Prologue



All spies, assassins, and other super-cool bad-guy hunters drink shaken martinis, bang a new hot chick every week, and drive around in BMWs, right? Fuck, I wish.

Just like they all started out being uber-good at this shit. Right. Like one day you can walk into an agency and ask "Hey, you guys are recruiting paid killers now, huh?" All the movies and books never mention where those high-priced sophisticated killers began their journey into a dark and dangerous world. No one ever talks about the mistakes they made in the beginning, how they were introduced into a life on the edge... nah, skip straight to the good part, where they have it all figured out. People enjoy that more.

Maybe that's where I should start. I have some pretty damn decent stories to share if I do say so myself. I have taken down men who thought they were badder than bad, and organizations more powerful than any of the mainstream religions' false gods. Yeah, I suppose that is where I should start... but I won't. I want to take you through it all, from the very beginning. Well, maybe not the very beginning. I won't talk about my parents fucking to produce a fertilized egg and all that shit. I'll start when I was eighteen, but first I'll give you a bit of a rundown on me. I know, I know, authors are supposed to show, not tell. But I ain't no author, I'm a goddamn hired gun. This writing shit is new to me, but I kind of figured it would help me pay some of my bills in a more legal way than I normally do.

I was intelligent. Well above average. Top one percent of my class and all that good shit. I was also somewhat overweight, I had a case of acne like you probably wouldn't believe, and I found it impossible to hold a decent conversation with a member of the opposite sex. I also wasn't so hung up on this American dream everyone seemed to be after. Two point four kids, a mortgage, student loans, credit card debt... wonderful fucking dream. What was so special about this life everyone wanted? I just never got it. I wanted to be different, fresh, original, and I couldn't think of a way to do it.

So like any good depressed teenager, the first thing I tried was suicide.


It hit me when I was signing my loan application. Thirteen thousand eight hundred dollars for the first year of my college education. My parents hadn't forced me to choose a small, private liberal arts college, but fuck, if I was going to do this shit I was going to do it right.

They were going to own me. A lending institution was going to own my ass as sure as if I was a goddamned slave. After four years of hard studying at a college I would go out and seek a job, work my ass off, and then turn around and give half my damn salary to the blood-sucking lending vampires every month for twenty years.

Fuck that shit. That kind of thing was never for me, and never will be. I used to look around me at school, watch people go about their lives and just wonder. Questions raced through my mind. What the hell makes you so important? What makes any of these pathetic lives matter? What does any of this mean?

I was conforming, and I knew it. I had actually been about to put pen to paper, to guarantee one small section of my soul (if such a thing exists) to some credit agency. And I couldn't even get it back through bankruptcy. What a great deal.

I'm not really sure why I chose that moment to try suicide. Maybe it was because my parents were both at work and my sister was off at a friend's house. Maybe it was just because I couldn't think of a reason not to.

Whatever the reason, I grabbed the sharpest steak knife out of the cutlery set in our kitchen and made my way to the bathtub nearest my room. Might as well die in familiar surroundings. I filled the tub with warm water (I hoped it would help keep my blood flowing out my body) and climbed in after taking one last look into my murky blue eyes and pale skin in the mirror. I didn't even remove my clothing. Hey, who the hell wants to walk in on a naked dead guy? Sure as shit ain't my idea of a grand time.

I made it a simple affair. I rolled up the sleeves of my Metallica shirt, studied the lines of my veins for a few moments, and then I made the cuts. Not the pathetic across-the-wrist cuts the cry-for-helpers used, but cuts that followed my veins all the way from my elbows to my wrists. It was surprisingly easy, once I started. The pain was intense, yet easy to ignore. It wasn't that I didn't feel the sting of the blade, it was just that I didn't care. It was kind of like being on Vicodin, you know? It doesn't get rid of the pain, it just makes you not give a damn.

The water turned red fairly quickly, small, concentrated, crimson globules floating around me as my eyes grew heavier and heavier. I was unbelievably tired. It is kind of hard to describe it to someone who hasn't felt it, but it was definitely a unique sensation. I felt a heavy weight on top of my chest, every breath and heart beat echoing distantly in my ears. The world sort of blurred around me, and I became less and less aware of my surroundings. Soon I wasn't precisely unconscious, just floating inside of my own body. My heart was a slowly beating drum, struggling to continue playing, its sound growing more and more hollow. My breaths made me feel as if a large snake had wrapped itself around my chest, and was slowly squeezing the life out of me.

