Work has me completely swamped this week, so I’m going to cheat a little and give you guys a short story I wrote back in 2012. It is on the darker side and a little NSFW (not safe for work), so I don’t recommend for anyone under the age of 14, or anyone who only reads lighthearted subjects.
I get mixed reviews on this from those that have read it, so I’m really interested to see what you guys think. I feel like my writing has improved since 2012, but this is a good example of a story that I’ve put through many many revisions/edits. So it’s bit more of a finished product than what I normally provide for you guys.
Writing Prompt: The Mission
I drove with tightly controlled, careful movements, gripping the steering wheel so forcefully my hands ached. Tension and anxiety were making me hyperaware of everything I did and everything around me. The muscles in my neck and shoulders strained and ached from being held rigidly for so long.
The black highway stretched before me through the shadows of the night and thoughts of dark paths and wrong choices started to creep through the thick-walled fortress I had made in my mind. Angry at myself, I gritted my teeth and pushed the corruptive thoughts back. I had planned for this night for months; now was not the time to dwell on what I would not, could not, change.
I glanced in the rearview mirror and caught the reflection of my own wide, blue-eyed stare and quickly looked back at the shadowed lane. That one glimpse had revealed the nervous fear I kept trying to bury; that, at least, I was expecting. It was the hint of something darker and more terrifying that lurked deep within me, struggling for dominance, which had me shaking violently, my breathing erratic. I feared that darkness within, I feared that part of me that wanted it, encouraged it. Checking my blind spot, I guided the car over in preparation for the next exit. The next fork on my dark path… God! Stop thinking like that! I couldn’t help it though. I was on a dark path. One I knew there could be no turning back from.
As I steered the car towards its sordid destination, I went over my upcoming task and reinforced my mental fortress. Now was not the time to lose focus. Now was not the time to give in to doubts and fears. I drove through the gated entrance, open in expectation of my arrival.
The multimillion dollar estate spread out before me, pale and shadowy in the light of the moon. Even knowing the evil that lived here, I couldn’t help but sigh in appreciation. The large house was located on 106 acres of land, most of which was beautifully landscaped and well maintained. The surrounding wood was kept well preserved; with sticks, leaves, and fallen trees removed regularly. The moonlight cast everything in a silver sheen, the beauty of the home belying the truth hiding inside. It truly isn’t fair that something so beautiful belongs to such a rotten bastard.
I parked under the covered breezeway between the house and the four-car garage, swiftly got out of the car, and retrieved my bags from the trunk. The kitchen was lit up brightly, keeping the darkness at bay. Of course he has every light on in the house as usual. I had a theory that he subconsciously kept so many lights on at night as a distraction against the darkness in his heart. Easier to avoid the blackness of your own heart when paying a thousand dollar electric bill every month.
I began in the kitchen first, wiping down the counters and moving the few stray dishes from the sink to the dishwasher. I had been watching and investigating my mark for over a year before the nighttime housekeeper position had come open. A phony resume, a few fake letters of reference, and an excellently made up and impenetrable identity that could pass the most rigorous of background checks had Mrs. Capon, the estate manager, welcoming me with open arms… and within arm’s reach of Robert Fox.
Robert Fox. My hands clenched reflexively into fists at just the thought of his name. Outwardly, to the public eye, he was a highly successful, suave, and charming man of fortune. Stylishly cut brown hair, clean shaven, with a handsome face and trim build, he was easily charismatic. What the public didn’t know however was that underneath the perfectly cut suits and winning smiles was a squirming mass of malevolent thoughts. And if he only left it at thoughts I wouldn’t be here right now. But he does more than just think of immoral deeds, he acts on them… I slammed the door quickly on those thoughts. I couldn’t think of what he had done, not if I didn’t want to end up curled into a ball on the floor, crippled with grief. Robert Fox was my mark, my duty. My mission.
The murmur of conversation came from the dining room and a grim smile briefly lifted the corners of my mouth. Good. Cynthia’s here. Cynthia was the reason Robert had need of a nighttime housekeeper. Several times a week the upright, honorable, married, Mr. Fox consorted for hours with the immoral, dissolute, Cynthia Freemont – who certainly was not married to Mr. Fox. And though Cynthia wasn’t the reason I was here, she deserved whatever came her way just as much as her lover.
Though Mrs. Capon had to have some clue as to the true nature of Mr. Fox, she no doubt underestimated just how depraved he really was. Otherwise I was sure she would have quit long ago. Mrs. Capon was deliberately oblivious, not uncaring. She had delicately explained to me that Mrs. Fox, who most assuredly was aware of Mr. Fox’s true face, stayed at her personal penthouse downtown more nights than not. While Mrs. Fox was away Mr. Fox liked to play – with Mrs. Freemont. Tired of cleaning up after their nocturnal revelries, Mrs. Capon had convinced her employer of the need for a part-time evening housekeeper. A job I had aptly been filling for the past year.
