PRINCELESS by Cam Jace Storykiller
Copyright©by Cameron Jace 2019
The countdown’s voice was a woman’s. Was the elevator going to explode?
It sounded like a speaker. A phone. Some…
Venus frantically searched Wan Tzu’s body, looking for his phone. Did he carry a self destruct device with him.
Three seconds and counting…
Should she stop the elevator and just leave? But she wouldn’t abort her mission. What the heck was this.
Two seconds and counting…
Tzu had no phone on him. How was that possible? Where did the sound come from?
One second and…
It was Venus’ own phone. She realize it vibrated in her bag. She banged the bag open and rummaged through it, looking for it at the bottom. She’d rarely used it. No one ever called her but the Pillar, and he preferred messages. Besides, that’s not her ringtone.
The counting stopped.
Phone in hand, she was on the tenth floor now, Venus waited for an explosion that never came.
Instead, this happened…
Seven seconds and counting…
Six seconds and counting…
It was her phone. A ringtone?
Who’d put that in?
She stared at the phone, expecting it to be one of the Pillar’s rather nasty jokes.
But it wasn’t.
It was the one other person who she had in her contact list.
She picked up.
“Did I call at a bad time?” His voice, for some reason, brought her breathing to normal.
“Kinda…” she didn’t know what to say.
“I hope the ringtone didn’t scare you.”
“What?” her eyes fluttered uncontrollably. “That was you?”
“It was a bad idea. I just wanted you to pick up,” Pierre stuttered. “You never asked for my number and said you would call me, so I punched it in and saw you only have your uncle’s number, which meant that it’s probably a pre-paid, and I feared I’d never see you again — I mean you wouldn’t pick up — Ah, I’m so stupid…”
“Pierre,” she cut him off. “I’m working. I’ll call you later…” She was about to hang up. The elevator was on the fifth floor.
“Wait,” he insisted.
Venus began to realize Pierre was a bad idea. As much as she liked him, she wasn’t ready for this.
But then she couldn’t hang up when he said, “Happy birthday, Venus.”
“What did you say?” A surge of numbness spread all over her body.
“You’re twenty one years old today,” Pierre said. “That’s why I called. I wanted to be the first.”
“And the only…” Venus’ mouth drooled on Wan Tzu’s dead head. The realization that no one had remembered her birthday, not even herself, brought tears to her eyes.
And Pierre wouldn’t stop, “I wondered if you would like to…”
“Yes, I do.”
“Really? Eh… huh. How about dinner?”
“I do, Pierre.”
“In Paris, tonight?”
“Tonight,” She said. The elevator chimed. Ground floor. “I have to go. See you then.”
When the elevator door slid open, Venus saw tens of people waiting to get in. None of them did. They were mostly Asians, and they couldn’t take their eyes off of Venus and Tzu.
Slowly their eyes shifted to her. A couple of women sympathized with her with a tilt of their head and a few Asian mumbles she could not understand.
Venus made out one word: Kūle.
The tears Pierre had brought to her cheeks. Ironically, and for all the wrong reasons, Venus had failed the organization’s test. Nothing cold and nonchalant about her now.
But wait, it wasn’t for the wrong reasons. It was for the very right one. Fuck the organization.
Venus wanted to just get done with the job, so she continued crying, pointing at Tzu, “He was a good man,” she explains to her audience. “Heart attack,” she sniffed and brushed out of the elevator all the way across to the bodyguard, leaving the building. Her last words in from the inquirer, “Damn it, Victoria. Why does everyone you have sex with just have a heart attack!”