This article, GHOST - Clock Strikes Zero, is still being written by its owner Solomus-BlackWing. They apologise for the inconvenience.
The sleek, metallic doors of the elevator slid open with a barely audible hiss as it’s sole passenger stepped through and into the above-ground car park. He fumbled for his keys with his free hand while trying to keep his briefcase tucked under his shoulder with the other, hastily making his way towards where he remembered parking his car, struggling to see its otherwise bulky framework in the night.
It was late, very late. The shareholders meeting had gone on for far too long, and the last thing he wanted was to find himself out and driving in the middle of the night, where everything was all the more likely to go wrong. At least during the day he had the cover of the bustling masses to keep him hidden from prying eyes, but the middle of the night? It might be harder to spot the details, but with the right equipment and training, Manuel Calabrese knew he was sure to be a dead man.
Manuel’s hand found the keys to his vehicle and he mashed the button to unlock his car doors once, twice, and then a third time. The headlights of his vehicle sprang to life, and for a moment, the man’s heart swelled with relief at the familiar sight of his car and low hum of its doors unlocking.
The moment didn’t last long.
Standing off to the side, his back against the passenger side of his car, Manuel spotted a figure, unable to make out any distinguishing features as they lay hidden behind the glare of the vehicle’s headlights, though the relative bulk of the stranger told him that this was likely someone who knew how to dress for any occasion, dangerous or otherwise. The stranger turned, their full attention now fixated upon Calabrese and his well-lit visage. They took a few steps forwards, standing off to the side of the car just enough for a portion of their face to be illuminated.
There, Manuel found himself face to face with a man several years his junior. He was clean-shaven, with a mess of blonde hair tied into a bun. A pair of dark blue eyes complimented his pointed features, and he made no attempt to hide his sullen expression as his eyes inspected Manuel from head to toe and back again. He was dressed in a dark grey suit and white dress shirt, with his hands covered by a pair of white gloves and meshed together by the fingers.
“Manuel Calabrese?” The man asked, locking eyes with him.
A swell of panic filled Calabrese’s chest as the question left the stranger’s lips. This was it. This was the end for him. Who did he work for? It could be anyone. Crombie perhaps, she was always the most vocal about how much she detested him. Slater was another possibility that couldn’t be disregarded, his aspirations for greatness within the company always got the better of him.
The man tilted his head to the side, his expression softening. “Sir? Are you alright?”
“I do not know who you are speaking of.” Manuel stammered, stepping back shakily.
The man nodded at that, the frown fading from his face and his demeanor once again turning hard and cold. “They told me you’d say that, word for word in fact.”
Words failed to part past Manuel’s lips before the man swept one of his gloved hands into his suit and, in a motion as fluid as water, draw his weapon and bear it down on his target. Calabrese didn’t even hear the gun make a sound as it fired, his ears preoccupied with the sound of his own hammering heartbeat. The flash of the weapon too, was barely noticeable, comparable to that of the light a pocket lighter emits when its owner traces their finger across the spark wheel; once, twice, and then a third time.
Manuel collapsed to the floor, his briefcase clattering to one side, his car keys to the other, while his arms lay outstretched across the pavement. The chance to speak, the chance to scream, didn’t even present itself to him before his killer fired a single round into his forehead, killing him instantly.
There was a long silence in the parking garage after that, as Manuel Calabrese lay in an ever growing pool of his own blood. The stranger holstered his firearm, bent over and took hold of his target’s briefcase and car keys before turning back to the vehicle. He stepped back behind the still gleaming headlights, opened the door to the driver’s seat, and took little time to show himself out. There was more work to be done, and time was one thing he couldn’t afford to waste.