The Mastermind – Part 2

If you haven’t read Part 1 of The Mastermind, you can find it here. Now for Part 2!

We start with the background research on all the involved parties. Sorren finds every detail about them, from where our client ate lunch last Tuesday to when our potential victim last took her Pomeranian, Buttercup, to the groomer.

“Who gets a Pomeranian?” Sorren grumbles. “They’re barely even a dog. Just get a bloody cat, if you want a tiny ball of fluff to pamper.”

“But look at how cute little Buttercup is, and that pink collar is to die for,” I say with a grin.

He rolls his eyes at me and continues to peck away at the keyboard. “A German Shepard, now that’s a real dog. A fierce defender of the home, and doesn’t have to be carried on long walks.” He practically pets the page of the Facebook account for the man we’re supposed to frame.

“And we could always put him in a pink collar, too.”

“If you put a pink collar on a German Shepard, so help me…”

“Yes?”

“I’ll…”

“Keep in mind I can take you in any kind of fight.”

Sorren practically growls at me before returning to his work.

“I think now is a good time for me to go visit Cain,” I tell him.

“I’ll poison your food!” he shouts. “Pick up something deadly for me, would you?”

“Took you long enough to come up with that one,” I reply over my shoulder as I slip out the door.

I decide to jog to Cain’s place. It’s only 4 miles, and I like to fit in exercise wherever I can. A criminal never knows when she might need to outrun someone. My feet pound the pavement as I run through the familiar streets, breathing steadily. The buildings change from expensive flats, where I live, to seedy shops in grimy alleyways. In the city, a few blocks can make a huge difference in the scenery. It’s one of the reasons we picked the location. We can live a life of luxury, but still access the underbelly when we need to.

I push open the door to Cain’s nearly hidden shop.  I’m hit with the sharp sting of chemicals. Cain makes most of his money from drugs, but he’s the best chemist I know. I glance around at all the beakers and tubes while I wait for him to finish mixing another concoction. Cain carefully sits down a bottle and lifts a pair of goggles off his face.

“Ember,” he drags my name out in an almost reptilian way.

“Hey, Cain,” I greet him casually, pretending he doesn’t give me the creeps. “I need something to make someone seem dead, but that won’t do any lasting damage.”

“How long does this person need to appear dead for?”

“Long enough to fool the cops into taking said person to the morgue.”

“Interesting…I can have it for you in two days,” He flicks his tongue between his lips, “for ten thousand.”

“I’ll be back with the money in two days.” I hurry out the door before he can say another word.

Once the poison is ready, I send Sorren to deliver it to our client and get our payment. They will do the deed tonight. We’ve spent the last two days preparing everything we need. Now, we wait.

The call comes at 3am on the burner phone. Sorren and I head to the victim’s house for the big show. When we arrive, she lies on the floor, still as death and cold to the touch.

I turn to a tall lithe man that I’ve never seen, who must be our hitman. I hold out my gloved hand without a word. He deposits the empty glass vial in my palm with a stoic nod. I zip it into a baggy and pass it to Sorren. I glance at the nearly empty wine glass on the side table by the couch. I circle the body once before walking to the table. I lean down, sniff the glass, and examine its contents.

 I walk to the kitchen and pull a wine glass from the cupboard. Next, I open the wine cooler and search for a partially empty bottle of red merlot. I pour a splash into the empty glass and swirl it around. Then, I carefully wipe the glass down to make sure it’s free of prints, before planting it next to the other glass. I turn to the gentlemen and smile.

“Now, we give our man a motive,” I say.

Sorren swipes up our victim’s phone and adds a few texts and calls. In addition, he adds one new contact, named “Lover”. He places the phone precisely where he found it and takes a bow. I choke back a laugh.

“That’s it, gentlemen,” I say with a smirk. “Now I plant the evidence and we wait for the police to do their job.”

