Challenge: Pumpkin Pie #1 - Ghost / Ghost Story
Word Count: 725
Summary: Taking out a contract on someone isn't something to take lightly, especially when your mercenary scares you senseless.
Notes: I had to generate a plot and characters for an art prompt and the next thing I knew they'd developed personalities but I have no idea about an actual plot so I thought... I'd just try writing stories and seeing if one came to me. Because this is a foolproof idea and nothing can go wrong, clearly.
“You’re sending me after a ghost.” It was said without emotion, but the expression on the big man’s face told another story.
“Whatever you may think,” he retaliated sharply, hoping his tone didn’t give away his relief that the sturdy desk lay between them, “this man is not a ghost.”
The long silence that followed was only interrupted by the gentle chink of metal on metal as the visitor shifted his weight from side to side.
Maybe ‘visitor’ wasn’t quite the right word. He stared intently at the standing man, who returned the look with a flat glare. Ademza Cas owned the space he was standing in. An insistent little voice at the back of his head began to question whether this was the right course of action; the cold sweat he was failing to suppress insisted it probably wasn’t. “We thought we had... disposed of him some years ago.” He finally broke the silence. “However, it would appear that we were mistaken.”
Cas’s expression never changed.
“And that’s why we need you.” He concluded lamely, shifting around papers on his desk and concentrating on them rather than the man in front of him. “Deor slipped through our fingers once. We don’t want it happening again.”
“You know where he is?” The voice grated from above him, nearer than he expected. He still didn’t look up. He wasn’t sure he dared.
“Yes. No.” He hesitated. “The desert.”
“Most this planet’s a fucking desert.”
“Yes, well...” His eyes finally tracked upwards; he felt the blood rush blindly from his head in panic as he came face to face with the gaping muzzle of a pistol. “We don’t often keep tabs on the location of dead people. They don’t usually move around much.” It came out more strongly than it felt.
“And you said he wasn’t a fucking ghost.” Cas said slowly. “Made up your mind yet?”
“I concede you might have a point.” Was that just the hint of a tremor in his voice? He hoped not, the last thing he needed was for Cas to think there was a weakness he might exploit. He swore mentally and took a deep breath that only shuddered slightly. “The last time he was seen - when it was brought to our attention - he was in the vicinity of Mellesur. That’s all we have. That,” he leaned forward in the vain hope of bluffing his way through his sudden bout of terror, “is why we hired you.”
To his vast relief the gun was slowly lowered, although the whiteness of the knuckles gripping it was a distinct cause for concern. “You didn’t say you couldn’t locate him. My fee will be higher.”
“That’s absolutely fine.” The words tumbled out in a less than dignified manner, but if that was all the mercenary was concerned about... “We’ll cover all your expenses, of course.”
The gun vanished behind Cas’s back, presumably into wherever he kept the holster. “’Course you will. I wouldn’t be doing it if you weren’t.” He took another step forward, reaching one square-fingered hand.
A file was hurriedly pressed into his palm. “This is everything you need to know, including old pictures and one blurry shot of what we think was him in Mellesur. If there’s anything else you need, you know where to call.” And then my secretary could deal with you instead, thank god, he added mentally while smiling up at Cas.
Cas did not return the smile. “If half the cash isn’t in my account by this afternoon, I’ll come for you instead. We clear?”
The smile froze; he nodded slowly, not trusting himself to speak or, indeed, not to hide under his desk instead in the face of those dead eyes. Since when was hiring hitmen in his job description anyway? If Accounts screwed up... He swallowed and nodded again, more sharply.
Apparently that was all Cas needed for confirmation. He shoved the file into his satchel with no care for its wellbeing and didn’t even bother with a goodbye before jerking the door open.
The air in the room seemed... clearer once he’d gone, the light streaming through the blinded windows behind him somehow stronger. He let his forehead drop to the desk and, without looking, slapped the intercom button. “Erica, cancel my two o’clock. I think I need a lie down...”