night.blind: 01.10.1: 17 May 2005: Jack St.
24 July 2005: Jack St. John-Turner.
A pigeon approached the park bench, bobbled in anticipation
of a crust of bread, a wad of discarded chewing gum or a sweet,
its crimson feet rising and falling to a rhythm that implied
the walk's surface was hot. The sun had broken through
that morning's allotment of fog.
'That bit I get, love, but-- is that it, then'?
The pigeon had been pecking at a suspect spot of food, perhaps,
at the place where the bench's leg met the ground, oblivious
to the sea of feet and the city murmur of conversation and vehicles,
but it chose that moment to flop off into the sky, above the
barricades and traffic and away where none could see.
None of the other pigeons had joined. In fact, around
the bench where the two sat, there were no pigeons or people
at all, as if it were held securely within a bubble of convincing
subliminal distraction, urging away the birds and the tourists,
the luncheon businessmen with their black umbrellas and fashionless
'That's it, yes'.
The punk's furry ridge of brow furrowed and he leaned in.
The young woman smiled; her eyes were almost purple, and they
were the focal point of that smile, not the thin lips, although
they too looked purple in that light.
She matched his leaning and met him halfway. The way she
licked her lips made him want to lick them as well, but his
matching smile dropped. 'Where's my payment, love'?
Her left palm blossomed from her side and she traced his jawline,
peppered as it was with a week's absense of wash or shave.
'Perhaps we could come to an.. arrangement'?
'An arrangement'? His eyes narrowed. 'Two hundred
quid, they said. They said--'
She pushed forward and kissed him. He responded, confused,
and they became just another couple in afternoon Leicester Square.
He responded, confused, let himself get lost in that kiss, and
it was only then that she withdrew the cautery blade from the
right sleeve of her blouse and dug it into his neck. As
soon as the blade was revealed, its task was done, and she returned
it to place. The laser was silent, stealthy, but most
importantly, bloodless. The searing light had severed
his spinal cord and burned the wound closed enough for her to
escape without suspicion.
She continued to hold the corpse for a while, even maneuvering
him into a slumped, napping position against the bench's corner.
She slumped with him, playing the part of exhausted tourist,
just another napper, but she took the opportunity to pat him
down for supplies. The wallet held only a ten-pound note,
£3.50 in coins, and an ancient prophylactic, but the real
treasure was in his left pocket: his Oystercard. Piccadilly
to Victoria to Heathrow to the target.
'I'll see you tonight, dear'? She stood, the dossier and
valise in hand. The dead man didn't respond. 'I
love you, too'. Onlookers, soothed with a measure of mental
manipulation, regarded the couple with no suspicion.
Maharajapuram Nithin Gayathri, known as 'Three' to her associates
and a few of her targets, walked to the tube through thirty
thousand French schoolchildren and not quite as many police.
03 October 2005: Jack St. John-Turner.
Half-way down the steps into Piccadilly, Three's jaw began to
itch. In the guise of adjusting the band of her watch, she
reached into the sleeve of her blouse and thumbed the security
button of her blade, which proceeded to ignite internally and
transform itself into a useless slag of melted plastic residue
against the underside of her right forearm, barely warming the
layered scar there left by dozens of similar disappearing acts.
As she passed a rubbish bin, she deftly slid the blade's remains
into her rolled newspaper and into the bin. The receptacle,
equipped with a flash scanner and an array of detective sensors,
only registered her deposit as newsprint and a chocolate bar wrapper;
security measures in the Underground had increased exponentially
in half a century, but they could still be fooled.
The itch in her jaw began to throb as she passed through the
FBS gates, and she barely gave the screen a second glance after
she noted, as did the troops guarding the entrance, that her
body was clean, and she carried nothing the low-level artificial
intelligence of London's threat matrices would consider a weapon.
She smiled at the turnstile soldier, tracing a shallow path
through his attention span as she inserted her Oystercard into
the gate to distract him from reading that her name was apparently
Richard Finn, a twenty-nine-year-old Caucasian day laborer from
Slough. He lowered his rifle slightly as she passed through,
pulling her card from the slot. She knew he would have
a headache for days after.
The itch was turning into an ache of her own: insistent, but
she'd long ago learned to bury the distraction.
Once on the bullet, Three secured herself on a bench, wedged
between a new mother with her wailing infant and a great brute
of a man whose size not only pressed against but overflowed
on to her. She held her valise in her lap, felt the crawl
of eyes over her, and smiled warmly at her gargantuan benchmate.
A quick dig, and she knew he posed no serious threat; he was
more concerned with getting home to a nice cider than anything
A gentle tug and a hiss, and the bullet was in Victoria Station.
Through the maze of escalators and tile, she conducted a quick
survey of the security. Nothing unusual, which was unusual
for a Thursday. Through another round of full body scans
and bared-teeth dogs, she broadcast her gentle smile to the
men whose thoughts belied perversions and desire.
She ducked into the women's lavatory.
It was as much a rush as 17:00 could provide, and she counted
twenty feet under ten stalls, another seven women in front of
the row of sinks, some waiting to offload, some checking mascera.
