Thursday, 14 November 2013

Project: Leftovers 007

The fall of their comrade made the two other men hesitate for a second, giving Monica the opportunity of elbowing one in the Solar plexus. "Lane, go to the bathroom and fetch my stuff!" She climbed over the man she had just hit stumbling towards her closet.
    "Is this the time for..."
    "Yes. Trust me." The man with the bloody face had regained control over his body, climbed over his squirming companion lunging towards Monica who in reaction to this new assault stepped aside smashing the the door into blood faced man's. Leaving an impression of his pained expression on the door and of the door on his face.
    "No time!" Monica shouted. "Go. Go. Go."
    Lane turned around entered the bath room and found that all of Monica's belonging except her toothbrush and toothpaste were already in her toilet bag. She hastily stuffed then into the bag returning to the room to see the limping man standing up again fighting for breath, while Monica took pulled her full travelling back out of the closet using it as a very improvised blunt weapon. It wasn't very effective but as it was rather heavy and full of metal reinforced ridges it was enough to make the limping man tumble.
    "Now what?" Monica asked.
    "Now we wait." Monica said one of her eyes staring to swell shut while blood kept dripping from her split lip.
    "What?! Why?"
    "There." Monica said, shoving the limping man back shoving him into the man with the bloodied face, making him fall back into the night stand."
    "Footsteps coming closer. Security I hope. Give me your best hysterical scream and follow my lead. Monica started screaming. "Things along the lines of "Oh, my god!" and "Please! Somebody! Help me!" She wriggled her eye brows at Lane signalling to do the same?
    At first Lane had a hard time doing any convincing screaming but the situation in front of her started to sink in brining back the shock from earlier that night. Monica pushed her forward. "Go. Your room first."
    The stumbled out of the room screaming bloody murder as one burly security guard came running around the corner. Monica was about to point into the room as the blood faced man lunged out of the room ramming into Monica pushing her hard into the wall of the corridor. Seeing this the guard shouted at him telling him to stop and doubled his speed. Barrelling into Monica's attacker before he had fully raised his hand shoving him aside. The guard wanted to tell Monica something but she interrupted him by pointing back into the room and screaming. The guard look to where she was pointing seeing the other man limping towards them. The guard cursed and without even bothering to warn him barged right into him.
Monica, now suddenly silent. Pushed Lane forward. "Your room. Get the stuff you through around and put it into your bag."

"Why. Better that way. Trust me. Hurry I will explain later but we have to get out of here before the police arrives."
    Back in her room Lane quickly gathered her strategically shed stuff. She was still pushing it back into her bag when Monica started dragging her out to the corridor again.
    "Quick, quick." Monica urged her on. They hastily descended the stairs back to the lobby risking being dragged to their deaths by their bags a few times as they didn't take lightly to being manhandled down stair cases.
    In the lobby Monica walked right towards the reception. "Just look traumatised and let me do the talking."
    "OK" Lane said having no idea what Monica was planning. At least she did not have to pretend to look worried. Seeing three masked men ransacking Monica's room did hit her square in her paranoia that was sent into a frenzy running around her mind screaming while looking for tinfoil to make a hat with it.
    "There are murderers in my room!" Monica shrieked at the receptionist.
    The receptions only got enough time to breath in.
    "I was about to go to sleep when these three monsters burst into my room. Masked and ready to do..." Monica paused for dramatic effect, shuddering before continuing, "What kind of security do you have in this place anyway?"
    "er..." the man at the reception now starting to collect a few drops of sweat on his brow despite the lobby being rather cool.
    "Have you called the police?"
    "We have sent security to your room immediately to provide you with assist..."
    "That was not my question! Have you called the police. The men might be right at this moment be murdering you security guard! And who do you think will be next."
    "Our security is very well tr..."
    "I don't want to hear your excuses man! I was viciously attacked in my own room! Call the police NOW!"
    The concierge turned towards the phone but before his hand had reached the receiver Monica interrupted him again.
    "But first we are going to check out of this death trap."

    "But..." the man said pointing towards the phone.
