“Who are you?”
A shadow stalks around her. The only light coming from the burning ember of a cigarette hanging from where the shadows mouth should be.
“Why you?” She gulped in the darkness. She would have thought she would be cold in the darkness, but instead she was warm, too warm. Sweat trickled down her cheek.
“Why me? Why not me?” A chair squeals across the floor, sending echoes ringing. The shadow seemed to drop into it. The cigarette bobbles in the darkness. “Because this is what I do, my job, so to speak. A job I have been doing for a very, very long time.”
She heard a sound, like a deep drawing of breath, the cigarette ember glowing brighter. She could just make out a form behind the cigarette. The shadow blew out the smoke, sending it billowing out around her. The smoke smelled strangely sweet.
Suddenly a bright light shot down in a spot light around her.
She cried out and threw an arm over her eyes.
Sorry about that,” came the shadows voice.
Slowly her eyes adjusted to the bright light. She was in a pool of light extending a few feet out from her chair, the rest of the room was still in total darkness.
Movement across from her, the shadow leaned forward, coming into the light just enough to reveal red eyes, red hair and the face of a young woman.
The beginning? She thought back over the past couple weeks, to the blood, the sweat, the pain.
It all began at the fighting club, she decided. She needed the money to pay her brothers debt and it was the fastest way she know to get cash. She had fought. She had been good, very good. She made enough to cover her brothers debts and then some. But then she got greedy.
She found herself pouring the whole story out to this shadow woman. The metal chair becoming slick with sweat under her. She couldn’t look away from the shadow woman’s eyes. They were red, a deep red, the color of the red stones, garnets, her pupils were lit with a fire. Maybe the heat in the room was coming from her eyes, the shone so bright.
She spoke about how she made the fight master make the battles harder, the stakes higher. And she kept winning. Until her last fight.
The fight club had one rule.
Her opponent was huge, easily twice her size. What’s more, he knew how to use his size, and how to push her buttons.
Do not kill.
He had said something, she didn’t even know what it was anymore. She just remembered the white hot rage. When she came too he was dead. His throat smashed into meat.
The crowds were silent, until they began to scream with rage. All knew the rule, all kept the rule, until she broke it.
She ran then, breaking the lock on the fighting cage and taking off through the crowd, hands trying to grab on to her, her shirt tore, She lost some hair too probably. There were gunshots as well, pain. She gripped her arm where it throbbed dully with pain where a bullet had grazed her. It was clean and bandaged now. When did that happen?
She faltered, what happened next? Shew couldn’t remember, just running and then darkness, and warmth. And then she woke up in the chair.
She opened her eyes as her voice faded. Her gaze dropped to her hands where they lay curled in her lap. The knuckles cut and bruised from fighting. But the blood, Gerik’s blood, was gone. Washed away without her knowing.
“Hmmm…” The shadow woman leaned back in her chair, cigarette perched between two fingers. She was all in black, black business suit, black gloves, black shirt.
She lifted her gaze to the woman. There, a tiny spot of color among the black. A round jewel that glimmered like ice, changing colors from blue, to purple, to white, hung surrounded by what looked like a large heavy chain link.
“Do you know who owned that fight club who’s rule you broke?”
Her gaze snapped back up to meet the shadow woman’s. Her face was neutral.
“I don’t know, some underground boss I think.” The shadow woman’s gaze intensified, as if she was looking into her soul. She was burning under that gaze, she could die under that gaze.
And just like that the flames were banked and she could look away, gasping for air. She hadn’t realized she had been holding her breath.
She carefully looked back at the woman and flinched, the shadow woman was smiling now, a soft smile, interest and something else shimmering in those eyes.
“My name is Myris Black, I own the club you fought in.”
She gripped the sides of the chair and gulped. She knew that name. Myris Black owned half of the Seattle underground. She was very good at what she did and was also very secretive. NO one had seen her face and lived to tell about it.
“Are you going to kill me?” she whispered, her voice shaking.
Myris laughed, it was a sharp laugh that snapped and echoed through the room. The woman leaned forward.
Her eyes noticed the cigarette still dangling from Myris’ hand. Despite the time she was sure was passing, the cigarette hadn’t burned down any farther.
“Wait what?” She couldn’t have heard right. Did Myris Black just offer her a job? The sweat chilled on her skin, was it suddenly cooler in the room?
Myris took a deep drag of her cigarette, the embers climbing down the shaft, climbing almost to her lips. The smoke she blew out had that same sweet scent as before. She snapped her fingers and suddenly the rest of the lights in the room came on, chasing away the shadows. She was in a small room. The walls were covered in some dark wood, the same wood that covered the floor. There were no windows but she could see a large heavy door behind the shadow woman. She couldn’t help but keep calling her that, it seemed, fitting. Even in the light.
