The year is 2032. This is the City, centre of world politics.
It was dark outside but something had woken her, something out of place. She stilled. A breeze chilled her damp skin, from an open door or window. She knew everything had been shut, locked; some small voice had made her double check, triple check.
In her head she pictured the apartment. Empty of everything but carpet and curtains. A corridor ran straight up the centre from the front door, two rooms on the right, one on the left and the one at the end where she was.
The door to the other bedroom was the only one that made a sound and she heard it creak. There was the slightest quiet shifting of thick, coarse material, the hush of careful feet in heavy boots. Two in the corridor. Maybe just a two man team, but she couldn’t be sure there weren’t more, checking the other rooms. Could be a team watching the window too.
The door to this room was in the middle of the wall. She took up position behind it, they were unlikely to slam it open, too much noise, better to be cautious, take in the room, notice the empty cans from the cheap, rough energy drinks she had been living on. One man entering, one covering.
The door handle turned, the door began to open slowly, smoothly. She ducked low, dancing around the edge of the door, pushing up the intruder’s leading arm, no sense getting shot. Part of her registered that he was unarmed.
She led with a quick, disorienting strike to his chin, then shoulder to his stomach, shoving him. He was big, heavy, but she got a little lift and forced him backwards, throwing him into his partner, knocking them both down. Both unarmed. Don’t delay. A couple of steps and she jumped right, into the spacious living room. Empty.
The block of flats was an H-shape, stairwell in the middle, garden and path in the central gaps. The living room window was on the inside, onto the grassed area, a safer bet than either of the street sides. The window was a sash type; she shoved it up and climbed out.
There was a high wind up and the gusts tugged at her dirty clothes. She was leaning from a helicopter, a dozen helicopters. Men with ugly faces and uglier hearts looked up at her; her men. Had she ever had men? Confused, she saw the intruders in the room, their faces like skulls leering at her. They were shouting something she couldn’t understand through the hallucination.
She was six stories up. She stepped back. Dropped so she was clinging to the ledge by her fingers, then let go. She hit the next ledge down with her forearms, gripping hard concrete, exhaling hard as she slammed her ribs into the building, somehow hanging on.
Scarecrow was towelling himself off when the call came in. It wasn’t a number he recognised. Not so unusual in his business, except it was on his private line. He touched the virtual icon and answered the call.
He recognised the voice on the line.
“Haven’t heard from you in a while.”
“Listen, no, wait, do you have visual on this call?”
Scarecrow knew his apartment was rigged, that was policy. It was in his contract. Full audiovisual. He sat down and pulled a virtual keyboard into his vision. Any onlooking snoops wouldn’t be able to see the keyboard, of course, but they could extrapolate from his finger strokes; he hid himself in the corner, fingers out of sight.
He sent a brief outline of the General’s capture and Dorothy’s subsequent disappearance. His caller probably knew most of it already, he was a resourceful man. But he probably didn’t know the last piece of intel. That the General’s implant was missing, that someone had wiped every misdeed from his conscience, given the monster a very real absolution he most definitely didn’t deserve.
Scarecrow was angry, it should have been the high point of his operational career. But the victory was hollow, stained and soured by Dorothy’s disappearance.
He went back to voice.
“So, what now?”
“Of course.” He grinned, “You don’t work with Dorothy for fifteen years without picking up a few tricks.”
He went into his bedroom. The apartment was searched regularly but he was better than they were, well, Dorothy was. In the wall of the airing cupboard was a hidden cache. He pulled out the gun and pre-paid cards. They knew about the stash, of course. He reached further in, punched through a thin divider and pulled out the device. They didn’t know about the device.
Scarecrow knew exactly where the cameras in his apartment were. He winked at one, held up the device, smiled, and pressed the button. It knocked a temporary block-wide hole in surveillance. It gave him three minutes, he needed no more than two.
Name Day by Aidan Fritz. A sumptuous little slice of delirious flash fiction.