100 FB Fans Early Release - 12.29.2009 - Thanks Everybody! Loves! -Lauren
January 1, 2010
Artwork by Denver Robbins
t was a through and through. That's what they call it when a bullet travels completely through a person. The pain of it was exquisite. The bullet had entered just to the left of her right shoulder blade and tore itself clean through her right lung, exiting the top of her right breast. Her lungs gasped for air, sucking it through her mouth and the neat little wounds on her body. It was an odd sensation to say the least. Searing pain radiated outward from the projectiles path through her chest, sending surges of pain pulsing through her. Her lungs ached for soft, light air but her intake brought with it warm surges of thick, heavy, blood.
She brought her hand up to the scarlet flow that seeped from the wound on her chest.
Blood. On her hands.
She peered through her reddened fingers at the lifeless corpse of Mr. Daniel Leon, her target, lying motionless at her feet in his navy blue suit and starched shirt, now completely covered in red. His hat sat askew, pinched under his large round head, revealing a sparse comb over. His glassy eyes stared blank ahead, his mouth agape, shocked yet somehow peaceful. It was an odd sort of reflection of her own expression except that hers was a combination of shock and anger. That beautiful kind of anger that brought forth surges of adrenaline that kept her standing and caused her grip to tighten around her Colt 1908 VP.
She knew she would lose consciousness soon but she was determined to look her assassin in the eye. She spun to face him, her gun at the ready.
Paul Grimould - the fucking bastard - had shot her in the back. He held his .22 Ruger at the end of his outstretched arm, still aimed at center mass. His eyes were cold, calculated, satisfied.
He had planned this all along. Every moment - every gesture - every kiss - had been a lie. She cursed herself for her vulnerability. She really should have known better than to trust an accountant with a gun.
It would be so easy to kill him, she thought. Just pull the trigger. She tightened her grip. Nothing.
"You're out of ammo." He smirked, took the cigarette from his mouth and flicked it at her.
She was out. All seven rounds, six from the clip and the one from the chamber now all sat comfortably cooling in the chest of Mr. Leon. Damn. Her exuberance for killing was seriously beginning to take its toll. She briefly considered her other options, which were admittedly slim.
"It's like I've said before Mira, dames just aren't cut out for this kind of work." The corners of Paul's lips curled into a sly smile as he adjusted his aim.
It took her only half a second to realize where he was aiming, but it was too late to do anything about it, in that half second he had pulled the trigger again. For an accountant - as if anyone could believe that lie any more - he had impeccable aim.
The second bullet hit the large silver locket that hung around her neck, at the center of her chest. The silver yielded to the force and heat of the bullet, slowing it just enough to cause the lead to shatter itself into several silver tipped shards, before continuing its broken path through her body.
This new pain was increasingly excruciating. Forget the sucking chest wound. Searing hot lead and silver had just ripped through her with spite.
What a bastard. Now he had made it personal. How could taking her life not be enough for him? Why would he target the one thing – the only thing – that had any real value to her? Clearly he wanted her suffering to be more than simply physical. Or maybe... maybe there was something more to it than that? Impossible. She pushed the thought from her mind. An easy task, considering her chest felt as if it had first exploded, and then imploded.
No more, she thought, lowering her gun. And she was grateful when he followed suit.
She pondered the idea of her own death as she sank to her knees and wondered if his crude silver bullet would kill her monsters. Her gun fell from her hand and landed with a softly echoed clunk on the chill cement floor.
Would he stay? She wondered. Would he stay and watch her die? Would he shoot her again - and again, and again, and again, as she had done to Mr. Leon?
No. He accepted her surrender. The gutless weakling turned and walked quickly away with his gun at his side. His gray suit and hat blurred against gray walls. He looked back as he opened the door, "Thanks for the ride," he said and then he was gone.
He looked back, she mused. Maybe it was only a silly superstition, but it gave her hope.
It was just as well that he left. She really hadn't wanted to lose her carefully contained – barely maintained - composure in front of him, and it was becoming increasingly harder every moment.
The smell of blood was thick in the air, not something she was unfamiliar with, having been a hired gun for as long as she had been. But her own blood, with its sickly sweet smell, brought a distant memory from another time - another life - pulsing through her thoughts. And she wondered about the odds of survival, and if it would be worth the continued heartache.
She could feel her body dying even as it fought to stay alive, desperately trying to expel the blood and metal. Composure lost, she coughed hard, issuing forth a spattering of red, which gagged her and caused her body to shake in a convulsive fit. She thought she could taste the silver in her blood, amidst the sweet, but it may have been her imagination.
The coughing, gagging, convulsions felt like she was going to vomit a lung. She put out her hands to brace herself from this new onslaught. Her right hand caught the edge of the puddle of blood slowly creeping away from Mr. Leon. She fell against him, her blood now mixing freely with his.
How easy it was to forget the man she had just killed when her own life was in question, she mused.
She eyed Mr. Leon, chilling, open-mouthed on the concrete floor, and her senses urged her to give in, to release herself, to surrender. But she was determined to use every bit of will she had left to stay in control, even if it killed her. A cruel irony when she considered that she was likely to die anyway.
She lifted her hand to her chest and grasped the locket. It had been a gift from Jonas Dimon, the man who had become her father. The locket was one of two - like her - and its twin was worn by hers. Meline, her younger sister by minutes yet born on her very own day.
With some effort she pulled the locket from her. It was an ugly sight. Blood soaked and broken, the bullet had torn through it just left of center. She ran her thumb over what had been an embossed lily, but was now a gaping hole, smoothed by force in the front jagged by spite at the back.
"They will keep you safe." Jonas had told them on the day he had given her and Meline the lockets, on the very day that he had left. The inside had held a plate of silver, smoothed and polished to a mirrored surface.
"No sense in a picture when you were the reflection of the other person," Jonas had told them. She missed them both terribly, and wished – now that it was too late – that she hadn't been so cruel the last time she had seen them.
Blood trickled from her mouth, she spit and coughed, and gasped for air, but she knew she was losing this battle.
There was no more air to be found on her intake, her head felt light, her body heavy, and her mind dim. She thought of Meline and of Jonas, her mother, Emily, Iona, and her father. But her last thoughts were of Argus and her sins, and of retribution and nothingness as she drifted painfully and unwillingly into the silent darkness of oblivion.
Chapter 1 - The Dying Game
(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart