Austin By Night – Cassandra [Layer 12]

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Author’s Note: you can catch up on the rest of the series here.

It’s midnight and the water is pitch black, even with the infrared goggles on. I can hear my breathing in the scuba suit as I swim under the waters of Lake Austin towards the yacht floating in the middle of the river. A heavy bass, some kind of techno music is vibrating from the boat hit my body. I take more slow deliberate breathes.

As I surface I try not breathe out give away my position, but the music is so loud that it might not be an issue. As I peek over the side of the boat, I fire my first bullet at a man wearing sunglasses who spots me coming over the side. The gun recoils for a moment as the whisper quiet of the silencer makes my gun sound like muffled whap and his death a soft thud.

I catch the spare shell in my left palm and pocket it. The sky is dark, no lights, no sounds except the bass coming from the main cabin. I kill another man. Whap, thud, catch, pocket.

I see the white container on the bow of the yacht and I open it. Towels, these are what I’ll need. I open my hit kit and I see the lighter fluid. This will do just fine.

“Hey, Tom is that-“

Whap, thud, catch, pocket. I breathe deeply. I allow the let the medication take control. It’s better now. The voices inside me are no longer distracting me, but I still have nightmares. I wonder if there’s a pill that can keep me from dreaming.

I open the cabin. The heavy bass that I have been hearing is getting louder. A woman who I’ve seen before is surprised to find me here. She is the target and she knows it. Her eyes widen. Whap, thud…pocket. She tumbles down the stairs after the bullet exits her. The recoil is easier now. My body is not shaking anymore. More deep breathes.

It’s so bright inside the cabin that I have to remove my goggles. I hear a man screaming as the woman’s body rolls down the stairs and onto the floor. I sleuth down the railing of the narrow, white stair case and land in the cabin. I see a man digging into a drawer for something. His movements are slow and awkward. His face as he looks up at me seems to confirm something for him that I can’t understand. I fire at his chest twice and he falls to the ground.

I look in the drawer and see that he was going to grab a pistol. It looks bored sitting there. I look at the body in front of me as it flops around. I’m getting bored with this. I can’t feel anything anymore.

I watch him struggle. He rolls over and continues to bleed as he takes out his phone, but he drops it twice. He can’t even dial for help. A part of knows I should end him now, but I can’t help but be entranced by him and his struggle. His eyes are green. He has large green eyes. I can’t tell if it’s me or the medication that’s doing this to me. After about a minute of this, he movements start to get slower and slower until he finally stops. I then remember what I have to do. I soak the towel in lighter fluid and I light it on fire using the man’s zippo. I toss the flaming towel on his face and walk up the stairs.

It’s still pitch black outside. The lake is dark, the sky is dark, the coast and trees are dark. The white yacht rocks back and forth as I wait for the fire to spread to other parts of the boat. The light is all there is to see. I can’t help but find it fascinating: the fire growing larger and larger. I then get a phone call from my employer.

“Hello?” I answer.

“I saw your progress, tonight,” she tell me, “very impressive.”

“How were you watching me?” I ask, suddenly paranoid.

“Surveillance drone,” she answers, “the pharmaceutical branch within my company is liking the test data. They can use it to argue the medication’s military applications.”

“But, you wanted me to wipe out the competition here in Austin, right?” I ask her.

“Yes, that too,” she confirms, “as soon as you’re done, meet me back at the Austonian. We have other matters we need to discuss.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I tell her, “is it another competitor?”

“No, a possible employee,” she says, “have you heard of a man by the name of Logan Webb.”

“I’ve heard of him,” the name vaguely registers.

“We’ll need to do a background check on him,”

“Will do,” I answer back, “see you soon.”

I hang up the phone and continue to watch the fire engulf the yacht. I watch it until it sinks into the lake.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

[Flash Fiction] I’ll Keep On Screaming

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It wasn’t suppose to end this way.

He told me I was going to find out how my wife had died. After searching for years I finally found the man who killed her. The police said they couldn’t find her body and they were never about to find out who kidnapped her.

I searched all over the country. Countless days, even months at a time. No one helped me. Everyone thought I was insane to continue trying, “there’s no way she’s still alive, you need to move on.” I’ll told them to go fuck themselves. At that point, I didn’t care if she was alive or dead. I wanted revenge. So, I kept searching…

…And then he found me. It was in a small bar outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. He had been tailing me for months. The bastard showed me photos of her: the photos he took right before he killed her. I wanted to know how he did it. I wanted to know and then I’d strangle him to death right there in that low-lit, godforsaken dive full of cheap booze and no witnesses, but the bartender.

