How I Met Your Mother: Mother's Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
Leah receives an unwelcome visitor...

Submitted: November 22, 2010

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 22, 2010

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A A A


How I Met Your Mother: Mother’s Day

It was one of those traditional Friday afternoons as far as the traffic was concerned. The speakers located in the door frames of the green Toyota SUV vibrated heavily to a pounding drum and baseline as Andrew Hargreaves pushing the volume dial upwards; while carefully navigating his way through the swell of cars and people carriers, he muttered something under his breath as a red Mini pulled out in front of him and made him slam the brakes on sharply.

Shaking his head, he resumed his progress towards the school. Taking a minute to check his watch at a set of traffic lights, he allowed himself a small smile as he realised he was actually going to be on time to pick up his children. As the light turned green, he gently applied pressure to the accelerator and made a slow left turn.

****

76 Burrow Street

The silver Golf pulled into the drive of the Hargreaves’ house – a large three bedroom Georgian townhouse located at the end of Burrow Street in one of the quiet, leafy suburbs of the city. The engine of the car idled for a minute before Leah got out – the song on the radio was a current favourite of hers.

This Friday had been her first day off for four months from making arrangements for the forthcoming international summit and she had taken full advantage of it. Following her traditional workout at the gym this morning, she had met up with Alison for lunch and the pair of them had disappeared into the city to participate in some retail therapy. Having known each other for nearly fifteen years they knew each other’s tastes inside out – and trusted each other implicitly.

As she pressed the small black box to engage the central locking system on the Golf, she could feel the soft buzzing sensation of her mobile from the pocket of her jacket. Scooping it up she could see the display was flashing Andy.

“Please tell me that you haven’t forgotten the kids.” Leah’s statement was a mixture of half-truth and humour.

“Of course not – I’m just pulling up at the school now.” he replied above the sound of the music in the car.

“What the hell is that you’re listening to? Pendulum?” Leah asked as she managed to grab the keys to the house out of her handbag.

“Close – InnerPartySystem.”

“Well it’s better than that Flint Glass stuff you were listening to last week.” Leah commented as she poked the key into the Yale lock. It jammed, prompting Leah to grit her teeth in frustration. “What do you want for dinner?”

“Not sure – what about pizza?”

“Okay, sounds good to me. See you in a bit.” Leah switched the phone off as she struggled with the key once more. As it finally slid into the lock, Leah felt something hard and cold being pushed into her ribs.

“Don’t make a sound and just go inside; otherwise I’ll kill you on the doorstep.” The voice hissed into her ear. “And we wouldn’t want your husband and children to come home to that, would we?”

****

10 years ago

Andrew sat in the back of the cab and looked at his watch. He cursed under his breath as he realised he was going to be ten minutes late. He hated being late – his punctuality was something he prided himself on. As the black cab swung into the street where the journey was due to end, Andrew berated himself for getting distracted earlier at his publisher’s office.

After paying the driver, he skipped up the stairs to the townhouse as he clutched a bottle of wine in his hand. Pressing the doorbell, he tried to stem the rising tide of apprehension in his stomach. A woman in her mid twenties with slightly angular features framed by a dirty blonde bob, opened the door. Dressed in black jeans and a blue tee shirt she looked at Andrew for a moment, before addressing him.

“Andrew, right?” She said. Andrew smiled at her.

“Yes – you must be Alison?” He presented her the bottle of wine. Noticing the label, Alison’s expression changed to one of faint surprise, her eyebrows rising slightly.

“Come in,” she stepped aside and gestured for Andrew to enter the house. “Can I get you a drink?”

****

After twenty minutes, Leah had introduced him to everyone there. Alison Irving was their host and Leah’s best friend. It had taken Andrew all of thirty seconds to figure out that they worked together when Leah had hesitated to explain just how she had met Alison.

Andrew had to confess to a certain degree of trepidation before getting in the cab this evening. Leah had insisted on Andrew meeting Alison after they had started seeing each other upon their joint return from Australia four weeks ago, however his commitments to his publisher had kept him from having a free evening up to this point.

