I opened my eyes and groaned, rolling over on the beat up mattress I had. I tossed a tattered blanket off of me and sat up, running a hand through my tangled hair. I walked over to my cracked mirror andgrabbed my brush, ripping through the matted locks. When it was finally tangle free and silky, I threw on my clothes and left the rickety shack I called home.
I walked down the street, zoning out as my tennis shoes were drowned out by the constant clicking of heels. I threw my backpack on to the desk, taking out my notebook in preparation for a lecture.
The professor started speaking, so I scrabbled down notes in my notebook. The lecture was over fairly quickly, so I had excess time to review them.
Class was over and I smiled. "Just ten more days, and it'll be perfect..."I said. I pulled my laptop out of my bag and began typing, furiously pounding at the keys as paragraphs spilled on to the page. The world around me faded, and only the dying battery of my laptop snapped me back into it.
After saving the document to a USB and closing my laptop I headed home, getting ready to start it all over again tomorrow.
I was leaving my last class of the day when some random guy stopped me.
"Joan Connors?" He said, smiling.
"What?" I said blankly.
"Do you have plans tonight?"
"Cancel them. We're going out." He said, fixing his tie.
"Sorry. My plans are more important." I said, walking away from him.
I walked out of the main building and headed to my editors house when suddenly a large dog slammed in to me. I fell on the ground and my laptop bag strap broke. A loud crack sounded from it and I freaked out, diving for it and desperately trying to get my cracked laptop screen to light up.
The dog whimpered and my shoulders relaxed. I stretched behind his ear and said, "It's alright. I can probably find a cheap one online. It's not like I don't have my stuff backed up."
"Cerby! What did you do?" A blonde man asked, appearing out of nowhere.
The dog left my side and went to him, who looked at my totaled laptop.
"Did Cerby do that? I'm so sorry. Shiki, give it to her." He said, looking at a black haired man with glasses.
The man handed me a box, and upon opening it I found a brand new laptop.
"Is this the Prada X? How do you have this? It isn't available to the public until next month..." I said, examining it.
"I own Prada Inc. I feel bad about breaking your laptop, so you can have this one." The blonde man said.
"For free? I can't accept something so-"
Before I could protest, the men disappeared. I noticed a ton of black feathers on the ground, but thought it was due to the crows.
I hurried to my editor's house, and after uploading my files to my new laptop he proofread it and critiqued me. After about twenty minutes of discussing which route to take, I departed towards the Agni Plaza.
I had to skip lunch due to that talk with the owner of Prada Inc., but the party was completely worth it. The press had collected outside the venue, so all my fellow actors and camera crew had to escape the back way. I took it upon myself to distract them.
"Miss Connors! Miss Connors! Please, just a moment! How do you feel about your upcoming movie 'Iridescent'?" A silver haired reporter asked.
"Sorry, but I don't plan to reveal anything about it. You'll just have to wait two more days until it's in theaters."
"Miss Connors, the crew at ABC 7 would like to give you-" the same reported continued.
"Sorry. I don't accept anything from the press." I said. My car pulled up, and before the reporter could finish I was gone.
On the way home I stopped by my favorite cafe where the famous 'Charisma Chef' had recently started working. I didn't really care, I just wanted food.
I ordered my usual, my waitress Angela smiling as she always did.
Instead of her coming back, the chef himself came out. He said something about cake, when suddenly that guy from earlier came.
"So you decided to show up after all. Did you cancel your plans?" He asked.
"Don't be stupid. I still have plans after this." I said, glaring at him. "Angela! Tell them to cancel it. I'll leave your tip on the table." I said, ignoring the two men.
"What? You don't have to tip me for-"
I pulled a fifty out of my pocket and hugged her. "I'll see you in a few days. I'm going to disappear for awhile."
"What? But what about-"
"I'll be there. But if I don't show up here for awhile just stay calm. You can't stress yourself right now."
I walked out of the diner, heading home to what I expected. A note had been slid under my door, and its contents made me smile.
'In ten days, I will kill you.'
With the letter was an Ace of Diamonds.
"Heh. I'll be waiting." I said, folding up the note and putting it in my pocket along with the card.
I put a few extra things in my backpack and grabbed the new laptop charger, bundling it up and putting it in the bag. I walked to my best friend's house, inhabiting the spare room in her house.
