Crime Drama Sad

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

The knife sinks quickly into the man’s flank, the sound a wet squelch and a harsh, sharp cry. I pull back quickly, lest he have one final surge of adrenaline and make another swing at me. That’s how it usually goes, with men like this.

Proud men, who fight until the end.

I hate killing them the most. It’s shitty, to kill someone you ca see yourself admiring. In another life. Another time. Another me. 

He doesn’t have that final surge, though. He falls, the crack of his knees hitting the broken concrete sickening sound. I take another step away, dubious as he looks up at me, large hand holding his steadily seeping wound. I should be used to this by now; used to hits falling to their knees in front of me, a knife in my hand and a wound in their side. It should feel powerful.

It doesn’t. I feel like I’ve squashed a helpless little spider simply because I’ve been told it’s bad enough times. You’ll start to believe it after a while, right? Start to believe that you’re doing the right thing by squashing that creepy, right-legged arachnid. Except, the dying man before me doesn’t have eight legs, and he’s not particularly helpless, either. 

There is a familiar hatred in his eyes as he looks up at me, his mouth turned into a painful grimace.

‘I’m sorry,’ I tell him (I tell this to all the ones that I feel do not deserve this – I figure it is the last kindness I can give them). And he didn’t deserve it, not really. Not when all he did was fuck the wrong thug's girlfriend. 

The man falls, eyes falling shut, breath leaving him in one last whoosh.

I watch him for a moment, the old apartment creaking around us – me. His chest stills, and I know that he is dead. With a deep breath myself, I turn toward the back room, to the open window that I slipped in through just fifteen minutes ago.

The climb from the fourth floor of the building to the wet, muddy concrete of the streets is an easy one. Climbing was one of the first things Lucky taught me – to stalk your prey, you must be agile yourself.

I owe her everything, and I hate her for it.

The The Choked Neck Inn that Lucky owns is my home, no matter how foul and disgusting both the tavern itself is, as well as those who frequent it. Lucky, a woman in her late fifties with one eye and three missing fingers, founded the place.

Once, when I was little, I asked how lucky she could possibly be after losing so many appendages. She grabbed me by the chin, pressed her nose to mine, and made me look into the gaping hole in her head until I wriggled and whined for her to let me go. 

Lucky, I had heard through drunken tales, was her name because of the sheer amount of time the woman had avoided death. In the eleven years that I had known her, I could not fight this rumour. She was like a cockroach, and Echo was full of them.

The Choked Neck became my home when I was just ten. Back then, it operated secretly through the City of Echo, through whispers and hidden scrolls, with messages of contracts scribbled onto them.

It was the home of assassins and hired guns – me.

Lucky took me in when I was ten and on my own, my parents freshly dead. I used my small body and my talent with a knife to take down any contracts Lucky enlisted me with.

It was either that or sell my body to the customers that frequented the Inn.

That is the rushed version of my entry into the life of hired guns, anyway.

The Inn is a wild and loud place, filled with some of the worst that Echo has to offer. I greet the familiar bar staff with a jut of my chin and a, ‘She upstairs?’

Widow, the dark-haired woman who has worked there for as long as I had been alive, nods.

The Choked Neck was a maze of corridors and closed doors, where the girls that Lucky allowed to stay here entertained customers with bare bodies and sickening smiles. The girls, I knew, liked working at The Choked Neck– it was no secret that if any customers mistreated one of the girls, then good ol’ Lizard would snap their fingers one by one. Here, they were as safe as they could be.

Lucky didn’t really give a shit what happened to the girls she allowed to stay behind her doors (for a 60% profit of whatever they made that night, of course). Lucky didn’t really give a shit what happened to anyone, other than herself.

In my youth, I thought I could make her love me, as my mother had once loved me. She never did – she never wanted to.

But it’s hard to remember that, when she’s the one who fed me, who clothed me, who trained me and perfected me.

I’m her little killer her most trusted advisor. Lucky listens to me because I stalk the streets of Echo and I know them well. 

I open the door to her room, the only room that had a working fireplace and clean sheets and find the woman herself sitting by said fire. She stands upon seeing me, large and muscular and a threat to behold, and grunts, ‘Already heard the Butcher is dead – good one, Lizard. Next hit is all ready for you-’

I was used to it, this way of talking. It was hit after hit, whatever it took to keep food coming my way and money in the small pot I has shoved under the floorboard in my room. I was saving for…for something. Even I wasn’t sure what.

I wonder, sometimes, if I lost my humanity in the process.