        "No buts. We will move to a safe location. We have paid in advance so you can cover the service costs with that and transfer the difference to our accounts. Me and my friend are not going to say here another second."
        "Yes ma'am." The man hastily printed out a few papers while Monica and Lane kept an eye on the door to the stairs and the elevator in case that any of their assailants had made it past the security guard. They quickly signed their documents. "And why haven't you called the police yet!" Monica screamed as a goodbye before turning around and stalking out of the hotel with Lane following her confusion and fear flowing from her expression.
        They walked out of the door turned left, then immediately left again and again at the next larger street.
        "What was that all about?" Lane asked.
        "That what my my parents call a 'polished retreat'."
        "That clears up nothing." said Lane exasperated.

        "You were right. Someone is obviously looking for me maybe for you. So we had to leave. Congratulations, you were right."
        "Is this really the right time for sarcasm?"
        "No sarcasm. I mean it. Usually I always had my parents or one of their lieutenants to keep me informed of the situation during all my missions. They looked at the bigger picture while I concentrated on the mission. That way I could focus 100% on what I had to do. Seems that because of that I'm missing some very important skills when it comes to interpret the situation... whatever. Point is, that you paranoia is well founded and it saved our skins."

    "Well my paranoia tells me that we should not be walking out here in the open, it also tells me that over there there is a lower market sign hidden in that tailors door sign. It also asks how that show at the reception desk has helped in the slightest. it was an unnecessary risk for fucks sake!"
    "Risk yes, unnecessary no. Lead the way, I have no idea how to find the hidden entrance in that shop." she motioned Lane to to take the lead. Lane walked ahead.
    "What's the benefit then?"
    "We were obviously freaking out because people went into our rooms to do god knows what. So we decided to leave the hotel and go somewhere else. We also pressed the guy at the reception to call the police."
    "Yes, what the fuck was that about? Right now the police might as well be looking for us and if they take us into 'protective custody' or god knows what shit, they see that I am a missing person."
    "Easy. That way we know if the police is its way already. If they are we have to leave faster and look for a back exit. We do not want to run into them. This way we knew they were not coming. So we could actually check out from our rooms and disappear without further notice. Women get attacked, they freak out, they leave. Case closed. The police will have to take care of the three stooges upstairs. The hotel will not have any reason to go looking for suddenly turning into thin air or trying to sneak with our bags out in the middle of the night."
    They walked right into the tailors store walking right past the small man with a shining warm smile that he had once bought from an actor who had made a fortune with it but had grown tired of being 'that guy from that commercial'. He had tried to ask the two ladies who had practically stormed his store what they needed in five languages to no effect. He was contemplating if he should put his winning smile away and try to get shouty instead, when to woman with the light brown hair opened the secret door leading to the lower market. 'Tourists now go there?' he thought. 'Well there goes the neighbourhood.

    "What if the police is on to us?" Lane asked pushing the receding shelve loaded with the planets finest blue fabrics aside to open the passageway faster.
    "Then nothing changes apart from us stopping the reception guy calling them before we leave and seeing very clearly how we walk away in a huff into the wrong direction."
    To Lane's great satisfaction this passage was actually a well lit and comfortably broad stair. The closed the door behind them and descended back into the lower market.
    "OK. Point taken. What does make you think that we will be more secure in the lower market?"
    "Mostly my instinct."
    "We're fucked then."
    "Who pissed into your porridge this morning? No need to get personal!"
    "Mostly dead people, people trying to murder me and oh the three dudes murdering your room." Lane replied.
    "Still no need to turn all aggressive on me." Monica said with a sulky expression. "A few reasons why we are probably better of downstairs. For a start it seemed that no one was looking for us down there. I also did not see any police there although that doesn't mean much. And another thing, it looks like this place here is not common knowledge, at least among the average tourist so they will concentrate looking for us up stairs. At least that is the bad case scenario."
    "Bad case scenario? Don't you mean worst case?"
    "No worst case, the individual looking for us has enough henchmen, informants and access to a wide variety of surveillance equipment as to be practically omniscient. In that case we are not retreating but simply exhausting ourselves while not even knowing that we are already in the middle of his trap. Meaning that we are already dead."