He was worried that it would seem like he had been avoiding the inevitable meeting and had tried to make a good first impression on Alison at the doorstep. So far, he wasn’t sure which way the night was going as he noticed Alison looking at him with something of a critical gaze at times – it was like she was evaluating him.

Sitting next to Alison was her fiancé, Eric Douglas. From what Andrew could gather he was some sort of stockbroker and seemed to fancy himself as something of a wizard at constructing cocktails, yet he constantly seemed to be referencing the value of various items in the house or the house itself.

The other couple at the table were Leah’s cousin and his wife, Dennis and Marie Lane. Andrew found himself warming to them as the evening progressed – Dennis in particular seemed to have a similar sense of humour to Andrew.

“So, Leah tells me that you’re a writer Andrew,” Alison asked as Eric opened the bottle of wine their guest had bought for them. Andrew pushed his empty plate to one side.

“Yeah, you could say that.” Andrew replied, feeling Leah’s hand on his thigh. “Mainly low-brow horror dross, nothing too earth shattering.”

“I don’t know,” Marie said. “I’ve read some of your books and I couldn’t get my head around them.”

“Do I need to make good on my dust jacket promise of a full refund for anyone who doesn’t like my work?” Andrew asked with a pained expression on his face. “Because I have my wallet on me if needed.”

“No, no, nothing like that – I just found it a little dark.” She replied.

“They’re horror stories, what did you expect?” Dennis asked. “I mean, I don’t buy cook books and expect them to teach me the inner mysteries of the universe.”

“No, you buy cook books and use them to prop up the dodgy bookcase in the bedroom.” Marie shot back at him with a knowing smile on her face.

“But what does la Cth…thuuu…whatever mean?” Dennis directed his question to Andrew.

“You mean la! Cthulhu fhtagn, right?” Andrew’s pronunciation of the phrase seemed to startle Eric and Alison in particular. “It means anything from Cthulhu sleeps to Cthulhu waits, Cthulhu dreams, Cthulhu lives – whatever you want really. As long as you tack it on to the end of something spooky sounding uttered by the Esoteric Order of Dagon it seems to punctuate things nicely.”

“When’s book number six due out?” Leah asked. Andrew shrugged his shoulders.

“I think the publishers are aiming for an October release date – Diane, that’s my editor, wants to have one last read through before it’s submitted.” He said.

“So, anyone for dessert?” Eric asked. “We have cheesecake or apple pie…”

****

After they had finished eating, Andrew scooped up several plates and took them through to the kitchen, trailing Alison by several seconds. He placed the dirty crockery on the sideboard by the sink.

“Okay, what do you want me to do, wash or dry?” He asked as Alison closed the kitchen door behind her. “I’m more amenable to washing up – my Mom thinks it’s something to do with my tendency to be a perfectionist…”

“Right – here’s the best friend speech,” Alison interrupted him, moving to within a foot of Andrew. “Leah’s told me that she’s let you in on her little…secret.”

“Oh yeah, the whole Jane Bond thing, right?” Andrew replied. Alison nodded.

“Good – then that makes this a lot easier.” She pushed herself up against him. Andrew could feel her breath against his ear as she whispered. “She’s my best friend and we’ve been through things together that have made us closer than you can possibly realise,” she paused for a second before resuming her whispered statement. “And I can tell that she really, really likes you. If you hurt her, if you break her heart then I promise you I’ll break your neck – are we clear?” Alison stepped back from Andrew – who surprisingly had a big smile on his face.

“See, when I told my kid sister’s boyfriend that, he just laughed at me – yet with you, I can quite easily believe it.” He said. Alison was momentarily confused by his flippant response – almost as if he had been expecting it. “However, you can rest assured, I have absolutely no intention of hurting Leah – I’m completely and utterly besotted with her, so yes, you are crystal clear.”

“Good.” Alison said as she picked up a tea towel and tossed it to him. “You can dry – I’m also abit of a perfectionist when it comes to doing the washing up.”

****

As they walked in the cool night air, Leah grabbed Andrew’s arm and pulled him towards her.