"Ready?" She asked, appearing in the doorway.
I grabbed my katana and smiled.
We snuck in to the laboratory together, me carrying my laptop in a black backpack. We had to take back some files for a client, who recently had them stolen from his home.
We made it to the file room, and she kept a lookout while I hacked in to the security system.
"Hurry! In two minutes the cameras will turn back on!" She whispered from the door.
"I'm going as fast as I can!" I said, pounding away at my keyboard. The lock clicked, and I pulled open the cabinet. After locating the files I handed them to her and said to escape.
"Why are you staying behind?" She asked.
"I have to take care of some personal business." I replied.
She lips formed a tight line and she nodded.
Once she disappeared from sight I unsheathed my katana and headed to the main control room. I didn't care if the cameras saw me. I wanted them to.
The cameras clicked on and the alarms sounded, alerting security there was an intruder.
Footsteps rushed towards me, and I smiled as I gripped my katana tighter.
The floor was decorated with bodies and the walls were painted red, along with my clothes and face. I placed my stained katana back in its sheath and pulled out a USB, plugging it in to the main computer. It overrode the system with a virus, causing all recorded data to erase itself. I would set all the file rooms ablaze and escape.
I had just lit the last room when the giant dog from before showed up, grabbing me and dragging me outside and away from the building.
Just as we exited the whole building exploded, sending intense waves of heat out.
"What? Who messed up?"
Messed up? I planned to have the building explode, but not that quickly... Were there other people here?
My eyes grew wide and I started to panic. If anyone else was here, my plans would be ruined. Everything I worked so long for would crumble. I can't slip up now. Not when I'm only ten days away...
I pulled out my katana and scanned the area around me, searching for any signs of life.
"Hey, what are you doing hanging around here?" Someone asked.
I turned towards the person and saw the man that tried to ask me out before.
I lunged at him with my sword, but he sidestepped and said, "Now my plan's ruined thanks to you. You were supposed to be toast."
He's not the one who sent me the ten day letter... He wouldn't be here now. Is someone else targeting me too?
I lunged at him again, cutting open the sleeve of his suit but missing skin.
"Blown to smithereens. Burnt to a crisp... Toast." Someone else said.
There are two? This must be an organized thing. I should assume there's more.
"Do you understand, Joan Connors?"
This is that chef guy... He knows my name, so he was definitely hired.
I lunged at him this time, but he dodged me too.
How are these men evading me so easily!?
"Joan Connors..." Another person said.
That's the Prada Inc. guy...
"You died in an explosion of your own doing. Due to carelessness you set your timer wrong, and you blew up with the building. Well, that was the plan..."
There's no way I set the timer wrong... I checked it three times before I started it. Then that means... I knew it! Assassins!
I stood before the three men, my katana in my hand and no plan in my head. If the first two could evade me easily, I should assume the third one can too. I won't be able to fight them, and I'll most likely not be able to outrun them. But... I can't lose yet.
"You really are an idiot, aren't you?" A new person said.
He was with the Prada Inc. man... These people have scoped me out all day! I fell right in to a trap without noticing it!
"Don't you get it? Just hurry up and get this over with so I can go home and sleep."
For an assassin, he's not very committed...
"It's not just her that's an idiot, Shiki. It's the entire human population."
Does this one think he's not human or something? Oh, I see. They're all mad. They've probably murdered some high ranking individuals, so they think they're gods or something. It's hilarious.
I chuckled a little.
"What are you laughing at, human?"
"I find it amusing that assassins can become so full of themselves they think they're more than human."
"Get it through your thick skull, human. We're demons, and we're here to take your soul. Once we have your soul, we'll recycle it in to a new human. It's eco-friendly."
Now it sounds more like a cult...
I chuckled some more. "You're all completely mad... Instead of trying to argue with you, I'll just kill you all."
The man raised his hand, and in an instant the building stopped burning.
The documents! What if the documents survived!? Everything will be ruined.
"Are you an idiot!? If the documents survive, everything will-"
"Everything in that building is ash. Nothing survived."
I'm not sure if I can trust that... But even if they survived the ash and melted metal would make them unreadable. I think it would be wise to listen to these men...
"I was... Supposed to die?"
"You can't change destiny. We don't have the power to alter people's life spans."
