The Caged Type

A home for Craig Thomas Boyle's writing and life.

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NASA has lost contact with the Curiosity rover. The last image received is that of tire tracks in the Martian sand spelling out a single word.

“Leave.”

The word that changed everything. Written in red dust on the surface of Mars by the Curiosity Rover before it blinked out of existence. Scientists were dumb-founded at first, unable to understand their robotic probe’s actions.

Some argued the tracks were left by coincidence, that the robot had malfunctioned and that the word was just an accidental jumble of tracks left by movement.

But there it was, written on the surface in tracks consistent with Curiosity’s own tyres, in an image that had obviously been taken by the bot after it had scrawled the word. It had wanted them to see it.

‘Leave.’

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Check out the new cover for the Hitman and the Rose

Hitmannewcovhq

 

Check out this awesome new cover designed by a friend of mine. Thanks for the support Andrew Walker, this look great!

 

Buy the Novella here for $0.99 – You’re all so fantastic. Thank you!

The Warehouse (Part 8) – Short Fiction

Part Seven HERE (This is the final chapter of this story. I began it in earnest after a writingprompts thread blew up and people asked me too. I’ve enjoyed the series and I’m grateful for the feedback you guys have given me. I hope you enjoyed the ride. If you’ve enjoyed this series please subscribe. This story is available in a handy ebook format HERE at $0.99. Buying a copy would be a nice gesture, but the story will always be available for free here.)

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The Mansion (Part 7) Short Fiction

Read Part Six HERE

They had her.

For all the crimes the Hitman had committed in his lifetime, he had never felt punishment like knowing these sick fucks had Melissa. Knowing he had failed to protect her.

Not just failed – helped. They couldn’t touch Melissa while the Teacher was alive. They wanted to but Melissa’s mother had put up too much resistance. And the Teacher had wanted Melissa to stay his ‘special girl’. Now, the Teacher was a corpse and Melissa was in their hands.

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Circumstances change – Part Six

Part Five HERE

The rifle was awkward to carry, even loaded like it was in the gym bag. The Hitman lugged it over his shoulder, almost limping on one side from the weight. Not as heavy as the barbells he lifted in his routine, but sluggish and unwieldy like full bags of groceries. He remembered the assault rifle he’d carried in the army, and how light they’d felt compared to this.

No matter, he thought, a heavy burden requires an equally heavy cure.

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Beginning the Purge: Part five

Part four available HERE

The storm raged. The violence came back to him. The men died in droves and screamed, pleaded, begged. He paid them no heed, his rifle a barking cannon in the raging heat of the desert.

The Hitman awoke soaked in sweat. He felt the cool air of his apartment assault his body, an alien sensation next to the fire that raged on his skin. He groped in the darkness and flicked the light switch. The bedroom was a chamber of protection, a mirrored wall the only luxury. Everything else was sterile, defensive. He got to his feet and dressed quickly, picking a suit from the many similar styles in his wardrobe. His white shirt pulled taut over his toned frame. He stared into the mirror for a moment, his sunken eyes analysing the man that stood there. The stranger.

He studied the Teacher’s laptop. Through it, he found the names and addresses of their sick little chatroom. He read the chats they’d had. They were all above suspicion, people that existed in the middle class and higher – people you’d trust your children with. One of them was a policeman. That could cause issues. Continue reading

Establishing a target (Part four) Short Fiction

Read part three HERE

The sun was setting on Oakfelt Terrace by the time the Hitman left that haunted house. The dead autumn leaves were turning to skeletons in front of his eyes. Winter was rapidly approaching, bringing with it the cold and the darkness. Appropriate, he thought.

Tomorrow would be violent. Like the old days. When this was all new to him. The early times had been ultra-violent, dangerous, lucrative.

After he’d made his first hit in the migrant camp, things had progressed quickly. A lawyer was shot in the back of the head walking home from work, a bent cop had his car blow up on him, a banker had his throat slit in an elevator of a popular hotel – people still talked about that one, how the blood oozed out onto every floor the elevator stopped on before they could remove the body. The old, wild days. Continue reading

Implementing Rule Three (Part three) (Short Fiction)

Part two AVAILABLE HERE.

