MURDERWORK - Prelude
Dim, grey morning, same as ever. Cold, black, sugarless coffee. Same as ever. Remnants from last night’s paperwork still scattered across the desk. A sentence, half finished, gasped for completion. Headache incoming, right on time. Tablets somewhere in amongst the confused mess. Grumbled cursing as hands fumbled. Box empty, a second obscenity fell. Wrong box. Papers reassembled, pushed aside. Freeze frame. Getting dull again, he told himself, just as he found the right pills. The doctor kept telling him not to miss a dose.
“Benny, we need to talk.”
The sentence danced in his head, myriad voices in chorus. Faces, half-remembered flashed past. Some current, some old, mostly-forgotten people from days he wished he couldn’t remember. A few uncomfortable reminders of lives lived years ago, shadows of who he once was. He growled as he was tapped on the shoulder.
Boss. Of course. This had happened before. The Discussion. Standard. Too many questions to be batted away in this fragile state. He used to be so strong, what happened? “I’ve... I’ve told you about the headaches.”
“Benny, that’s not...”
“Not an excuse, you said that before. It’s a medical condition for God’s sake!”
“Benny, that’s not why you’re here.”
Momentary relaxation of muscle groups in the arms. Breathing consciously slowed.
“You’ve got twenty seconds.”
Dilation of the pupils, flushing of the cheeks. Intentionally suppressed as the realisation hit, but it was too late. Benny was out of practice.
“You’ve got five minutes.”
“The best are ghosts, Benny. It’s like you were never there. I know you were invalided out. I know all about the headaches. We’ve engineered a workaround. We have some... undesirable elements that need to be removed from our organisation. I’m sure you understand.”
The tablet kicked in. Soft breeze flowing through his mind brushed away the pain.
“These pills... where did you get them? They’re a lot stronger than I’m used to.”
A wry smile as his commanding officer paused. Benny fixed his stare, no drop in intensity. The final minute passed.
“Suffice to say that your prescription has changed. We can obtain more, should they be required. Your current medical profile indicates you are at a safe level of consumption.”
No further explanation given. Full briefing expected, but unconfirmed.
TAURUS: A former colleague will provide a surprise today. This may lead to an exciting new employment opportunity. The newspapers always seemed so full of shit. Today was no exception, he thought. Watching the target smoke a cigarette, just yards away, he chuckled to himself. “BENNY! It’s been years!” He nodded. Departmental transfer, traffic department, the officer’s graveyard. Pieces of paper driving around, reports circling roundabouts. Benny smiled. He’d never liked this one, and had to hold back from licking his lips.
He nodded, slowly. The blindfold always put her off. She preferred to look into his eyes and watch the pain and the fascination. His hands, bound, unable to caress. Seemed such a shame. A light purr as she ran her fingertips across his shoulder. A moan as her nails grazed his wet skin.
“You enjoyed the ice, didn’t you?”
He’d shivered, but the noises from behind the silk in his mouth seemed to prove her right. There was enough time to test him again. Another moan as she bit down on his neck, her lips pressed hard against his skin. It had been like this for an hour. It was always so easy. Sitting on his knee, she decided it had to change.
“You’re going to enjoy this.”
She slid a little closer to him as she whispered. As she leaned close, he turned his head pushing her away. A challenge. Interesting. She reached down to the rope that lashed him to the chair. Nodding, he seemed to relax, his breathing slowing. Her body pressed further against his as she slid forward again. Her hand rose from the rope, up to his neck, scratching his chest as it went. Another suppressed gasp choked back by the silk. Closer, closer still, listening to him, knowing what he wanted. Further back, just to play. Closer. He was getting closer. Her arms around him now, squeezing harder and harder. Her fingers danced around the rope, and his breathing quickened again. Pulling the silk from his mouth, she kissed him.
A hand over her mouth matched a tightness around her neck. A whisper came.
“Despite my position, I’m not here to hurt you. In a moment, I am going to let you go, and you are going to leave, quietly. Do you understand?”
A gentle nod.
“Try biting my hand and I’ll break your neck, do you understand?”
“I have someone outside for you to report to. If you do not co-operate, you will be shot dead. Do you understand?”
A final nod. Footsteps followed footsteps. He was still sitting in the chair, hands bound behind his back, blindfold tight, silken gag hanging around his neck. Her voice echoed through the room.
“Hey, Frankie baby... are you ready?”
“Yeah, baby, I’m ready, but you’re going to have to come a little closer...”
“If you say so, officer.”
“What? Who are you?”
The silken gag began to tighten. Closer. It was getting closer. His breath quickened, but he was tied beyond any attempt to struggle. Closer still, the silk squeezed harder and harder. His breathing slowed. Closer. Done.
She was still outside when he left.
“I’m sorry. Your part in this isn’t over. You will report to us in the morning. Welcome to the team.”
Gallows humour of course. Informant harvesting wasn’t strictly legal, but her fingerprints were all over the silken gag. He began to feel another headache coming on.
“Get in the car.”
As they drove away, he thought about the new pills and wondered if they’d work. Rejection wouldn’t be an option. The prescribed dose at the prescribed time, the doctor had said. Do not exceed stated dose, he’d said. Easier said than done. The side effects were beginning to wear off.
The cell was quiet. Perfect for a discreet interview.
“Benny, how come you’re back?”
“We have a few things to discuss, officer. A few... discrepancies... and to think you used to be my supervisor...