Hope you got your things together.
Hope you are quite prepared to die.
Looks like we're in for nasty weather.
One eye is taken for an eye.
Well don't go around tonight,
Well it's bound to take your life,
There's a bad moon on the rise.
December 26, 2013
It was snowing.
Not quite the most uncommon thing for the current time of year, especially for a city smack dab in Quebec, where the normal winter temperatures averaged around negative nine degrees Celsius. Worst still, it felt even colder than that with the icy winds cutting through layers like a knife. Most of the residents were used to it though, treating it like a pest, or a dog begging for food. It was just there and was better to accept the truth and deal with it than throw your hands up in the air and lament about the woes of living in such a miserable place and wishing they could move to somewhere warmer, (i.e. Victoria). And yes- this did occur when it came to the commuters who had to travel between the peaceful suburb of Longueuil and the bustling city of Montréal. They were, as one could say, the unofficial experts when it came to driving in the snow, so complaining was really a silly thing to do amongst these hardened souls.
However, to the man dressed in a thick snow jacket with its fur-lined hood pulled low, slogging awkwardly through the drifts- it was quite the nuisance, slowing him down and making it that much harder to get to his destination on time. This tidbit was distressing to say the least as he crunched through the slowly hardening snow- for he was somewhat in a hurry. And treading carefully down an alleyway was doing nothing for his short lived patience. Of course though, if he even thought about quickening the pace, it would be his luck to acquire such a thing as a broken leg. Couple that with slowly expiring from the gunshot through his back, and this could potentially be the unluckiest day of his entire existence, brief as it was.
So…. perhaps it was wiser to stay the course of going slow.
His oncoming death was not so much as an if but a when. He didn't know how long he had, but he just knew deep down, his thirty five and three-quarters year old life was slowly coming to an end. Even though the bastards who did this were long gone, either dead or otherwise- their compatriots were sure to be hungry for revenge. Come to think of it, they were probably already on their way to relieve him of the prize he went through so much to retrieve. Hopefully by the time they found him though, his original task would be complete and they would find their struggle to find him all for naught.
Briefly the clouds separated showing the faintest glimmer from the waning moon, bathing the snow that was beginning to pile up on cars in an eerie tint. Almost making the buried machines look like slumbering beasts under their blankets of white. Watching the light fade back into grey, his mind wandered back briefly to the time where he accepted this job. Even though he knew it had only been a couple of days since then, it truly felt like forever and a year since that afternoon.
"No matter what happens-,"she had suddenly started in a serious way, after hours of her being unusually quiet. The absence of her soft singing voice in the morning made him speculate if not worry over what was going on to make her so nervous. Taken back by her pale face as she pushed the manila envelope his way across their dining room table, the thief-for-hire noticed how her green eyes were absent of their usual mirth. "-do not open the box to peek once you get inside, do not drop the box, when you acquire it, do not let it fall back into their hands, and above all else, do not touch the object with your bare hands."
Of course, after reading through the contents, he had laughed it off while patting her hand, assuring the love of his life that it would be a cakewalk and before they knew it they would be drinking the money they had earned away at dinner. His treat, he had smiled, giving her a kiss on the cheek as she scowled telling him to take it seriously, reminding him this was their last job after all. Of course he knew that, and then afterwards they could finally settle down and begin to build a future together.
To which he told her with a laugh, reassuring her again that all was going to be well.
Looking back, all he did was grimace and kick himself. Dammit, he shouldn't have been so cocky. If only he had known. Now it seemed he was paying the price and he doubted if he was ever coming home, and immediately clung to that last memory of his wife. Hoping, praying she would forgive him when she heard the news.
He squinted his eyes shut temporarily, shutting out any chance for tears to form, Gods I'm so sorry my love...
Panting from the exertion, he slowed to a stop for a quick breath, and adjusted the small parcel deeper into his pocket. No point losing his prize after all that trouble, just because it slipped out of his jacket. He awkwardly tugged at his sleeve to glance at his wristwatch, afterwards grimacing. 0643. Damn, still stuck since the Event.
His memory was foggy as to what exactly happened, but the one prominent thing he did recall was the brief yet blinding light, and suddenly all the guards that had appeared and started shooting at him either collapsed unconscious or just vanished. In an adrenaline fueled panic, he had grabbed the strange object, (pierced by a stray bullet no doubt, that surprisingly left little damage when brushed aside) from the shattered remains of its former wooden prison, shoved it into his pocket, and ran, his ears still suffering from tinnitus. It wasn't until later, much later did he realize that he had been shot. Funny he hadn't felt the pain…
Fishing out the note that was given to him, although already knowing what it said in its unfamiliar yet fancy cursive:
Look for the woman with the red streaks. At this time and place she'll be there. However, do not by any way acknowledge her, but give her the package discreetly. She'll know what to do.