I nod. ‘Who and where?’ I inquire, just as I always do. I fiddle with the straps of leather braces, gaze watching her carefully.

I used to be kind, when my parents were alive. We had close to nothing, but that was enough. I remember laughter. I remember huddling close to the fire. I remember making stories with my father that would fill my chest with warmth that the outside could never steal. 

Lucky walks toward me, heavy boots rattling the ornaments she has stacked on her bedside table. ‘Southside of Echo, some kid who’s turning into a legend in pickpocketing. Becoming a thorn in my damn side, truth be told. Make it quick-’

I grunt and shake my head, eyeing Lucky with a tilted head and furrowed brows. ‘No kids. I’ve told you this’.

(I have killed heartbroken spouses, blind and crippled men, and innocent souls – but children, yes, this is where the cold-blooded Lizard draws the line).

Lucky looks at me, one eye glinting in the dim purple lights of The Choked Neck, and says, ‘Do you really think you have the right to choose your hits, Liz?

I frown deeper. Was I stupid, to turn down the hit? The more difficult and fucked up the contract, the more money that Lucky would ask for from the client, In the last few months, with with the Lords and Ladies of Echo pulling back on charity and funnelling food into thepoor parts, money was wearing thin.

And Lucky knew it.

I shake my head slowly. ‘I’m not doing it, Luck’. She glowers, the tightening of her fists a familiar sight. She was growing desperate in recent months, most of her business failing as people got poorer and poorer. People wanted food, not pints of shitty lager. The only thing that was keeping Luck afloat was the promise of quick and simple contracts.

But there were not others like me. I was good at what I did, taught by the best. And she knew it. 

The air is thick, suddenly. The knowledge that this was something we had not, and would not, ever agree on hung between us.

She didn’t like it when I disagreed with her, so I aimed not to do it often. 

‘You didn’t wanna kill that flower lady a few years back, either, huh?’ Lucky all but purrs, raking one measured step forward. ‘But you did, and you got a hell of a reward out of it, didn’t you? More than you should of got, Lizard. Because I’m good to you-’  

She is. I know this. Lucky may…she may have introduced me to pain and showed me in great detail how to withstand hurt that could echo inside of you for years, but she also made me strong. Stronger than I ever thought I could be, after losing my parents. After losing warmth.

Lucky taught me how to withstand the cold, but this I can’t give her.

I don’t kill kids. 

I wait, because I know what is coming.

I move a split second before she does, already anticipating the fight that is to come. Lucky dives down, a glint of steel a sound of air whooshing my only warning. I pivot away, light on my feet as I used the force of my foot against her shoulder to leap over her.

And so, the fight begins.

We dodge each other, both so aware of the others moves, after so many years of working together. Our knife never meets flesh, no each other, as we dance around the room, loud thuds the only sound as we dart past each other. Where I am quick and sharp, Lucky is brutal and strong.

Lucky swears when I dodge another one of her low jabs. ‘Dammit-’

I gasp a breath, seeing her exposed side bared to me, and duck low, on my knees, and aim and-

And her knife finds my left shoulder.

I stutter in a gasp that sounds more like a scream, already scrambling as far away as I can from her nifty hands. I am wounded, feral, open to more attacks – I do not look at her, already knowing that I have lost this fight, and that I cannot lose my life-

I scramble toward the windowpane, the bright lights and the screams below calling to me-

‘Lizard – no!’

And all but hurl my body over the other side.

October 29, 2023 12:27

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Shirley Medhurst
17:35 Nov 05, 2023

WoW, Lydia, that was an unexpected ending with a wonderful build-up to it! 😁 (Just spotted a teeny omission in punctuation in this sentence: « I’m her little killer her most trusted advisor. » I would suggest a comma or semi colon would work well after ‘killer’, or even a full stop???)


Lydia Carter
18:36 Nov 05, 2023

That’s so helpful, thank you!


Shirley Medhurst
19:34 Nov 05, 2023

My pleasure 😁 I think that’s the main reason we submit to REEDSY, isn’t it?


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Helen A Smith
17:12 Nov 05, 2023

Good story with an unexpected ending. Vivid writing. I could really picture the scene.


Lydia Carter
18:36 Nov 05, 2023

Thank you for this feedback!


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Rudy Greene
01:20 Nov 09, 2023

You use the first person narrator effectively. Good description of man in death throes. You create a great 'hit girl' persona but more description of her physical appearance may have added depth. I was slightly confused by the last line. Still, good writing and good work!


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