I woke up in the hotel room.  The dead body on the floor was disconcerting, to say the least.  The gleaming windows showed the reflection of blue and red lights, and I could hear the sound of the sirens, just winding down.  Then, I noticed I was covered in blood.

This wasn’t good.  I didn’t remember what had happened before.  Obviously something had.  But what?  I shook my head, but nothing came rushing back to me. My mouth tasted of blood, bitter and salty.  A harsh pounding at the door brought me back to my current predicament.

“Open up!  It’s the Police!”

Great. I glanced toward the cheap door, it was festooned with deadbolts, chains, latches, and a chest of drawers had been pushed in front of it. The windows were barred; what kind of bad neighborhood was this?

I knew this wasn’t where I lived, but I wasn’t sure why I was here. Lord have mercy my head was pounding like a Petunia Bowl parade band was marching down Frontal Lobe Avenue. I picked myself off the floor and looked at the stiff.

He had been a chunky fellow, who met his end by a chef’s knife sticking out of his chest. Somehow I knew that was my handiwork. Then I realized the dead guy wasn’t fat. He was bloated. I dry heaved as a wave of putrid stench assaulted my nostrils. Flies danced merrily in his dried blood.

“Police search warrant!” They yelled as something heavy slammed into the door.

I’d watched enough episodes of “Troops” to know being on the wrong end of the door when they came charging through was a bad thing. I needed to get the hell outta Dodge, and fast. I took a step toward the bedroom when something black and metallic caught my eye.

I picked up the handgun; it was a compact .45 auto. I knew it was mine, probably festooned with incriminating fingerprints. The slide was engraved with the words, STI Bodyguard. I pulled the slide back a half an inch, revealing a round in the chamber. The safety was still on, maybe bloated guy back there had knocked it out of my hands, I wasn’t sure. My hands, had nitrile gloves on them. I guessed I didn’t have to worry about fingerprints.

I holstered the weapon in the leather I knew was on my belt, hidden under a long shirt. The Police ram crashed into the door again, threatening to take the entire frame with it.

I remembered the decomposing guy’s name, Juan Lopez, De Jesus. For some reason it struck me funny that De Jesus, had gone to Jesus. I snatched his wallet, and knock off Rolex. For some reason I wanted this to look like a burglary gone bad.

The door frame cracked and split as the ram hit home again, giving the lawmen a couple of inches before the dresser stopped the door. Bright lights shined into the room.

“Get on the ground mother…” One yelled at me as he shined a very bright light in my eyes.

I felt insulted, why would he make such a slanderous statement about my love life, he didn’t even know me?

Then I snapped out of my idiotic stupor. They would have the dresser pushed out of the way in moments as I stood there like a dimwit, covered in the dead man’s blood.

“Flash out!” the rude one yelled as he tossed something through the door.

I turned and ran for cover of the kitchen bar as the Flash Bang went off. I was mostly behind it when the dim gloom of the room was replaced with canned star shine for a split second. My ears began ringing and my balance hadn’t improved much.

I stumbled toward the back door, twisted the knob and wrenched it open. I ran out onto the deck my feet sliding on the freshly fallen snow. When did it start snowing? I strictly remembered dry pavement when I drove to the dumpy long term hotel.

I looked over the guard rail, why couldn’t the dead guy live on the second floor? No, I had to be looking at a twenty meter drop. My pursuers crashed through the makeshift barricade as I climbed up on the railing.

“Freeze!” Troopers yelled as they leveled their Glock 72’s at me.

“I am frozen!” I said as I raised my hands above my head.

“Easy now, climb down off the rail.” The black Trooper feigned concern.

I turned around, my feet slipping; there were four of them, wearing standard issue composite armor vests. I’d have to take headshots as my aging .45 auto wouldn’t penetrate their flexible ceramic protection. I was almost disappointed they hadn’t sent an assault team with Mag Rifles and VTOL support.

An annoying sound buzzed in my ear. My skullphone was going off, not like I had time to answer it.

“Don’t come any closer or I’ll jump!” I yelled in a high pitch voice. I wasn’t sure if I would or not but they wouldn’t know.

“Come on lady, nice and easy. We don’t want to hurt you.”

