The headlines start early on Monday morning. Esmera brings one to me. “He’s gone," she says in a sad, almost remorseful tone.
“Gone?” I ask, taking the newspaper from her hands and looking at the front page. There, a picture of Coleman Evans is plastered across the front page headed: Missing Boy.
Esmera shakes her head, looking stunned. "Just when you think you live in a safe town..."
I touch her hand. “They’ll find him, Ez. Don’t you worry. He’ll show up completely fine.” In complete honesty, I have no idea if he will. He could very well be dead; the leader of the BAA just moved into town. I get a bitter taste in my mouth as I think about Reid possibly being responsible for our classmate’s death.
The bell rings, signalling the end of lunch. I scoop the newspaper up and follow Esmera out of the cafeteria. As we walk down the hall, students everywhere are buzzing with the news of the student missing. “Funny how short a time he’s been here,” I muse aloud. “And yet everyone in the school seems to know him.”
Esmera nods. “He left an impression, I guess. I mean,” she pauses to hand a blubbering girl a tissue. “A lot of girls thought he was hot, and even more wanted to date him. Plus, it tends to surprise people when a teenager that just moved here goes missing.”
I nod in agreement. “People are going to be speculating and assuming that he was a rebel. He was only here for a few months.”
My friend shakes her head sadly. “It's too bad...”
We near the Geography classroom and I see Claire and her slaves lounging outside the door. Claire has been the leader of a group that has become known as the “bitch squad” since the beginning of junior high school. Bethany, Emma, and Harper are the girls that hang on Claire’s every word as though it were gospel.
As we approach, Claire’s eyes study Esmera’s shocked face. “Awww, is someone sad over the disappearance of Carson?”
Esmera’s ears turn red as she glares at the other girl. “His name was Coleman!”
Claire gasps mockingly. “Defensive, are we?”
“He just went missing,” Esmera snaps. “He could be dead. How can you act like this?”
“I guess there’s a job opening at Timmies now,” Claire sighs. “I need a new job.”
I grab Esmera’s shoulders as she flies forward, hair waving, hands clawing.
“Alright, alright,” Principal Garcon steps into the crowd that has appeared around us. “What is this about?”
Esmera whips around to face the man, her eyes blazing. “They were belittling Coleman’s disappearance!”
Principal Garcon turns to Claire. “The missing boy is a large threat to our town, young lady. There could be someone out there targeting students and children. We do not take such events lightly. Detention for you.”
Claire shoots Esmera a scathing glare and flounces off down the hallway, followed by her bitches and the principal.
“Ez,” I touch her arm.
“Don’t worry about it, Gen,” my friend snaps. She then turns and enters her geography class before I can say another word.
Something about Esmera seems off; I can feel it. She is reacting too much to his disappearance as though she is trying to compensate for something. Could she know something?
Dear diary, I write. My pen hovers over the paper. I haven’t written anything in my diary since I was ten when it seemed like a diary was a must-have for a girl with emotional issues; one that was constantly bombarded by memories of assassinations before I learned how to deal with it.
I put the tip of the pen to the paper again, thinking hard as I try to express the thoughts I’ve had over the past few days. Images flash through my head and I decide to start with the first thing that happened.
Coleman didn’t kill Gage.
There. I wrote what has been gnawing at my insides since Wednesday night when I found the note in my room after I killed him.
I killed an innocent boy.
Better. It felt better to write it down. To see me admit such a thing on paper. My handwriting admitting something so horrible.
Coleman Evans was my forty seventh victim, but the first one that hadn’t deserved to die. I didn’t know it until after. I was so full of rage and I wanted so badly to avenge Gage that I didn’t stop to think about the possibility that this new boy to our town might be innocent. The message was in the note. Clear as day, I realized only after I had slept on it. "The enemy kills the innocent. Gage was not the first victim, and won’t be the last. Who knows when your turn might be. -R". That’s what it said. Coleman was framed for murdering my brother and he was framed by whoever this “R” person is.
I think I saw him though. Whoever it is, he is trying to sabotage the CAA. On Saturday my dad sent a mission request for me. It was urgent. I had to go right away or it would be sent to someone else to carry out. Of course I went.
The target was Gerald Falcon, a CEO in Yellowknife, on a business trip in Banff. I was to kill him from a distance without killing any of his guards. A simple mission, really. It was one that I have done many times. I had to get in full gear. That meant my bullet proof spandex and the gender neutralizing over suit that hides my curves and breasts to make me look like an indistinguishable shadow. I also had to wear a mask and the hair net to keep myself completely concealed.
I was in position, sitting in a bird watching house high in a tree, watching Falcon’s movements through the forest below. I had my poisonous dart aimed at his chest, and just as I was about to let the dart fly, Falcon keeled over.
It took me a minute to realize where the weapon - another dart but with a black sheen to the silver instead of CAA trademark red - came from. The BAA member crouched in a tree just to my left and I swear it was staring right at me. It was in the same outfit I was, making the figure indistinguishable. Nevertheless, the agent had to have been male; he was much too large to be female. And the neutralizing suit couldn't conceal the biceps….
