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Thud. The lifeless body fell to the marble floor, blood gushing from the hole in his chest. The holding the gun stooped over him, he had just taken another life. It didn’t matter to him; it was just another statistic, a number on a computer, money in his bank account. He had been trained to feel no emotion. His sole purpose on this planet was to kill, and he was one of the best men for the job. The man’s professional name was Mark C Fletcher, his real name was known by nobody, not even his employer, but they didn’t ask questions. As long as when he returned there was one less bullet in the barrel they were satisfied.
Mark noticed that the man was sporting a Rolex on his limp wrist, it was probably worth thousands. He needn’t steal it though; he was hardly short of money. But there was a more important reason: fingerprints. ‘Be invisible’ was his motto, and Mark couldn’t risk being caught. He was already wanted by the FBI for one million US dollars, plus another dozen companies, were busy poring over their computers, scouring the continents for him. But Mark proved to be elusive; with countless forged passports and visas, currency from every country imaginable, a pilot’s licence, and, a case full of prosthetics.
He removed his black jumpsuit, revealing an Armani suit underneath, stowing away the equipment in his briefcase, barely glancing at the body. The dead man’s wife wasn’t due home for another half an hour. But by that time Mark would have already disappeared and be halfway across London before she would even notice.
Under the cover of darkness he crept out through the front door, his shoes not even making the slightest sound on the pavement, climbed into his Aston Martin and began ploughing out into the night, leaving yet another family in despair. Just another day in the life of Mark C Fletcher.
The man he had murdered the night before was an MP, Howard Davis. He spent most of his time campaigning with the rest of the Labour Party, however he also had another pastime he would like to dabble in; class A drugs. Although everyone was oblivious to the fact, apart from his dealer of course, but the company had ‘ways and means’ for everything. Anyway, the company believed that the politician needed to be punished. For they believed that the drug use was clouding his mind and that he was the one bringing the party down, causing them to lose the last two elections; convincing them all to go along with his crazy policies. The company didn’t understand why everyone listened so intently to the fool, but the man was charismatic and brilliant with words. Little did he know that his dirty secret would eventually be his downfall. His wife only learning of his ‘hobby’ when a letter addressed to her arriving the next morning, the details leaked by a company which preferred to remain anonymous.
This was standard practice for the company; to murder anyone in the way, or whose messages they didn’t agree with. Mark was used to the process by now, it was as natural as breathing to him, but every little breath always made somebody else’s life a lot harder.
He studied himself in the mirror, his eyes travelling down from his brilliant green irises, to his slightly misshapen nose, then moving back up to his chestnut brown hair. He knew that he wouldn’t stay this way for long though; one week he could be an elderly man with thinning grey hair, or a young and successful businessman depending on what his assignment happened to be.
Mark had previously been informed about a new ‘project’ the company’s scientists and technicians had been working on, and they would need a test subject; someone efficient at their job, but also remains unnoticed. Mark. He kept trying to decipher in his head what they could mean by this, but everything was kept strictly confidential, in case there were any traitors around, and the company had dealt with a fair few. However these people did suffer the consequences.
As he was walking along a derelict Oxford Street at 6 in the morning he couldn’t help but notice a newspaper board brandishing the headline: ‘Howard Davis MP, killed by mystery murderer.’ A smirk spread across Mark’s face as he read. He carried on, the morning chill lashing his face with every step he took.
His heart was beating uncharacteristically fast; it was almost leaping out of his chest in anticipation of what was going to happen. He turned left and began approaching a shoddy – looking building, it was a small investment bank on the first floor, well that was what it appeared to be anyway. The more lowly employees at the company worked down there so that the building didn’t arouse suspicion. It was just like any other bank, customers could deposit and withdraw money, but the other floors of the building were another story, this was where people with a natural gift were trained to become cold killers, learning everything from anatomy to Tae Kwon Do.
Mark stared up at the building, a mass of dull concrete towering over him; he was a mouse in its presence. He starting striding towards the front door, with its cracked panes of glass, cleverly fitted by one of the engineers at the company to drive away potential customers. He slowly went inside, a rush or warm air welcoming him. He saw the assistant sitting intently at his computer, giving Mark a nod as he presented an ID card. The man pressed a button and returned to tapping away at his keyboard. Mark quickly slid his card through the scanner and pushed his hand onto a sensor, it was all ‘state of the art equipment’ he had been told previously, to keep any unwanted visitors from going in, or in a rare situation, getting out.
