PRINCELESS by Cam Jace Storykiller
Copyright©by Cameron Jace 2019
Venus Wilde’s Diary Part 4
Monday, Kiev, Ukraine, 4:30 PM:
I was crouching behind a tree at the crest of a hill on the outer limits of a dense forest. My lush Ushanka hat in black fur made my head blend with the dark tree. I was pointing my rifle in the direction of highway M22 below. Ukraine was cold, sometimes even in the summer. Not snowing but still was freezing.
My gig was a man driving a special-edition of a Mercedes Kompressor. The funds came from a shady bank in Switzerland, which once funded Nazis who escaped World War II. The Mercedes man, though I didn’t bother with his real name, was a neo-Nazi with forged papers of being a Swiss.
He didn’t wear a tattoo with circles and a flute in the middle. I checked his recent photos.
One of the hardest kills was a moving target. A one-shot deal with unforgiving consequences if I missed.
I wasn’t going to miss, not like in Tel Aviv—though my inner organs shuddered to my waiting in the cold.
The Mercedes Man hadn’t arrived yet. I was left with remembering Pierre.
My days had been a haze of sleepless, drunken nights since he left. Compared to my life, his reactions struck me as childish. But not everyone found out his girlfriend owned a gun like he did. Had I told him I went bonkers on a feminist-high and wanted to kill him in his sleep, things may have been easier for him.
Pierre never called back. Neither did I. He prided himself after all he did for me. I couldn’t bring myself to tell the truth.
I ended up calling the one other name in my poor list of contacts. Carter Chrysalis Cocoon Pillar—wondering whether this was ever his real name.
We didn’t talk about Pierre. I needed answers about the Organization, but the Pillar always copped out, either busy or it was hookah time.
Last time I called, he had a gig in a church. Did he kill a priest, the praying people, or was he there for a confession, I didn’t want to know.
I didn’t want to know.
The Organization began to come across like a law I have been abiding by for years, only to start doubting it. My only chance was to ask the Pillar through my earpiece while waiting for the Mercedes Man.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” his voice crackled in my ears. “The tattoo you’re describing could be anything. I’ve never heard of it.”
“I don’t care if you’ve heard of it. I’m asking why two men I killed wore it.”
“I have a tattoo of holy smoke on the right cheek of my ass. If it proposed a connection to everyone who has the same one in the same position, I’d be drowning in a bloodbath of conspiracies.”
“If one lived in Singapore and another in Tel Aviv, I’d start considering conspiracies.”
“I don’t have a tattoo on my right cheek actually,” he munched on popcorn.
“Stop lying to me, Pillar.”
“Okay, you got me. Left cheek.”
“You’re munching, trying to camouflage your lies. I’ve figured out your ticks by now.”
“And I thought I was munching because I loved how the crunchy sounds irritate you through the earpiece.”
“Why is everything a joke to you?”
“How can you live without meaning?” I said, not sure my aim was on spot now.
“Let's be honest. It’s not the tattoo that concerns you, Venus.”
“You can read my mind now?”
“Better than you think. In fact, I’m assuming you’ve made contact with the target in Tel Aviv.”
“You weren’t supposed to.”
“I said I didn’t.”
“I think you talked to him, and of course he messed with your head.”
“I talked to Wan Tzu and Alan Drax before. No one messed with my head.”
“You have to understand that our targets will say and do anything they can to instill doubt in you,” the Pillar said. “To save their lives.”
“I thought people on their deathbeds had no choice but to utter the truth.”
“You watch too many movies,” the Pillar said. “Men on their deathbed don’t give a shit about you.”
“I don’t get it. Why would a dying man’s last words aim to mess with my mind?”
“Because of the bigger picture.”
“Boo fucking woo. The bigger picture that no one bothers to ever explain to me.”
“Patience, my friend.”
“I'm running out of patience. I want the truth.”
“You can't handle the truth,” he sighed. “You probably won't understand it, now now.”
“Then tell me the part I can handle or understand. Give me something to ease my doubts.”
The Pillar said nothing. He stopped munching.
“Why are we called The Princeless?”
“In respect to the first woman in history to stand up to a man who killed other women, but you know that already.”
“That man is the French baron Gilles de Rais, right?”
“Yes, the first documented serial killer — of women — in history,” the Pillar said. “Also known as Bluebeard in fairytales.”
“I read that fairytale, it didn't mention names or dates or such details.”
“That's why they are fairytales. You should have stuck to your mother's version.”
“Are you saying this book she read is real?”
“Closer to the truth.”
“The Organization's hit list is a fairytale book?” I scoffed.
