The radiant glow of her gaze peering from the opened apartment window; a passionate spark that would someday set this world ablaze. Looking out at the landscape dense with skyscrapers, all clamoring for its denizens’ attention. Buildings adorned with a chromatic spectrum of lights from abundant advertisement billboards, surrounding the cavalcades parading through the grungy streets still dampened from yesterday's storm. A mirror universe showing a collage of reflections below people's feet splashing in the puddles. It was easy to get caught up in the beautiful lies and let your mind wander...
These people weren't mere strangers to her. They were blobs of gray mortality, solely concerned for their own well-being. Clustered until their individual presence bleeds into obscurity becoming only noise pollution. How else does one stomach the grotesque daily displays of debauchery? Layers of sin smothered the masses like a thick blanket of darkness that strangled acts of generosity with a vice-like grip. Those who dare preach for compassion would choke from the fragrance of their vomit before any Samaritan could practice it. Night City Downtown Sector A2; otherwise known as The Northside District. A bloodthirsty creature created from their own volition, designed to enrapture its victims while swallowing them whole...
A zephyr blew into the room, leaving a faint chill that sent a shiver down her spine. The dropping temperature being nature's forewarning forecast of rain. Her internal scattered thoughts abruptly halted by words drenched in playful sarcasm.
"You're really sexy when you're philosophizing..."
Turning to address her bare-chested boyfriend sprawled across the bed. His scrawny frame made him look like a skeleton suited in flesh. His bottom-half covered in a pristine white comforter. She sauntered up to the queen-sized mattress, pulling her red shirt off and tossing it beside the overly neat pile of men clothes on the floor. Pressing her right palm against the soft foam, bending over and caressing the left side of his face. Exchanging smiles that pierced their hearts, giving each other looks of unbridled affection.
"And you're obnoxious when you're patronizing me," Madeleine responded pointing at his blackened right eye. "That smart mouth of yours is what gave you that shiner-" her teasing trying to stifle her quivering voice, "...those guys could have killed you."
"Madeleine…" His tone changed to become serious and reassuring. Motioning with his fingers to grab his hands since both were restrained to the bedposts. Resting their palms together, he gently squeezed and held her hand.
"I already told you that I have someone handling it. You'll never see those braying jackasses again. I promise you." She laid down and curled up close, leaning her forehead on his upper-chest feeling his pounding heart. Her arms wrapped around him, listening silently. "My buddy will have everything settled by midnight tomorrow…"
"Why couldn't it be tonight?" She interrupted with a murmur.
"Good things come to those who wait," He replied with a chuckle, "We'll pack up our stuff and finally escape this wretched place. It'll be the new life-with child that you-we always wanted."
The warmth of the bed, his body and candor were equally comforting to her. She smiled looking up at him, but his eyes seemed more distressed from what was behind her. She recalled leaving the window open-did they return to finish the job?! She sprang up from the bed, but noticed nothing. Letting out a quick breath, her focus shifted toward the nightstand and realized a can of Smash was foaming over and leaking out. Taking every ounce of self-restraint not to moan aloud, she stood up and picked up the can, turning around with a sultry smile.
"Thirsty? Open wide." Her demand was met with a grin as he opened his mouth, she started pouring the yellow foamy beverage in his gullet. Drinking the liquid as he closed his eyes, as it splashed on his lips. Stopping once his body shivered from her pouring some onto his chest. She laughed. He merely looked disappointed.
"Aw, don't waste that-it was the last can." He quasi-complained, too aroused to actually care.
"There, you smell like gasoline now." She quipped while heading toward the window, promptly shutting and locking it, as cars screeched past. "I'm going to go wash my hair, I'll be back." She said heading into the adjacent wet room.
"What-seriously? Take these off me then…" Attempting to sit up against the headboard, but failing to budge.
"Good things come to those who wait." She teased, not in his view as the rest of her clothes were thrown off. He groaned in response and muttered under his breath as the shower turned on.
"I think you enjoy dominating, a little too much..." He cracked a smile in thought, "Never thought I'd love someone so complicated."
Mere minutes passed as multiple convertibles parked in the streets, with several men getting out of their cars. Meanwhile; neither were the wiser as she couldn't stop herself from giggling, hearing her boyfriend's purposefully bad singing. Crash! A sound of shattered glass and her boyfriend shouting at her, seeing a molotov cocktail landing beside his bed.
"Madeline!" A sudden eruption of intense flames, the entire bed was burning up in a matter of seconds, as black smoke filled the place. Sounds of screaming in his futile struggle, pulling on the straps, feeling the fire searing his skin. She rushed out of the shower, immediately coughing profusely at the fumes, hands covering her mouth and nose. The fire alarm began wailing into her eardrums.