“You were fantastic in there.” She said, her voice sounding uncharacteristically gleeful.

“Really? I thought I was getting abit geeky when I was talking about writing...”

“No, you were great – you could see the passion you have for it burning in your eyes,” Leah said. “It’s the same when you’re in bed…”

“Oh no, no you don’t – don’t try and distract me with that ploy,” Andrew joked. “I’m trying to have a serious conversation here…” He stopped in his tracks and held both of Leah’s hands. “Look, Leah, I need to tell you something, and it’s really important – I’m really, really crazy about you and…and I think I…I should…” He felt Leah’s fingers press against his lips.

“Andy, it’s okay,” She said, smiling at his flustered attempts to convey his feelings towards her. “There’s something I need to show you.”

****

An hour later, Andy found himself standing inside a small lock up garage located about twenty minutes away from Leah’s apartment. As he stood there in the small pool of light provided by the single electric bulb suspended from the ceiling, he found himself at a loss for words.

He was surrounded by a unique combination of items - ranging from a high-powered motorcycle, form fitted suits of what looked like body armour to a selection of weapons and ammunition. As he marvelled at the items on display, Andrew realised that Leah was holding a key in her hand and seemed to be offering it to him.

“Andy, I’m being really honest with you here – you know what I do for a living and you know it’s a dangerous job,” she said. “There’s a risk that I might not come home one day, or that someone might try to get to me through you, so I need to know that you’ll be safe.”

“And this place is what? Your own personal arms bunker?” Leah smiled at his skewed sense of humour.

“I also need to be able to warn you if something is wrong so you can always get away or get here if need be, and vice versa.” She held her hand up as Andrew began to open his mouth, silencing his anticipated statement. “We need to agree a safe word or phrase that we’ll both know means that there’s a serious problem.”

“Okay,” Andrew said. “Any thoughts?”

“I have actually – I was thinking that we should use the phrase your Mom called, your Dad isn’t well. Can you call her? But that’s just too…cumbersome.” Leah remained silent for a moment as she watched Andrew taking in the information. He slowly nodded. “I know it was abit presumptuous of me, but I’ve never known my Dad and I know the situation regarding yours, so I’ve come up with something else.” For a moment she was worried that she’d seem insensitive to his feelings.

“Okay, shoot.”

“Did you remember the milk pumpkin?”

“Pumpkin?” Andrew said. “Pumpkin? You know, I never really considered myself a pumpkin before.”

“Which is why I figured it might work.” Leah replied.

“Right – I can go with that then.” He nodded towards the key. “So, what’s with that?”

“Alison and I have keys to this place, now I’m giving you one.” Leah replied. “It doesn’t mean we’re engaged or anything like that…” her voice trailed off as Andrew took it from her grasp.

“You’ve been watching Aliens again haven’t you?” Andrew, referencing Leah’s favourite film said as he looked at the key.

“Yeah – did it show?” Andrew’s nodding head gave her his answer.

“That was Hicks to Ripley when he gives her the little strappy locator beacon thing.” He stepped towards Leah and kissed her. “So, you ever had sex in here?”

“No,” she said as she returned his kiss with a smile. “Has anyone ever shown you how to fire a gun?”

****

76 Burrow Street

Standing in the hallway of her home, Leah slowly turned around to see a squat pistol nestled in the right hand of the stranger aimed squarely at her chest. Granted, its stopping power was minimal beyond thirty feet, but at this close range it would be devastating. She looked at the man standing before her, holding her at gunpoint. Maintaining eye contact with him, she found him to be instantly forgettable.

Of course, she mused, that’s what they want these days. Holding her hands where he could see them, by her sides with her palms facing outwards, she decided to make the first move.

“What is it that you want?” she tried to remain calm, given the fact that she knew Andrew would be home shortly. If this John Doe had been able to find out where she lived then it was a safe assumption that he wasn’t operating alone today.

“You’ve been co-ordinating the security arrangements for the Summit.” The intruder said. “I want those details.”

