“If the umbilical cord stump is experiencing active bleeding,” droned the screen reader to the clean, unadorned bedroom office, “or is showing signs of infection such as swelling or pus, be sure to contact your medical provider immediately…”

The assassin’s head dipped once, twice, then shot up, her hollow, off-focus grey eyes wide and bloodshot.

“Hey, Siri,” she croaked. The computer replied with a jolly little ding. “Pause screen reader.”

“Pausing screen reader.”

“What time is it?”

“It’s 2:00 AM.”

She put her face in her hands. “Kill me now.”

“Calling National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.”

“No, wait — !” She leapt to her feet, knocking her revolving chair to the ground. “Pause! Stop!”

“You have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, also servicing the Veterans service line. If you are in emotional distress — ”

“I am now!” she shouted. “Cancel call!”

“Your call has been canceled.”

She heaved a great sigh, starting to sit back down in the space where her chair used to be. She slipped back with a yelp, falling to the ground with a dull thump. She curled into a little ball, trying not to scream.

“Siri, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.”

“Calling National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.”

The flat tip of the broad executioner’s blade slid across the carpet. The assassin’s twisted foot scraped the ground behind her as she limped. Her shadow fell over her bed, where the infant lay curled in a nest of blankets, his breathing feather-soft.

“How dare you, Kais son of Rhys,” Sev snarled at the child. “How dare you sleep so peacefully after keeping me up for four nights. If your late father had not charged me with preserving your life, I would have snuffed it out the second you spit up on me, you disgusting lump.”

She heaved a great sigh and raised the phone to her ear.

“You were right. I feel better now.”

“I’m so glad. If you ever feel this way again, we’ll do our best to make you feel safe and secure. Thank you for calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.”

“Thank you for answering.” Sev pulled the phone away from her face. “End call.”

“Call ended.”

Killing this one would be easy and simple, she reasoned, leaning her sword against the wall. All she would have to do was walk away. She stretched out her hand to touch the child. Her fingers met something satiny soft and squishy.

Her phone started to jingle, and her hand jerked back.

“Call from: Einar Ivaldison. Private line. Call from: Einar Ivaldison. Private — ”

Kais’s eyelids squeezed tight, and he began to whimper. 

“Shh! Shh!” Sev groped around her desk, knocking over the Kais’s formula. She crawled underneath, patting the carpet for the plastic bottle. When her fingers had wrapped around it, she started to rise. Her head hit the underside of the desk, and she released a sharp cry. 

“Call from: Einar Ivaldison. Private line.”

Kais’s face twisted. He mewled, raising a pudgy pink fist.

“Don’t scream don’t scream don’t scream,” Sev pleaded, prodding his lips with the bottle’s nipple.

The child’s mouth latched onto the bottle and was silent. The assassin pressed a palm to her pounding heart, trying to catch her breath. “Accept call.”


“Ja, it’s morning,” she grumbled. “What do you have for me?”

“Sweet job close to your area. Poor sap called Lyonel Hansen. Sunbucks barista. One head for six hundred thousand kroner.”

“Six hundred thousand?” Sev mentally subtracted the mortgage, water bills, electric bills, landline, debit card, and average grocery spending. “I might be able to buy a good… bicycle. Where is this Hansen?”

“South Ruusgard Sunbucks, a little past the Indian restaurant. Best hurry. Half a dozen assassins have also accepted the job and are already on their way.”

A wry smile crept up Sev’s face. “They can have Hansen if they want him. All I need is his head. End call.”

Kais allowed her to put him in the stroller. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that as soon as he was in it, he screamed so loud Sev had a flashback of the Libyan Civil War.

“May you be drafted in fifteen years,” she cursed him, taking a combat knife to a careworn rucksack. “You may have taken my sleep and destroyed my peace, but you will not affect my job.”

She lowered the child into the rucksack, maneuvering his limbs through the holes she had sliced into the fabric. He bounced his legs, babbling happily as Sev changed.

“You are a horrible creature,” she said, pulling a wool turtleneck over her head, “but you will serve as a fine prop.”

The headhunters moved in as she entered the park.

A Girl Scout abandoned her wagon, sprinting with a kitchen knife in her hand. An elderly woman scooped up her little terrier and drew the dart gun in her belt. An entire high-school Karate class practicing on the grass turned around and ran at Sev in a pack. A young male couple that had been sprawled on the park bench rolled, landing on the ground in a crouch. They ran, flanked by the scruffy man that had been sleeping under the bench.

Sev halted. She turned one way, then the other. The headhunters surrounded her on all sides. Her eyes narrowed under the sunglasses.

“Here’s the deal,” grunted the elderly woman. “You join us, we split the dough. Equally.”

“Let me think about it,” said Sev, flicking her combat knife out of her sleeve. “No.”

The elderly woman fired the dart gun, but Sev had leapt, snagging a monkey bar with her free hand. The dart whizzed between her swinging legs and caught one of the Karate students in the neck. He toppled forward, and his comrades leaped into action.

The dark gun fired, but Sev had dropped onto the crowd of Karate kids. Half of them dropped before the old woman ran out of darts, lowered her dog, and continued her walk. 

The male couple tried to take her on both sides, but faltered when Kais awoke and delivered a hellish screech. She deflected a pair of karate kicks, sending them into the assassin pair. The Girl Scout was quick on her feet, but burst into tears when Sev cracked the knife hilt across her face and yanked her knife arm behind her back with a wet pop.

“I just wanted the assassination patch!” she sobbed, running with her arm flopping behind her.

“Youth these days,” Sev grumbled. There was a dart caught on her turtleneck, her cardigan was torn down the back, one of her sandals was gone, and Kais’s wails were starting to give her a headache. She was starting to regret leaving the AG-3 battle rifle.

The scruffy man dropped down from the monkeybars, wielding a broken coke glass. 

Sev lurched into the Sunbucks with a black eye and a babbling baby. Her sunglasses dangled on one ear, exposing an old, slashing scar across her face that blinded both eyes.

Lyonel Hansen jumped when she slammed two fists onto the counter. His smile twitched. “W-Welcome to Sunbucks. How can I help you?”

The blind assassin raised her face to her target. Her hand jerkily opened and closed. 

“What,” she croaked.

“E-Excuse me?”

“What,” the assassin said, “do you recommend for someone who hasn’t slept in four nights?”

August 28, 2020 02:54

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Yolanda Wu
07:05 Sep 03, 2020

This was such a cool and fun story. I loved the narrator, and the bit at the start with Siri was so good. The dialogue is so well-written and playful. And I just love that title. So many things to like about this story. Also, I loved your little scene breaks. Amazing work!


Ari .
19:28 Sep 03, 2020

Who says a thriller can’t be family-friendly, right? Thanks so much for your feedback!


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Angela Palmer
22:22 Aug 31, 2020

I love the twist of an assassin with a baby. I also really liked that you had the violence in there but it wasn't unnecessarily gory.


Ari .
22:30 Aug 31, 2020

Thanks! Though ‘Hitmom’ is technically a thriller, I didn’t see much point in making it bloody. I feel like it would have lost what I liked so much about writing it.


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Great movement and pace!


Ari .
16:20 Aug 28, 2020

Thanks! I tried to even out narration and dialogue as best I could. Sev was a loquacious character to begin with, so I had to cut out other characters to make room. I hope it wasn’t too long, lol.


Nah, not too long. Its action, so getting un-needed characters and exposition out of the way is a good thing.


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