    "I can see how this is worse..." Lane admitted.
    "But that is a scenario were we have lost already. Thinking along those lines is unproductive." Monica said. They had now reached a thick curtain that was more of a horizontal carpet. It swayed very lightly as the war air of the lower market made its way towards the surface, carrying with it the smell of strange herbs and spices.
    "You are the strangest optimist I have ever met."
    "Pessimism only gets you to your grave faster. It also makes you lie down in your coffin while you are still breathing to cause less of a bother which is not only constructive but also looks ridiculous. If we are going to die we will do that with some fucking dignity."
    "Sounds good to me..." Lane said mostly to say something at all. She had no idea how conversations like these were supposed to work. Was it a conversation at all? Well, it certainly beat all her meetings where her 'managers' all tried to out do each other in 'dropping the ball' back in the office. "So. What's next?"
    "No we have to find someone who can get us out of this city."
    "How hard can that be..."

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Project: Leftovers 006

Chapter 3
    Monica had a compass, Lane a map of the city. While the lower market was not on the map they could deduce where they were located showing them in which direction they had to go to get close to their hotel. It took them more than two hours until they had arrived at a point where they should be, hypothetically speaking, next to the hotel. It took them ten more minutes to find an exit. This one was a narrow shaft smelling suspiciously like the undersized toilet of a really popular club after a long successful night. Under other circumstances Lane would have gone back to look for another way back to the surface but right now they had to hurry. The rust covered ladder steps that had been built into a cracked old mud brick wall were well rusted, sending little flakes of corroded metal sailing gently into the depths, but they were still solid and more importantly dry. Lane took her chances smelling one of the rungs. It smelt of dust and iron.
    The shaft became narrower as they continued climbing making climbing difficult near the end as there was hardly enough space for them to squeeze through.
    When Lane was starting to wonder if she would get stuck in the shaft never to came out alive she bumped her head on something hard.
    "OUCH!" Then Monica bumped into her.
    "Ow!" Monica complained. "Please tell me that this isn't a dead end.
    Lane reached upwards. She felt a cold metal plate. She shoved against it hard. The metal thing was very heavy but it moved.
    "No." Lane said. "More like a manhole cover or something." she pushed harder. The cover gave way letting in a wave of cold air stinking of piss and shit into the shaft. "Fucking hell!" Lane said.
    "What now?" Monica asked adding "Urgh." when the stench wave hit her. "What does that lead to? The hell of piss?"
    Lane grunted as she shoved the cover aside trying very hard to breath only through her mouth. The way now open she continued her way upwards entering a moist cold tunnel.
    "We are in the sewers."
    "No shit?"
    "I wish."
    Lane was taking out her cell phone turning on its LED light as Monica was wriggling her way out of the shaft. "Please tell me that the exit is near." she said.
    "Yeah. There is a ladder over there. As long as this is not some kind of multi storey sewer we should be out in a minute."
    "Thank fuck." said Monica who was now standing at Lane's side furiously rubbing her hands clean on her trouser legs.
    "That doesn't sound good. What now? Rats?"
    "No. My parents send me a text message."
    "You have a signal down here?"
    "Not here in the sewers. The lower market seems to have though."
    "OK that is unexpected."
    "I am actually more surprised to hear from my parents. They always thing that sending even one text into a foreign country will cost them their house. Also they are asking me to call back urgently as they are very concerned about me."
    "Normally I would say standing in the middle of the sewer is neither the place nor the time to be wondering about these kind of things. But how did they now that you were getting yourself into trouble?" Monica said with a hint of suspicion creeping back into her voice giving Lane the hairy eyeball.
    "For someone who just wanted to walk back to her hotel to live happily ever after you chose the strangest moments and strangest targets to get paranoid over. They have no idea about what happened tonight!"
    "And why are they so worried about you all of the sudden?"
    "If that's so incredibly important to you, you can call them first and ask them if you want. But maybe we should get out of here get our shit and then worry about them later?"
