For this Diary I'll use the name Madeleine – Maddy for short.
I'm small and pretty, with long blonde hair, a great figure and I'm a contract killer.
You can't properly call a woman hit-man. Nor can you say hit-woman or hit-girl or, even more classy, hit-lady. So I prefer the term Assassin. When selected to this calling I gave my life to it as a nun does to religion.
I entered University with two languages and came out with six, along with two top degrees and – as with all young people – a need to change the world.
The chance came when, recruited within days of leaving, I agreed to an interview in an expensive house on the edge of town. Stunned by the rich opulence of the place I hardly heard the opening words of my Recruiter.
'We saw your potential in finishing school and followed your progress ever since. In University you collected four more languages, two great degrees and excelled at sport. You avoided alcohol and drugs, played every possible sport and took on and beat men in martial arts. Your father showed you how to handle guns before the age of ten and you became a superb shot. You have everything we need and if you agree you will become rich in your own right but give up what is seen as a normal life.'
He explained the job in detail and said, 'Think before you agree. To say yes means you'll act out a lonely life in the shadows.'
I still said 'Yes'. Why shouldn't I? My whole lonely life so far had been an act. Adding shadows would make no difference. And I found the thought of killing people who deserve to die quite attractive.
They sent me straight to wilds of another country for three years detailed training in two more martial arts, three more languages and many ways to kill.
My training included tracking and killing Targets in towns, villages, mountains, ravines, deserts and seas and skills in escaping after a Hit from those towns and villages and over those mountains, ravines, deserts and seas, with or without equipment.
It included the art of disguise and fading into the background in any crowd, city or situation before or after a Hit.
It included the stripping, maintaining and shooting every possible weapon an Assassin might use.
It included burglary, lock-breaking, safe-breaking, the disabling of security systems, the elimination of armed guards by knife, bare hands or silenced pistol.
It included killing Targets in a dozen different ways, using knives, handguns, sniping rifles, poisons and chemicals or, again, bare hands.
And it included detailed training in many kinds and styles of sex. Lots and lots of sex.
I enjoyed every moment of the whole course, but most of all I enjoyed the sex. Instructors, both male and female, showed me how to seduce using Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Swedish and American techniques. American? Yes. They lead the way in some really interesting ideas.
And Indian sex. 'Not that too vague and time consuming tantric rubbish. Stick to the stuff on temple walls. You'll need to stay fit and supple but I'm sure you'll handle that.'
Before release at the end of the course I asked, 'Have you turned me into a psychopath?'
'No,' said my Recruiter. 'We've enhanced what you already had. Not many get even halfway through. You've passed with flying colours. Now go into the world and await your first instruction.'
Final advice from Recruiter: 'Go to where you don't know the language. Learn it and never use it outside that country so no-one can ever trace you home, including us. Who knows? The day may come when we need to eliminate you.'
I flew to another continent and disappeared into a secret life. Not even my Handler knew where I settled.
My woodland's lover had just left. I could still smell his sweat on my body when a message arriving in my Cloud mail-box.
I hastily dressed. Not wishing to receive it in the nude. Embedded in the mail was a photograph and brief biog of my next target. A Russian Oligarch; who amassed enormous wealth with the collapse of the Soviet Union, leaving in his wake a trail of corpses.
His interests spread from oil, gas and renewable energy, to the development of space and military hardware. At times he had openly argued with governments and fellow oligarchs with arrogant disdain.
The message gave me a date and time to arrive at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.
The schedule gave me no opportunity for security deviations en route, to evade detection.
Just pack and go.
This should have set alarm bells ringing.
Unable to fly my usual zigzag route around the world I kept a close eye for any tail on my almost direct flight to Russia.
My flight schedules allowed only short stops in transit lounges, giving little chance to change my identity more than once.
So I took the first chance I had to disappear into the nearest rest room, where I thickened my eyebrows, removed all make-up, padded my cheeks and chose a close cropped black wig.
Then I flattened my breasts, clambered into men's cargo pants, a heavy cotton shirt and Doc Martins and became Briony, a solid unattractive lesbian even other lesbians would flinch away from.
The same name remained on my passports throughout the journey through six major capitals; I changed only the photograph.
At Moscow I pushed my way onto a heaving concourse, with passengers watched over by armed security.
I had barely taken a few steps into this melee when I saw my Target striding towards me.
Our eyes met in a glimmer of mutual instinctive recognition as between a Target and assassin.
In seconds we were alongside.
So close I could hear him breathing.
The muzzle of a silenced pistol appeared through the crowd. A bullet smashed through his skull, showering my face with blood, brain and bone.
The unseen killer melted into the crowd before the dead man hit the floor.
Everyone stood shocked and rigid, stunned by the speed of this murder.
Within seconds a group of police rushed in and took everyone nearby into protective custody and to a police station.
Two cops confronted me in a small room at the police station and I could tell immediately that Good Cop, the clever one, came from a military intelligence background.
He made small talk to settle my nerves whilst Bad Cop conducted a really close and almost intimate pat-down search, so close to a total strip and body inspection I offered to go nude.
Good Cop laughed and declined; Bad Cop glowered and grunted.
After checking my back pack and examining the Gay Pride pin attached to my jacket.
Good Cop said, 'Don't take too much notice of him. We're not all like that. He's had a bad day. Now, I must ask you a few questions?'
