There is a twist
At the end
Frank was shaking. He was crouching behind a dumpster in this god-forsaken, middle-of-nowhere killing farm and trying to calm down. It was dark and quite cold for June in this part of the country. The complex in front of him was surrounded by a deep pine forest, with only one road coming in. He was on the side of that road, just out of sight from the armed guards at the front gate. That point was a no-entry. The sky was clouded and he couldn’t make out the moon anywhere in sight. Maybe it was gone completely...
One... Two... Three...
He wasn’t sure the wires were cut already, but if he waited too long the whole plan will fail. And if he fails now, he’ll obliterate his chances with Laura far beyond repair. Sure - he did care about the cause too, but his reason was mostly that two (long) legged beauty that barely noticed him since he had joined the group. He was counting down in his head - not sure if he didn’t skip a beat or two - and imagining her hazel eyes, long, dark hair and hot-girl-next-door body.
“Focus goddamnit!” he whispered to himself. “You have a job to do!”
The fence was only a few feet high, easy enough to jump if the electricity was turned off. That wasn’t a fence for the cattle - mind you - but a much higher voltage one, meant to keep everything and everyone away. He clenched his fist and put his head to the cold metal of the dumpster bin. The tension was nearly irresistible. He tried to imagine Laura naked, but suddenly he saw the quick light signal from the side. Time to go!
He ran crouched towards the fence and quickly jumped over. He was pretty fit for his 32 years, running every other day and not indulging too much in junk lifestyles. The jump was easy enough, yet he feared twisting his ankle on the landing, as that would be trouble. Big trouble. And goodbye Laura. The landing was soft enough and he ran to the nearest building in the complex, still crouched and trying hard not to be seen. The place wasn’t really lit as they weren’t expecting intruders. Not in this industry. It didn’t make sense. That made them the perfect target, but Frank knew that after a while all the other corporations will improve security and getting in will be much, much harder. This was only their seventh action in six months, so they didn’t put two and two together yet.
There were only three guards on duty tonight - mostly lazy, old, retired ex-cops that didn’t really care anymore, but getting caught was still not an option. He has to pinpoint the exact moment when they all three meet for a cigarette just outside the surveilance booth, get in there and shut the alarm. In and out in less than two minutes. Piece of cake.
The target was about thirty yards to his left. Through the window he saw one of the guards standing up and preparing to go out. He seemed to drop something, cursed and picked it up. His lighter. Of course. He walked out and waved at the other two guys patroling the perimeter to come around. One of them was really close to Frank, so he moved into a shadow between some stacked metal boxes and kept hush. The guard nearby started to walk, passing Frank at an arms reach, but didn’t see him. He was a fat, old dude that had enough trouble walking, that he wasn’t able to multitask and pay attention to the world around him at the same time. His gut was pouring out over his utility belt with his flashlight and pepper-spray can digging into the gut on the sides. He was whizzing with every step, moving slowly. Frank also noticed a gun holster, but it seemed like it was never used.
“Fucking walking. Walking all day. Those corporate bastards sit in their leather chairs big as a fucking truck behind a mahoga-something fucking desks and order me around. The fucks! I should fucking retire.”
Each word was uttered with great difficulty. He passed Frank, turned a corner and continued on towards the other guy. He scratched his fat ass on the way and tried to pull up the belt, but failed. Frank heard a quiet grunt that accompanied that gesture. The bastard was not on the other side of the booth. Time to go.
Still crouched Frank silently moved to the next stack of boxes, then behind a park SUV, some more boxes and he was in. The guards left the door wide open, as they were just a few feet away on the other side. Who would imagine a break-in so daring, right?
He slid into the booth and located the alarm switch. Just as practiced so many times, he shut it down and used a bright, round, green sticker to cover the diode that turned red. From afar it looked green enough and he knew they’d be watching TV most of the night anyway. One of the windows was open and he heard the guys talking.