This was followed by a scrawled out address, one he hoped he was nearing since most of the address signs were covered in ice and many of the buildings looked one and the same in the night hour. Poor visibility due to the storm didn't help either.
Feeling eyes on the back of his head, he threw a quick look over his shoulders, expecting armed men stalking him. But no, nothing openly confronted him outside of the slowly disappearing trail his feet had made. Yet the sensation of ghostly fingers running down his spine that only came from paranoia was still there. The irrational part of his brain was screaming at him that someone was following him, watching him from the comfort of the dark. The thief even swore he saw a shape mingle back into the dark. The rational part however, deduced it could have just been a hobo, a stray cat, or possibly just his brain slowly collapsing due to blood loss.
Probably the last one given his current predicament and all.
If so- dying rather sucked, he concluded with another shake of his head, knocking off some of the built up snow from the top of his head. Whatever the case may be, he trudged on. He had to keep going and find the intended bull, even when, again not if, they were going to find and put him down eventually.
With that said, he ventured a little more before he approximately judged he was coming up to the expected meeting place; which turned out to be a small sports bar with half of the neon letters either burned out or buried under snow. All he could make out were a couple of L's, a U, and something that could have either been a K or an I. Bah the name was irrelevant anyway since he only planned to be here for a couple of minutes.
While finalizing his approach and double checking that, yes this was the place, he slipped a hand into his pocket, feeling the rough edges of the object, a tinge of strange regret forming in the back of his head. The queer feeling immediately departed him however, as soon as he drew his hand away. On most if not on all his missions, he barely cared as to what he was told to steal. But this... this was a first. Why such high security for a broken piece of rock? Where had those guards gone? What did I steal? It was obvious whatever he had been charged in acquiring was way beyond his understanding, and in response he wished nothing more than to drop it and run. But his pride wouldn't let him- a job was a job and he had to finish it. Not for his sake, oh no but that of his wife's.
A thin smile appeared on his lips as he sat, or more like collapsed on the bench right outside the bar, his breathing having suddenly become labored. Muttering a quiet curse as another pained breath went out of his lungs he decided it was here that he was going to wait. He crossed his legs and arms blowing softly down into the collar of his jacket to warm the air there as he just… watched. After a few minutes, a brief longing look in his dark brown eyes appeared as he continued to spectate the comings and goings of suburbia night life. A pair of teens walked by, the storm doing little to suppress their giggling and sharing of smooches for it was obvious they were in the throes of young love. Another group passed him, this time a bunch of young men thinking that the world couldn't touch them. Slightly envious of the care-free attitude, he was half tempted to join them and go inside. Get one last drink- a scotch perhaps, or maybe a local whiskey, and think on the old times before the world would go dark when he finally bit the dust…
If the man had gone inside, he probably would have noticed straight away the difference between Old Man Winter's icy presence berating him outside and the bar's warm toasty atmosphere that smelled faintly of alcohol and piss since someone forgot to clean the bathroom apparently. Despite that though, no one seemed to be affected by the blizzard, via the many colored Canadian jerseys pressing up against the bar top trying to catch the multiple games broadcasted on the four huge mounted televisions. It was an almost hushed silence as they watched the puck dance back and forth between the opposing sides of the ice rink, the stifled silence a bizarre thing in an otherwise lively place. Suddenly the quiet aura was broken by a roar of approval as several Maple Leafs fans jumped up in revelry since their team was now leading by two points.
Tristan frowned into the contents of her Jägermeister; grey eyes the only signs of her distaste as she sipped, relishing in the sharp tang of the fiery liquid. Tucked in to the dimly lit corner of the establishment, she watched the lean tall man with straw blonde hair next to her, rub his ear wincing as he straightened. He was obviously uncomfortable, avoiding her rather scrutinizing gaze. Honestly, she could hardly blame him for the action- she did have a rather intense stare.
Continuing to ignore her, he went on rambling. "I could have sworn only one home team was playing today. Oh no, there had to be four." Her frown deepened as he hurriedly changed the subject, all the while throwing a look at the back of one Canadiens fan who had happened to blow an airhorn right into his ear. He muttered rather obscene French insults under his breath much to the merriment of their underlings, a small team of ten-most wearing jerseys of varying teams and sports. Ignoring the amusement and her rather annoyed glare, Greg continued. "I should have gone with my gut instinct and scheduled that extra room in the back at that one restaurant we like so much, but no we just had to go to the bar because of stinking hockey."
