Song: L’s Theme from Death Note
I watched the clips back to back for the seventeenth time that day.
Three screens. One desk. Half a cup of iced coffee left.
On the first screen, Nine was getting shot by the Man in the Hood just outside of Six’s apartment. On the second screen, Six was getting shot inside her panic room, a mile away from her apartment. And on the last screen, Three was getting shot on the shore of the Hudson under the GWB, 15 miles away from Six’s apartment.
All three attacks took place last night over a 7.5 mile radius and within 10 minutes of each other. How did this assassin manage to hit all three of them in three different locations in such a short amount of time?
I played the clips back again and cranked the volume on the audio.
“The world needs better heroes,” the Man in the Hood said to Nine. “The only way to make them is to break the old ones.”
Who was he? And how did he know where to find the agents? And how did he know exactly how to take them down? Worst of all, why was he doing this? The injustice of it all made my blood boil. He attacked Nine–the one person who never had any problems with anyone. He invaded Six’s privacy and chased her to her panic room. And he took out Three after he was on a mission to take down a corrupt organization. These were good people. What kind of monster would want to take them down?
I wanted to snarl, but a yawn came out instead. I had been watching these from 7 a.m. and it was 3 p.m. now. But that usually wasn’t enough for me to be sleepy. Why was I so tired? Granted, I didn’t usually get up this early on Saturday mornings, but still. Why was I about to fall asleep? I took another sip of my coffee then leaned back in my chair as I stared at Nine’s screen.
I caught my reflection in the mirror hanging on the far wall and avoided eye contact with it.
I know you see me.
“Not now,” I muttered.
You never found out why those guys were in that abandoned building yesterday.
I didn’t respond. Last night, Four and I had broken up some thugs trying to make trouble in an abandoned house.
You should’ve interrogated one of them before knocking them all out.
“You’re right,” I agreed. “I’ll interrogate this maniac when I find him. Find out who he works for.”
I yawned again and took another sip of coffee.
You should’ve gone to sleep earlier last night.
I racked my brain trying to figure out when I’d gone to bed, but couldn’t remember. I pulled my left sleeve up and glanced at the black tattoos running up my forearm. Every morning I woke up with a new one, reminding me of something I’d done wrong the day before. The ones on this arm said, “You should’ve reloaded your gun.”, “You should’ve helped Seven.”, and “You shouldn’t have said that to Five.” All my tattoos were mistakes I’d made. Most of them were branded on my skin and seared in my brain. But last night I got a new one from a mistake I didn’t remember making and it was haunting me: “You should’ve resisted.”
Should’ve resisted what? Did I give in to some kind of temptation and not remember? The thought of doing something that went against everything I stood for and not knowing it made me sick. Which was why I never drank.
There was a ping and a reminder showed up on my phone: Dinner with Seven tonight.
I looked at the screens in front of me then back at the reminder. Seven had invited Four and I to some new restaurant he’d found on the Lower East Side. But that was before an assassin had started attacking agents. I needed to figure this out.
I texted the group: Guys, there’s someone attacking the agents. We should cancel tonight and go after them. Besides I know Seven was probably gonna try to surprise us with Asian food again anyway.
Then I texted Four separately: Meet me at my office in an hour. We need to stop this maniac.
I refused to eat or even step foot in any Asian restaurant. No one would ever guess with my dark skin and braids hanging down to my shoulders, but my mother was Chinese. She had abandoned my father and I when I was four years old and I’d promised I’d never be anything like her. Four and Seven said not eating Chinese food because of it was racist. But it wasn’t. I just never wanted to go anywhere I could possibly run into her.
I checked my phone again and noticed that neither Four nor Seven had responded. That was weird. They were usually quick–especially Four.
I yawned again and went for another sip of coffee, but the cup was empty. Why was I so tired? I wondered if the barista had included all three shots like I‘d asked. Venti iced caramel macchiato with three shots of espresso. How hard was that to do?
I needed to figure this case out, but I wasn’t gonna do anyone any good if I was half asleep. I got up, shut off the monitors, then marched out of the office and headed home.
When I made it to the apartment, I tossed my keys on the table near the door and took a deep breath as I took in the scene. Half the apartment looked like Broadway and H&M had vomited all over the walls with Phantom of the Opera and Disney princess posters and half-sewn denim jackets Four had never finished lying across the couch. On the other side, my area was decorated simply with blank white walls, a desk with rows of sharpened pencils and a single pot of purple heather flowers.
“How many times do I have to tell you to pick up after yourself?” I shouted as I headed to the kitchen counter to check the mail. She’d been my roommate since college, but you’d think I was her mother the way I had to clean up after her.
There were no envelopes waiting for me and no muffled response from Four’s room. I grabbed her jackets then walked over and knocked on her door. She didn’t answer so I slowly opened it. She wasn’t inside. Maybe she was out for once. I tossed the jackets on her bed then shut her door and went to my own room.
I pulled off my leather jacket and hung it up in my closet where my blouses, dresses, and pants were all color coded, along with the shoes and boots lining the floor beneath them.
I headed to my dresser and stared at the mirror as I got ready to take out my earrings. I stopped when my eyes fell on a small, rectangular black box sitting on the surface. I dropped my hands from my ear then lifted the box to my face. There was gold lettering engraved on the cover that read: To my dear daughter.
We both know you don’t deserve that right now.
I looked back at my reflection then down at the box in my hands. I still remembered the day my father gave it to me when I was four, a few months after my mother left. He’d told me it was a magazine filled with a special feeling. Whenever I felt bad about myself, I could shoot myself with this to remind myself of what he felt about me. It was the only thing I had left of him and the last memory I had of him.
Put it away. Maybe you can use it when you solve this case.
I nodded and set the box down. Then I moved to the second dresser next to it, black with silver running down the edges, and unlatched the drawers. I counted the magazines, feelings, and spare guns out of habit, expecting everything to be in its place as usual. But when I got to the gun drawer, I noticed that one of the Glocks was missing. I went through the other drawers again to double check, but it wasn’t there.
I turned and gave the room a visual sweep, wondering where I could have possibly misplaced it. But that was impossible. I never “misplaced” my guns. I always carried one Glock on my hip and one in my boot for back-up. And I kept three spare ones in this drawer. There were only two now. The only people who could possibly know where the guns were would be Seven and Four. Four wouldn’t have taken it–she usually took my clothes then put them back out of place. But Seven would–always playing pranks on us and never knowing when to take things seriously.
I called him to demand where my gun was, but he didn’t answer. I called him two more times with no answer. I sighed and shook my head as another yawn crept in. I’d deal with him later. After this nap.
I crawled into bed then set an alarm for half an hour.
Instead, I woke up the next morning.
But what shook me wasn’t the fact that I’d overslept. It was that the new tattoo on my forearm said, “You should’ve protected Four.”
Original artwork by Alyssa Pfingst