Thirteen Bloody Years

Selene nervously waited beside the window. Time seemed to creep by, if it moved at all. The cold rain had long since permeated her black turtleneck, and now she could feel rivulets running down from her shoulders to her combat boots. It would have been nice if tonight had been a clear night, but it wouldn't affect the outcome. Inside, voices bantered lightly, and then a distinctive child's voice laughed merrily. She checked her dart gun, making sure the tranquilizers were loaded in correctly, then slung it back over her shoulder.

Waiting was the hardest part. This was her thirteenth mission, and, if everything went well, it would be her last official time in the field. The boss had always been happy with her work, and she had put in her time. Perhaps it was the excitement of almost being done forever, but she found herself checking the slide on her pistol for the twentieth time tonight. The cold steel felt smooth in the rain, and the rubber grip conformed to her hand perfectly. She checked the sights, which glowed green in the growing darkness, and when she was finally sure that the milled steel that she held in her hand would do its job, she relaxed just a bit. All was in place, the round was in the chamber, and her magazine was full. Once more, she leaned against the wall, placing her pistol, a Sig Sauer P226 back in its holster, which had the nose portion removed to accommodate the suppressor that she'd mounted on the end of the barrel. More banter crescendoed from the house, and then small feet pattered down a hallway, their lack of socks making slapping sounds against the hardwood floor. She stowed that information away for later use; a wood floor was much more difficult to sneak on than a carpeted one would be.

A few more minutes ticked by, and Selene found herself checking her watch. Eight-thirty, right on schedule, a man could be heard inside the room, softly singing a lullaby to the three-year-old who's bed rested within. The lights had gone out in all the windows except those in the master bedroom, and soon those snuffed out as well. Everything was moving exactly how it should, aside from the rain. Finally, she could move.

As silent as the void, she stood to her full height and placed a small pry bar against the child's window sill. Lucky for her, the parents hadn't thought to lock it, and the window slid upward with very little effort. Cautiously peering inside, she was relieved to find the child sleeping fitfully. A single dart from her tranquilizer gun made doubly sure the child wouldn't stir, and she began climbing through the window, her small form gliding easily through the small space. As she hit the floor on the inside with cat-like nimbleness, she thanked whatever gods existed that it was carpet that she landed on. A quick flick of her wrist, and the rubber exotreads that were clamped to her boots came off, revealing perfectly clean and dry boots underneath. These treads allowed her to walk indoors without tracking the outdoors around the house, making her presence even harder to detect or track. She stowed the treads in her small backpack and crept to the hallway door.

A raucous squeak startled her when she opened the door. She stood stock still, her hand on her pistol, listening intently for thirty seconds before she dared to move on, having heard nothing. To her left, she could see the father passed out on the couch, toys strewn around him. He was harmless enough as it was, but she could never trust that to be true, so a second dart flew his way. After a short jolt awake and then a fade back to sleep, she was certain he wouldn't be a problem, and moved the opposite direction, in search of the mother, who she found in the master bedroom.

The mother was on her back, wearing only her underwear, and completely uncovered, which didn't surprise Selene, given the warmth of the room. Selene had learned many missions ago not to take too long staring at her target, or else she would develop reasons not to carry out her job. Sentiment only made it harder. She pulled her pistol out, aiming it at her victim's heart. Unbeknownst to her, the water that had coated every part of her own body was now making its way down the gun. Selene took one last look at the young woman who slept peacefully beneath her gun, and this was her mistake. One quivering drop of water fell from the tip of her suppressor, landing on the naked breast of her target.

The woman's eyes snapped open, and Selene panicked, pulling the trigger three times. Shock filled the woman's face as round after round entered her chest, each thumping loudly before smacking into her pale skin. After the third round, Selene ceased fire, and the woman wrapped her hand around her wrist, her eyes pleading for one more moment, one more day, one more kiss from her husband, or one more smile from her daughter before she passed into the silent void of death. Selene stared back into her eyes, her mask hiding every emotion that she was want to reveal to her final victim.

Selene worked quickly to pack the body into the body bag that she'd stored in her backpack, and before long she was heading back to the hotel where she had lived since she had been three. As she approached the counter in the lobby, a bus boy relieved her of the body bag, which he placed into a cart labeled "Payments." The clerk at the front desk smiled warmly and waited for her to step up to the counter, which she did, though slowly. There was some back and forth which she didn't really pay attention to, but when he was done with the small talk, his hand was extended, his face expectant. She fumbled in her pocket a bit, and then produced the key to her room, which she then placed in his waiting hand. A few seconds later, he handed her a sheet of paper that read, "Selene Brightfell, account paid in full. 13/13 payments received, on a yearly basis. Contract terminated."

Selene sat in her car across the street from the house she'd invaded the night before. In her lap, a cake with eighteen candles, five gold and thirteen red, sat as she sang the happy birthday song to herself in a voice that cracked and disappeared before the song was over. Across the street, the man who'd been her boss held the hand of a three year old girl amid a maze of police tape and emergency vehicles.