He’s a quiet, retiring illusionist on the run from the world. I’m a classically trained assassin who was sent to kill him. We were bound to fall in love.
I know what you’re thinking. Rayelle, Rayelle, isn’t it a breach of contract that goes against everything you were taught at the academy? Well, yes, but shut up. You don’t choose who you fall in love with. You choose the price you negotiated to be paid to kill him.
We met outside a glittery warehouse in Rio de Janeiro back in the good old days of 2035. It was love at first snipe. Let me set the scene.
Music reverberated off sweaty walls. Even the walls were sweaty after all the feathery, glittery skimpy costumed people dancing for attention for hours. I’m not judging. I kill people for a living.
Glittery stuff hung from strings across the ceiling along with lanterns in every colour. Imagine a little princess loving girl’s dream bedroom had been hijacked to film a sleazy dance video.
I’d already taken a shot at him, admiring his jawline through the scope of my sniper rifle. He’d survived thanks to the glare from a silver jewel in a half-naked woman’s bellybutton. She’d been working her hips for creepy old men with cameras who lined the parade route.
My bullet missed him, but not everyone was so lucky. Someone screamed. Everything faded to black. I don’t mean I fell asleep. The world literally went dark. The sun was still high in the sky. It’s Rio, that’s where the sun likes to be, perving on the parade goers.
I lost him in the crowd and the darkness. The last thing I saw as day turned to night, was his smile. It was a smile that said it knew the answer to the question everyone was asking. The question everyone was asking in that moment was ‘what the fuck?’ His smile was a little bit evil. I like that, it goes with my selfie smile.
I had to dump the rifle and go closer, following him through the streets as if it was a chase scene from a James Bond movie and I was the villain. I’m fine with that. They get a cool house, fancy weapons, and a guaranteed shot at the hero. All I’d have to do is kill him right away instead of laying out my evil plan while he fiddles with a gadget in his watch.
I pushed my way through gyrating locals to get to Shawn, that’s his name, did I mention? I gave the owner of the navel disco ball that had ruined my shot a good elbow in the midriff as revenge. If you’re not going to be a grudgy assassin, what’s the point?
Locals danced or swore at me depending on sexual preference and sobriety. I kicked a few groins to remind some handsy men that the world wasn’t up for grabs just because it was the carnival.
It was around then that I knew I’d made a mistake wearing all black. Normally it’s a good colour to blend in. Glitter and rainbows are the new black on carnival day. If you don’t look like a peacock having a mid-life crisis you stick out like a sore thumb.
In the middle of this chase some idiot tried to rob me. Imagine his shock that I’d brought a silenced pistol to a knife fight. After careful negotiation he agreed to bleed to death in an alley and I was on my way. He looked better in red anyway.
Since I was already down a side street, I decided to run parallel to the parade to make up for lost time.
For an illusionist, Shawn wasn’t exactly blending in. Surrounded by people that looked like parrots designed by Elton John he was wearing a Kiss the Crook T-shirt and shorts with trainers. They were toned and tanned. He was red-necked.
He looked at me. Right at me. He smiled that smile again. The world dimmed. He vanished. He didn’t blend into a crowd or drop a smoke bomb. He just disappeared. All I could see was his smile and his blue eyes.
I looked around for minutes. Dancers, drummers, and crowds dressed in every colour ignored ultraviolet radiation and the threat of viral contamination to perform or ogle. He was gone.
Then I felt the cool metal of a gun touching the back of my neck. In the heat it was blissfully soothing. He took my pistol and the knife I had on my hip.
“You’re as subtle as a bull in a glass factory,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s the correct way to tell that metaphor,” I said. I turned to look at him, slowly. I raised my hands. To a trained assassin having your hands raised isn’t really a disadvantage at close range.
“Cool tattoo,” said Shawn. I presume he meant the pink skull under my left eye.
“Thanks, nice shirt.” His red T-shirt had meta morphed into a blue long-sleeved thing with most of the buttons undone. “Neat trick. Magic?”
