Open Your Mouth and Close Your Eyes | Ian Harrison


Open Your Mouth and Close Your Eyes

By Ian Harrison

For the Horrors and Heidegger Award


“You’re a defector,” she hissed, emphasising the first two syllables. “And you can go to hell, Agent Black.”

She stared him square in the eyes and clenched her jaw.

Subtly, she tried again, working her lower teeth against the upper set. Dry mouth and all, she thought she’d still have a drop of saliva…

“Looking for this, Maroon?”

Black was a smarmy shit. In his hand was a pair of pliers, which still gripped her bloody false tooth. The one containing the glass-encapsulated suicide pill.

“I know what you’re trying to do, but that was a dramatic way to go out… or would have been, had it have worked.”

Black’s is a sadistic laugh, and even when on the same side, people actively avoided working alongside him. His codename matched his demeanour, his temper. Black went with everything.

Maroon had to prove herself. Jumping higher, longer, faster, than the men. Country before children. She could describe the change in tension and sound of a chainsaw as it cut through body armour, ripped apart clothing, skin, finally carving through ribs. She fought the basic human instinct to swerve an armoured car, when faced with a henchman gushing seven hundred rounds per minute out of his AR-15 machine gun.

A fellow human. A dull thud on the bumper bar.

Maroon ignored his screams and pleas for help once he realised the wound was mortal but death was days away. She’d been up-close and personal with men who had skulls shot half to smithereens from point-blank range. Final words, gasped, without a tongue. She’d pulled the trigger.

“What’s that fragrance?” Black lingers close. “Eau de grey matter? They were your colleagues, Maroon. Now they bleed, Maroon.”

“Were colleagues… foot soldiers… and so were you.”

Chop.

Another toe, and without warning. She screamed. Black left it there with the others. It looked like she was wearing a pair of red sandals, strapped across the base of her toes. Toes which would never wiggle again.

“What do you want?”

“Codes.”

“You know them already. Please, Black. They haven’t changed. Let me go, please. At least let me go to the bathroom.”

“Begging does not become you. Go where you’re sitting. I don’t mind.”

Hope flickered for a moment and then vanished, along with another toe.

“I’ll start on your fingers, next,” he warned. “You forget : I had the boxer-short variety. Standard issue. Any more than twenty mils of urine and it sets off a chemical reaction once it reaches the elastic. That’s your plan, right?”

He held up a lacy pair of knickers on a pointer, and Maroon tasted bile.

A normal job. Why was she slaving away for this secret organisation? If her mission was a success, she couldn’t tell anyone. A failure, and she’d be dead.

Her school friends were at barbecues, getting stoned, drunk, laid or all three. She was getting shot at. Bad guy blood ruined her last two favourite tops. The hell with this.

“You want the codes, Black? You can go to hell. If your memory’s that bad, you won’t know what to do with them, you defect.”

Black levelled the gun at Maroon’s chest.

Hate flashed in her eyes. Her jaw was clenched in defiance and he believed that even if she weren’t tied down, she would still not move a muscle.

“Do it.”

He pulled back the hammer.

“Do it.”

Finger pressed on the trigger.

“Chicken. Do it!”

He fired.

“Knew you wouldn’t, gutless.” She breathed a sigh of relief. “Now, will you have me aboard?”

Agent Black smiled.