Sorren and I race down the highway towards the client’s house. We have to beat him back with enough time to plant the vial in his trash. Sorren veers the car off at the exit and I brace my arm against the dash. He swerves in and out of traffic along the roads. The seatbelt jolts me as he slams the breaks.

I tap my feet while I stare at the red light.

Tires squeal, and we’re off again. I grip the door handle as we turn into a high-class neighborhood. Lights off now, Sorren glides down the empty lane. As soon as we reach the house, I jump out, dart up the driveway, open the trash can lid, and dump the vial inside. The sound of the closing lid seems loud as a marching band cymbal.

We wind out of the neighborhood and turn back onto the main roads. Nearing the highway again, our client passes the other way in his black SUV. I grin at Sorren. But we aren’t done yet.

We continue driving until we pull up to the ME’s office. Sorren dials the number for the Medical Examiner and tells him to let us in the back entrance. Sorren had already contacted him outside of the office to show him the dirt we had on him. After that, it wasn’t hard to get him to agree to help us.

The door cracks open and a balding head pops out. We jump out and walk casually to the door, as the man keeps glancing around. He leads us quickly down a hallway and into a cold room practically covered in metal. Our victim is laying on one of the metal tables, covered by a sheet.

“Did you figure out how you’re going to fake the autopsy?” I ask the Medical Examiner.

“I’m not,” he says. He’s smiling and practically bouncing on the balls of his feet. It’s almost like he’s proud.

I glance at Sorren to make sure we’re prepared if the man’s betrayed us, but then he continues.

“I don’t need to. I’ll just tell them I can’t do an autopsy because of her religion.” He beams.

“But we need the results to get the police to arrest our guy,” I reply.

“No, you just need the toxicology, which I will still do. And I’ll alter the report to say that the level of the drug was fatal.”

I stare open-mouthed at this middle-aged balding medical examiner, who is somewhat devious. A grin spreads across my face. I clap him on the back.

“Go ahead and get the blood while we wait for her to wake,” I tell him.

The man walked into the room and shook hands with the gentleman he had come to see.

“I’m told you have important information for me,” the gentleman asked.

“I do,” the man responded.

“Get to it then. You better not be wasting my time.”

“I assure you that I’m not.” He noticed the gentleman tapping his foot impatiently. “The Mastermind is double-crossing you.”

The gentleman’s eyes narrowed. “How do you know I hired the Mastermind? And how do you know she’s double-crossing me?”

“Let’s just say that I was on the wrong end of one of her jobs, and I want payback. I was following her and noticed that after she met with you last night, she drove by this house and threw something in the trashcan before speeding away. I’m guessing she didn’t tell you she would be visiting your home that night?”

The gentleman’s face turned red and twisted with rage. He let out a sound between a grunt and a scream before he stormed out of the room. He marched down the driveway and flung open the lid of the dumpster. It was empty. The gentleman’s face paled.

“Today isn’t trash day,” he said.

“Then you’d better leave quickly. I trust you’ll take care of the Mastermind for me?”

“Just tell me where to find her.”

Our victim isn’t fond of the idea of pretending to be dead, but when we explain to her that if she doesn’t, someone will likely try to kill her, she comes around. By the time Sorren is done charming her, Mora actually thanks us for putting ourselves on the line for her. We take her to a hotel and wait for the news of an arrest.

The next day there is a press conference and the Detective says that they have a person of interest, but no arrest has been made at this time. We decide to make a toast to the impending end to our problems, and I go to fill up the ice bucket so we can cool our champagne bottle.

Halfway there, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I slow my pace slightly and cast my eyes around. I don’t hear any footsteps, but that doesn’t mean I’m not being followed. I change my grip on the metal ice bucket. I round a corner and spin to face the other direction. No one is there.

I hear a car door slam behind me and I turn toward the parking lot. The client is walking toward me, followed by his bodyguards. I evaluate the situation. If he showed up here that has to mean he knows I’ve framed him. I can’t outfight him and all his men, but I know I can outrun them.

