Mia stares at the blank wall of her room. She had never been able to bring herself to do anything with it, not even paint it. Besides, this place wasn’t permanent anyway. Nothing ever is for her. She had lost another today, and, as always, she was permitted a day to mourn before she had to return to her training and duties.
Mia glances around her room. She is sitting on the bed that is pushed into the far corner of the room. The bed as a simple wood frame, and there is a small wood desk attached to it that Mia uses as a nightstand. The nightstand has one drawer that has a couple books in it. On top of the nightstand is a frame with a picture of Mia’s brother with their dog. The only other thing on the nightstand is a small lamp.
In the middle of the back wall is a rectangular window that has a plain, white curtain covering it. On the other side of the window is a small desk with a couple of drawers. The desk has a brown wooden top, and the feet and drawers are white. In the drawer there is a sketch pad, and some pencils, both colored and regular. The Corporation advises that all members have a way to express their feelings, since their lives are so different. When Mia had first been told she had automatically chosen drawing.
The only other thing in the room is a row of cubbies. The first cubby has Mia’s old leather travel backpack. The second has Mia’s duffel bag, full of her jeans and t-shirts and books. The third and final cubby has a bag full of knives, Mia’s specialized weapon. One knife is missing from its usual place in the loop of sheaths. It is the knife she had lent to Olivia that morning, when they had left for the assignment. Olivia had died with it in her hand, and Mia refused to take it back. In fact, she told them to bury it with her. Olivia was the first trainee she had ever lost.
After that, Mia told the head of directors, Logan, that she wanted to remain on Assignment 13359, and to catch Olivia’s killer, who happened to be the one they had been hunting in the first place. Logan agreed but reminded her of the Corporation’s strict rules on how revenage was strictly prohibited. She said she knew, that she had been there since she was five. Nine years. She has trained and fought and lost and loved for nine years. She knew what she was doing. He simply told her to remember her place, and then that she had a day to mourn Olivia, because, he claimed, even the best need time to themselves. Then he said to her that she would be getting a new trainee. One with more experience than she had trained in a long time. “And her name?” Mia had asked, upset. “Not her,” Logan had replied. “Him. His name is Liam. He specializes with an axe. Just one. He is incredible to watch. You know what?” Logan had asked, when she didn’t answer, he said, “here’s his file.” He then handed her a light brown folder and walked away.
Liam’s file now sat on the top of her row of cubbies against her left wall. She sat, staring at it, like a lion staring at its prey before it pounces. Suddenly, Mia sprung off her bed. She grabbed her sweatshirt and gracefully swept out of the room, knocking the file to the floor as she left.
Mia opened the door to her small room and practically fell into the hallway. Of course, with her unlimited grace, it was a lovely fall. She peered around the well-lit hallway. She had been at this Station, Station 31628, for about two years now, and this morning was the first time she had actually gone on an assignment with her trainee, Olivia.
Suddenly Mia felt a presence, and she turned to see Olivia standing right in front of her.
“You need to be stronger than this, Mia,” she said. Her icy blue eyes seemed different, almost the opposite of the person they had been hunting. Olivia threw a strand of fluffy red hair over her shoulder. “You have to catch him. Mal, I mean. When I died, they gave me a choice. I chose to come back and to help you, but I can’t do much. There is a girl. Her name is Amelia. She is knowledgeable about Mal. Tonight she will be at the park. The one up North of here on Tree Water Drive; I think it’s called Misty Forest North Park,” Olivia’s eyes bore into me, and it was just then that I realized what she was wearing.
She was wearing a white gown. It was gorgeous. It was sleeveless with only one strap, and the neck line was cut like down a “V”. She also wore the gold locket that her mother had given her. It had a pattern of a bow and an arrow. The white ribbon around her stomach had patterns made of lace, and Mia realized that the images were also of a bow and some arrows. Those had been Olivia’s chosen weapon of specialty. The embroidered hem brushed the floor, and just under it you could see her shoes. They were the same color as the dress, almost like slippers. They looked soft and velvety, and Mia almost wanted to reach out and touch them, to see if they were actually real. They probably weren’t. This was most likely a hallucination.
“Mia, are you all right,” Olivia’s sweet voice brought Mia out of her thoughts. Olivia had been a year younger than Mia, but now she looked like she had a million years of knowledge in her. “You heard me right? What I told you? About Amelia, you remember right?” She said and Mia noticed that her voice was becoming more frantic and anxious.
“It doesn’t matter,” Mia says, trying hard not to look at Olivia. “You’re a hallucination,” she repeated. “Get out of my head. No one mourns like this. I’m going insane,” Mia kept telling her, trying to convince herself of it, too.
“If you want to believe that, then give up, Mia,” Olivia said, all anxiety had drained out of her voice, and now Mia realized that she was challenging her. “Go to Misty Forest North Park. If Amelia isn’t there, then you know I’m not real, but if she is…,” Olivia’s voice trailed off.
“Fine, I’ll do it, but-’’ Mia heard a sound behind her, and she quickly turned to see who was there.
“What are you doing?” said a short woman in a sparkly pink cocktail dress. She must have just gotten back from the evening banquet, Mia thought, which meant she needed to be getting to the park.
“I was just-,” Mia turned around, but Olivia was gone, vanished into thin air. “Never mind,” Mia growled, stomping past the women, who gave her a judgmental look. Mia walked down the hallway, on her way to grab an apple or something on her way to the park. When she reached the Station’s cafeteria, a man walked up to her.
He wasn’t too tall, but he wasn’t too short either. He was kind of cute, and his hair dangled over his eyes. Sweet hazel eyes under a shadow of dark brown hair. “Hi,” he said a little awkwardly. His voice was deep, but it had a understanding tone to it.
