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Posts Tagged ‘Loren Rudi’

Day Two Hundred and Nine: My Sister, the Assassin

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

For the month of December, I’ll be world-building. This means taking a look at the people, places, and institutions that I have created over the last six months and trying to figure out more about them. This will involve a look at the stories in which they’ve appeared, and then some speculation, stream-of-consciousness writing, and with any luck a few revelations. In addition, I may come back and add new material as the Elves in my unconscious ship out new ideas, so I’ll be sure to link them up.

Your feedback as readers is, of course, more than welcome. There are probably questions that I’m forgetting to ask and holes that I need to fill.

Wish me luck!

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What with the death of Christopher Hitchens, I wish I had a character who was even a faint echo of the guy, but I don’t. That has to be remedied, I think.

Having said that, let’s roll the 361-sided die and see which character gets to be featured today!

*rollrollroll*

Number 210 – Loren Rudi from day 98, Back in the Saddle! Lucky you, Loren, come on down! Let’s see what the story tells us about you:

  • She’s returning to a job from which she had taken a hiatus. That job? Assassin.
  • She has a sister, Anna Lambourne, and a nephew, Alton. Anna seems to have no problem with what her sister does.
  • She’s killed 81 people.
  • She’s not allowed to share specific information about her job.
  • Her target is Brant Laidler, a businessman who is in talks with Munin Scientific. Her employer doesn’t want those talks to happen.
  • She counts doubles to relax.

I wrote this story after my vacation back to the US in August, and I wrote it for a specific reason: the ridiculousness of a vacation to see the family, compounded by the utter absurdity of international travel, had kind of thrown my writing mojo way, way off. I managed to get a few stories done, but not nearly one a day. I missed more days than I made, actually.

When I cam home, I wasn’t sure I could pick it up again. The blank spaces in my writing calendar just glared out at me, and for a brief and horrible moment I thought it would just be easier not to write than to write. I mean, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it through the year anyway – that was some kind of insane idea I had. And like most of my insane ideas, it was wildly unworkable. So maybe it would be okay to be satisfied with the ninety or so stories that I had done and call it quits.

What’s more, I have come to realize something important about the way my creative impulses work: they are capricious and liable to switch around without warning. There was a period a few years ago where I did a lot of drawing. My DeviantArt page is testament to that. And then the impulse to draw just… stopped. It just went away, to the point where I pretty much gave up on drawing anything before the pencil could touch the paper.

So I figure that was what was in the process of happening with writing – I had done as much as I could do, and the time for being a writer was over.

But there was another part of me that refused to let that happen, and I’m sure we’re all glad that that part won out in the end. At least, I’m pretty sure we’re all glad. Some of us, anyway.

One of the nice things about writing is that you’re allowed to explore these little mental quirks, wrapped up in an obfuscating cloak of character and fiction. I was able to take my worries about not being able to write any more stories and gave it to Loren.

I’m not sure why I decided to make her an assassin. Maybe because it’s not a job that’s usually linked to this kind of problem. People don’t (I imagine) take breaks from being an assassin and then pick it up again. But Loren did, and she seemed perfectly happy to be a killer for hire. She’s got enough experience and kills under her belt that no matter how much self-doubt she may experience, deep down she knows that she’s good at what she does.

So there are three questions – no, four – that come to mind from her story.

First, how did she get into the business of being an assassin? It’s hard no t to take a cue from Grosse Pointe Blank and give her a start in the military, but I’m not sure how else one becomes an assassin. She’s all-American, so there’s no life of having to kill government soldiers or rebels to survive. From how she talks to her sister, she sounds fairly middle-class, though that could be because she’s been doing this for years and has moved on up. For all intents and purposes, Loren sounds very well-balanced, with the exception of the fact that she kills people for a living. So this might take some research, although I have no idea how you research the life stories of professional assassins.

