felt my heart racing and my palms growing sweaty. I massaged my forehead vigorously, trying to relieve myself of some of the stress that had been culminating in my mind since this began.
As I crumpled onto the floor mist covered my eyes, impairing my vision.
I blinked back the tears, biting my lip to control myself. “For God’s sake Nirvanna, pull yourself together and get a grip.” My nostrils flared as I forced my breath to travel through them. I squeezed my hands into fists, wiping the salty river flowing from my eyes. “What would Al say if he could see you now....?”
Al had been my mission controller for six years now.
Had. Past tense.
Al was attacked last month during the drugs bust as part of the LA mission and he suffered fatal injuries to his skull. I was left to pick up the pieces and that’s why I’m cowered in a corner of my mission flat, trying to conjure up a plan to save myself.
Picking myself up, I strode over to the chest of drawers wedged into a small alcove in the wall. Entering the combination (377359,) I pulled the stiff drawer open. I quickly fumbled around in it, scanning the title of each brown folder for the LA mission report. My fingers grasped the correct report and a wave of relief flooded over me.
“Risk level: High
Last year HDI uncovered a stash of heroin with a street value of £3,900,000 stored in a house in LA. DNA samples from the house were sent to forensics for analysis. The results showed that the house hadn’t been used for housing for approximately ten years; however there was a variety of different fresh prints, all belonging to suspected “Blood Red” gang members.
The leader of “Blood Red” is Stewart Blackwell – owner of Blackwell and Co, which is a leading manufacturing company in America, making a yearly profit of £200,000,000.)
Nirvanna, your job is to befriend Thomas Blackwell (son of Stewart Blackwell) in an attempt to gain access to the house. We require credit card details, cheque books; any evidence of funding and cash exchange. Due to the fact that the “Blood Red” gang are the main group of suspects, we would like you to try and infiltrate their meetings and get as close as you can to any of the younger members. They are very dangerous people, collating a total of fifty six convictions for violent crime of some sort, so you will be assigned a missions partner which will be revealed if you choose to accept the mission.
Alan Cooper will be staying with you on the mission and he will be expecting regular updates. There will be no police intervention as normal and so there is also a risk of arrest; however Alan will be able to release you from prison if there is a serious crime committed.
As usual, you have the right to withdraw yourself from this operation; however the mission may have to subsidise if you do not accept.
I, Nirvanna McCarthy, accept the mission briefing and promise not to disclose any information about the mission to anyone other than Alan Cooper, the mission controller. I understand the risks and have been given risk assessment training prior to undertaking this mission.
I examined the briefing, re-reading it over and over until my head started to pound. My eyes drifted to the name “Blood Red.” Loathing filled my body – they were the scum who’d put Al in hospital and in his grave. I’d been there; I’d tried to stop them. After undertaking twelve years of intense martial arts training, I was confident I’d have been able to take down a small cluster of them but fifteen against two are never good odds.
Now they were after me. The only other person who knew the grave danger I was in was Angela Morton, my new mission controller. She couldn’t protect me: I knew it and deep down, I was sure that she knew it as well.
The screeching of brakes outside drew me out of my hatred-induced trance.
I whipped my head round to see bright lights piercing the thin curtains; the sound of crunching gravel filling the air. My instincts kicked in and I slammed the drawer shut, shoving the briefing into my jacket.
Running into the bathroom, I lifted the tank cover and plunged the trip lever down, draining all the water from the tank. Quickly reaching into it, avoiding the refill tube, I pulled out the multi-layer packet and shook it, spraying water around the room. I stamped down on the bin pedal, ripping the plastic coating off the packet and throwing them into the container.
The cold metal of the gun made me flinch.
I opened the barrel to check it was loaded. A relieved smile tugged at the edge of my mouth as I saw the jet black bullets.
A sudden shout made me jump. I pulled the door to, pressing my body against the wall, trying to flatten every inch of myself, wishing I was invisible. The slamming of the front door sounded, echoing through the empty flat. Footsteps began gradually growing louder and louder until the sound was almost deafening.
“I know you’re in there!” The raspy voice shouted, clear amusement lacing his tone.
The footsteps stopped as they reached my door. My heart was pounding so loudly I feared it would give me away before I’d even had the opportunity to blow the sick bastard away. “Are you going to open the door or am I going to have to break it down?!...” A pause. “You’ve got three seconds and I’m going to kick the door in.... Three... Two... One!”
The triumphant sound of splintering wood followed by a loud bang gave me the shivers, sending a cold sensation up my spine.