Our main story tonight is a continuation on that terrible murder that occurred last weekend at Gassy Burgers restaurant near the city limits. Peter Chambers was killed with a hand axe at a popular garage and eatery. CCTV caught a man in a formal suit and dark sunglasses with dark hair leaving the area. A seven year old boy was also found at the scene, disturbed but unharmed.

The 42 year old high school teacher leaves behind a wife and young daughter. The attack seems to have been completely at random and police are still appealing for witnesses.

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Breaking Rule Two – Short Fiction (Part Two)

Part one available HERE


He sat across the street in a blacked out sedan, watching the light rising in the distance. The sunrise brought a disturbing sort of glare to the neighbourhood, as though it shone a flashlight on the darkest secrets of suburbia.

The little girls note was still in his pocket. It burned a hole there, like a wad of cash – no, like a lead weight against his thigh. He’d spent the whole night staring at it, reading it over and over again as though the words on the paper might change. Hoping that something, some mistake that meant she hadn’t really written it, that it was all a trap, anything that would let him steel back over and retreat back into his calm self.

But it hadn’t come.

He still felt the hollow, gnawing sense of duty that the letter had instilled in him. He fought back the anger and heavy memories long suppressed. He cancelled his appointments, closed his diary. It didn’t matter anymore. He would take his time with this one.

Love from Melissa, the note had said. Melissa deserved his time. Her $23.42 demanded his time. Her desperate, sickening fear and intolerable innocence FORCED his time.

He couldn’t rush it. Shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t. He’d already broken the first rule. It was hardly time to break another.

Rule two: Be careful and precise.

So there he was: sat in a car that had cost him a tiny fraction of an average job. He’d bought it with false documents in a dealer at the edge of the city, a chatty little man who seemed keen to shoot the shit until he looked into the Hitman’s eyes and caught sight of the alien who resided there.

He wasn’t the first, nor the last, to react like that.

The car was totally ordinary, but the windows were tinted and if he sat in the passenger seat he would be invisible. It was the ideal vehicle now, where he wanted to watch. To observe.

The beast-man she called her father would be an easy kill. He knew that, never doubted it. His mortal coil would shrink away without resistance. Cowards always did. He didn’t even need to do the usual surveillance, or find the right time. No. He was here for something else.

He wanted to see her.

Deep inside his chest, the thing that may have been a heart wanted a glimpse of the girl who had written to him. The little girl, who had done no wrong yet met so much of it. He wanted to see what innocence looked like.

Then, as if his life was a movie, she appeared for a moment. The family lived in a normal looking detached, a white porch and white-framed windows on a red-bricked house. Totally normal, shading the world from the horrors within. There, in the upstairs window, he saw her face. His breath caught in his throat and he wished he had not looked.

She was tiny. Tinier than a nine year old should be. A face that looked famished, starved even. The girls skin was even paler than his own. Dark rings around her eyes and the swell of a bruise on her forehead. Small wonder which cocksucker gave her that. Her hair was blonde and tied in girly pigtails, almost garish in contrast to her lost little face.

The Hitman watched her as she sat at the window, blinking out over in the direction he’d come from. He realised with a slight chill she was looking out to where his apartment was. Where she’d sent her gift. She turned her head back into the house, as though a sudden noise had startled her. For one more second she lingered, then she was gone.

Don’t worry, Melissa. He thought to himself, this is a contract I’m not going to let go.

He made one final note of the address and drove away, knowing if he didn’t he’d end up breaking his cover and knocking the door down.

It was another long night. He couldn’t sleep at the best of times, but now his night was tortured with that face. Those pigtails on that deathly white face. Obscene. He must have dressed her like that. The father. The filth.

His own father had never tried to dress him up. In fact, he’d never dressed him. The Hitman thought back to the first school he’d had to attend, dressed in old shirts he’d found. His mother had long passed away. His father blamed him. He was a ghost that only returned home to drink and sleep. No pigtails for the Hitman, but as a boy he imagined he too had looked out of his window into the world beyond and wished his father was dead.