“The ball was thrown on point, he was just too stupid to catch it and that’s why we fucking lost the game.”
“It wasn’t an easy catch, come on Bobby, you’d break your ankles even trying to jump that high with all that fat on you.”
“Fuck you, you smug bastard. At least my wife’s not fucking half the trailer-park when I’m at work.”
“Yeah, cause your wife’s dead you asshole.”
Fucking idiots. Frank was disgusted. The upside was that they won’t live that long judging on their diet and habits. One to nul for the world - score! He backed away and ran around to the other side to bring down the fence and let the guys in. On the other side another team was waiting for the guards to regroup to create a diversion. The night was eerily quiet and dark. He quickly cut the fence down while the guys backed the 18-wheeler towards the fence. Now they had to load it up with as many crates as possible and drive the fuck away. Luckily the guards couldn’t have heard the idled engine that far from their post. They tested it two nights ago with a boombox and a recording of the engine at about the right volume. Nobody showed up. He didn’t wait for them to enter the back of the truck, and instead quickly ran towards the warehouse and swung the door open. The security cameras were off, so there will be no trace of them ever being here. He burst into the warehouse and almost threw up. The smell was horrid. The chickens were packed so densely into the cages that they couldn’t move. They were supposed to eat, get their hormone injections and lay eggs. Almost none of them had any interest in him showing up. They were drugged so hard, they barely made any sound whatsoever. He grabbed three cages and ran with them to the truck. Two guys were stacking the birds, while the other five - Frank included - were running with the boxes, trying to get as many as possible before they get the text from team A at the gate that the guards are back on their hourly route. They still had time, the truck was almost entirely full when the text came, so they knew they had 10 to 15 more minutes to load as many as possible, put the fence back up and drive away unnoticed. They loaded a couple more crates while Frank worked on bringing the fence back to normal. He pulled the last support towards him just as the truck started slowly moving forward on the dirt road. They were supposed to drive through the woods for half-mile and go back to the main road at about the right time when the guards will be patrolling the warehouse side of the complex. Piece of cake. Frank jumped into the back of the truck, one of the other guys - he didn’t remember his name - pulled him inside and shut the door.
He was so scared they will fail that now, when it was all over, he didn’t believe they made it so easily. They stole well over a hundred chickens, maybe more. All precisely according to plan and without getting noticed. It was Friday night, so with a bit of luck nobody will notice the intrusion until Monday morning. And even if they find out sooner it won’t matter anyway because they will be long gone.
Marty - one of the guys Frank had known from previous jobs and one of the original founders of the group brohugged him and smiled.
“You made it you sonnovabitch!”
“Yeah. Again.” Frank replied but he knew deep down that this was the most responsibly he has taken so far.
He was the core of the operation and he didn’t fuck up. This time Laura just had to notice him. He smiled back at Marty and they each popped open a beer.
“Cheers!” a couple of voices exclaimed. Frank took a long drink from the bottle and smiled again. Everything was going according to plan. His thoughts ran back to the day he joined this crazy crew and he smiled again. Another sip and gentle rocking of the truck made him close his eyes and come back to how it all begun.
Let’s Rewind - Frank’s past.
He was a geology student, just out of college in some god-forsaken town and he didn’t have a masterplan. Studying geology wasn’t really a good plan to begin with as there weren’t many jobs after a diploma like that, but he was lazy. He wanted to cruise through life, avoid the military service and College was his best choice. He chose a major that had the smallest possible number of applicants. And there he was. A geologist in a country that only needs a few and already have more than enough. He wasn’t even a good geologist, but he liked to read and knowledge came at him easily. He was just grabbing those bits and pieces of information and shoving them in various mind-shelves to access later. He had a few girlfriends in college - from other majors of course as there weren’t many pretty ladies craving for a geologist position nowadays. The one he remembered - Susan was also the last of the bunch. He almost felt that it’s actually the right person for him, and for quite a while she was an affirmation of that feeling. It was perfect. A bit too perfect come to think of it and it collapsed like oh so many rock formations he’d read about. When he found out she fucked half the fraternity he dumped her. After that he became a bit detached, finding a job at a local bar and just enjoying the days. He didn’t want to push anything and he didn’t really have any friends that would. Taking it easy - that was his way. For a few years he worked at a shitty bar called “the Bar Bench” in some small shithole-town on the east coast. The customers were mostly old, bored artists and young, stupid surfer kids which kept him entertained if not in a mundane kind of way.
