Abigail Ginger Rena Abay stepped into the tall, glass building, nervousness bubbling in the pit of her stomach. Years of school, of training, of preparing had all led to this moment. She quickly checked to make sure she had everything tucked into the bag at her side before marching to the front desk.
“Name?” The bored looking secretary asked, barely even glancing up at her.
“Abigail Abay.” She tried to sound confident, to sound sure. “I’m here to see Director Erikson.”
That caught the woman’s attention. “I.D. please. I need your registration and confirmation papers as well.”
Abigail passed them all over, waiting as the woman inspected them. “Everything looks to be in order.” She passed the papers and I.D. back over the desk, as well as a small key. “Insert this into the key in the lift. When the lift stops walk down the hall. The Director’s is the last door on the left.”
Abigail took her things and the key, walking over to the elevator. She carefully inserted the key and turned it until she heard a click. Once the doors slid closed and she felt the lurch that told her it had started descending did she finally let her nervousness show. Her hands shook slightly and she closed her eyes, taking a deep breath.
When the elevator doors slid open she marched down the long, white hallway her head held high and her eyes fixed firmly in front of her. The hallway was quiet, empty, which made her stance a bit unneeded, but it made her feel powerful.
The last door on the left had ‘Director T. Erikson,’ etched in simple letters on the clouded white glass. Raising a fist Abigail rapped smartly on the door. “Come in.” The voice was muffled, but clearly male. She found herself in an office, leather couches and a big wooden desk taking up most the room.
The man sitting behind the desk looked younger than she expected. He was tall, and kind of skinny, with dark brown hair and glasses perched on his nose. He gave her a warm smile when she walked in. “Abigail Abay, I presume? Welcome to Operation Booth.”
Abigail took his hand and shook it, saying, “I’m glad to be here, Director. It’s an honor.”
“The honor is all ours!” Director Erikson smiled. “I can’t wait to see what you can do.”
Abigail’s first assignment was an undercover terrorist. She ran the information through her head, determined not to forget anything. Currently going by the alias James P. Edwards. 31 years old. Responsible for the bombing in the southern United States, and for the deaths of almost two hundred people.
The gun, kept in a holster under her dress, felt cold against her tight. She leaned causally against the railing, watching the party going in the restaurant below. A band piped pleasant music up toward her, and she watched couples twirl across the dance floor.
There he was. The bleached blond hair, the handsomely sharp features and the strange bulge at pocket of his jacket. The bomb was smaller than the size of a mobile phone, but had enough strength to wipe the entire block off the map. His hand slid toward his pocket and Abigail tensed.
The flash of metal was all Abigail needed as confirmation. Her gun was in her hand in a second. The bang of the gun was more like a pop. The terrorist toppled to the ground, a bullet in his head. People started to scream, to search for the killer.
But Abigail was already gone.
When the police checked the secretary footage an hour later, they found that the killer had been standing in the one spot in the restaurant where no camera could see. At the same time, Abigail accepted a pile of paperwork from the Director and gave him a smile.
She couldn’t wait to get out of the stupid dress.
Abigail rose quickly through the ranks of Operation Booth, her clear head and cold ruthlessness during an assignment made her formidable. The names of her assignments piled up, all filed away or typed into a computer.
And that was when she found out about Senator Wilkens.
“Director, I have reasons to believe that he is the one responsible for the kidnapping and murder of those six teenage girls.” Abigail stood in the Director’s office, her arms full of papers and her gun. The Director took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “I’m aware of your suspicions Miss Abay, and I happen to share them, but we don’t have enough proof to send one of our operatives out.” He held up his hand when Abigail opened her mouth again. “Enough, Miss Abay. Go home, it’s late.”
Abigail was fuming. She turned and marched from the office in a huff. But when she got in her car she didn’t go home. Instead, she drove to the house of Senator Wilkens. It was 2:24 AM when she broke into the house and disabled the secretary system. It was 2:31 when she slipped down the hallway, past the rooms of Senator Wilken’s two sons. It was 2:32 when she entered the room of him and his wife.
It was 2:33 when she held her gun to his head and shot him.
His wife woke up to find blood on her husband’s pillow and a hole in his head. She screamed loud enough to wake her two teenage sons, who pounded down the hallway to find their mother clutching the body of her husband and sobbing.
The police got there at 2:57.
Abigail spent the rest of the night driving on back roads with her lights off.
