OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Fiction Series: Chuckle - Part 1

Fiction Series: Chuckle - Part 1

I held the Walther in both hands. For a second that felt like an hour, I felt it. Contemplated. Wondered if this would finally be the time. The time I finally press the barrel to my heart, and I go from feeling its cold steel to feeling the hot .40 caliber lead to feeling... nothing. It's a peaceful thought, almost. Freeing. I keep thinking. "Devin," Andrea says.

"What? Yeah," I say.

"We're rolling out in fifteen," she says, grabbing a box of ammunition.

"Right," I say. I holster the pistol and grab several spare magazines before walking off.

* * *

We walk around the elegant expanse casually. I look around the ballroom. Andrea's hair peeks out of the back of her cap. "These directions are shit," she mutters.

"I know," I say. "You wanna split up?"

"That's never a great idea," she says.

"Well, we're running out of time to find the device and get the hell out," I say. "Burke."

"Yeah?" He asks.

"You take the third floor back," I say. "Andrea, you take the third floor front section." I'll take the second floor."

"How you gonna pull rank?" Andrea asks. I stare at her crisply. "Fine. Burke." They walk off.

* * *

I walk around what must be the fifth or eighth office on this floor. I laugh to myself, annoyed. "Ohhh, God," I sigh. I spot a painting askew. I peer behind it to see two wires cut. I touch the wires together and feel the spark through my gloved hands. In the room, I feel something moving. "Storage." I walk around the room, looking for a false panel, a hidden compartment, a Russian nesting doll, anything. I know something's in here. I pat the comm device in my right ear.

"Yeah?" Andrea whispers.

"I think I found where they were or are keeping the device," I say. I'm distracted when I hear gunshots echoing from upstairs and in my ear.  I pulled the Walther out of my waistband and darted from the room, towards the stairs.

"Drop it," I hear a voice say. I look up. A tall guy with jet black hair, stands across the staircase from Andrea, who has her gun drawn. He aimed his gun at her chest. I walked up the stairs slowly. "I'll kill her."

"Yeah, okay," I say. I hold the gun at my side before tucking it in my left pocket.

"What are you doing?" Andrea exclaims.

"It's a big joke," I say. "You gotta laugh. Chuckle." I keep taking steps. He wavers and aims the gun at me.

"You wanna die?" He asks.

"By who," I ask. "You? You ain't shit." I laugh and keep walking.

"What's so goddamned funny?" He asks. The gun quivers in his hand for a split-second. I stop walking once I'm a few inches away from the barrel of his gun.

"You," I almost shout. My voice echoes. "You ain't about that life."

"Dev-," Andrea attempts. I quickly gesture for silence and peer into the barrel.

"Do it," I say, staring through the guy. "Pull the trigger.

"I will," He says. We go back and forth for a moment, as Andrea tries to interject. She keeps her gun raised.

"Enough," I say, walking up the last three steps. I stare him in the eye as I push the gun out of my face. "You're useless." I deftly break his neck, tossing the lifeless body down the long flight of stairs.

* * *

"So, would anyone care to explain what the fuck happened?" I ask, choking on my water.

"Clearly, the operation was compromised," the director says.

"Uh, yeah," I say, annoyed. "Burke is in the ICU, and we didn't recover the damn thing. So yeah. Is this office trying to set a record for most operations compromised?"

"I think you're being just a little dramatic," Andrea says.

"Four operatives hospitalized and two K.I.A. in the last six months," I say. "I think that warrants dramatic. I'm not trying to get killed over some bullshit."

"Coulda fooled me," Andrea mutters, walking out. The director drops a folded note on the table before doing the same. I open the note and head over to my desk. "Would you care to explain just what the hell that was?"

"What?" I ask, grabbing my messenger bag.

"You could've been killed. For no damn reason."

"I saw a play, and I made it. You're welcome."

"Is everything okay with you?"

"Peachy." I sling the bag over my shoulder and leave the bullpen.

* * *

"Why are we meeting here?" I ask the director.

"I know you have suspicions about a mole," he says. "I think your suspicions are accurate." I shake my head.

"So?" I ask. "What's the plan?"

"I want you to find the mole," he says. "It has to be a shadow op."

"So I'm running an operation, off the books, for an agency that's off the books. This is rich."

"Here's the thing. I can't take you off of the rotation while you're doing it."

"So I'm doing double the damn work?"

"What does it look like if my best field operative suddenly stops running field operations?"

"It looks like my contract expired, shit. I'm not a full-time employee. I'm an asset, remember?" The director sighs.

"Do you really want to be full-time? Or are you just giving me shit?" I roll my eyes.

"I'll get back to you."

"Wait. How are you? With the other thing."

"Fine," I say quickly. I leave. I walk the half-mile to my car and unlock it, pulling the Walther out of my waistband before getting in. I hold it, with both hands, then toss it under my seat and start the car.

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