Thankfully, the cancer did it first. Then came the military. A career he chose due to his abysmal grades and lack of home. A steady career. It hadn’t panned out. Nevermind. He banished the memory. The girl deserved his sole focus.

Melissa. She’d paid him all she could save. $23.42. It hit him. A grin passed across his deadly face, a guest in a face that knew no real joy. The Hitman would have called it a eureka moment, if he’d been familiar with the term. He would use that money. It would buy Melissa her father’s death in a far more literal way than even she had intended.

A D.I.Y shop is a fantastic place to buy weapons of death. Through a pair of sunglasses and with a pretend warmth, a spot of idle chat and you can walk away with some of the most fearsome weapons of torture on the planet. Chainsaws, wrenches, hacksaws, barbed wire. You name it. Those were too expensive though.

He only had $23.42.

He bought an axe. A felling axe that he’d liked the look of, a tool so primal and messy that ordinarily he’d laugh at the suggestion – well, maybe not laugh. But he’d be amused. Ordinarily.

“Doing some gardening?” The man on the till asked him.

“Chopping down some venomous weeds.” He replied.

Rule two: Be careful and precise.

He repeated the rule to himself over and over as he watched the man who Melissa feared exit his home. For the monster he’d made in his mind, the teacher looked very normal. Then again, the Hitman thought, most monsters can hide in plain sight. He wasn’t the only one.

The teacher wore a long jacket, a patch of dark brown hair with a large bald spot on his head. He gripped a briefcase and left his house with a smile on his face. A smile. The Hitman raged from his hidden vantage point across the street. A smile should be reserved for those who are capable of humanity. He, nor this teacher, were qualified.

Please Mister, I don’t want a baby her note had read. He read it to himself in his head, details committed to memory. To every misspelled word, every drop of moisture on the note. The Love From Melissa signed at the bottom. This teacher was a husk, but unlike the Hitman the emptiness had been filled with a sickening perversion.

The teacher slid into his car and drove. It was Saturday. The Hitman had followed him most of the week now, telling himself it was part of the routine but knowing he just hoped to catch another glimpse of Melissa. He hadn’t.

He began to fear the worst. Perhaps the smile on the teachers face was hiding something darker still than even rape. Perhaps she was dead. The thought did not agree with him.

The Teacher usually drove to work and back, spending his nights indoors. An empty God the Hitman did not believe in must have forsaken that home to let him spend so much time inside it. Today, though, the teacher drove away from the city. Now. He could do it now. The axe was in the back seat, hidden with a black cloth.

But it was too soon. He hadn’t done the proper research. Even though he knew the teacher was of little importance and would disappear easily, he still had his rules. Rule 3: Research and know your target. He hadn’t done enough. He didn’t know enough.

The Teacher drove to the city limits. There, he stopped at a burger place that sold gasoline. The Hitman pulled up at a pump and filled up his tank. He’d already filled it the day before in preparatin for this, so it didn’t cost much. His sunglasses hid his eyes as he watched the teacher cross the forecourt, now only metres away. They were so close now and the Hitman could feel his revulsion. His contempt. His hatred.

The Teacher’s hand was on the door to the burger shop, a little side-block attached to the gas station. Inside, the Hitman could see a young boy behind the counter with his mother, a slight looking woman with red hair. Through his hidden eyes, keen through years of stalking and studying, the Hitman watched as the Teacher entered. Both of them tensed up, recognising him.

No, he thought.

He knew it. From the look on their faces. The woman was welcoming, but terrified. The child. The poor child. The little boy, he looked at the Teacher with the same fear he’d seen on Melissa’s face. The same fear he’d read in her writing.

The Hitman knew now. Melissa wasn’t his only toy. Even as he paid for his gas he acted like an everyday citizen, but through the entirety he kept his eye on the Teacher. Inside the Burger stop, he chowed down on a huge burger. Red sauce dripped from his lecherous old mouth. He saw the Teacher laughing, beckoning the child closer. He saw the mother move to the entrance and flip the sign to closed.