“That’s going to take time,” Leah said. “I could take you to…” The gun was suddenly raised and pushed towards her – although not close enough to affect any kind of disarming manoeuvre from Leah’s perspective. It was more of a means of emphasising that John was currently in control of the situation.

“Stop stalling for time – I know that you have access to the data here.” His voice was calm and even, telling Leah all she needed to know.

“Okay – but I’ll need to get it for you from my laptop.” She said, trying to put him at ease. “Which means I’ll need to go into the dining room.”

“I’m sure you can manage that by walking backwards,” John Doe replied before waving the gun at her to indicate that Leah should move.

****

One of the reasons why Andrew and Leah had chosen this area when they moved shortly after the twins turned two was the plethora of good schools in the area. They had both been impressed by the local primary school and despite reservations at the prospect of one of them making the school run twice a day, the decision had been made overnight that this would be the area they would raise their children in.

As Sylvia Evans, the headmistress of the school, sat stern-faced across the desk from Andrew, Scott and Cassie, he found himself wondering if they’d made the right decision made five years ago.

“I’m sure you can appreciate the situation Mr Hargreaves,” Sylvia said. “We’ve had complaints from several parents about the effect the…material your son bought into school has had on some of the more sensitive children.”

“I’m really, really sorry Mrs Evans,” Andrew said as he picked up the large book from the table. “Ordinarily, this sort of thing is tucked away on the top of a bookcase where little hands can’t get hold of them.” He glanced down at Scott, who was studiously examining his shoes. “And I can assure you that this won’t happen again.”

“Oddly enough, I can understand Scott’s curiosity – his reading age is several years ahead of his peers, but I simply can’t allow reading matter like that in the school in this age group.” Sylvia said as her stern expression began to crack slightly. “But I’m happy now we’ve had this little talk.”

“Thanks again Mrs Evans – like I said, I can assure you that there won’t be a repeat of this incident.”

After scooping up both children, Andrew guided them through the school and into the car park. Making sure they were both buckled into the back seat before getting in the car himself, Andrew took a moment to think about what he was going to say.

“Sorry Dad,” Scott beat him to it, his voice sounded suitably contrite.

“What were you thinking?” Andrew asked him, turning in the driver’s seat so he could see his son’s face. “Why did you take the Malleous Monstorum into school?”

“Rob Nolan said that only babies were scared of monsters, so I thought if he saw some of those monsters he might change his mind.” Scott replied. “Turns out he doesn’t like spiders…or worms…” Cassie giggled in the seat next to him.

“Scott!” Andrew admonished him. “That’s not fair – how would you like it if Rob made you look at pictures of dead dogs?” He shook his head. “And how did you get hold of it? That book is on the top of the book case – you could have killed yourself climbing up there to get it.”

“I’m sorry Dad; I just wanted to prove him wrong.” Andrew turned the key in the ignition. “Besides Cassie helped me…oww!” Scott cried out as a small fist hit his arm.

“Cassie, is that right?” Andrew asked. Cassie looked at her father and sheepishly nodded. “Right, when we get home you two are going straight to bed.” Sliding the gear stick into first, Andrew prepared to pull away. Something at the back of his head made him stop. “I’d better tell your Mom we’re going to be late – she’ll be worrying otherwise.”

****

As her fingers danced across the keys of the laptop, Leah was trying to formulate a plan in her mind. With John Doe standing behind her he could clearly see what she was doing on the computer – which ruled out either e-mailing the office or sending any sort of instant message to garner assistance or support. Again, he was standing around ten feet away from her so her options were limited.

Then again, she thought, if he’s a professional then I’m dead at the end of all this anyway.

There was a shrill ringing coming from the kitchen. For a moment Leah’s mind failed to register what it was. As she realised it was the home phone a though occurred to her. She twisted her body slightly to the left.

“Leave it – finish what you’re doing.”

“It’s probably my husband – if I don’t answer it he’ll know there’s something wrong.” Leah said, turning her head to look at the man behind her. The phone continued to ring.

“Okay – but try anything funny and I’ll make you watch while I kill them all.”

