mish-prep

Flash FictionIt’s raining right now. There’s even thunder. The house is already semi-decorated for Halloween, and I get to pound away on my keyboard to the delightful sounds of rumbling and the occasional flash of light. This is a great day to be a writer.

I don’t require ambiance to write, but I never turn it down.

I’m liking how this series is developing. This is the fourth part, and I’ve only just now realized that the entire series will only include two points of view. Initially I thought there would be more, but this story belongs to Harkins and Carter. Sort of. They aren’t the only important players, but it makes sense to keep it in their voices.

I’m still not crazy about them, but I’m coming to understand them better. What makes them the kind of people they are. I think that’s important. I can focus on characters I don’t like as long as I can at least understand some element of what makes them tick. In the case of these two nuts, that’s led to a certain degree of sympathy. Neither of them are particularly happy people, and both are doing their damnedest to hide that simple fact.

Of course, they do kill for a living. One wouldn’t expect them to be particularly well balanced.

That said, this story is a part of a series. Click here to read it from the beginning. The posts will display in order, starting with the first, so you can enjoy them in order.

mish-prep

Harkins is in Mish-Prep 2. That’s what he and the other scrubs call it. The sign on the door reads “Conference Room Riviera”, but no one calls it that. More than once he’s wanted to yank the cheap plastic placard off the wall. It reminds him of the sanity he used to know, and that only makes him sad.

As far as the outside world is concerned, this is still an office building. It looks like one from the street. Even the official front entrance gives nothing away. There’s a receptionist and everything. A cute little twig of a girl who plays on her phone and shews away cold-calling salespeople.

On the books, he’s a consultant. Like every other operative in the guild, he lives in close proximity to several other members. Even when he’s off, he’s on. Their quarry is no respecter of PTO. Every routine in his life changed when he joined. He can’t travel. That’s too dangerous. He can’t go to bars. It would make him an easy mark. He can’t even go to the fucking grocery store unless he does so in tandem with someone else, and then the two of them have to act like strangers, tailing each other up and down the aisle to make sure no one else is following.

It’s like being a pre-teen super-spy. He even has a curfew.

He envies Carter’s undiluted hatred. Somehow she manages to funnel her pain into a laser beam of enmity. When he acknowledges his own suffering, it turns immediately to sorrow, like bad meat left in the sun. He knows his partner can sense that about him, and he knows she perceives it as weakness. That’s part of what he finds so damn attractive about her. God, there’s something about a strong woman, he thinks.

That’s his pattern. His cycle. Something reminds him of the shit storm his life has become, and that gets him down. Then he thinks of Carter, always fixated first and foremost on her fortitude. But that doesn’t last long. Soon, he’s fantasizing about being with her, and then he hears her voice in his head. She’s mocking him, and he feels foolish enough to turn red, which reminds him of the shit storm his life has become.

One of the CO’s walks in, sipping on Red Bull. He’s the young one. Jefferies. The wonder boy. Harkins fucking hates him, but Jefferies’ presence brings him back to the moment.

The blueprints to the vamp’s house hang on the wall in front of him. He’s already marked the entry point Carter indicated. The window is at a corner, allowing for minimal exposure internally while facilitating a number of escape routes away from the house. She’s right. It’s the place to break in.

“A quick in and out?” Jefferies asks.

“Yeah,” Harkins says. They aren’t a military organization, in spite of all the lingo. He’s an employee, not an enlisted man. He doesn’t owe Jefferies a salute or a ‘yes sir’, and he doesn’t intend to give the man either.

“What’s the objective?”

“Intel,” Harkins says. “Maybe a kill. Depends on what we find.”

“Are we certain the resident is a vamp?”

“One of the surveillance teams tailed him three nights in a row. He never leaves during daylight, and he’s always back by dawn.”

Jefferies laughs, tossing his empty can into the trash from the far side of the room. The bastard makes the shot. Nothing but metaphorical net.

“Every night owl isn’t a vampire,” he says. “If you and the cowgirl get pinned with a B&E charge, you’re on your own.”

Carter is talking as she enters. “I have a name, Jeffy.”

“It’s ‘Jefferies‘, Operative Carter.”

“And we have more than his coming and going,” she continues. “He makes eye-contact with surveillance every night, just before ditching them. It’s a game to him. He knows we’re watching, and he’s dared us to come and get him.”

There’s a girl on Carter’s heels. She must be the trainee. If she’s nervous, she doesn’t show it. He makes it a point to look away quickly.

“Aren’t you concerned it could be a trap?” Jefferies asks.

Now it’s Carter’s turn to laugh. “He’s a vamp. He’s cocky and most likely bored. Plus, he probably thinks the surveillance team is just trying to document his existence or feeding patterns. He has no idea a strike team is on his ass.”

Jefferies nods. He looks out of place without something in his hand. “Just don’t get the trainee killed,” he says.

“Like you don’t have 20 more where this came from,” Carter jokes. They both laugh. Neither Harkins nor the trainee so much as crack a smile.

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

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