The Assignment

Rain ran down her face. Eyes staring at the man approaching her, she didn’t blink. She did not seem surprised. Instead seemed indifferent. She could’ve stepped under the awning to her left, yet waited. He stopped ten feet away. His face showed both recognition and surprise. He glanced over his shoulder as if hoping someone would appear. When he looked back at her, she stood less than three feet distant. He reacted as if he’d heard nothing. A flash of fear moved the muscles around his eyes, briefly narrowing them. Falling rain increased in intensity so its sound overwhelmed all else. He looked like he wanted to speak, or needed to ask an important question. Instead, he took a step back and looked down when hissing rain became unbearable pain.

“Why?” he asked not expecting an answer, not getting one.

Rain washed the blood pulsing from his hole in his chest, pushing it into the gutter, down the street drain. He watched it happened as his knees buckled. He watched the cobblestone pavement grow in size. He felt his head bounce hard off the stones as he died.

The rain fell harder filling the space where she had stood a moment earlier. The storm covered the street, the neighborhood, the city. She no longer felt the cold wetness, but instead stood before a roaring fire in a large stone fireplace.

Slowly, she removed her wet clothing, dropping each item onto a pile before the flames as a puddle of wet history grew around the cloth. Her bare feet showed redness from the cold, as did her hands and face. She leaned closer to the heat and breathed deeply but quietly as the warmth penetrated her flesh until she felt where she’d been, what she’d done had burned away.

Walking across the carpeted room, she pressed a small pin the shape of a seven-point star, that pulsed both red and green, into a socket inside a wooden box no larger than her hand. It clicked, began uploading data, then downloading her next assignment. She closed to box lid knowing she would not leave until fully rested, bionics recharged.