Replacement Guilt


The man hits the carpeted floor with a thud. Jake gives him a pat-down. No ID. Just a Glock with a silencer, two magazines, one car key, a lighter and a packet of cigarettes. These people are so predictably passé.

Jake glances at his watch: 22:42. It’s going down soon, one way or another. As expected, the open-plan office is dark and empty. Taking a palm-sized scanner from his back pocket, he swipes each item and the dead guy. Good, no trackers—well, except for the thing locked around his own ankle. They’ll probably break through his jammer eventually. He huffed, wishing he had time to saw it off.

His phone buzzes. A text message. Taking it out of his pocket, he reads:

Report your position.
Do not relocate.

They’re attempting to triangulate the phone now. It’s attached to a scrambler. All the best.

Jake tears a plastic bag from a nearby bin and shoves in the souvenirs, then drags the body towards the private offices overlooking the street. He hurries into one with the blinds half closed, then shuts the door behind himself.

Swinging his backpack around, he unzips it and whips out the two separated receivers of his AR-15. Jake smirks as he snaps them together. Then he screws on a suppressor, attaches a scope and slaps in a magazine. It’s not a sniper rifle but the apartment block across the road is less than three hundred feet away. He moves the table and chair a little closer to the window and sits.

Resting his left arm and weapon on the table, he leans his right shoulder into the stock and peers down the scope. Moving up the worn edifice, he sees the second floor windows. Can’t believe an apartment in that shit-stained building costs over a million. Third floor… fourth. Apartment 402… second window from the left…

And here we are.

A bald pudgy man in a silky black vest shuffles pass the massive television, switching it off before moving to the door. Swinging it open, a slim blond in stilettos enter. Then the fat tub sinks into the couch while the guest visits the grog cabinet. Before tonight, Jake might have settled for a 20.3-megapixel digital camera followed by more anonymous emails. Too late for those. Instead, it’s gonna be a few 5.56mm rounds.

The phone buzzes again. Probably a final warning. No point reading it.

They should have deployed more personnel to tail him instead of just one hack who is now busy not breathing. Still, better check for snipers. Jake scans… a stoner with a tall bong, a racoon and cucumber plushie in bed… just curtains and weirdos.

He peeps at his watch: 22:44. He shifts his focus back to that fat rat bastard. Judge Johnson, one of many who set him up. They all did. Then they offered him an ‘out’, in exchange for some so-called work, of course. He’ll work alright.

Both subjects jerk their heads. Johnson frowns, then hobbles to the door. He barely touches the handle when a pair of suits barge in. It’s Captain Raines followed by Lieutenant Green. City’s finest. But not the happiest. Obviously, they all got that fascinating email earlier. It’s fortunate they all hate each other anyway.

His thumb pushes down on the safety, then rests his index finger on the trigger. Hell, if he’s supposed to be guilty of murders, then he may as well commit some. Tap. Glass cracks. A spray of red. Raine’s knees buckle. Green looks up. Tap tap. Target down. The woman and judge hit the deck, both crawling towards cover.

Jake’s lips twist as the cross-hair hovers over the plump face with the triple chin. Then another hole in the pane. More red splatter. Veering left, he catches a glimpse of the slithering blond disappearing behind the couch. In the reflection on the television screen, he sees her gripping a pistol in one hand, the other fiddling with a phone. Security or cleaner? No matter. He steadies his aim at the middle of the backrest and just as his trigger finger curls, there’s a high-pitched whine from his ankle…

At least he took out a few of them.

~ fin ~

Joey To wasn’t a particularly good writer at school. However, he was always the creative type, mostly into visual arts. In recent years, he developed a penchant for writing, partly to amuse himself and partly for the purposes of writing thinly veiled insulting emails at work. Over time, he was told his writing “wasn’t that bad” and so he made various submissions. His work may be found at The Story Shack, Needle In The Hay and 50-Word Stories.