The Bar Bench was as sleazy as it’s owner - Tiny Joe they called him. The bastard weighed almost a ton and was almost six feet high. He was between fifty and sixty (Frank never asked), completely bald, fat hardass with a lazy eye, that hated everyone around him, but was never late with the payments. He used to walk around the bar on the busier nights like he owned the place (which he did), shoving people aside with his gut just for the fun of it. He was also a heavy drinker and part-time alcoholic. After a few meetings he decided to quit. To Frank he summed it up by saying
“Fucking pussies, sitting in a circle like a fucking girlscout reunion, talking about their feelings. Real men don’t have fucking feelings and I ain’t a homo. Besides, I don’t have a fucking drinking problem. I’m a drunk, not an alcoholic.” and he downed a whole beer can in one, long gulp, then smashed it onto the bar and threw the remains into a bin behind it. The bastard had a good aim, but he also had years of practice. It was a pretty long night and the last couple of barflies were still in, but the place was pretty deserted.
Frank was cleaning up a table when Tiny Joe came up from behind him and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Cmon kid, I’ll clean it up and you go wake that asshole over there” he said pointing at one of the booths where an older gentelman, probably one of the artists, was laying flat-faced on the table. His grey hair was tangled and messy and he was snoring louder than the jukebox. He looked like a stereotypical professor, but Frank knew that he wasn’t one at first sight of the dude. There was also a tattoo sticking out from one of his sleeves - barely visible but enough to be sure. He was another fucking poet or a retired musician that almost made it and had to drink himself silly every night reminescing about that one time he almost nailed a book deal or almost played alongside Sinatra. Or Dylan judging by his age. Frank was used to that type of guys but also deep down he understood that his current way was leading to just this. Snoring face-down in a shitty bar, dreaming about long-lost hopes and dreams before his liver bursts and the world looses another Tom Wolfe. Or Bob Dylan.
The guy was a lot smaller than Frank, so he had no trouble picking him up to a proper sitting position. Then he poured some water from a bottle over the guy’s face. He gasped, gurgled on it and opened his eyes.
“What the fu... Where ... What? What’s going on?” he muttered under his breath. A wave of digested alcohol-and-vomit mix hit Frank in the face. He was of course immune to that shit after his five years at this place, but it was still as unpleasant as the first time. The drunk burped, then farted and collapsed on his face again.
In the background Tiny Joe was laughing his ass off.
“That’s why drinking should be reserved for fucking pro’s man.” He used to say. “All those whining little pussies that collapse after a good few. Did you ever see me in that state?”
“Never boss” Frank replied each and every time.
This time there was no lecture, just mean, mocking gut laugh. Frank dragged the poor sonnovabitch outside and placed him on a small bench in the parking lot. The bar had a strict “pay as you drink” policy so there was no cash to collect from the guy. He already paid for what brought him to this state. The drunk collapsed onto his side, but Frank didn’t care anymore. He smelled the fresh, night air and it felt good. His shift was almost over and there was no rush to come back inside. He probably stood there for a few minutes just enjoying the breeze until he noticed the van. It stood silently on the parking lot for most of the day.
