Gift Certificate Killer

This is a SciFi short story I wrote a long time ago, but still love. It was from one of those random-word-to-a-story sorts of contests. Pure Sci-Fi this one, not RPG anything. Lit or otherwise.

The story is from the POV of the unnamed hitman. No relation to the Hitman franchise of games though.


Today I killed a man for a gift certificate. It wasn't the lowest point in my career, but it could have been-- I could have taken the bribe to not kill him and ruined my reputation. Good thing I'm a man of integrity. I pulled the trigger and claimed my $15 (redeemable only at participating locations).

I walked out of the man's all oak office before stripping off my painter's mask with relief. Laser pistols may be all the hotness for wet-work, as they left no bullets and the wounds were easily confused with other heat weapons, but I hated breathing in the vaporized blood they sent into the air. Yuck.

Moving quickly, I made my way down dark carpeted halls, my footfalls barely registering against the oak panels. 

"Fred. Time?" I asked.

"2:32am Mountain Time sir," came the chipper voice in my head. "Cameras are down for maintenance for another 3 minutes."

"Thanks Fred. Allocate 50% of cycles to active noise cancellation," I said. Fred was an AI, so I didn't have to thank it, but we talked a lot, so I felt it was appropriate.

"You're welcome sir. Yes sir." The reply warbled as Fred cranked up signal processing in my trench-coat's computer system. Predictive algorithms trained on my shoes and these carpets -- from my earlier spying as a janitor -- sprang into action as I broke into a run. Counter-noise issued from speakers to blur out the sounds of me pounding down the stairwell.

"45 seconds remaining sir."

I barreled in a muffled manner across the second floor of the building to reach the sole open window. I scrambled through it and dropped myself twelve feet down into a dumpster. Unlike it's usual contents, this one had pre-placed mattresses.

"Drop active noise cancelling Fred. Run profile Harvey Lawrence on me."

"At what level sir?"

"30% is fine Fred."

"Running profile." The computerized words said as Fred put pressure on my brain.

"Well I'll be darned," I muttered, testing it out as I climbed out of the dumpster. The alleyway behind The Morgan & Geeps Insurance Agency was empty, so I just put my hands in my pockets and walked onto the nearby street.

"5 seconds sir."

"We're all good now Fred my boy. Bring up the autocar iffen ya please."

A few minutes of whistling at the street corner later and a car containing two comfy benches, a complimentary glass of water, and my client pulled up. I hopped in, punched a few buttons, and was off.

"Is it done?" the client asked.

"Fred. TC the autocar please."

"Yes sir," Fred replied, quickly hacking the autocar's surveillance systems and erasing them.

"Why yes indeed," I said, letting the Harvey profile guide my accent. "I've put that man who done you wrong down for good."

This earned me a grim look as my client nodded. I could tell by the quiver in his lip that he was trying to look cool and hold it together for me. It doesn't do to look weak in front of the help after all.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out my payment. "Here you go then."

I accepted the $15 gift card to Toy Land with a smile.

"Thank you for the business Mr. Client." The autocar stopped at an interchange. Dozens of similar vehicles were loading and unloading here in a vast frenzy of 24/7 activity. I got out, but he caught the sleeve of my jacket.

"Thank you. Really. Thank you," he said with wet eyes.

I sighed and freed my arm. "You're welcome."

The door of the autocar closed, but I still turned my back to make sure the client knew this was goodbye.

"Are you sure this is the right thing to do sir?" Fred asked as I walked away from the unmoving car.

"Cancel Harvey profile," I said to get my normal voice pattern back. "I don't do long-term relationships with clients Fred. You know that."

"Yes sir, but this client is only 9 years old. He needs more than just revenge."

I kept walking, shoving my hands into my pockets as I went deeper into the white-lit mall adjacent to the interchange. "I know that, but I don't sell happy families. I convert people into corpses for cash. Besides, that kid has more moxxy than I ever will. He'll be fine."

"I hope so sir. If you don't mind, I'd like permission to reroute his autocar to social services."

"Approved Fred. Thanks."