Written by Silhouette :: [Friday, 26 April 2019 01:16] Last updated by :: [Friday, 26 April 2019 17:43]
A heavy mist blurred the glare of the streetlights on Roeshard Avenue. Cars drove by with windshield wipers swiping back and forth. The sound of tires on wet pavement was unavoidable. People talking on their smartphones. People talking amongst one another.
Roeshard Avenue was the home of redbrick businesses, broken windows and cracked pavement alleyways. A laundromat sat next to a loan dealer sat next to a pawn shop sat next to a medical pharmacy.
The buzz and crackle of an aging neon sign outside of a bodega temporarily filled the ears of anyone passing by long enough to notice that the flicker of the sign was unintentional.
The stench of downtown was everywhere; Cigarette smoke washed into overflowing dumpsters and mixed with obnoxious cologne while mingling with the odors of hot cooked food.
And no one noticed the woman walking down the sidewalk wearing a hooded gray heavy sweatshirt, matching gray sweatpants, ankle-high hiking sneakers and carrying a small, black backpack on her back with one strap around each shoulder.
The woman walked with her head slightly down, the hood pulled tight over her head. Her hands were stuffed in the sweatshirt's front pockets. She walked with conviction but not with haste and she walked with a completely blank expression on her face. No hate. No happiness. No fear.
The heavy gray sweatshirt hid her athletic frame well but not completely. A slight slouch in her poise masked broad shoulders. Her sweatpants fared less well, forced to reveal legs that were thick but hid the extent of their muscularity.
Weaving through the occasional crowd, dodging the occasional person standing still for one reason or another, the woman still received the occasional catcall and whistle.
“I'll rock your world!”
All of them were ignored. Only the sound pursued her and soon they vanished both into the crowd and into the late afternoon air.
Up ahead was the destination that she had been walking towards: The East Asia Spa and Relaxation Center.
He knew his job: Sit. Look disinterested and slightly unfriendly. Stay silent unless needed.
Joseph sat at a chair behind the receptionist, reading a magazine only to pass the time. He wasn't allowed to use the internet while on the job. He wasn't even allowed to have his phone on him for security reasons.
His bulk made the office chair that he sat in squeak at the slightest movement. Thick, chunky arms were attached to a blubbery frame that once housed a muscular physique that sat upon tree trunk legs. Joseph had developed an obvious second chin that he hid from view with a scraggly thick beard.
A bulging gut hid a firearm holster for a pistol that looked impossibly small while grasped by his enormous hands.
Joseph's frame made Lonchi's figure look miniscule by comparison.
In the twilight of her adult years before the onset of becoming elderly, Lonchi hid her age well but not without caveats. Her neck was thin and creased. Wrinkles had finally begun to appear around her eyes and at either end of her lips. The back of her hands showed both veins and bones.
The outside sign to the door was written in three languages: English, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
It read in all three languages: Press buzzer for speaker. Entry not guaranteed. No loitering. No public bathrooms.
Joseph both saw a light at his desk blink on and heard the buzzer at the door.
The monitor to the outside camera was in color but small. It was a woman in a gray sweatshirt with a small black backpack.
Joseph pressed a button near a microphone and spoke into the microphone.
“Welcome to East Asia Spa and Relaxation Center. How may I help you?”
“I'm here for the job opening,” the woman replied.
Joseph looked over at Lonchi.
“Is Lee hiring anyone?” Joseph asked Lonchi. Joseph was met with silence and a shrug before finally saying, “Who knows. He didn't tell me.”
“He doesn't tell anyone anything,” Joseph commented before turning back to the microphone.
“One moment, please. Thank you for your patience.”
Joseph picked up the receiver of a desk phone and dialed a number.
“Is Lee there? Hey, Chen. Joseph,” Joseph spoke into the phone, continuing, “Got a chick outside for a job interview. You guys hiring?”
There was a pause before Joseph replied, “You know where Lee is? Can anyone get in touch with Lee? It's your call. OK. Cool.”
Joseph hung up the phone.
Speaking into the microphone, Joseph said, “Thank you for your patience. We're buzzing you in now. Please take off your backpack and present it to the front desk when you enter. Thank you.”
Joseph pressed a button and the door buzzed open.
The woman took off her backpack and stepped inside the business.
All that Joseph saw was a woman, average height, walk through the door with a black backpack in one hand and her other hand in her sweatshirt pocket. She had something weird going on with one eye. Was that a contact lens or something? Why did it look red?
The woman never let go of the backpack.