Leah slowly got up from the chair in the dining room and walked to the kitchen, with John Doe trailing a safe distance for him behind her. As she picked up the phone she hoped that her guess was accurate.

“It’s me, we got held up at the school…” Andrew’s voice filled her with relief – at least her family were nominally safe at the moment.

“I forgot to check with you earlier,” Leah said, interrupting her husband. “Did you remember the milk pumpkin?” There was silence on the other end of the phone, followed by three whispered words before the line went dead. “Mmm…yes, yes, that will be fine – I’ll see you later.” Leah continued for a moment before replacing the handset on the base unit. She then looked at John Doe. “Okay, shall we continue then?”

****

Andrew could feel the blood drain from his face as she said the phrase that they’d discussed a decade ago in a lock up garage. Unfortunately, he knew that he wasn’t in any sort of position to help out and had more important things to take care of.

“Okay, why don’t we go and pay a visit to Granny?” He said as he abruptly turned left out of the school entrance rather than right.

“I thought we were going home?” Cassie asked. “We still have to make our cards for Mother’s Day.” Andrew shook his head.

“No, Mommy’s a little busy right now and she doesn’t want to be disturbed, so she wants us to go over to Granny’s house for a little bit.”

****

Returning to the dining room, Leah felt relieved that she had been able to warn Andrew. She knew that she had to channel her anger at the thought of her family being threatened into something useful, even while there was a nagging sense of dread that something may yet still happen to them that she couldn’t control.

This had been her primary fear after giving birth to Cassie and Scott – that someone would take them away from her without Leah being able to do anything to stop them. There was a clattering noise as a memory stick was thrown down onto the table

“Put the data onto that.” John Doe said.

“Okay,” Leah said, inserting the stick in the USB port and activating the file transfer. She made a few surreptitious additional keystrokes as well, uploading a virus to the memory stick at the same time. Even if they got away with the data it would prove useless once they tried to download it.

What’s the term again? A pyrrhic victory.

****

“Mom, I need you to look after the kids for me for a bit.” Andrew said after he’d ushered Scott and Cassie into his mother’s living room. The short, squat figure of his mother came waddling out of the kitchen bearing a tray of biscuits.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. Andrew shook his head.

“Nothing – everything is fine.” He replied. “Look, have you still got the keys to Harry’s old van?”

“Yes, why?”

“I need to borrow it,” Andrew said. His mom picked up a set of rusty looking keys from the sideboard and handed them to him. “Oh and are my old American Football pads and helmet still in the garage?”

“They should be.” His mother answered. “Andrew, what’s going on?”

“Just look after the kids – I’ll tell you later.” He then kissed his mom on the cheek before darting out of the house. Once the front door was shut behind him, he grabbed his mobile from his pocket and dialled a number. “Alison, its Andy; Leah’s in trouble…”

****

There was a noticeable sense of irritation in the dining room as two pairs of eyes watch the progress bar creep along the screen. Leah was running through her options as the phone began to ring again. The shrill tone cut through the silence between the two people in the room. By the seventh ring, it was clear whoever was on the phone wasn’t giving up.

“Answer it – get rid of them.” John Doe gestured for Leah to get out of her chair once more. Again he followed her from a safe distance as she made her way into the kitchen. If she could just get to the knife block by the sink, or her hands on a saucepan…

“Hello.” Leah never took her eyes of John Doe.

“It’s me,” Alison’s voice was instantly recognisable. “I’m on my way.”

“I’m sorry,” Leah said with a feint smile on her face. Thank you Andy. “We already have broadband, thanks anyway.” She pressed the button to end the call and made to return the portable handset to the base unit.

John Doe coughed, bringing his hand to his mouth. Leah recognised the opening immediately. In the space of the seven seconds in which his lungs reacted to something in the air and the reaction of his eyelids to forcibly close, Leah snatched the phone from the base unit and threw it with pace and accuracy.