I followed the agent out of the tree, mirroring his movements silently as we swung out of the area and away from the panicking guards. The agent dropped to the ground and disappeared without any hint as to where he was going. I soon lost the track and was forced to go back to the CAA protected gift shop. From there, I dressed and rode my Harley home, dreading the conversation with my parents that I failed the mission.
That conversation, however, did not come as a surprise to either of them. Apparently, both of them had had similar experiences in the past week. The same large muscular figure beating them to the target. Neither was mad at me. Only at the BAA.
I take a deep breath and roll my head from side to side, cracking my spine. This is a habit I recently realized I developed at a young age that relieves my stress. Cracking my spine and stretching seems to relieve the tension from my body - especially when I am trying to maintain my composure or relieve my anger about something like the BAA member.
I return to my page.
Sunday had a strange turn of events. For some reason, the disappearance of Coleman hadn’t gone to the media yet. His mother was looking for him herself before she told anyone. How do I know that? I met her on the street.
She was carrying a shopping bag and was collecting rocks in the snow. I stopped to ask if she needed any help but she glared at me and shook her head. Then she ranted. She said her son had never came home on Wednesday after work. He always came home straight after work and as soon as he hadn’t been home an hour after he was scheduled to get off work, she had gotten worried. But she didn’t call the police because they never did anything worth while. So she had been outside constantly since then looking for him.
I listened to her for only five minutes before deducing that she is crazy. Then I listened to her for another ten minutes before deciding my feet were likely to freeze off in the cold. Then it took another five minutes to escape the woman. She was hysterical and it was all I could do not to apologise to her for the act that I’d carried out in the cold. His body likely still lay in the brush behind Mrs. Port’s house.
Instead of waiting for her to call the police, I dropped an anonymous note in the mailbox for the department telling them that Coleman hadn’t been seen for at least three days. The headlines for the missing boy were out on Monday morning.
I feel like crap for having done this to an innocent boy and his family. I cried all day at school and nearly strangled Claire because she wasn’t taking the incident seriously. I think Gen might have caught on by now. She doesn’t miss much. She likely knows now that I know something about Coleman...
I hope she hasn’t figured out that I had to do with his disappearance and I hope she never finds out I had anything to do with his death. That would ruin our friendship.
I put down the pen and stretch the cramp out of my fingers. I take a moment to look around my room before sliding the book under the corner of my mattress and fitting the bedcover over it to conceal the diary completely.
I jump and spin to see my mother standing in the doorway, backlit from the light from the bathroom behind her.
I take a deep breath and relax, sitting on the edge of my bed. “Hey mom.”
“What were you just doing?” She asks, stepping into my room and touching the covers over my book.
I sigh. “It’s just a diary mom. I am allowed to have some mortal aspects in my life. Plus, if Genevieve finds it, she needs to believe the excuses I tell her for my disappearances.” The lie rolls of my lips like water.
Mom’s expression softens and she smiles at me. “You always do try your best to blend in, don’t you?”
“I learned from the best,” I sigh. “Gage always taught me to think years ahead and consider all possible situations.”
My mother sits down beside me and wraps an arm around my shoulders. “He would have made an amazing senior agent,” she says. “He was an amazing junior agent as it was.”
“He should still be here,” I murmur.
“Hush,” the woman kisses my temple. “You can find some solace in knowing you have avenged him. That Evans boy is gone now.”
“Mom,” I hesitate.
Realizing I cannot tell her the truth until I uncover who “R” is, I smile and lean against her shoulder. “Thank you.”
She kisses my forehead and leaves my room, closing the door gently. Almost as soon as her footsteps recede, my phone buzzes. I reach over to my bedside table and illuminate the screen to see a text message from Gen.
Are you going to Cole’s funeral?
My eyes widen. I quickly text back: He’s dead? How could they have found him already?
Gen only takes a moment to respond. I didn’t know you didn’t know… sorry Ez.
I leave the phone on my bedside table to process this information. They found his body already. The newspaper heading will be out on Thursday but it’s likely there will be posters around town to announce it. People will make shrines as though they knew him, and others will drop off food to the Evans family for the next month.
My phone buzzes again.
Ez? Are you going?
My lips tighten as I wonder how to respond. Which would look more suspicious? Going to the funeral of a boy I barely knew or not show up to a funeral of a boy I had classes with?
I don’t know… I answer, wondering if I should ask my friend if she thinks I should go.
Her response is instantaneous. I’ll go with you.
I pause before sending, I don't know if I can do it.
I know you feel bad but we should go and support the family. I know you feel guilty for some reason but you were in almost every class with him. It would be weird if you didn't go.
How does she always know me so well? I decide not to respond and see what she says. Before long, another message comes in.
It’s ok. Whatever you’re blaming yourself for. It’s ok. It wasn’t your fault.
It was though. I’m the reason he’s dead. I type. My thumb hovers over the send button and I stare at my screen for a long time before erasing the message and simply sending: ok.
There is no way that I can ever tell her anything about what I did, or what my real relationship with Cole had been: an assassination.
A single tear rolls down my cheek as I turn my phone off and slide under my bed covers. As I close my eyes, I think about Coleman’s eyes as he looked up into nothing. The enemy kills the innocent.
I look at my BAA wristband. Tuesday, January sixth, twelve thirty one. Jesse Carson should be near - so should the CAA agent. I watch from my perch on a small townhouse, snuggled between the gables on the roof. Sure enough, I see the unmistakable figure appear in a tree across the street, unidentifiable as female or male. It has to be a male, I think to myself, watching the figure crouching on the branch. The height and the build are too toned to be a female, and I’ve seen the slight curvature in women’s breastplates that identify them. This figure is unmistakably male. Still, I wonder if I could be wrong as the agent flips itself through the air and silently lands on a branch in the next tree. I touch the daggers at my belt for comfort. Strapped to my wrist are a small collection of metal wheels with blades on them, painted with a chemical that will cause the metal to dissolve completely when the blades come into contact with human fluid, leaving no trace behind. The CAA member should have the same weapon on his own wrist.
I step across the roof silently and bound across to the neighbouring roof, then jump the short distance across the road and into the trees to follow the agent. Carefully, I skirt around the agent in the area his target is said to be at this time. Ahead of me, I see the CAA glance at his own wristband.
Twelve thirty four.
In exactly two minutes Carson should appear in the road below us. I take my position slightly to the CAA member’s left and ready my wrist shooter. Just as I place a blade in place, I hear a collection of footsteps coming up the street. In such an empty area as this barren tourist spot, the footfalls echo and sound like a hundred men instead of ten.
My eyes follow Carson, my arm rising to take aim at the soft skin behind the man’s jaw. I slide the trigger under my finger, readying to release at the best moment, a single instant before the CAA member will-
Carson falls to the street, blood dripping down his neck from a slit under his ear. A pool of red slowly soaks out around him as his bodyguards become frantic. Although I already know what happened, I check my wrist and see that my loaded blade still remains in the shooter. My eyes dart to the tree that the CAA agent still sits in. Something in his posture as he looks at me seems cocky, almost mocking as he swings back the way he came.
Damn the CAA. I thought I had a better shot...
I sit for another moment in shock before following. When the agent drops to the street below, I follow in the trees, nearly catching up before he mounts an idling silent motorcycle and speeds off, leaving me in the dust.
Shaking my head and feeling defeated, I pull myself onto the closest roof and find the motorized glider I left inside a cold chimney on top of a small corner store. After strapping myself in and kicking the motor, I push off the roof. It is not until I am out of sight of the town that I realize how angry I am.
I yell aloud in fury. “How dare he?”
Then the little voice in the back of my head that I rarely listen to pipes up. It was originally his mission.
I roll my eyes, knowing full well that I am talking to myself like a crazy man. “It was my mission to sabotage his.”
But he knew you were there. After having seen you a few times, he was expecting it and was ready.
“He still has no right to sabotage mine by completing his.”
A vicious cycle, this is.
Suddenly feeling afraid, I loop the glider around and take a longer way back to my house. “How am I going to tell my father?”
No answer surfaces. My mind is silent but for the drumming of blood in my ears. No matter how bad I feel about not completing the mission, nothing compares to how I will feel after my father is through with me.
After prolonging the trip as long as possible, I finally land on the flat roof of our porch and fold up the motorized glider. I drop the machine in the pneumatic chute in the wall. My father sits at the kitchen table with his hands clasped in front of him. He looks as intimidating as he does every time.
“Well?” He barks without preamble.
I watch him for a moment and consider lying. However, I know that he will discover the truth sooner or later and the punishment will be even worse then. I simply shake my head.
I watch the dark green of my father’s eyes darken even more. A shadow passes over his face and he rises from the table. “Study. Now!”
Without allowing him to see my guilt, I straighten my shoulders and stride toward the study. The last time I was in there, I failed to bring a young girl back to the BAA and instead, she fell into the clutches of the United States Assassination Association, or the UAA. When my father discovered that I failed the mission, he sent me here, to the study, to relearn the information about the world’s designated Assassins in order to refresh my abilities.
I hated it. I knew everything by heart and yet this was the punishment my father always chose to give me. I guess that is why it is such an effective punishment. It has been over four years since I was last punished like this.
“We will speak after you learn.” My father barks, slamming the study door behind us. Then he pulls a large volume off a top shelf, dropping it in front of me as well as a sheaf of paper and a pencil. “History of the Assassins please, pages three eighty four to five thirty one. Done by dinner or you get none.” He then leaves the study, locking the door behind him.
With a sigh, I open the book to page three eighty four and begin reading.