Rule two, he thought. Rule two. Rule two.

Anger boiled inside him. Rage he’d never felt for years came back in a hot flush. The same rage he’d felt when his father had been drunk, beating him and telling him he was nothing. His dark black suit and pristine white shirt were reflected in the black mirror of his Sedan. His face, usually a close approximation of what a human should look like, was a bestial mask.

He hefted the axe from the back seat and noticed the cashier in the gas station put her hand to her mouth and pick up the phone.

Rule number two! Rule number two!

He marched over to the burger shop, his pristine dress shoes glinting as he kicked the glass door as hard as he could, shattering the glass around him. He felt the cold fragments slice open his skin but he ignored them, shoving his free hand through the hole and opening the lock. The mother inside was screaming, the Teacher getting to his feet. The child sat silently. He’d seen worse horrors than this.

The Hitman burst into the restaurant, his axe in hand. The Teacher was on his feet now, facing him with his hands up.

“What the fuck do you want!?” He screeched. A weakling’s plea. The voice of a serpent.

The Hitman didn’t answer at first, swinging the axe into the man’s kneecap. The sharp metal split flesh in two and the solid weight of the head shattered the bones. Blood sprayed into the cafe. The woman ran outside, shrieking in horror.

“Call 911!” The Hitman vaguely heard. He could hear very little over his own breath, rising and falling with a passion he’d not felt in a lifetime. The Teacher screamed and begged, crying and pleading. The axe rose and fell, again and again, onto each limb, severing them with brutal strokes that sometimes took more than one go. The Hitman’s arm never tired.

Rule number two: Be careful and precise.

Fuck the rules, the Hitman thought. His axe made messy strokes across the teachers body, chopping bits of flesh from him until his perverse, pathetic life ended. It rose and fell again and again, severing chunks and reducing the room to a pool of blood. Only a thin red mist and violence hung in the air. The Hitman looked at the boy, sat in the same position as he had been before the carnage.

“That was for Melissa.” He said. Then he made his escape.

Written by Craig Thomas Boyle

Part Three Available HERE




Never Break Rule one – Short Fiction (Part one)

“Two.”

“Two!? I’d been told it was one…y-you sure?”

“You were misinformed. The price is two.”

“Two hundred grand? You better be good.”

The man laughed into the receiver, a deep chuckle that died softly almost as soon as it had begun.

“I’m the best.”

Rule one: Don’t ever sell yourself cheap.

Another day, another phonecall. The man shook his head as he hung up the payphone. He liked to take calls at payphones – in an age of convenience and, more importantly, surveillance, a payphone was an innocuous choice and it meant people were rarely late. If he told them to call x payphone at n time, they’d call. Rule two: Be careful and precise.

He lit a cigarette in the phonebooth, dark sunglasses letting him observe the crowds rushing around the busy city centre. To him, they looked like ants, scurrying around with their busy lives. To him, any normal life was a thing to be observed, critiqued, mocked.

His own life was far simpler. Or more complex, depending on the angle you viewed it from. His working life was about completion. His targets and bonuses were around one goal. His 9-5 about training, stalking, executing. Rule three: Research and know your target.

His business was death, and business was good.

The hitman had been doing this for a long time. Long enough to know there is a price on every man’s head. Long enough to know that no one dies for free. Long enough to be the best, or one of them. Which meant, of course, his price was high. Two hundred thousand dollars a hit, rising in doubles for riskier or higher profile targets.

He had killed doctors, lawyers, lovers, fighters, escorts, strippers, judges, policemen, politicians, leaders. One thing was the same. He had never killed a man for less than his price. At least, he thought, not since the first.

He’d been an ex-military washout, desperate for work. He’d looked everywhere, travelling state to state in an attempt to pick up jobs as a security guard or bodyguard. Overnight stays in shanty towns and campsites, rubbing shoulders with the homeless and the degenerate. Things had gotten desperate, and a man had tried to take his food. That was his first kill. He’d gotten him in his sleep. No one suspected a thing. Another man had been his rival, and paid the hitman a hundred dollars. That was his first hit, and ever since his price had been high.

