See first chapter for disclaimers...
A single shot pierced through jacket, shirt, flesh, muscle, and bone to tear a rather substantial hole through the man’s chest. I was backing away as the bullet hit, but I was still close enough to get coated in blood. The fine layer of splatter covered my face, neck and chest. I turned, looked up at the tops of the nearby buildings and spotted movement. Not enough to qualify as seeing an actual person, but something. I looked back down at my dead intended meal and sighed at such a disgraceful waste of blood. I licked my lips, drawing in what blood I could reach. And then I left, headed in the direction of the shooter. I didn’t expect to find him waiting around, but I would be able to smell fresh gunpowder, hear the heart racing with extra adrenaline, and feel the linger aura of death clinging to him when I came in close proximity. And once I found him I was going to replaced my recently ruined meal.
Two hours later I caught the trail. Youth and femininity were the first two things I sensed, both were shocking to me. The shooter was in the diner across the street. I swiped my hand over my face, making sure there was no visible blood. My jacket had been buttoned up to hide my shirt. So, I crossed the street and pushed open the glass paned door to Lucia’s Diner. The bells at the top of the door jingled as I walked in. Immediately the greasy aroma of diner food hit me with a slight aftertaste of stale cigarette smoke. A few people bothered to glance up at me but quickly diverted their gazes. I couldn’t visually spot my little sniper but I could sniff her out. I walked to the right, taking slow, casual but measured steps through the aisle. She was sitting alone at the counter. A small leather bound case resting at her feet. The stools on both sides of her were empty, so I started toward the nearest one. I got about a foot away when she spoke. Her voice was hard, devoid of emotion. Not the voice of an innocent child. I fell in love with that voice, and the attitude that followed.
“That seat’s taken,” she informed me, not bothering to look up. I glanced at the one on the other side of her. I stepped around behind, she tensed as I crossed out of her vision. “That seat’s taken too,” she added, looking up at me this time. When she saw my face she froze, just for a guilty second, and then an indifferent mask slid over her face.
“Look, kid, both of these seats aren’t taken, now you decide which one you want empty, but I’m sitting down regardless,” I told the girl. She didn’t look happy at my ultimatum.
“Fine,” she ground out.
“Thank you,” I nodded briefly once before sliding onto the stool just off to her right. The lady behind the counter wandered down my way. Her bleached blonde hair and over done makeup made her look much older rather than her age.
“What can I get ya, hon?” she questioned, openly eyeing me up.
“Cream and sugar?”
“Cream only,” I responded and the woman walked off. I turned my attention back to the girl on my left. I leaned in close to her and whispered in her ear.
“So, do you kill people often?”
The girl only tensed up a little at that comment and fought hard to keep her composure.
“I have no idea what you are talking about. I’m a kid,” she quickly bit out.
“Right. Well I hate to break it to you, kid, but my date didn’t make it the whole evening. In fact I’m pretty sure you recognize me from his final moments.”
“I’ve never seen you before.”
“You’ve got a nice shot kid. And it seems you have the right attitude to go with it. I’m impressed. But me, I prefer a much more intimate kill. I kinda like getting my hands dirty,” I confessed to the girl. Her face softened and I could tell I was making some head way with her.
“Okay, well how many people have you killed?” the girl leaned in close to quietly questioned me. I could almost taste her blood pulsing through her fragile neck.
“Not enough,” I breathed out and she backed away.
I did my first legitimate hit this evening. Partially hidden under the cover of darkness, but not really seeing as this City never sleeps. Tony set it up. I thought he would never give me the opportunity, but he did. The jobs are small. Pitiful really, but they are jobs, and each one I complete helps him build confidence in me. And now I’m $5K richer and there’s one less thug bothering Tony. Leon would have taken the guy out with a handgun, probably close enough to catch the spray. But I’m not Leon, or good enough to be him yet, but I’m trying. Killing doesn’t bother me. I should be worried about that fact, but I’m not.
The strangest thing about my hit tonight was the woman with him. She was new. I hadn’t seen her while I had been gathering info on Marcus. But she was standing right beside him when I took my shot. She had to be covered by the blood splatter. Instead of screaming and running to the police, the woman calmly left the body and came in search of me.
Her name is Darla. Everything inside me is telling me to get as far away from as humanly possible, but I can’t seem to leave her presence. I’m drawn to her, like those little flying bugs are drawn to the blue fluorescent lights. They must know they are going to die, but they risk it, just trying to get close to the light. It is the same way with Darla. I can feel her flame burning, brighter and brighter, and I know I’m probably going to get burned…but I think it will be worth it. She fascinates me. She defies everything I stand for, but I still stay.
