The Ruiner “That American Life” Pt. 1 Boundaries

I. Boundaries

Troy New York 1:13 am

The Ruiner didn’t get paid to justify or question the reasoning behind his orders and he had a strict internal policy about working for free, but he often found himself thinking about why he was doing what he was doing. Why did these people need to die? What crime necessitated a visit from someone like him?

It was rare that he felt what he was doing was as important as he was told it was. Many of his targets seemed to receive the death sentence because it was the easy, lazy choice and not so much because the fate of the nation, world, or universe depended on him killing someone for acting a little bit weird. It was something that never really made sense to him, but it seemed to be getting worse.

For example, last week he was sent to kill a man named Chuck Johansen for the crime of accidentally receiving mis-delivered mail. Yeah, the mail was from a highly important intelligence asset, and yeah, it contained some pretty wild information about a small third world country’s attempt to get a nuke, but it was encoded, encrypted, and written in some sort of invisible ink. It meant nothing to anyone other than the intended recipient and it also looked like a piece of junk mail offering a low-interest credit card. There was no reason anyone one sane could assume this situation was a high level threat.

None of that mattered though, not to the people who told Harris who to kill. To Harris it was senseless to kill someone who accidentally got a hold of something they had no idea was important, but his thoughts about what constituted sensibility were never asked for. It would have been less messy to wait for Chuck to toss it in his recycling bin and have some Agents dressed as trash collectors come by and pick it up before the usual trash guys came. That was less messy by spades, but sending Harris in was cheaper, and either way, the result was the same to those upstairs. He was starting to feel like a Stradivarius that was exclusively being played by a tone-deaf toddler. He was the magic eraser for a bunch of power hungry creeps who could no longer tell the difference between becoming a monster and fighting one.

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The Ruiner “All Things Considered” Pt. 3

III. Amateur Spy, Professional Jerk

Philly traffic isn’t as bad as New York traffic, but that’s no consolation when you’re stuck on a bridge due to the brutal one-two punch of road work and a six-car pile up caused by some idiot who couldn’t put their phone down. The cacophony of honking horns, screaming drivers, and sirens had most of the motorists in a full-fledged rage. Not the Ruiner, at the moment he was enjoying being a spy so much that nothing short of a phone call from work could blow his mood.

The bridge was situated near a sewage processing plant and the air always smelled like shit. Even with the windows rolled up. The putrid stench was no match for Harris’ enthusiasm but didn’t it seem to be improving the overall mood of the other stalled commuters. Eventually, after nearly an hour of limping along, traffic returned to its normal pace.

Harris wondered if he should call his “handler” back at the hotel and let him know about the traffic delay. He also just realized that he forgot to get a code name. This almost upset him until he realized that forgetting to get a code name was exactly something that an amateur spy would do.

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The Ruiner “All Things Considered” Pt. 2

II. Professional Jerk, Amateur Spy

Harris hung the phone up and sat down on the bed. He was trying to decide how responsible he should feel about the man on the phone’s death. Did he get shot as a direct result of losing the diamonds? He seemed to think that was a reasonable conclusion. If he was expecting a mule to show and the mule showed up empty handed and told him a story about a stranger stealing his bag and giving him a weird business card, he’d probably make him call the number on the card and then shoot him too. It just made sense.

“Damn,” He said out loud. “This is going to take at least a few days to clear up.” He continued, but this time he just thought it: “This isn’t the time to be talking to myself,” as he continued to consider the situation.

He felt responsible for Rodger’s death, probably because he was. And because he felt a pang or two of guilt over it, he was willing to spend up to two days trying to find out who did it. One day didn’t seem like enough time and three days was out of the question. He was only planning on staying a week and didn’t want to waste half of it solving some murder he felt was only mostly his fault.

After a while of quiet contemplation and internal debate, Vincent Harris decided that calling his boss would be in his best interest.

He took out his work phone and hit the only button on it. He listened to the ringing sounds while mentally drafting his conversational opener.

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The Ruiner “All Things Considered” Pt. 1

I. Unattended Luggage Alert

He sat at a table in the Madrid International Airport food court. There was a little bit of time before his plane left. A black backpack sat in the chair next to him. A half-empty root beer can sat in front of him. Other than the fact that he was clearly visibly nervous as hell, there was nothing to indicate he was up to anything.

Lots of people get nervous in airports, it’s pretty normal. Most people tend to think they’ll be lucky enough to be in a plane crash even though it’s safer than driving by spades, but it’s unfamiliar so it’s scarier. That’s just how people are, victims of a consciousness they can’t understand or use correctly.

The man at the table had never flown before. He’d also never smuggled 2 million dollars worth of diamonds from Madrid to Philadelphia before. In fact, he’d never smuggled so much as a beer can or nickel-bag past his mom. In the scheme of things, 2 million dollars in stolen diamonds isn’t enough to matter- unless you’re the one who has to carry them around. He really had nothing to worry about. The stones were in a lead-lined pouch stuffed into a pair of socks at the bottom of his backpack, underneath a plastic bag full of dirty laundry, which was underneath two days of t-shirts and underpants. This did nothing to make him less nervous. He couldn’t help but feel that everyone knew what he was doing, that everyone was looking at him and saying: “Tsk tsk, how dare you smuggle diamonds,” to him with their eyes. This feeling of transparency didn’t stop with human travelers; he was sure that a few of the dogs he walked past could tell what he was up to as well.

To make matters worse, he didn’t even want to do it. He wasn’t a smuggler by trade or desire. He was terrified of flying more than of getting caught with the diamonds. If he did get caught, he might get a chance to tell his story to someone who could help him.

His name was Rodger LaMinga. He learned some things he shouldn’t have known and now he was smuggling diamonds to avoid being murdered.

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01 The Ruiner “Easy Way Out” Pt. 8

Late to the game? Catch up here.


VIII- World’s Best Plan

White House security wasn’t what it used to be or maybe it was just that Vincent Harris was getting better at his job. It’d been a while since he’d snuck into the President’s home and he swore it wasn’t this easy last time.

If it were daytime he would have just went in as part of the tour and snuck away to wait for the President in the Oval Office. Being as it was the dead of night, Harris came up with a different plan.

It wasn’t the kind of plan that was going to win the award for “World’s Best Plan”, but what it lacked in cleverness and grace it more than made up for in terms of sheer effectiveness and simplicity.

Harris spent most of the past decade or so learning how to kill people and then killing people, but that was only one side to his training. Getting into and out of places unseen and unnoticed were skills just as important to someone in his line of work. Being unnoticed was far more difficult than just not being seen. There are many ways to know if someone is around and only one of them relies on sight. Bio-electrical sensors, infrared body heat imagers, microphones, scales, and scent detectors could betray a human’s presence without resorting to seeing them.

Guards weren’t a problem, they hardly ever posed more than an annoyance to him. The biggest difficulty was deciding whether to kill them or put them to sleep. At first, Harris struggled with those options, but now he had a system. Even number days he put guards to sleep, odd-numbered ones he’d scramble their brains. The only exception was that he never killed soldiers or agents working for the United States.

He didn’t always sneak into the White House, he’d been there plenty of times for legitimate reasons and used the door like everyone else for those times. This time was different though, this was the first time he broke into the White House specifically to commit treason.

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