    "Lead the way."
    Lane rolled her eyes, she replaced the cover over the shaft leading to the lower market making the entrance almost invisible. From the side of the sewer the cover looked very much like a stone very much the same like the others which covered the sides of the reeking canal. She walked over to the ladder leading upwards, the ladder ended in a typical manhole cover. She sighed in relief. The outside world was near.
    A short climb and a hard shove later they were both standing in a dark side alley covered in rubbish and neglect that ended on both sites in large brightly lit streets. While they were not that near to their hotel it did not take them long to realize that they had resurfaced only three blocks away from the hotel.
    "I guess," Lane said, "that you would know when someone is following us or behaving suspiciously?"
    "It would take some skill to fool me." Monica shrugged.
    "Good. I'll go first. You follow me with some distance between us so you can see if anyone is looking out for us."
    "Or so that you can better escape..."
    "Not this again." Lane groaned. "Where the fuck do you think I'm going to run to? The police? Back to England? My private spy-plane?"
    "I don't know."
    "For all I know you are just waiting for me to turn around so that you can kill me like the Pale Man."
    "I could have done that before if I had wanted to."
    "When? When you noticed that the police were coming? Or in the lower market that was so full of witnesses?"
    "That's ridiculous!"
    "My point exactly."
    They stared at each other for a short while.
    "So. Will you follow me and keep an eye out for people behaving funny?"
    "Go ahead. I have your back."
    *        *           *           *
    Lane took her sweet time going back. Stopping frequently at the several stalls still open this late at night giving anyone on the look out ample time to see her. Also giving them ample time to stand around on an adjacent stall so that Monica would notice them or be replaced by someone else behaving in a similar way.
    At least no one approached her or tried to stop her. She also did not see any police around. When the hotel was in view she took a deep breath building up her courage to walk the last bit directly towards it without turning around or acting shifty. While she did not glance over her shoulder she did feel incredibly stiff. Even someone not interested in shadowing her had to find her suspicious. No time to worry. Monica would pick out anyone following her. She hoped. And... stop them? Lane closed her eyes for two seconds still walking. 'Oh please don't murder anyone else.' she thought.
    She reached the entrance of the hotel, the doorman opened the door for her greeting her politely. She walked straight through the lobby. She had not given her key back at the reception so she could walk right towards the elevator.
    No one followed her in. As the doors closed she could see Monica walking into the lobby.
    Reaching her door she fumbled with her key card, poking it at the door waiting for Monica to arrive. Her friend emerged from the stairs shortly after. Lane looked at her with questioning eyes. Monica just shook her head.
    Lane opened the door to her room. Before she could walk in Monica stopped her shaking her head very slightly. She signalled Lane with her hand to wait while she sneaked in. A minute later the light in her room was turned on.
    "You can come in." Monica said.
    Lane walked into her room expecting it to be turned upside down. It did look like a luggage trolley had exploded but that was all Lane's doing. No one had touched anything while she had been away. She felt relief and to her surprise also a bit disappointed. She closed the door behind her and flopped onto her bed.
    "See told you so." said Monica.
    "That doesn't mean anything. We are just lucky. Who ever is behind this is has not yet acted."
    "Has not yet acted? You and your imagination galloping over the fields of fancy. Has it crossed your mind that maybe you are wrong and everything is alright?"
    "It could be. We should still take our stuff get out of here and wait to see what happens."
    "Sure. We can lay low for a day or two and see if something stirs. But after that I'd love to be back in my comfy hotel room. Now that we are not in mortal danger any more you can call your parents."
    Lane rolled her eyes. She grabbed her phone "This should better be worth the ridiculous money this is going to cost me." she muttered while going through her contacts.
    "Yes hi mom, it's me."
    "It's the same time as where you are. Yes. I'm sure. Mom. The text you sent me? I'm OK. I told you I'd be in Marrakesh on my holiday. Yes, I'm here with Monica."
    "Hi Mrs. Gray!" Monica shouted."
    "What she's doing in my room? We were talking then I noticed you messa... Eloped? What? With... With Monica? Are you mental? No we are not sharing a room together. And even if we were that doesn't mean we are couple!"