"Oh please, don't be a priss and pretend like you had a better idea in mind," dryly quipped the brunette woman next to him in false sympathy. For once, Tristan decided to humor him- at least for now. Only on the grounds she knew she would get her answers eventually. "We are in Canada you know, and we both know how we just love our hockey." She glanced up at the closest screen, and although no emotion escaped her, she was in reality silently jeering that she was one goal closer to winning a bet from her coworker if the Senators kept at their losing streak. Contrary to what she had said though, hockey was not at all her favorite sport in the world. (She much rather preferred watching her Chargers beat down on the Raiders any day of the week- hell Broncos too if she was lucky). However it still had its rewards, both monetary and bragging.
But that was for another time and with that she downed the rest of her drink, shaking off the burn afterwards that crept down her esophagus, waving over that rather handsome bartender for another. She had a more pressing matter at hand. "But seriously Greg- what do you mean by partnership?"
The man in question uneasily shuffled in his seat before reluctantly looking at her with a sheepish disposition. An almost childlike action- amusing enough, since it was reminiscent of a toddler getting caught with his hand in the jar. "I was actually joking in hopes that the matter would wait until after we got back from vacation to talk about." Greg vented a feigned exasperated sigh as she folded her arms and fixed him a rather disapproving look. He snuck a look to see if she had changed her mind, and seeing she hadn't, further slumped in his chair taking another sip from his scotch, trying to hide the mock pout. "Of course not, should have known better. I must wonder if you even take breaks after work anymore." He teased with a wink.
"Yeah it's called a binge watch of Supernatural with some tequila and imagining Dean Winchester buckass naked in a big tub of liquid caramel going 'lick me.' Tristan bluntly replied without so much as a blink, earning herself a choke and a cough from Greg as he had chosen the most inopportune time to take a drink. Briefly smirking, she leaned back in her seat triumphantly, humming 'Gotcha' in her head.
Her amusement died as fast as it had come though and she fixed him with a hard look. "Okay joking aside, quit stalling Greg and tell me what the hell you mean by 'partnership'." She interlaced her words with a rather stern undertone meaning she seriously meant business if she didn't get what she wanted and now.
"Fine since you're being pushy and all…" Greg grumbled wiping at his mouth before running a hand through his sandy hair with a deep sigh. "I got a call from Abstergo Entertainment this morning- wishing us congratulations about our success with La Muerta and all that. I won't bore you on the details, so long story short- they want us to help work on their next game." With that he pulled out his smartphone, tapping at its surface before stowing it away again. His hands now freed, he immediately occupied one again by latching it around his glass and taking a long draught from his ale as if it was needed in her presence. Jeez was she seriously that much of a handful? Her attention was pulled back as her co-founder threw a forced smile. "If you wish to look at over vacation be my guest, but give it at least a day before you say 'hell no' please?"
"Of course. So long as it has nothing to do with pirates like their last game I am fine," Tristan huffed, not appreciating how he automatically assumed she was going to say nay to the idea of another project so close to their most recent success. Barely three days, and she lost count of how many people were tapping at their smartphones trying to double jump on a moving platform. For a freshman project, it surely was paying off now.
Despite his earlier mood, Greg just chuckled while shaking his head. "From what I've read, far from it actually- think it like Legend of Zorro meets Robin Hood in Renaissance Europe mixed with some Prince of Persia."
The woman paused in her drink. "…Renaissance?" She echoed an eyebrow quirked in curiosity as she set the glass down. Much as she opposed the idea of being under the scrutinizing gaze of another bigger company, especially Abstergo, even she had to admit that sounded like a fun concept for a game.
"Like I said," her co-founder spread his arms with a secretive smile on his lips. "If even the tiniest bit interested just take a look over it and give me a ring- or you know wait until we get back from vacation." He couldn't help but grin at her as he continued as if explaining calculus to a bunch of brain dead students. "You know- that funny thing normal people do to get away from work."
The woman threw a rather indignant look as she huffed again, flicking some stray food particles his general direction. Without even looking away she snatched her drink, drained it, and then proceeded to slam it down while pushing herself away from the table. "Which is starting now thank you kindly," she curtly stated while grabbing her jacket and throwing it on. As she zipped up and grabbed her black canvas messenger bag, she glanced up at the TV screens briefly before nudging Greg. "Tell me how the game ends by the way; I still have a bet with Anthony that his precious team is going to flop and I very much plan on collecting my winnings this time next week."