Secondly, why did she take a break? All we know is that she was off the job for a while. I’d like to think it was because she was given a target that showed her how terrible her job was, but that wouldn’t hold up – she seemed to have absolutely no problem killing the guy in this story. So it seems that the “moral flexibility” that she needs to do the job is still intact. Perhaps her identity was revealed and she had to be holed up for a while. Maybe she – like I – had a moment where she thought, “Is this really what I want to be doing?” That led her to take some time off, but the need for work and money was too much for her. She had to do what she was good at, which was murder.

Thirdly, what did Brant Laidler do that needed killing, and who hired Loren? Excellent questions both. Laidler was working on merging his company with Munin Scientific, a company that we all know specializes in computer components, with a focus on storage and memory. Perhaps Laidler had a manufacturing role to play, and taking over his company would allow Munin to do more in-house. It is a fairly secretive company, after all, so fewer outside vendors would be a plus for whatever big secret thing they’re working on. But then who would want the merger stopped? Someone who has a beef against Munin, perhaps. Or someone who manages to lose from the merger. It could be short-term gain or a move in a long-term plan. I haven’t quite worked that out yet.

Finally, why is her sister cool with what she does? If I may pat myself on the back for a moment [1], I’m really happy with how their conversation works out. I think it has a good natural feel that tells of a long history of knowing each other. They speak in such a way that when you get to, “No problem, sis,” Anna said. “Happy shooting”, you’re not surprised to find out that they’re sisters. And I did it without resorting to the old, “You know, Loren, as your sister I think…”

But all that back-patting doesn’t answer the question. Why isn’t she freaked out by the fact that her younger sister is a killer for hire? I mean, I love my brothers and my sister, but if one of them decided to be an assassin, I probably wouldn’t be cool with that. I most certainly wouldn’t joke around about it on the phone while I was cooking dinner. But Anna does, and she wishes Loren, “Happy shooting.” How weird is that?

Maybe Loren saved her life, or the life of her child. Or both. Maybe it was something that she did have a problem with at first, but some event occurred where she saw her sister in action, how good she was at it, that it reinforced her desire to see her sister happy. Although it would have to be one hell of an event to completely overcome the natural aversion most of us have to cold-blooded murder. I’ll have to work something out, and I will – I like this relationship. I like that Anna is supporting her sister, no matter what Loren chooses to do. So I have to find out what it was, and it has to make sense

Any one of those would make a good story. I’d like to pair her up with Wynona Mooney from day 41, All According to Plan – another very dangerous lady, although a bit more flashy than Loren is.

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[1] You may.

Day Ninety-eight: Back in the Saddle

August 27, 2011 2 comments

Loren held the phone to her ear with her shoulder as she worked. “I just don’t know if I can get back into it for good, Anna,” she said. The hotel room was dark and stifling, but had an excellent view overlooking the street. She sat by the window with a little folding table, working as she talked.

“You’ve already made a great first step,” Anna said. “You’re back at work, back out there. You’ll probably pick up right where you left off.”

“Yeah, right,” Loren said. “Just like falling off a bicycle.”

“Exactly,” Anna said. “It’s – Wait, what?”

“Nothing. Just something my ex-boyfriend used to say.” She switched the phone to the other ear. “I don’t know, Anna, I just don’t feel it anymore, y’know? All that enthusiasm has just gone… Bleh.”

She could hear something on the other end. It sounded like Anna was in the kitchen. “You know, Lo, when I took that time off after Alton was born, I thought I’d never get back to work. I was away from teaching for six years. Six!” It sounded like she was chopping. “A whole graduating class had come and gone by the time I managed to get back to work. I thought I was going to be eaten alive by those kids, and you know what?”

Loren held the phone up while she fished around on the floor for the pin she’d dropped. “What?”

“I just walked in there like I owned the place, Lo. I shut down all those little nagging voices in my head and held my head up high and took charge.”

“That’s great, Anna, but I think my scene is a little different.” She peeked through the curtains at the office tower across the street. There was a long black town car parked in front and a bored-looking man in an ill-fitting suit leaning against the door. Loren checked her watch. Probably another fifteen minutes, which was just enough time.

