Short Fiction: The Last Job (Fate’s a Bitch)

So there’s this short fiction contest thingy-ma-bopper over at Terrible Minds Blog and I’m bored at work so I decided to give it a shot.  I ended up writing an origin short for one of my Undertaker characters, so, hey, mini spoiler!  1000 words exactly, I chose the opening line ‘Annoyed, she stabbed him and finished her dinner,’ by marybelr.

The Last Job (Fate’s a Bitch)

Annoyed, she stabbed him and finished her dinner.  Barney yelped and fell to the floor, hands grasping at the fork sticking out of his thigh.

“I told you not to touch her,” Greg said around sips of coffee.  So like his mother, the stupid boy.

“You bitch!” Barney spat.  His hands wavered around the fork, torn between removing it and leaving it alone.  He whimpered pitifully.  Greg rolled his eyes and snapped his fingers at the security detail.

“Get him out of here.”

The rest of the diner patrons went back their meals, eyes looking everywhere but at their table while Chucky and Don dragged Barney out of the diner.

The woman, meanwhile, gulped down the last of her orange juice, unfazed.  She wiped her mouth with a napkin and balled it up in one hand while her other piled the dirty dishes together.  The knife had disappeared up her sleeve between bites, along with Greg’s second fork and a handful of toothpicks.

“So, this job?” the woman asked.

“Leonardo Ford, prominent member of the West Royals Coven.  The Royals have been a thorn in my side for many years, but Mr. Ford is making a point to muddy the waters even further.  He’s angling to move up the ladder.”

Greg held out a folded letter.  The woman opened it, eyes scanning the information.

Greg took a minute to study her.  She was a rough character, sun beaten skin and thin scars on her hands and a few on her neck.  Her clothes were worn, but cared for, down to the scuffed boots.  Her eyes flickered up and over the people in the diner every few moments.

The moment Greg looked away the details he just took in faded from his mind.  A sorceress as well, then.  That explained some things about her resume.

She tucked the letter into her inner jacket pocket.  “Payment?”

“Half now, the rest after.”

Alonso appeared by Greg’s elbow.  He held out a purse lined with forty-thousand dollars.  The woman glanced inside and nodded.  She made a gesture with her hands and then the purse was just not there anymore.

“I’ll give you a call by next week.”  The woman tipped an imaginary hat his way and left.

Alonso slid into her empty seat.

“Sir, are you sure you want to go through with this?”

“She came highly recommended,” Greg said.

“By cartel thugs who slaughter each other in broad daylight.  She’s bad attention.”  Alonso’s eyes darted to the floor where a bit of blood was smeared on the dirty linoleum.

The cartels called her Señora de los Huesos, the Lady of Bones.  Kind of pretentious and cutesy in a folklore sense, but she had a good track record for her jobs.  Greg particularly admired the Guillermo Ortiz assassination.  Died taking a bite of an apple hiding a tiny grenade.  Took the old Spaniard’s head clean off, and Lady Bones tore through the rest of his organization with bloody fervor.

Effective and creative, if unsophisticated, Greg thought.

“She’ll do the job and the Royals will finish her, and then they’ll go after her cartel associates.  Our business survives.”

Alonso grimaced.

“As you say, sir.”

#

Greg woke later that night with the diner knife pressed to his throat.

“Senora Bones.”

The woman was half shadowed in the moonlight pouring in the open window behind her.  Her hair was a mess and Greg spied smears of blood around her nose and high on her cheek.  Her jacket was smoking faintly.

“The deal is off,” she said, voice thick and ragged.

“A phone call would have done nicely.”

She huffed, a half-laugh void of humor.  The blade didn’t move.

“You tried to send me up against gods and that makes me cranky.”

“You survived.”

One of Greg’s hands inched under the covers.  He gripped the butt of the pistol and slowly turned it towards the woman.

“Yeah, I’m a cockroach that way.  Doesn’t mean I let it go.”

She slid the blade across his throat the same moment he angled the pistol and pulled the trigger.  The bullet punched into her gut.  Greg gurgled and pressed a hand to the free flowing slash.  Breath was short, but he fumbled the gun out of the covers.

The woman rose from the floor and waved her hand.  The gun flew across the room.  She didn’t even stumble coming back to the bed side, but Greg noted the rapid spreading red stain across her shirt.  Greg reached out, caught her arm.  He squeezed hard enough to hear her bones grind.  She still showed no sign of pain.

“The Fates send their regards,” she said.  She slit his throat again, and then again.  “See you in hell, you bastard.”

Greg sputtered and flailed.  By the time his security burst through his door the woman was gone and Greg was cold.

#

“It’s done.”  The woman stood at a crossroads.  She shivered as blood leaked around the fist she plugged the wound with.  The Fates, three old women holding a martini, a whiskey tumbler, and a glass of iced tea, respectively, were before her.

“Your trespass is forgiven,” Martini Fate said.

Whiskey Fate gestured with her hand.  The bullet lit up white hot and shot out of the woman’s gut, cauterizing it as it left.  She fell to her knees, a strangled scream on her lips.

“Give up your mantle and go straight,” Iced Tea Fate said.  “Your path has changed now.”

They made no further gestures, but the woman shuddered.  The spell veil disappeared from her features for the first time in years.  She felt naked.

“This town needs a new undertaker,” Whiskey Fate said.  It’s not a suggestion.  “I think you’ll do nicely, Winifred Reese.”

The moon disappeared behind a cloud and the Fates with it.  The woman tentatively prodded at her stomach.  The wound was nothing but a puckered scar.  She turned around and stumbled back to town, her new name rolling around in her head.

It fit.

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