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Always Trying To Send A Message

The assignment had come from as far up in the Tower as you could go. It came from so high that no one had even signed a document; it came from so high there was no document. It was only a non-descript red package that arrived on Miss Parker's desk, delivered by a person who didn't appear on security cameras. Inside: a note, a photo and a bullet. The note said 'fix the leak'. The bullet was 9mm but other than that unremarkable, the photo had Broots' picture.

When she pulled her gun on him Lyle said he knew nothing of it, that he'd rather Broots not be dead because he was easy to scare and spilled his guts at the sight of a lighter. He might even attend the funeral, just tell him when and where.

Daddy just shook his head and told her to carry out her Duty, if the order had come from High Up - which he said it had - and it said to fix the leak then the leak needed fixing. He didn't want to hear that Broots had a daughter, who was about the same age as Miss Parker had been when she'd lost her mother. He didn't want to hear that he wasn't a leak, couldn't be, didn't have the guts or the capacity. He just didn't care.

Parker left The Centre early and knew she wouldn't sleep that night; she dressed for bed in her satin pyjamas and fingered her gun and her hairbrush. Debbie, a voice in the back of her head asked, what about Debbie?

Jarod rang at 2:13, he asked her what was wrong and she ended the call.

Just as she'd end her friend's life in the morning.

At 3:35 she abandoned the brush and spun her phone, looping it around and around her fingers. They'd need the body - a disappearance wouldn't be good enough - they knew how close she was to him, this was a test.

It was about survival.

3:45 rolled around and she cried, there was nothing she could do, she couldn't hide him - they'd kill her. She couldn't go too - they'd kill Sydney. Even if she got them all out, Lyle would track them down and a taste for Asians or no, he'd do horrific things to Debbie while Broots and Parker were forced to watch.

Debbie. What will happen to Debbie?

The girl had a mother in Vegas; she had a gambling addiction and didn't want Debbie except for the child support. That was all Parker knew about her and it was still more than she cared to know, Debbie couldn't go back to her mother.

Parker was going to make her an orphan just as she'd been when her mother died.

At 6 am the bullet clicked into the chamber, making the same sound it had made every other time she'd loaded it. Somehow, that didn't seem right. The gun that had already shot Tommy, Jarod and Sydney. She hated the gun and hated that it was part of her life even more.

Parker knew how to get into Broots' house without making a sound already; years of being a Cleaner and Head of Security didn't teach you nothing. He was in the kitchen making pop tarts. It was early and Debbie would be asleep still - no chance of interruption.

A squeaky floorboard announced her presence and Broots spun, pop tart box a weapon in his hand, ready to defend himself and his daughter.

"Miss Parker," he said with relief. "You scared me."

She didn't smile; it wouldn't be fair, just nodded and then he was a bald blur as she crossed the room to him and maybe he was looking at her quizzically, maybe he was fearful, knowing something was wrong. Parker didn't look into his eyes to find out.

Parker grasped his face with one hand (just like she'd done so many times in torment) and her muzzled gun (just like held it a million times before) in the other. Her lips found his and pressed hard against them. He kissed back after only a moments hesitation.

Then she pressed the gun to his temple and his lips fell away from hers.

The pop tarts popped up and the blood flowed. Parker left the same way she got in.

Even from her car four houses down, she heard the scream of a little girl who just lost all she loved in the world.


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