Sunday, August 1, 2010



By Nina Bau

You watch as Bob disappears into the men’s room. The temptation to run is strong, but you’re not sure where you’d run to. You don’t have any evidence and you don’t even know who the target is in Malloy’s plan. You decide to play along a little longer, and if you get to soak in one of the Cydonia Hilton’s massive massage tubs in the process, so be it.

Bob ambles out of the restroom and wordlessly heads towards the shuttle station.

“What about that drink?” you ask.

“We can order something at the hotel. Saleen will be expecting to hear that we’ve checked in, and you know how she is when she’s kept waiting.”

You nod, mustering up your best been-there, that-bitch-sure-is-crazy look.

The shuttle ride through the city is pretty uneventful. Bob drums his fingers against his leg, occasionally allowing them to morph into a taffy-like consistency and stick to his pants. No one but you seems to notice. The other passengers are busy drinking in the sleek buildings and seductive lights of downtown Cydonia, Mars’ largest city.

The lobby of the Cydonia Hilton looks like it was dipped in gold. A night’s stay in a place like this would cost you a month’s salary in zircons.

“Be right back,” Bob mumbles, and heads in the direction of the public restrooms.

This guy has a bladder like your 95-year-old grandfather.

Moments later, a buxom redhead sidles up to you and slips her arm around your waist. She’s wearing an emerald green slip dress and matching, impossibly high, heels. You’re confused, but going with the flow has kept you alive this long.

“Let’s go, love.”

She gently steers you in the direction of the registration desk. The young clerk behind the counter does a classic double-take at your new companion. You glance over your shoulder, looking for Bob. He’s still in the bathroom.

“Welcome to the Cydonia Hilton.”

“Reservation for the Blanks.”

The clerk types on a keyboard, consults the monitor and then he smiles.

“Ah, yes. The honeymoon suite. Top floor. Do you need assistance with your bags?”

“No,” the redhead purrs. “They’ll be arriving later. Show them up when they do.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

The clerk slides your… spouse?… a room keycard.

“And please make sure we’re not disturbed otherwise.”

The redhead grabs the back of your neck and pulls you in for a long wet kiss.

The clerk gives you a salacious wink.

In the elevator, you ask, “Where’s Bob?”

The redhead morphs into Bob.

“Right here.”

Vomit gathers in the back of your throat.

Once in the suite, you can barely appreciate the plush carpet, fully-stocked bar, and dazzling view.

“Was that kiss necessary?!”

You wipe the back of your hand against your tongue.

“Yes,” Bob replies, grabbing a bottle of champagne from a bucket of ice and brushing aside rose petals to plop down on the king-size bed. “The devil is in the details, my friend.”

Bob gives you the once-over.

“You know, you sure don’t act like any assassin I’ve ever worked with.”

Oh, crap.

“Well, I just don’t like things sprung on me, is all. I’m a professional, you know. And that was all… very… unprofessional.”

“Uh huh. I’m wondering if maybe Saleen and Malloy made a mistake.”

You’re starting to take all of this doubt personally.

“Listen, I can get the job done! I’m going to assassinate the shit out of… um… him…”



“Right. I meant her… and then we’ll see who’s the mistake. I’m an assassin for God’s sake. Don’t question me!”

You’re raising your voice, but you don’t care. You start waving your arms around to let him know you mean business. Bob looks both suspicious and amused.

“Fine. I won’t question you…”

You relax. Acting like a crazy person worked. No one likes to fuck with a crazy person…

“… after you lay out the plan. I need to know you can handle this. My ass is on the line if you can’t.”

… except Bob. Apparently, Bob likes to poke crazy with a stick.

“If you insist, Bob!” You sneer, giving him a look that says you’re offended, but you’ll tolerate his little game.

“We don’t want this peace treaty signed. And I’m going to assassinate her to make it look as if the aliens’ supreme leader did it… and then… I’m… we’re….”

Before you can come up with any more, the door to the suite blasts open and half a dozen heavily armed men enter. The letters G.B.I. are in white reflective letters across their bulletproof vests. Quicker than you can say, “Oh shit,” one of the men aims a large black pistol at Bob and fires.

Bob stiffens and then goes limp, champagne bottle still gripped in his hand.

The agent that fired the shot speaks into his wrist.

“The shifter is down. I repeat, the shifter is down.”

“Don’t move!” Another G.B.I agent shouts at you, but it wasn’t necessary. Your hands have been frozen in the air from the moment they burst into the room.

The clerk from the front desk saunters into the room. He has a gold shield hanging from a chain around his neck.

“You’re a cop?”

Thank, God! You’re saved.

“Special Agent Tudeski, actually. And we heard everything, Blank. We’ve been waiting a long time to catch the elusive Shadow Assassin. Not quite what we expected though.”

You’re almost offended.

“Oh. No. There’s a mistake. I’m not an assassin!”

Tudeski reaches into his pocket, pulls out a small item that looks like a garage door opener and presses a button. Your own voice fills the room.

Listen, I can get the job done! I’m going to assassinate the shit out of… um… him…

We don’t want this peace treaty signed. And I’m going to assassinate her to make it look as if the aliens’ supreme leader did it… and then… I’m… we’re….

“I can explain!”

Reflexively, you reach for your identification, forgetting that you’re not carrying any. The agents take this as a sign of aggression. They fire simultaneously.

Your body is filled with hot searing pain. Your bowels release. And then you die.




  1. "Apparently, Bob likes to poke crazy with a stick."

    This is a GREAT line, Nina. Love it loads :-)