Dorian had to admit: it was the perfect excuse to keep him busy.
We’re swimming in reality.
I’m (technically) a millenial, so I spend most of my time online. Twitter is literally my life’s blood. Snapchat and Instagram are entertaining when I have time to kill. I visit Facebook occassionally to check in with distant relatives. If this were the Matrix, I am 100% jacked in.
Because of this, I (we) am bombarded with news. News of the Republican repeals, distressing news about the local and national communities,”stirring” news meant only to arouse anger and conversation amongst timelines and, of course, disparaging tweets from He-Who-Somehow-Became-President. Since I have no self-control and absolutely refuse to put my phone down (even while typing this), I find myself swimming in anxiety, depression and exhaustion.
Writing provides an EXIT door.
Now that I’m in the later stages of my 20s, I’ve muscled my way into logging off a few times a month for breathers. Sometimes I literally can’t take any more news: no more death, no more videos of fights and riots, no more idiotic arguments over the (nonexistent) liberal/gay/black agendas.
I can build worlds from nothing and destroy them with ease. I can create tolerant, loving, honest people with the flick of the wrist. People who look like me can be represented honestly, without dated stereotypes or identifiers. I’ve probably already written about someone like you or someone like you.
Being a writer is one of the harder arts, IMO. I tried to go into journalism when I got to college, but when I realized there was ZERO creative freedom, I dropped it immediately. I’m just not that type of writer, and to force me into a gray box is to force me into an early grave (I’m being dramatic but you see what I mean!). To be talented enough to paint mental pictures for others is a gift I don’t plan to squander. Even if no one ever reads another word I write, I would still push along. No matter how difficult it gets or how many blocks I will suffer through, the end results is always something even I’m shocked to read. I believe that, if you truly love your hobbies/career, you’ll take the good with the bad. Sometimes, I’m completely uninterested in writing and I’ll have an amazing idea at 4am that wakes me from my sleep. It’s ingrained deep in me, so much so that I cannot ignore it or abandon it.
If you’ve never been attracted to reading (or writing) fiction, look at it this way: when the world weighs on you, words can be the wings that carry you away.
Li Yiao had his tentacles spread through the far reaches of the east coast. He was a mobster by choice; a career path laid out by his father and his father before him. He was ruthless, powerful and money hungry. He never accepted “no” as an answer when it came to things that he wanted, including people. His men were everywhere, always watching Noelle, whether she came or went. She constantly changed phones and phone numbers but Yiao was always one step ahead and lately, the first and most frequent call she received on each phone. The sun was rising over the horizon, the orange glow brightening the room as she scanned through his file. Hidden in a pizza box, Maverick had managed to sneak his entire dossier to her. He was wanted for racketeering, prostitution, assault, murder and a laundry list of other offenses. He was infamous for getting his own hands dirty; he was an avid believer that when you killed a person, you absorbed their power from their blood. He was a monster and he was poised to ruin everything Noelle had worked so hard for.
It felt as if they had been sitting together for hours, but 17 minutes had only passed since Dorian walked into the room. Dr. Wilhemina Harris stared at him through her cat eyed glasses, legs crossed at the knee and a notepad balanced in her lap. Dorian was, what she defined as, a textbook pessimist; he never believed in therapy or “shrinks”. Culturally, Dorian was raised to believe therapy was a waste of money. If you couldn’t “pray” your problems away, you bottle them and push them down until you developed an ulcer. He cleared his throat loudly and dramatically, as he silently prayed she would just give up the stalemate and let him leave. “So…tell me about the case you’re on,” Dr. Harris said as she patted her notebook. “That’s classified,” he said flatly. “I’m actually qualified to any information involving case files. I do work for the FBI as well,” she said. Dorian folded his arms, subconsciously on the defensive.
The wind howled on the 20th floor of the construction site. Noelle took another deep breath as she prepared the gun and grappling hook. Her next contract was located deep within the walls over 1000 feet away. The hair on the back of her neck stood erect, apprehensive to complete a job so soon and so close to the one before. “Are you ok?” the voice chirped into her earpiece, startling her slightly. “I’m fine,” Noelle said questionably. “Like I was saying, Rex Tech just went public 6 months ago. $534 MILLION, can you believe? I applied for a job but they told me I was too…” the girl rambled on in her ear. Noelle rolled her eyes and called back. “Radio silent, Maverick, until I’m across,” she snarled back to her “Eye in the Sky”. With another deep breath, she aimed the gun and fired. The hook exploded from the gun and shot across the skyline until it secured itself to the neighboring rooftop. She secured the gun to the exposed beams near her and attached the rappelling hook on the tension line. With a ‘click’, she took a running leap over the edge.
After what felt like an eternity, she landed on the gravel that covered the roof. “I’m across,” she said. “Ok, at the door, there will be a card access. Use the key I gave you and let the algorithm do the rest,” Maverick said. Noelle removed it from her pack and slid the key into the reader and waited for the handheld device to flash green. “I can only disable the cameras for 40 seconds at a time with 1 minute intervals. Any longer and a secondary security system is engaged and will send out a silent alarm. You need to get down 5 floors to get to the next blind spot, directly under the camera on the 15th floor. Got it?”