"We made you happy today. Aren't you satisfied?" The Prada man asked.
"Let's get this over with. Stand still."
"No!" I yelled, jumping back. "I can't die yet... Not without finishing it... 10 days! 10 days is all I need, and then you can do whatever you want!"
They were quiet. They just stared at me.
This isn't working! I can't lose yet! I... I... I can't give up yet...
My katana fell from my hand on to the ground and my shoulders began to tremble. "Please... Just 10 days is all I need... I'll do whatever you want... Please..."
"Sorry." The first man said, grabbing my wrist before I could get my katana.
"Aw, come on. It couldn't hurt, right? Her time and cause of death have already changed. The angels are going to file a claim over this anyway." The reporter said.
"If we finish it now, no one will have to know about our mistake. I don't want to have to do this, but... Don't struggle. I'm going to take you to Heaven."
"Lita!" I screamed, thrashing against his grip.
"No dice. We set up a barrier so we won't be seen by other humans."
No! She'll hear me!
I ripped one hand away from him and grabbed a whistle, blowing as hard and loud as I could. She'll hear it... She'll come... She'll help me...
The chef patted me on the head like I was a child.
"Sorry. It's so sad to turn a pretty little thing like you in to toast."
Something shifted inside my chest and I smiled under my sad face. If I smile, they'll know something's wrong.
"You don't have to be so sad. The angels resurrect all the souls we collect in to new bodies. It's the circle of life." The chef continued.
He's smiling like I should be happy about it!
"That won't work..." I mumbled, still concealing my smile.
"Ugh, will you just shut up already? Whatever, you're toast."
"Yeah, were only getting more off schedule by the second." The Prada man added.
"But wasn't your dog the cause if this, Haruhito?" The reporter asked.
Oh yeah! Where is the dog...?
"He's right. It's that dumb dog's fault our plan got messed up."
I love you dog!
"Keep your voice down. The angels might hear us."
Angels? Lita always talk about them...
"So, you're saying I didn't die because you made a mistake?"
"Yeah. This has never happened before. That dog messed it all up at the end. Why are you aski-"
"LITA!" I screamed.
"What do you think you're-"
"Lita! I'm here! Alpha 47!" I screamed.
"Idiot! Humans can't hear you inside the barrier!"
My smile broke through my regular face. "She's coming..."
"Cut it out! I don't want this to take any longer than it already has."
Just then, Lita emerged from the bushes and looked around.
"Are you trying to threaten us?"
I bit his finger and his hand retracted from my mouth.
"I'll do whatever it takes to finish this." I replied.
"She's got guts. I'll give her that." Haruhito said.
"Even if we give you 10 days, that won't change that you're toast."
"That's all I need."
Lita made eye contact with me, but something seemed strange about it. Like she could hear me when I was reaching out to her and she knows I'm here, but she can't see me.
"Why don't we just give her the 10 days? She said she'd listen to is after that." The reporter said.
"We'd have to hide from Heaven that whole time, you know? There's no way we can hide a human for a whole 10 days." The chef said.
"But..." The reporter protested.
"...Fine. I'll give you the 10 days. Just don't yell for anyone again. I hate people. The last thing I want right now is a lecture from the angles. Plus..." He grabbed my jaw and forced me to face him. "A woman who makes a deal with a demon... For a human, you're pretty interesting.
I pulled back from him and said, "Dealing with you all was a walk in the park compared to 2008."
"Well, if Kakeru says it's okay then I won't say anything. This is your responsibility though." The chef said.
"I know. We can't just have you wandering around, though. You're supposed to be dead. One of us is going to have to keep an eye on you for these 10 days. We'll be watching you 24 hours a day."
"Of course, that includes showering and sleeping." The chef added.
"Lay off, Satoru." Kakeru snapped. "Anyway, enough joking around. Pick who you want to watch over you. Joan Connors... Who do you want to watch over you?"
I smiled. "Lita. 22 minor. See you tomorrow for plans."
"What the hell is going on? Where are you?" She asked.
"Just trust me. I'll explain tomorrow. Make sure to bring it."
"...Fine. Text me." She said. Then she left.
I looked back at the demons and asked, "Can I choose tomorrow? I need to secure my schedule. After that I'll choose whoever is most convenient."
"Whatever. Come on, we should get out of here before the angels come to investigate..." Kakeru said.