Her only answer as she left for the front entrance was the faintest noise of an affirmation from the man. The sound quickly being swallowed as another cheer of half revelry, half groans shook the bar. Damn the Maple Leafs must be doing fantastic if they were in this much excitement. She shook her head with a laugh, before sucking it back in with one breath as the sudden drop of temperature slapped her across the face. Reluctantly the woman left the warmth and hospitality of the establishment, letting the door close with a slow yet heavy slam behind her. Adjusting to the sudden cold under the dark purple awning, she quickly flipped the hood over her already freezing ears. Why did I move here again…? She rumbled burying her nose into the collar of her jacket as she reluctantly started down the street, the top of her hood quickly being hidden by a cold canvas of white. I mean I get it I have sentimental value with the place, and it does have a better economy for my kind of job, but really I need to move back to the states already.
Briefly she thought back to her old childhood hometown of Santa Barbara, where she could get away with just wearing sweatpants and a shirt, step outside for the morning paper, and not freeze to death. And good god where there was actually an amazing little hole in the wall Mexican place that served the best tacos.
As Tristan walked- or more like stumbled through the thick drifts hoping to catch the last bus for the ride back home, Stan Bush yelled "You've got the touch!" from her jacket. Stifling a grin and barely missing a beat, she dug around in her pocket for her Supernatural obsessed iPhone. Sure enough it said 'Cat' when she checked the screen, and her grin only widened. "Gift must have finally come in," she mused out loud, swiping the screen and bringing it to her ear. "'Ello?"
"You better be lucky you're in Canada or else I would be crushing your ribs and popping the natural pillows on your chest right about now."
The grin she was currently wearing was seriously making her face hurt, and it only got worse as it spread even wider. "Awww I miss you too, I take it you like it?"
There was a snort before another bout of squealing of disbelief blasted into her ear. By some miracle, her hearing continued to function enough to hear her reply. "Bitch are you kidding?! I fucking LOVE him!"
Of course by "him" she was referring to the original Generation I die-cast Jazz from the TV show that her friend loved so much. It had taken a couple hundred bucks and late night bidding on eBay but she had gotten it in the end. Tristan was having a hard time not smiling at the sheer joy that her friend was expressing. "Haha I'm glad you do- oomph excuse me."
She threw an apologetic look sideways as the man who had just bumped into her shuffled past, muttering what sounded like a 'sorry' before trundling off, soon disappearing into the folds of the night. Of course she had to wonder- since there was so much open space around, how the bloody hell did someone still bump into her? Shrugging, she continued on her half walking, half stumbling trek to the bus stop. God she was so glad for her snow boots. "Sorry-", she put the phone back to her ear, adjusting her bag's strap. "I just bumped somebody on accident. So what's up in your neck of the woods-?"
A couple thousand miles in not-as-freezing-as-Canada-yet-still-cold Texas, a red-headed woman was doing a happy shuffling dance as she tried to multitask talking on the phone to her best friend and adjusting the newest member to her Transformers collection family. "Oh you know- the regular boring same old stuff. How's Canada?"
"Cold. It's like eight degrees out here right now if not colder. Brr I can't feel my hands through my gloves if that tells you anything," a rather annoyed brunette grumbled on the other end.
"… 'Eight degrees'? Is that Celsius or…?" If her friend thought that was 'cold', she was seriously living in the wrong country. And she was about to declare it too when she was promptly cut off.
"What?" Tristan confusingly asked before she emitted a quiet snort. "Ugh no. Fahrenheit I mean. I don't know what it is otherwise- just because I live in Canada, doesn't mean jack squat dammit." There was a pause before a muttered 'what the hell-?' was heard. Probably walked in on something that was making her scrunch up her nose in either disapproval or disgust.
"Cat" otherwise known as Catherine couldn't help a quiet chuckle. "I think you should get your priorities in check then," she mused, plopping on her bed and barely resisting the urge to bounce excitedly again. She had been dying to get that toy for years now, and now her friend's lateness for getting her a Christmas gift was forgotten.
"Seriously thank you Trish he's so freaking awesome," she giggled in happiness.
A crackling garble was her only response which was then followed by unnerving silence that seemed to go on and on.
She frowned as she pulled the phone away to see if she had perhaps dropped the signal at some point. Nope it said it was still connected so that couldn't be it. The redhead was slightly suspicious it was yet another prank thought up by her former roommate to fuck with her. Probably trying not to giggle on the other end.
She gave it only a couple minutes for her to get the laughs out, before she finally asked, "Trish are you there? Stop playing around. Trish? Tristan…?"
It was only the low moan of the wind that answered her… If only Cat knew the only signs of her friend were two footprints and a phone slowly being buried by the ever oncoming snow.