Cold Blood

by Tyler Wood

It was a cold rainy afternoon as Daniel Price sat and finished his last martini. He was back at home in London but spent his days in relaxation, on a forced sabbatical from his job. He traveled all over Europe for the past three months, and stayed at the grandiose hotels and villas. He was used to this. His work as an agent had brought him to the most elegant mansions. They were all owned by men who seemed simply successful, but deep down held hatred and machinations.

He thought back to when he had first entered the service. He had begun as a soldier, just wanting to serve his country like his father had. He was a young recruit and with school and training that he would use for the rest of his life, he had the whole world ahead of him. Then came the year 1942. With the English keeping close eyes on Germany, they began recruiting not only soldiers, but men who would be the elite in spying and espionage. They would become the enemy, going undercover in the most dangerous places on earth. They would become masochists, to be trained to take any amount of pain. They were the best of the best, but that didn't make them irreplaceable. Agents would be found and killed easily if they lacked the finesse and skill that was needed, and sometimes something would go wrong that was out of their control.

Daniel stood up and tipped the bartender well. He was reluctant to leave the comforting warmth and walk into the bitter cold rain that hit the street and dripped from the rooftops. Through the cold mist you could see bright multicolored lights. It was mid December and everyone usually crowded the streets hoping to get an eclectic group of presents from all of the different shops. Today was no different, as people didn't let the chill and rain stop them, they were used to the rain. Price wasn't quite as accustomed to the rain, seeing as though he spent the last two weeks going from France to Italy, and down to Greece.

He began to reminisce about his life more and more as he continued down the soaked London streets. He tried to retire, have a family and kids. It never worked for him; it couldn't. His country needed him, and no one could replace him. It might have been luck, dedication or simply becoming more and more sapient over the number of years he spent in the service that kept him going. But it was the year 1968 and one might think his experience would have to overcompensate for his aging body, but this was not the case. Although he was 46 years old, he was in tip top physical condition, that rivaled that of someone half his age. Though years have left him scarred and battered, he never held back.

He wanted to get back to work, but he would have to spend another month in London before he would be evaluated for reactivity. He walked passed the lorries parked outside and entered the front door of his upscale apartment. Constantly looking behind his back and observing was an idiosyncrasy he developed because of his training, and even thought he was on leave, he was always alert. He stood in the lift and noticed his hands had blanched because of the cold rain.

It was his first day back in London, and so he was extra cautious of his surroundings. As he approached his door, he heard footsteps inside. He put his ear up to the door and listened. Someone was definitely inside. He gripped the Berretta pistol under his jacket and slowly entered his flat. Screams hurled out from the inside. "Surprise!" shouted those inside. Daniel pulled his hand from underneath his jacket and put on a smile, as well as a sigh of relief.

His friend Julius from the early days in the military had heard of his arrival in London, and threw a welcome party. The whole flat was decorated in a Christmas theme, and the gathering of about twenty people reflected it with scarves and snowman sweaters. Daniel wasn't used to this. It was nothing like the rich women in their low cut dresses or other types of elegant raiment.

He had been socializing among old friends for about three hours when he stepped outside to have his last cigarette of the day. The rain had stopped and the Christmas season was obviously in full swing as carolers walked along the streets. He hadn't found the time to celebrate Christmas in years. There were only a few occasions that he had a well placed break between assignments.

It was then that a beautiful woman approached Price. She was a Parisian with dark brown hair, light green eyes, and the perfect smile. She was at a nubile age and had thin lips and raised cheeks, and although it wasn't apparent at the time, rock hard legs from years of ballet and other types of dance. She caught Price's attention and it hit him. He new this girl. She smiled and laughed, totally surprised to see him.

Her name was Roselle Bouvier. Daniel had met her about three years ago in Paris. His mission was to search for an assassin who had killed a prominent businessman. He was Rene' Bouvier, her father. The service believed the Russians had to do with it. His removal would greatly benefit them, seeing as though he continuously funded government projects and testing, having once been a military man himself. Yet at the end of the day, Price's country pulled him back to London, leaving her to study as a pharmacist. It just wouldn't work for the two. Even though they both knew this, she was deeply infatuated with Daniel, and heartbroken when duty called.

They returned inside and caught up, but neither of them noticed the man across the street. He wore a gray suit, and seemed to be unbothered by the cold air. His face showed burn damage, but they were nothing compared to his hands. He wore a gray fedora hat that matched his suit. He continued across the street and entered the building.

Inside Daniel Price's apartment everyone began to collect their belongings and gradually leave. Although it was around 11:30, he seemed unconcerned about the time. Daniel was too preoccupied with the woman who sat opposite of him. He caught up with her, but let it be known not to discuss anything about his work. No one besides the two knew a thing about his job, and he wanted to keep it that way.

As the last of the guests went home, Daniel and Roselle were left alone in his flat. He began to tell her about his leave and how his days had grown so redundant. The beautiful Roselle Bouvier had become a pharmacist as she had wanted. Since she had no family after her father's death she decided to travel to England for her Christmas holiday. She told Price of her failed relationships and laughed at herself. Price could hear despair behind that laugh, that she truly longed for someone, and the only person she had in mind belonged to Britain.