Maybe I’m just extremely lonely. Maybe, just maybe, I miss my love, Leon. To have lost true love so young has to do something to someone. Hopefully he won’t hate me for replacing him, especially with a woman with no rules.
“You have to breathe in rhythm with your shots. Everything has to be in sync. No rushing. No hesitating. Just you, the gun, and your target,” Mathilda breathed in my ear as we spread out on the floor of my apartment.
“Breathing isn’t really something I practice,” I muttered and attempted to breathe.
“I know it comes naturally, but controlling that breathing is what I am talking about. Regulating and shaping it to where you want it is very important. So, concentrate Darla.”
“Believe me, I’m working on it,” I pushed out a couple more breaths and then looked down the sight of the gun. I focused on the assigned target.
“Become one with the target. Know when it is going to breathe. Feel what it is feeling. Expect its next move,” she quietly added.
When I was confident I had my target I gently squeezed the trigger. The gun came to life, expelling the bullet at its target – a three legged stuffed cat in the window of an apartment across the street and several floors up. It fell into the apartment, covered in sticky blue paint.
“Nice shot,” she told me and I smiled up at her as I rolled off the bed and to my feet. I quickly crossed the room and pulled the curtains to.
“Thank you for the lesson Mathilda. Perhaps another one tomorrow?”
“Sorry, I have a huge test. But by next month I’ll be free for the summer,” she apologized with a small shrug.
“Don’t fret, my child. I’ll survive one evening without your company I suppose. Have you given my offer any thought?”
“I would love to travel Europe, but how am I supposed to get away from the school?”
“No faith in me? You are looking at your long lost Auntie Darla, who just discovered the misfortunate demise of her older sister. And who has just come to realize she is your legal guardian. And as such she is more than able to take you on a three month vacation through Europe,” I announced as I tossed the manila folder in her direction. She scooped the folder off the bed, rifling through all the documents.
“How did you get this?”
“That, my dear child, is a very deep, dark secret. If I tell you I’ll be forced to kill you,” was my reply with a half-smile.
“You could try but I’m better than you,” she cockily replied. I reacted without too much thought and attacked her. I fended off her weak attempts and pinned her face down on the floor.
“You aren’t the better killer of this little duo. You would do well to remember that, Mathilda. You still have a lot to learn. When you visit next we’ll switch to lessons for you, hands on fighting lessons. There are evil things in this world that don’t need knives or guns to kill you. You need to be able to protect yourself.”
“Okay, I give. Could I have my body back?”
“Yes. Now get outta here. Come back when you are ready to fight,” I suggested as I got off her back. She rose to her feet and gathered her things.
“I’ll see you in a couple of days, Darla,” she told me, glancing at me as she stood by the door.
“Come by whenever. That is what the key is for, Mathilda,” I reminded her and she
nodded with a small smile.
“Don’t forget to clean that gun before you put it away,” she reminded me and then ducked out of the apartment. Her nagging left a smile on my lips, which quickly died once I realized it was there. How I had managed to fall in with a human girl I would never be able explain.
Darla took me on my first workout run last night. She has to have like super breathing powers because she wasn’t even winded after our three mile jog. I, on the other hand, could hardly breathe. I needed to stop sneaking those smokes while the students and teachers at The Spencer School weren’t looking. And then, after all that crazy running, she takes me to this dojo of sorts, and we start on the basics of street fighting, basic hand to hand combat. It was absolutely great. She knows so much, and can tell when I’m doing something wrong, even as little as my weight distribution, all while we are going through the exercises.
I get the feeling that my schooling her on the finer points of the sniper was over for now. Which is actually fine because this hand to hand combat shit rocks. How often do you have someone that will patiently teach you how to throw a punch and then let you practice on them? I’d worry about it more if Darla didn’t seem to okay with it.
Hopefully we’ll keep working on this.
Europe was absolutely awesome. Darla took me to England, Spain, Portugal and Germany. She promised to take me to the Mediterranean next summer, to see Greece, Rome, Italy, and then back to Europe to see France. I’m not ready to see my love’s homeland quite yet. But soon. Soon I will walk where he walked, see where he was born, and where he was raised.
Darla, in her quest to make me the world’s best hitman (or woman in my case), lined up teachers for me while we were traveling around Europe. Two different men in Spain, a woman in Germany, and a young couple in Portugal. Each of them had their own styles, and each had their own choice of weapons.
I started training with the sniper and the shotgun with Tomas and Andres. The two men ran me through exercises during the day while Darla slept. She claimed she had an allergy to sunlight, but I think there was more to it than that. And once they felt I was adequately prepared they took me out on live training missions.