    "What...?" Monica's jaw dropped.
    "No, mother. I can guarantee you that I have not been hit by some strange cosmic ray turning me into a lesbian and making me run away with my new girlfriend to northern Africa. Why would you even think something like that I told you that... Martin? He said WHAT?"
    Lane covered the microphone with her hand before shouting. "That fucking bastard piece of shit!"  a short grunt of frustration later she was back on the phone. "No. Listen.... Mom! listen to me. Martin is a confused, vengeful little shit of a man. No. No I will not take that back. He is. Really. He is not worried about me. He is being a horrible person. He knew as well as you did that I went on  a holiday. He also knows the reasons for me going on this trip one reason is so I don't have to see his stupid face again and the other is so I can get away from his from his constant crap. He really isn't worried. Wait." Lane's voice went from flaming raged to cold venom. "Could you say that again please, because I hope that I have misheard. That FUCKING CUNT! To the police? Fuck him. Shit. No. You don't need to worry I am OK. Nothing has happened to me and I have certainly not gone missing. I'm calling me from my hotel room, that's way. OK, mom this call is costing me a fortune already. I'm fine OK. I am incredibly angry and you can tell Martin that the next time I'll see him I will rip his balls off and make him eat them. I will calm down. I will not let this ruin my holidays. Right. You can relax and tell dad that I said hi and that I have not been kidnapped or missing. Right. OK. Thanks mum. Yeah... I love you too. Bye."
    "What was that?" asked Monica who had taken a few steps back from Lane standing now with her back to the wall.
    "Well first of all Martin that piece of shit told my parents that I had eloped, ELOPED, with you to Africa."
    "I yeah that I got but he did something even worse?"
    "Yes. He. Went. To. The. Police. And he told them that I was missing!"
    "Missing? On a holiday?"
    "He did not mention the holiday. According to Martin he did not know that I was gone on a trip. He told my mother that I had been incredibly aggressive lately, then one day I was suddenly gone. Poof!" Lane made a little explosion motion with her hands.

    "Don't the police usually wait for 48 hours or something before they even consider it a real missing person case?"
    "No idea. What I do know though is that he went to the police several times, on one of his trips he conveniently found a receipt for our trip here in 'our' apartment."
    "But you threw him out weeks..."
    "I know! That little shit had a second, second key which he used to enter my apartment and go through my stuff!"
    "Right? And then he went with that to the police telling them that I had run away. No where to be seen and maybe in Africa doing god knows what kind of crazy bollocks."
    "You know what the best part is though?"
    "Sit down."
    "Sit. Down."
    "OK. OK."
    "He finally convinced the police that I had indeed gone insane and they are now looking for me and because I obviously ran away to
    Morocco they put my details on an international database. So the police here is actually looking for me and the moment I try to pass through the security check at the air port I will get dragged away..."
    "Fuck... What a cunt!"
    "Right? Well another reason to gather my shit and look for an alternate way out of the country. I am sure as shit not going back to England with an escort!" Lane's eyes were flaming. She started grabbing her stuff stuffing it into her travelling bag. "Fuck."
    "Now what?"
    "I can't possibly lug all this shit around me all the time..."
    "No need to worry about that yet. WE will follow your plan for now. We will take our stuff, not all of it so that it will still look like we are still staying here if people don't look all to closely for a day or two. We take our shit down stairs to that magic market you discovered and find a place there were we can stash our things. Then we will find out what's happening up here if at all. We will take it step by step. Right?"
    "Trust me on this. I may not be as paranoid as you are but I know how to handle shit like this."
    Lane got through her things a second time taking out everything she thought she could do without, which were mostly the things that were still good enough to stay in her closet preventing her from buying new nicer things. It did not taker her that long to sort them out sprinkling them generously across the room to bring back her very personal look.
    "You turn." she said to Monica after finishing.
    "Put the don't disturb sign on the door, you don't want the poor maid to clean your shit away and that way it will take longer until the hotel staff notices that something funny is going on."
