by GR "Maya" Cogman
I headed down the path to the house, between the lavender bushes. It was late afternoon and the air was very gentle there, hardly moved by the breeze at all. My feet crunched on the gravel of the path as I came to the door, and knocked, the sequence my boss had given me.
She answered after a moment, blinking in the sunlight. Her hands were still damp from whatever she had been washing, and there was a teatowel tucked into her apron. "Come in, young man," she began to say.
I brought the revolver out from under my jacket, smoothly, and fired: the first bullet took her in the chest, the second between her eyes. She folded up with an odd little grunt, and collapsed down to the floor. Her right hand snagged the cord of the telephone, and it fell next to her, the receiver skittering across the wooden floor.
Her dead eyes were still fixed on me. Outside, the trees began thrashing as if there was a storm. But that was all right. I'd been warned about that. I shut the door to keep the bees out.
Her eyes were still turned in my direction. Dark brown eyes, like the wood of the floor. Her hair was white, pinned back in an old-fashioned bun, her hands and face wrinkled. Blood smeared the blue and grey flower-patterns of her dress.
It was almost poetic. I dropped the grenade on top of her as I headed for the back of the house. The Renegade had told us that the regular address-lists were in the drawing-room there. He'd been real helpful. It hadn't stopped the Servitors of the Game taking him away, but maybe it'd win him something somewhere. Maybe.
I felt the blast of hot air and shrapnel as I closed the door. Mm, good smell. The papers were where he'd said, under the napkins in the dresser. I turned around, and the dog was at my throat.
He hadn't mentioned the dog.
The dog was the size of a St Bernard - or at least it felt that way, rolling on top of me and trying to get its jaws into my throat. I shoved my left forearm into its mouth, and screamed as I felt the teeth go through my leather jacket, and brought the gun up with my right hand straight into its belly, and fired, and kept on firing. Glass sprayed over the two of us from where the trees were beating on the windows, and it kept on growling, and I kept on firing until the gun clicked on empty.
It looked at me with those big dark brown eyes, the same eyes, and collapsed on me like some impossible fur rug, heavy and leaking blood. I shoved it off me, trying to spare my mangled left arm, and grabbed two of the bottles of brandy off the sideboard before making a run for the door. The trees outside were screaming. I know they were. I could feel it.
The grenade had made a blastsite of the front hall, and taken out part of the door. Through it I could see the garden path, with the lavender bushes knotting and snarling nets to catch my feet in. Bitch. I threw the two brandy bottles ahead of me, letting the glass smash and the alcohol spatter all over the plants, before I threw the cigarette lighter after them. The boss knows what he's doing when he serves Fire. Torch the place.
Birds dived at me as I came running out, a swarm of sparrows, little brown things that pecked at my face and eyes. I made it to the bike, the lavender and roses lashing at me with thorny whips. It kicked into life and sent gravel flying backwards as I gunned it down the road.
I was all smeared with blood from where that dog had died on me, and my left arm was a mess, but I'd made it out. The boss would be pleased, right? I had the names. I'd killed that bitch's vessel. Success story. The birds were singing a little brighter as I polluted the peaceful country lane.
Yeah, right. I hadn't realised how far she could go. I was giving the papers to the boss - just handing them over - and he even praised me for it, when I saw his eyes. They were brown. Like hers. Like the dog. I wasn't supposed to notice, not till they'd got the drop on me. He was flattering me to keep me sweet. I smiled, made my excuses, and left. Then I ran. She wouldn't get me that easily.
She's tried again since, of course. I have to keep alert. She prefers dogs, but sometimes she uses people. Or plants. I took enough stuff from his supplies that I can torch most of the plants and stop her using them, but you can't be sure. They get everywhere. I could try running to one of the other People in town, but I heard he'd called in the Servitors of the Game. On me! He's the one they should be hunting. She's in him. She's after me, and I have to keep one step ahead. It's self-defence.
Wait a moment. Your eyes...
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