The walk to the dull, grey building was routine at this point. Surrounded by all the other stain glass skyscrapers, the building looked unimpressive and out of place. “One would think that the juxtaposition between the exuberant scenery and the rustic building would be cause for suspicion but no one ever seems to notice.” These were Claris’ thoughts as she approached the building, as she did every morning, at sharply 8am. Claris’ sharp 5 inch metal heals stomped into the ground as she continued thinking about the obviousness of this “secret” location and the uncanny lack of attention it seemed to draw. She eventually chalked it up to the ignorance and self centered nature of the wealthy that inhabit this part of the city and continued about her morning ritual.
After passing through the retinal scanner and full body search, Claris made her way to her office. But of course, not without the usual whistling and unsuccessful mating attempts by the front office clerk. She knew that she could always report him to human resources but she knew that that’d probably result in his mouth being seared shut, which admittedly was a bit harsh, but was the penalty for on-job sexual harassment in the 30th century. Plus, deep down she was flattered by the gestures since he wasn’t necessarily unattractive, although, there was an extreme unattraction to the man-parts hugged up in his size 28 tapered trousers.
With a seat in her office chair, Claris called her partner to find out her whereabouts, to let her know it’d be a late night and to find out her plans for the night.
“Hey Chels, it’s Claris.”
“Shit!”, “That’s my favorite shirt!.... Just so you know.... I was drinking my coffee.....now my shirt is enjoying it a lot more than I am.... thank you for that.”
“Ohh I’m so sorry! I thought I’d timed it so that I’d call you as soon as you were done.” explained Claris.
“Welp... you were unsuccessful. And why don’t you ever just call me like a normal human being?”
“See I would.... but physically telling my computer to call you is so much more work than me just thinking about you and ending up in your head.”
“Psh, I’m sure it would have been soooo much work! And you know how I feel about you being in my...”
“Anyways!”, interrupted Claris. “ I called to let you know that I’ll be home a little later today. My boss just gave me an urgent project and wants me to stick around late so that I can get it done tonight. I hope that isn’t too much of a hassle.”
“Again?!” exclaimed Chelsea. “If I wasn’t the amazing person I am, I would swear you’re out doing something behind my back.”
“Well, you know I’m not, which is all that matters. Well, I have to go so I’ll talk to you later tonight babe.”
“Ok, bye. But if you need to talk to me again can you at least ACTUALLY call me next time so that I don’t ruin another shirt or have a heart attack.”
“Ehhh... no promises.” responded Claris.
We watched the waves together. It’s what we did every Sunday morning during the summer. We would go down to the pier and watch the waves. I enjoyed this moment more than any other. This was the only time when my mother and I were able to be completely alone, simply enjoying each other’s presence.
I was only 5 at the time, but I distinctly remember the happiness I always felt within this moment. Then the flash happened. What happened during that flash, I to this day don’t understand. All I knows is when the flash died down and she regained vision, my mother was dead. Blood slowly running down the back of her head from her ear.
Staring out the window of her 7th floor office, Claris noticed the lackluster nature of her view. She thought that considering she made upwards of 6 figures per year, she would at least have a decent view of the city from her office window. But, due to the CIA refusing to be anything less than inconspicuous, she instead had a plain view of the dark street, from a meager 7 stories.
“Hmph, wait, what?!” said Claris. Turning to her assistant, Charles, who had apparently been standing there for an excessive amount of time, shouting his bosses name.
“Oh, hello Charles. What is it?”
She could tell he had been trying to get her attention for longer than one would normally have to by the redness of his cheeks and the sweat forming above his brow.
“What is wrong with you?!” said Charles. “ I’ve been standing here screaming your name for the past 5 minutes without even the slightest response!”
“Calm down Charles. I’m fine. I was just thinking about my mom’s death is all.”
“Again? Why do you do that to yourself? Replaying it over and over again in your head. You were only 5, she died of a brain hemorrhage, it was nothing you could do. Simple as that.” He approached her cautiously, knowing better than to break her 1 rule; no physical contact under any circumstance.
“I know I was young, but I have a strong feeling her death wasn’t natural. I mean, she was perfectly healthy, no history of brain trauma in our family, it all just doesn’t add up. And the flash. None of it makes any sense.”
Charles sat down at the chair across from Claris’ desk.
“I know it’s hard. But it happens. Bad things happen to good, innocent, healthy people. You know first hand about that. Just let it go.”
“I can’t “just let it go” Charles. It’s not that easy….. What if it was me? What if I tried to read her mind or something and killed her. I mean, like you said, I was only 5. I had no control over my powers back then. And look at me now. Look at what I do for a living. I’m a murder.”
“Claris, I’ve known you for 4 years now, and if I don’t know anything else about you, I know that you’re no murderer. Anyone that dies by your hand now, simply deserves to die. They’re the bad guys. If not them, then it would be some innocent person. And I know you didn’t kill your mom with your powers. You can’t even kill anyone now with your powers and you know how to control them.”