“Don’t worry,” he whispered, smiling at me, “I’ll show you how I did it.”

I should have watched my drink. He drugged my whiskey. I passed out right there in that bar and now I’m in this casket. Yes, a coffin. I’m inside it, it’s pitch black, and God knows how far down I’ve been buried. Maybe I’m in a graveyard. Maybe in in the middle of nowhere. Maybe this is a dream. In either case the only thing I can do is keep kicking and screaming until someone finds me or I wake up.

Austin By Night – Art [Layer 8]

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Molly looks at the phone as it makes long, loud chirps in the parking lot outside of the hotel. The night air becomes hotter as I feel the fear creeping into my body. I look at my laptop and see the brunette woman on the video feed dialing Molly’s phone and looking up at the camera. The woman on the screen looks like she’s pissed as she continues to look up at me. She uses her free hand to shape it into a gun cocking it at the camera and taking aim. She extends her index ad middle fingers and tilts them, symbolizing a shot that condemns us all.

I slam the laptop shut and grab Molly’s phone. I rip the phone’s battery and sim card out of the read deck and toss them into the brush.

“We need to get out of here!” Molly, says.

“Yeah, no shit!” I say as we make a run for my car.

We run to my car and get inside. I step on the gas and within a few minutes we’re on I-35 heading north towards….somewhere. A few minutes pass.

“I need your phone,” says Molly.

“No,” I tell her.

“I need your fucking phone, Arty,” she tells me, “we’re so fucked if you don’t!”

“What did you do!?” I screamed.

“Some asshole just screwed me over,” she says in a fit of anger, as she reaches and grabs my cell phone out of my pocket.

“Nooooo,” I shake my head, “please no. No, no, no, no. I don’t want this.”

Molly looks at me. I can see her face twisting into something that resembles disgust. My eyes begin to well up.

“Believe it, Arty,” she says looking at me, “we’re in on this now. Both of us.”

“No, I never wanted this,” I tell her. I feel my body shaking. I’m crying.

“I just needed the extra money,” I tell her, “please just…I’ll drop you off anywhere you want just leave me out of this.”

I pull the car over on the side of the highway, as I try to catch my breath. Molly rubs my back as I lean into the steering wheel. I look up at her and she’s holding my cellphone in her hand.

“I’m sorry Arty,” she tells me, “you’re already in too deep.”

“What are you going to do?” I ask her.

“I’m going to make a phone call to see if I can call this off,” she says, “and then I’m going to need you to get some info on someone.”

“Who?” I ask.

“Logan Webb,” she tells me, “the fucker I want is Logan Webb.”

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

 

Austin By Night – Art [Layer 6]

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“I have to make a phone call,” says Molly, her voice in a panic as she continues to look at my screen and dial her phone. Her contact had disappeared off the grid right before our eyes and the chances that he might have been black bagged have become pretty real to us. Molly starts to pace in front of me in the parking lot, while I sit here with my laptop. We continue ignoring the cops that are nearly fifty yards away and she’s biting her nails.

“Ohhhh fuck…” she looks down at her phone, now thoroughly pissed off.

“What happened?” I ask.

“I can’t get to my other contact,” she yells at me, “he might be walking into a trap!”

“Where is he? I can pull him up using the IR system,”

“The Austonian,” she tells me.

I look up at the tall, blue and white lit, skyscraper that lords over the rest of the night skyline in its cylindrical brilliance. For a moment I start to wonder just how many more guys she has on call to do these kinds of jobs.

“Give me a sec’,” I tell her, and I make a few quick keystrokes to pull up the IR and CCTV cams within the building.

My laptop freezes for a moment as it processes the command (and reminds me to upgrade the processor) and I’m flooded by nearly a hundred digital windows full of live feeds that are monitoring the Austonian inside and out. The two-month-old backdoor that I had installed within the serves of the private security firm Grande International was starting to pay its dividends.

“Where is he?” I ask Molly.

“He’s inside one of the condos,” says Molly, “He’s trying to pull something from a PC.”