I blinked, and I was looking up at a light being shined into my eyes. I could make out a blurry face just behind the light, and I could feel a little pinprick of pain in one of my arms. My heart began racing much more swiftly and strongly than before, and my peaceful demise turned into a panicked and unpleasant thing.

I blinked once more, and I was being moved from one table to another. I felt weightless in the hands of countless numbers of people, all turning me at random in order to attach various devices and equipment. At one point I remember my body convulsing several times as waves of electricity passed through it, and somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that they were trying to save my life. I tried to call out to stop them, but there was something in my mouth blocking me from speaking.

Another blink, this one longer and more restful. I must have been out for hours. The world was quiet around me, my body heavy and useless. I felt as weak as if I hadn't eaten for weeks. Hell, I couldn't even open my eyes. After a few minutes of motionlessness, I began to try to discover facts about my surroundings.

I could not hear the bleeping of a heart monitor or the sound of doctors coming and going. Did this mean that I was stable and out of danger? Surely they would have posted someone around me just to keep me from trying suicide again. Or maybe my body was restrained, and that is why it felt so damn heavy.

I slowly managed to pick up one of my arms and bring it to my head. So apparently I was not restrained. But it also seemed someone had placed a sheet over my face. Rather negligent of them.

I removed the sheet and slowly sat up, my arms flaring with pain as I used them to support my weight, forgetting that I had wounded both of them rather severely. I opened my eyes only to close them at once. The blinding light in the room was actually physically painful to endure. I could already feel one hell of a headache working its way up in the back of my skull. In a way it reminded me of the last time I had given blood; I felt empty, weak, and utterly lazy.

I probably fell back asleep for a while, I'm not really sure. I know that I laid back down, and when I was ready to get up again I felt much better. I was about to call for assistance when I heard a door open and the sound of footsteps as someone entered the room...


Okay, I hate to interrupt my own story here, but I'm getting kind of tired of all the I's and me's. I think maybe I need to give myself a name, and start telling the story like it should be told... in other words, I'm going to let someone else write this shit, an author friend of mine. Problem is, I can't exactly give out my name freely, so he's going to have problems referring to my 'character' (as he insists on calling him- I mean me). The people I currently work for probably wouldn't like me giving out any real information; legally speaking, I'm not even alive, and they would like to keep it that way. So I'm going to call myself Charles Decker... close enough to my real name, I suppose. And of course, my friend and I are going to have to change a few things, but you probably already knew that. Nothing takes place where I say it happens, agencies' names have been changed for security's sake, and any girls I get together with are either completely fictitious or I'm going to make them sound a hell of a lot better looking than they actually were. Fuck it, it's my story, and most of it is true. I'll tell it however I goddamned please.


"That one over there," a woman's voice said, and a different pair of footsteps moved, soon followed by something on worn and noisy wheels. "Fuck they're really backing up today... the examiner is going to have to look for a new job if he doesn't pick up the goddamn pace."

"What's the big rush?" a gruff male voice replied. "It isn't like they're going anywhere. They're fucking dead, for Christ's sake."

"Just move it," she snapped, and the two pair of footsteps and the noisy wheels moved off.

"Glad I didn't get the whole killing myself thing right," Charles muttered, "dead people seem to get the hind end of things around here."

Then the thought hit him: did they actually just remove a dead body from the room? Why the fuck had they put him in a room with dead bodies? Was this some kind of scared straight shit, a punishment for trying to kill himself?

He finally managed to lift himself completely off the rather uncomfortable and cold surface he had been sleeping on. As he let his eyes adjust to the lighting of the room- despite how bright it had appeared earlier, it now seemed far too dim- he could see at least ten dead bodies on carts all around him.

"Fuck me!" he shouted, moving away from the nearest body. "Fuck me running with a ten foot dick!"

A powerful shudder ran down Charles' body, goose bumps popping up on his arms. The situation just seemed way too weird to be real.

"Did they think I was a mother-fucking corpse or something?" he asked himself out loud. Then he looked down and saw the tag attached to his big toe.

"You've gotta be shitting me."

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