The story so far:K, an assassin-for-hire, and Lydia, his pre-teen protégé, have been hired by Lydia’s father Mr. Bohr to kill Rolf Klingman, a rival businessman. The deadly duo arrived in Las Vegas to undo Klingman during his vacation, but were instead surprised themselves when Klingman forcefully invited them to dinner. During the meal, Klingman revealed he has done something K thought impossible: he has gained access to K’s personal information. Afterwards, K hands Lydia a cell phone and a note reading ‘Get Thomas, arrange secure call. KM infiltrated Alphabet.’
A single lamp post at the junkyard’s entrance bathed the few rusted skeletons of old cars piled near the entrance in a sickly orange glow. In the darkness just outside the light’s reach, K leaned against the hood of a rented Audi, thrumming his gloved fingers on the car’s shiny black finish. If anyone had happened to see him, they probably would have mistaken for a wound spring. K pulled up the sleeve of his jacket and let out a frustrated groan as he looked at his watch. It was 4:17. K wondered how the two minutes since his last time check could have felt so long. In hindsight, he probably shouldn’t have arrived a half hour early. Annoyed, K stomped on yet another one of rats that swarmed at his feet.
After he had wiped his shoe, K slapped his own face a few times to drive a lingering sense of exhaustion away from his skull. Even with all his conditioning, he couldn’t ignore sleep for too long and travel always drained him. K peeked into the car. Through the dark-tinted windows he could just see Lydia fast asleep in the back seat. He had told Lydia to stay awake in an attempt to get her used to the long hours of her future profession, but as they had reached the junkyard, she had already fallen asleep and K found he didn’t have the heart to wake her up. K noticed a faint smile crawl on his lips as he watched the sleeping girl, and quickly pulled the sides of his mouth down with his thumb and index finger. Sentimental thoughts were most unprofessional.
The sound of another car pulling into the yard snapped K out of his musings. He turned his attention towards the junkyard gate and let out a small sigh of relief as he noted the end of the car’s number plate.
Out of the car emerged a tiny, fat man. He hopped down from the driver’s seat, straightened his suit, and waddled towards K with a toothy grin on his thinly mustached face. For a moment, in the faint orange light, he looked like a penguin with a bad spray tan. K grimaced at the thought as he grabbed the man’s extended hand.
“Good evening, Mr. K, sir!” the man barked in a thick British accent K thought sounded vaguely Liverpudlian. “Or morning it is already, I reckon.”
“Thomas. Morning,” K replied, peering over the man’s head to the road. “You weren’t followed, were you?”
The tiny man did his best to look as insulted as possible. “Goodness gracious, Mr. K! Me? Followed? Positively impossible, I reckon.”
“Crazier things have happened today,” K muttered and pulled off his left glove. “Let’s get this over with.”
Thomas grinned again and moved to K’s side. From his pocket he took a small black box and set it on the hood of K’s car. In a practiced manner, he firmly grabbed K’s hand, sank a small blade into his thumb, and dropped a few drops of K’s blood onto a tiny glass plate in the box. A green light lit up on the box’s lid and the man turned to K.
“Perfect match, Mr. K. You’d want to patch yourself up, I reckon?” he said, offering K a small bandage.
“Thank you, Thomas,” K grunted and he grudgingly stuck the bandage on his thumb. Couldn’t they come up with a better method for identification? His hands were completely asymmetrical until the wound healed.
Thomas pocketed the box and threw the glass plate away. He glanced at the several smushed rats in front of K’s car.
“So, how can I help you tonight, Mr. K, sir?” “Can you guarantee you’re not bugged?” K asked as he slipped his glove back on.
The man rolled his eyes and threw his arms wide.
“What is it with this constant questioning of my professional integrity? If I didn’t know better, I’d reckon you were trying to offend me. Sir!”
K threw a toxic glare at the man.
“Drop the attitude. There’s a man who has access to my phone lines, assignments, maybe personal details.”
The penguin man’s face went from indignant to terrified in a fraction of a second.
“Oh dear me,” he whispered. “Now there’s something to make you question security, I reckon.”
The man rushed to his car and returned with a tablet computer. On its back was the same kind of gadget as on the phone Lydia had used to call Thomas. He was tapping furiously on the tablet’s screen.