The lock disengaged and Noelle took off galloping down the stairs. “30 seconds,” Maverick said into her ear. She made it to the 15th floor and she jammed the hacked key into the reader. “10 seconds.” It felt like it took longer before the light turn green and the latch on the door withdrew. “8…7…6…” Maverick counted down as Noelle used her foot to slow the door from slamming. With barely a second to spare, she dipped beneath the security camera that was settled in the corner. “Cutting it a little close, are we?” Maverick said, her keystrokes audible from the phone. “Maybe you should rewrite this algorithm to be a little faster,” Noelle said. Another 30 seconds needed to pass before the cameras could be looped again. She was careful not to exhale too hard or move in any way. “Ok, loop is restarting…now!”
Noelle took off into a sprint down the hallway. She repeated the memorized directions from the map she studied: right, right, left, right. There were no cameras where she was going. She met with the large cherry wood door, out of sync with the other doors on the floor. She jammed the lock picker in once more and gained another accepted access. She dove into the room and waited, still catching her breath. When she stood, she surveyed the office of Vice President of Research and Development quickly. The view was breathtaking, meaning that she was in the correct place. The painting on the wall was flush against the wallpaper. The desk was tempered glass and contained no drawers. The bookcase on the opposite was awkwardly shaped; each shelf was misaligned on its intended symmetrical side. Noelle scanned it momentarily before she grinned to herself and shoved the two halves apart. Surrounding the case along the wall and floor were unmistakable tracks, used to wheel the shelves back and forth to hide and reveal the safe. “A billion dollar company and they cheap out with a McGinnick,” Noelle said as she pulled off her backpack.
“I’m in,” she grinned to herself as she removed the borescope from the hole she drilled just above the dial. “Wait, what?” Maverick said as her keystrokes furiously tapped in the background. Noelle spun the handle and the safe popped open with a dull clank. “Literally NO ONE can crack a McGinnick that fast! How did you…”
“I have my ways,” Noelle said. She had been trained by the best. Her father’s words rang in the back of her head: “Nothing is impenetrable. Patience opens ANY lock.” Inside of the safe were stacks of cash, manila folders and a group of microchips settled into a display. “Ok, which one is it?” she said as she began flipping through the nonsequential bills. “Hang on,” Maverick said, her fingers moving like lightning. “Seriously, you couldn’t have figured this out before I got it open?”
“It says all of them.”
“What? I thought you said A microchip, not 20,” Noelle said, looking back at the display. “He says it is impossible to know which is which so bring them all.”
“You make sure you let him there is an upcharge,” she said. She took the plastic display from the safe and dumped it into her backpack. She glanced at the money again and grabbed it as well. “Alright, I’m gone. Set up the meet.” she said as she swung the safe closed.
She made it back across the line a few minutes later. Just as she began to celebrate another win, she was met with a swift kick to the torso that knocked her on her back. She jumped back up and looked up at her attacker. They were dressed in all black and wore a black ski mask, but from their stature, she could tell it was a man. “Who the hell…” she began before the man attacked again. She was deft at blocking his moves; his punches and kicks were met with her own. He pulled a knife from his hip and swung it at her, causing her to jump backwards too close to the edge. He reached out and grabbed her hand to pull her back. He swung the knife again and barely missed her flesh, but he had severed the strap to the backpack she wore. He grabbed it and tried to take off running, but she jumped on his back and tackled him to the ground. He elbowed her on the side of the head and pushed her off of him. They both held a steady grip on the bag, swinging at one another for one moment of slack. As they fought, she felt her father’s coin unlodge itself from under her shirt. The mystery man glanced down at it and back to her before he snatched it from her neck and kicked her away. “Wait, no!” she yelled as she took off after him. She followed him as far as she could but he disappeared into the night with her prized possession.
The meet was scheduled for an hour later at the Zen Gardens restaurant. The man enjoyed his dinner at the back table; 4 of his most loyal henchmen surrounded him, each of them strapped with a semi-automatic gun. The bell rang to signal someone had entered. Before the man could address the woman, she had stormed inside and pushed the table right against his bulging stomach and pinned him to the wall. His henchmen had their guns aimed right as her back as she held the man in position. “Who else did you contract out for this?” she yelled. The man coughed into his napkin and tried to defuse the situation. “I placed an ad and you answered.”
“Did you send someone else after me?! To push me off a building?!”
“Now why would I do that and you’ve done what no one else could for me?” the Asian man said. He signaled to his men to lower their weapons; he felt powerful enough to not feel threatened by her. “He stole something from me and I want it back. Until I do, I’ll be keeping this,” she said, holding up the backpack. She released her grip from the table and began to walk out when the man began speaking again. “You may not want to go too far with that information. I’d hate for something to happen to that pretty little head of yours.” The henchmen moved into her path and blocked her way to the door. She spun and faced the man as a scowl spread across her face. “Sit,” he said, his hand extended toward the chair next to him. “Let’s talk business.”