“I didn’t kill that man!”  I said as I mentally clicked “Pick Up.”

“Nobody is saying you did, just come on down.”

“Mara, you’re awake, where have you been?” A nasally voice asked me.

It was Delta, my handler, “Stay back! I’ll splat myself, and you’ll have a lot more paperwork to do!”

The Troopers retreated to the back of the balcony, their caseless Glocks still pointed at me.

“Mara… you in trouble?” Delta asked, I could hear him pounding the clickey keys on his antique IBM keyboard. “Why did I even ask that? Turn your transponder back on.”

“You can’t stand there all rotation, come on. Make the right choice.” One of the troopers said as he tried to talk me off the edge.

I pulled up the transponder menu, and reactivated it. Milliseconds later Delta had my GPS location, vitals, and a host of other stats.

“Holy mother Gliese, your heart rate is through the roof!”

“I know that!” I said to both the troopers and my handler.

Speaking of our star, I glanced at it; the Red Dwarf sat low on the horizon, giving us eternal twilight.

“How do you plan to get out of this one?” Delta asked.

One of the troopers holstered his pistol, “Look lady take my hand and step off the edge.”

“I’ll think about it.”

I stood there scared, cold and miserable; if I screwed up I’d be as dead as De Jesus in the next room.

“Alright, I’ll take your hand, but I want to call my solicitor as soon as I’m in custody.”

Delta sighed, “I’m sending Solicitor, but it’s going to be a couple of minutes before they arrive.”

The Squaddie, a young strong kid, in his mid, two hundreds slowly stepped forward as his buddies aimed down their holo dot sights, probably focused on my chest and forehead.

“Just take my hand. Let’s do this nice and easy.”

“Yes,” I reached out with both hands and our fingers interlocked. “nice and easy.”

I broke his nose with my forehead as I leapt off the railing. I twisted him around locking up his wrist with my left hand as my right found my pistol. The safety clicked off in one motion as I jammed the cold steel into his neck under his ear.

“Drop your heaters!” I demanded as I used the Trooper as a meat shield. They couldn’t hit me without risking nailing their buddy.

“You know we can’t do that!” The black Sergeant replied his finger on the trigger. “Put your hand cannon down!”

“Back up or I’ll grease him!”

They moved into the doorway, weapons still threatening.

The Squaddie with the broken nose spat blood onto the composite deck, “Please, I’ve got a kid.”

“Shut, your yapper.”

“Please, my name is Jacob Jones, my wife just had a baby girl two Gliese years ago.”

Damn the grunt had a name, and an infant, killing him might make me feel a slight twinge of guilt. “What’s her name?”


“The baby.”

“What, why?”

I shoved the pistol deeper in his skin, reminding him his life hung on less than two kilos of finger pressure.

“Because if you’re lying I’ll decorate your buddies’ utilities with your pulpy grey stuff.”


“How much did she weigh?”


I took up slack on the trigger.

“Three point four kilos.”

“Do you want to see her again?”

“Yes.” He sobbed.

I heard the twin rotors of my ride, Solicitor was here.

“Well Jacob today’s your lucky day.”

The rooftop balcony was bathed in brilliant white light; snow blew from the rotor wash, as a cable dropped to the deck. It snaked toward me and clipped itself onto my belt.

I shoved the new father forward; he stumbled into the Troopers in the doorway. I leapt into the air over the railing. The VTOL’s blades increased in pitch and I flew over the rooftops like an impromptu Peter Pan.

I wondered if one of the Troopers might take a shot at me as I hung helpless below the VTOL. I swung around and caught a glimpse of them far below on the balcony. The bloodied guy looked up at me as he held his nose. I smiled and waved and then we were gone.

“Mara… you’re gonna make my poor heart give out one of these days.” Delta said with a bit of melodrama.

“I’ll buy you another vat raised heart if that happens.” I said as the winch reeled me in.

“Mara, you’re insane do you know that?”

I shook my head, “No, I’m just bitter. It must be because I’m paid to kill people.”

The VTOL disappeared into the planets eternal darkness and I looked for something to kill the awful taste in my mouth.


One Response to Bitter

  1. Steve says:

    I like it! Any more?

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