You would think they would be more discreet in their activities. Oh, they had been discrete at first, but about six months into my employment that changed. I guess I had finally fallen into the category of silent and reliable staff who knew to keep her mouth shut if she wanted to keep her job. After all, in just the last few months I had witnessed and seen enough to make a porn star blush. I had cleaned up drugs and drug paraphernalia, laundered sheets covered in baby oil and semen, scoured and organized sex toys used for bondage and pain, and once, disinfected a four foot splattering of blood from the bedroom floor.
Finished with the kitchen, I reluctantly went through the swinging walnut door connecting the kitchen and the dining room. Robert smiled warmly at me as if we were bosom pals greeting each other after months apart; my stomach churned in response. Cynthia also smiled at me, but her smile was more honest; catty and bitchy with just this side of jealousy. I always wondered about that bit of jealousy, I was the damned housekeeper for crying out loud.
“Ah, Marissa. I thought I heard you in the kitchen. Cynthia and I were just thinking of having a glass of wine. Be a dear and fetch us a bottle of the Screaming Eagle please.” Absolutely no shame or embarrassment colored his words. It was as if he had no clue that a mere two nights before I had dusted coke powder off his dresser and cleaned a sticky residue from the phallic handle of a whip in disgust. But, of course he knew, he had left it for me to clean up.
Grateful that they were sticking to their normal routine, I nodded at him. “Not a problem. Would you like me to bring it to the den or the bedroom?”
“Oh, the boudoir of course!” Cynthia leaned across the cold marble of the table to clutch one of Robert’s hands. Her long black hair slid off her shoulder and her dark brow arched high over amused hazel eyes. She had caught me noticing the purple bruises spread out along the side of her neck and was pleased. The bruises were in the disturbing shape of fingers.
Hiding my disgust, I went back through the swinging door and went down into the wine cellar located beneath the kitchen. I retrieved a bottle of the unbelievably expensive wine and two glasses, and carried the bottle, chilling in its ice bucket, up to the masculine master bedroom. I had taken slightly longer than usual and was fully expecting Cynthia’s snide remarks. I pointedly ignored her comments about good help being hard to find. So original.
Robert came out of his walk-in closet wearing a burgundy robe and thanked me politely, if somewhat distantly, as he opened a hidden panel in the wall next to the large, flat screen TV. The panel hid a rather large safe that housed a variety of DVDs that a regular pervert would have found troubling; all of them homemade. All of them troubling; and all of them starred Robert, Cynthia, or both. Making sure to keep my body carefully blocking their view, I poured the wine, handed them their glasses, and quickly departed.
Now that I had set things in motion, my earlier nervousness returned with a vengeance. I estimated I had about thirty minutes to fill and returned to the dining room to attend to the dishes. I needed the movement and familiarity of a normal task to calm my nerves, find my center, and numb my mind. My consciousness wrapped itself back within the housekeeper persona and let the mundane tasks calm my nerves. Dust, wipe, sweep. Dust, wipe, sweep.
Moving from room to room, I mechanically went through the motions, hands steady, mind blank. Dust, wipe, sweep.
The sound of movement towards the back of the house eventually broke through my methodical actions. The housekeeper faded away, sank into the shadows, and quietly settled in the protective recesses of my mind. In her place the true me rose, strong, ready, knowing I would not fail, and deadly. It was time.
Returning to the kitchen, I swiftly opened my bag and removed the extra items I had brought for this occasion. Donning latex gloves, I efficiently assembled and loaded the specially fit, silence-equipped Glock. The slightest pause had me staring down at the deadly weapon in my hands. The cold, black metal seemed to absorb light and felt heavier than the 2 pounds, 11 ounces I knew it weighed. I had been practicing a long time.
I walked towards the back of the house. Typically Robert would retire to his study after an evening with Cynthia. Play hard, work hard, and all that. The gun held tightly against my thigh, I silently pushed open the paneled door, one part of my mind acutely aware of how the wood grain felt through the thin latex of my gloves.
My senses were in hyper-drive again. I could smell the slight odor of propane from the lit gas fireplace, the light scent of the cedar furniture, and even the faintest hint of this evening’s wine. I could hear the scritch-scratching of his pen as he wrote at his desk, and the crackling of the fire. I could see into, and in fact seemed to see through, every shadow in the large room. I could feel the tension in the air; the hair rising on the back of my neck, the goose bumps forming on my arms. I knew the tension was coming from within me though.
Robert must have sensed me standing in the doorway. No sooner had I noted with satisfaction that he was alone, he looked up, eyebrows raised in surprise. I never sought him out after they retired for the evening. Never. “Marissa? Is something wrong?”