    They walked down the corridor around a corner to Monica's room. They had been lucky that they had rooms on the same floor as they had booked their rooms independently from each other. The next time they would actually ask for adjacent rooms. It was not that far away but it certainly made midnight pyjama parties a bit awkward.
    "Do you know where the next entrance to the lower market is?" asked Monica as she was fishing out her key card from her pocket. "Preferably one that does not lead through the sewers?"
    "No clue, but it won't be that hard to find another entrance if we keep our eyes open."
    The door to Monica's room opened almost soundlessly revealing her well lit room and the three men wearing balaclavas going through her things. Monica pursed her lips slowly berating out to them. The men remained motionless giving their best startled deer impressions. One of them moving his hand very slowly towards his back.
    "Run to the reception and tell them that there are armed thieves in my room." Monica said in a low voice her unblinking eyes focused on the space between the three man to keep them all in her field of vision. "I will slow these shits down. Go. run." With that she stormed into the room kicking the door shut behind her.
    Lane remained stunned for a second. But the sounds of heavy things crashing into the walls and furniture shook her into action. She turned around. Running towards the staircase. She had just passed her door when she had an idea. She came to a sliding halt, skidding for a few feet on the carpet. She pulled out her key card, opened the door to her room lunged towards the phone on her night stand lading on her bed. She dialled the zero.
    "Hello? reception? There are people fighting in room 303. Please send security up as fast as possible it sounds as if someone is beating up a woman in there. Yes. Yes! Hurry up! Please....'
    She hung up the phone went back to the corridor. After grabbing a fire-extinguisher she ran back to Monica's room  from which she could still hear loud fighting noises punctuated by the occasional scream. That meant that Monica was still putting up resistance. Good. She tried to open the door. But it was looked again.
    "Shit!" Lane cursed stamping her foot in frustration. then she saw that Monica's key card was lying on the floor. She took the card unlocking the door with it. She moved to the side so that in case someone was looking at the door or even worse pointing something potentially deadly at it she would be mostly out of harms way. She opened the door gently peeking inside. No one in the room was paying any attention to the door. Two of the men one of them having his balaclava ripped of his blood covered face, the other limping had grabbed Monica by the arms. The third man was moving towards Monica fist drawn back ready to punch her. Lane slipped into the room her heart racing, her entire body drenched in adrenalin and fear. She had to force herself to take each step towards the the fight every single one of her instincts not telling her but screaming to run away. She pulled up the fire extinguisher. Without her help Monica would be done for. The man with the bloodied face spotted her, he was about to shout a warning when Monica pushed herself up using the man holding her as support kicking the third man hard in the stomach sending her attacker stumbling backwards, while she and the two men holding her tumbled back wards tripping over the bed and night stand. Lane seeing the guy who wanted to attack Lane stumbling towards her only hesitated for the wink of an eye. 'Imagine you are hitting Martin...' with a roar she stepped forward swinging the fire extinguisher against the head of the man. When she felt the impact she gritted her teeth pulled through, sending the man spinning towards the floor blood trailing in a faint mist.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Project: Leftovers 005

They sat in silence for a while. Lane sipped her tea never taking her eyes from Monica. Every once in a while Monica took her glass trying to get a few more drops of liquor out of it.
    "Couldn't you have," Lane asked "just said no?"
    "To whom?"
    "To your parents or who ever asked you to do the hit tonight."
    Monica stopped trying to drain the last drop of her drink. She put the glass back on the table, slowly but with force so that it made a loud 'clunk' noise when it impacted the surface. "The Pale Man killed my friends. The first two people who I really connected with, the first who I could really love without having my guard up and who felt for me the same way. They were more my family than my insane parents and their ridiculous 'mission'. He took the only thing away from me that felt normal. Not that I would know normal. I've heard about it, read about it and seen it in films. But Anya and Javier were the ones that made the world feel like I imagined how it was supposed to be." she paused again, staring at her glass. "I know this will make me sound even more like a monster. Still: today is the only time I did not kill in cold blood. This time I killed full of rage. I wanted that piece of shit to die."
