Red Barren

6 Apr

By Jemma Breslin
Denver Online High School

Her chest rose and sank with every inhale and exhale. Her heart pounded, yet her hand was steady. She slid her finger over the smooth silver trigger of the AK47. The cool New York air whistled through her straight brown locks. Her eye focused on the target, a tall blonde woman with a tan trench coat. Her heart pounded faster, her breaths deeper. Her finger tightened on the trigger, when a small girl with the same blonde hair jumped into the target’s arms.

“I can’t do this,” she said, turning back to her younger sister.

“Chloe you have to!” her sister snapped.

“Clio, you don’t understand!” Chloe had tears in her eyes.

“You know what she’s done! You know what you have to do!”

“I can’t do this,”

“Chloe! You know the rules. It’s either you or her! If you don’t kill her, which keep in mind you are capable and have been trained to do since you were four, then Aba will kill you. They won’t keep an assassin who can’t assassinate!” Clio exclaimed. Although she was only eight, she spoke like a 30 year old.

“I’m sorry Clio, I can’t do this!” Chloe cried, running from the building they were perched on.

Clio grabbed the AK47 even though she wasn’t allowed to kill until she was at least 14. She took a deep breath and with a slight grin she pulled the trigger.


Clio’s clear blue eyes batted open at 4:00 AM as they did every morning. It had been 10 years since she had saved her sister and made her first kill, and yet that dream still frightened her. She wasn’t scared because she killed someone—she quite enjoyed it actually—but because if anyone found out, it would be the end of her sister. Since that night Clio had killed 207 people, 152 of which were assigned to Chloe.

Clio slipped on her running shoes and put her messy, curly hair in a high pony. She sprinted out of her apartment in upper Manhattan and zoomed down the street. She returned from her eight-mile run exactly at 5:02, seven minutes worse than yesterday. Disgusted, she did 500 sit-ups and 100 pushups.

In the midst of making her morning protein-shake, her watch beeped. She smiled, the adrenaline already pumping through her veins. She turned off the blender and ran to her room and into her closet. She moved the clothes aside and knocked three times on the hard wood. The wood panels slid open and three computers equipped with a keyboard and mouse moved forward. The middle computer scanned her clear blue eye, making sure she was Clio.

A beep sounded and a green light appeared, meaning Clio’s eye matched her record. A window on the middle screen appeared, revealing an old, old man with gray hair and over 100 wrinkles. His face held a stern look, but he smiled when he saw Clio.

“Ah, Assassin 531, how are you doing?” His deep Hungarian accent was very gruff.

“Hello, Aba, What’s the mission?” Clio said.

“I always loved how you get straight to business. Igor Ovrutsky, Russian President.” As the name left Aba’s lips, a separate screen showed Igor’s full bio.

“What does he want?”

“Ah, he doesn’t want anything. We have strict orders to take him out. Looks like you’re going home. You leave tomorrow at 1700. Do not fail me.” Aba winked, then the screen went black.

Clio giggled with excitement. She printed out the papers and hid them under her pillow. She then sprang out the door.

She ran as fast as she could to a small quaint house just outside of Manhattan. She walked through the door, smiling ear to ear.

“Aunt Clio!” a little four-year-old chirped as she jumped onto Clio. She had the same clear blue eyes and sun-blonde hair as Chloe.

“Hey, Lucy! How’s my favorite niece? Can you tell me where mommy is?” Clio asked picking her up.

“In the kitchen.” Lucy smiled. “Want to play dollies?”

“I have to talk to your mommy first. Then I’d be happy to play. So how ’bout you get started and I’ll come in a couple minutes.”

Lucy nodded her head.

Clio put her down then walked swiftly to the kitchen to see Chloe cracking eggs. “I think you’re doing something wrong. Your daughter wants to play dollies. We never ever played dollies,” Clio teased.

“Good morning, Clio. To what do I owe the pleasure?” Chloe sighed.

