Sunday 21 – Tuesday 22 October 2018
‘Do you know what I love most about nature?’ She waited for him to reply but got nothing. She scoffed at what she perceived as his disrespect. ‘The night sky. That’s what I love most about nature. Especially on nights like this, where the moon is waning, and the clouds – those wispy ones – get blown around by the wind. The stars are bright, the sky’s like a . . . it’s a cosmic light show. It’s beautiful. We were lucky to find this clearing. if we’d been in there, the trees would have blocked this magnificent view. Don’t you agree?’ She looked down at his face, highlights and shadows courtesy of the moon gave it character. It was probably the only time he’d ever looked as though he’d had character. It was certainly the last time.
He didn’t reply, just whimpered through the gag she’d tied over his mouth. He quivered, terrified by what he knew was coming. With her hand on his shoulder she could feel him trembling.
‘I’ll make it quick,’ she comforted him. She stepped back, looked upon the pathetic specimen of humanity in front of her, raised the gun and squeezed the trigger. So far out in the wilderness, there was no need for a silencer. The gunshot echoed around the woods, startling the nocturnal creatures, sending them flying and scampering away. She lifted her head and gazed at the stars, and forgot, for a moment, that he was lying dead at her feet.
* * * * *
Her phone hadn’t rung in four days. She revelled in the quiet. Even in her line of work, there were slow seasons, periods of quiet contemplation when no one needed her particular skillset. This was one of those times. It gave her the opportunity to feel as if she were living a normal life, doing normal things, like all the other normal people in the world. For a few times a year, she could feel ordinary instead of having to be the Huntress. Not that she didn’t enjoy her job, just that it was important to have some peace once in a while.
She had languidly curled on the porch lounge watching the world go by. The neighbourhood children were up and down the street on their bikes and scooters. They spent their afternoons playing street hockey or basketball, occasionally shouting a hello to her as they passed by. She offered them a wave and a smile, and bid them good afternoon or a fun time depending upon what mood struck her. Footsteps on the hardwood floor gave away her husband’s approach.
‘Catherine, wine or tea? What’s your preference?’ He poked his head around the front door and smiled.
She tore her gaze away from the kids on the street and looked at the goofy, smiling face peering at her. She stifled a giggle. ‘Tea, please, Hugh.’
His easy manner, smiling face and kind nature were a remedy to the brutal violence of her work.
‘And cake!’ she called out to him, hoping he’d hear her request from the kitchen.
As Catherine settled back onto the lounge, her phone bleated a text message alert. She leaned forward, dragged it across the small coffee table towards her and unlocked it. Opening the message app, Catherine pulled up the text, read it and then deleted it from her phone. There was no need to keep these kinds of instructions. She simply needed to remember the meeting location.
Hugh wandered out with the tea, a smile still emblazoned on his face.
‘Did I hear your phone?’
‘Mhmmm,’ Catherine replied.
She nodded. ‘Yes.’
‘So much for the short break you intended to have.’
He placed the mugs of tea on the table in front of Catherine, shoved her legs off the lounge and slumped down next to her.
‘Never mind, love, a fortnight’s break is better than nothing.’
Catherine loved her ordinary home life. She loved that Hugh was unfazed by her work. She loved that he’d never wanted to know the details of what she did. He had some idea that it was a risky and dangerous job, but he never questioned her or demanded that she tell him anything about her life outside of their home. In her eyes, Hugh was the perfect husband.
* * * * *
‘Hello, Catherine,’ Barnaby Williams stepped out of the shadows in front of her.
‘Barnaby,’ she replied. ‘Information.’ She held out her hand. Barnaby handed her a sealed envelope which she promptly tore open. Catherine pulled out the contents and scanned the documents.
‘You can’t be serious,’ she said.
‘It’s come from the top. It needs to be done.’
‘You may as well have asked me to kill Hugh.’
Barnaby raised an eyebrow and gestured for her to continue reading the dossier. She turned a page and was face to face with a black and white headshot of her husband.
‘You’re not serious?’ she asked.
‘His family has become a liability. We need to sort it now.’
‘But why Hugh?’
‘I can’t answer that, Catherine. I’m not privy to all the details –’
‘Bull shit!’ she snapped. ‘You have a lot more input into these jobs than you let on. You find another way to deal with this.’
‘The only other way,’ he replied, ‘is to have Warner take care of this job. Is that what you want? Do you want Warner Ford to take over this job?’
Catherine threw the envelope and the documents at Barnaby, hitting him in the chest.
‘Have it your way, Catherine, but it will get done.’ Barnaby disappeared back into the shadows, leaving Catherine alone and confused. She couldn’t execute her husband, the one light in her life, and she certainly wasn’t letting Warner Ford take over the job. She’d have to find a solution, some way to keep at least Hugh alive, and she’d have to work fast.
. . . To be continued . . .