Stories from the Slush Pile: Fall Girl

This is technically my second Jade Leporidae story, though it was the first one where I named her, or even gave her an identity. The first is up on Pics and It Didn’t Happen, which means it is in desperate need of a re-write. Jade’s one of those characters that I have an entire arc written for, though I’d love to see it as a graphic novel. All I need to do is raise enough money to pay an artist or find one willing and able to do it for free. So, yeah, pay one. Though I should probably write the script first. — FY

Fall Girl

“I’m sorry, Ms. Leporidae, this is where you die.” The grizzled bald man pressed the barrel of the shotgun against her chest.

She gasped with pain. “Bite me!” She made sure her angry voice quavered with just the right amount of fear before rearing back to launch a large glob of spit towards him. The spittle landed in the middle of his chest, sliding down his designer tie. She worked for weeks to perfect that move. Little touches make the job worthwhile.

The man snarled, slamming the gun in her face. She grunted as she slumped forward, blood drizzling to the cobblestones beneath her. That had been improvised.

“This is the thanks I get? I trusted you. I pull you off the streets, make you one of us, and you betray me?” Jade let her eyes wander blearily to the semi-circle of toughs standing a few yards behind her assailant. Their faces displayed a wide range of emotions from boredom, to anger, to indifference, to disgust. None of that interested her any more than the bald man’s rant. But one, one of the faces displayed little except poorly concealed relief. That was interesting.

“How much did Vinny pay you?” She blinked at him, still jarred from the blow to the head, her only response a stony stare.

“Answer me!” Her interrogator, now red in the face, swung the gun at her again. She shifted to avoid the worst of the blow, catching the stock on her shoulder. She’d have to have words with Murphy about this guy’s contract. “How much was your honor worth?”

The relieved onlooker’s expression now betrayed pangs of guilt. Bingo.

“You wanna know?” She stretched towards the bald man, defiance written across her face. “Come down here and I’ll tell you.”

The man leaned in close. She dropped to her voice to a whisper. “It’s Joey.”

Baldy blinked in shock.

Jade shrugged almost imperceptibly. “Verify it however you want, but I guarantee he’s your rat.”

His expression, visible only to her, was one of resigned gratitude.

“Don’t mention it. To anyone. Ever. Oh, and one more thing…” Jade lowered her voice further, forcing the man to lean in to hear her, so close her lips touched his ear. “Leave my face alone or there will be consequences.” She twisted her head, her teeth latching onto his cheek. He instinctively pushed away but she took a chunk of flesh with her. He screamed in pain and rage as he circled behind her, fully back into character.

“I was going to go easy on you, you know. Make it quick.” He pressed the barrel of the gun to the base of her skull. “But now? Now I’m going to let you bleed out in the garbage like the trash you are.”

He lowered the gun between her shoulder blades, took a step back, and fired with no hesitation. She felt the blast tear through her, tiny metal beads lodging in her flesh. Jade couldn’t do anything besides gasp and gurgle as she slumped forward, pushing back the impending darkness through sheer force of will. The bald man turned and walked away, his crew falling in behind him. Joey glanced back in horrified relief as he took up the rear.

The five minutes after they left the alley were agonizing. Jade lay in a heap where she fell, keeping a stupefied look on her face just in case any of the crew came back for anything. She passed the time by counting the clinks of buckshot hitting the ground beneath her. Roughly three hundred chunks of steel later, a town car with tinted windows pulled in next to her. The driver gently pulled her into the back seat and closed the door. Safely out of sight of the street, she sat up and relaxed.

“Jesus, Jade, that guy really worked you over.”

“I’m fine. You know I’m fine.”

“But still. Who uses a shotgun for an execution? I mean, that’s just rude. You’re going to need a new shirt.”

“It was about time, there’s only so much patching a shirt can handle before you need to replace it.” She ran her hand between her shoulder blades, over the ragged edge of cloth circling her bloodstained but otherwise undamaged skin. “It’s been a long night, Murph, take me home.”

“Yes ma’am.” He shifted the car into gear and she drifted off to sleep before they even turned onto the highway.

Several hours later, a hissing crackle woke her up. She blinked, mildly surprised to find herself in her own bed.

“Jade, wake up.” Murphy’s voice echoed over the intercom above her bunk. “You’ve got to make the flight for your next job.”

Jade Leporidae stretched sleepily, cracking her neck as she pushed herself to her feet. “Whazzit this time?”

“Another mob boss. Vegas this time. It’s your standard mole hunt, two weeks deep cover culminating in your execution.”

“Same old, same old.” She groaned as she pulled on a fresh shirt. “They better not try to bury me in the desert.”

“Yes ma’am. I’ll make sure of that.” Murphy entered the room and handed her a plane ticket. “You board in three hours.”

Jade tucked the ticket away absentmindedly, lost in thought. She sometimes felt like she should do more with this thing, this gift. She would, someday, but for now this paid the bills.

“Let’s knock ‘em dead.”

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