“I guess you’re right.” She sighed. “I’m just stressing since it’s 2 days away from the 25th anniversary of her death. I always get like this around this time. Don’t worry about me.” Wiping away the tears that were beginning to form, “Anyway. What’s my schedule for today?”
“Ok then.” Charles stands, “You have a mission across town. Something about a man named Vlogdon. He’s been on the company's radar for a while and they think now’s the perfect time to take him out. All the info is in your phone.”
“What’s the password for today?”
“Chicken Strips….. What? I was hungry this morning.”
“Are you serious?.......Next time, let’s try to keep this professional Charles.”
“But…….” Seeing the look in her eyes, he decided against making the smart remark he had thought of. Then quickly after, realized that he had thought it, which meant that she probably already knew. He wondered if she heard it…
“Yes. I heard that. Now go. Do whatever it is I pay you to do.”
She opened the file attached to the message Charles had just sent to her phone. Scanning through the mission report, everything seemed the same. It was a usual, search and take out mission. The problem was, normally “take out” meant wiping the person’s memory or bringing them into headquarters to inevitably never be seen again. This time around it was different. There were clear and direct instructions typed into the message:
It’s not as if Claris had not killed anyone before. In fact for a period of time, she was instructed to kill every target she received. But eventually, the company decided to wipe the memories of the assigned targets in order to be more “humane”. This was the first termination assignment Claris had received in 2 years. It was clear to her that Vlogdon wasn’t any normal target. She examined the picture attached to his file. He was a stocky looking man, about 5” 8’, very broad shoulders, a balding head although his profile said he was only 30, and a beer belly. His skin looked thick, greasy and extremely pale. Claris was extremely unimpressed. He seemed like a random couch potato who lived with his mom in the basement, reading comic books all day while eating Cheetos. But she knew better than to underestimate any target that she received. If the CIA wanted him dead, and thought he was important enough to have Claris herself handle him then he had to be an extreme flight risk. Like Charles said, the report located Vlogdon on the outskirts of the city.
Claris left her office and found everything she needed for the mission laid out neatly on the table outside of her office.
“Oh yeah. That’s what I pay Charles for,” were her words to herself as she examined her tools. A PDW handgun (her gun of choice), a penetration proof vest, combat boots to replace her heels and her specially made gloves that allowed her to climb walls and regulate the temperature of her entire body.
After saying her goodbyes to Charles, Claris was on her way, being sure to not be interrupted by the office clerk and his sly remarks.
I was 4 now. I vaguely remember what occurred that strange evening. My mother and father were arguing. About what, I was too young to know, but I could tell it was about me. They kept pointing at me throughout the argument. I hated when they argued. Partially because of the screaming, but mostly because when Mommy and Daddy argue, Mommy would hit Daddy. He would never do anything back though. I didn’t understand why he would never just hit her back. I mean, she deserved to get hit back. But he never would, until this instance.
After it happened, he kept saying how it wasn’t him. How it felt like he was possesed. He said he watched as his hand came across Mommy’s face but he couldn’t do anything about it. Of course she didn’t believe him. Mommy just screamed even more and went to her room, being sure to slam the door behind her for added effect. That night Daddy cried. I had never seen Daddy cry before. I didn’t think Daddies could cry, but why was he crying? Mommy got what she deserved right? Right?
Claris found herself in front of Vlogdon’s house without much trouble. All it took was a few blocks of searching and questioning. If he meant to remain hidden, he wasn’t doing a very good job at. She was surprised though; he didn’t live with his mother. He actually had an entire family. A pudgy wife, a pudgy son, about 15, and even a pudgy rottweiler to match. These were the hardest targets for Claris. The ones who seemed normal. The ones who had an entire family that would miss them. But it didn’t matter, business was business and orders were orders. Vlogdon had to die. But before that could happen, she couldn’t help but wonder why she was assigned to him in the first place. She decided to read his mind to find out, knowing that one could be really good at hiding who they were on the outside, but that no one could hide who they were from themselves.
“ Hmm…. I wonder if I should get some ice cream… I know I should watch my figure,” Vlogdon thought, “but what does it matter. Helen’s fat. She doesn’t even try to hide it anymore. At least I still suck in my little gut when I take my shirt off. She’s just fat and proud of it… Whatever…..I think I’m gonna get the ice cream. Hell, I deserve it.”
Claris grew impatient fairly quickly. It was her worst quality, but it was the one that saved Vlogdon’s life. Within her short time reading his mind, she found nothing of interest that would grant the death of this innocent looking man, so she decided to go against the missions details of killing him. Instead she planned to simply wipe his memory in hopes that whatever he was doing that caught the CIA’s attention in the first place, he would no longer do.
Waiting until Vlogdon and his family were asleep, Claris climbed through his bedroom window in order to grab a hold of his head. “That’s the one downside,” she thought as she climbed into the bedroom. “ I actually have to touch him just to wipe his memory.” Once in his room, Claris grabbed his head in her 2 hands and began the process of wiping his memory.
