David Murray stirred in his sleep. Saturday morning, the day he usually slept late, splintered at the sound emitting from a car parked just down the street from his house.
It turned out that a young worker at the burger place that just opened in the strip mall fronting the neighborhood had arrived for his shift, resentful at having to work and determined that no one else would rest. As this person turned up the radio on the rap/rock/soul hybrid he was playing at nearly ear-crunching volume, another personage stepped out of the hedge between houses.
Dressed in a long trenchcoat and trilby despite the warm weather, this person stepped behind the offending car and raised a silenced Walther PPK. Sounding like a whip, a single shot emerged, traveling through the center mass of the person in the car, who immediately contorted in pain and thrashed against the car door. The pistol moved again, and a second shot passed through the car radio, silencing the noise. The pistol then moved up and slightly to the left, whip-cracking out a third shot which blew out the forehead of the dying driver.
“Basil Pettigrew-Smythe,” said this personage to an astonished Murray, who had stumbled out in his bathrobe to ask for the third time that week that the noise end before it woke the wife or baby. “You might want to clean the requisite authorities for… cleanup.”
He spoke in the precise upper-class British accent of someone who spent a fair amount of time in Scotland and Wales but might live in the belt hovering north of London. Murray stared at the crimson mess inside the car, but when he turned back to the stranger, no one was there.
Elsewhere in the city, a 400 lb nerd sat guzzling Jolt soda and munching on jalapeno-pumpkin potato chips. He was putting the final touches on his latest campaign, an automated program which would spam a half-billion people with an advertisement for penis enlarging suppositories. Maybe a thousand would buy it, and the rest would hammer on the delete key in frustration, adding more anger and negativity to their lives.
He did not see the face in the window. Under the trilby, Pettigrew-Smythe watched and waited. When the hefty person seemed to be rising from the chair to retrieve more soda from the refrigerator, two quick shots snapped through the window. As he groaned on the floor, the spammer had a moment to see the pistol rise again before a single shot popped through his right eye.
Pettigrew-Smythe left with the knowledge that by waiting until the target had left the chair, he allowed the computer to be preserved so that others could use it, hopefully for a better end. He had mild regrets about the damage to the car from the earlier assassination, but had been unwilling to risk his meticulous sleeves in the abyss of ash, fast food packaging, and personal filth.
Over the next twenty-four hours, Pettigrew-Smythe “retired” two lawyers, a politician, a union agitator, several bike thieves, a date rapist and one homeless person he found urinating on the back wall of a church. It was at that moment he found himself facing the revolver of a second-shift police officer returning home.
“Stay right where you are,” cautioned the tired cop, his nerves brittle with caffeine and adrenaline.
Pettigrew-Smythe gave him a large smile and set the weapon on a nearby dumpster, then stepped away. “In my wallet, there is a card marked EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY,” he said. “Please inspect it, and call the number if you feel the need.”
The officer retrieved the wallet from the jacket of his now-handcuffed prisoner. It read:
To whom it may concern: the agent you have detained is giving unlimited authority to use lethal force against individuals he or she deems to be unfit for our society. If you have any questions, please call the Special Directorate of the Eugenics Council and ask for the authorization for Operator X7S-21Z.
Holding the wallet at arms length, the tired policeman took out his cell phone and dialed the number. When a voice asked him for the operator code, he gave it. “Hold for transfer,” said the smooth voice. He could hear ringing as the line connected to a new number.
“White House Situation Room,” said a gruff male voice. “X7S-21Z? Tall gent, British accent, wears a funny hat? Yep, he’s one of ours. He has full authority domestic and foreign.”
The cop hung up in disbelief. “It looks like you are telling the truth,” he said.
“Of course,” responded Pettigrew-Smythe crisply. “I would not waste your time.”
The officer removed the handcuffs and looked down at the dead man. “I arrested that guy a dozen times. A day later, he’s always out again. Probably responsible for thousands of dollars of damage.”
Pettigrew-Smythe nodded. “More than that, thousands of people frustrated, made angry and bitter. It inspires them to behave badly. That is why the special directorate was formed.”
He rubbed his hands together as circulation returned.
“So what now?” asked the cop.
Pettigrew-Smythe carefully restored his pistol to its holster. “Let’s go get a drink,” he said.