The Death of Robert Ward

January 5, 2010
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The two bald men sat silently across the table from me, staring back from darkened glasses. One of them reached down into the inside pocket of his suit, drawing out a silver cigarette case. It was the sort of case that would usually carry a company logo, or an inscription of some sort, but instead it was blank and shiny like a mirror. He slid the top off and set a cigarette to his lips, lighting it with a blank silver zippo lighter.
I shifted uncomfortably in in my seat. “Excuse me, sirs,” I blurted, “but I was told you wanted to speak with me about something.” The man with the cigarette twitched his nose. “I can’t exactly just sit here, so if you don’t have anything to say, I’ll be getting back to work.”
The smoker pulled the cigarette out from between his teeth, and crushed it, ember and all, in his bare palm. “Robert Ward,” he said, a dry twist of humor in his voice, “you talk as if you actually enjoy your job. Don’t lie. You always wanted to go somewhere else, to be something else.” He leaned forward, steepling his fingers. No ash fell out of his opened fist. “What would you say if we were to offer you that chance to change everything as you see fit? What if to do this, all you needed to do was perform a simple task, one you likely do every day?” His colleague produced a briefcase from underneath the table. “In this case is two million dollars and a USB drive. We will give you the money on one condition; upon your return home tonight, turn on your computer and insert the drive. Go onto the internet, and search ‘The White Prince.’ Click on the first link you see. Then, destroy the flash drive.”
I leaned back, smiling slightly. “Aren’t you placing a little too much trust in me? What if I were to take the money and leave the country without ever doing anything for you?”
The man with the briefcase set it down with a slight thud. “If you betray our trust, you will not live long enough to do much of anything. You may return to your work now, taking the case with you if you wish.”
I did the smart thing, or so I thought. Who wouldn’t turn down two million dollars?

Stepping in through the front door of my house, briefcase in hand, I checked over my shoulder. Still, the feeling that somebody was following me hung about my shoulders like a stinking cloud. I slammed the door behind me and bolted it. My shoes stuck on my feet, and, as I shook them, one flew off and rebounded off of a wall. I shook my head. The sooner I finished with the drive, the better.
The power button on my computer stuck. On the second try, it started, the screen lighting up immediately to a word processor document. I hadn't opened one, much less written in it. Whatever it was, it could wait. I opened up an internet window, entering the three words in the search bar. I hit the enter key. A popup opened on the screen, but I minimized it before it could load. Hands shaking, I clicked on the first link.
It opened a blank page.
I almost laughed. Ejecting the flash drive, I threw it down on the floor and stomped on it, feeling the circuits splinter under my foot.
The doorbell rang.
Still chuckling to myself, I walked over to the front door. It was already opened
The person standing in the doorstep was tall, basketball player sized at the very least. He wore a skintight white leather body suit, complete with a hood. Over his face was a mask, a serene face of perfection similar to a greek sculpture. He wore a heavy white butcher's apron. In the empty eye holes of his mask there was utter darkness, graced by small orbs of light.
I hesitated, looking him up and down. "Hello?" I ventured.

The next day, Robert Ward was found dead in his front hall. There was no discernible cause of death; it just seemed as if his heart had stopped beating of its own accord. The two windows open on his computer when the investigators arrived contained the same text: "Turn back, Robert Ward, this is not your war to fight."

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rhudedawg said...
May 29, 2010 at 3:12 pm
Super fabulous.  Dallas and I were riveted.  You nailed it with your ability to create anticipation for the reader... I can't wait to read longer works by you.  Also your character development in the Llydia stories is fab.   I am interested in that plot as well.  You rock.  Dallas says he likes your stories!!!
Nikiblue said...
Feb. 18, 2010 at 9:48 pm
Wow, that was great. You could tell something was going to happen to him just by the description of the two men. Great job!
Robolob said...
Feb. 9, 2010 at 1:00 am
Fine writing.
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