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Dread hung in the air as heavy as Asher’s heart sat in his stomach. The iridescent lights burned his corneas, and the mirrored window on the far wall reflected the ghost of a man he once was. He was alone, for now. He grimaced at his surroundings: the sterile white walls, the aluminum table, and that window. He knew they were watching him, waiting for him to break.
Asher hung his head. It hurt to be conscious. All he could think of was Elaine, and all the blood. Asher looked at his hands. His long fingers were almost elegant, like that of a piano player. They had let him shower, but under his nails there was crusted blood… Elaine’s blood. The bulge in his throat grew, causing his eyes to water. He choked on his grief. She was gone forever.
There was a light rapping on the door as a portly man in his mid-forties shuffled into the interrogation room. The buzzer sounded as the door locked behind him. He cautiously made way to the table placed in front of the mirrored window, and set a tape recorder on the surface.
“Hello Mr. Brown. My name is Detective King, and I’ve got a few questions for you. First, could you state your name, and whether you’d like an court appointed lawyer or not?” Said King as he pulled a chair to the table with a horrifying screech.
“You already know my name. And no, no lawyer. No point.”
“Well, we need you to state your name for the record. So if you don’t mind…” King gestured towards the tape recorder and raised an eyebrow.
“My name is Asher Brown. I did not kill Elaine. Is that good enough?”
“I suppose its sufficient. There seems to be a discrepancy with the information you’ve provided us, Mr. Brown. You see, your ID and personal records do not match anybody in the system. With the information you’ve given us, you technically don’t exist. Now please, tell me your real name.”
“Listen here, King. My name is Asher Daniel Brown! My birth date is the ninth of April, 1985. My parents are Dan and Elizabeth Brown. I exist, sir.” Asher clenched his jaw and looked into King’s eyes. King withdrew in his chair. Not from the vehemence of Asher’s words, but from the intensity of his expression and the slight difference in the color of his eyes. Asher’s right eye was a startling blue-green, and the other was pthalo blue. The depth was exquisite and hypnotizing.
“Okay Mr. Brown. We’ll leave it at that for now. You know why you’re here, so let’s get your side of the story.”
A tear slid down Asher’s cheek. “I didn’t kill her. I told you that already.” He whispered.
“Yes, you’ve established that statement already. So, why don’t we start with your relationship with Miss December, and the events leading up to her death.” King pulled out a pad of paper from his briefcase and began scribbling.
“Since I’m dead anyway- we met working for Sector 17…
Elaine and I had been assigned as partners about a year ago when Frank died. We were both newbies. At first, we were assigned easy cases: perverted priests and corrupt businessmen. All we had to do was rough ‘em up and teach them a lesson.
It was during that time that I started falling for Elaine. Her strength was unsurpassable. She never let the job get to her. The begging and pleading never broke her. And man, was she gorgeous. She had this sumptuous beauty, like a femme fatal. I don’t know how on Earth she ever grew to have feelings for me as well. I mean, look at me. I’m just this tall, skinny, pale guy with black hair and messed up eyes. But she loved me too.
About six months in, we got our first kill-job. It was this man preying on young girls. Our investigation team found that he’d been raping girls on their way home from school under a bridge in a local park. We waited there for him for four days. Then, he showed up. It was a quick and easy job. It’s amazing how well a silencer works nowadays. We disposed the body in the Hudson, and reported back to HQ with the details.
From then on, we were assigned harder cases. Cases where the a**hole would fight back. That’s how I got this scar on my eye, the d*** hit me with a baseball bat… knocked me out cold. Elaine got him though. She held her own. “
King rubbed his temples. “So let me get this straight, you and December work for Sector 17, which is…?”
Asher pulled his chair closer to the table. He placed his elbows and handcuffed hands down next to the recorder. “Sector 17 is a secret organization headed by the FBI. It’s a secret because some of the targets are in the government. Elaine and I were agents. We got our orders from the HQ, which moved around on a regular basis to maintain anonymity. From HQ, we are supplied our assignments, money, and weapons to take out the targets. Typically its just a silenced glock, but once in a while they throw a machine pistol in for kicks.”
“I see. Now tell me, why are we here now?” King sat back in his chair and crossed his arms over his seemingly pregnant belly.
“Because I figured it out. That’s why Elaine’s dead. You see, Sector 17 keeps tabs on us. If we leak, we die. Typically, the agent just goes missing. But they knew it would be difficult to get the both of us at once. About nine months after my old partner Frank died, his journal was mailed to me from one of his contacts. Inside there was a note that said ‘Ash, if you are reading this, I am dead. Sector 17 is a lie. We are killing innocents. Diego at HQ let me in on a few secrets. We serve as a population control or something, and the stories are fake. This has to stop. Take it down. Let it out.’