With inhuman speed and accuracy, the woman produced an angular, bulky device that best resembled a pistol in overall shape and function.
“STIT! STIT!” went the odd-looking firearm.
The device sounded no louder than a person tapping a pencil onto a wooden table by it's eraser. The actual sound was generated not by the physical propellant of gunpowder but a series of electro-magnets discharging, indistinguishable as a single simultaneous sound to the human ear.
Joseph was hit just outside his right eye, the projectile cratering a chunk of his skull and splattering red goo onto the wall directly behind him.
Lonchi was hit square in the forehead, a sharp circular hole that betrayed the gory crater that formed in the upper back portion of her head. Hair and blood splattered against the floor and wall as she slumped down in her chair, her corpse falling onto the ground a moment later.
Had the woman observed further, she would have been amused that Joseph's corpse, despite his bulky frame, had managed to stay in his chair only through the fickle intervention of physics. The chair did begin to gently spin as a result of the force of the projectile.
The woman quickly went back to the door and twisted a knob to turn the deadbolt.
The woman walked up to another door that was attached to the main lobby. Trying the handle, the woman was surprised that it was unlocked. Cautiously, she opened the door.
“What do you want me to do?” Chen asked in fluent Mandarin as he walked around a small office space. A desk and two monitors graced the small space and it looked, for all the world, as though the furnishings had been moved into the room just yesterday.
One of the monitors was split into four smaller screens, each one displaying the view from a separate security camera. Chen, distracted by the call, moving around the office and only sporadically eying the security cameras, couldn't make the connection that one of the security cameras was showing a dead Lonchi and Joseph. The view was too small and Chen was so used to the sight of Joseph and Lonchi sitting around that the view was “similar enough” to mentally dismiss the slightly abnormal view as ordinary.
Chen, short for even Asian standards, looked like what every Caucasian thought an Asian male looked like: Facial features compressed uncomfortably down to the bottom portion of his face, leaving a huge amount of forehead space. Narrow shoulders made his head appear even larger on top of an already short frame.
“Did Bai ask around? Did Bai ask Whitney to ask around?” Chen asked, walking idly around the office.
“Yeah, OK, I'll just wing it. No biggie,” Chen decided, “Thanks.”
Chen hung up the phone and began to make his way to the office door.
The woman had moved down the short hallway swiftly, four doors packed close together on each side. All of the doors were closed and behind each could be heard soft music that masked whatever conversation (or activity) was occurring inside. That same music had masked the activity that had just happened in the front lobby only a moment ago.
The hallway walls were painted a light red that had now faded and chipped over time. The final two doors, one on each side of the hall featured a closet and a bathroom, respectively.
The door on the opposite side of the hallway opened into the hallway, obstructing the bathroom door. The woman tested the bathroom door and found it to be unlocked. Just then she heard the hallway door open.
Chen walked through the door and never had a chance. A quick jab to his throat from the side of the woman's hand, Chen's eyes widened as he lost all oxygen and could only violently make an inhaling sound as he crumpled to the floor.
The woman quickly pulled him out of the hallway and closed the hallway door behind them.
The “employee” area of the business was barren and dingy, making the “customer” area almost as though it were the set of a movie. The hallway made a sharp right corner before straightening out again and ending in the rear exit.
The woman pulled Chen into the straight portion of the hallway and rifled through his pocket for any keys. The keyring was unmistakable and the woman found it quickly. Examining the keys quickly, the woman deduced which key fit the door and unlocked the door.
The office was small and cramped but large enough to put a gasping and choking Chen into it just before the woman killed him with a shot to his forehead. A cloud of red mist and debris splattered onto the industrial carpet.
The woman looked around the office briefly before finding a desk phone. Picking up the receiver, she dialed 911 and waited for the emergency operator to pick up.
“911 West Linfield County, please state your name, location and emergency, please,” heard through the phone.
The woman placed the receiver down onto the desk, rifled through her backpack and took out an empty bottle of vodka. Placing the bottle onto the desk, she closed the backpack, put it on and walked out of the office.
The walk back to the front lobby was unimpeded. Lonchi and Joseph were still draining out and still had yet to begin to smell. The woman walked over to the front desk and grabbed a desk stapler. Walking to the front door, she unlocked the dead bolt, opened the door and placed the stapler onto the ground, wedging it in between the door and the door frame to prevent the door from closing.
And then she walked away.
All in less than ten minutes after she was buzzed into the building.
Four minutes later, the first of what would be many police cars would arrive on the scene.