2018-09-18 13:37 fiction flash-fiction Benjamin Brood

Assignment

He took the pack of cigarettes out of his front shirt pocket. He habitually tapped twice on the pack then deftly extracted a single cigarette. He didn't offer me one.

"Terrible for you," he said, lighting it, "but I can't seem to give them up." He coughed once, sharply to punctuate the statement. "What do we have today to look at?"

I pulled the book out of my bag, the slips of paper used as page markers undulated like multicolored cilia. I placed it on the table and flipped it open at the first marker. There was a black and white picture of a middle-aged man, heavy set, unshaven, bad skin, with an exhausted, mean look in his eyes.

"This the guy?" he asked, pausing on the cigarette long enough to look at the photograph.

"Yeah," I said. Of course it was him.

"When we're done he'll have no idea who he used to be," he said, reminding me of the obvious.

"Which world?" I asked.

"Does it matter? I mean do you care? This guy special?" he puffed.

"No, I don't care," I said.

"Don't worry, it'll be far away, and the assignment will be long and not very much fun," he grinned, he liked his work.

"Good," I said.

"OK, what next?" he asked.