Then he’d found it.

It was simple really. Laughably so. On one of his many properties there was a small purple box wrapped like a cartoon gift, a pink ribbon bow tied around the top. Left on the doorstep of the back porch. At first, the hitman had been tempted to throw it away. It could have been a bomb, a deterrent, a threat. Anything.

But for some reason, some insane reason, he’d taken it inside.

He couldn’t have told you why. He couldn’t have told himself why. The obscenely cutesy gift, a child-like idea of what a gift should look like. It sat on his metallic table worktop, garishly out of place amongst the guns and knives littered in his apartment.

He’d opened it after some consideration, his fingers neatly undoing the bow and chuckling at the care someone had put into this. Perhaps it was because he’d never received a gift, merely saw them in cartoons. Perhaps it was the feeling it gave him: an excited, giddy rise in his belly that threatened to compromise everything he’d worked so hard to contain.

Inside had been a note, handwritten in the untidy scrawlings of a child. Alongside the note was a crumpled ten dollar bill and coins. He added them up slowly. They totalled $13.42. Added to the scruffy bill that was just over twenty dollars. He laid out the money on the table and turned back to the note.

Mister It said. I think you can help me i have a problem and i think you can help me The hitman looked around, his empty apartment chilly. He almost felt embarrassed to be reading the note. It was as if eyes were on him, knowing his lizard-like slits should not be cast across something as innocent as a child’s note. Almost guiltily, he continued. My daddy is a bad man. He hurts my mommy and he hurts me some nights he comes in my room and he tells me he loves me and hurts me in the bad way. mommy cries alot. she tells me well run away but then he always comes back.

Mister. I live near you and ive seen you soemtimes. i know u hide but ive seen your guns.

Please mister. I saved all my money that mommy tries to give me. my daddy takes it away to buy more bottles but i hided some.

Please mister my daddy needs to go away. he says he is gonna kill my mommy and ill be his new woman when i growed up. he says hes gonna put a baby in me but thats silly im a kid i cant have a baby. i dont want a baby mister.

here is all my money mister. i know you make people disappereah. please make my daddy disappere.

we live at 31 Oakfelt drive, autumn boulevard. daddy comes home late every night and works in the city. he is a teacher.

The hitman put the letter down, blinking back tears. He traced the lazy scrawl of the girls handwriting with the tip of his finger, imagining her writing it. Desperate, rushed. It would have been neater, he could tell, if she’d not been so afraid. The dots were absent, the curvature of her writing tilted right down as though she’d been writing flat-out. Against the clock, sort to speak.

She was against the clock, he understood that. She was probably waiting for him to visit her room again, her tiny body shaking in fear as she wrote this plea to him.

He shook his head, sitting down on his leather sofa. It had cost him ten thousand dollars, that sofa. A luxury easily afforded due to his rules. Rule one: Don’t sell yourself cheap. A life was worth two hundred grand, minimum.

He thought of her letter. He picked it back up and looked at it for a long time, staring at the foot of the page.

Love from Melissa.

P.s dont worry i wont tell. i dont want a daddy anyway. daddys are mean

The hitman found his fist clenching, the paper crumpling in his hand. Tears gathered in his face and he stared at the last few words, hastily scribbled out by the girl. He noticed dark blotches on the paper, where tears had fallen and been stained forever into the sheet.

He thought back to his own father, a ghost of a man who was neither here nor there, ever-scornful and frightening but so often absent that the man had grown old thinking his father might have been imagined, rather than real.

He thought back to this desperate little girl, scrounging scraps of change to try and pay him.

Rule number one: Don’t sell yourself cheap.

A kill might have been worth two hundred grand to the hitman he thought to himself. But, as he sat and read the note one last time,some kills are worth more than money.

No more rule number one. This time, the job cost $23.42. This time, the job would be worth that young girls life.

Written by Craig Thomas Boyle

Part Two : http://thecagedtype.co.uk/writing/breaking-rule-two-short-fiction-part-two/




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