Guilty

Fjarrhandske by Simon Stålenhag. Used without permission, will remove if requested.

Rasmus Björklund looked out the window in his office. He could see the pristine lawn, sunlight glinting off the dew on the vibrant green leaves. He saw the trees in the distance, the few lazy clouds that had decided to go out for a stroll.

His attention came back to the images in his tablet. He shook his head. It wasn’t fair.

Rasmus had led a peaceful life, not really harming anyone, until Boris had appeared. Rasmus had suspected that Boris wasn’t his real name. He was sure of it now.

Boris had an accent. A very subtle, very unidentifiable accent. They had met during one of Rasmus’ business trips to the continent. Boris had struck up conversation while in the lounge bar. It turned out he was a master in that regard. After half an hour of laughs and a few drinks, Boris had motioned Rasmus over.

“I know everything you do, Rasmus,” he had said. “And I mean everything. How you like to.. have fun.” Rasmus had gone pale at once. “Oh, I don’t judge you. Who am I, after all? But your wife, Svea, might, don’t you think so? And I bet you wouldn’t like your son to know either, am I right? What’s his name, Nils? Yes, Nils. Enjoy the rest of your stay, Rasmus. I’ll get in touch when I need you.”

Rasmus hadn’t enjoyed his stay. And he had refrained from “having fun”, as Boris had put it. Rasmus had erased and burned every piece of sensitive material he had found, no matter how well hidden it was.

Rasmus was a coward. He should have ended it all right then. But he was afraid. And so he waited, but Boris never appeared. Rasmus almost forgot him.

Almost.

Rasmus was also weak. And so he fell again. And Boris resurfaced.

“Ah, Rasmus, you little rascal,” had said Boris on the phone. “You are a little pervert, aren’t you? I’m going to send you a gift, and instructions. You’ll follow them, and you’ll get paid. That’s all.” Boris didn’t need to say what would happen if Rasmus didn’t comply.

Boris’ gift had been a smartphone. A burner phone, Rasmus had thought in desperation. He started to wonder where he had stuck himself in, but the instructions on a file in the phone erased his doubts.

Boris knew that the new Lynx, the robot manufactured by Rasmus’ employer company, was just about to hit the market. What’s more, he also knew that there was a secret military version, the Raptor. Boris knew many more things, because he detailed a plan to procure some Raptors for himself and, Rasmus was sure now, his associates. Apparently, what Boris had lacked was a man inside, and Rasmus was it.

Rasmus’ instructions had told him to text his acknowledgment. Instead, he had sent “I’m not sure about this”, and waited.

“I was afraid you’d say that,” the answer had come. And a video after that.

After watching the video, Rasmus had texted back.

“I’ll comply.”

Thanks to Rasmus’ intervention, several Raptors had been sent to some selected customers Boris indicated. All Rasmus had had to do was have them painted in civilian colours. Military customers chose their own weapons, which were shipped separately and attached by the customer. Rasmus was amazed at how easy it all was: Boris had received a password to the factory’s system and he must have had a cracker erasing all traces of the illegal movements.

And Rasmus had been paid. Religiously, he’d say, and always the same way: a paper bag full of cash that he found under the seat of his car.

Rasmus had almost grown back to his normal life. He had even considering “having fun” once again. For the old times.

Until that very morning, when the incident had happened.

The news channel had automatically pinged and interrupted Rasmus, and he had stared in horror at the news bulletin. Children shouldn’t drive a Lynx, but still their publicity said it: so easy even a child can drive it. Just imagine if it was a Raptor instead of a Lynx. The blood, the fires. The rampaging Raptor, luckily unarmed, tearing through everything and everyone who stood in its way. The army and the air force had had to be called in to stop it.

Rasmus flicked open his burner phone and texted frantically.

No answer.

No answer.

He unlocked the bottom drawer of his office desk and opened it. He grabbed what he hid there.

The gun muzzle was cold in his mouth.

Rasmus pulled the trigger.

~~~~

This is my accompanying entry for the Weekly Writing Exercise: October 3–9, 2016 on the Writer’s Discussion Group in Google+. I am responsible for creating the prompts for the Exercise, so I don’t take part, but I still like to write a story each week.

Once again I wrote late in the week, because I couldn’t come up with an idea I liked to develop. In the end I decided to skip over the most obvious details that the illustration prompt offers. I hope you like the end result.