My ears pricked up as I heard the man’s breathing filling the air. “Nice place you’ve got here! A bit small but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it if I’m really honest.” More footsteps. “Are you not going to come and show me around?”
There was a deflated moan as the man flopped onto the sofa, “I really would like to see you sweet heart.”
I felt vomit rise in my throat.
“Right, if you won’t come out you leave me no choice but to come and find you myself.” I heard him groan as he rose from the sofa, his knees clicking loudly, alerting me to the possibility of the deterioration of his health. Peter Farquarson. I knew I’d recognised his scratchy tone.
“You’re not hiding in the bathroom are you McCarthy? That would be oh-to-cliché even for you.” The door handle twisted slightly, “I am going to enjoy this.”
Peter pushed the door forward slowly, the barrel of his gun entering before I caught sight of him.
I leapt from behind the door, pointing my gun straight at his face. My mouth gaped open as I studied the injuries that covered his face. There was a scar stretching from his eye down to his lower jaw, his eye had dark shading underneath it; his lip was inflamed.
“McCarthy! What a surprise hey?” He stepped forwards, lowering his gun slowly and raising his arms as though surrendering. “Now let’s not be hasty; why cause me any more suffering?”
“Suffering? You got away lightly.” I spat through gritted teeth, maintaining my dominant stance. “Now drop the gun and put your hands on your head.” There was a moment of hesitation as he tried to analyse my facial expression and deduce whether or not I was serious. Damn right I was serious.
“Alright.” He said casually, lowering his gun to the floor as I pressed mine against his temple, staring him straight in the eye.
“Now walk.” I demanded, pushing his back with the cold, steel barrel.
His steps were slow and meaningful. Sweat was running down his forehead. I was the one who had inflicted those injuries upon him (self-defence.)
“Get on your knees!”
“Is that really necess-“
“Alright!” I could hear the fear in his voice as he tentatively rested his weight on his knees, keeping his hands fixed firmly at the back of his head.
“What did you come here for?”
“What the hell do you think I came here for?”
“You’re smart too.” Sarcasm dripped from his voice, making me shudder inside.
I dug the gun harder into his back, “May I just remind you: I’m the one holding a gun. So you’re here for revenge? What about me? I’m the one who lost someone; you killed Al mercilessly when you know that he was just doing his god damn duty in trying to put scum like you in jail.”
“Answer me!” I yelled, leaning down to be level with him, feeling anger rising within me once again. That was what we’d learned to do in training: keep on his level and keep eye contact.
“You really are a shit you know that?”
Without warning, Peter jolted backwards, head butting me. I dropped the gun unconsciously, hearing it skid across the floor. Nausea washed over me as I slammed my hand against my head, applying pressure. A thick liquid coated my palm, making me gag. I felt something sweep my foot away, causing me to collapse onto the floor. As I lay sprawled on the cold, wooden floor, I could just make out Peter raising his foot above my face.
It came crashing down just as I rolled swiftly out of the way.
Each breath I took made me feel light headed. My vision was blurred. I could feel blood pounding in my head, making my stomach churn.
I knew that there was more to come.
Holding my breath I charged at the figure, knocking him sideward against the wall, hearing the thud of his head as it smashed against the plaster. I grabbed his arm and twisted it behind him, causing him to yell out in agony. “You messed with me on the wrong day you bastard!”
“It’s not over yet McCarthy!” He spat, spraying blood across the room.
I kneed him hard in the back of his leg; his leg faltered beneath him, sending spasms up his limbs as he fell to the floor. Out of my peripheral vision I could see the gun lying only a metre or so away from where I was standing. I knew that if I dived for the gun, Peter could attack me when I was unaware. If I didn’t dive for the gun... I didn’t want to think what might happen.
I let go of his wrist, rolling backwards as I did. My foot landed just next to the gun; I grabbed it without a split second’s pause.
I let out a scream that made my head throb. Then I pulled the trigger, aiming it at his head. The noise from my mouth didn’t waver; I kept yelling, exerting all my energy as I fired the gun one bullet after the other.
Before I’d dared to look up, there was a small click. There were no bullets left. There was no need for more bullets. Through my tear glazed eyes, I could see Peter Farquarson lying face down with a pool of blood collecting around him. Tears spilled from my eyes, “That was for Al you son of a bitch.”
Feeling completely drained, I allowed myself to drop the gun, collapsing onto the floor. I hugged my knees to my chest, rocking myself slowly as tears spilled down my face. My throat was red raw from screaming and my muscles were burning. Every inch of my body was on fire; in an agonising spasm.
I was right. Angela Morton couldn’t save me. I saved myself.