The first one is my neighbour. He plays his music all day and night, but then has the balls to complain to me about some mould coming through the walls, as if that’s my fault. I’m just leaving my flat and locking the mortice when he comes out to meet me. He’s probably still up from the night before and it’s difficult to make out what he’s saying, but once I’ve finished locking up, I put my keys back in my pocket and turn to face him.
What about the mould? he asks. What are you doing about it?
My answer is one quick karate chop to the throat. Startled and unable to breathe, his hands go up to protect his neck. With the arms occupied, there’s no difficulty in manoeuvring him round and banging his head against the concrete wall of the corridor. I beat out the same four-four rhythm as the atrocious club music he plays all hours of the day. Eventually, though, the drums get too squidgy, so I let his body fall to the floor and step carefully over the soggy part where his face used to be.
Walking down the corridor, I tread lightly so as not to attract the attention of Mrs Docherty, who would doubtless tell me of all the horrific things she had seen the “little brown ones” doing on the estate. I sneak past her door, but the sound of the lift must get her attention, as she scurries out as I press the button for the ground floor.
“Is that you?” she asks and I just get the tiniest glimpse of her as the doors close. It’s not much, just a thin vertical viewport, but I take the opportunity to flick a ninja star through the gap. I have just enough time to hear it thunk into her forehead. As a bonus I get too see her expression change from pursed disapproval to horrified shock, before the doors close, her body falls and I never have to see her again.
On the journey down, I ready myself for the lobby. I wish I could tell you that it’s jam-packed full of armed guards and that I was steeling myself for a Matrixian orgy of bulletplay, but the truth is that there’s only ever one guard on duty and I all I need is the small Derringer I keep in my ankle holster. There’s a security camera in the lift, but I doubt that anyone watches it. Still, I go through the charade of tying my shoe so I can slip the compact pistol into my hand as inconspicuously as possible.
When the doors open, I stride out confidently and walk up to the bulletproof glass that’s supposed to protect the security guard inside.
“Good morning!” I say to the obese attendant behind, before inserting the slim barrel of the Derringer into speaking hole and pulling the trigger.
Pop, one in the guard’s right eye. Pop, one in the left. The bullets may be small, but when they go through soft eyeballs and directly into the brain, they do the job as well as anything. It’s something the designers never saw coming, but then no-one’s as good a shot as me.
“Have a good day!” I say cheerily to the pile of flesh and spilled papers in the security office, before pushing open the heavy door to the block and stepping outside.
The teenagers hanging out in the courtyard are easily dispatched – one fragmentation grenade thrown at their overpriced trainers gives them just a second to consider that maybe they shouldn’t call people “battyman” for no reason. Then the thunder comes and hot shards of shrapnel rip through them while I continue on to the bus stop.
Going to work at the same time every day means you get to recognise faces. You never really know them, but you know what they’re like. Girl With Croissant always spills crumbs on the floor, Bald Telegraph Reader thinks his rustling pages conceal the sound of his morning farts (they don’t) and even though she’s always here first, Humming Lady always lets people push in front of her, specifically Sweaty Suit Man.
Not today, though.
When the 48 comes and Sweaty Suit Man steps forward, I unsheathe my katana and decapitate him with one swift blow, removing his head in a straight line above the greying collar of his aged Burton shirt. Everyone pauses to watch his head bounce into the gutter, but as soon as the bus pulls up, it’s business as usual. Everyone moves forward until I raise the ninja sword again and nod to Humming Lady. She whispers a humble thank you as she steps onto the bus.
The 48 is so crowded that I have to stand on the top deck, despite the sign that specifically says that this is not permitted. I tell myself that it’s OK, that we’re all just trying to get where we’re going and to this end I make sure not to kill anyone on the bus. A death on board would make the driver stop and investigate. The controller would be radioed, the police would come… and I would be late for work. Instead, I take out my blowpipe and poison darts and aim through the small window to the street below. As it turns out, there are numerous targets. The fashion students get blowpiped on general principle, as do the gaggle of noisy Italian exchange students once they get off the bottom deck. I kill a couple of pedestrians, a traffic warden and even a guide dog as the bus lurches through traffic, all through the small aperture at the top of the window. The shot I’m most pleased with is the one that goes not only through the narrow bus window, but also the small opening at the top of the driver’s side window of the BMW idling beside us at the lights. The guy driving the beemer is not only using an electric shaver behind the wheel, he’s also talking on the phone and blasting The Black Eyed Peas at an indecent volume. The dart hits him at an unshaven point on his cheek and the BMW stays at the lights while the 48 judders away from it. That’s the highlight, but puncturing the front tyre of a retro BMX being ridden by a poseur twat is a close second. He loses control of his ridiculously undersized bike and careers under the wheels of a cement mixer. Top deck pot-shots prove to be so much fun that when the bus starts to empty out, I stay standing just for the sport. The bus continues to leave dozens of corpses in its wake until I reach my destination, when I press the bell, head down the stairs and put the blowpipe back in my coat pocket.
The walk from the bus stop to the office is usually a combative race, all elbow jabs and people crossing invisible lanes to gain an advantage. A silenced 9mm Glock makes everything a lot easier, however. I’m able to walk at my own pace, quietly thudding bullets into the back of people’s skulls and walking over their fallen corpses. The silencer is essential. As well as sounding cool, it means that no-one else notices, tries to help and thereby gets in my way. I go through three full clips by the time I get to the pelican crossing in front of my building. A guy in a wheelchair is having trouble negotiating the kerb, so I use my super strength to rip the brakes off his chair and roll him out into the road. That stops traffic long enough for me to cross.
My company is based on the eighth floor of the building, but I’m not going to squeeze into the lift with the other sardines. Instead, I rack my shotgun and fire six shells into the elevator, killing everyone inside. One of them is Sandra from HR, which is an added bonus. Perhaps in her last moments, she will regret querying my overtime request. I drop the shotgun outside the lift and stroll over to the stairs, whistling “Boom Boom Pow” to myself as I start to bound up the stairs two at a time. That’s a little too zealous for me and by the time I get to the second floor, I settle down to a more sensible gait. When a young IT manager passes me on the way down, I make a point to kick his legs out from under him and watch him tumble down the steps, his head crunching on every single one. That makes me feel a little better, but not much and after two more floors I’m sweating buckets and I’ve got a sharp pain in my left hand. I should probably stop and have a rest, but after the joyous slaughter of the morning, I really want to cap it off by splitting open my line manager’s head with an axe. It’s the only thing that makes coming into work worthwhile.
I get to the seventh floor (lucky number seven, I tell myself) when I walk into an elephant, which tells me very firmly to stop walking, which I do. As if that wasn’t enough, the elephant uses its trunk – heavier than you might think – to swat me down to the floor. The elephant then proceed to sit its big grey arse on my chest. The crushing weight is unbelievably painful, but I think if I stay still, maybe it won’t be so bad.
There’s another shockwave of pain and it becomes clear that this is something serious. I’m having a heart attack, right here on the stairs of my office building. It seems such a ridiculous thing to happen that I can barely believe it. And as the biggest, sharpest pain comes and the elephant bears down on me again, there’s one final thought that echoes through my darkening mind.
You fuckers. I’ll get you for this.