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Michael slammed his trunk closed, reaching the end of his day. The sun had completely set and the night grew cold and windy. Michael’s work had run later than he expected, and he was relieved that it was finally over. He had just locked his shovel, tarps, tools, and bundles of rope away in the back of his not so luxurious 1992 Honda Prelude. He had expected to use more of each material, but sadly today was a rather slow work day. It ran later of course, but throughout the whole day he only received 2 house calls. The first call was quick and simple, just a bit of fixing up. He received the final call at around 3 PM, and it had run all the way until now. Never before had Michael had so much trouble with a simple one-man job. It was strange for his work to succeed an hour or two, but this one got out of hand.

Michael walked to his broken car door and jiggled the handle. It would always take a few tries before the door would actually open, but with a large tug Michael finally got the sliver door to swing open. He climbed inside and sat at the wheel for a second. He had a moment to relax and center himself after a long day of hard work; the few seconds he sat there felt like an hour. He placed his elbow on his steering wheel, allowing for his hand to wipe his face. With a swift motion, he refreshed his face with a few strokes of his hand, and then reverted this strange seating position to one for driving. As he moved his right arm down to fish his keys out of his pocket, he caught a glimpse of something on his hand. He flipped his hand over to reveal a dark red blotch of blood staining his dirt powdered hand. 

“Ah, shit,” Michael whispered to himself, begrudgingly. Michael had sworn he had cleaned up all the blood that his work produced. But he was mistaken, and so he reached over to his glove box with his other hand and grabbed some napkins. As he stared into his rear-view mirror, he cleaned his tired face of the thin coat of red blood that was spread across it. After a few minutes and napkins, Michael was satisfied that he got all the blood off his face and hand. He shoved the handful of crumpled up, blood stained napkins back into his glove box, and then he finally started up his car.

On his long, dark drive back to his motel, Michael reflected on his day. He thought about the blood which stained his face, and how it got to be there.

Michael was a hitman. He had made a comfortable living by killing people that other people told him to. He thought it was easy, just walk in their house, strangle them, dismember them, shoot them, or do God knows what to end their lives. He would then usually tie them up in a tarp and bury them out in the woods, a field, the desert, wherever he was that was remote. He would drive across the country to kill whoever, for the right price. His notoriety grew only by mouth, since Michael didn’t trust phones or the internet to keep his secrets safe. He knew a lot of people, and a lot of people knew of him, but not of his occupation. 

Today’s first call was easy, simple strangulation and buried in under an hour. The second, however, wasn’t as simple. Michael was thrown off the hulking man he was sent to kill, and after a tussle he had to shoot him right in the head from only a foot or so away. There was a large hole almost reaching all the way through the back of his skull. The man’s right eye was gone; in fact, the whole right side of his face was gone, only leaving a blood spurting geyser in its place. Michael spent the whole late afternoon and night cleaning up the blood and burying this large, muscular body. He thought he had gotten all the blood, but he must have forgotten to check his own face. He was too preoccupied by the other man’s face, or what was his face. Michael had been fascinated by the wound he had inflicted, as well as the exceedingly bright blonde hair the man had possessed. Even as Michael covered the tied-up blue tarp with shovel full after shovel full of dirt, he thought of the white-blonde hair. An odd feature to fixate on, but Michael found himself thinking of the beauty of it the whole drive home. The large crater in the man’s face wasn’t lost on him. He still wrenched at the brutality of his actions every so often.

After much reflection and deliberation, Michael finally reached his destination of an old, run down motel just off the highway. It wasn’t luxurious, but Michael needed to stay discreet, and these little one-night motels don’t even glance at a simple “John Smith” in their registry. He parked his car right in front of his room, number 3, and took a few good shoves to get his car door open. He strutted his way to his room, unlocked the creaky old door, entered, closed the door, and sat at the edge of his bed. Michael placed his head in his hands, exhausted by the day’s long and strenuous work. His arms and back ached from the relentless digging and re-covering of holes, as well as from the fight between him and the man. He collapsed on his bed, not even bothering to take off his dirty clothes or shoes. 

