The Mastermind – Part 1

I know, I know. Us outlaws are supposed to slink into the crowded inn wearing a dusty black cloak that’s faded to grey. We’re not supposed to draw attention to ourselves. But I can’t help it that my favorite color is bright pink. And if you’re going to wear such a fine pink cloak, you should wear it well, am I right? There’ll be no slinking around in this baby.

Besides, I’ve found the bright cloak to have the same result as the drab one. Sure it draws attention right away but to the cloak, not my face. I could walk back into the same place an hour later, no pink cloak, and not a soul would recognize me. 

After I do the deed though, I can’t be seen within a hundred miles of this town in my pink cloak. I’d bet my whole payout that the only description anyone will be able to give is a girl in a bright pink cloak. Have I convinced you of my genius yet?

If I haven’t, don’t worry. There’s more where that came from. Genius is basically my job. People pay me to come up with plans that they could never dream of. They pay me to find ways to get whatever it is they want. They call me “The Mastermind”.

Look, I didn’t come up with it. I know it’s not terribly creative, but it stuck.

After I have a drink at the bar, I make sure I’m seen crossing the street to the fancy manor before I slip in the back. I don’t need to make sure I’m seen when I exit. The huge blast that engulfs most of the house, just after I run out, takes care of that for me. Before anyone can react, I’m four blocks away slipping down an alleyway. I quickly stuff my cloak into my backpack, maneuver through a few side streets, and come out onto the main road heading the other direction from the manor. I smile as I see a few people pointing the cops in the direction I originally ran.

 A few minutes later I knock on the backdoor of an almost-as-fancy manor house. The door opens and I’m yanked inside before a voice starts berating me.

“I told you I wanted subtlety!” the man yells at me.

“I hate subtlety,” I reply. “Besides, what you really meant was that you didn’t want to be caught.”

“Everyone can see that house burning for miles, and I’m the first person they will suspect.”

“Actually, you’ll be the second,” I interrupt him, “and the cops will have no reason to look past the first.”

 He eyes me skeptically but waits for me to continue.

“An hour before the house went up in flames, I paid a visit to your other enemy. I told him I could take out some of the assets of your mutual opponent, for a small fee of course.”

“He paid you too? I want my money back.” He crosses his arms and glares at me.

“That money is the bonus you’re paying me for taking out both of your enemies at once. You see, when I paid him that visit I made sure I was seen wearing this.” I unzip my backpack and pull out the bright pink cloak. “Not exactly subtle, is it?” I flash him my most charming grin. “It’s the same cloak I wore when I was seen running from the burning manor. Also, I may have planted a few items while I was paying him that visit. I think the police will tie it all together nicely.”

He stares at me with his mouth open. Then he remembers. “I assume you have the item?”

I reach into my bag one more time and hand him a wrapped bundle. He takes a peak and nods his head.

“I don’t think he’ll notice it’s missing,” I tell him with a wink before I exit.

“You’ve got another job,” Sorren says as he plops onto my soft couch and puts his feet up on the coffee table.

“They’ve been vetted?” I ask.

“Come on, Ember. Would I be bringing this to you if I hadn’t already done the decoy meetup?”

“One can never be too sure with you,” I say with a smirk. He laughs and chucks a cushion at me.

Sorren is my partner in crime. We’ve been doing this a long time, and we have our routine perfected. He checks the messages and makes sure no one is surveilling the drop point. If it seems safe, he arranges a fake meeting with “The Mastermind”. He scouts the location to make sure it’s not a setup. Then, he sets a second meeting with the real Mastermind.

If at any point things go wrong, he pretends to be just another middleman. He tells the cops he doesn’t know anything, except that he meets another guy to pass along the info to. The cops tell him to set up the meeting. When the other guy, who doesn’t exist, fails to show, he tells them the guy must have figured out he’s compromised. They let him go and we switch locations. Who needs a chain of unreliable individuals to mislead the police when you have one you can trust, who is also a very good liar?

I stuff the cushion behind my head and lean back in my seat. “When’s the meeting?”

“In two hours.”

I jump up and grab my backpack. “Let’s go then.”

