The broken streetlight provided ample cover from curtain twitchers. He was at home in the shadows, but that didn’t make the winter chill any less biting. A blue sedan pulled up across the street. A car he recognised as belonging to his mark. The file had been sparse this time, meaning he had to tail this one for weeks. At least all the hours invested meant that he knew Henry Allan and his wife quite well. Not that there was much to learn. The couple went to work and came home. Bridge on Fridays. Dinner at his mothers on Sundays. No kids. Very few friends. It wasn’t his job to question why there was a price on the heads of this couple, but if it were, he’d have struggled to come up with an answer. He was in luck. Henry must have drunk his fill at bridge because they retired early.
He pulled on his gloves and strode quickly and quietly across the street. Careful not to draw attention and keep his eyes open for any untidy loose ends that might be peering through net curtains. From under a loose brick by the stairs, he pulled their spare key. Slipping silently into the darkened hallway, he turned his attention to the alarm, armed and flashing red to his left. A blue light held over the keypad told him which four keys to use; his limited file gave him the remaining pieces he needed to guess their code. 2203, their wedding anniversary. The light flickered green.
A week earlier, he had stuffed one of their outlet pipes with moss from the wall. An easy fix for anyone who knew it was there, and it allowed him access to the home when the drains backed up. It’s incredible how few people check the credentials of the people they allow in their homes. Some overalls and an old toolbox were all it took to convince Mrs Alan that he was a plumber. This temporary access meant he knew to skip the second to the top step, which squeaked. He knew which door led to the bedroom where the Allan’s should be sound asleep by now.
He pushed the bedroom door open gently. Raised his beloved betty, a suppressed Beretta 71 pistol. He froze mid-way across the threshold. The bed was empty. He pushed the door open entirely only to find himself at eye level with Mr Henry Allan’s shotgun.
Henry and his wife had lived on cedar close for almost nine years now. They made a point of being friendly with the neighbours. They introduced themselves to every new resident. In short, they knew every person living in their neighbourhood. But not the man that walked his dog past their house at 8am every morning for the last week. The same man that coincidently caught the same bus to town as Mrs Allan on a Thursday and just happened to be the plumber sent to repair their blocked drains.
None of this was a coincidence, of course. This is why Mrs Allan pretended not to notice when he slipped a hand into her handbag while talking to her sister on the bus. Why she accidentally forgot her key one morning and had to use the spare just as he was walking his terrier. It’s the reason their alarm system starts with a decoy by the front door and ends with motion sensors in every doorway.
Of course, the Allan’s still had to wait for him to make his move. When Mrs Allan spotted him skulking in the shadows as they arrived home from bridge, she knew it was time. She set the decoy alarm, then the working silent one. Henry Allan handed his wife his shotgun and kissed her before slipping downstairs to protect the assets. Mrs Allan went upstairs to the bedroom where she laid in wait, shotgun at the ready.
“I knew someone would come, eventually. You need to step up your recon; we’ve been on to you since the start of last week.”
“Noted. Now lower the weapon.”
Mrs Allan smirked, “No chance, rookie.”
The Assassin adjusted his grip on the pistol, “Your file said you were armed but made no mention of your profession.”
“Is that why there’s a price on your head?”
Mrs Allan shrugged, “In part. The Documents I’ve been selling to the Americans probably have something to do with it. I think I remember seeing your face on one, Agent 54. What happened to 53?”
Mrs Alan smiled, “you probably don’t want to know. Anyway,” she took a step to her left, careful to keep the barrel steady, “I wish I could say it was nice to meet you 54. Henry should be done wiping the system by now, so we really should be going.”
She took another step to her left. Seeing an opportunity, 54 pushed the shotgun barrel skyward while simultaneously placing a leg behind her knee and forcing her over backwards. The shotgun fired, deafening them both and creating a large hole in the ceiling. Covered in a light dusting of plaster, the two wrestled for control. Agent 54 had managed to push the length of the shotgun horizontal against Mrs Allan’s neck. Mrs Allan struggled to hold him off while reaching for the blade she had strapped to her ankle. She had it by the tips of her fingers when her husband finally appeared. He held his own Silenced Beretta to the back of 54’s head and pulled the trigger.
Warm blood-spattered Mrs Allan’s face as Agent 54 stopped struggling and collapsed on top of her.
“Cutting it a bit close, henry!”
Henry shoved Agent 54’s body off his wife and pulled her to her feet before pointing at the ceiling.
“How are we going to explain that?”
Mrs Allan thought for a moment.
“And what? You decided my shotgun was the best form of pest control?” He gestured to Agent 54, who was lying motionless and glassy-eyed on the floor, “Chuck him in the freezer with 53?”
Mrs Alan nodded.
“You know he won’t be the last. We’re running out of space down there again.”
“I’ll call the cleaners. Give our American friends a call too, and let them know we’ve got another one. And then let’s go to bed; I’m getting too old for this.”
Outside, in the shadows of a broken streetlight, he watched Mrs Allan wipe the blood from the bedroom window.
Story by Stacey Potter