    "How does it feel?"
    "No, taking revenge."
    "It feels... I don't know. It's hard to explain. It feels, at least right now, like a shitty hamburger."
    "Like a hamburger?" Lane's brows did not care about the gruesome topic of the conversation, this was their cue to wander up her forehead.
    "Yes. Like a bad one. A McDonalds one. You have this deep gnawing hunger. And there it is this tiny hamburger hidden between two soft squishy buns that are more air than anything else. It isn't what you really wanted, or what you actually need. But it is there and it smells really nice, its alluring fragrance what pulled you towards it in the first place and you are hungry, so you eat it. It does help against the hunger for a short while, but then your stomach starts grumbling again and you feel cheated and nauseous."
    "It was a mercy..." Monica's mouth twitched in disgust. "One that he does not deserve. This is a point where I strongly disagree with my parents. They say that the people we eliminate deserve death. The only people who deserve death or people who have made peace with themselves and are ready to leave this world. Criminals don't deserve death. They deserve punishment. The Pale Man took at most fifteen minutes to die, most of that time he was unconscious. How is that just? He should have been convicted by a court. All his crimes acknowledged by society, turned from a legend into the sad excuse for a human he was and then he should have gone to jail to rot there forever. I would actually pay for a doctor while he was inside the prison so that he would have to dwell in prison for many decades with only his guilt and his shame as company. Instead he has fled to oblivion while I remain behind with his blood on my hands. While he turns into dust I live on..."
    "You stopped him from murdering others...?" Lane did not even know why she was comforting Monica. Finding out that her nice colleague from work was a mass murderer did change her view on her considerably but she did not know why. Monica's words showed her in a rather harsh light. But the person before he still looked very much like her friend. The fact that the only reason Lane was still alive was because of Monica's intervention was also slowly sinking in.
    "Yes. I stopped the Pale Man. But that plan always works so great. We've been killing murderers since the dawn of time. That never seems to have stopped anyone though. I'm sure that I was born innocent but look at what I became. They turned me into an executioner. Does anyone even give a fuck about the executioner? Some decides that a murder is so vile that he needs to be shoved off of the mortal coil, but who actually gets to get his hands dirty? The executioner."
    "You parents forced you." Lane tried another approach.
    "Maybe. The pushed me down that path and I didn't know better. But that does not take away my own guilt. Fucking coward."
    "I beg you pardon?"
    "Not you. Me. Hiding behind my parents and then escaping to Britain into a nice and boring middle class life. I'm Catholic mostly on paper but I am sure that penance doesn't work that way."
    "I... I don't know what to say..."
    "That's OK. It's time that I take responsibility for my actions. As a start I will never kill anyone ever again." That, as it turned out was easier said than done.
    *            *                      *                        *
 Lane had waited one cup of tea to see if Monica was going to say anything else. So far her friend had just sat there jaw clenched her eyes focused on infinity asking it if it was looking for trouble.
    "I still think that we should get our things from the hotel and make our selves scarce." Lane said.
    Monica's eyes shifted from infinity to Lane.
    "That again?"
    "Yes. That again."
    "I already told you that thanks to your little emergency exit we have nothing to be afraid of. No one has seen us. We didn't leave any significant traces. I am in no police data back. Not my fingerprints not my DNA, nothing. Wait... did you get in to trouble in the past?"
    "What? No. Still have you seen all the cameras all over London? Your picture and mine are certainly in a police data bank."
    "Yes together with 12 million other faces. The problem with collecting masses of data is that you just get noise and no signal. Besides the only people who ever saw us are dead. They are also almost impossible to identify. If we just take out luggage and run away from our hotel we will be doing the police a big favour by starting to act suspicious and even then it will hardly be noticed by anyone."

    "I think you are looking in the wrong direction. I remember you telling me that you were supposed to kill the Pale Man before he killed his target."
    "Well you failed."
    "That's because I was contacted to late. That is hardly my fault."
    "How many times have you worked for people other than your parents."
    "And this cousin of yours... he isn't really your cousin."
    "Of course not!"
