Melissa Taylor walked purposefully down Washington’s 14th Street North West wearing business attire to blend in with early morning commuters. Once she was across the street from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, she stopped walking and pretended to type out a message on her phone. Her true purpose for stopping was to become more familiar with the public facing security of the facility.
Melissa planned to steal items from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for a foreign collector. She planned to go in through a back door either exploiting a weakness in their physical security or personnel or both. She also planned to pick up some things for herself along the way to help maintain her very high standard of living.
As Melissa observed the building, she noticed a person staring at her from across the street. The person wore plain casual clothing: sneakers, jeans, and a hoodie that concealed a face in shadow. Yesterday’s word of the day, caliginous, came to her mind. Her best guess from the overall look of the person’s body was that the person was a male.
In Melissa’s mind, her only option was to confront him. She had a natural tendency to want to dominate others. She put her phone down and glared at him. His response was to raise his right arm from his side to bring forward his gloved hand with the palm up.
Melissa interpreted his gesture as a challenge. She made her posture even more defiant and exaggerated so he could see it from across the wide street. She placed her left hand on her hip, positioned her head above her right shoulder, and with her right hand extended dared him with her own gesture to go to her and get her.
He immediately began to walk toward Melissa. Without looking in either direction, he stepped off of the sidewalk and into the street. Automobile tires screeched to avoid hitting him. A van stopped too late. It rammed him and sent him flying forward onto the asphalt. He hit it with a thud and his body rolled to a stop. Melissa watched the accident in astonishment.
The driver of the van checked on his passengers. Then, he opened his door and stepped out to check on the man. The man stood up and began walking toward Melissa.
“Are you OK, sir?” the driver called out to him. “Don’t try to walk, sir. You may fall.” The man ignored the driver of the van.
Melissa realized she was not being threatened by an ordinary man. She pulled herself out of her shock and walked briskly up the street. She looked for options to get away. There were not enough pedestrians out for her to disappear into a crowd. She could run, try to catch a passing cab, or lose him in the subway.
Melissa looked behind her. The man continued to follow. There was no cab in sight. Around a corner about fifty yards ahead of her was a subway entrance. She was far enough ahead of him that she could turn the corner and descend into the subway without him seeing her do it. He would need to guess whether she went down the street and into an alley, into a building, or into the subway.
Melissa walked faster. She turned the corner and then walked quickly down the escalator to the subway tunnel. She had a monthly pass, so she went through the gate quickly as she heard a train approaching the platform. She had to travel another 25 yards and go down another set of escalators to catch that train. She took off her heels and began to run. At the top of the escalator, she heard the train’s warning chime that the doors were about to close. She descended as fast as she could; but, as she reached the bottom step, the doors closed and it departed.
Melissa looked back. The man was walking down the escalator and would surely intercept her if she tried to leave the station. The other end of the platform was a dead end for subway passengers, but she thought she might find a way to escape through the maintenance corridors.
Melissa looked back again as she ran. The man extended his gloved hand with its palm up. He asked her to give it to him. She realized what he wanted. The only thing that would interest such a creature was the white jewel. She was not going to give it to him.
When Melissa looked forward again, she ran into a pole that displayed subway maps. She hit it so hard she bounced back and fell to the ground. When she looked up, he stood over her. She could not see his face. ‘Caliginous,’ she thought. That is what she decided to name him.
Caliginous extended his gloved hand, and Melissa slapped it away. A black blade shot out from his wrist. He stabbed her with it. She had been stabbed before and had adapted to it. She screamed both from the pain and as a battle cry. She kicked Caliginous’ feet out from under him. The blade exited her as he fell to the ground face down. She moved quickly onto him as he was in a vulnerable position. Then, she placed him in a chokehold.
Instead of Caliginous, Melissa was the one who began to choke. There was no air in the tunnel. She let him go as she gasped for air. While he got up, her body adapted to the lack of oxygen, and she functioned as a facultative anaerobe. He attacked her as she recovered, but she was able to fight back. She dodged his blade and struck him. Her body burned from the buildup of lactic acid, but she defended herself as he assaulted her.
Caliginous stepped back and out of Melissa’s reach. She watched him to anticipate his next move, but her head began to hurt. It felt just like the first time she had been stabbed, lost a lot of blood, and her brain began to die. She felt the desperation of it again trying to keep itself alive. The pain intensified as she felt like the fluids were being squeezed out of her head.
Melissa could not stand what she felt. She grabbed a chain around her neck and pulled it until it broke. It was the necklace she used to keep the white jewel close. She threw it to Caliginous’ feet.
The pain stopped. Melissa gasped as the air returning to the tunnel filled her lungs. She kneeled on the floor as Caliginous walked away. She looked at her hands and watched as they aged. Her eyesight became blurry. She felt her lower back spasm.
Melissa was intelligent. She always figured out a way to get what she wanted. That time, Caliginous had caught her by surprise. In the future, she would be prepared for him. In fact; she planned to hunt him, get her jewel back, and make him pay for the pain she had felt.
© 2017 EDUARDO SURÉ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED