Deacon sat in complete silence apparently looking into empty space, his face a blank mask emotionless and expressionless. When the phone bursts into life next to him he does not acknowledge its existence initially. A close observer would notice a tiny flicker of something in his eyes but would be unable to define it. Without turning his head a hand reaches out pulling it from its holder.
He does not need to look at the incoming number to know who is on the other end it’s the call he has been waiting for with a mixture of hope and dread belayed by his neutral exterior.
“Deacon“ the voice says in its robotic twang as ever altered mechanically sounding completely inhuman “Next job will be sent via e mail code triple three complete by-”
Deacon interrupts the voice before they can finish with one word.
“What? Deacon I don’t understand”
Silence hangs on the other line it stretches for seconds that feel like an eternity. Finally Deacon against his better judgement continues.
“I told you before I’m out finished the answer is no”
“That is not an answer that is acceptable or realistic”
“nevertheless it’s the only one you will get from me” retorts Deacon already knowing this would be the reaction and prepared for the consequences whatever they may be.
“Deacon man it’s not gonna happen, do the job and the company will consider alternative positions for you”
Deacon smiles at the use of the word “man” only one person he knows would use that term.
“Eddie its been a while, you more than most should know when I say something I mean it”
Eddie chuckles down the phone.
“yeah we’ll just this once ya gotta rethink man, what did I tell ya the day you joined?”
The question is rhetorical they both know Deacon is fully aware and would have been whether Eddie had told him or not. No leaving no running no retirement you take the job it’s your life and your death.
Its Deacons turn to chuckle down the phone.
“sometimes rules are meant to be broken you taught me that to”
“not this one it isn’t a rule it’s a choice you made a once in a lifetime choice, no going back no changing, do the job D do it then when can talk about what happens next. No matter how good you are and your good this you won’t be able to do. You have two choices again D, live or die”
Deacon frowns a lights a cigarette already waiting for him next to the phone not caring if it’s seen as a sign of weakness just needing his nicotine receptors to be flooded with toxic joy. He exhales the blue smoke for what seems like an eternity before answering.
“Remember what else you taught me Eddie?” he asks in a slightly mocking tone.
“Taught you a lot of stuff D most of it aimed at keeping you alive which is what I’m trying to do know”
“True enough and number one rule or was it number two I don’t remember but it was right there at the too. Be prepared, be prepared Eddie, this has been coming a while and given me time to do just that. I reckon it will as always increase the chance of success”
“Fuck you D” replies an exasperated Eddie.
“What you think the company don’t know about your secret stash of money or the fact you have booked a plane ticket to Switzerland using an alias? You don’t stand a fucking chance man not a fucking chance!”
This information knocks Deacon slightly he had half expected it and half hoped they would not find out either way did not matter much in the long term.
“Well ain’t you all the smartest cookies now Eddie, still don’t change shit to me or the answer, live or die it will be my choice”
“Ok Deacon” a pause while Eddie sighs “Nice knowing you”
And with that he cuts the connection. Deacon is surprised at the finality of Eddies last words and to be honest expected him to try and convince him more. It’s almost as if he was only half trying as if the outcome had already been known…….
“Shit” mutters Deacon under has breath as the word finishes he is out of his chair spinning round to face the back of it then he r-e-a-c-h-e-s. the world becomes a grainy black and white void of all noise any at all. deacon looks into the. Shocked face of a Marin his twenties, Company written all over him, shaved head and suit, his right arm is through the back of the chair hand reaching for the place where Deacons heart had been a split second anger.
Snarling in anger and frustration at his own stupidity, Deacon acts, grabbing the mans hand in his own ripping the thumb back until it silently snaps. The mans mouth opens in a soundless scream, his concentration broken he flips back into the real world.
A second later Deacon joins him and know the mans scream is piercing as he holds the stump of his arm. The rest lays twitching half in the chair severed as the Company man entered this world.
