H stood and studied herself in the full length mirror. She didn’t look like herself. She didn’t feel like herself either. She shrugged.
“I guess that’s the point,” she said to her reflection. Her glossy black hair was arranged on the top of her head in an effortlessly messy bun and six or seven layers of feminine war paint had been applied to her face to camouflage and accentuate her features. Her lips were painted red as blood.
H grabbed the pair of earrings that had come in the mysterious box with the dress and stabbed them through the holes in her ears. A matching necklace wrapped its way around her throat.
Something was missing.
H frowned and picked up her evening bag. It wasn’t big enough to hold a wallet, much less the .45 she carried with her everywhere these days. She slipped a jeweled stiletto blade inside and went to her dresser to search for her thigh holster.
The limo pulled to a gentle stop and H waited for someone to open the door for her and help her from the car. She didn’t want to be here, but a promise was a promise. She swore it in blood long ago, before she even properly knew what that meant. Now it was time to pay up.
H thought back to her much too recent youth, bouncing from foster home to foster home. She was a part of the seedy underground before she turned twelve. She delivered packages and did favors all in the hopes that she would be able to glean some information about who did it. The why didn’t matter as much as the who.
She was sure they had their reasons. They might have even been good reasons, but the way they carried it out was sloppy and inexcusable.
The door opened and H got out with as much grace as she could muster. She didn’t even wobble in her high heels on the uneven cobblestones. She smiled and thanked the handsome man who opened her door before she made her way into the museum.
This would have been a dream ten years ago. Eight-year-old H would have given anything to stay in the natural history museum after hours with the dinosaurs. Now she was here and it had only cost her everything.
Security scanned the QR code on her invitation but didn’t bother looking inside her bag. It was too small to hold anything dangerous. The metal detector beeped as she stepped through.
“I have some pins in my spine from a car accident.” It wasn’t a lie, only a half truth.
The security guard frowned but waved her through anyway. H smiled and went along, unhurried, into the party.
She had no idea what the soiree was for and didn’t care. The powers that be sent her the invite along with the dress and a single grainy photo. All she had to do was show up and avenge her family.
She took a turn about the cavernous room. She mingled and laughed demurely. H met a man that was already three sheets and began chatting with him about nothing. After a few minutes a woman old enough to be H’s dead mother joined them. She made a mildly offensive joke and H laughed politely.
“I’m Jennifer Humble,” she said extending her hand.
H introduced herself and asked the other woman if she was enjoying herself.
“Oh, yes,” Jennifer Humble gushed. “I always love to help out my fellow man!”
“And if you can do it without having to smell him, all the better.” H said.
The drunk man snorted and Jennifer Humble giggled.
“If you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the ladies’ lounge,” H said.
“I’ll join you.” Jennifer Humble too her arm and steered her from the room.
When the door to the ladies’ room shut, H casually flipped the deadbolt. Jennifer Humble didn’t notice. She was fixing her lipstick in the mirror.
H stepped up behind her silently and pulled the stiletto from her bag.
“Why do you have a knife in your bag?”
H smiled and administered two quick stabs into the woman’s back, between her ribs.
Jennifer Humble’s cry was muffled by the blood welling up in her mouth as she crumpled to the floor. Spreading red stained her yellow gown.
“Do you remember the Hansom family from Northeast Longview?” H asked crouching near the dying woman.
“Don’t answer. I’m sure you don’t . You’re the sort to not even be able to keep track of how many lives you’ve ruined.” H sighed and shook her head. “Let me remind you. About ten years ago, in the middle of the night, you broke into their home. You killed the sleeping baby in his crib and made your way to the master bedroom where you shot the sleeping parents. You thought you killed them all. You probably thought it was all too easy.
“But, you missed my attic bedroom. I’d spent months begging my parents to let me move into the attic, and, ultimately, it saved my life. A life I’ve spent hunting you down.”
H retrieved her gun from its holster and fitted the suppressor to it.
“Rot in hell,” she said as she pulled the trigger.