We arrive at the actual location where we hold the final meeting with enough time to scout and prepare. It’s positioned an hour from my house, to make it difficult to find us. When we’re done, we get back in the car and drive a short distance away, but still with a view of the building. Ten minutes later a vehicle pulls up and five armed men get out.

“I love it when they treat me with the fear and respect I deserve,” I say with a grin.

“Maybe I’m the one that scared them,” Sorren fires back.

We exit the car and saunter into the abandoned warehouse. Our footsteps echo in the cavernous space. The men watch us without a word. We stop a couple of feet away and wait to see which of them will speak first. I’ve already pegged the leader, but sometimes they try to play games. Not this man though. His bulky frame moves a step forward.

“I’ve got a proposal for you.”

“Let’s hear it then.” I like to get right to the point.

“I need you to frame a man for murder.”

“That’s easy enough,” I reply.

“You’re not going to ask why?” he asks with one eyebrow raised.

“That would be unprofessional. I only ask what I need to know.”

“Good,” he says with a nod. “What do you need to know, then?”

“Who do you want to be framed, and whose murder am I framing him for?”

“Lucas Higgins and his girlfriend, Mora Lane. He’s my – “

“I don’t care who he is to you, and anything you think I need to know about him my friend here can find out in ten minutes.”

He purses his lips and glares at me but nods his head. 

“Now, are you going to pay the girlfriend to disappear, or kidnap her? Either way, you’ll want to do it soon. I’ll need to start draining her blood now if I’m going to get enough to convince them she’s dead.”

 “It will be much more convincing if she’s actually dead.” He flashes me a grin that doesn’t meet his cold, dark eyes. “Don’t worry; I’ve already hired someone else to do it. You won’t have to get your hands bloody, so to speak.” He chuckles at his joke. “You can let us know how it should be done to fit your narrative. We’ll bring you to the scene, when it’s done, to oversee the arrangements.”

I don’t give away my emotions, not even a widening of the eyes. I’m fine with framing an innocent person for murder, but I draw the line at actually murdering an innocent person. I’m not stupid enough to tell these armed men that, though.

“We’ll need to do our research and planning. Then I will let you know what I need from you. Do you have a timeframe you need this done by?”

“A week, if possible.”

“Of course it’s possible. When we meet again, I expect payment in full, per my usual terms.”

“Because you never fail, or so I’ve heard,” he says.

“No, I never fail.” With that, I turn on my heels and walk out.

“What are we going to do?” Sorren asks once we’re back at my place.

“The Mastermind always finds a way,” I say with a wink. “Let’s think it through. We obviously can’t let them kill an innocent girl.”

“Do we warn her?”

“We can’t predict how she will react, and they will tie it back to us if she just disappears. We may have to warn her, but we need a plan first.”

“So we find the killer and make sure he fails,” Sorren says.

“They’ll just send another.”

“Then we have to stop him, but make it look like he succeeded.”

“Right, that way it doesn’t fall back on us. We can’t have the Mastermind getting a bad reputation.”

Sorren smirks at me. “It might be good for your big head if you failed a job.”

“It wouldn’t be good for our wallets.”

“They pay upfront,” he replies. We both laugh.

“What we need to do is make sure that our client can’t come after us when this is all done,” I say.

It gets quiet as we think for a moment.

“How to fake her death then?” I ponder aloud. “We can’t use my blood draining idea, because they’ll recognize it. They want a body.”

“What if we use it to our advantage that you get to pick the method of death?”

“Hmmm…that’s an idea. We give them a murder weapon that’s not actually a murder weapon.” I tap my finger on my chin. “Poison.”

“Perfect, a fake poison that makes her look dead.”

“Exactly. We’ll have to get to the medical examiner, though. We need to make sure he doesn’t perform an autopsy before she wakes and that he reports her as deceased.”

“That shouldn’t be hard. I can dig up some dirt to get him to cooperate…”

“Or we just tell him the truth, that the girl is in danger if we don’t fake her death,” I interrupt.

“And what if he decides to tell his police friends to arrest everyone?”

“You’re right. Besides, blackmail is way more fun.” I grin at him.

“Now the final question, who are we actually framing for the murder?”

“Who do you think?” I ask with a glint in my eye.

You can read Part 2 of The Mastermind here. Comment to let us know what you think so far. If you liked this story, feel free to share it with the buttons below.

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