“I’m serious, Chloe. If you want her to join the Academy next year then you might want to trade those dollies in for-“

“A machine gun?” Chloe interrupted.

“That’s a little drastic, don’t you think? I mean she’s only a four-year-old girl,” Clio joked.

“Yeah, well, I don’t think she’ll be going to the academy. What do you want?”

“Well, that’s a shame. But I have great news! I’ve gotten a mission beyond all missions! I’m going to kill the Russian president!”

“Cool,” Chloe didn’t seem too happy.

“Can’t you even act happy for me? That was your best skill back at the academy.”

“Sorry if I’m not leaping for joy at the fact that you’re going to kill another human being,”

“Hey, I was trained for this, you were trained for this, so just because you don’t have the guts to do it—” Clio was getting heated.

“You don’t think I have the guts? I have the guts, but what’s more important is I have the compassion and the ability not to kill! I’m not some cold blooded killer with no emotion,”

“Fine! Well you have fun with that compassion, and those dollies, because I’m going to do something important with my life.” Clio marched out of the room, steaming.

She got back to her apartment and blocked out the conversation that she had just had with her sister and did what she did best, which was get down to business. She read everything on her new target, and by the end of the night she was an expert on Igor and had planned out the entire assassination.


Clio got on the private jet and was off to Moscow. She parachuted out of the plane over a mountain pass 40 miles from Russia. She pitched a tent as the Russian sun started to set and the harsh winds started blowing through the trees.

The next morning, she packed up and was on the road by 4:30 am. She moved swiftly and easily through rough forests on the mountains. Finally she saw the beautiful city just 10 miles away. She again made camp, settled in her sleeping bag, and read the map. The president would be entering the cathedral no later then ten and his speech would start at eleven, which meant she had to be under the church and in position by 9:30. She snuggled down and fell asleep.

The next morning she packed up and headed for the cathedral. She got to the city and went down to the underground trains. At 9:00 she was on the s54 heading past the cathedral. When she saw that she was approaching the point to get off, she slid open the door, jumped out, and did quite a smooth dive-roll, landing on her feet without hurting anything.

She reached into her backpack, grabbed her flashlight, and turned it on. The pale circle of light moved ahead of her through the dark underground, which reeked of waste and garbage. Finally she reached the site.

Her watch beeped. 10:29. Adrenaline pumped through her veins as she started giggling with excitement. She set down her backpack and pulled out her handgun and bomb. She ran and jumped, attaching the bomb to the ceiling, then sprinted behind a wall and readied her rifle. Five minutes later screams echoed down as the ceiling collapsed and the president came falling through the ground. He was the only one down there with her, as she had put the bomb right where he was standing.

He groaned in pain and tried to stand up from the rubble. As soon as he was up, Clio took a deep breath and pulled the trigger. He dropped as soon as her silver bullet dug into his skull. Clio smiled, then ran from the site through her escape route.

She met the jet back at the drop-off site one day later. The crew congratulated her as she ate her milk and cookies, her reward to herself for killing the president.

As soon as she landed, she wanted to go tell her sister about her flawless mission. She leapt through the city so proud and euphoric. She reached her sisters house, not caring about the fight that they had just had a few days before. She walked into the door with a smile spanning from ear to ear.

The smile soon faded as she saw the house was completely and utterly destroyed. It looked like a bomb had gone off. Glass cracked underneath her feet as she tiptoed across the broken room. She called out Chloe’s name, praying to the gods that Chloe’s sweet, calm voice would answer.

She made it to the kitchen, where something wet and gooey seeped through her white sneaker. She looked down to see her shoe painted red with blood. She had stepped in a big puddle of red. Right beside the puddle lay Lucy’s four-year-old body. Clio did not need to check. She knew Lucy was dead.

Her stomach jumped as she kept calling Chloe’s name and no answer returned. Finally she reached the bedroom, where she saw Chloe’s body. Her sister’s once-blonde hair was now as red as fire. Clio couldn’t breath. She felt as if someone were choking her. Her knees buckled down to Chloe.