Deacon ignores him now as the threat has gone, he curses at himself once more for his stupidity. The company knew everything or thought they did the phone call was a trap, and he had almost fallen prey to it stopped only but sensing the tone of Eddies last few words.
Time for plan B so far he had been lucky. And lucky wasn’t worth shit.
He spared a glance at the man slowly bleeding out over his floor. He was desperately trying to staunch the flow of blood with a tourniquet made from his belt but Deacon could see he was beyond fucked.
Deacon throws himself into the kitchen staring intently at the floor to find just the right spot, there he spots the knot in the wood. Pausing to give the dying man a sarcastic thumbs up he reaches and allows himself to fall through to the emergency tunnel running beneath his home. Knowing it would only be a matter of time before the Company put their own plan b into effect.
Eddie spun his chair slowly round. No matter how old he became the joy of a swivel chair still made him smile. Even at a time like this, face crunched in concentration he spun around a few times before facing his desk once again. Deacon that what are you playing at? He wondered. He should have seen this coming, he had known the man for over Twenty years, they had first met when he was Deacon’s age now. Christ that thought made him feel old, like old man time.
He had been with the company fifteen years by then, well established and in his prime. He still remembered the disgust he had felt at being ordered to look after the new boy. In those days people were found by chance. Deacon had survived a car crash that should have killed him, no two ways about that but instead he had been found twenty feet away from his cars mangled remains, without so much as a bruise, impossible according to the group of head scratching police and paramedics. Unlikely thought the Company but certainly not impossible.
He had been watched for six months, almost constant surveillance. And behind the scenes subtle changes to his life, being made redundant from the job he loved, seduced by a stranger in a pub who latter admitted it to his soon to be ex girlfriend. All designed to nudge him toward the right moment, the right time and circumstances leaving him ripe for the picking. It had happened quicker then expected, but Deacon had no close family or friends, had run out of money due to having a feeble savings account, normal for someone his age. Driven to the brink about to become homeless as well as penniless he finally did what the Company had contrived for him to do.
He had reached crossed the line from this real solid world into another, just as he must have done when faced with the prospect off being launched through a car window screen at sixty miles an hour, only this time he chose where and when. Predictably it was in the early hours of the morning and even more predictable it was an expensive jewellers. Surveillance showed him there one minute then not the next, then a few minutes later back pockets stuffed with jewellery and face split into two with the smile plastered on his face. It had stayed there until he had arrived home to see Eddie sitting cool as can be in his flat a chocolate bar in one hand a gun in the other.
Deacon had taken it all rather well, Eddie used the usual mixture of threats and priase with all the work that had gone on in the background to slowly destroy Deacon’s life he really had very little choice but to become like Eddie had a Company man.
Eddie’s displeasure at having to take Deacon under his wing had soon faded and together they had formed a bond closer than mentor and student, until Eddie reluctantly but with growing joy had discovered Deacon had become as close to a son as he would ever have. And now this, in some ways he shouldn’t have been surprised. Maybe seeing what Eddie had become had spurred Deacon on. Washed up and useless, spending day after day training men and women drawn from the military turning them from vibrant people into Company robots with no reprieve or retirement.
Eddie reaches into an open draw and brings out a half empty bottle of whisky. He winces as the alcohol burns his mouth then enjoys the slight warmth in both his body and mind. He gives a silent toast to Deacon tapping the bottle gently on the desk before taking another larger drink. Well he had done all he could, Deacon was either alive and running or dead and being disposed off. Either he had picked up on his warnings or not. The real question now was whether those warnings had been subtle enough. Eddie more relaxed now, due to the whisky and the resignation in his mind slumps slightly in his chair. Subtle he whispers under his breath. Subtle enough and convincing? He continues. He feels the cold metal of the revolver’s barrel touch him gently on the back of his head. Apparently not, is the last thing Eddie says, a second later the trigger is pulled. His desk is strewn with skull fragments, blood and brain mater.