Price had stepped into the shower as Roselle sat in his apartment. They had spent the night drinking wine, and because of her petite form she was slightly inebriated. Price looked dashing as ever. He wouldn't let months of inactivity slow him down. He continued to exercise everyday. As he stepped out he looked into the mirror. His black hair had gotten a little too long for his taste, but he brushed it aside anyway. He shaved, and while he was, called out to Roselle. "Darling I hope you find yourself at home. I know a small flat like this isn't what you're used to." He had found it awfully strange there was no response. He put on his dark red flannel robe and left the bathroom. He called her name but it was empty. Roselle had vanished.

He rushed through the flat but there was no sign of her. He saw her coat still lying on the hanger. He knew something was wrong. Then, the phone began to ring. Instantly Price picked it up. "Roselle?" he asked. A dark and mysterious voice answered him. It was the voice of a man, dripped in anger. "If you want to see her again, be at Trafalgar Square by Two." Daniel Price grabbed his coat and Berretta pistol. He attached a silencer and placed it in his shoulder holster, making sure it didn't protrude or was in any way noticeable, and left.

He reached Trafalgar Square by taxi and checked his watch. It was 1:45; he had made good time. It was practically empty because of the cold, but Price kept his guard and continued along the square. He suddenly saw the man in the gray suit. This time he had leather gloves on his hands, covering the permanently scarred flesh. The man signaled to Daniel and ran off into an alley. Price drew his weapon, now knowing he was walking into an obvious trap. He slowly crept down the alley, and listened. He would have been able to hear a pin drop, but none had, and the night was silent. At the end of the alley he saw her. Roselle Bouvier had her hands tied behind her back. She sat on the frigid ground in only her red dress, and had tape over her mouth. Although he felt the urge, he stopped himself from rushing over to her. Then, in a split second, Price heard a noise behind him. Before he could retaliate, he was struck with a plank of wood and everything went black.

Price awoke in a room that looked like a warehouse. It must've been close by or the man couldn't have drug both of them there. This man was much taller than Price, and built exceptionally. If it weren't for the burns, he may have been considered attractive. He looked at Price noticing he had come to. Next to him was Roselle. They were both tied to chairs. He began to speak.

"So I guess you may wonder why I have brought you here." He said in an overwhelmingly Russian accent. He looked at the floor, then at Daniel. "You may not recognize me, but we have met before Mr. Price." Thoughts swirled through Price's head of who this man may be. "It was three years ago that you left me burning alive." Then it finally all came to him. "An agent is not fit for an assassin's job" he said. The man was Oleg Rusakov, an infamous assassin employed by the soviets. He had killed Roselle's father, and it was Price's job to stop him. Price and Roselle had escaped a burning hotel in Paris and presumed Oleg dead. They had seen him covered in flames, and gotten out at the last second.

"What do you want from us Oleg?" shouted Price. Oleg laughed such a maniacal laugh. One that only could be produced by a man who spent his life killing others, and enjoying every second of it. "I don't want anything from you." he carried on. "I want to take everything away, like you had done to me." He pulled of his black leather gloves to show his putrid hands. Rusakov continued to walk around the warehouse. Price then heard the clanging of a metal petrol canister being pulled off the ground. He had to do something; Rusakov was going to burn them alive. Price struggled with the rope and shook his chair. Oleg put the canister down when he noticed this. He kicked Price in the chest with such ferocity that he flew back and hit the ground.

Oleg wanted to save Price for last so he continued to concentrate on Roselle. As Daniel was on the ground he realized the fall had loosened the rope. He fought himself free but Rusakov had yet to notice. Price looked for his Berretta, but Oleg must've kept it on him. Knowing Rusakov's immense strength, Price took the chair from the ground and smashed it over Rusakov's back. He hit the ground due to force, but showed no pain. He laughed his maniacal laugh and returned to his feet. "Ever since the fire, I have felt nothing." he said. The fire must have damaged his sense of touch. If Price wanted to stop him, he must kill him.

Rusakov drew Price's berretta and pointed it at him, but Price was quick enough to grab onto Oleg's arm. A silent pop came from the gun and the bullet hit the ceiling. The two men fought, but Rusakov's undeniable strength proved to make him the winner. Price knew that his strength couldn't win him the fight, but his skill would have to win the day as it had before. He felt a bump under Rusakov's jacket. As he held Rusakov's hands in his he let his one hand go. Reaching his hand into Oleg's jacket for a split second, he pulled out a holstered knife. With a quick burst of energy knowing Oleg could knock him out with a single blow any moment, Price drove the knife straight into Oleg's neck with both hands. The man fell to the ground in a pool of blood. Price looked over at Roselle. She had a terrified look upon her face. Price let her free and they left the warehouse.

The sun shone in through the window of Daniel Price's apartment. The two sat in the bed with a recently eaten breakfast beside them. Some eggs, orange juice, and pancakes were left. Price had his morning coffee and cigarette and lay down with Roselle in a bright white robe. It was a late breakfast, but neither had any plans for the day. They both looked at the Christmas decorations left by Daniel's friends. Roselle looked at Daniel and kissed him oh so passionately. It killed her inside that Price's work was between them, but she knew he was on sabbatical and still had until the new year to spend with him. "Would you spend Christmas with me, Daniel?" she said so softly. He turned towards her and replied "There isn't anything I'd rather do."

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