I didn’t believe it at first until I started reading the contents of his journal. He detailed late jobs and information recovered from Diego. He was right. It was all a setup camouflaged as justice. Hell, who knows if we even worked for the FBI?
I showed all the information to Elaine, who was reluctant at first. But, when orders came for our next job, she couldn’t do it. The possibility of killing an innocent weighed heavily on her conscience. So, we ran.
First we ran to New York City.We figured nobody would find us there. There are millions of people, and hundreds of s***holes to hide in. But, within hours there were agents surrounding the building. We escaped through the sewer system in the basement before planting some c-4’s on the foundation. Remember that explosion on 42nd and Howard? That was us.
We ran for weeks. We never rested, and no matter where we went, they’d find us. That’s how we ended up here. We decided to buy train tickets to Dallas to distract the agents tailing us, and hide out in that dingy rent-by-the-hour hotel by the library. We checked in under Barbara and Harry Smith.
Elaine was sick. She couldn’t keep anything down. She had missed her period. We came to the conclusion that she was pregnant. I was going to be a dad. Oh, God. I didn’t know how we were going to bring a baby into this, but I couldn’t help but be excited. So, while she was sleeping, I ran to the store down the street. I was disquised as an old man: cane and all. I bought her some cheap velvet flowers and a box of chocolates along with a vending machine ring. I was going to get her a better one, but under the circumstances…
I was in the checkout when the glass in the store shattered with the thunderous BOOM. I ran out of the store to see the hotel billowing with smoke and flames erupting from the roof. I sprinted there to find Elaine, she was crawling from the wreckage… I think she realized that the agents had found us and hid outside the hotel until I returned. But, they blew the place up anyway. Even I would have had the brain to make sure my targets were inside. Elaine was fine, besides a few cuts and bruises, but we didn’t make it far. The police were coming, and the agents were still around. While I carried Elaine to our car, the black SUV rolled up. I knew we didn’t have a chance when the tinted window rolled down, and the barrel of a rifle glimmered in the light of the burning hotel. A shot rang out, and I tried my best to turn and shield Elaine. But, I am no Superman. I was not fast enough to take the bullet. Oh, I wish I could have. It should have been me.”
Asher broke into sobs. It was clear that King wasn’t going to get anymore from him. He picked up the tape recorder and left Asher to his tears, not before sending an empathetic glance over his shoulder. ‘The poor man’s gone nuts’ He thought.
On the other side of the mirrored window stood one of King’s colleagues. He was the typical cop: tall, lean, flat top hair cut, the ex-military type. King pressed his forehead against the cool window, peering at the sobbing man in handcuffs and a prison issue jumper.
“Whatchya think, King?”
“It just doesn’t add up. Elaine December doesn’t exist. Jane Doe is still unidentified as well as Brown. The explosions at the hotel and building in New York were investigated, and there was no sign of arsen- just freak accidents. I don’t know what to think… this man is either telling the truth and we’re all idiots or he’s off his rocker.”
King’s colleague laughed. “Maybe you’re just off your rocker, King.”
Asher stared at the plain white ceiling. At Glenview Mental Institute, everything was white. Asher’s shirt, pants, underwear, and blankets were white. It created this sterile, cold existance that Asher couldn’t escape.
He looked out the barred window. The sky was gray and quiet. There wasn’t a sound in the hallway on the other side of his locked door.
There was a jingle of keys and the shifting of a lock when the orderly came through his door. He was in all white, of course. He looked ex-military. Muscular and tall, with a sinister ambience about him.
“Your meds, Brown.” He said as he handed Asher a small Dixie cup filled with the tranquilizers to medicate the insane. The monotenous repition of lonliness and sleep filled Asher’s days, and he welcomed it. Sleep was filled with dreams; and dreams were filled with Elaine.
Asher tossed his head back to choke down the pills. It was at that moment that a bullet pierced his heart and painted the white wall with red speckles. There were millions of red pinpricks, like those nights on the countryside where almost every star is visible.
“It’s amazing how well a silencer works nowadays, isn’t it Asher?” The orderly said as he smiled into Asher’s dying, mis-matched eyes.
“Diego… about time.” Asher wheezed. He laid his head back on the pillow, and a smile lazily spread across his lips as he fell into his final dream.