Finish The Job (short fiction)

 

Finish The Job

This story is part of the "Inner Demons Anthology" - Click to read more

*Warning: the following story is quite intense. It contains a variety of themes that could be triggering, including: violence, blood and gore. This story is NOT for everyone. Please read with care.

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The first time that you realised that you were really dying, was when you looked down at your hands. They were covered. Dripping in crimson red of a flavour that you had only previously seen on the big screen.

There was no pain, which was surprising, considering the size of the hole protruding from your back. There was a bang alright, the ringing in your ears was testament to that, but no pain. Just some tension in your gut and that eerie silence that follows intense commotion. It was interrupted only by the quickening beat of your heart.

“How could I be so stupid?”

This was supposed to be a simple job. Offing just another corporate type who ran up a debt with the wrong people. Your people.

You needed to see if you could catch him. You needed to finish it. So holding your back with one hand, you stretched out the other, reaching for something solid to grasp.

With a strain, your fingers landed on the white kitchen bench top, but slipped instantly. The blood, your blood, proved too much of a lubricant for the limited purchase provided by your fingers to support your weight.  You fell hard to your knees, just managing to catch yourself with both hands. The hand that came to stop your descent from behind your back oozed.

Looking down, you noticed the growing scene. Bloody hand prints were dotted all over the white tiles, like a toddler’s obscene finger painting game. The more you painted, the lower your chances of survival became. And there sure was a lot of paint.

The last 30 seconds of your life replayed over and over again in your mind with surprising clarity, almost like the highlight reel of a major sporting event. And like any sporting event, your internal dialogue of doubt and blame questioned and commented on the play by play.

“Did you see that? The technique of his strike was impeccable, the timing was almost perfect.”
“Almost is the key word here isn’t it though, clearly his opponent was prepared for all circumstances.”
“You are right, the way he concealed the gun until the last minute was the move of a well-trained expert, I mean, just look at this hand placement! See the way he clasped the grip? Holding it that way allowed him to use it first as a melee weapon, before he was able to fire. Notice how his back handed strike with the butt of the gun didn’t land? I couldn’t tell you if that was intentional or not, but he sure capitalised on the reaction it drew…”

Replacing your hand on the benchtop, this time with a more solid grip, you managed to hoist yourself upright. Or as much as the hole in your back would allow you to that is. Collapsing down to your forearm, the prints left by your struggle to right yourself smudged and elongated. It seemed that you would create another painting masterpiece on this surface as well. Whoever was tasked in cleaning up this mess may consider this one a piece of abstract art.

The commentators transformed themselves into snooty art connoisseurs, discussing the merits of a new modern classic,
“The curvature of the brush strokes here really juxtaposes with the force of the splattering effect present at the base of the piece”
“Yes, and just observe the masterful usage of white space, notice how the artist managed to frame the entire piece. A more amateur artist may merely have covered the entirety of the canvas in shades of red. But not with this piece. The stark gleaming white really highlights the large patches of red…”

 You slapped yourself hard and the delusion ended abruptly.

“Get it together man”

You surveyed the scene looking for him. Doubt crept back in. Had you done enough? Was he left in a similar state to you? With knife wounds you can never be certain. Despite the comfort you derived from the old knife fighting adage that, ‘The loser of a knife fight dies on the scene and the winner dies in hospital’. Past experience had taught you otherwise.

On more than one occasion, the knife had failed to finish the job quickly. There was that unpleasant business last year of having to sneak into the hospital to add a fourteenth slice to the neck of a comatose witness to finish the job.

Or the time three years ago that the muscle bound gym junkie kept coming at you despite repeated puncture wounds to his midsection. You got him in the end of course, you always did, but that little tussle left you short of air, and of clean clothes. There was almost as much blood on you then as there was now. Leveraging his collapsed, lifeless body off you, just added to the mess.

“Ahhhhhhh”

Screaming out loud, you slammed your fist down on the bench top, adding a final touch to your masterpiece. Angrier at yourself for letting him get the better of you, than for your impending mortality, even though in the end, it would amount to the same thing .

“Why did I choose a knife?”

You knew why. If it had all gone according to plan, the knife would have been the perfect choice. As you crouched waiting in the mottled moonlit darkness of the yard you ran it though your mind. Envisioning what you would soon put into reality.