“Hi, can I help you?” she asks, peering up a him. He reaches up and pushes his hair out of his eyes. He smiles down at her.
“Yes, well, yes, I suppose you can. My name is Liam; I’m your new trainee. Logan said he told you all about me, which is a little weird. I came to find you because I wanted to show you what my former trainer taught me. Is….. that ok?”
“Yes, that’s fine, but, um, you see this is still my mourning period, and I was about to go out to the park on Tree Water Drive. Maybe we can talk tomorrow,” Mia said, hoping that Liam would drop it. Unfortunately, he didn’t.
“I’ll come with you,” he said as he picked up a pear and a foam cup of mac’ n’ cheese. “I can eat this for dinner. Let’s go.”
“Fine,” Mia grumbled, stalking past him. He followed, jogging to walk beside her. “Do you mind, or do just have no sense of personal space,” she said, shoving open the cafeteria door. Liam simply raised an eyebrow in response.
When the pair reached the exit to the Station, Mia turned for the first time and realized that Liam was still following her. Slightly annoyed, she continued out the door, after handing the Station Guard her identification. Liam did the same and followed quickly after her. She walked the small path up to the sidewalk.
The road was silent that night, and it made everything a little eerie. The fact that Mia was following a lead given to her by her deceased trainee wasn’t helping. The shadows seemed particularly dark tonight, almost as if they were preparing to leap out at her. Every street lamp they passed seemed to be out. Now Mia was quite happy for Liam’s pushiness to come. She began to shiver a little through her sweatshirt; the cold November breeze sneaking its way in through cold, harsh, and unforgiving.
Suddenly, Mia felt a particularly cold breeze, the coldest she had felt yet, when a dark shape passed in front of her. Mia stopped abruptly, surprised, and Liam bumped into her. Somehow, he managed to keep his balance, catching her just as her knees connected with the hard pavement. She stood up, embarrassed, and knees aching. She pushed away the pain as she stood up to see what had startled her in the first place. She squinted into the shadows of the alley but saw nothing.
“Maybe it was just a rat,” Liam said softly. Mia shook her head. It had been far too big to be a rat.
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to startle you,” a soft voice in the shadows, light and familiar.
“Stay back,” Liam said, a tone of warning in his voice. He stepped forward and Mia stuck her arm out in front of him. He looked at her, surprise clear in his hazel eyes.
“Come on out Olivia,” Mia says, praying that her guess was correct. A few seconds passed before Olivia stepped out of the shadows. She looked the same, except now her dress was in tatters, torn all over, and her quiver had only a few arrows remaining.
“They’re fighting me,” she said. “I can only give you information. A women, Amelia, has agreed to take you all to the maroon-eyed man. I was surprised,” Olivia spoke in a tone that showed no emotion. “She said that she wanted nothing in return. Then she explained,” Olivia paused just long enough to make it awkward. Mia was about to say something when Olivia began speaking again. “Mal killed her brother, that she had only found out she had, a month before he died. Then, as she watched him die, she realized that she had a sister, too. It surprised me at first, but now I understand. It’s you, Mia. You are Amelia’s sister,” Olivia said, pity visible in her ghostly expression. “That is why she will help. It also explained why you were so keen on wanting to kill him. As it turns out, Mal has killed many. He always leaves one family member alive, so they suffer before he kills them, too. In fact, that’s why Liam chose your case. Go ahead little brother, tell our trainer why you chose her.” Fire blazed behind Olivia’s eyes before she disappeared with a poof.
Mia turned to stare at Liam; her head swimming. The pain in her knees no longer existed. Neither did the dark alley or the fact that Liam’s family had been killed by the same person Mia’s had. The only thing that mattered was the fact that Mia had a sister.
“We both have our own motives. Those are our private business. The only thing that matters now,” she said, trying to keep her voice from cracking. “Is that Mal dies. Let’s go find Amelia.” With that having been said, Mia turned on her foot and began to jog. She didn’t need to look back to know that Liam was following her.
About a half hour later, they reached the North end of the park, and Mia somehow knew where to go. Maybe it was a sisterly calling, maybe not. She headed straight for the fountain in the middle of the park, and when they arrived, they saw a figure standing there, staring at the fountain.
When she turned, Mia could see that she was probably about 5’3’’ but her black heels gave her another couple of inches. She had thick black hair pulled up into an elaborate braided hairstyle and high cheekbones. She was as pale as the moon, and Mia wondered if she even came out during the day. She also wore a dark purple crop top, and tight black yoga pants.
“Sister,” she said to Mia. Her eyes were silver, and they bore deep into Mia. She did not address Liam at all, nor did she say anything else. She began to walk toward the woods and when she reached the very edge she spoke. Her voice was high pitched, but as icy as glass.
“Mal is at the center,” she waved her hand, and a small cobblestone path appeared through the woods. “Once you kill him, the ones he has killed in the last month will be brought back. Be careful sister,” and then she turned, leaving Liam and Mia behind with the eerie cobblestone path.
Liam walked ahead to the edge of the path, and Mia followed. Then he stopped and turned, handing Mia a small silver knife, with the carving of a bow and an arrow in it. “It was Olivia’s. She gave it to me a month before she died,” he said and then he turned and continued walking. Mia tucked the knife into her sleeve and followed.
When they entered the clearing, there was a man in a cloak, and he appeared shapeless. Liam went one way, leaving Mia to go the other.
Then, suddenly, Liam burst out of the woods in front of Mal.
“You killed my family, my friends. Now it is time for you to die.” He exclaimed.
He leaped forward but was flung into the air. He got up and went at Mal again. Mia realized that this was her chance. She sprung forward and sank the dagger into his heart, and Olivia appeared beside her.