I type another set of keystrokes that organizes the feeds in a horizontal order and start rapidly swiping with my finger. I feels as if I’m flipping through physical files, one folder after another as each feed appears for a moment before folding itself back into the digital pile and moves to the left of the screen as I replace it with another swipe in my search for Molly’s second man.

“Stop!” she shouts.

We end up looking at a feed shoot from a surveillance camera perched on a high corner of a guy in a white and chrome furnished pent house condo with the lights off. He’s wearing all black and a ski mask as he types away trying to break a password on a desktop PC, via some laptop intrusion deck that he has hooked into the desktops tower.

“Holy shit,” Molly breathes out, “We need to get him out of there.”

“The phones not working?” I ask

“No, someone is blocking the signal,” she says, panicking again, “can we get sound on these things?”

“No, the feeds aren’t equipped with microphones,” I tell her, my pulse starting to race. I know that something bad is about to happen.

The man in the ski mask stops typing and looks up from his deck. He takes his hands off the keyboards, raises his hands and turns around. He then jerks back and falls over against the table, red mist exploding and staining the computers with his blood behind him. He gets shot once again, doubles over, and falls on the ground.

“Molly,” I ask, my voice trembling, “what the hell have you gotten us into?”

We watch the screen, stunned into silence as we see a woman walk into view of the camera. She’s a brunette and is wearing business clothes, black leather gloves and is carrying a silenced pistol. She fires one last shot at the guys head and looks at the body for a moment before bending down and looking through his pockets. We see her take out his phone and flip it open as she takes out a cord from her belt and plugs it into the phone: a tracer. We watch her dial a number using the man’s cell and my heart stops.

I look at the phone in Molly’s hand and we both freeze as it starts to ring. Phone number: unknown.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

 

Austin By Night – Logan [Layer 5]

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The body was burning on top of the roof of the Austonian. The flames lapping up around the body the way flames hug a piece of coal: it looks as if it’s barely touching it, yet it begins to turn a darker shade of black and begins to turn to ash under the flames. I stood, if you could even call it standing, watching the body. My knees bent and my arms resting over them in shock. I probably looked like a scared dwarf to the six other people in the room. I had talked to this person, this man now turning into ash, on the phone less than an hour ago and now he was gone. The smoke drifted through an open glass sky light above. I noticed that we were actually still inside, but the canopy covering the entire top of the building was made entirely of glass. I watched the flames travel towards the early morning sky. The city of Austin was waking up. I could see the sunrise coming over the river near downtown. I slouched there, in complete awe (was it even awe at the time?) in my pointed, tanned leather shoes and my brown leather jacket over a black button up. A night clubbing, making connections, finalizing deals; and now I was looking at a dead body, wondering what would come next.

“This is going to get cleaned up,” Says a woman. “We called the right people and they’re on their way. I want to make sure that the alibi we go with is going to stick if we have to talk to any lawyers.”

Someone else starts talking and I’m already tuning the conversation out. One of the men looks at me strangely and my vision begins to blur. Maybe I was crying at the time. I’m told to take a Xanex and I’m whisked away into a limo heading somewhere. I stare out the window, wondering what I have done and…

I’m awake. The alarm on my phone buzzes incessantly in my ear, like a hornet trapped inside a thin mason jar. I look up at the ceiling and remember about the meeting with Molly tonight. I had gone to bed at around noon and had slept for almost seven hours. Those were the hours most of my clients kept anyway and I wasn’t complaining; especially if they didn’t care about me wanting to meet them at restaurants or the hotel lobby of wherever I decided to stay that night. I was in a pretty shitty situation that no one needed to know about. Let them draw any conclusions that they want to. I was still an independent contractor, working mostly with the law firm that my parents ran. Their work was starting to make the news. Not about them specifically, but those in “the business” knew what was really going on, so they probably understood why I wanted to distance myself from the whole thing. However, I had other reasons for being away from the scandal that was beginning to take shape in the Metro and State section of the Austin-American Statesmen. I wanted to be discrete; I wanted to be away from people I knew; and this was as close as I was going to get.