The detachable unit struck John Doe’s hand holding the pistol – which clattered against the tiled kitchen floor. Dispensing with the other two ideas she had conjured up as she had answered the phone, Leah flew at the intruder. Her right fist connected with his chin as her left hand grabbed his right wrist, twisting it and pushing John Doe into the side of the kitchen door.

Wrenching his arm up behind his back quickly and with as much force as she could muster, Leah grabbed the hair on the back of his head and drove him face-first into the side of the large SMEG fridge freezer that dominated the one wall. John Doe dropped to his knees, blood from his nose now adorned the pale blue metal of the faux-1950s style appliance as Leah reached out for the first thing to hand

The tea towel was one of a set of six that Leah’s mother had bought them as a silly wedding present. As her fingers wrapped around the end of the slightly damp cloth Leah flicked her wrist in a circular motion before whipping it around John Doe’s neck. Grasping the loose end with her other hand, Leah planted her knee against his back for leverage, hauling back as hard as she could.

John Doe’s mouth opened and closed like a goldfish as Leah used the improvised garrotte to strangle him. He pawed at the material that was biting into his neck, hoping to either alleviate the deadly pressure or to somehow wrest it from her grip. He succeeded in neither. Leah knew what she was doing as she maintained her grip, recognising the tell-tale signs of someone dying from lack of oxygen and blood to the brain.

John Doe’s hands fell limply to his sides as his eyes glazed over, his arms twitching spasmodically. Leah held on for another thirty seconds before letting his lifeless body fall to the kitchen floor. She unwound the tea towel from his neck and used it to wipe the blood from the side of the fridge. Leah looked at it for a moment and then tossed it into the washing machine without a second thought.

Now to see what else I have to deal with, she thought as she made her way to the living room.

****

On the opposite side of the city, Alison Irving was cursing the traffic. After Andrew’s phone call she had managed to find two junior agents in the building who weren’t attending to other matters as backup. Despite her best efforts, congestion was proving to be the biggest problem she was facing today.

She consoled herself with the thought that no matter what sort of situation Leah found herself in, she could usually figure a way out of it. She could always be counted on to do the right thing in a crisis, Alison mused as she pushed the accelerator of her government issued SUV to the floor. In doing so she ran straight through a red light.

“Shouldn’t we have stopped for that?” Michaels – one of the agents in the back – asked her.

“Fuck it,” Alison replied. “They can send me the ticket.”

****

8 years ago

Northern France

Leah sidled closer to the ground; being spotted meant exposure and the risk of failing a mission that had been a month in the planning. With the sun receding behind the hills and the moon beginning to show its milky white face, it would soon be too late eliminate her target as time was working against her. Peering through her binoculars, she observed him pacing in his 15th floor office. Having been on reconnaissance for two weeks, she had picked out this particular location as the most suitable spot for her to carry out her task.

He was a creature of habit – something that Leah had been thankful for. Every day, he entered the building at 7am on the dot. After buying his Columbian coffee from a machine, he would stroll to his office, arriving at approximately 7:15. After finishing the caffeine loaded drink, he would work through the morning, taking two bathroom breaks and one snack break in the process.

After taking his lunch at his desk, the same pattern would repeat itself for the afternoon. At 4pm every day, he would amble around his room and check to see that all his work was completed. Sometimes he would talk to himself, or swing an imaginary golf club in the direction of the large plate glass windows that looked out at the hills behind the office.

Then, near 4:30, he would exit the building and calmly stroll to his black Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe and make the two-hour drive back to his home outside the city.

Having spent the first week of her time in the country as his “replacement” secretary, Louise, Leah also knew various details from his private life, such as he had an affair with his neighbour’s wife, has an illegitimate child, drinks heavily and is on his second heart attack.

His financial activities were highly irregular – with sizeable donations to several organisations connected to Al-Khayal on a regular basis. After compiling as much intelligence as she could, Leah had reported back to her superiors. They had responded by telling her that as the French authorities were disinclined to take action against him she should proceed as she saw fit. Checking her gauges to see what the wind was like, she began assembling her weapon.