“Hello” he heard from behind him and as he turned back he noticed her. Saying she was beautiful was like saying Tiny Joe was fat. She was stunning. Frank tried to utter a hello but he lost his voice and uttered only a quiet squeek that he hoped she didn’t hear. She was wearing all black so quickly he lost her sight in the darkness. He wanted to run after her, ask her out, but the van lights came on and it started rolling. He noticed dark figures running towards the van from where Joe’s second business - a butcher shop inherited from his dad was. The figures jumped into the van and drove away. As they were passing Frank by, he heard laughter and cheers from inside the vehicle. He noticed two bigger trucks approaching from around the back of the butchery and in an instant they were all gone.
“What the fuck was that all about?” he thought to himself while returning inside. He did manage to remember the van though, as his memory was still strong, even when not exercised. Stuff just poured in and stayed there forever and in most cases he had easy access to all of it. Friday’s shift ended, the weekend went by pretty uneventfully and then on Monday morning all hell broke loose.
He was setting up for the first shift when he heard the front door slam open with a loud crack. One of the glass panels got smashed and shards went flying. Tiny Joe ran to the bar and grabbed his shotgun from behind the counter screaming obscenities as he went.
“Fucking motherfucker fucks!”
“What’s going on?” Frank asked, but the fat man was already out, fuming with rage and shooting his 12-gauge into the air. He never returned that day, but the story broke all over the local news so Frank found out about it anyway. Someone broke into the butchery last night and stole all the living animals. What’s odd is that no packaged meat produce was stolen, no cash from the register, nothing valuable. Only the animals.
Frank connected the facts quickly - it must’ve been the guys he saw last night. But why would anyone steal live animals? It didn’t make any sense. The news crew was also pretty clueless and the regulars began coming up with crazy stories about UFO’s taking the animals up for experiments, Satan coming from a hole in the earth to fry the animals in a pot in hell. That kind of stuff. The drunk from the night before was back again and he probably came up with the most logical explanation for what happened but everyone dismissed him and went back to UFO’s, government agents, the devil or even crab people.
“It’s all bullshit” the oldtimer started. The room went quiet for a while, expecting him to elaborate.
He took a long gulp of his beer, teasing the crowd, placed it down on the coaster and said:
“Fucking eco-freaks I tell’ya. They’all plannin and plottin on releasing animals and putting up to the man.”
He looked around expecting some applause but everyone came back to stating their version of what transpired and the place became like a hornets nest. Buzzing with stupid ideas from people that had nothing better to do than start drinking at 11am.
It took another uneventful year but Tiny Joe managed to get his insurance claim. “Over my dead fucking body!” he said flailing his thin arms. The judge must’ve imagined the obstacle and complied. They paid him for both the actual losses and a bit more intangible moral losses that apparently had caused Joe to suffer from depression, paranoia and a fear of being mugged. It was all bullshit of course, but Tiny Joe played it right as he always did and he eventually won as he always did. He still didn’t redecorate the bar in any way, but there was now a lot of new security systems in the butchery. High-tech stuff like infra-red sensors, cameras and even humidity detectors. “Let’em fucking try and steal my property now!” he fumed high and proud waving his access card. And exactly a year after the first time it was precisely what they did. This time by some odd instinct Frank was outside, smoking a cigarette when that georgeous girl he saw before approached him.
“We need you.” she said and came up so close he had to put his cigarette down not to burn her.
“Excuse me?” he asked.
“We need the access card to disable the security system and you can lift it from that fat asshole without him ever knowing.”
“So you don’t really need >me<“ I started “Just the ca...”
He didn’t expect what came next. She moved her face closer to his and kissed him. And then she kissed him again. And again. He felt spiders running up and down his spine and a little bit of an erection forming. After a few minutes she took a few steps back and winked at him. She wasn’t smiling though.
“Get that card please and then leave this shithole. Come with us, it’ll be fun”.
And he did.
Oscar didn’t have any mirrors in his tiny apartment. He hated the sight of himself. Half-bald, with a hunched back, yellow teeth, crooked nose and tiny, grey eyes he was as ugly as it gets. If he was the joking kind, he’d say that he could win an ugly-contest and be the king of ugly for a year. He wasn’t the joking kind though. He was serious. He was a professional. He was brushing his teeth, looking at the tiles where most bathrooms have mirrors - thinking.
