Laura James’s Picture Choice: The Last Job
Once upon a time Miles never thought he'd reach the age of twenty yet here he was approaching his thirty first birthday and still going strong. Some would say it was down to luck, others skill, Miles knew it was a combination of both. The police had labeled him The Ghost, his clients called him The Fixer and his associates knew him as UK Asset 24.
When he first started down the path of assassin it was by sheer chance. Right place, right time and an accident. He'd been in a bar stairwell and someone had caught his arm causing him to drop his beer glass over the banister. The glass had landed on the head of the owner bringing about an instant coma from which he never recovered.
Panicking at what had happened Miles made a swift exit, diving through the crowd of horrified spectators and out into the damp night. In his haste he missed who had placed the business card in his pocket but after dialling the number he hadn't looked back. From then on he was a gun for hire, no job to large or small, and he soon amassed a small fortune.
Over the years he had seen fellow Assets come and go, in some case he had even helped send them on their way. He knew his luck would eventually run out but while it lasted he wouod enjoy life by taking others and reaping the rewards.
His latest job was larger than most and a first for him, involved children. He had to pick six children from a party of forty who were visiting the abby in the centre of town. Once again Lady Luck was on his side and there was scaffolding surrounding the abby walls due to the city centre refurbishment. Shouldering the back pack containing his rifle onto his back, he started the high climb. He would only need to be half way up to get a perfect view of the school group entering or leaving the abby.
Settling himself on the platform Miles built his weapon, then lay down with the gun sight at his eye. The distance was just inside his preferred firing range and even though his targets would be smaller than he was used to, he was confident that he would succeed. Glancing briefly at his watch Miles spotted some greenery at the edge of his vision. He had time before the children were due to appear and vegetation on scaffolding was too curious an occurrence to ignore. Resting his gun on the scaffolding he took a closer look.
Using his finger to push against the moss-like substance he was surprised that it didn't give like he expected, but held strong as if it were plastic, surprise changed to annoyance when he discovered that his finger was stuck. Giving his hand a large tug he cried out in pain as the skin was ripped from the tip of his finger. Looking at his finger Miles saw that the wound resembled a bad carpet burn, painful certainly but not a hinderance to his current job.
Sucking on the tip of his finger he noticed that the skin that had been removed seemed to be dissolving where it lay. After a few seconds he realised he was wrong, it wasn't dissolving into the green substance but rather it was being covered by new growth. Miles became mesmerised by the spectacle and moved closer to get a better look as small shoots appeared and began to wave in the air.
Forgetting his wound and the pain he had felt Miles reached out and was rewarded with the vines caressing the back of his hand. At the soft touches his mind was filled with a kaleidoscope of colour and all thoughts behind why he had climbed the scaffolding were gone. Soon the green substance was winding its tentacles around his wrist as it climbed further up his arm.
In moments Miles found that he was covered in whatever had grown in response to his skin with only his face free. Comfortable he lay down and closed his eyes, never having felt so at peace. By the time the moss started to feed on his body Miles was sound asleep and died in blissful ignorance as the cheerful voices of a group of children filled the air.
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Based in Dunfermline, Scotland, Laura is obsessed with all things horror and spends her time writing flash fiction which she hopes, on occasion, really scares her readers. Feel free to stalk her on twitter, @lejamez