While the city itself tried to keep its soul intact, I was trying to disappear. Austin, like most ‘recession-proof’ cities, was going through a rather painful expansion. New faces, new enclaves, new businesses, all of these were things that helped me keep a low profile in the aftermath. In the end, night club promotion and P.I work were the only steady paychecks where you could drift through being remembered and forgotten in a span of anywhere from a few hours to a few days. I had lost my soul already and now I was trying to be anonymous. I couldn’t go home or visit the usual corporate offices during the day, afraid that a reporter or someone that I knew would be there waiting. Nightmares of thin, black clad, covert assassins killing me in my hotel room woke me in my sweat soaked sheets in rented rooms all over the city. My mother and father were still working behind the scenes; covering up what had really happened, but I had since stopped coming to meetings. I couldn’t be a part of the charade anymore. I had allowed myself to be caught up a dark, political realm that I couldn’t begin to understand. To my parent’s credit, they tried to keep me in the dark as much as possible, but their handlers had other ideas. People like my parents were hard to find; and I suppose it made sense to bring me in and be trained in a job that could bring in a large salary, but couldn’t be revealed or talked about to friends or acquaintances. This time, though, I had had enough and had decided to go rogue; but leaving the city was too risky. I couldn’t completely leave the reservation. Not unless I wanted to see my mother and father in the local obituaries. Whether they deserved it or not didn’t matter. It’d only serve as another boil on the already festering body that was my guilty conscience. I didn’t whistle blow, I didn’t go to the police, I didn’t go to the local news stations. I stayed hidden. My parents handlers, despite me up and disappearing, didn’t seem to mind the arrangement (though I’m sure my mother and father took great pains to assure them that I wasn’t a threat), but the ‘family business’ was back to being a two-person operation now and no one was happy.

You can find the other chapters here on the Austin By Night page.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

Austin By Night – Art [Layer 3]

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Author’s note: this is part three of an on going series. If you want to read this in order, check out Layer one and two <— there.

“Forget it, dude, it’s J-Con,”

That’s what the private security guy tells me when I ask him about the swarm of cops that just came through the Omni hotel lobby. This is being told to me by a weird, hippy-ish, looking guy, with shades and a green suit, before he adjusts the strap attached to his stun-gun SMG and talks to someone else via a blue-tooth head set.

I start to get worried that the police presence might have something to do with me, but a quick look on social media tells me otherwise. My phone — which has been monitoring the anime convention newsfeed since it started — is getting reports of some cosplay models that were showcasing a V.R rig went berserk and started attacking con goers. Drugs may be involved, but that’s still just a rumor.

I look up past the banners of advertising that show pictures of anime robots, magical girls and samurai and at the Austin night of downtown that looks caged in the glass and steel wall grid that is the floor-to-ceiling entrance of the hotel. The brightly lit buildings outside against the night sky remind me of the trail of lights that Austin does every years that involves putting up giant-size Christmas trees several stories tall and lighting them up after sun down.

“Hey, Art,”

It’s Molly, a goth blond whose wardrobe is ninety-percent black leather and ten-percent black cotton, fish-nets, and combat boots. She also has a blue-tooth head-set and stun SMG snugged over her shoulder. She looks like she hasn’t slept in days, which doesn’t surprise me since she’s been part of the security detail trying to keep the con under control. This one — judging by the bags under her eyes — was not going well. She stands out among the crowd of brightly dressed anime nerds and weeabos who are cosplaying the latest ninja, demon, cyborg, robot, school girl, or whatever thing that’s trendy in that world at the moment. I look down and notice that her name tag says Amanda.

“Hi…Amanda,” I say, cocking an eyebrow, “playing someone else tonight?”

“Just until this gig is over,” she said with a shrug, “I’ve been looking for you.”

“What’s up?”

“Can you help me find someone?” she asks me, “he disappeared off the grid a few hours ago.”

“What has he done to deserve you?” I ask her.

“I sent him to check up on something while I’ve been off doing this gig, and I haven’t heard back from him.”

When she says this I start to get a really bad vibe in the building. Suddenly, it feels like every eye ad ear is trained on us and the cops wandering around the hotel are not helping. I put my hands in my pockets and start towards the door leading outside. Without either of us saying a word, we walk together, Molly just a few paces behind me, until we are outside and in the parking lot. I’m reminded just how brutal the summers are here in Texas, despite this being August.

“Should I ask what you sent him off to find?” I ask Molly, picking up the conversation where we left off.

“Not unless you want me asking what you’ve been passing along to the clients in that hotel,” she tells me.

“Being a courier is hardly illegal in this city,” I tell her.

“True, but seeing how I’m one of your biggest customers, I know about the majority of packages you pass along are illegal,” she says as she glances over my shoulder and raises her eyebrows at my backpack.

“I don’t look at what’s inside the box,” I tell her.

“Yeah, but you’re not dumb, Arty,” she says “I know you walked out of here with a lot of cash money tonight. Maybe too much cash in that backpack of yours to be a normal courier.”

I feel my body shift. Fight or flight is starting to take a hold of me again. I hate when she does this to me. I’ve been told it’s called leverage. I grimace as I unzip a compartment in my back pack and boot up a small netbook. My hands are shacking as I glance over and see the cop cars with there blue and red lights still pulsing in the parking lot.

“Let’s make this quick,”

Molly moves next to me to look over my shoulder.

“With pleasure,” she says, also eyeing the cops, “the GPS I.D is blackcandy32,”

After pulling up the Deep Web app and starting up the GPS plug-in, I type in the I.D and the map zooms in on a park in Austin. His vitals show that he is still alive, but he’s standing still in the middle of the park.

“What the fuck,” whispered Molly, “why is he in Walnut Creek Park?”

“You didn’t send him there?”

“He’s supposed to be on the other side of town.”

Molly’s about to pull out her phone until we notice the dot representing Molly’s man had disappeared. We look at the screen for a few more seconds before realizing what happened.

“Holy shit,” I whisper, “his GPS and vitals are gone.”

“Either they pulled it out of him…” her voice trailed off.

“Or he’s dead…”

The time was 11:56p.m.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

 

Austin By Night – Cassandra [Layer 2]

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The sky is a pitch black nothing that carries in with it a cold wind. I cannot move my body, but I can hear waves rolling towards and away from me; a deafening tide. I lift my head to see the ocean in front of me, but it is not a body of water coming towards me, but waves of shattered glass rolling into me like giant blobs of sharp fractals. The tide hits my feet and the sting of the glass edges hitting my body can be felt as the tide rolls in and cuts into my feet and legs with and recedes again. I try to move, but my body simply will not budge. Then I hear the screaming.

The burned corpses, chard and black, crawl towards me on the beach. They are girls that somehow know me, who scream and curse my name in the tongue from the old country where I came from. They weep as they get closer, flames rising from their bodies. They grab a hold of me and claw at me. I begin to shake in fear, trying to scream as loud as they do, but I can’t. Then I look ahead and see a wave, another blob of shattered glass that will engulf us all and…

I wake up.

I’m inside my coffin: it’s cramped, claustrophobic, the only light is a screen showing me a live feed of my room. No one is inside. The ghosts are trying to get inside me again. The coffin may not protect me anymore. I may have to use a thicker coffin in the future. I press a button and the coffin slides open.

I’m back in the same place I’ve woken up to in the past eighteen months: a dark, empty, spacious room, with one of the walls replaced by a single large window overlooking the Long Center and downtown Austin. It’s 9p.m. local time. The only lights coming into the empty condo are the lights of the city beyond the trees.

The phone rings, one of twelve scattered on a towel on the far corner of the condo with several chargers and a zip-lock bag full of SIM cards. I get out of my coffin and follow the faint ring all the way to the one lite phone among the dozen and answer it.

I use the Texas accent I’ve been perfecting over the past year in order to blend in with some of the locals. Presumably, not authentic Austinite anymore, but still Texan by most standards.

“Tech support,” I answer, “how may I help you tonight?”

“Is this Cassandra?” the man asks.

“Speaking,”

“There’s a server that needs to be wiped clean,” says the man, “Malware infection,”

“Can I get its location?” I ask.

“Coordinates are being sent to you, now,”

“And payment?”

“Wire transfer,” the man answered, “the Caymen account. An asset will be waiting for you at the location.”

“Thank you,” I hang up the phone.

I check another phone where the GPS coordinates have been sent. It’s at Walnut Creek Park, just north of Austin. I know of that place: very dark, very secluded at night, the residents in the surrounding neighborhoods know to stay away. All of these choices by my employer make one thing clear to me: somebody they no longer trusted was about to die.

I changed my clothes, and look in a mirror while I watch myself take one pill after another, and swallow them with a glass of two day old water out of a measuring cup. I grab my duffle bag containing my hit kit and code the door to set me out and lock the place up behind me. As I close the door, I can see one of the girls in my dream standing next to my coffin.

