Life Story

Story of his life:

Born, no complications, parents split. Brought up by his mother. She had a couple of partners, but things always fell apart. No violence or animosity, just didn’t work out. Not an unhappy childhood, though. School, college, the usual series of jobs. No real direction. Then a spur-of-the-moment decision, and he finds himself signing up, off around the world, and he’s never looked back. Finds a purpose. The service moulds him. Turns him into what he is today.

But he rejects that story. It’s too normal. There needs to be more trauma to explain the way his brain is wired.

So, a new version. His mother finds someone, settles down. The partner has children of is own, but they don’t gel as a family. He’s the but of their jokes, the foil of their schemes. He retaliates through frustration, but goes too far. Maybe the red mist, an indication of things to come. He gets sent away, for his own good. Grows to resent the system, to hate ‘the man’. Escapes the institution, lives rough, makes his own way. Drugs, petty crime‌—‌the usual story.

Better. He likes the pent-up twisted anger. Could be his driving force. But there needs to be a second turning-point. He needs something to explain who he is now.

A chance encounter. That might work. Yes. He imagines the scenario, like a movie playing in his head.

A job gone wrong. Breaking-and-entering, but the house isn’t empty. The occupant is ex-military, still with connections. A fight, and something inside snaps‌—‌no, becomes loose. It’s not a breaking, but a realisation. He does what he has to do, defends himself against a trained foe. But he’s quick. And life on the streets has taught him to strike hard and fast.

He runs, leaving the corpse. He’s not concerned with DNA or anything like that, because he knows how to slip through the cracks. He’s been doing it his whole life. He’s a ghost.

But they track him down anyway. Not police, but military, or government‌—‌the details aren’t important. Black suits, that’s all he needs to know. They talk, but who trusts suits? He runs. Keeps running. But they are everywhere. They are legion.

Eventually, the inevitable‌—‌they corner him. But he’s killed once. Maybe more times. He’s not prepared to go down without a fight.

Against two of them. Of course he doesn’t stand a chance.

They give him a choice. No way he wants to go back inside, so he signs up. Voluntarily. As if he had any say in the matter.

It’s punishing, worse than being inside. It doesn’t matter that his bed is hard and the bunk-house cold, because as soon as his head hits the pillow exhaustion consumes him. There are times he wants to give up. There are times he wants to fight back. He comes this close to driving a blade into that smug officer’s stomach.

But he holds back, channelling his rage. He lets his anger twist and build, and he learns to control it. And when he does let it out, when those worthless supposed toughs try to get the better of him, he makes every move count. He pays back every insult and threat ten-fold. He makes sure they don’t mess with him again.

And the suits are there, watching. They wear fatigues now, but he knows who they are. And, when he is accepted and feared, when he has shown what he is capable of, they approach him again. They make him an offer, one he can’t refuse. He fits into the role like a blade sliding between two ribs. He was made for this job.

Yes. He likes that story. It’s perfect. And even the lack of possible confirmation plays into it. Records would be suppressed, and authorities would deny any involvement.

And it’s a role he can fill. There is enough truth, enough parallels with his real life, that he can wear this story light a second skin.

Because this job is a big one, unlike anything he has previously taken on. If things go south‌—‌and he has to accept the high probability of this happening‌—‌he has no intention of going out in a blaze of glory. That’s for the romantics, the ones with their heads in the clouds. He intends to stay grounded. He’ll stay alive, even if that means being taken. And if they put him inside, he knows that a reputation, even a fabricated one, will serve him well. Especially when he proves that he can live up to it.

Yes, he can make this work. Whatever happens, he will be a legend. People will be telling his story for years.

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One thought on “Life Story

  1. Pingback: ‘Life Story’ – new short story | T. W. Iain

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