He arrived in a pristine white corridor, with bright halogen lights burning above his head, the intense white on the walls causing him to squint. A technician in a lab coat stood to one side, almost blending into the background, gestured to a steel door with a porthole window, almost identical to one on a submarine. Mark hesitated for a moment and pushed the door, immersing himself in a sea of Bunsen burners, chemicals, test tubes filled with oddly coloured liquids slowly bubbling and every attainable element just lying around. But the strangest object was a small container filed with orange capsules in one of the scientist’s hands. He gave Mark a sinister smile when he saw him, as if he were a bear who had just fell for his trap. Yet he still seemed to have respect for him; he knew Mark could be dangerous and didn’t want to get on his bad side.
He gave Mark no greeting and went straight to the point, the company didn’t have time for people who would beat around the bush.
“We have been developing a new drug” he started to explain, “except that it isn’t for recreational or medical uses.”
Mark was stunned, except that his face didn’t show it. ‘What exactly is it then?’ he though to himself. Suddenly the scientist spoke again, as if he was answering Mark’s mental question.
“The drug is used for something often dreamt about, something humans have wanted to grasp for years, but has always been out of reach… time travel. Many have been work on the concept, but naturally we perfected it first.” He said with an air of contempt.
“But Mr Fletcher, we need someone to test our creation, and we have come to the conclusion that you are the one for the job. I’m afraid you don’t have a say in this though, because if you do not complete the mission we have assigned to you, then lets just say we have a few numbers on speed dial.”
Blackmail. Mark knew that the company used the technique on some of its employees to ensure that things would go their way. It was all familiar though; people in the business were rats and needed to be as sly as a fox to survive. A man would double cross his own best friend to save himself in this profession, which was why only heartless and extremely talented souls were recruited for the job.
Mark gave the scientist a cold stare and took one of the capsules; he closed his eyes and swallowed.
“Don’t forget this” the scientist shouted and tossed him a file, his assignment. Nothing happened at first, and then it hit him. The blood rushed from his head, his body had gone from 0 – 120 mph in a split second, everything had disappeared around him. He didn’t feel as though he was in the room anymore, drifting subconsciously. He was in a whirlpool of sights and sounds; cascades of colour flowing from every direction, flames were rasping and wheezing as the tried to attack him, leaves whispering secrets, buses screaming as they splashed through glittering puddles, spraying the hazy sky. He felt as if he was on the brink of death and he would be pushed over the edge at any moment, and then it stopped.
Mark woke up in a grotty apartment, the damp floral wallpaper was peeling, revealing the plasterboard underneath. He looked over to a cabinet in the corner of the room and saw a transistor radio sitting atop of it. ‘Who has a radio like that anymore?’ he thought, he slowly stumbled out of bed and limped over to the window, across the street he saw children playing, there was nothing strange about that, but it was their clothes that stood out to him. Their clothes looked as if they had came straight out of one of the programmes Mark watched as a child, he peered further down the street and he saw a bright red telephone box, standing proudly on the corner. He couldn’t believe his eyes, the entire neighbourhood looked decades old, was he dreaming? A very realistic dream albeit. He scanned the bedroom and noticed a file on the floor, his mission. It was like puzzle; and his brain was just beginning to put the pieces together. Mark hurriedly opened the file and saw a photograph of a man, his target. His name was George Smith, a politician. However Mark was confused; it said in the man’s profile that he was born in 1934 and died in 1976, the man was already dead, due to a stroke. He couldn’t believe his eyes, was this the company’s sick idea of a joke? He flicked to the back of the folder and saw a handwritten note; ‘You have 72 hours to change the past in order to correct the future, you are in 1965 and your job is to kill the man in this file, he must be stopped before he can do anything significant. Remember the consequences if you fail Fletcher’. The sinister note explained everything, Mark didn’t want to believe what was happening, but he had to, there was no time for complaining. He went back to the final pages and saw two timelines of events, the first documenting George Smith’s life up until 1976, the other finishing in 1965, his arranged death. Mark could see that the man was suggesting that America should go and fight the war in Vietnam, he started speaking out in 1965, this was when he needed to be murdered; before he could influence any other politicians. Also included on the timeline were ‘optimum killing times‘; whenever it is easier to hit the target is what Mark was taught.
According to the timeline Mark should have two chances in the next 3 days. The company managed to find out the man’s habits from his second wife and old friends. His first chance would come the next morning; he was standing to become the leader of the Conservative party and he would be delivering a speech in Trafalgar Square. Mark didn’t have time to rest for the remainder of the day though, he needed camouflage.
Luckily the company had included some of the local currency for Mark to buy some necessities for his mission: a gun (probably from a shady dealer though), clothes and also food. First on his list was the attire.