“Yes, Robert. Something is very wrong.” Keeping the gun hanging low and half behind me, I edged slightly into the warm room. “Did Cynthia leave?” I already knew the answer but I asked to be absolutely sure. The drugs I had slipped in her glass should keep her unconscious until morning.
“Um, no.” He stood up from his desk uncertainly, his fingertips resting lightly on the pad of paper he had been writing on. “She fell asleep.” He frowned deeply. “I think she had too much wine.” I could almost hear his unfinished thought. Though that’s never been a problem before. He finally seemed to register that there was something different, strange, about me. Suspicion joined the frown. “You said something was wrong. What is it?”
Ignoring the order in his question, I took three precise steps closer to the large desk. The rapid pounding of my heart reverberated so forcefully I felt sure he would be able to see the hammering through my chest. Palms sweating, I raised the gun to chest height, pointing directly, thankfully steadily, at him.
Robert took a surprised step back and half fell, half sat into his leather chair. I could no longer see his hands. “Marissa, what the hell? What’s going on?” Keeping the Glock aimed at his chest, I used my other hand to swiftly, decisively, pull back the slide. “Who sent you? Why are you doing this? Marissa, Jesus, just what in the hell are you doing?”
“Get your hands on the desk you bastard!” I hadn’t liked the way he had been fidgeting behind the desk, but relaxed slightly when his hands came up empty.
“Who sent you?” He asked again, his voice strained with fear. All bullies are cowards at heart. “What is this about?” I widened my stance, but kept my silence, pleased when his fright escalated. As an avid gun collector he knew the wider stance would help balance my weight as I fired. “Marissa, look, I don’t know what this is about but if you just put the gun down, I’m sure we can work something out.”
Fury suddenly swamped me, making my hands shake slightly. I heard an angry gasping sound and realized that it was coming from me.
“Shit! Tell me! Tell me you bitch! Why are you doing this?” He jumped up in horror and backed into the unforgiving wall behind him.
Gritting my teeth, I forcefully bit the words out that were choking me. “A little boy. Four years ago. Age nine.”
“How do you…?” His already pale face turned several shades whiter as comprehension dawned in his eyes. Resignation roughened his voice. “I should have seen the resemblance.” He should have seen the resemblance. The first few months of my employment I had been terrified of discovery. But a couple of years had passed since his crime and he was confident in the fact he had gotten away with it. He hadn’t looked at her twice.
One of the detectives on the investigation was a friend. There had been evidence pointing at Fox, but the detective had been warned off the case – by his superiors. Robert had too much influence, too much power. We saw the writing on the wall and neither one of us could let him get away with it. My friend knew Robert would do it again; knew that this probably wasn’t the first time. Another year of training and planning, and then… the job opening… my mission.
Memories assaulted me: an auburn-haired, skinny, boy running towards me with a wide grin, arms open; the same boy, screaming wildly, sitting next to me on a roller coaster; a small precious face full of laughter, love, and trust as I swung him around and around in my arms; and a sleepy smile as I read a bedtime story. And then… the terrifying call reporting him missing; the thousands of questions by police and detectives; the endless searching and calling for his name until my throat was raw… the call from the lead detective with the shocking news, the horrifying details … the funeral… closed casket.
Something in my expression must have warned him. This discussion was over.
“Marissa! He was… Don’t do this. I’ll give you anything. You name it and it’s yours!” I sighted along the barrel. Cringing against the wall, he screamed at me, “What?! What do you want?!”
“I want my son back!” My voice cracked halfway through my scream, but I still managed to keep the gun steady as I fired.
* * *
My mission almost over, I drove away from the house of death. I headed towards the rendezvous site where I would drop off the recorded confession I had secretly taped, as well as a few of the homemade videos, to my detective friend. I had planted the gun on Cynthia, but I doubted she would be convicted for killing Robert. After all, the housekeeper named Marissa would never be found, and that was obviously suspicious. At least the home videos would help see Cynthia behind bars for some time, even if it wasn’t for Robert’s murder.
As the black highway rolled beneath me, my thoughts crept back towards dark paths and forks in the road. I pushed them back for now; back down into the shadows, back into the darkened abyss of my mind. Needing something to distract me, I turned on the radio. A news reporter was in the middle of describing the inconceivable murder of a little girl two cities away. I knew my reprieve was only temporary. I knew that soon… soon I would embark on a new mission.
I hope you enjoyed this short story! Please feel free to leave comments below. I do welcome constructive criticism in the comments, but please give me more than, “I didn’t like it”. Don’t be afraid to tell me it sucked, but tell me why you think it sucked! And, of course, if you did like it, I would like to know that too.
And if you liked this writing prompt, and feel inspired to write a short story of your own, please feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to highlight your story in a post of it’s own!
Please don’t mind the mess.
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