Last parts are always heart breaking, because it means I can’t really come back to the characters in the same way again. I have always found that writing a character is always like writing a bit of yourself. There’s always something lurking, or some emotion that needs a voice, and needs closure – that’s what I’ve attempted to do, at least. But I truly hope that anyone who has read this story enjoys it. I hope you laughed, or at least chuckled at bit – because I know I have.
And as always, for the last time for Assassin and Therapist, I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. (Which, in case you haven’t gathered, is quite a lot)
“So now you know” the assassin said quietly, “All five of my mistakes, all the failures that caused mission failure or success”
Ryan nodded once before consulting his notes,
“Yes, I do. What I do not understand though – is why you have people following you? How does that figure into the equation?”
“Most things are”
“Government secrecy mandated”
Ryan snorted into his tea,
“That’s the simplest explanation I’ve received from you”
“I’m glad” they both laughed, finally at peace in each other’s presence,
“Can I tell you, your diagnosis from a purely medical standpoint?” Ryan asked, “It’s been just about enough time that I’m fairly certain of myself”
“If you must” Martin sighed, “God knows you are probably right”
“I’m always right” came the snarky retort, “Or rather, I always was. You probably don’t want to hear it. But I believe, to put it in layman’s terms, you’re suffering from some sort of a moral backlash from all of your missions. Nothing to do with disassociation”
“Yes. It’s an explanation of the blackouts, sates of emptiness. Because your brain is beginning to recognize the symptoms of trauma, the reaction is to go into a light shock. But there you have it”
Martin sighed, closing his eyes for a minute,
“I’ve expected this for a while” he spoke, “No one can do what I do without consequences. But what can I do about it?” he turned expectantly towards the therapist,
“One of two things” Ryan answered, “I’m going to assume you don’t want to leave your job. So the problem is dealing with the shock, i.e. train your body to ignore the symptoms. Or you can train your mind to overcome what is actually causing the guilt in the first place”
It wasn’t a second before Martin made his choice.
They started the process of training his mind to accept the assassin’s motives, how to make him understand that his actions were justifiable. The problem was that they honestly consisted of following orders and proceeding to kill people.
“It isn’t possible” the assassin almost whined, “Can’t I just ignore the shock?”
“No” The therapist ground out, “You can’t”
“But I’m always going to believe that it’s my fault. The reasoning is that as long as I pull the trigger, I’m guilty. I can’t just become a bricklayer. There’s no way around this problem”
Ryan had to stop himself throttling the other man’s throat, mostly because he knew that he would lose if he attempted it.
“Just think of it this way” he said after regaining his calm, “You’re not guilty. You’re similar to a tool. A hammer doesn’t feel guilty for ruining a nail, in the same way you shouldn’t feel guilty about killing for the government. You’re an agent of change”
There was silence for a moment, as Martin digested this new method of through. He nodded once, again, and began to smile.
“That makes sense” he said quickly, “So much sense. I feel better. Almost as though I’m free, there’s no reason for me to believe I’m guilty if I’m not the overlaying cause”
There was much excitement at this announcement. So much so that they decided to cut their second meeting that month. The assassin promised, in fact, to demand a mission so that he could test run this new way of thinking.
And so it was a week later that Ryan took a lunch break instead, smiling as a familiar looking man approached his table.
“Mr. Smith” he said in greeting, raising a cup of coffee in salute,
“I’m disappointed you saw through my second identity” the man responded, “But I thank you” he said quietly, “I need no further assistance, I’ve never felt so prepared and ready to do my job. I have you to thank”
No hand was offered to shake, and he walked out quickly. Ryan’s smile faltered, was Martin’s true personality as cold and unforgiving as he’d just been exposed to? Had he mentally trained the next ‘007 for better or worse?
The work-day could hardly have been longer that day. He pondered the question: What kind of man kills for a job? It was hard to imagine the consequences of what he had done, if he had, in fact, created a new breed of monster, one who could kill without remorse.
As he returned that evening, he couldn’t focus on the chattering of his wife and daughter until there came a knock on the door. He checked his watch. 11pm. Who on earth was visiting this home so late? Opening the screen door cautiously, his eyes widened in surprised as he saw a license plate ripped from a car.
A postal car to be exact.
He flipped the plate over, there was a small note attached – Friends don’t leave friends in danger –M.
An extra weight he hadn’t realized that he’d been carrying was suddenly lifted. The lightness of it all made him feel giddy. Shutting his front door as loud as he dared, he turned, grinning. His wife rewarded him with a puzzled frown that quickly morphed to surprise as he lifted her into the air and kissed her soundly.
“What was that for?” she asked in stunned surprise,
“Nothing” he said cheerfully, “Let’s get some tea so I can explain to you nothing at all”
I had so many different ideas for the ending of this story. It was terribly difficult to find out how should I end it, or how long it should be. One consideration was that Ryan was working for the people in the postal truck, and that the “Mr. Smith” in the restaurant was his handler – and from there, sabotage Martin somehow. But yet another was that Ryan would return from the training and find his wife and daughter missing and be forced into cooperating somehow with the postal car people (who, yes, are unnamed and I have no idea at all who they would have been). But as inevitably happens with every story, I got very attached to my characters and couldn’t leave them to their fate. Perhaps next time you’ll ACTUALLY see something bad happen, but somehow I doubt it.