“Like I said, fairytale book have no dates, names, or location of exact occurrence, so no. But you're close. It's an old hit list.”
“How old is old?”
“Five centuries or more.”
“People who lived five centuries ago are dead, Pillar,” I said, worried the Organization was a bunch of lunatics. “You're not hinting at them being immortals or some vampire shit, are you?”
“I smoke too much but I'm not living in a fantasy,” he said. “This is the real world. So real it's going to hurt and you will bleed for years.”
“You and your over-the-top metaphors,” I shook my head, realizing he hadn't told me anything yet. “So let me put it this way: We're a centuries-old organization of mostly women, killing people whom authorities could not convict under the law’s umbrella, and those people's crimes go back five centuries ago?”
“An understatement, but like I said, close enough to the truth.”
“So how do we get hired, or is this job passed on through families?”
“How about me?”
“You're a descendant of the finest women assassins in history.”
I sighed, wondering why I resisted this job lately when my mother and my great grandmothers supposedly excelled at it. “I have to admit that I don't like any of this, Pillar.”
“I have doubts. I don't think I can sustain this job without knowing more.”
“Doubts or alternatives?”
He hit the jackpot. I had to answer in all honesty, “Alternatives.”
“Or whoever grants the luxury of having a normal life.”
“What you’re really asking is whether you can handle killing for the rest of your life or not.”
“I couldn’t phrase it better.”
“That’s something you have to decide for yourself, Venus.”
I saw the target’s Mercedes arrive from afar…
That’s something you’re going to have to decide for yourself, Venus.
In a world where I didn’t choose my mother, name or profession, I was given a chance to decide for myself. I didn’t think it would be this hard.
“Target is coming,” the Pillar said.
“I know. I see him in his Mercedes,” my aim was ready. “Are you saying I can bail out whenever I want, Pillar?”
“Can you identify the target?”
“Yes. Man with a hat, white beard, expensive Swiss watch, wearing black gloves. The same I saw in the pictures.”
“I can still tell you more about his crimes if it will help you feel better.”
“I don’t need to. What I need is to know is if I can bail out whenever I want.”
The Pillar sighed. “You can.”
“And the Organization.”
“You’re the Organization’s daughter.”
“What does that mean?”
“They don’t hold grudges.”
“No assassin will come after me?”
“We don’t kill our daughters for leaving—only if they switch sides,” the Pillar laughed. “If that happens, they will send me.”
I smiled. In my heart I knew he would never hurt me.
“Eyes on target, Venus,” the Pillar said. “You should take the shot in ten seconds.”
“Mother, will she be okay with me leaving?”
“She will never be okay. Leaving or not. But she can’t do anything about it—seven seconds.”
“What will I have to do to leave?”
“Not take this shot—six.”
“Do I have to pay someone back?”
“Why are you nonchalant about it,” my aim was in check, I had the Mercedes Man in the grip of my trigger.
I shrugged, my hands not quite stable now. Not because of the conversation, but I saw something. Down there by the road. A school bus right behind my target’s Mercedes.
Children, ages seven to ten, boys and girls. They wore funny hats and danced to some music. A scene I only saw in movies, not in real life. Except I was never that child.
The bus driver decided to take the lane to the left, trying to pass the Mercedes. He soon was going to stand in the way between me and my target.
The Pillar didn’t say ‘one.’ I guess he was waiting.
I contemplated for a sliver of a second that felt like decades of burden.
Was I good enough to shoot my target before the bus?
I was damn sure I could.
But did I want to traumatize the children with the sound of the bullet, the sight of blood, the realization that this world of Marvel Superheroes and Disney Cartoons was a fucked up place in reality?
The Pillar said something I couldn’t hear. Did he say ‘shoot’?
I was blacking out to an old memory. The day I was born. I wasn’t going to do this to the children.
That’s when I heard the Pillar’s voice howling in my earpiece, “Aboooooort!”
I didn’t reply. The bus drove past the Mercedes in one piece.
The gig failed—or succeeded; it depended on how you looked at it. On which lives you cared saving, the one's the Mercedes Man is going to hurt now that he survived, or the children laughing in the bus.
“Good assessment, Venus,” I heard the Pillar say. “Didn’t you hear me say abort?”
I didn’t reply. The memory of my childhood had faded into oblivion.
No answer on my behalf.
I packed my gun.
I took off my Russian fur hat.
I dismantled the rifle and emptied my ammo in the snow.
This was the the moment I realized this wasn’t for me. I may have wasted years in a life chosen by my family, but if I lived at least one more day on my own terms, I was going to be the fairest of them all.
This diary was over, so was my so-called career.