"Ethan!" She screamed in horror, stepping forth as the second projectile was hurled into the window. Viewing a fiery explosion bursting outside, her following scream was deafening and his fell silent. A harrowing thought that her degenerate lifestyle, contrasted with her youth spent at church finally bound their souls to Hell. But she’d soon learn it was naive to believe her suffering had ended, for true torment is eternal. Madeline lost consciousness before the demons broke through the front door, following orders from the devil that had other plans. The perpetrators fled the area long before the sirens could be heard blaring from a distance. By the time it was extinguished, their apartment had been reduced to ashes...
A lycanthrope stalked their target in silence. Her reddish fur lit by the sunlight peeking from windows. The helmet she wore, recorded the graffiti plastered all around, serving a bleak reminder that this decrepit building once served a purpose. She crept through the abandoned warehouse, dodging any needles or sharp objects littering the floor that could be walked on with her bare paws. Entering a stretch of hallway with nothing but towering pillars connected to the ceiling. She didn’t need heightened senses to catch a strong whiff of trash getting closer, turning the corner to see a dead-end with a large pile of garbage that smelled like urine. She observed the faint smoldering of a stray cigarette that had recently been smoked among the assortment. Holding her breath and digging her claws through the bags, finding something else too new and wholly out of place; a cybernetic disk drive. Taking the piece of evidence whilst pulling out one of her M970 Beretta’s from the holster strapped to her hip, hearing sounds of someone approaching from behind. Swiftly facing the assailant positioned fifteen feet from her, both aiming their firearms at each other. A baseball cap poorly masking his identity. His face looked young, with patchy stubble growing underneath his chin. Seeing the artificial glow of his eyes, as the dark shades slid to the edge of his long nose.
“Drop it. I’m not looking to shed blood today. Especially, not from some amateur thug foolhardy enough to aim their gun at a beast with the safety on.” Keeping a steady posture, with her index-finger still hovering over the trigger, watching as the man visibly trembled, dropping the gun and raising his hands above his head. She motioned with her firearm for him to turn.
“Please-I have family…” He pleaded complying to her command. She lunged forward, gripping his shoulder tightly and sticking the Beretta in his back. “Another drawback of cheap labor, and accepting under-the-table work.”
She thought before speaking in a cold tone. “Keep quiet and move, and you’ll live.” An extra annoyance distracting her from finishing the job. She guided him outside into an fenced off alleyway, with only one way out. She shoved him away, causing him to stumble forth and freeze. She sighed and lowered her gun, shoving it into her holster. She peered up at the building across the street, waving her left hand up in a deliberate manner.
“T-thank you…” He uttered, his voice cracking.
“Just get out of here-” Cutting her annoyed reply short, alerted as the sound a shot rang out followed by the man suddenly collapsing to the ground. She rushed forward and flipped him over, fingers putting pressure on the copious amount of blood gushing from his neck. She saw the life had already faded from his eyes. Standing up with bloodstained hands, leaving behind a hollow husk, resembling the emptiness she’d feel completing another assignment…
It was hard to admire the scenery with her eyes closed the whole ride home. Forgoing a seatbelt and laying on her side, taking up the entire back-seat, with her muzzle facing the leather, inadvertently inhaling the new car smell. Tuning out the roar of the afternoon, the same honking horns and yelling crowds as everyday. Most importantly, managing to drown out the drivers fast talk blathering. Pet dogs couldn’t drive; one of many established rules that were strictly followed, with certain punishment for those that break them. Basically forcing her into having a partner with every Reaper job, usually someone as slick a paralyzed goat covered in mud, and half as intelligent and attractive. He ordered her to use a bottle of water and a rag to scrub her hands clean and promptly discard them, unless she preferred walking.
The driver stopped at the last red light before reaching their destination, fidgeting with the radio dial, turning it to a weather report. He looked at her in the rear-view mirror and smirked, showing his taxicab yellow teeth. His inflection sounded like he was gargling salt water.
“You know for a freak. Your ass is still fine-” Feeling a swift heavy kick behind his chair in response, body jolting forward. In a moment of thought, she declined to verbalize her disgust, believing judgement was only a block away. He scoffed but kept his mouth shut, gripping the wheel tightly, driving across busy intersection the instant it turned green, barely dodging a collision with a truck slamming their breaks, coming from the passenger's side. Arriving at ‘The Fortress’ upon the agreed time, both knowing their boss would be anxiously waiting for them.
