Fast Fiction: The Slow Whisper

C. Knight

He kicked the desert off his black jeans as he walked into the run-down bar. He slugged down a couple Jack’s, wiping his peppery whiskers.

“You have a phone in here?” he asked the bartender. Matt offered his cell.

“I need Jax Lowman.” Like a pleased cat, Matt watched Alosius talk.

“Jax. Thought you needed to know about Sanchez. I saw him in Arizona and heard he was heading your way.” There was a pause.

“I have my ways. I think it’s time,” Alosius gave the phone back to Matt and ordered another.

“Who’s your friend here, Matt?” said a tall blond with high cheekbones.

“This is--um--I’m sorry I didn’t catch the name.”

“About to leave.”

“Don’t you want to stay and buy me a drink? You look kinda lonely.”

“Pardon me,” Alosius slipped off the stool, but the woman corralled him into a booth with the help of her associate Penny.

“Now darlin, it looks like it’s been a while since you had any fun. Penny, don’t this man look like he needs the touch of a woman?”

Alosius cleared his throat and eyed the door.

“Baby, just relax and talk with us a little.”

Alosius pushed himself out of the booth. Back in the black, 1985 Charger, he was about to drive off when the passenger door opened and the blond woman sat down.

“You ain’t gettin away that fast. You’re gonna take me to your next stop, maybe even the next one.”

“And how you do reckon you’re gonna make me.”

“You will,” she smiled.

Alosius drove off. He would take her all the way to Texas before he found out he had stolen goods with him: Honey Tate-Brewster, who worked for a giddy little pimp named Nate Falcon.

A motorcade of four cars sped along the highway. Back in Albuquerque, Suzy Rawls had patted her mother’s leg and pointed.

“Is that the President?” Suzy asked.

“I don’t know sweetie,” Mrs. Rawls said, as they turned and watched.

Sanchez was in one of the two middle cars. He waved back to the little girl, forgetting that she couldn’t see him.

“Ambassador, for you.” Sanchez took the phone.

“Who is this?”

“A ghost slowly whispering your death. You will no longer enslave the sons and daughters of Mexico.”

Sanchez dropped the phone.  A lone tear rolled from his eye. Just one more year of this and he could step down, live comfortably, take hot baths, and enjoy life at the ranch.  And Varla, who after forty years still wouldn’t look at him when he lay on top of her.

Sanchez shook his head as he was handed the phone again. This time it was his cousin Nate Falcon.

As Jax Lowman scrubbed off the scent of furry flesh from last night’s romp, he thought of Alosius; so he’d been wandering in the desert just like the rumors claimed.

Jax had joined the Underground although he was born a Changeling, a race of shape shifters created for America’s dirty work. He’d gone rogue to fight corruption.

He could be a foot soldier, the President, or a squat, old lady. Only seven zygotes, still in their mothers’ bellies, were modified into Changelings. Jax was the sole surviving Changeling, now a hunted species deemed too dangerous by everyone.

Last month he’d infiltrated an outsourced American weapon and drones factory just outside Mexico City and managed to steel data and sabotage the plant, destroying about $300 billion worth of US drones.

Jax slid into a gray suit with a green and red tie; his handsome face became old, marked with pocks and disease, a perfect replica. He practiced the limp again as he’d done for months. Then he spoke a few words with Sanchez’s lisp. He was ready. He shifted into an assassin he’d once been once and got into the car that was waiting outside.

Alosius tried to dump Honey in Dallas, but she had convinced him that she would be good help. Waiting in the Charger at the docks, he rubbed his temples; his brain felt like it had been scrambled by a mixer.  Honey smoked a slim, her legs propped up on the dash.

“I know who you are,” Honey said.

“I told you to keep quiet.”

“You’re Alosius, dead leader of the Underground. But, after last night, I’d say you are alive, honey. I had my doubts.”

Alosius sunk his hands into her throat. “Who are you?”

She scratched the side of his rugged face. He grabbed her arm and shoved her face into the window.

“Who are you?”

“I’d recommend you take your dusty fingers off me. You feel that tingling in your head? I can make your brains splatter on this windshield while you watch.”

“Who sent you?” he pushed her arm further up her back.

The top of his head felt like it was skinned off by a freezing steel blade blazing with anger. He let go of Honey and grabbed his skull and rammed it into the steering wheel.

“I told you,” Honey said. “Now, I’m not here to fuck with you, I’m here to help you. I know who you are because A, I can steal your thoughts and B, I’ve heard stories about you. I thought you were a myth.”

“What do you want?”

“To help. I knew you wouldn’t think I was worth it unless I flexed my muscle a little. All you men can understand is dick measuring and knocks up side the head. You won’t listen. Maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess if you’d let women lead a few revolutions.”

“You will have to follow my cues,” he said.

“Come on, baby, I know what I’m doing. Hell, I know what you’re doing. You’re gonna get Sanchez out of the way, so your Changeling can stand in. I’ve seen it all playing up there in that brain of yours.”

Alosius sat back in the seat. He pushed a thought out of his head, unsure if she had gone that deep. Even he didn’t want to face it, but the good of the many outweighed the—. What about the one? The one you loved?

“When Sanchez’s men get here, I’ll scramble them,” she cackled at that and sat still the rest of the time.

When Jax arrived, he saw about ten agents and a woman lying face down in the gravel, their skulls cracked like summer melons. Someone had done all his work for him.

Just as he boarded the boat, he got a double barrel in his face.

“Who the fuck are you?” a man in a Hawaiian shirt asked.

“Kip, let him on,” Alosius said.

“You did all this?”

Alosius nodded.

“He had some help,” Honey narrowed her eyes.

“Are you going to chitchat all goddamn evening or are we going to get going here. The meter is ticking. You’ll owe some big bucks,” Kip said.

Honey was ready to fry him, but Alosius shook his head.

“Let me make it clear, I’m not in on any of these entanglements of yours, you got it? You hear me?” he said to Alosius. “Hey look at me. Read my lips, no killing on this boat, you got it?”

“Sure,” Alosius replied.

Alosius led Jax below deck where Sanchez was bound and gagged. They talked while Honey ripped some thoughts out of Sanchez.

“You sure this will work?” Jax said.

“I know it will, but I say we bring him up on deck and let the sharks eat the real man.”

“How about Kip?” Honey asked.

“You keep him distracted.”

Jax grabbed Sanchez and dragged him up top. The red glow on the waters was about to burn out. Honey went up to the bridge and flirted with Kip.

“You got some nice tits. Not the best, but they’ll do sweetheart,” Kip salivated.

Honey put a little heat in Kip’s ears to shut him up. He looked around confused and then passed out.

She watched as they set Sanchez on the edge. Jax did the honors of feeding the fish. She smiled at them and realized that Jax and Alosius shared similar brain patterns; for a moment their patterns were fusing. Then something hit her in the gut, something she had not seen yet.

Alosius had his arm around Jax. They laughed while taking swigs of beer.

The watery grave swallowed up the remnants of lights, and before Honey could respond to the vision that sped through her brain, she watched as Alosius put a blade into his son’s head. She screamed.

Alosius shoved the body off into the water. His lips whispered some slow secret to the deep before he went below and buried himself in a shell that Honey could never penetrate.


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