Clio’s eyes started to water, a feeling she hadn’t experienced for a long time. She never ever cried, not when she was getting beaten, not when her mom dropped her off at the academy, not when they told Chloe and her that their mother had died. She hated giving in, she hated emotions, but she couldn’t help the tears streaming down her cheeks.

She set her sister’s head on her knees and cried softly over her. Her body felt numb. “I’m so sorry,” she choked in between cries. After a long time of tears, she set her sisters head back on the ground.

Her blurry vision started to focus as the last tears fled her eyes. Her eyes caught something on the wall. She wiped the tears and saw REDBARREN written in blood.

Her mind zoomed back to when she and Chloe had first made up the code word. It was the day after Clio killed Chloe’s first target. They were sitting on the Academy’s scratchy blanket on Chloe’s bunk. Chloe was wrapped in their mother’s rainbow colored quilt with her head buried in her hands, crying. Clio was trying to console her, but she didn’t know how. She was so detached from her emotions that she couldn’t empathize.

“Chloe it’s going to be okay!” she said desperately trying to get Chloe to stop crying.

“You don’t know that! If they find out they’ll kill me!” Chloe wailed.

“No they won’t. Look, Aba has been giving me private lessons. He said I could be the best assassin they’ve ever had. They couldn’t kill my sister. If they do I won’t kill for them,”

“Yes they will!”

“Okay, look. How about this: if we find out that they know, we’ll run away and they won’t touch us. We just need a code word…Red Barren! You remember that book that mom used to read to us?”

Chloe nodded.

“Everything will be okay. I love you, Chlo-bird.”

As Clio stared at the blood-written walls, anger filled her entire body. She knew who had done this. She knew what she had to do. She had to kill Aba. She kissed her sisters forehead one more time and then ran from the house.


Clio packed all her guns and some clothes in a small backpack. She remembered that every year exactly on March 31st all the assassin masters from around the world would meet in Chicago. It was March 29th.

She went to her garage and grabbed her motorcycle. The vroom of the engine excited her as she sped off into the night sky. She rode countless hours without any sleep or food. Her anger fueled her to keep going without taking breaks. Finally, one day later, she made it to Chicago. She parked her motorcycle one block away from the point where Aba would be in 24 hours.

She scaled the building with ease, and no harness. She was on top of the highest building in Chicago with a perfect line of sight to the point. She unrolled her sleeping bag, snuggled down inside, and stared at the stars above her. She felt as if she were chained down to the earth. She hated her life now. With no Chloe she had no drive to keep going in life. She just had to complete this mission, then everything would feel better she thought.

She didn’t sleep a wink. How was she going to kill the man that taught her everything? But she promised her sister she would. The hours went by as slowly as a snail crossing 500 miles.

Finally the meeting started. Clio set her AK47 on the ledge and got ready. Aba’s wrinkled face appeared. He was smiling. This made Clio sick.

She took a big inhale and exhale. Her hand was steady, but her heart was pounding through her chest. “This is for Chloe,” she whispered. Her finger traced around the smooth silver trigger. With one deep breath she pulled the trigger, but it no longer gave her the joy she’d once felt. The bullet hit his head, which flew back in one quick motion. Screams echoed throughout the city.

Clio sat back, her back resting on the building. The sky boomed as rain started to fall. She started to cry, thinking that her chains were broken but she still felt like a prisoner. As the raindrops gathered into different puddles, Clio saw the faces of all her killed targets appear.

All of Clio’s emotions that were once locked deep inside her heart came bursting out. She wailed, tears springing from her eyes. “I’m so sorry,” she screamed. She stepped up to the ledge, crying. “I’m so sorry,” she said one more time, and stepped off the building.

Mid-fall, time seemed to slow. The raindrops gathered and formed Chloe. “Everything’s okay. I love you.” Chloe said. Clio smiled. All the chains had now broken. She was finally at peace as she hit the hard concrete below. No longer a prisoner.








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