The Fortress; an accurate representation of the proverb of a house that never felt like home. No matter how many times she went through the entrance tunnel that was just narrow enough to give the claustrophobic a panic attack, everything seemed fabricated, a dream-like world that she couldn’t escape from. Personally speaking, it didn’t help that it always too warm for someone covered in fur.
Both walking inside the predominately white room, with various white objects and furnishings, the boss sitting in the middle of the sofa, accented with light blue pillows, the section of wall behind him shelved a large collection of books. He shifted to the right, facing a fake miniature tree, to unleash clouds of cigar smoke from his mouth. She slowly approached the pudgy man, kneeling beside the couch, as her partner set down a suitcase containing the retrieved disk and a sniper rifle and lightly tapped his foot. The boss gave her a pleasant smile, taking her helmet off with his hands and setting it in on the table, gently stroking the wolf head beneath. His affectionate gaze painted a picture of far more innocent soul. She’d compare the atmosphere in his presence closely related to the cigar’s he frequently smoked; toxic, destructive and malignant.
“Scarlett, my beautiful. Did you locate the archives?”
She purposely paused, withholding that answer until her partner interrupted.
“We got it boss. It’s in my case.” He responded, opening the suitcase with an audible click. She merely waited for a perfect moment, watching the boss cross his arms and lean back, his thick eyebrows twitching.
“I asked my pet-” The boss half-chuckled shooting a cold glare matching the tone of his final words, “Not you.” Inhaling and exhaling another cloud of smoke into the air. She nodded her head, responding to his glance at her then stood up and took the drive from the case, sitting on the sofa next to him. Now was the time to reveal the news...
“Master, he killed an unarmed man. A non-threat to our assignment, and he also left the body there.” She said.
“He was armed-” He argued.
“Master, I have the whole thing recorded.” She snapped back, the man looked surprised at the revelation.
“Sir, I didn’t think it would be smart to leave any witness.”
The boss raised his hand ceasing the argument into an awkward silence, he emptied his cigar in an ashtray and tossed a matchbook from his pants pocket onto the table.
“Would you mind re-lighting my cigar?” The boss said holding it out. The man quickly stepped forward, and picked up the match box and lit a match. The men bent over to hold the match up the cigar. The boss slammed the cigar butt straight into the man’s eye, followed by scream of agony as the man clutched his face, casually putting the cigar between in his lips, smoke pouring from his nostrils like a dragon. “You’ve already been paid generously. Get out of my sight.” He spoke dismissively, without a hint of emotion in his voice. The man fled fast as his legs could carry him, leaving the two alone. Was she sick to have enjoyed the entertainment?
“Scarlett, I had another important assignment come in. Everything I’ve prepared you for is required for this retrieval process.” He said getting back into business, pulling out a folder in-between the cushions and pulling out a black dog collar and leash behind the pillows.
“What am I retrieving?” Scarlett asked, looking at the opened folder dropped on the table with papers spreading out. Quickly noticing these weren’t pictures of weapons or technology, her drumbeat heart pounding unconsciously. Hearing her rapid pulse produce a melody in her ears. Ba bump. Ba bump. Ba bump.
“Capture this man, Lieutenant Davison and bring him to us.” He said with a smile, leaning to whisper into her ear and snapping the collar around her neck, “Your reward will be getting the vengeance you so desperately seek.”“What?! He found them!?”
Her eyes widened, mouth slightly agape rendered speechless.
"That's exactly what I meant." He clarified like an omniscient being that could read her mind, simultaneously attaching the leash and caressing her back with his fingertips. "Every last one of them will be brought to my pet on a silver platter, for you to play with as long as your heart desires-"
She gulped and clenched her hands, hastily replying cutting his sentence off. “Where do I start?”
He chuckled and stood up, playfully yanking the leash. “I like it when my pet is eager to please her master,” He teased, “let’s go to my bedroom. I’ll get you caught up on all the details…”
Her previous happy life had been stolen and enveloped in darkness. Her degrading situation left her stranded without options, becoming a specter of her former self performing horrendously boring tasks she had a knack for. Awake an endless succession of nights, only grasping for the spider’s-thin thread keeping her sanity from breaking. Getting revenge was the defining reason for her existence. This is where everything truly started for Madeline, now called Scarlett. Completing what she would see as her final assignment; finding Police Lieutenant Davison and exchanging him for her achieving her purpose. But having no idea just how difficult it would be to claw up the colossal wall standing in front of her, nor how many others with shared goals would wrench her back down into the abyss...