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The Bell Chimed

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A tap hit the shoulder of Seartus’ coat as a single rain drop from the dark cloudy sky made its landing. She knew it was going to rain today. She was not complaining, as she always enjoyed the rain. Leaves crunched beneath her steps as she finally finished walking through the narrow alleyway and made her exit onto the street near the clock tower. The bell chimed tenfold right on queue as Seartus watched a lean man in black enter the café. The instructions Seartus had been given were vague, but easy: “Go to the Timeless Café just before 10:00 PM, wait for the target, and then take him out at your own leisure before 11:00.” She was no stranger to easy contracts; this world was a cruel one and in the grim work of assassination easy money was not hard to find.

Seartus did not find the job to be too complicated. “All assassination requires is common sense, a means of murder, an unsuspecting target, and someone to pay for the deed.” To make her job even easier, Seartus gained all of her contracts online through the “deep web” from those that wanted people in her home city dead. The concept of anonymity among her employers was a bit unsettling to her at first, but she had become used to it. A faceless text under a funny username would give her a location, name, and conditions for the assassination. To make things even easier, she was often paid up front. Sometimes if the contract called for conditions too demanding, her untraceable identity on the dark web allowed her to simply accept the money and not make the kill. However, on nights like this one, Seartus would be given a contract so easy that it would just be pure laziness to not follow through with it.

Seartus’ target was seated near the window of the café where he placed his order. He began reading from a brown book while he waited and minutes later was brought out a plate containing various breakfast foods. Seartus’ phone vibrated, prompting her to reach into her coat pocket. “Is he in the café?” the text from her anonymous employer read. “He’s enjoying his last meal” she quickly replied. Seartus placed her phone back into her pocket and walked over to the nearby coffee stand, purchased her favorite latte, and sat in the bus stop across from the café. She pretended to be browsing the web on her phone as she was able to stealthily observe the man she would soon be killing.

After about twenty minutes had passed since his arrival, the man finished his meal and then returned to reading as he sipped his coffee in unorganized intervals. Seartus walked over to the nearest trash can, tossed her empty cup, and made her way back to her seat. She watched him finish up and pay the waitress as she wondered what this guy had done to make someone want to kill him. As the man walked out the café door, Seartus checked her phone again. “It’s been over half an hour. Is he dead yet?” the text message from her employer read. She quickly replied to the text with an “About to be” as she watched the man with the corner of her eye. The man pulled his hood over his head, checked his watch, and began slowly walking down the street after sliding his hands into his coat pockets.

Seartus waited and watched as the target walked and put a bit of distance between them. Seartus thought to herself about how easy this would be as she took her first step forward and maintained a pace slow enough to not be noticed, yet would not allow the target out of her sights. Her phone vibrated. “Better kill him soon” she read as she noticed the time was 10:46. After a while of walking through the near desolate street, he made a quick turn into an alleyway. “Perfect” a subtle smile formed on her lips. However, Seartus turned into the alleyway only to watch her target disappearing around another corner. She quickened her pace. The rain became heavier. She couldn’t lose him, the payout was too great for such an easy target. As she reached the corner and focused her eyes down the narrow space she swore under her breath when he was nowhere to be seen. “How the hell...?” Seartus couldn’t believe it.

No way did he already walk all the way down the alleyway. Unless he had been running. Seartus began jogging down the alley. Her jog growing into more of a sprint as she came to the realization that the target may have been onto her. “Dammit, dammit, dammit!” she cursed herself for being so arrogant. Seartus turned the next corner, venturing deeper and deeper into the nearly lightless alleyways. She could find no traces. The alley was silent enough for her to hear the vibration of her phone this time. She slid her hand into her pocket and lifted up the device. “Too late.”

Without warning, a sudden pressure struck Seartus in the back. The woman cried out in agony as the pressure transitioned into a sharp pain. She felt the blade exit her back. Just as she felt the blood begin to pour, the pistol hidden in her sleeve slid into her hand as she quickly spun around to face her attacker. Her firing arm was caught as she met the frigid red eyes of her masked assailant. The now familiar sharp sensation pierced the side of her abdomen. Though his face was covered, she could feel the masked figure staring directly into her eyes without remorse. Seartus dropped to her knees; the rain puddle beneath her now gathering a deep red. As she looked up at the shaded silhouette, she noticed something. The clothes, the hood. This was him. This was her target. “You made this all too easy. I’m disappointed,” his icy voice given a slight echo from beneath his mask. He tossed a cell phone in front of her, the screen revealing that she had been directed to walk right into this.

Seartus reached for the gun she had dropped only to feel the crushing sensation of the masked figure’s boot coming down hard on her wrist, the loud crunch and sweltering pain hinting it to now be broken. “You didn’t think you could accept a payment and just walk away, did you?” he continued crushing her wrist, his boot stepping down harder and mangling it even further. “What more to expect from such an amateur?” his gloved fist clenching. Seartus screamed briefly before being silenced by knuckles to her jaw. “Guess it all caught up to you. Guess you let your guard down.” He stepped off of her now shattered wrist. As the blood filled her mouth, Seartus had to know. “Wh...What’s going on?” the poor girl managed to mutter out.

“They hired me. I hired you. Now I stand before a dead woman,” he spoke as she regretted her conceit. Her eyes followed a passing brown leaf from the autumn night before focusing on the assassin’s blade, the edges dripping with her very own blood. The bell chimed as the distant clock tower struck 11:00 PM, her hour of exodus and the last sound she would ever hear.

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