'Did you recognise the victim?'
'No. Should I?'
'Depends on the purpose of your visit. As a well known Oligarch you may have seen his picture round the world.'
'No. I've never seen him in my life.'
'Why have you come to Russia?'
'I'm a travel writer – commissioned to do a piece on the Gay scene in Moscow. So unless the poor shot sod came from the Gay...'
Bad Cop didn't like that idea at all.
He glowered and snapped, 'Then perhaps you are the real target. You were close enough.'
Good Cop said, 'There are some pretty extreme homophobic by-laws in many regions of our country and plenty of people outside the law who think all homosexuals should be shot.'
'Can I quote you in my article?'
'This is now a free country. You can say what you like provided you don't indentify me in any way.'
'Thanks. I promise.'
'Right,' he said. 'I'll get you to your hostel so you can clean all that blood from your face and forehead and change clothes.'
He said, 'I'll need to talk with you again tomorrow.'
Tomorrow? With my target already eliminated, I've no reason to hang around And how the hell does he know where I'm staying? He never asked and never said.
He smiled and said, 'It's the oldest and friendliest hostel in Moscow. You'll like it there.'
'You are very kind,' I said and gathered my things, alarm bells jangling in my head.
A travel file in my back pack contained my accommodation details, but only Bad Cop could have seen them.
My Employers must have some security breach.
He drove in silence for several minutes before pulling up outside the hostel.
Before I opened the car door he produced a photograph of me as Eleanor.
'Did you by any chance see this woman at the airport or on your flight today?'
She is my favourite character; a sophisticated, vivacious American blond globe-trotting gold-digger with an insatiable interest in sugar daddies and their cash.
The picture must come from my Pacific cruise.
How the hell did Good Cop get hold of it?
Bad Cop's half serious suggestion that perhaps I am the real target took on sudden reality.
It is common knowledge that all Oligarchs have enemies and are usually shepherded by a legion of bodyguards, wherever they go.
But this time they failed to protect him.
Is this because they expected me to be the Target and whoever came for me missed and hit the Oligarch?
Or were two killers in the crowd, one for me and one for him?
Did his killer strike first and frighten my killer off?
If so, does this mean that my Employers are penetrated by a Mole?
It seems obvious I'll need to be extra careful and decide what to do next.
As I settled in to my four berth dormitory my Cloud mail-box pinged, giving me directions to a Gay club. You'll be met there by a Night Wolf with a package in his Bike pannier.
The Night Wolves are Russia's oldest motorcycle club. They see themselves and the Biker equivalent of Hells Angels in the West.
I deliberately arrived at the smoky underground Gay Club late and found it full of elderly queers and a crowd of Night Wolves, tucked around several tables near the bar.
The cheap prices, red tablecloths and low, low lights to hide the dirt made me feel it must be a hang-over from the crap days of the Soviets.
I nursed a warm, increasingly flat cola for some time before one of the Bikers came across and lisped, 'Pretty brave and daring, don't you think, setting up such a decadent place so near the Lubyanka?'
I looked at this apparition of fancy manhood in immaculate leathers that looked as though they'd never been ridden through any form of weather or if they'd ever been ridden in at all.
I looked at him with a blank expression.
'Home of the FSB,' said Gay Biker, obviously frustrated.
I maintained my dumb tourist countenance.
He almost shouted, 'What used to be the KGB!'
I smiled, and nodded in acknowledgement.
'They agree with the People's Council mantra, that homosexuality is a grave sin. Ironic, when they recruited some Gay British spies during the Cold War.'
Good God. Is this my Night Wolf?
I felt uneasy. Until now I had always worked alone; in anonymity. The slightest hint that someone knew my true identity put my life in jeopardy – and, of course, their own life – because I couldn't allow myself to remain known and in danger.
Suddenly the den erupted. A group of armed, hooded raiders burst in. Fists slammed into the faces of the more obvious female patrons. A terrified bar girl pinned to the wall with a pistol at her temple screamed.
The place became a scene of complete mayhem – upturned tables; smashed chairs used as weapons – shouting and breaking glass and flying bottles.
Gay Biker jumped up and ran. Probably to avoid an enormous man – a hunk – all muscle and yelling anger, hard eyes glaring through a balaclava slit.
He swung a fist.
I blocked the blow, spun in, grabbed his arm and broke his elbow, before continuing my movement to throw him across my table and onto the flow, where he lay in agony, groaning and swearing.
Gay Biker surfaced from behind an upturned table, pointed towards the emergency exit and shouted, 'Run like fuck.'
I followed him at speed and found him sitting astride a revving Harley Davidson.
'Get on. Quick. Before the bastards follow.'
I swung on to the pillion.
He accelerated away to the sound of approaching police sirens.
I found the package in his pannier and slipped it into my shoulder bag.
At the hostel I didn't invite him in.
'You'll be safe here,' he said. 'No one saw which way we went.'
The package contained a quantity of familiar aluminium and glass vials of various poisons and equipment to deliver them. A killer pair of authentic designer stiletto shoes. A polymer pistol and matching ammunition that could pass undetected through x-ray security checks. And a recently used MP-443 Grach semi-automatic side-arm; standard issue for the Russian military.
Great. Now I'm properly tooled.