I always knew he’d find me, eventually. I just didn’t know it would be like this. I didn’t know I would be soaked through and through from the rain, crouched in an old rotted out doorway, my knees to my chest. Whenever I would hug myself tighter, I would wring water out of my torn and depressed clothing. The jacket, if one could even call it that, held the little I had left. There wasn’t a phone for me to use. No money in my pockets. No hope left lingering in my eyes.
Ten years ago when the world we all knew ended it took the hope with it. I started running from house to house. Most abandoned. Some were welcoming. Other homes, I had to fight my way back out. The end brought out the crazies. It showed everyone what they were truly capable of doing to another human being. It taught everyone survival.
He didn’t look the same as he did all those years ago. There were bags under his eyes. He had aged from the young, strong, and terrifying man I knew. I knew he would find me because he had to. I owed a debt. He always collected. When he finally showed up to collect, I couldn’t say no. Actually, I could. I had nothing to lose. Yet here we are having a silent conversation deciding the other’s next move.
His hand made its way towards me slowly. He was trying not to scare me. He didn’t want me to bolt and leave him behind in the rain again. Thunder rumbled in the distance as I slowly reached out as well. He let go of my hand once I was up on shaky legs and gestured for me to walk down the alley towards the main road. The rain picked up and I nodded. I kept a few safe feet between us not wanting to have a trick played on me.
“If I was going to kill you, Kay, I would’ve done it back when you were sitting in a ball looking pathetic as ever.” His voice was deeper than I remember, but it had the same edge to it. “We have some things to discuss. They could be mutually beneficial.” I pulled back more at his words and stuffed my hands inside torn pockets.
“Things that would benefit us both?” I cleared my throat trying to sound more sure of myself like I once did. “I doubt it.”
“You’re living on the street or in abandoned homes and never stopping.” I stopped in my tracks feeling the rage within bring some lost part of me back to life.
“I couldn’t stop running or you would have killed me.” My hair was clinging to my face matted with dirt, dust, and a little blood from a fight the night before.
“Well, I can’t kill you now. Can I?” He began moving forward again.
“And why can’t you?” He didn’t respond just looked at the ground and smiled. Occasionally, we would have to step over bodies. Sleeping or dead I couldn’t really tell. We stopped in front of a large old hotel. It was deteriorating on the outside, but I knew he wouldn’t let himself stay somewhere like that let alone live there.
“Bren,” a younger man with raven black hair walked up to us, “take Miss Kay up to room 323. Please.” The young man’s dark eyes seemed to be one large blackened spot at the center. “Get cleaned up. When you’re done Bren here will bring you to me.”
Why would I want to clean up for him? Why would I ever want to do anything for him? I was being dragged by the arm away and I finally gave in and was dragged to a stairwell. I followed Bren silently and took a look around when we stopped. I tried getting a layout of the place to the best of my ability.
“Right here.” I felt my right brow rise at him. I doubt he could see it. The dirt was caked everywhere on me. “I will wait out here.” He turned and leaned against the wall ignoring me as I went in.
I went to lock the door and realized the lock had been removed. So, he wasn’t trying to keep me there forever, just for the time being. I peeled off the destroyed tatters that resembled clothing and made my way into the bathroom. I turned the shower on and was immediately thrilled with the hot water. I let it pull the grime from me and watched it swirl down the drain. My muscles welcomed the warmth and relaxed for the first time in about a month. I took all the time I could enjoying it before climbing back out.
When I got back to the room, I couldn’t find my “clothes” anywhere. I started checking drawers when I realized they were filled with fresh clean clothes to wear. My old clean clothes. He kept it all here. I slid into them easily and with more than an ideal amount of room. I had to poke a hole in one of my old belts to tighten the pants to where I needed and made my way out of the room back to Bren.
“After you.” He jumped a little at the sudden sound of my voice.
“I didn’t even hear you come out of there.” I shrugged and followed him quietly. “The boss has been looking for you for a long time.”
“Not long enough.” He chuckled beside me at my quick and quiet response. We walked silently after that to a large room. It looked like it used to be a conference room at one time, but now it was set up like a security room.
“Ah, that looks better.” I felt myself sneer at him.
“You kept all of my things. Why?” I assessed everything around us not seeing any available weapon.
“Times are hard.”
“Feeling sentimental or something? I didn’t think we were that close.” I circled the small table between us trying to keep my old face on.
“Truth is…” He stroked his small amount of scruff trying to tread lightly, “I need an assassin. You were the best one I knew of. The only one who ever got close enough to get to me, and I am willing to compensate you for your work.”
“Clearly I didn’t get close enough.”
“Cute.” I stopped moving and plopped myself down in a chair trying not to show pain where all my bruises were on my back. I adjusted to comfort and stared him down some more.
“Why bring me in now? I am sure there are people qualified to do what I used to do.” I realized then the only reason was because instead of me being recruited to kill him he wanted to hit his enemies first. “It’s because they are looking for me to ask the same of me, but the other way around.” He smiled and looked back at the door where Bren was watching us both.
“Yes. However, I intend to pay you what you deserve. They can’t.” I leaned forward, put my elbows on my knees and rested my chin on my hands. He knew he would be losing a lot bringing me on. This was him showing me he would risk it all to bring me in and make me one of his. The number one. No one else would know what I did. I would be the perfect weapon, and the only weapon that could take him down.