So in deciding to write these to prompts I found, I’m rapidly realizing that I don’t have nearly the amount of prompts I thought I did…and the ones I do have aren’t as good as I remember. This is irksome, and I’m going to be on a quest to fix it. BUT! For now, I’ve found a fun one. As always, feel free to write your own interpretation of the prompt in the comments.
Prompt: Write about an assassin who is unable to kill a target.
I walk into the office, already irritated from my alarms not going off and consequently not being able to get my morning coffee. The sun was too bright, the day was too early, everything was a half bubble off and I hated it.
“Morning, Aubrey,” the guy at the desk said, chancing a smile.
“Hi.” I set my hand in the scanner and waited for the machine to recognize me.
“I’m guessing something went wrong.”
“You’re a genius.” The machine beeped and the door slid open.
“You wanna talk–”
“No.” It wasn’t him. (He was new. What the hell was his name? Ethan or Evan or something like that.) He was nice enough and I knew he was just trying to be friendly. But out of all the days in existence, this was the worst one for him to pick. I just wanted to get to my office and–
“Agent Takala.” I cursed under my breath and turned around, facing my immediate supervisor. Him I expected. The woman standing behind him was a surprise–and not a pleasant one. “May we speak with you?”
“Agent Blair, Ms. Allaway,” I replied, careful to keep my tone even. “Of course. Where?”
Blair just tilted his head and led me back into his office. I was hoping that it wasn’t going to be as bad as I feared, especially since I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting chastised for, and I couldn’t even argue it. Anything they handed me, I knew I deserved.
The door shut behind me with an ominous click. Blair made his way to the chair behind his desk, and Allaway leaned against the bookcase built into the wall, her eyes never leaving me, grey and sharp from behind her silver glasses. I didn’t sit. Even when Blair motioned for me to, I shook my head and insisted on standing. If this was it, I wasn’t taking it sitting down.
“Do you know why you’re here, Agent Takala?” Another way I knew it was serious: Blair and I had worked together long enough that if it was just a chat, he’d call me Aubrey. Clearly this wasn’t any old walk in the park.
“I could guess, but I’d rather not, sir.” I kept my gaze fixed on the wall behind his head, standing at parade rest.
I could hear him sigh. “Your report from last night’s operation is…less than complete.” I didn’t answer; there hadn’t been a question. “You didn’t finish the mission, Agent. I’d like to know why.”
“I’m fairly certain that I made all the appropriate explanations in my report, sir.”
Allaway picked up a paper from Blair’s desk, peering at it. “‘Target was found to be in compromising situation; risk of collateral damage too high; postponed until next available opportunity.'” Her voice was thick with contempt. “I assume you mean that.”
“Yes, sir.” Everyone was sir. Didn’t matter what your genes said or what your mind said, you were ‘sir’ in the office. I’d made the mistake, very early on in my tenure here, by saying “ma’am” to Allaway. I wasn’t apt to forget again.
“This is garbage, Takala.” She tossed the paper back to the desk, making Blair blink from the sudden movement. “I have at least three other assets telling me that there was no one else around. Your noted position gave you a clear shot, in a deserted side street. Tell me, what exactly was this compromising situation?”
I didn’t know how to answer. I mean, I knew what the answer was, but I also knew there was no chance I could tell them. They wouldn’t understand. They couldn’t. Even in all my years at the agency, it had been the first time I’d ever been unable to pull the trigger. I’d set it all up, I had the rifle to my shoulder and my eye to the scope…and I couldn’t do it.
The sad eyes, ringed half red from tears and half black from restlessness. The shaking hands, the too-thin wallet. The half-decade old cell phone, screen shattered from one too many falls on the cement or the floor or who knew what…
The target was alive. That was the crime, and the one I needed to rectify. And I couldn’t do it. Why was that name actually on the list? Had this person done something? Been something–was going to be something? Questions I hadn’t asked in nearly two decades suddenly seemed pressing.
But I couldn’t ask. I couldn’t say that it was the thought of leaving a child an orphan. I couldn’t say that I didn’t understand why someone like that needed to die. I couldn’t say that for a split second, it felt like that broken soul had looked up and seen me in my window, staring down the barrel of a sniper rifle, and had simply closed their eyes…and accepted their death. No panic, no sorrow…just apathy. Grim acceptance.
And it made my stomach churn.
“It was a decision I made at the time, at the spur of the moment. Something wasn’t right. I know it’s not much–”
“It’s not anything.”
“–but it’s all I have, sir. I could not in good faith carry out the mission, and be positive that it would be a success.”
They both stared at me, and it was all I could do to not move an inch.
“We’ll discuss this later, Takala. Return to your office. I’ll expect a bit more out of you then,” Blair finally said.
“Thank you, sir. Yes, sir.” I gave a single sharp nod to each of them, turned on my heel, and walked out–and only kept from running to my office by the fact that it was too close to justify it.
I shut the door, locking it–then unlocking it, knowing what Blair would say if he found it locked when he came by later. I slid into my chair, arms on my desk and head on my arms, and breathed out a shuddering sigh.
What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I do the mission? Why couldn’t I eliminate the target?