“Abay, I have half a mind to discharge you!” Director Erikson’s face was red with fury, his hands closed into tight fists. “The only reason I am not is because I am not sure what we would do without you. But if you ever pull a stunt like that again, you will be gone, understand?”
“I understand, Director.” Abigail said, her face calm. She had finally returned to Operation Booth headquarters a little after 8:30 that morning, still in her black clothes. Director Erikson had summoned her to his office the second she had stepped into the elevator, and had already been shouting at her for almost half an hour.
The Director sat down hard in his chair, rubbing his face with his hands. “Go. Just…go. Train, do paperwork, I don’t care. But set one toe out of line and you’re gone.”
“Never do anything like that again.”
“I won’t, Director.”
“Good. Now go.”
Abigail left the office, closing the door with a soft click. She allowed herself one, satisfied smile before setting down the hall toward the mountain of paperwork waiting in her office.
It was six months before Abigail did something out of line again. This time it was a supposed terrorist. She was dead within six hours of Abigail learning about her. The Director didn’t discharge Abigail like he threatened, but he did put her on temporary leave.
During that leave, Abigail killed again. And again. Supposed terrorists, serial killers, bombers, and many others died within those two months of leave. Abigail fell into a pattern, and each death left everyone baffled. Each death was clean, devoid of suspects and clues. Each killing was perfect.
But the day Abigail walked in Operation Booth headquarters once again Director Erikson faced her with a grave face. “Abigail, I’m sorry, but I’ve received orders from higher up. You have to go.”
Abigail wasn’t sure what she felt when she heard those words. She didn’t enjoy the killing. In the quiet moments after, in her bed at home, she would cry. Sometimes she would throw up. But at the same time the ruthless life of an operative was all she knew.
Director Erikson rubbed his face. “I’m sorry to see you go, Abigail. It’s been recommended that you have a complete memory wipe, but I can’t do that. I’d recommend that you create a whole new identity. People higher up have alerted the police to your name.”
“I understand, Director.” She shook his hand, before turning around toward the elevator.
“Abigail, wait.” He pressed something small and rectangular into her palm. “Do what you wish with this.” Then he was gone, closing his office door.
It wasn’t until she was seated in her car did she open her fist.
A metal flash drive winked up at her.
It took Abigail six months to find the perfect new identity. Mary Elizabeth Morstan. More or less Abigail’s same age. A native Londoner. She was an orphan, no mention of friends or relatives. A loner, someone invisible. And she was perfect.
It hurt, almost, to shed the name Abigail. But once everything was done…once she had the birth certificate, the I.D. and everything else she might need did she find herself hesitating. Was she really ready to be Mary?
But she had no choice. The name Abigail Abay was now one of the most wanted, faceless murders in the world. Responsible for almost twenty deaths of (supposedly) random, innocent people.
And so, Abigail became Mary. But after everything was finished, and she was settled in a flat in London did she take out that little flash drive. With a marker, she carefully wrote four letters. A.G.R.A.
She stuck the flash drive in a safe, vowing to never take it out again.
Five years later Mary Morstan stepped into the London Underground. The rabid hunt for Abigail Abay was passed, forgotten. Mary had a new life, a new job, new friends. All remnants of her past were locked in the safe under her bed.
She stepped onto the tube, gently wiggling her way between passengers. She reached the last available seat at the same time as a man and as a result they crashed into each other. Mary dropped her purse and the man’s hat was knocked off, and they nearly fell.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes! Oh, I’m sorry! I wasn’t looking…” When Mary looked up into the face of the man she faltered. He had sand-colored graying hair, a mustache and sad eyes. A smile came onto her face as she brushed herself off. “Sorry.” She said again.”
“No, no. It’s my fault.” The man smiled back, and they stood there smiling at each other until someone asked if the seat was available. Then they started laughing, falling over themselves. The confused women took that as a no and left to find another place to sit.
Mary and the man talked the rest of the trip. It turned out they had to get off on the same stop. They exchanged numbers and agreed to meet at a pub the next Friday. Just as the man started to walk away Mary called, “Wait! I don’t even know your name.”
The man turned around. Mary smiled. “I’m Mary Morstan, in case you were wondering.”
“Dr. John H. Watson.”
“Nice to meet you.”
Then the man was gone, disappearing in the sea of people.
For the first time in a long time Mary allowed herself a little of hope.
Maybe this new life wasn’t so bad, after all.