Breaking into the house was easy, a skill honed from years of petty larceny prior to your first stint on the inside. Leaving no trace of the break in was a different story. You learnt that one during your second stint for assault. Avidly educating yourself on the wiles of the hardest of your fellow occupants.

You planned to leave the back door unlocked and open, so that when the time was right you could silently enter without so much as a creaking of the hinges.

“Make sure you test the door and remove any children’s toys or other junk from the inside of the door arch”
“Wont they realise that their stuff has been moved about?”
“Not a chance, this isn’t the movies kido, no one is that observant. Even if they do take a look and notice something out of place, they won’t think nothing of it. They never do”

Having tested the door for such telling sounds, and finding nothing in your immediate pathway to remove, you were satisfied.

You knew that he always sat down at night to watch the tube. It was his ritual. Over the last three weeks, you noted his actions. Get home late, remove a six pack from the fridge, reheat some leftovers, put his feet up on the coffee table and grab the remote. Ninety minutes later and another six pack down, he would fall asleep, right there on the couch.

You were going to enter the house, stalk up the dark hallway, with any noises covered by the sounds emanating from the lounge rooms entertainment and strike.

Placing one hand under the nose for leverage, you were to pull back his head and thrust the meat of the blade into his throat. Past experience had also taught you that your three inch blade was more than capable of taking out both carotids and the airway in one slice. Particularly with how sharp you kept it.  The victim would either bleed out or drown in their own blood. You didn’t really care which occurred first, provided that the job was done.

According to the plan, you should have been collecting your payment by then. Instead you were looking around the room, once again replaying the last thirty seconds of the nights encounter.

If the warm wet trickle flowing from the hole in your back and down the inside of your pants wasn’t enough of a clue of the colossal error of that nights little adventure, then the red artwork canvasing the kitchen was.

He was gone. That much at least you were certain of. Really, you were lucky that he chose to only fire one shot into your stomach, when he easily could have fired the entire clip. But you knew he couldn’t have gotten far. The back door that you let yourself in was still swinging ajar on its hinges. The trail of blood leaving in that direction was motivating enough, but the fact that you saw feet, knee, and hand prints was more motivating.

Despite the calamity of your attempts, he was at least significantly wounded. No healthy person chooses to escape on his hands and knees. Perhaps you had done enough.

Rather than the single planed slice, you had instead had to settle for three thrusts to the mid-section and one to his arm.

“If it wasn’t for that damn gun …  and his full bladder rousing him ”

You muttered to yourself, as you made your way slowly towards the back door. Your vision was steadily becoming increasingly blurry, and your balance wasn’t fairing much better. You tilted and swayed violently to one side and reached out to catch yourself, but missed.

Falling hard to your knees once again, you elected to stay there rather then pull yourself up. The pain had finally arrived, like a jack hammer that was increasing in intensity with every heartbeat.

Rather than fight a losing battle, you decided it would be easier to add a second trail of foot, knee, and hand prints, leading out to the back door.

Your back was throbbing, and you let out a shrill cry. Being on all fours was not a good orientation for such a wound, but really, given the diameter of the hole that was present there, no orientation was ideal. Regardless, you knew it wouldn’t matter much soon anyway. You would both be in the same place by the end of the night. You kept crawling and despite increasing levels of faintness that threatened to collapse you, you managed to reach the foot of the door.

The last thing you saw was him sitting there, slumped just outside the back door. His good arm was struggling to hold in the contents of his stomach. Despite his best efforts, pink, brown and black liquids were slowly escaping his grasp. His wounded arm was lazily flopped on to the meat of his leg, and blood was pouring down from the wound onto his clenched fist, which still held the gun.

He didn’t seem to have the strength to lift his arm, he could only pull the trigger. But it would be enough. If you were walking, perhaps you could have fallen upon him in a final desperate struggle and finished the job. But given that you were crawling, the barrel was pointed directly at your skull.

 

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This story is part of the "Inner Demons Anthology" - Click to read more

Authors note: I have been binge reading a lot of Stephen King recently, and his style of writing has clearly taken its toll on my fiction. Not that I am complaining, I quite enjoyed writing this one! Prior to this binge, I haven't really focused on one author for an extended period of time, but I am starting to see the value in doing so. As always, this piece just came to me. Flooding out seemingly of its own volition. A much needed release.
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