I release the ice bucket and bolt back around the corner. Gunshots pop as I immediately turn the next corner. I sprint down the walkway and take as many turns as I can, hoping to lose them. I can tell they’ve split up because I hear pounding footsteps from multiple directions. I keep a mental note of where I am. I know I have to make it back to the room, and soon. When I reach the right spot I round the corner, only to find two armed men racing toward me.

I dart back as bullets fly. I crouch and pull a handgun out of my ankle holster. I aim up and let fire two rounds into the chest of each guard when they rush around the corner. I peek around the corner to see the way is clear. I sprint to the room, swipe my key, and yank the handle. Sorren is crouched behind the bed with a gun aimed at my head.

“Where’s our girl?” I ask.

“She thought it would be a good time for a nice stroll.”

“So she’s hiding in the bathtub then?”

Sorren just smirks at me, as I join him behind the bed and reload.

“Did they see you come in this room?”

“I don’t think so,” I tell him, “but I don’t know how long they’ve been following us.”

“It doesn’t make sense. We saw their car going the other direction last night. They couldn’t have been tailing us.”

“They must’ve had someone else following us,” I say.

We pause when we hear a muffled conversation at the door.

“How many?” Sorren asks.

“There were six, now there are four,” I say with a smirk.

“If there’s any time for cockiness, it’s definitely now,” Sorren tells me with a wink.

We hear a loud bang, likely them trying to kick down the door. Sorren and I ready our weapons. The banging continues and the door starts to bend inwards near the lock. We hear shouting, what sounds like “Put your weapons down.”  Sorren and I glance at each other but don’t lower our weapons. More shouting, some clatters, and a couple of thumps against the wall. We still don’t move until we hear a voice say, “You are under arrest for first-degree murder.” At that Sorren raises his eyebrows and stands.

A few moments later there is a knock at the door. “Everyone ok in there? We’re coming in.”

The police bust down the door and enter the room. Our victim exits the bathroom. By the confusion on the Detective’s face, I know he recognizes her. I wrack my brain for a way to explain this one. We were planning on being long gone by the time the police figured out she was alive.

“Thank goodness you’re here. Those men came to finish the job!” Mora cries out.

“But you were dead,” the Detective says with wide eyes.

I watch our victim to try to figure out how she will respond to all this.

“I almost was, but I woke up in the morgue. I guess they didn’t use enough poison.” She shrugs her shoulders. “Thank goodness the ME never did the autopsy!”

The Detective’s eyes narrow. “How did you get out of the morgue without anyone noticing?”

“Oh, I didn’t. I begged the nice ME to give me a head start before he told you that I was alive. I knew those men would come after me again once the news was out. He felt so terrible about thinking I was dead, that he helped me,” she finishes with a sweet smile.

The Detective’s eyes soften, but he crosses his arms as he turns to us. “And who are these two?”

Before we can open our mouths, the victim responds. “These are my friends. I went to them to help hide me.”

“Very well, but I’ll need to interview you all later at the station.”

“Of course,” I tell the Detective, knowing I plan on never seeing him again.

With that, he turns and exits the room to take our client to jail. We close the door behind him, and I turn to Mora.

“That was quick thinking,” I tell her.

“I’ve always been good at spinning a tale,” she says with a grin. “Besides, it was the least I could do when you were putting your lives on the line for me.”

I nod and hold out my hand to her. She goes in for a hug and I glance over her shoulder to see Sorren smirking at me.

“Don’t forget, Sorren helped too,” I say with a smirk of my own.

She gives him a tight hug that lasts much longer than my own. I force down a laugh as Sorren glares at me.

With that, we ride off into the sunset, or whatever the equivalent that criminals do.

The man watched her drive away from the hotel with her partner. She was laughing! It wasn’t fair. The police had swooped in to save her, but he wouldn’t let her get away next time.

Would you like to see more of Ember and Sorren? If you liked this story, leave a comment below. If you would like to read another one of my short stories, check out “The Music Box“!

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