He was strolling down a busy Carnaby Street at midday, receiving strange looks from the teenagers, dressed in psychedelic dresses and tight mod suits, whilst he was wearing a pair of Adidas trainers and jeans. The street was buzzing with activity, there were passionate protesters outside shops selling fur, young adults zipping around on their mopeds, girls giggling as they clutched the latest record they had bought. On one side of the street he could hear screaming, he looked over to see a crowd waving paper and pens at four young men in black suits and Cuban heeled boots, their mop top hair bobbing above the hysterical fans. Mark continued along the street until he arrived at a clothes shop. Ten minutes later he came out, adorned in a dull brown suit, he knew he wouldn’t be able to pass as a teenager, so he decided that looking like someone’s dad would be his safest option, hopefully he would look less suspicious.
He arrived back at the apartment at 7:00pm tipping out his clothes onto the bed, as well as a small handgun and a container of bullets, his weapon of choice. He knew he would need plenty of rest for the next day, assassinating someone could always be tricky, but especially in broad daylight without being caught.
Mark woke up the next morning felling revived; it was tiring travelling through three decades in a matter of minutes. He looked though the file for the mission again, his next chance would come the following day, while the man was at a conference, both times he would be surrounded by people, except that it was easier for Mark to bring a gun into an open space. He threw on his suit and stowed the file inside his jacket, dropping the loaded gun into his pocket.
He arrived at Trafalgar Square early to observe the area to work out the plan he would put into action, however the situation seemed impossible. He couldn’t find a gun with a long enough range to shoot from a distance without being spotted, but if he was too close he would surely be arrested, the area was already heavily guarded by the Police, and Mark that adamant that more would turn up once the politician had arrived. However the other opportunity he would have at the conference was even riskier, either way though he was bound to be caught in this decade, but also in the 90s, as he remembered the company’s threat. Suddenly a thought came to him. Break in. He could find the man at home, it would be easier for him then, security wouldn’t be as tight. He allowed himself a smile as he started walking towards the apartment.
‘Do it ‘, he repeatedly thought to himself as he was getting dressed in his darkest suit, ‘do it’. He knew the man’s address, it was in the file. The time was 11:30 and the sky was ink black, the moon shimmering beneath a cloud. He had no supplies for breaking into the house, but Mark didn’t need any, not when you have been in the business for 14 years, his first kill was on his 21st birthday, sadly, one of the caterers got a lot more than they bargained for on the day. He casually strolled along the pavement; the streets were sleeping, as though they had been worn out from all of the activity during the day.
Around twenty minutes later Mark stopped, he had reached his destination; an extravagant townhouse, although something about it looked oddly familiar. He crept along, submerged in the shrubbery and then started scaling up the drainpipe until he came to a window ledge, he started thinking how he could get inside without making too much noise. He examined the latches at the sides, and… simply slid the glass upwards, ‘these people need to be more careful’ he thought, as he climbed into an office. He looked around, mahogany bookshelves were lined with novels and biographies, a grand lamp in the corner threw a warm light across the room, and standing in the centre was a grand wooden desk, littered with newspapers and pens. He noticed a photo on the desk, it was of a small boy on a blue bike, complete with a shiny bell and basket, similar to the one he had a child. Coming to think of it the boy on the bike was almost identical to how he once looked. He had lost focus, and in the time a man, looking about the same age as him walked in, a shocked expression on his face.
“Who the hell are you?” He demanded.
Mark didn’t respond and instead drew the gun, pointing it at the man’s head.
“You don’t want to do that, what about my son? He’ll be left without a father”
Mark always hated it when his victims spoke, they were making him more human, more vulnerable to emotion.
“My poor little James, he’s only just started at the St Charles primary school”
He must have been talking about the boy in the photo, except there was something bizarre; Mark realised that this man was talking about him as a child. His father.
“Well what are you going to do then?”
Mark’s hand was trembling, with each shake ricocheting through his body, Should he do it? Shoot his own father to save himself? But he remembered what he would do later, leave him and his mother and just disappear, never explaining why. He felt hatred for the man, it was burning inside of him, and finally he spoke.
“You’re going to leave your wife and child, don’t do it”
“How would you know that? Anyway, I have to, for reasons they must never know”
“If you stay with them then, I’ll let you live. I swear”
The man contemplated the though for a moment, weighing up his chances.
“No, I’m afraid I really must be off now, I don’t want to wake them”
That was it. A volcano erupted inside of him, and the trigger was pulled.
The man stooped over the dead body, staring at the piece of bloodstained paper that was stowed inside of his jacket, examining the gun next to his pale hand. It was fully loaded.