The throb in her jaw pointed her toward a particular sink, a
peculiar young woman, barely shrugging off the excesses of punk
youth in favor of an adult life. Her zebra-print hair
went nicely with her business suit.
Three took the sink beside her contact, rummaged through her
valise, accidentally spilling a hairbrush, a compact, two tampons,
and a coded strip of data silk to the grimy tiles.
'Bollocks'! She bent to pick up everything but the silk.
'Let me help'. Her contact bent in unison, deftly palmed
the silk and handed over a tampon. 'One of those days,
As she stood, the contact feigned coughing and licked the silk
slip from her palm. Immediately, an army of engineered
transfer catalysts metastasised through her bloodstream and
found purchase in her pineal gland. Temporary psychic
ability facilitated through glandular stimulation was the new
'Cheers'. Three took her compact and leaned forward to
the mirror, patting rouge into place on her cheeks. Testing.
Are we locked?
It was also the quickest way to weed out liars and subterfuge.
The punk contact bared her teeth and made a show of picking
a non-existant bit of food from her teeth in her reflection.
The handoff went without incident. I have the plans.
Disposed of. Her cheeks rouged to her satisfaction, she
moved on to reapplying gloss to her lips.
The contact squinted, sighing audibly for the benefit of others;
she'd more crow's feet than ever around her eyes. You've
been reassigned. I'm taking over the Nice contract.
Hold on, then. I've worked toward that contract for--
It's mine, now. This comes from the top.
You'll proceed to Heathrow and on to the States. I'm
Who gave the--
'Night Primary'. The contact broke regulation and spoke
aloud. Three was taken aback, both at the disregard for
both of their safety, and the realization that Primary was involved.
'Thanks for the help'. Three put her compact into her
valise and closed it.
'Anytime'. The young punk kissed her on each cheek, transferring
her updated mission into Three's skin with her lips. Three
was left leaning on the sink as the data took hold. Her
contact slipped into the Victoria crowd and disappeared.
'Are you on queue, love'? The pensioner behind her, wobbling
from leg to leg in anticipation of inundation, startled her.
'No-- Go ahead'.
Three took her valise and entered the fray.
her updated mission strand by strand as the trans-Atlantic wedge
carved an elegant parabola through the upper atmosphere.
She adjusted the thermostat on the arm of her liquid wrap chair.
Near space, international flights became quite cold.
with her tongue, she flicked over the backside of her upper
teeth, finally choosing her right lateral incisor, massaging
it into action between lip and tonguetip. A layover display
sparked to life before her eyes, and she manipulated the encyclopaedia
with gesticulations and facial ticks that to any outside observer
would appear to be the conducting of music or madness.
Most of her fellow travelers were asleep, and her boundless
resources had allowed the purchase of her entire seating column.
She was effectively left alone in the dim false night of the
twenty-minute trip above the ocean.
She'd never heard of it.
that the educational system of Maharajapuram was inept; it simply
didn't exist. She had spent her childhood as two billion
of her countrymen had-- subsisting. There hadn't been
time for something as brilliantly irrelevant as schooling.
She had eventually found a semblance of home and structure in
Her Royal Majesty's Imperial School of War in New Delhi.
That home and structure had extended to the kingdom's seat in
London when Three was three years older and seven conflicts
It looked a desolate place. And angular. Had the
Americans no sense of style, no respect for landscape?
itched slowly in recent non-memory, and she bit it to the surface
display: a cartoon cat, orange, pasta, kicking a dog.
She allowed the strands to tangle, and the display intuitively
zoomed to a location on the map of the state. Political
boundaries solidified over the terrain, and one word issued
a warm reminder: Garfield.
had been rumours many years ago-- had it been six? seven?--
about an operation gone shite in the States. Her employers
were nowhere near as existential as face-to-face confirmation
of a failed op would have required; they were composed primarily
of coded silks and embedded non-memories, clandestine passings
of dossiers in darkened corners of civilization. She suspected
that any rumour mills had been efficiently dismantled and their
constituent cinderblocks been pulverized not long after the
squinted in closer to the map, satellite to bird's view, all
directed by varying pressures of her tongue and manipulations
of her lips. She soaked in the encyclopaedia's intelligent
warmth, setting aside segments of data for later digestion in
the spaces between her teeth and the lining of her throat.
This trip didn't afford time for any substantial rumination
of the mission data, but she had acquired an overall flavor:
Night Primary suspected that Nebraska had a secret, and it was
her duty as an outsourced agent of the war machine to uncover
flight attendant's face was young and kind, not unlike her own,
and Three wondered just how many secrets, how many segments
of critical data, she could express upon those lips, as plump
as they were, bee-stung. What intrigues could she leave
behind in the echoing subconscious of an innocent? Enough
to guarantee her swift and permanent exile from breathing, a
vacation from the waking world?
smiled demurely and shook her head no. The stewardess
nodded and walked on, never knowing how close she had walked
toward the edge that defines life and murders, never even suspected
that the woman seated before her had answered without voice
because great mysteries of war and betrayal would spill from
a mouth full of unspoken histories.
wedge began to fall toward Seattle, and Three allocated eight
minutes for herself to sleep. She'd soon be on a bullet
across mountains, a southern divergence across a Dakota, two,
and then Nebraska.