The superheated tip of the crossbow bolt melted its way inside the window frame. The shot was sure. The connecting cable lay strung over the street, three stories below. She pulled the cable taut and tested it for strength. The weaponsmith spoke true; it would bear her weight. She wanted more of these bolts, perfect for the kind of entrance she wanted to make. She tied it to the frame of an old air-conditioning system mount.
She had been parked here across the street, on the rooftop waiting for him to return. Some twenty minutes ago, he had. Fifteen minutes ago, the light went out in the window over which her bolt lay imbedded in the steel. She never saw him leave.
The June sun sat low on the western horizon. Past the block fires that always seemed to burn in this ruined city, the distant Rocky Mountains rose to greet that setting sun. She estimated she had some ten or twelve minutes of daylight left. She waited some more time, worried that the impact of the bolt would create some life in that room. But the room remained still and silent.
Through the long shadows cast over the streets of Calgary, she thought about the events that led her to this moment in time.
It wasn’t that long ago that the food riots orphaned her, her parents killed in the violence of those days before the Canadian Government collapsed, unable to keep the peace, or administer order. People were hungry, starving, and the remaining clean stores were to be looted, taken to temporarily fill bellies that for months had known little sustenance.
New food supplies were poison. Some said it was genetic manipulation by corporate giants, others thought it was the century of pollution making itself known. Most didn’t care. Neither did she. She was 15 years old when that last food riot killed her parents. She was barely eighteen now.
Calgary had been a good city before the riots. The pre-collapse lifestyle, the wealth of it, made for soft living. She didn’t grow up tough, but she learned quick. It was, after all, either live or die. She lived. She had killed three people before she turned 16. By the Gods, she was fast.
She had heard of Mary Blacke, but shirked the gangs. Abuse and rape were apart of that life. But once was enough, never again she swore, and had lost what was left of her trust for anyone else. She became a killer, a scavenger. The lone wolf, she trusted herself.
Blacke, however, had found her. Blacke had food. She soon knew that women were not treated as second class with Blacke. She was treated well, and Blacke needed her talents. Blacke saw in her the assassin. Blacke was right.
Blacke was a gang leader, a strong one. She created this gang of disaffected women, women who had gone through rape, slavery and worse. Women who wanted revenge. Blacke carved a niche in Calgary in blood. That niche grew as the gang did. Blacke’s personality, her word, attracted people. In just two years, Blacke became the single most powerful gang leader in the whole of Calgary.
That window across the street belonged to the strongest remaining rival leader.
Blacke had ordered her to dispatch him.
Despite, or maybe because, of all she had been through, she came to trust ”Bloody” Mary. This wasn’t her first assignment. In fact, she suspected she was the best assassin in Blacke’s gang.
She knew things were changing. There was rumour of a new power in the North, and it was sweeping southward, to Calgary. This was led by someone named Van Hausten. This assassination would likely shorten Blacke’s business in Calgary, shoring her strength so Blacke could meet this new threat. Without effective leaders, gangs tended to fall apart, especially if they were under pressure. Blacke would apply that pressure after his termination.
She also knew things had changed. She’d listened to second-hand accounts of strangeness occurring since the collapse. Ghosts, goblins, magic. She scorned those rumours.
She smiled, and checked the sun. It was low enough now that the distant peaks of the Rockies rose into that blazing orb. It was time. She attached a wheel to the top the cable and gripped the handles that protruded. She descended the half-storey, crossing the street. As she approached the window, she arched her body and swung backwards. Just before her body impacted the glass, she kicked out with all the force she could put behind the blow.
Her boots, only because they were designed to, shattered the bullet-proof glass. The shards scattered like orange sparks in the light of the setting sun. She used the momentum of her descent as a follow through. As the wheel impacted the steel of the window pane, she released her grip on the handles. She tucked and rolled on the expensive looking carpet.
She knew this was the most dangerous moment in her plan. If he reacted fast enough, she could be dead. She rolled to her feet. No shot, no sound of movement disturbed the silence. Yet, she could see his silhouette outlined by the setting sun like a golden aura.
Her next move was reaction borne of two years of violent desperation. A reaction from the roughest coming of age conceivable. She drew her .32 calibre revolver and fired in one fluid motion. She didn’t think. The strangeness of scene hadn’t yet registered in her mind.
Even as her breath withdrew from her mouth and nose in a swirling cloud of cold condensation, the bullet found its mark. She expected that bullet to pierce her target’s forehead and explode out the back (she was near point blank range). That’s the way it always happened.
Not this time.
The bullet was true, but upon impact, the head exploded.
She began to inhale. The cold air that entered her body nearly sent it into shock.
Frozen shards of skull and brains impacted the wall, the desk, and the floor. White and red and gray, with broken strands of hair scattered, and upon that second impact, further disintegrated.
The room was cold. A blast of arctic winter. Her fingers were already growing numb, and she’d not been inside the room for more than 3 seconds.