Primary Secondaries

His gargantuan form pushed through the door into a litter-strewn hallway, the dirty stalks of his shoulder-length hair scraping his stubbled cheek. Gray eyes—cold gunmetal—scanned the premises. A bare light bulb flickered, lending Brick’s movement a strobe-like fervor as he strode with lethal grace to the end of the hall. His assignment was simple enough, within the ballpark of the not-so-slightly illegal variety, a field in which he excelled. There was something strange about this particular job, though—

He gripped the knob and cautiously stepped through the threshold, his other hand hidden inside his greasy jacket. The only light was winter’s cold glare through the dirty windowblinds, barely lending coherence to the vague forms that moved on a shabby mattress in the otherwise empty room. He stiffened, working to consolidate the scene in his mind: a dopey face rising, its oily mouth moving in the gloom next to a lump in the mattress “—it isn’t what it seems… Well, yes, it is, but I have money, you see, you’ll be well taken care of—” Brick roared and there was a cold arc of metal, the length of his arm terminating in a flash of light.

He looked at the corpse, somehow familiar—jammed freeways, hating the grinning baby-kissing mug on countless billboards crawling past oh-too-slow… Oh, shit! A fucking senator. He was in it deep, but he wasn’t sorry—then his gaze slid to the closed-eyed boy lying in a snarl of ratty blankets. The boy opened his eyes, slow and bleary, and Brick saw the needlemarks bruising his forearm. A gestalt of the child’s myriad futures unfolded in his mind like a lotus blossom opening; it wasn’t pretty. Kid was dealt a bad card.

“It’s going to be all right, boy,” he murmured, lifting his gun.

His anonymous employer must have understood—appreciated—the peculiar code of ethics which set him apart from various backyard hoodlums, and expected him to recognize the secondary objective—no, he understood the primary mission to be secondary now—and implement the means necessary towards rectifying the situation. He had wondered why it paid much more than the call of duty demanded, and now he knew. He set about applying his original plan; the corpses made things easier, more credible. Bad wiring, old frayed insulation lining… the fire, oh sigh, tragedy, coincidentally double sad tragedy when they find the bodies, families torn apart, political parties splintering, national news, yadda yadda. Shit.

Brick strode from the burning building cursing his rumbling stomach and tried not to enjoy the smell of roasting meat too much.

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