As she moved her fingers quickly over the keyboard of her laptop, she bit down on her lower lip as she reached new heights of concentration. Rolling her eyes, she winced slightly as she bit through the scab on her lip and tasted the bitterness of her blood in her mouth.
The sudden sharp sting of her lip made her reach down and tenderly touch the sore spots of her ribs. It would still be a while until she was back to normal.
Ignoring the nagging throbbing, she continued her search.
She had jumped a hurdle with Sasha, one she hadn’t planned on jumping over. She thought she had left that part of her life behind her. Yet seeing her again, fighting her again, defeating her again… it had pulled her back into the life that started it all.
And it reminded her of one of the heaviest weight on the evil side of the scales.
But he was as much a ghost as she was. Finding him seemed almost impossible.
Sighing, she leaned back in her chair and closed the window, opening another one.
She looked at the familiar headline; one she had already read a dozen times. Millionaire Businessman Murdered. It was an article on the murder of Malcolm Hunter. It spoke about his late wife, their son who was killed in action, and their youngest son; Malcolm Hunter II.
Since her dinner with Hunter, she had moved apartments twice. She had added four other names to her box, and she had carefully avoided the streets she knew he walked.
She didn’t want to see him, not after finding out about the death of his father. She didn’t want him to tell her anything about Malcolm Hunter, and how at one point he was a great man, and something had happened that changed him forever.
The names in her box all had one thing in common; all that was known to her was their crimes. She didn’t need to know anything more than that.
Evil was not born, it was created. Sometimes through influence, sometimes through circumstance, sometimes it just grew from the smallest whisper of sin. The slates of these people, at one time, were clean. She knew that.
Her job was not to investigate the circumstances of it all. She could not see the world in shades of greys.
It was black and white.
To her, it had to be.
Otherwise the scales would always be imbalanced. There would always be an explanation for evil, a justification for it all. Had she sat before each and every person who’s name was in that box and let them tell her their story, let them sway her logic and awaken her conscience, the world would lay in ruin.
Sure, maybe not right now; but someday.
Every name she added to the box was a name that was stricken from the history pages. Names that today meant very little, but would someday be the names people screamed when they ran for cover, ones they whispered when they took their last breaths.
She could not let evil ravish, like a hungry fire through this world. Hadn’t it already?
Leaning back in her chair, she wrapped her arms over her chest and looked at the photo they had posted to go along with the article. A family portrait. It portrayed Malcolm Hunter as a loving and supportive husband, a caring father, and the head of a fully functional family.
They seemed happy. She was sure people would look at this photo and feel sympathy for the loss of Malcolm Hunter.
Her eyes saw so much more than the photo. It saw the rigid shoulders of his wife; the dull purple in the corner of her eyes that told her Malcolm Hunter’s wife was stressed, unhappy despite her tight smile. Malcolm Hunter sat while his wife sat on the armrest of his luxurious leather chair. Their two sons stood behind them.
Despite herself, her eyes paused on him for longer than the others. She wondered how he was taking the news.
Frowning, she shut her laptop.
She didn’t have time for this.
What she needed to do was focus on her task. She had no reason to feel any attachment to Hunter. No reason to care about his wellbeing. Malcolm Hunter was not the first person she had killed who had left family behind.
“I need to find Aleksandr.” She told herself. “Nothing else but that matters now.” There were so many of them in the orphanage, all trained just as she was. There was no telling how many got out of there alive, or what those who survived were doing now.
If they had stuck with Aleksandr, they were being rented out to whomever would pay the right price, to do whatever they were paid to do.
The thought caused chills to run up her spine.
They had to be stopped!
And yet, she found herself on the street. Her hood was pulled up over her head as the rain fell heavily down from the sky. The cotton of her sweater drank up every drop of water it could, clinging to her shoulders and hanging around her waist. Jumping up, she grabbed hold of the fire escape ladder and made her way up.
She had never been here before, but she knew the way.
On the landing, she skulked back into the shadows. Her eyes locked on the window across the alley.
The apartment she looked into was dimly lit. The walls were a dark stone color and there were large framed posters lining the walls of the hallway. She had no idea what the posters were of, maybe movies, maybe shows or bands.
Looking through the next window, she saw a large black leather sofa. It was illuminated by light from the television before it, but the rest of the room was in darkness.
Brow furrowed, she looked into the next window.
The headboard was made of planks of wood ranging from cherry oak to pine. There was a large metal tube attached across the top with single bulbs hanging from each side. It lit up the bed enough for her to see him there, lying on his back with his arm over his eyes. His chest was bare, and he wore pajama bottoms.
Leaning forward, she watched him lie there for what felt like forever. Eventually, he rolled over. Crawled up onto the bed and buried his face in the pillows.
Watching him, she felt a tightness in her chest.
Cursing under her breath, she quickly made her way home.