Thursday, 26 April 2018

The blade will come

The pre-dawn light made the world look cold, although the sweat already trickled down the back of her knees in the stifling humidity. She walked briskly, her confident stride disregarding the instability of stiletto shoes and a pencil skirt, the gunshot echo of her every step shaking the dawn chorus from its smug performance.

There are no shadows at this hour - or rather, everything is equally shadowed and your eyes are so attuned to the darkness that the influx of light seems overwhelming. Had there been shadows, he would have lurked in one.

His breath rattled from his open lips, laden with tobacco he'd inhaled over the decades. The deep pools under his eyes told of sleepless nights, heavy drinking and a need for stimulants to keep him moving. He was a man who once lived on his wits and adrenaline, reduced now to a presence that could not menace her.

She drew up to him and eyed him coldly. Her eyes passed over a suit that had once sat across broad shoulders, a shirt that began as a glistening white. Without being stained or dirty, he was clearly unkempt, ramshakle, run-down.


Her question was met with a sullen shrug.

"He's dead."

"Dead?" The question is flat. No surprise, horror or disbelief could come near that crystal clear voice.

"He was driving carelessly." Her expression asked when they could get the theatrics over with. "Out of a plane."

"Do you recall what you were tasked with?"

"Release a microbot into the Russian banking system."

"So why did you feel the need to take a plane ride?"

"It was a lovely day for a trip somewhere su-" Her eyebrows raised, forestalling his quip and he sighed. "The bank clerks were talking about a dirty politician and I recalled his name from the file. I followed him. He made a beeline for the airport and was on the phone talking about the bot. I had to take him out."

"On the basis of gossip, you chose to stalk a foreign government official, without first consulting the department?"

"It was the job that needed to be done!"

"The job that needed to be done was the installation of the microbot. Did you do that?"

"Yes, of course."

"You released the microbot in the correct location?"

"Yes, but it was a waste of time. It didn't do anything."

"Did it occur to you to turn it on?"


"Following your mission, you have jeopardized our information gathering by leaving a crucial piece of our hardware to be discovered and tampered with by Russian forces; you have almost killed a member of the Russian government who was passing vital information to one of our ministry when you were spying on him; and by virtue of crashing a private jet into a city stadium you've single-handedly wiped out five percent of the Andorran people."

Further silence.

"You have always been reckless and careless, Bond, but this is as far as you can go. These days we need men we can rely on."


"M, to you, Bond. And not that either, any more. Your time is over."

She turns and walks away. The rising sun has begun to paint the brickwork around him in a warm golden hue. It seemed somehow fitting that he should go out in a blaze of glory, but he wasn't yet ready to leave. Before he could cry out to her, a business man rounded a nearby corner and bumped into him. He cursed, and gasped.

Hours later a policeman tried to move the homeless man along, only to discover he had been impaled on a rusty penknife. Just as well, the autopsy would confirm. If he hadn't gone out so quickly, so kindly, he would have fallen to systematic failure of multiple abused organs. Another John Doe who had destroyed his life via drugs and alcohol.

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