Michael drifted off to sleep for a short while, until he was jolted awake by a loud thud. He sprang up and darted his head around the room, trying to find the source of this odd noise. He saw nothing in the shadows, only the bright red digital numbers of the room’s customary alarm clock. It was 11:16 PM. Michael brushed off the noise as the people in the room over messing around late at night, and he laid back down. Just as he resettled, the thud returned, louder. Michael now knew where the knock was coming from. It was coming from the old motel door. The banging continued, increasing in occurrence and speed. The old door dent further and further in, the wood creaking and snapping from the continuous hard force being pounded into it. Michael rose quickly, and reached under the creaky motel bed for his bag. As he pulled the large, leather bag from out of under the bed, the door crashed open. Michael could not see out of the door, he only saw a large, towering shadow being cast inside the room, illuminated by the outside lights. Sweating, Michael reached deep in his bag and pulled out his back-up pistol. The large shadow grew closer into the room, and in mere moments a protruding figure stomped his way into the room. The figure stood there, encased in darkness, looking towards the sitting and shaking Michael. He had raised his gun up, aiming towards the beefy figure’s head. 

Michael quickly reached towards the light switch situated only a few inches from his head, and the fluorescent lights flicked on, revealing a man standing in the doorway. The beast stood still as the night, starring with his one eye at Michael. Michael’s eyes widened at the sight of the man’s superb bright blonde hair, covered in dirt and blood. His gaze lowered to see the man’s face, or what was left of it. The large hole where the man’s eye had been before the introduction of Michael was now nearly black, with blood still trickling down the man’s dirty face. His whole body was covered in dirt and blood, with his shirt and pants ripped and torn. His figure was impressive; he was muscular and tall. His head almost hit the top of the door frame.

The man lumbered towards Michael, still motionless in his bed. Michael raised up his gun and fired it into the head of his attacker. The man stumbled backwards, obviously taken back by the blow. He stumbled and crashed through the small table and television set across from the bed. Michael stood up and ran past the downed man out the door, throwing the empty gun unto the floor. He searched for his keys in every one of his pockets but to no avail. They must have fallen out while he was sleeping. Without hesitation, Michael dashed back into the room. He saw the man staggering back to his feet; he grabbed the wall with his ginormous hands and lifted himself back up. Michael found the keys raveled up in the bed’s blanket. Michael ran as fast as he could out the door, the man still regaining his footing. Michael shoved the key into his car and unlocked it. He peered into his room through the broken-down doorway to see the man walking towards him. The hole that occupied the right of his head was even bigger, encompassing his nose and upper scalp, and even revealing his teeth and widening his mouth. The hole reached all the way though, revealing darkness beyond. Blood spewed out of the wound, and the man looked completely enraged. Michael was terrified, and he reached for his car door and pulled on the handle. Jammed. Michael’s heart sank as he remembered his car door and its troubles as he tugged again harder. The door was about to swing open until the man grabbed Michael by the throat. The man lifted Michael without breaking a sweat, as Michael winced and choked on the man’s hard grip. Michael felt the air escape his body, and his neck being crushed by the incredible strength of the man. The man pulled in close, inches from his face. The man’s lone eye pierced deep into Michael, with the empty hole piercing even deeper. The man gripped harder, as Michael tried to loosen the hold to no avail. 

The man cracked a menacing smile, showing all his teeth. The right side of his mouth was gushing blood, and his gums and teeth showed through his flesh wound. The man then pounded Michael’s body against his car, causing the vehicle to tilt and almost flip unto its side. Michael could do nothing. He was in great pain, ribs most likely shattered, and his throat being wrenched and choked. Michael had little time left, his brain suffocating from the lack of oxygen on top of whatever the man planned to do next. He knew he was nearing the end, so in a last hurrah he reeled back his arm and punched the man as hard as he could right in the jaw. The man looked dazed for only a split second, with teeth and blood flying while painting the side of the car in a red mist. The man’s smile widened, showing off every single tooth in his mouth, leaving some spaces open and gushing red. With lightning speed, he socked Michael right in the stomach with his free hand. Michael attempted to exhale and scream, but with no air in his lungs he only accepted the pain with a crack of his ribs and a quiet whimper. The man strengthened his grip, wanting to end Michael. Michael grew incredibly winded, and he knew it was his last moment. He could no longer move due to the lack of connection between his brain and his body. 

The man’s smile grew as wide as possible, his teeth drenched in blood and dirt, his skin stretching and ripping at the intensity of his smile. The man’s joy of taking the life out of Michael glowed through his last eye. The blood continued to flow from the giant hole in his face as well as the rips around his large smile. Michael’s last sight was through this hole into his room. He saw his gun, a reflection off it to be exact, and he thought about all he had done. As Michael faded from the world, he saw the man lean in even closer, still holding his ruthless grip, and say the final thing Michael would ever experience in a deep, husky southern voice.

“Nice try.”