“Well sure,” Anna said. “But the principle is the same, right? You’re a professional, aren’t you?”

“You know I am, Anna.”

“Exactly. Hold on.” There was the loud whine of a blender for about thirty seconds that gave Loren a little window of focus to start reassembly. “You still there?” Anna asked.

“Yup, still here.”

“Good. So like I was saying – you’ve done this a million times, Lo.”

“Eighty-one, Anna.” She snapped the bolt action into the barrel and tested it out. It came back smoothly and snapped forward. Perfect. She glanced down at her watch. Ten more minutes to finish and get set up.

“Fine, eighty-one. You should be an old hand at this by now.”

“I know,” Loren said. “I guess it’s just the jitters, right?” She started feeding rounds into the magazine, quietly counting as she did so. “I have a reputation – four, five – right?”

“You do, and it’s a good one.” Loren could hear the tick-tick-WHOOMPH of a gas stove being lit. “Can you tell me who it is?”

“You know I can’t, Anna,” Loren said. She held the rifle up to her shoulder and sighted along the barrel. “Rules are rules.”

“Fine, be a spoilsport,” she said.

“Well, that is in my job description.” Loren took the scope out of its case and cupped a hand over the end as she peered down onto the street. The guy leaning against the car jumped closer in her view, and she was pretty sure he had a gun holstered under his jacket. She adjusted the focus a bit, but it didn’t really need it. She snapped it in place, put the gun on her bed and started repacking her go-bag. “Look, Anna, I really appreciate this, but I have to go. Time’s a-wasting.”

“No problem, sis,” Anna said. “Happy shooting.”

“Thanks, Anna. Save some for me, okay?” She snapped the phone closed before either of them had to say “good-bye” and started preparing in earnest. The gun was ready and waiting, all she had to do was prepare for a quick exit. There were enough other tall buildings on this side of the street that her position wouldn’t be immediately obvious, but still – a good sniper never lingers. Rule number one.

The battered backpack was laid out and ready. All she had to do was break down the gun, throw the parts inside, and she’d be ready to go. She was dressed in her suburban mom clothes and hadn’t showered yet. If everything worked out, she’d be gone before Brant Laidler’s brains were finished sliding down the wall behind him.

She turned the seat around, steadied her arm on the folding table and let the curtains peek open just enough to get a good view of the door across the street. Laidler would be coming out any minute, on his way to merger talks with Munin Scientific that her employer didn’t want him to make. Loren took a deep breath and started counting doubles in her head along with her heartbeat, which she could just barely feel. She got to 16,384 before she lost count and had to start again. The second time, she made it up to 65,536. Her third run was interrupted when Brant Laidler walked out the door of his office building, chatting jovially with an assistant. He had a thin white combover and a paunch, but he looked like a nice enough guy. Someone’s uncle, maybe. Probably liked to tell jokes to children.

Loren stopped counting, centered the scope on his face, and took a deep breath.

She let it out slowly, feeling all the nervous energy, tension, doubt and fear rise away from her like a vapor. It left her still, quiet and sure. She put the crosshairs right between his eyebrows, and squeezed the trigger.

Loren didn’t need to see his head explode into a red mist to know she’d made the shot. In an instant, she was up, her hands twisting and unmaking the rifle and throwing the parts into the bag. She took off the extra shirts she was wearing and stuffed them in as well, then zipped up the bag, ran her hands through her hair and left the room. There was no one in the hallway to watch her leave, but she kept her face a sleepy, harried mask. By the time she got to the front entrance, her steps had slowed down and she was flipping intently through a local guidebook. No one said anything to her as she left, and she didn’t even lift her head to look at the police cars and the ambulance that raced by in the opposite direction.

Later, as she was melting the hotel keycard with a cigarette lighter, she would finally allow herself a moment of glee. She giggled quietly to herself and resolved to call Anna back once she reached the safehouse. “Yup,” she whispered as she tossed the small, blackened lump of plastic down a sewer drain. “I still got it.”