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