“I want you to work for me. There are some odd jobs I would like you to handle for me. I don’t get out much otherwise I would handle them myself. I will, of course, pay you well for your services.”
“You want me to be a assassin?” She mumbled incredulously.
Myris raised an eyebrow. “No, nothing I ask you to do would be morally wrong. Illegal yes. So what do you say Miss Henry?”
“Just Wynn works.” She heard herself say. Her brain was having troubles figuring out just what was going on. “Why would you offer me a job?” She asked finally.
The shadow woman rested her elbows on her knees and her chin on her clasped hands. Where did the cigarette go? She look at the ground but saw no abandoned butt.
“I have several reasons why I want to hire you. 1, you’re a very good fighter. I watched most of your fights. Your strength in particular is most impressive. 2, your reasons for fighting were noble. Trying to pay off your brothers debts. I liked that.” Myris cocked her head. “Despite what happened after you paid your brothers debts. 3, like I said before I don’t like killing because it is unnecessary, and wasteful. I think you could be very useful to me. You’re less useful dead.”
“How do you know I won’t betray you? Go to the cops with what you look like? They might reward me for that. And how do I know you won’t just kill me later? Or use me to do horrible things? I’ve heard the stories about you.” She was halfway out of the chair by now, her eyes flicking to the door behind the other woman. Was it locked? She might be able to break it down.
“Somehow I don’t think you’ll go to the police, not with a warrant out for your arrest, there were many angry witnesses at the club. But I can make that go away.”
“You have connections in the police?”
“Obviously. I wouldn’t be much of a ‘underground boss’ if I didn’t.”
She shifted in her chair. “And the other part? About asking me to do things I wouldn’t want to do?”
Myris smiled, an amused smile. “You’ll just have to trust me that I won’t. So, do we have a deal?”
“I don’t have much of a choice do I?” She clasped her hands together tightly, tight enough to make the cuts on her knuckles split open. She focused on the pain.
“You do have a choice. I did offer you one.”
“Oh yeah, working for you or death, that’s a great couple choices there.” Wynn snorted and clenched her arms around her body. There was no choice, she thought to herself angrily.
Myris shrugged. “A choice is still a choice. I know some who would choose death over working for me.”
“Then I guess I say yes.” She felt defeated. All she wanted to do was pay off her brother’s debts. How could it come to this?
“I had a hunch you might. Now take my hand and we can seal the deal.” The shadow woman removed one of her gloves, revealing a oddly dainty white hand. She held it out to Wynn.
Wynn stared at the small hand, the nails perfectly manicured, the hand perfectly still. She felt silly to feel so threatened by a hand like that. But she was.
She reach out her own scarred and now bleeding hand and grasped the shadow woman’s hand. The shadow woman squeezed and she felt a burst of heat that ran from her head to her toes. She snatched her hand back as soon as she could. She stared at her hand, there was no burn. There wasn’t any blood either.
“What was that?” She whispered as she turned over her hand. The cuts were still there, the bruises too. But the cuts were closed again, all trace of blood gone.
“That was me putting my mark on you.” said the shadow woman as she pulled her glove back on. “No need to worry, it isn’t a physical one. But it will all me to find you easily and act as a warning to others who can see it.”
“Your mark? Like some kinda brand?” Like she owns me, Wynn thought to herself.
“Not a brand, you are person, not cattle. Like of it like you’re wearing an invisible uniform shirt.” Myris stood and straightened her jacket.
“One I can’t take off,” she muttered under her breath. She stared at her hand again, she look up at Myris, the other woman stood behind the other chair, back straight, hands clasped behind her back. She seemed to be studying Wynn. “What are you?” she said softly. Myris smiled, that soft, and intense smile.
“I don’t think you’re quite ready for that yet. I’ll be leaving now, I have other matters to attend to, outside this room you’ll find a driver, Tomas. He will take you where ever you need to go, he has a package for you, take it.”
Wynn grunted and slowly stood up, surprised her muscles didn’t scream at her.
“I will see you again Wynn. I look forward to our partnership.” Myris Black left the small room, a room that suddenly became very cold.
Wynn left the room slowly, Myris was gone when she came out into a hallway. A man stood next to the door, Tomas she guessed. He held a package in his hands.
“Welcome.” He nodded.
“Take me home please?” she said in a weak voice. She need a still drink. Or five.