He smiled. Somewhere near my ear the first line from ‘A Kind of Magic’ by Queen played. He took my hand and steered me into the warehouse off the parade route that would fill up as the parade finished. He made me sit on a stool at the bar.
“Are you old enough to drink?” Shawn asked.
“I’m older than you are,” I said, hurt. There’s an age when a woman wants to be seen as younger than she is, but I wasn’t there yet.
“Good. What do you want to drink then?” As I considered my answer, he ordered a strawberry daiquiri and began sipping.
It was at that point that a man with metal arms and legs ran to the bar and slapped a hand on Shawn’s shoulder, then the other on mine.
“Brilliant, you’re both here. I need your help. The world is in danger.”
“Get fucked,” Shawn and I told the robot in perfect synchronicity.
“I guess I’ll fight them alone then, selfish bastards. You two deserve each other.” Without another word of explanation, the robot departed.
“Friend of yours?” Shawn asked, taking another sip of his cocktail.
“Never met him before in my life,” I said honestly.
“Who hired you to kill me?”
“The same people you stole the laser gun from,” I said.
“That’s odd. I killed him.” Shawn watched the man of steel and stern rebukes running out of the party to be. Summoning cash from thin air, he tapped the bar to pull the barman’s attention from his phone. Holding up a single finger he pointed to his empty daiquiri glass.
“His employers, moron. Steven Gunn worked for the Assassin Academy. They helped fund his weapons research. They were pissed when you walked off with it.” I ordered a martini, tasted it, decided it was disgusting and ordered a vodka and coke.
“Take it back then. Would that make us square?” Shawn asked.
“Given the offer, I should say yes. Then I should take the gun. Then I would kill you.”
“Such honesty deserves a reward,” Shawn grinned. It was all a joke to him. “Here.” He placed the gun in my hand. I remembered seeing it for the first time in Steven Gunn’s class. I remember seeing a classmate explode when the teacher shot him. It was the most beautiful moment of violence I’ve ever experienced. As a psychopath who’s been working as an assassin for a decade you hopefully appreciate that it’s high praise.
The gun had all the weight I’d expected as I lifted it. Turning to black water in my hands was more of a surprise. Shawn did the Cheshire Cat thing. Fading into black smoke, a winking eye and his smile which lingered to stick its tongue out.
“Nothing is that easy.” Appearing in the seat next to me with another vodka and coke in his hand, he offered it to me. Casual, brilliant.
I had the point of my hair clip pressed to his jugular in a heartbeat. Black smoke blew me a kiss as it vanished.
“Try again,” he mocked me. “Am I here?” He sat at my left again. “Or here.” I looked to my right. Shawn’s twin sat on my other side. They had me sandwiched between victorious smiles.
I gave up trying to stab him with my hairclip. He wanted to talk. I let him. He told me his pathetic life story up to there. Broke. Bills piling up. Inevitable homelessness. The usual sob story. You don’t go to assassin school if you’re going to tear up at that kind of shit. You go because your parents are on the Forbes Top 100 list, and they want some security from other psychopaths.
“How about a deal?” He said when he was done pouring his heart out over the bar to my indifference.
“What deal?” I asked. I watched the dancers taking off the more impractical components of their costumes so that they could dance crotch-to-crotch close. They were all dripping with sweat to start with. They started with rounds of water, some pouring it over themselves dramatically.
“We work together. You say you killed me; I help you do your job. You say you couldn’t find the weapon. You can use it whenever. Just don’t kill me.” He was sipping water like it was the strongest whiskey.
“What do you get out of it. You’re good at hiding.”
“I can’t declare myself dead. People get suspicious about that sort of thing.” He winked as if he was letting me in on a secret.
“And I get?” I asked.
“The reward for killing me, my help with any future jobs you do, for a cut. We’d make a good team.” He downed aqua vitae and ordered another with the cash folded in his ‘fuck you’ fingers.
“How would you be useful when I’m killing people?” I asked. I couldn’t remember talking to anyone for so long in my entire life. I brushed pink hair back behind my ear and pinned it there.