The conversation from the previous night with Alison suddenly flew back into Leah’s mind. She had been packing up her temporary accommodation and making sure that there was no trace of her cover identity left behind when her private cell phone rang. Not that anyone would be able to connect her to what was about to happen, but she always felt happier once she had performed this particular ritual.

“I don’t know why you drag it out so much,” Alison said. Leah could hear the sound of a cigarette lighter clicking. “If it had been me I’d have just fluttered my eyelashes at him, gotten him into a hotel room and popped him there and then.”

“You know that’s not how I work,” Leah said, spraying the bathroom with a mixture of bleach and caustic soda. “I like to make sure that everything is perfect.”

“No, you just enjoy drawing it out,” Alison countered. “You delay gratification as long as possible.”

“Well, maybe,” Leah replied, stepping out of the bathroom and looking down at her watch. “How’s everything coming along?”

“Don’t worry about that – everything is under control. You just concentrate on doing what needs to be done and getting home okay.” Alison scolded her. “Have you spoke to Andy today?”

“Earlier – I won’t speak to him now until I’m at the airport.” Leah said, picking up her suitcase and placing it by the door to the rented apartment. She could almost see the frown on her friend’s face as she spoke.

“You know I don’t think you should do that – you might lose focus at a critical moment.”

“He’s the only reason I do focus on my job right now,” Leah said, looking back at her watch again. “Look, I need to go – I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay kiddo – take care.”

As Leah secured the rifle on its stand, she pulled a cover of leaves over the gun for camouflage. Placing her eye behind the scope, Leah swung the weapon to the left slightly, aiming into her targets office. With a couple of turns of the scope’s sight adjustment, she zeroed in clearly on the interior of the office.

Xavier Micoud leaned back in his chair and stretched his arms. Shaking his head, he picked up his briefcase as the overworked muscles in his legs strained to lift his body out of the chair. Those same muscles propelled him tiredly towards the door. Leah felt her stomach suddenly lurch – he was leaving his office. Pulling out a cheap, disposable cell phone, she knew she had to act fast before everything was ruined. Her fingers moved faster than she thought possible as she keyed in the number to Xavier’s desk from memory.

As he placed the key in the handle to lock the door, Xavier heard a brief beep, followed by a shrill ring. I wonder who that could be? He mused as he walked back to his desk and sat down. The spring on the chair wheezed in protest at his weight. I guess I have time to answer one more call today, he continued, glancing at his watch.

“Look out of the window.” Leah’s French was faultless. She zoomed in and switched off the safety as he followed the message inquisitively. Applying a slow pressure to the trigger, she waited for him to rotate towards her. She fired the shot with a soft click of the pressure sensitive trigger. The bullet zipped through the air and pierced the window, impacting on the target in less than a second. The hollow-point shell shattered through the man’s head, just as the broken window shards hit the floor. A wave of blood spattered across the desk as Xavier Micoud fell out of the chair, slumping to the floor with the telephone receiver still in his hand.

Leah was already moving away as chaos broke out on the 15th floor. Ditching the rifle in a nearby storm drain, she made her way back to the rented off-road vehicle that was sitting on a narrow dirt road. Firing the engine into life, Leah allowed herself a brief smile as the heavy-set vehicle began to bounce along the road.

By this time tomorrow, I’ll be Mrs Andrew Hargreaves.

****

76 Burrow Street

Crawling along the floor, Leah managed to get to the large bay window that looked out over her front garden and onto the street. Pulling her cell phone from the pocket of her jeans she activated the recording facility of the camera function and carefully pushed the small device up into the window.

Using the full three minutes recording time available, Leah turned the camera in an arc before she retracted her hand. As she lay on the carpet, taking care not to expose herself to anyone outside, Leah began to play back the footage the small camera had recorded.

At the one minute, forty-three second mark she saw what she was looking for. Parked on the street outside their house was a grey Vauxhall Vectra – and sitting in the driver’s seat was a young woman with what appeared to be brown or black hair. Her expression was fixed firmly on the Hargreaves’ property.