A couple of hours earlier he was approached by a man in a very expensive suit, who had a cat (traces of light fur on his right ankle) and worked in the meat industry. The slightly bloody fingernails were a dead giveaway. Oscar had only two clients that were giving him jobs. He was cautious because in his line of work getting caught was worse than feeling the cold, metallic taste of a gun barrel between your teeth.
This man had connections and one of Oscars clients vouched for him. The man didn’t say a word. He simply handed Oscar an envelope with a photo, name & address. There was also a yellow post-it note with a number on it. Half now - if he accepts - half after the job is done. The man’s eyes were cold and motionless as he watched Oscar examine the contents of the envelope. The photo was of two young people - a boy and a girl. They seemed too young to be making waves for men like the one in front of him. That means they were witnesses to something. Wrong time, wrong place. Shit happens - Oscar thought and turned the photo over. Marty VanLest and Anna Dooley - it read along with an address of some small village.
Oscar nodded to the man and they shook on it. The man took out a thick envelope and handed it to Oscar. Then he left.
It was a slow year so far, with only five jobs and he needed the thrill. With every life he took, he felt a tingle in his spine, something like a small orgasm and a light electric shock combined into one. He never lied to himself, so he knew that he couldn’t stop even if he wanted to. That “Tsssssst” moment was something he was born to experience. A couple of times he considered a massacre at a mall, he dreamt about a chain-reaction Tssst feeling going all across his spine and turning his pleasure receptors inside out over and over again. He was too smart to actually do it though, as he enjoyed being alive and mass murders have always too many variables that can’t be controlled. It’s too risky. He had to stick to single targets in isolated settings. Marty and Anna will have to do. He had two weeks time to prepare and he decided to use that time well. He did online research, connected through a Tor network and a shitload of proxies. For safety precautions he always removed a hard-drive from the laptop and destroyed it. He had a cloned drive with contents before research handy and after the job he simply put it in and create another copy for later. The drive had some porn history in the browser, some light email and a collection of cooking recipes. He didn’t watch the porn though, he wasn’t like that. He wasn’t interested in sex of any kind and he hated looking at pretty people that reminded him how ugly he was. No - porn was only to make it more real.
He searched for Marty VanLest imagining he’ll only find a facebook page with photos of surfing, beaches and parties. He was surprised to discover the sunnovabitch wasn’t a typical 20-something-year old. He was doing stuff and leading people against butcheries and meat processing plants. They were rumored to be stealing the animals and releasing them into the wild, but of course on the club’s website it only stated that they used videos and photos to expose the cruelty of those businesses. Oscar remembered a wave of animals being stolen across the country for a few months now. He quickly connected the facts. He always did. The girl - Anna Dooley wasn’t mentioned anywhere on the site. She probably just joined. Marty was one of the ten original founders of the club. It seems like someone wanted to teach these kids a lesson.
He took out his favourite Swiss sniper rifle - APR308 and took it apart for cleaning. It was in perfect condition but as he was cleaning it every month for the last ten years. He had a connection to that gun. It wasn’t the one he scored his first kill on. It wasn’t even the most modern one available. For some reason he liked the precision of the design. He liked the textured, slightly gritty metal and the silver shine. He was a fan of well crafted things and the Swiss had a thing for precision. He put the rifle in a guitar case, covered it with a real, working guitar that he had learned to play only to avoid suspiction carrying it. Oscar hated music and learning the chords and progressions was a painful experience. It had to be done and he did it. As simple as that. He grabbed one of his pre-packed backpacks and decided it was time for a little camping trip.
“Marty and Anna, it’s nice to meet you” he thought. His face was like a mask, not showing any emotion whatsoever but he was happy to get his jolt. His Tssst. After all this was worth way more than money.
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