“I wouldn’t I suppose.” He shrugged. “Unless being invisible would come in useful.” He disappeared. “Unless turning day to night could be used to your advantage.” The entire warehouse was enveloped in grateful darkness for a moment. “Unless having distractions could save your life.” He morphed into me. Holding my own hand in front of my face, I couldn’t see it.
I smiled. I was sweaty, black eye makeup smudged. My black lipstick was chewed on my bottom lip. Strands of fringe were plastered to my pale forehead by sweat.
“I want to sleep in a freezer,” I said. The image of me that was actually him. “This weather.” My new twin wiped her forehead. I became him again, or he became himself. I don’t know how to accurately describe that.
Everything was fine until the knights showed up. Swords began cutting through the crowd. Salsa music continued the blast as people began screaming and scrabbling to get out of the way.
Shawn threw me my gun and disappeared.
“What do you think about my deal?” Asked the air by my ear. The light dimmed. A beam of light shot from nowhere and cut through three of the alien invaders.
“Making me invisible would be a great pitch for partnership right now,” I told him. I spread my feet, took hold of my pistol in both hands and aimed.
My gun made a pfft sound. One alien knight fell. Black oily blood oozed from the wound.
Pfft. Another dropped with a hole in its skull.
Pfft. The third centaur like creature staggered. I didn’t fall.
“Shawn, please.” I took another shot. The injured alien fell but there were two more in its place a moment later.
“Look at your hand,” said the confident voice. A beam of light cut through the two quadrupeds closing in on me.
I looked down and saw nothing. A woman covered in viscera ran into me, trying to flee. It was pointless. If there were other exits Shawn and I would have used them. I’m no hero. Neither is he.
I aimed for another knight. As I did an image of me began walking towards the fire exit where four more knights were swinging swords. The corpses they were defiling weren’t putting up much of a resistance, but the door guards didn’t mind.
“We are here for the light weapon,” said an alien in grand armour. On its head were the spikes of a crown covered in the paper streamers from the party decorations. A line of pure light cut through the monarch or prince, whatever it was.
“Hand over the weapon or die.” The head of the eviscerated was still talking. I put a bullet in it to finish it off.
Aliens began to swarm the ballroom. Trampling on the dead they swung swords at air until light skewered them. I fired every bullet in my gun. Each bullet took one of the lesser knights down but there were too many.
The light cut a hole through the bars of a window behind me.
“Go, they won’t see you. Their swords will still kill you though.”
I ran. Through the broken window, shards of glass scraping my ankles.
“Thanks,” I said. Climbing scaffolding up the side of an apartment building I looked down on the devastation.
Three ships which looked like glass bullets on top and the regular kind of bullet underneath were slammed into a children’s park nearby.
“My offer?” Shawn asked. His face appeared as a shadow in the sky.
“We work well together,” I admitted. “But my academy is looking for you.”
“Then kill me,” he said, whispering it in my ear like a declaration of love. “And make it convincing.”
“Find anywhere that has a CCTV camera and do it there. Take the tape. Show them. Collect the money. Then we can start our incredible career. Deal?”
A hand took mine. I could feel it but not see it. I shook Shawn’s hand.
“Wouldn’t you know it.” Shawn said. “I’m being a looky-loo and checking out the alien spaceships along with every one of those morons with camera phones. This would be a great time for you to sneak up on me, snatch the laser gun and shoot me with it. You’re out of bullets but there’s enough battery for another shot. The explosion would render me into blobs of flesh. DNA verification required for sure. But that takes time.”
It was simple. I followed his little plan, weaving through the crowds around the spaceship bottles I wrestled with something which seemed to be Shawn, but couldn’t. It raised its hands as I backed up with the laser gun in my hands. I fired, covering dozens of people with flash fried Shawn.
Pulling up the hood of my top I split the crowd like a piss smelling tramp on a public bus. That’s how the word got out. The world was ablaze with talk about the invasion. The knights from the moon hadn’t been seen since they’d planted their flag in Buzz Aldren.
That’s how I became an urban legend. Laser gun in my hand, hood down. Smile on my face as I walked into the history books.
That’s how I fell in love, not with Shawn as much as the woman I am when we work together. I’m invisible. I’m deadly. It’s fucking epic.