The pills do not seem to be working anymore.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

Austin By Night – Logan [Layer 1]

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We need to talk. NOW.

That was the text message I received just a few hours earlier after I heard the verdict come down at the local courthouse. Twenty counts of first degree murder, ten counts of conspiracy, and over fifty counts of fraud towards a single man. And what came of it? Not a single conviction.

After hearing the news via text message by the same person, followed by the the insistence that I meet with them “NOW,” I spent the next few hours wandering the Austin Hike and Bike Trail and North Congress Avenue. I tried to ignore my phone’s constant buzzing from unknown numbers belonging to God-knows-who, until I finally just decided to remove the battery to stop the calls. I watched the sun go down behind the downtown skyline as made one last lap up Congress towards the capital building. Night fall came at 8p.m. It was August.

The black limo came around the corner and followed me down west 11th street. The limo slowly moved past me until the rear was in pace with my walk. I continued to ignore it even as the tinted window rolled down. It was a woman wearing shades and a black suit.

“Get in,” she ordered.

I stopped and turned to look at her. I was still wearing my shades, even though it was dark, I could recognize the woman sitting in the backseat of the limo. Her name was Kim, at least that’s what she was calling herself. I was hoping that by wearing the shades they would’ve rendered me invisible by now, but no such luck.

“Do I have a choice?” I asked.

“You didn’t answer your phone,” said Kim, obviously angry.

“It wasn’t safe to use my phone,” I told her evenly, “they probably have it tapped by now.”

“We can talk about that later,” she said, “get in.”

I looked around and saw a trash can just a few feet away. I took out my smart phone and plugged a fire-wire app’ into the phone’s charge port and hit the kill button. I dropped the phone into the trash can, trusting that the hard drive and cell data would be burned to ashes by the time it hit the bottom, and entered the limousine. The ride started just as soon as I was sitting across from her inside leather interior of the limo and had closed the door next to me.

“Nice to see the FBI’s using our tax dollars wisely,” I said looking around the interior, “you get surround sound in this thing?”

“Logan, I’m going to need you to cut the bullshit,” she said, “you need us now more than ever.”

I looked out the window as we rounded a corner.

“Look, I’m sorry things didn’t work out, but we needed more evidence,” said Kim, “The Bureau is having a hard time trusting you as an informant.”

“It’s not easy narcing on my own family,” I said, continuing to look out the window.

“There’s no one else your father trusts, but you,” Kim said, “he was able to hide behind his business associates this time, but we can still get him with tax fraud if we need to.”

I turned to look at her.

“His business associates?” I asked, surprised by the phrase.

“Alleged,” she corrected.

“Whatever. They, along with my dad, own the fucking governor,”

“But they don’t own the Lieutenant-Governor or the Attorney-General,” said Kim, “you can’t back out of this, Logan. Your father, your whole family, is going start selling each other out the closer we get to nailing them. But that won’t matter in the end because they’re all going to go to prison for life and so will you if you don’t continue to cooperate.”

I looked out the window again. It was becoming too claustrophobic in here.

“Stop the limo,” I whispered, “I want out.”

“Logan,” Kim took off her shades and looked at me, she almost looked scared. It was the first time I ever saw her look anywhere close to being afraid, “please, don’t screw yourself over like this.”

“Why me?” I asked her.

She looked away and leaned back in her seat. She closed her eyes hard and opened them again.

“You didn’t know anything,” she said, “your family kept a lot of secrets from you, Logan. Out of any potential informants we could get, you were top on the list.”

“Was that your estimation?” I asked, “or did your analysts in Quantico make that call?”

Kim didn’t say anything for a long time.

“Stop the limo,” said Kim, yelling to the front towards the driver.

“Nice to know you’re thinking of me,” I said as I got out of the vehicle.

Kim grabbed my arm before I was halfway out.

“Get a new phone,” Kim said, “contact me within twenty-four hours or I’m going to assume you told your family about this meeting.”

“In twenty-four hours I might be dead,” I told her.

“If that gets you to work faster, then that’ll work for both of us,” she said.

I got out of the limo and watched it slowly make its way down the boulevard and round the corner. The sky was pitch black above me and not a single car could be seen on the street. It was eerily quiet as I took out a spare phone from my suit pocket and dialed for a cab.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser