Austin By Night – Cassandra [Layer 4]

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Author’s note: to catch up with the story check out Layer 1, Layer 2, and Layer 3!

I take one of a dozen cars from the lot located under my building. Tonight it’s a black, Crown Victoria with several after market mods. I drive into the Austin night towards the location while staying on North Lamar boulevard, which has surprising low traffic.

As I pass under highway 183 and deeper into north Austin, I receive a call from one of my burner phone and answer using my headset.

“Are you in position?” it’s the same male voice that had called me earlier.

“ETA will be eight minutes,” is my response before I hang up.

I drive past the neon glow and the bright, casino junk culture of Rundberg and Little Asia, and then finally arrive at the outskirts of the county where dark wilderness welcomes me. I continue down the wide stretch of road sandwiched in between forest until I reach Walnut Creek Park, turning into the lone entrance illuminated by a single, orange-dimmed street lamp.

I drive farther into the park, allowing my eyes to adjust to the near pitch black environment and rows of trees whose branches stretch over myself and the car as I drive down the leaf strewn road. The closest lights appear to be more than a kilometer away. I drive on and find one of the more isolated, pockets of parking lots, and stop my car. I open my hit kit, put on my gloves and take out a hand towel and a small vial of chlorophyll and begin to spread the substance over the towel. I then prep with a syringe containing about 40ccs of tranquilizer with inhibitors to help break down the initial chemical sedative. The target will most likely be killed, but for now they’ll want him alive.

I only have to wait for a little over a minute before I see a dark car pull into the lot with me and park in front of my car. Its tail is facing me in the dark. The red break lights dim and the two people inside look around. They followed protocol to the letter. The target is always in the front passenger seat of the car. I unlock my car door and wait for the signal. The break lights on the target vehicle begin to blink and I exit my car, taking with me the towel and needle. Towel in right hand, syringe in holster inside my coat sleeve. I quickly walk towards the car as the break lights begin to stop blinking and dim again and I swing the passenger door open.

“Oh my god, please no, I–” he whimpers and I shove the towel over his nose and mouth before he can finish. The target’s screams are muffled over as I grab his head and push harder and harder. He kicks and scratches until he falls silent. The driver, another man, sits and stares at me and passenger until I’m finished. I quickly knot my hand into a fist and bend it upwards so that my wrist muscles can activate the syringe holster, which pops out and I administer the dosage. The man asks a question in Mandarin.

“The body has to be moved,” I say. “Is he RFID tagged?”

He shrugs his shoulders and I realize I’m dealing with an amateur. I take out a knife and squeeze around the wrists of the victim until I feel a small pill embedded in the skin. I carefully guide the knife and penetrate the wrist, and with very little blood, I remove the pill-like chip from the sedated man and break the chip in half. Whoever was monitoring him would have no way of tracking him now.

I click a button on my car remote and the Crown Victoria moves gracefully towards the other car and with another click, I open the trunk. I take the body with the help of the other man and dump the target into the trunk of my car that I’ve had lined with black trash can liner for quick disposal. I slam the door shut and head back into my car.

“My employer wants to see you,” I look up and realize that he is a foreigner like me, however, he sounds like a man who doesn’t speak English often.

“The package will be at location green.” I say in an accent from the old country. “Your employer has three hours. I’ll maintain a pattern until we rendezvous. Is that clear?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I nod and drive towards downtown. Towards sixth street.

I maintain my pattern posing as a listless pedestrian being taken in by the euphoria of Austin’s light life. I observe the drunk crowds moving like small pockets of cattle from one bar to another as I make my way past them and towards the rendezvous point. I head towards Red River and wait on the corner. A convey with a black limousine and a pair of SUVs arrive and stop in front of me. The limo’s roof cam, scans and processes me for verification and a door unlocks somewhere. The machine car invites me inside and I enter.

The interior looks like that of a luxury box car. With the exception of the entrance, a single white leather couch encircles the interior of the small room. The center is dominated by a small black marble table, with a white china set with small delicate looking tea cups filled with coffee and several tarts of varied flavors. Between the china set and tart plate is a small orb, probably a projector. The walls above the couch are dominated by a single screen which stretches around all four sides of the interior showing a feed from outside the limo in all four directions with pop-ups displaying the convoy’s progress. There waiting for me was a tall, slender Asian woman with short black hair and wearing a leather jacket and shades. She has a face I’d seen on the pages of financial new reports out of East Asia, but had the fortune of being relatively obscure here. This was the first time I’d seen any of my employers like this in person. I sit down slowly and the convey begins to move.

“Do you know who I am?” She asks.

I sit there, staring at her. A part of me tells me I shouldn’t be talking.

“Do you speak English?” She asks again.

I consider this question for a long time while admiring her patience.

“Yes, I do,” I finally say.

“Then you know what will happen if you speak of this,”

“I think that understanding was made clear enough when you asked me to do the job,”

“You don’t approve of this meeting?”

“That camera on the hood of your limo. Did it ID me?”

“Yes, we ran facial recognition software to verify your identity,” The client takes out a wafer thin keyboard and types a few commands. My face appears on the wall monitor with another photo of myself taken several years ago. The second photo I remember from a job in Kobe when I was tasked with eliminating a defector from a major multinational. It’s a CCTV photo of me walking out of Tokyo international airport. “We got the second photo from a former associate of yours.”

“Those photos need to be erased from the cam’s internal memory.”

“Very well,” She says with a nod.

“Also, it’s also imperative that I inform you that by seeing my face and being able to identify me, you run the risk of being federally prosecuted by soliciting and paying for the murder of an American citizen.”

“The man is not dead is he?”

“No, but that’s what you intend to do, don’t you?”

“We’ll see.”

The convoy moves to location green as I try to settle in and try to eat one of the tarts arranged on the plate.

After reaching the third floor of the parking lot, the limo comes to a halt. Without saying anything, I exit the vehicle and head to the car where the body is. My employer follows me to the rear of the Crown Victoria and I look at her for only a moment. Her features remain obscure behind the giant black mirror shades that cover her face. I click a button on the remote and the trunk opens with a machine whine. The body is still there, lying within the black trash can lining that completely covers the trunk space.

“Is that him?” I ask.

The woman nods, confirming the identity of the target.

“Is he currently under?” the employer asks, stroking the target’s hair.

“Yes, with chloroform, but that was almost an hour ago.” The image of the employer running her fingers through the hair of the drugged up body brings back terrible memories, but the medication is keeping things under control. I pick a spot on a wall nearby and stare at it.

“Will there be anything else?” I ask.

“Yes,” she says. “I’ll need this disposed of. Can you make this look like an accident?”

“I know couple who can be contracted out for the job,” I continue concentrating on the dot, avoiding all eye contact, “but they’ll need a full, mobile, medical suite. One that can fit in just a few suitcases. They’ll also need a hotel room.”

The employer raises an eyebrow.

“I can procure all this things and more, but this is what they need if you want this done right.” I stare at her to drive the point home. It takes more effort than it should.

The employer considers this for a moment and nods. I return the nod and with that the employer knocks on the limo door and a man that I’ve never seen before steps out.

“Give this woman what she needs,” says the employer.

“Yes, ma’am,” is his only reply and he returns to the limo to make a phone call.

“I understand you know most of the contractors operating within Austin at the moment,” says the woman.

“Yes, ma’am,” is all I say, mimicking the man, “all of the local contractors here are freelance, like myself.”

“Good,” is the employers only reply. She looks at the body one last time and turns away. “Close that up. I’m done looking at it.”

“I need my pills,” I say suddenly. I look down, surprised that I couldn’t stop myself. “The nightmares are getting worse. I need the doctors to up the dosage.”

The employer nods, as if this was something she’d been anticipating.

“You’ll get your medication, along with payment at the designated location.” The employer says as she begins to step back into the limo. “Do your job as expected, and I’ll continue to get you what you need.”

With that the employer closes the door and the limo drives away. I get another text message with coordinates and I get into my car to rendezvous at the new location.

I check my watch and it is 2:43a.m.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

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