-trigger warning for minor gore-
Ella walked down the street, black coat drenched in water. Her red-tinted glasses sat on her nose perfectly. The sky was painted a dark gray, along with hints of navy here and there. A stick found its way under Ella’s foot as she walked, tripping her, throwing off her sophisticated look.
“Damn trees,” Ella mumbled to herself, thick accent adding a sort of class to the phrase. She ran her hands (and five-inch nails) over the wall and stepped into the dark alleyway. Her walk was confident, heels tapping the concrete ground. As she neared the iron door, her pace quickened. She wobbled and tucked her hands in her pockets.
She walked into the dimly lit bar, gripping her pepper spray so hard her knuckles were white. As she came to the table, a man came into her sight. Charles Parker.
“Hello Miss!” Charles said, stretching the ‘s’ in Miss. Ella didn’t hesitate to ask, “Are you drunk?”
“I’m moderately functional.” The man said, swinging back and forth in his chair. Ella sighed.
“I’ll take that as a no.” She gripped the chair and leaned down to his level. She was about 6’1, and he was 5’8 and sitting. So it wasn’t very hard. “Listen to me.” Ella said, deepening her voice and gripping the chair tighter. “There are five men outside coming for you. When you get outside go to the red marker.” This might have been the easiest murder Ella had pulled off yet. As the man wobbled to the door, a voice came from behind Ella.
“Why, hello Miss Walker.” She recognized the voice. Sir Samuel Lye. An immature groan escaped her lips. Ten years of knowing each other made them act like siblings who just couldn't stand each other, but every once in a while they would sit to watch a movie. They were that close yet that far apart.
“Sammy,” Ella said, crossing her arms. “What are you doing here?”
He smiled politely and responded, “You're trying to kill my target.” His voice was condescending and his posture made him look taller than he really was. It was totally and utterly terrifying. Sam smiled again and Ella sighed. She hated to admit it, but he was disgustingly perfect. His gross white hair lined his face like a homemade porcelain doll. He smelled of lavender and fresh cookies. His ripped chest repulsed her. He was, again, disgustingly perfect. Even his successful kill list was a perfect number. 496. The only thing that didn’t make sense was his height. He was about 5’6-5’7.
Angrily, Ella argued, “I DID NOT TAKE YOUR-” Their conversation was cut off by a bang. Now, they both knew where the target was. He was far from here so, why was the gunshot so… so close? Their eyes turned down. There, laying on the ground, was a 22 Hornet bullet. Jammed into the concrete.
Fear laced their faces, and from the top of the building, a southern voice yelled, “We are sick of you both taking the credit for something we got done! After tonight, y'all are dead!” The men on the building cheered triumphantly. Harshly, Sam’s large hand wrapped around Ella’s wrist. Sam asked breathlessly, “Why are they after us?” He was panting. Man you would think the best crime boss in the world would be a little better at running.
They made it to a red brick building and pressed their backs along the wall. Sam looked around frantically. Ella stared him up and down. “What’s wrong with you?” She asked, raising her glasses above her forehead.
“Nothing I just-” Ella looked at him and cocked an eyebrow. Sam sighed, and his voice softened. “I have a huge secret that no one knows, and it would ruin my reputation.” Ella chuckled.
“Well, like it or not, we’re in this together now. You can tell me.” Maybe it was the fact that humans are more sensitive at night, or maybe it was the multiple glasses of wine Sam had had that night, but as Ella was walking away, he yelled;
“I’m trans!” Ella stopped in her tracks. She turned around with a questioning look on her face.
“That's it? I was expecting something worse.” Relief washed over Sam like a tsunami. “Come on let's go.” Sam had wondered why he ‘spilled the beans’ so early to Ella. They walked for a while before finding a small wooden shed. It was in the middle of the forest, and there were no houses around it. They both walked in.
It was a small area, with a large glass skylight, taking up most of the ceiling space. Ella yawned and sat down against the wall. Her eyes drooped. “Goodnight Sam.” Muttered Ella as she fell asleep. Sam smiled, and looked up to the skylight. The sky was beautiful. A black canvas speckled with white spots. The stars. Sam knew one of them would have to die. He pulled a pen out of his pocket.
The next morning, Ella woke up to an empty room. She sat up to see a teal sticky note hanging on the door. It read;
Went out for a bit, I’ll be back later (probably)
Ella sighed and sat back down, she wondered where he was. He was running. Running from a group of men. Running far away from where Ella was.
Ella found a silver watch on a wooden table. It was Sam’s. A choke came from her. She stared at the door and clutched the watch.
Sam dodged bullets, weaving through them like a snake. Hot tears streamed down his face from the pace he was running at. Running? No, sprinting.
Ella Slammed the door open, silver watch on her wrist. She sprinted down the road, eyes scanning for Sam. She threw off her heavy black coat and heels. She ran as fast as she could, and people on the street thought she was crazy.
They hadn’t been through much together, but for as long as they had known each other? It had created an unintentional bond between the two that had lasted the ten years they had known each other. One that wouldn’t be broken by anything. Not arguments, food, or living condition. But a bullet in the chest might do the job.
Ella’s legs burned. Her hair whipped furiously around her face. “SAM!” She cried out, voice cracking.
A bullet penetrated Sam’s leg. He fell over, face slamming on the ground. He was released into a calming, black abyss. Ella turned the corner where he was laying on the ground. “Sam!” She yelled. Ella put her hand under Sam’s head and pulled it back out. Her hand was drenched in blood. Ella gasped, picking up his frail body. His limbs were limp and pale.
Ella stepped into the shed. She set Sam down on the floor, and rummaged through the cupboards for medical supplies. Finally, she picked up a roll of bandages and gauze. Ella stood up and walked over to where Sam was on the floor. She lifted his shirt gently and began applying the gauze.
Sam’s eyes opened slowly, searching the room. He saw Ella next to him, reading Graceling by Kristan Chashore. He looked down to see Ella’s black wool coat draped over his chest. Slowly, he looked up to stare at the stars. And at that moment, Sam knew they were finally safe. Safe under their castle of stars.