The German woman, Annette, taught me handguns and knives. These two weapons were used only when a hit from far away wasn’t possible, or when my employer wanted a much more personal kill. I did tons of training exercises, but she never took me out on real missions. She told me I wasn’t mentally ready for the close kills. And while I argued that she was wrong I had the sinking suspicion she was right.
The young couple, Marcelo and Christine, were nothing like the three previous instructors. These two never stepped foot outside during the day. And Darla frequently hung out with us while I was getting trained. The two of them taught totally different lessons. Christine, who wasn’t much older than Darla, taught me meditation and then methods in which I could use to control my pain. Not to pun but they were painful lessons to learn. Marcelo taught me the basics about hand grenades, explosives, and anything else that would explode. I didn’t blow anything up in practice, but Marcelo did take me with him when his group knocked off a poorly secured jewelry store. Granted, I just mainly watched, and stayed out of the way, but it was still a learning experience.
The best part was after all the training, and all the new knowledge drilled into my head, I was contacted to make a few easy – amateur level – hits. They were something I could do in a snap, but I eagerly took them so I could get the experience, the reputation, and most importantly the money that went along with every hit.
Darla took me on trips, showing me the nightlife in every city we stepped foot in. She was extremely knowledgeable about each city…and knew every good bar or club to attend. And the crazy thing was that I was never once questioned about my age or lack of ID.
Overall Europe, and a three month vacation with Darla away from New York City, was great. I can’t wait to go away with her next summer.
Despite the fact that I absolutely enjoyed spending time with Mathilda it was an extremely hard three months with her, while we were on vacation in Europe. I should have realized that the young adult in Mathilda would want to go out, explore the cities, walk around during the day and just soak up everything she possibly could. But I had a misguided image of her. In my head, I had seen this as an educational trip to strengthen her rapidly budding skills. She was a complete mystery to me. One minute I was looking at her and she was a cold-blooded killer, with absolutely no remorse for taking a life, and the next she was a freakin’ kid, running around enjoying life. I think that is what attracted me to her and ultimately what kept me from turning or killing her. She was so full of life. Despite the fact that she was an aspiring hitman, she still lived each day to its fullest. And I was jealous that she was still capable of doing that, despite everything she had been through. Her absolute love for life, and her joy in living it, was the primary reason that I hadn’t turned her already. I was terrified that Mathilda, the vampire wouldn’t be nearly as wonderful as Mathilda, the young girl.
These, of course, were all irrational thoughts for any vampire. They were especially wrong for me, being the childe of the Master and Sire of Angelus – the Scourge of Europe. I had created one of the fiercest vampires in history. Of course, he was currently in possession of a filthy soul. The things my boy was capable of. All dampened by those damned gypsies. He was the exact opposite of Mathilda. I had grown accustomed to her soul, to her lack of emotion during a kill, but her ability to smile and joke around afterwards. Angelus was never such a creature. I imagine, if he hadn’t had a century worth of shit to haunt him, that now he would be much like my Mathilda.
But Mathilda lacked the creativity when it came to the kill. She was just a hitman. She didn’t kill for fun or sport. She killed because someone paid her to do it, and because the person generally deserved to die. And she followed a strict moral code when it came to potential hits. No women. No children. Both severely conflicted with my own killing patterns, considering babies and young children were my favorite treats.
Despite the fact I was confided to the hours between sunset and sunrise, I still managed to take Mathilda around and show her a good time. During the day she would take the standard tours, exploring the cities as tourists would see them. At night I would take her to the bars and the clubs that really made the cities come alive. A little stare or two and the bouncers at the establishments were more than willing to look the other way, allowing both of us to enter.
I spent the summer teaching Mathilda how to drink and how not to get drunk doing so. Sure, I let her get drunk on occasion, but only if I was around. And I taught her how to drink to fool people into thinking that she was trashed. It was a fine art form. And perhaps I spent a little too long teaching her that, but she seemed to thoroughly enjoy the lessons involving alcohol.
The other important lesson I taught her, while she wasn’t learning the tricks of the trade, was how to read people. It was necessary for her to be able to pick certain types of people out of a crowd, and then how to react to them and treat them. Humans were so predictable. I had always studied them, even before I was a vampire, but especially afterwards. And in the four centuries I had spent on this Earth they hadn’t changed much.
By the end of the summer I could tell she was ready to go back to school. Ready for the normalcy that her strict private school education gave her. It gave her the balance she needed in her life to keep doing the hits and not lose herself to the darkness. And I wasn’t ready to see that darkness in her just yet.