The wind was sharp, brisk.
Widening her stance, she pressed back against the cool stone of the old building. The thin cotton of her black t-shirt did little to keep the frigid cold trapped in the bricks from nipping as the skin of her back. It was something she could easily ignore, scarcely notice even. There had been too many times in her life spent in cold for her body to be surprised by it any longer.
She looked up at the moon high in the sky, a perfect white saucer on a deep blue tablecloth of a sky. She noted the time by its place in the sky before dropping to her knees and opening the black knapsack that sat waiting at her feet.
She pulled the heavy steel from inside, clicking pieces together with the precision of a master, skilled beyond measure.
Clicking open a small stand, she rested the gun on the ledge, it’s matte black making it disappear as if by magic in the darkness of the night.
Positioning herself flat on her belly, she reached back behind her and pulled her custom scope from her back pocket and clicked it into place.
Breathe easy, her mind whispered to her, as it had for years.
Her brown eyes intensified to a light gold as her sights narrowed on the suited man pacing his office. What he was guilty of made her want to kill him ten times over.
Without hesitation, she pulled the trigger and felt the slight recoil she was so accustomed to.
She watched his head explode suddenly, his body freezing, standing in place for several seconds before it crumpled lifelessly to the floor.
Taking apart the gun, she put the pieces back in her bag, she put the scope in her pocket and shouldered the bag before jumping from her rooftop down to the ledge below. She walked across it, jumping off the edge to fall several feet before grabbing hold of a pipe on the neighbouring building. She shimmied down the pipe before climbing through an open window.
Her movement was swift, quick, calculated. She moved like the wind, no assistance needed to take hold of the world around her, to find the path she needed.
She had taken the stairs down and exited out the back into a humid, dimly lit alley.
The stench of the city lived there, cooking despite the coolness of the weather.
Unwrapping a black hoodie from around her waist, she pulled off the bag to pull it on to lift the hood over her head. It was too cool to go unnoticed walking around the city streets in a T-shirt alone.
Her feet, despite the thick steel toed boots she wore, made no sounds on the cement of the sidewalk as she manoeuvred through the crowd. She was light on her feet, stealthy, she doubted at this point in her life she could make noise as she moved even if she wanted to. It had been too long a life a discipline to change now.
She moved through the crowd with ease, bobbing and weaving through the people as they looked at their phones, walking blindly hoping people would move out of their way. She watched as careless people checked their watches, continuing to walk at an aggravated pace, uncaring of the people around them.
Her eyes flicked to the side as she whirled around someone, headphones in, hands thrust in their pockets as they walked with their heads down. She could feel the air blow past her as she missed him by mere inches and continued on.
Like sheep, she thought to herself, so consumed with staying in the heard and wandering aimlessly that they don’t notice the wolf that walks among them.
Shaking her head in disbelief at the people who existed in the world around her, she stopped on the corner.
The light was red, and she watched people in a hurry to get nowhere special dart out when there was a small space in cars, risking their lives in the hopes of saving barely a few moments. A taxi leaned on the horn as a business man in a trench coat walked out into traffic with his cell phone to his ear. Sticking his head out the window, the cab driver cursed at the man who made no hurry to get out of the way.
Stupid people, she thought, didn’t they know how precious life was?
She took a step forward, balancing on the edge of the curb as people behind her moved closer. She didn’t like to be touched, and would sooner dart out onto the road like the foolish business man had if it meant avoiding someone pressing up against her. Though, she was in better shape then he, and could easily make her way across the most dangerous conditions if she so wanted.
“Hey!” Someone stumbled off the curb, the force of the crowd behind them pushing them out into the street.
Looking over, she saw the man, early twenties, thin but not lanky, tall, with wide set shoulders fall to his knees in the street. Pushing up on his hands, he muttered an oath at the people who had pushed him out.
Interested, she watched him as he slowly got up.
Shaking her head in annoyance, she walked out in the street, grabbed him by his arm and jerked him up and back onto the curb just before a car sped over the spot he was kneeling in.
“Shit!” He looked at her wide eyed. “That car could’ve ploughed right through me.”
Realizing her hood had come off her head, she slowly reached back and pulled it on. The gaze of the people in the crowd making her anxious. Turning, she crossed the street, the light green again.
Avoiding his grasp as he reached out to grab onto her, she kept walking. She didn’t have time for this, she needed to get home, she had yet another name to add to her box.
This idiot would likely follow her all the way home if she let him, and the last thing she wanted was for him to know where she lived. Stopping, she waited for him to meet her.
He stopped behind her, waiting for her to turn around and look at him. When she didn’t he walked around her, a grin on his face. “Those were some crazy reflexes. Thanks so much.” He held his hand out to her. “I’m Ben, I work not too far from here in an auto-body shop. Can I get you a cup of coffee, you know, to thank you?”
His hand seemed alien to her as he reached out with a sly grin on his face. He seemed harmless enough, she noted, but the way she felt under his gaze made her nauseous. “No.” She shook her head.
“Aw, come on. It’s really the least I can do…” He paused, waiting for her to say something.
She didn’t know what he wanted, only knew that she wanted to get away from him. She couldn’t stand here in a crowd with a custom sniper rifle in her bag. She needed to spend a limited time on the street, have limited contact with the sheep.
“What’s your name?” He asked her more pointedly.
Eyes wide, she looked at him as though he had asked her to strip.
Turning away, she pulled the straps on her bag tighter as she turned down an alley off the street.
“Hey!” He called after her, his footsteps heavy as he ran to keep up.
Running down the alley, she jumped onto a dumpster, grabbing hold of the fire escape ladder and swinging from the bottom step to flip over the barbed wire topped fence. She didn’t look back at him as she ran, hoping to get back to her apartment.
Finally inside her apartment, she moved about as she usually did. Folding the piece of paper in her hand she dropped it into the box. Malcom Hunter.
Resting her hand on the box, her mind went back to the man who had followed her, extended his hand to her as though she were somebody.
“What’s your name?” She ran her fingers slowly along the wood of the box.
She had so many names in this box to choose from. What name did he want?