Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: WEEKEND AWAY (short vacation) (07/23/15)
- TITLE: Numb
By Elijah Bluhm
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The office would survive without me, for a weekend. I had to escape. But the problem with solitude is it’s the one place I can’t avoid myself. I feel human. I feel like a woman.
A day alone, and my thoughts pick at my conscience the way a finger picks at a scab.
“I can’t do this job anymore.” It’s the first voice I’ve heard in a day, and it’s my voice, hard as ice.
A twig snaps at my six. I stiffen, back against a tree.
I grip the cold hilt of my pistol, tuck my hair behind my ear and steady my breathing. Ten feet away, slightly to my right. I hear one more step and spin, finger on the trigger.
“Hey, Bek!” It’s Cole. He’s smiling, like usual. I lower my pistol.
“How’d you find me, Cole?”
“Really? You taught me.” Still smiling. It’s a game to him. He’d been my favorite student, despite his arrogance. “Aren’t you proud, Rita Voskamp?”
I’d have to get a new alias. “What do you want?”
“We need you back. I’ve radioed our location. They’ll pick us up down the mountain at o-four-hundred tomorrow.”
“What’s going on.” I march toward my cabin.
“Don’t you want to know why I radioed already?”
“You’ve already been to my cabin. You saw my stuff. Now, why’re you here.”
“We’re going after the League of Rogues. They’ve killed three agents in forty-eight hours.”
“Fuller, Higgins and Banks.”
I pause. Good agents. The League was getting good. Too good, too fast. “What’s Director Faust say.”
“We have a leak. A mole maybe; probably high up. This might be the beginning of a wide spread attack.” I set off, faster now.
In the cabin, Cole cooks some venison, and I try to eat in silence. Cole won’t let me.
“What’s with this cabin?”
I glance at a dark stain on the hardwood floor. “My parents were murdered here.”
Cole gapes at me. He’s not smiling. “Some vacation spot. I guess you gotta’ be a basket case to be a great assassin. Why do come back here?”
I stare at him. “We’re not assassins, Cole.” The venison is chewy like rubber. “You’re a miserable cook.”
“Don’t change the subject. Why do you come back to this place, Bek?”
“To remember your parent’s murder?”
“No. To remember I’m human.”
Cole blinks, and takes a bite. “I am a lousy cook.” He smiles and glances into my bedroom.
“Don’t get any ideas.” I brush my hair away from my face.
“Ha! You’re not a lady; you’re Bek!”
I put my plate in the sink. “I’m going to bed. We have an early morning.”
I lay in the dark listening to crickets chirp. I never sleep, not when there’s another person. I rest. Sometimes I drift into the fog, but never sleep.
My thoughts pick at the scab again, but I close them out. Vacation is over.
The crickets stop chirping, and I lay stone still. Nature quiets when humans move. I stop breathing.
“Bang! Bang! Bang!” The shots go through my bedroom door and hit the bed dead center. But I don’t sleep in my bed. I sleep on the hardwood.
The door bursts open and I see a silhouette. “Bang! Bang! Bang!”
The assassin drops to the floor and his gun rattles from his grip. I run and put my knee on his throat. Grabbing his face with one hand, I pull my knife with the other.
Then, I wonder if I’ve stabbed my own heart. I’m holding Cole’s face. He smiles.
I throw the knife and pull him to my bosom.
“I’m sorry.” He says. I feel warm blood pouring all over me. I feel. I wish I was numb, but I feel.
“Cole…” I look at his smiling face. I’m shaking. I can’t stop.
“They’re coming for you, Bek.” He puts a flash drive in my hand. “You can trust a dying man. Now run.”
His head falls back and I tremble violently as I his body thuds against the hardwood. I wipe hot tears from my face and stare at the pool of blood on the floor.
A fresh stain for the hardwood. A fresh stain for my soul.
I run out the back door into the winter night, where I will be numb.
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