    "So who is he then?"
    "A contact of my parents. One of the many pieces in their insane game of vigilantism Go."
    "And this contact is one of the good guys?"
    "What good guys?"
    "Like your parents. Is he playing for team justice or is he a criminal who thinks that he is hiring the service of some renowned assassin family?"
    "He's a criminal a local power-monger. He organises things for the local criminal powers. Helps illegal operations go smoothly, launders their money, puts the right people for the right work into contact with each other, that sort of thing..."
    Lane's hand moved towards her mouth, fingers twitching nervously. "Did you parents talk to you?"
    "Today. When you were told to take care of this?"
    "No. My parents pretend that I don't exist and I pretend right back. That they went through a lackey for this was just added insult to injury."
    Lane's hand now moved further up to cover her eyes. "Monica."
    "You've been had."
    "No way..."
    "You said the guy who gave you the job was a criminal who specialises in communication. I would guess that rumours of you leaving your parents would be doing the rounds sooner or later. You have been a high profile assassin for more than a decade, your parents special strategy seems to be to stay centre stage in the gleaming limelight. So I would think that people in the world of crime know your face... If someone saw you living the exiting life of a b-tier office worker after you disappeared not long after the Pale Man destroyed you 'dram team' that individual could come to certain conclusions."
    "That sounds all nice and almost plausible. But how should my contact have known that I was here. At the same time like the Pale Man. That's one hell of a coincidence."
    "Just because something is very unlikely does not mean that it's not impossible. Imagine you are a criminal sitting there in your spider web of crime and information and one day two juicy flies land in your web. Monica Lobos de la Torre, if that is your real name and the Pale Man her arch-enemy."
    "Yes that is my real name and you analogy sucks. If we are both flies the spider would personally kill us both."
    "That's not the point here and you kept your name?"
    "Of course. Why shouldn't I?"
    Lane was still resting her face in her hand, she looked at Monica with wide eyes between her fingers.
    "How did you even survive so long?"
    "I beg your fucking pardon?"
    "You have been killing key figures from pretty much every crime syndicate that has a presence in South America and then you think you can just wander away from that without anyone ever thinking of taking revenge?"
    "Revenge? It was just business. My parents haven't been killed either and they are very open when it comes to what they are doing."
    "Just business. You mean like that Pale Man?"
    "That fucker killed my brother and my sister!"
    "And he did that just to fuck with you? It was not a contract that he got which he did because that's his job."
    "He was a sadist. I'm not..."
    "He did a job just like you did. And you wanted to kill him for what he did to you. Now think about all the people you eliminated.For you they were criminals that had it coming. But for many other people you are the murderer of their loved ones I bet my left kidney that at least some of them would like some revenge. Just like you did. They might want to kill you or they might want to fuck with your parents. Or they see you now as a free agent devoid of any loyalties, that looks both suspiciously like a traitor with no honour at all as well like an agent of considerable skill open to new offers not attached to the strings that you parents attached to everything."
    "No buts. The guy who gave you your job today wanted the Pale Man dead. He also wanted his target to live. The target is very dead and if he was carrying something important you better hope that the poor fucker swallowed it because in any other case we are in incredibly deep shit!"
    "I will be in deep shit. Not you, you aren't connected to this in any way..."
    "Apart from hanging around with you in public every day? If they can't get to you they will probably use me against you to blackmail you into action."
    Monica stared at Lane for a while, her eyes growing wider as the implications of Lanes words were sinking in. "What you say, could be correct. But you might also be just incredibly paranoid."
    "I could be, but I'd rather find out from a safe distance. So, what about it? Even going back to the hotel is a big risk now, but we might want to get our shit because we might be on the run for quite a while."
    "Let's go."
    They got up, left the tent and after paying the waiter tipping him generously reminding him that they never had seen him. With that out of the way the worked their way towards an exit that they thought would be close to their hotel.
    "How do you know so much about crime anyway?" Monica asked as they disappeared into the crowd.
    "Have you never watched crime shows or read a proper thriller?"
    "What kind of child were you anyway?"
    "One that was busy killing people."