Tuesday, October 27, 2009

1849 Colt Revolver

I’d seen photos of my family’s 1849 Colt revolver since I was a child. My father had a photo album that had been passed down for generations, and within the fragile, aged pages were faded photos of the men in our family with it. Some of them posed with pride and purpose, chests puffed out and serious expressions on their faces while others were candidly captured, a chorus line of expressions dancing across their faces.

The weapon was fairly non-descript: steel barrel, cylinder, hammer and mechanisms with a brass backstrap and trigger guard and a dark walnut grip. The only thing that made it stand out from the rest of the weapons of its time was its infallible accuracy; all who had wielded that gun never missed what they aimed at… ever.

I was the first woman in the family to inherit the pistol, well; I would have been if it hadn’t been stolen the day before my 18th birthday; the day before it was to come to me. In this, the age of energy weapons, it wasn’t valuable for its designed purpose, but I wanted it; I wanted it based on principal and family honor.

For five years I chased my Colt. I followed every lead I ever had, no matter how dodgy, unreliable or far fetched it may have seemed. Over the years it passed through many hands, always moving onto the next pair just days before I would have been able to reclaim it, and each person who had touched it, died.

My father had told me stories about the gun, stories about it being bound to our family by magic, but I hadn’t started believing those stories until I came across its second or third casualty. Who believed in magic anymore anyway? Science had an answer for everything, and had advanced technology far beyond anything I thought magic could claim to accomplish, but with each close call and each new dead body I began to question more and more what force might be surrounding my pistol.

As I stood watching the well dressed, elegant and filthy rich crowd milling around the lavish ballroom, I found myself hyper-aware of every noise, scent and movement around me; I’d never been so close to my goal.

The fabric of my floor length gown moved with me as though it was a living thing, the deep red fibers gently hugging my curves and shimmering in the soft light; people staring at it as though waiting for it to breathe. I’d pinned my heavy black hair up and was wearing the ruby choker and earrings my mother had given me, and had even applied some make-up, something I never bothered with.

My heart jumped when the auction began, the auctioneer’s voice booming over the low din of mass conversation, and I moved to my seat, bidder’s paddle in hand and ready to fly. A wide array of antiques from furniture to random knick-knacks paraded past, and was claimed by an enthusiastic new owner.

When my Colt was carried onto the platform my heart leapt as though seeing a long lost lover, and I felt it staring at me, asking me where I’d been. The bids rolled almost faster than the auctioneer could acknowledge them, and before I knew it the price was out of my range. The bids began to slow, the barrage dwindling until there was a victor and the crowd applauded his acquisition. The man rose to his feet and turned, his dark eyes zeroing in on my blue stare, and with a wink he made his way out of the ballroom.

To hell with discretion. I jumped to my feet and ran after him, erupting through the heavy double doors as though I’d been fired from the gun I was trying to reclaim. I stopped and scanned the lobby, my eyes shifting toward his movement just in time to see him disappear down the hallway opposite where I stood.

As I ran I discarded my shoes, my bare feet silent on the thick carpet, and I followed the glimpses I caught of his long dark hair just before he disappeared around corners. When I reached the door to the penthouse I turned the knob in stride and burst into the posh room to find myself face to face with the stranger who bought my gun.

“Selena.” His voice was rich, like a decedent dessert, and I wanted to roll it around on my tongue. He was wearing a tailored black suit punctuated by a dark red tie, and his long black hair was in a loose pony tail that hung between his shoulder blades.

“How do you know my name?” I asked, my brows drawn together in confusion. “Do I know you?”

He smiled as he walked toward me, his gait predatory. “The last time you saw me I was a gangly boy.” His approach backed me up, step after step I moved away from him until the barrier of the door prevented me from going further and still he came closer. “You were my love, and because of that love I was sold, your father disapproved.”

I felt my eyes go wide as I stared into his face, seeing the boy he’d once been like a shadow within him. “Ian?” My voice was a whisper, and my heart was pounding almost painfully against my sternum.

We stood staring at each other, frozen and humming with tension, our adolescent passion flaring back to life after a decade and a half of dormancy. In unison we reached for each other, hands touching, groping and seeking while hungry mouths fed at one another.

I almost didn’t hear the knock at the door, too lost in the feel of Ian against me, and I whimpered when he stepped back. Taking my hand he guided me to the side and opened the door, stepping back to allow the delivery of his purchase, which I watched wide-eyed.

Closing the door behind the delivery man Ian turned and walked to the glass case in which my gun was nestled. Lifting the lid he turned with the leather belt hanging from his hand, the tooled holster cradling my Colt and he held it out to me. “Wear this for me,” he said, his voice touchable.

I reached for my birth-right with trembling fingers, feeling the hum of the weapon calling to me, and when Ian pulled it back out of my reach I frowned at him. “Just this,” he clarified, a lustful smile spreading across his face, which I returned as I unzipped my gown and reached for my gun belt.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The name on the form is wrong

I was handed the file only moments before I was pushed through the Window. I’d been woken from a dead sleep by the persistent warbling of my cell phone, muffled by the stratum that always seems to build in a woman’s purse. I fought my way free of the dark red sheets, the soft cotton having wrapped itself around my legs like amorous serpents.

Stumbling across my room I grabbed my purse and up-ended it, the black leather disgorging its contents all over my pale grey carpet. In the diffused sunlight that was fighting its way around the edges of the heavy curtains I sought the phone, zeroing in on the blue light of the screen with sleepy eyes.

“What?!” I snapped after flipping the face up.
“Ruby, Jump in 20.”
“It’s Diamond’s turn,” I argued, shuffling back to my bed, “Call him.”
“Now.” That one word left no room for further argument, and the line went dead.

I closed the phone and dropped it back on the floor, scrubbing my hands over my face with a low, frustrated growl. With a resigned sigh I flipped on the lights and made quick work of preparing to Jump, leather head to toe: pants, jacket, boots and gloves. After much trial and painful error I’d found that while I might look like a wannabe rocker in my layers of dead cow, it was the perfect material to withstand the friction of Time.

I hadn’t been called for a Jump in months, and I’d been happy to lead a normal life. As I drove through streets that filled with cars as quickly as they filled with sunlight, I couldn’t help but wonder why they were calling on me now.

I entered Sector C3, housed behind an imposing fa├žade of glass and steel, and I rode the elevator down to sub-level 7. The shiny doors slid open and I was assaulted with a cacophony of sound and motion. Stepping into the midst of the strangely organized chaos, my whiskey colored eyes found Dawson and I headed in his direction.

Dawson spoke to me without turning around, his uncanny ability to always know who was within earshot as evident as ever, “Here.” He shoved a file into my hands, the Kevlar envelope thick and heavy.

“What’s the job?” I asked as he took me by the arm and pulled me through the sea of faces I’d come to know, however, as each one passed I became more and more aware of the fearful stares I was getting from wide eyes. “What’s going on, Dawson?”

Dawson remained silent, his brusque demeanor reaching a new level of annoying. I opened my mouth to snap at him, but he beat me to the punch by stopping and spinning to face me, his blue eyes as wide as everyone else’s, worried and angry.

“Miss the mark, Ruby.”
I frowned at him, “I never miss.”
“That’s what may end our world as we know it.” Dawson said cryptically before turning away and continuing to drag me toward the Launch Relay.

I caught a familiar scent as I climbed the three metal stairs to the Relay platform, turning and finding Diamond’s annoyed gaze locked on mine. He was being led by his handler Amy; her long fingers fisted in the Kevlar sleeve of his Jump coat, and despite her leading, his long legs carried him to the platform ahead of her.

Diamond stopped and stared from Amy to Dawson to me and back again before speaking, “What the hell is…”

“No time,” Dawson interrupted, grabbing both me and Diamond by the arms and pulling us toward the Relay Window. Normal protocol is to harness the Jumpers together so they aren’t separated in a wrinkle, but I saw no harness on the platform, and fear suddenly reared its ugly head.

Dawson turned and fisted one hand into each of our coats, pulling us down to eye level, “Don’t let go of each other,” he whispered, and before either of us could question what he was talking about we were pushed into the Relay Window.

The warm blue light of the idle Window held us suspended like amniotic fluid. I watched as a small army of Black Suits flooded into the control room, but Dawson didn’t spare them a single glace, he focused on his programming. I sensed something was very, very wrong so with movements slowed by the Relay Energy, I stuffed the file into my coat and reached out toward my Jump partner.

Diamond had been watching the same events, and I knew he was processing them as I was; it was how we were trained. He reached out and took my hand, pulling me toward him as the sound of gunfire erupted, muffled by the Relay Energy, and as I wrapped myself around him I watched Dawson’s hand hit the Launch switch a split second before a swarm of bullets ripped him to pieces.

I loved the Jump. The sensation of moving faster than light while standing still, of swimming while flying, or of being full and empty all at the same time. Nothing else could compare, and even the searing heat when we hit Entry Point didn’t diminish the elation the journey brought me; it was the reason I became a Jumper.

Diamond’s arms were like steel bands around my ribs, my own arms and legs locked around him and still the force of Time pulled at us, trying to cast us separately into the waves of minutes and millennia. Just as my grip started to slip we hit Entry Point, heat blasting our bodies and scorching our exposed faces. We cried out, the sound lost in the heat, and with an almost audible pop we tumbled across wet asphalt and came to a painful stop against the side of a tall brick building.

“Mother puss bucket!” I cursed as I untangled myself from Diamond and rolled onto my back. The leather of my clothes was smoking, and I watched with foggy eyes as the smoke swirled up into the darkening sky that loomed beyond the tips of the tall buildings.

“Mother puss bucket?” Diamond asked as he climbed to his feet.

“I’m trying not to swear so much,” I snapped, getting to my feet.

“I fucking love swearing, it adds spice to the English language.” It would have been funny if he'd been joking.

Reaching under my coat I extracted the Kevlar folder that Dawson had given me, pulling the sheaf of papers out and thumbing through them in the fading light. I felt myself frowning, brows drawn together as I shook my head.

“What’s the job?” Diamond asked, folding his arms over his thick chest and cocking his hips to one side.

“This can’t be right,” I said, “The name on the form is wrong, is has to be.”

Diamond moved to stand behind me and peered over my shoulder at the name of our target, and I felt him go rigid at my back.

Turning my head I met his green gaze and spoke softly, “Hitler?”