Leah took the time to watch the rest of the footage for any other unknown observers, and then crawled along the floor until she reached the doorway again. Springing to her feet, she walked purposefully into the kitchen. Pausing only to scoop up John Doe’s pistol, Leah made her way to the back door.

Leah carefully negotiated the fence that acted as a barrier between the gardens of the Hargreaves’ and their neighbour, Mrs Krepolowski, and jogged straight for the shared access between the next two houses in the street. Realising that the woman in the car was watching the front of the Hargreaves house, she had decided to approach the car from the rear, hopefully concealing her presence until it was too late for her target to do anything about it.

Using Mrs Krepolowski’s overgrown hedge as cover, Leah carefully approached the street, pulling the compact pistol out of the back of her jeans in the process. Stepping out onto the pavement, Leah didn’t quite believe what she saw unfolding before her eyes.

****

Mr Adelmann has a red Toyota, Mrs Krepolowski doesn’t drive, the Parkers have that horrible yellow truck, Tony and Yvonne drive a BMW, Andrew thought as he struggled to see clearly out of the visor that covered his eyes. Which means that the only car I don’t recognise is that Vectra outside my house

His foot pressed down on the accelerator and the van lurched into life, rumbling down the slight inclination of the hill that Burrow Street sat on. The only thought that went through his mind was to remember to change upward through the gears. Feeling the anxiety growing in his stomach, Andrew Hargreaves alternated between looking at the unknown car and its lone occupant and the speedometer as it slowly rose. If it had been snowing then the van would have looked like one of those giant cartoon snowballs rolling down the hill, gradually increasing in momentum.

His foot felt like it was about to break through the faded lining of the interior of the Ford Transit van as he watched the needle climb to just under forty miles an hour. One last glance up at the car, just to check I’m not going to miss – Jesus it looks big this close…the woman inside looks like she’s screaming…is that my wife behind Mrs Krepolowski’s hedge…?

****

“What the hell did you think you were doing?” Leah said as her voice was almost drowned out by the sound of the circular saw that was cutting through the twisted metal wreck made up of a 2006 Vectra and a 1998 Transit. “You could have been killed!”

“Unlikely,” Andrew replied. He took a drink from the mug of tea he was holding in his hands. “The Transit’s engine mounting only punctures through into the driver compartment at speeds above fifty two miles an hour – whereas the Vectra is designed to crumple on impact, pushing the engine mounting backwards into the passenger compartment.” He then patted the set of American Football pads that were still attached to his body. “Plus the pads would have saved me.”

“What?” Leah said, looking over her shoulder at the situation. Alison was walking over to her – the entire street resembled something out of an episode of Casualty.

“Looks like she might make it, in spite of the injuries she sustained in the collision.” Alison said, indicating to the occupant of the car. “I take it the other one is inside?”

“Yeah,” Leah replied. “But he won’t be able to tell you anything.”

“Ballsy stunt with the van.” Alison said to Andrew, who smiled and raised his mug to her in a mock salute.

“Don’t encourage him,” Leah warned her. “Where are the kids?”

“At Mom’s eating biscuits and making your Mother’s Day card.” He replied. “Does this mean we’ll need to move house again?”

“Maybe.” Leah said, taking another look at the mangled chunk of metal. “And I think we’ll need to get your step-father a new van.” Michaels called out to Alison from the wreckage of the car, gesturing for her to come over as the paramedics placed the unidentified woman on a stretcher.

“I’ve got to go, you two going to be okay?” Alison asked. Leah nodded. “Okay then, looks like I’ll be accompanying our friend to the hospital, assuming she survives the journey. You know how much of a killer the traffic is at this time of the day.” Both Leah and Andrew noticed something dark in the tone of her voice. “I’ll call you later Leah.” As she watched her friend enter the back of the ambulance and it drive away with its siren blaring, Leah felt a hand on her shoulder.

“You okay?” Andrew asked. She turned and looked at him. Leah wrapped her arms around him and hugged him, despite the layer of plastic armour that surrounded his chest and shoulders.

“I love you too.” She whispered into his ear.


© Copyright 2020 MarkCoop1974. All rights reserved.

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