In order to wipe one's memory, Claris has to first go through the person’s entire memory, from birth, to that particular second. Once done, she could clear out any and every memory that she desired. 30 seconds into going through his entire memory, Claris ran into a strange situation; his early memories were almost identical to that of Claris’. The day when she was 4, watching her parents argue, her mother’s death. Vlogdon was there for it all. He lived it right along with Claris. He was her brother.
My brother Vlogdon and I were 7 and 4 at the time. We vaguely remember what happened that evening. Mother and father were arguing. We don’t remember why though. We were too young to really understand. We watched as they yelled at each other while pointing at us. Mommy hit Daddy. She always hit Daddy, and he never did anything. Until that night. We watched Daddy hit Mommy, but he didn’t want to. Vlogdon made him. Vlogdon made him hit Mommy back because she deserved it. She deserved it didn’t she? Just like she deserved to die.
We were watching the waves. It’s what we did every Sunday morning during the summer. We would go down to the pier and watch the waves. We enjoyed this moment more than any other. This was the only time we would be able to be completely alone with our mother. Simply enjoying each other’s presence. Vlogdon enjoyed it more than anyone. He had been waiting for this day for the past week. He planned it all out so perfectly. He mastered his powers. He knew exactly what to do to make it look natural. And he did. He killed her. He killed her and partially wiped my memory.
After going through all of Vlogdon’s memories, Claris knew what happened to her mother. She knew why her father killed himself that night too. She knew why she grew up without parents. It was Vlogdon. He caused it all. He killed their mother. He forced their father to kill himself. He wiped Claris’ memory in order to keep her innocent. He ran away to live alone and deal with what he had done. He put it all behind him. He made an entire new life. He did it all. All out of jealousy.
He hated when Claris was born. He felt like she would take over his mother’s attention and he did. She became the object of his mother’s attention. Everyone forgot about Vlogdon, except his father. He was still there for him. But he was weak. He let Vlogdon’s mother hit him repeatedly without hitting her back. Why didn’t he ever hit her back? Because he was a man? That wasn’t good enough. He needed to defend himself, and since he wouldn’t do it, Vlogdon would do it for him. But even after being hit back, Vlogdon’s mother continued to hit his father. So Vlogdon took care of her. But his father was weak. He couldn’t live without her. He didn’t want to live without her. So he killed himself.
Claris didn’t know what to do with the information. Should she just wipe Vlogdon’s memory like she originally planned to? Should she carry out the original mission and exterminate the target? But he wasn’t just a target anymore. He was her brother. Her brother that killed their mother and forced their father to kill himself. It didn’t matter anymore. He was awake.
“So you found me. After all these years. You’ve found me,” said Vlogdon. “So I’m guessing you know who I am,” he continued, “Well, how ya been sis?”
“How could you? How could you kill our mother? How could you leave me to grow up with strangers? How could you wipe my memory? How could you allow me to believe that I possibly killed our mother? How could you allow me to believe I was the only one left in our family? How could you?!” Claris was sobbing now. For the first time in her life, she was vulnerable. She cleaned herself up immediately.
“I should kill you. But I won’t. That’d be too easy. I’ll let you live with what you’ve done, and knowing that I’m alive and remember everything should make you guilty enough. You’re pathetic.” Claris turns to exit the bedroom.
“So you don’t even want to know why I killed her?”
“ I already know why. You were jealous.” replied Claris.
“No, that’s just what I put into my memories just in case anyone like you ever came around and tried to snoop around in my head. The real reason is a lot more complicated than that…….Actually……. it’s pretty simple now that I think about it…. She was a target. Simple as that.” said Vlogdon.
“What? What are you talking about?” replied Claris.
“What I’m talking about is the CIA. I was a child spy. No one knew, not even mom. But one day, I get a target for a mission and it was mom. Of course I say I can’t do it and question why she would even be a target considering her innocent nature. They said she had to go. She apparently was a secret project created by the CIA. Through genetic manipulation, they attempted to take a normal women, and give her telepathic powers. She was a test subject. The problem was, it didn’t work. Nothing ever happened to her, so they just let her go. That is, until she had her first child, yours truly, and I came out with telepathic powers. Then she gave birth to another telepath. They couldn’t risk her having any more telepaths so they wanted her gone.” explained Vlogdon.
“But why? Why wouldn’t they want more of us?”
“Because they don’t understand us,” explained Vlogdon, “They don’t feel safe around us. So they made sure that no more of us could be produced. And they made sure that they had complete control over us, which is why we work for them. But I left a few years back and they’ve been chasing me ever since I left.”
“Which explains why you’re my target…..But you didn’t have to do it. You could have saved her life.”
“No, I couldn’t. It was either her, or you, and I chose her.” replied Vlogdon.
Without responding, Claris left the bedroom. She immediately went to the pier where her mother was murdered. There, she reflected on everything she had just learned from Vlogdon. It was in this moment that she made a vow to never use her powers again. She didn’t feel as though she deserved them if her mother gave them to her, and her mother was dead. But she would wait until she got her vengeance on the CIA. From that day on, she would do whatever it took to avenge the death of her mother.