“Right, so, Mr. K. I’m afraid I’ll need you to tell me… Well, everything. This needs to go straight to the top, I reckon.”
K nodded. He pulled off a glove and ran his hand through his hair. Maybe he should try a different haircut?
“This man you mentioned, who is he?” “Klingman. Rolf.” “And what exactly has he been able to access?”
“He knows my face and alias. He is able to listen to my home phone line. He must have access to my assignments data, since he knows I’m marked unavailable. May have even more.”
Thomas’ fingers were a flurry on the screen.
“Yah-ah. And he has been able to find this out… How?” Thomas raised his gaze to meet K’s. “I would love to know.”
K shuddered. Just the thought of Klingman browsing through his personal details made him feel… Violated, for the lack of a better word.
Thomas muttered to himself as he alternated between typing something and waiting for a reply. K just stood there, his arms crossed, rapping his fingers against his arm.
“Right,” Thomas finally said. “They are going through your files’ access logs right now, I reckon. I should have some information for you soon.”
K nodded. He felt tenser and tenser every second. Oh, how he hated waiting, at least if he wasn’t looking through a rifle scope.
“The Board would like to know something, though, Mr. K,” Thomas said, his eyes darting back and forth on the screen. He lifted his eyes again and K thought he saw a fleeting glimpse of suspicion in his eyes.
“How did you find out Klingman had accessed your information, sir?” “He told me.”
More tapping on the screen.
“And why is it you were talking to him?” “I am staying at the same hotel with him and was… Persuaded to have dinner with him. He wanted to meet his precious employee,” K said, with poison in his voice.
Thomas waited for a minute before returning to K.
“I see. And finally, sir, they would like to know why you chose to come to Vegas, specifically?” “Bohr,” K said.
Thomas’ eyes widened.
“Ah, I see. So this is not really much of a vacation after all, I reckon?”
K didn’t reply. Thomas returned to his tablet, tapped on it for a bit more, and then walked up to K and leaned against his car next to him.
“Right. Now we play the waiting game,” he said, turning to K with a large grin. K scowled at him, but Thomas was unfazed.
The two men stood in silence only broken by the occasional thump and squeak of K stomping more rats to a bloody pulp.
“Bohr, you say?” Thomas finally broke the tension. “You two have quite a bit of history, I reckon?” “You could say so,” K muttered as he scraped the rat remains off his shoes.
Thomas whistled a brief melody.
“You met him back in…” Thomas snapped his fingers trying to remember. “Was it Bolivia, Mr. K, sir? I reckon it was.” K sighed. The tiny man was persistent. “Colombia. It was in Colombia,” he said, his voice barely audible. “Ah, right!” Thomas smacked himself on the forehead. “My memory has more holes than my poor mother, bless her soul. She got gunned down some twenty years ago.” “Sorry for that,” K mumbled, staring into the distance. “Oh don’t worry, sir. She had it coming, I reckon,” Thomas grinned.
The tablet chimed. K and Thomas jumped up simultaneously and went to grab it. Thomas proved quicker.
“Someone’s indeed accessed your files, sir,” Thomas said, his eyes scanning lines of text. “An unidentified individual, but with all the access right of a Thomas.”
K bit his lip and ran his ungloved hand through his hair.
“An unknown Thomas,” he whispered. “Quite so, Mr. K, sir.” “Do we know of an unaccounted for Thomas?” “No, sir,” Thomas said. “We’re all in the clear, it seems.”
K realized he was grinding his teeth.
“So how did Klingman get into our system?” “It will remain a mystery for the time being, I reckon,” Thomas said turning to K with a wide grin. “Though I do have some good news, for you, sir. The Board has also cleared you of any suspicion of breaching your contract.”
K’s jaw fell to his knees.
“What?” he stammered. “Breaching my… Me?!” Thomas shrugged as K found himself at a loss for words and kept gesturing with his hands. “Quite a reasonable thing to consider, I reckon,” he said, still looking at the screen. “Unfortunately, it seems that your vacation is now over, Mr. K, sir.”
K pushed his jaw close and asked to know why. Thomas looked K in the eye and grinned once more.
“Well, sir, naturally we can’t mark this on your assignments, given the circumstances, but the Board has deemed it proper to give you a mission,” he said. “They want Klingman dead, I reckon.”