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The Ashen Horse

by Daryl Benson about a year ago in slasher
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The Backwaters

(Stock Internet Photo.)

The dead banker body was completely lifeless. Her blood slowly seeping into the ground. The grass appeared slightly dry, and it actually looked like it welcomed the steady flow of blood that was leaching around it. The woman watched a flower that the banker had somehow missed when she collapsed, appear to open it’s leaves and pedals as the blood oozed near it. Interesting. She didn’t know if she had ever taken the time to observe that before.

The banker’s eyes had glassed over, her hair a mess, tangled, and it still wasn’t dry from the morning shower. She had made it easy predictable. She always ran in the park every morning. And to make it more delicious she ran in the morning’s dawn, when the light still was deceptive. It flickered and wavered, hiding the world in shadow and mist. It was the perfect time of day, for killing.

But now, she lay slain. Her killer stood looking at her, a slight twinkle in her eye. She wasn’t sure anymore if she should get out of the line of work or continue. She was starting to enjoy it too much, that couldn’t be healthy, could it? She smiled slightly; it had been particularly easy this one. The poor woman didn’t really even see it. She just stepped up and swiped the dagger cleanly into her neck. She collapsed, where she lay, slowly pooling blood into the dusty ground.

The assassin stood, carefully posed, just watching the scene. She had on a lustrous red wig and wore a matching highlighted and accented red leather outfit. The outfit looked mythical which normally she might not have done, an outfit like this people might remember. But it seemed so fitting for the event. Not a lot of cameras out here, in a country park. The buttoned partial cloak finished the ensemble to perfection. Even if someone remembered the outfit, they’d never remember the face, for it was always cloaked and shadowed. The perfect mystery.

She sighed; the good times never did last. For all her flamboyance she had carefully executed this activity in a manner that hopefully didn’t trace back to ‘The Ashen Horse.’ She chuckled a bit as she thought about that. Stupid FBI chasing all the wrong leads, marvelous. Although the banker she had killed was certainly deserving of the wraith of ‘Ashen’, as the papers had taken to calling her, she still wanted to keep this one low key and off the FBI’s radar. She almost used a gun because of it, but still she couldn’t bring herself to do it without dire need, so a different short-bladed dagger once again had been an entirely efficient solution.

She hummed to herself a Christmas tune as she slowly and carefully exited the park, heading back to her hotel. The banker had made loans to some very unsavory characters, and those unsavory characters weren’t happy at the end of the day. Not as noble as her normal initiatives, but a girl still had to get paid. She also knew, however, after her own quick investigation that there was a lot more that Alicia Wetherson had done as a Lead CPA of Smith’s Bank. If she wasn’t directly skimming herself, she was helping quite a few others. And it was obvious how many direct cash clients she had; she was laundering money for quite a few other suspicious characters. She was probably laundering money for the very people who killed her.

She laughed out loud at that. I bet they didn’t even consider that they were killing their launder, she thought to herself. Probably didn’t even cross their minds. These criminals always made the most basic mistakes. And she always made the money off it.

She had fired up her rental car, a brand-new Charger with virtually no miles on it, and was crossing the main intersection when she heard her banking app ding on her phone. Payment received. It was a good job complete. The world rid of one more elitist snob that was swindling others, even if the others she was swindling were criminals themselves.

She was almost back to the hotel when she saw the small coffee shop. It had a drive-thru, it was a perfect opportunity. Nothing went better with murder than a White Chocolate Mocha. She sipped the holy beverage slowly, eyes closed, pulling in the full deliciousness. There was always a slow, glorious, moment, when that magical beverage first touched the soul. She circled around the drive-thru and was again driving towards the hotel.

She parked quietly, in the rear of the parking lot, making sure to be inconspicuous. Prior to going through the drive-thru she had removed part of her outfit and tucket it in her stately satchel. She now pulled over a very professional leather jacket, full length. She would walk in the front door looking like any other professional businesswoman. Her red wig changed out for a black one. Nothing to see her but a woman who ran out in the morning to grab herself a hot cup of coffee, now returning for a day of long meetings.

Of particular interest was the hotel hosting a series of talks on philanthropic missions in Sudan. Which of course was her reason for being in the city, naturally. Apparently, there was a major push in the area to revamp local communities and refocus government influence within the region. As it happened, she came into some money recently, about an hour ago actually, that she thought she could invest in the program. There were several key villages in Southern Sudan the talks were supposed to touch on, and the investment was targeted to rebuild the communities from the inside out. She was positive she would hear something about ‘give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish….’ She almost always heard that cliché.

After the meetings were complete, and she had signed a substantial check donating to the program, she found herself back up in her room. She had ordered delivery and was waiting on it to arrive when she flipped on the news. The local news was reporting a prominent banker had been found dead in the park. You don’t say? She casually listened to the reporter go on at length about the crime but noted that there was no mention of ‘The Ashen Horse.’ She smiled, at least the police hadn’t connected those dots, yet. Hopefully they wouldn’t at all.

She was turning in early tonight, the morning came early when you had to catch a 6am flight. That is what happened when she traveled to the middle of nowhere, 6am flights. All the small regional airports had to leave at ungodly hours to make it to the hubs for more civilized flights. And this backwoods city was definitely a 6am flight kind of place. Charming though, in its own way.

She almost wished she was flying home, but instead she was headed to Miami. She had been waiting for months for another truly big score and this was it. Of course, it also had some insane risks involved in it as well. A prominent drug dealer had pissed off other drug dealers and they wanted him taken out. A smooth million for the job. She had wondered to herself how badly you had to piss someone off for them to pay a million dollars to kill you. That level of outrage must really be something. But, a million dollars was a million dollars, she had accepted that contract immediately.

She considered that she probably had accepted it too soon. The devil was always in the details. It turns out the offer was as large as it was because the drug dealer lived in a fortified compound, with armed guards posted twenty-four seven. Taking him down, and living to tell the tale, was going to be quite the undertaking. Of course, she would never tell the tale, but that was beside the point. The coming out alive was very much part of her plan, though.

She had booked a long-term vacation rental in Miami, on the beach. She was planning to take a month probably to figure this one out. There was no rushing this type of thing. She needed to find out how to get in, get out, and not raise suspicion. She had started putting the plans together, but she had no idea how she was going to sneak in and out of a well-fortified compound. She was good, but she wasn’t suicidal, and she didn’t want to take any careless risks. She had stayed alive, and stayed out of prison by making careful, and calculated moves.

The pesky alarm went off at 3:30am. She almost put a blade right through it but thought better of it. It didn’t help that the alarm was her smartphone, something she didn’t entirely want to destroy. But, at 3:30am, she really did want to utterly destroy it.

At 5am she walked up and took a seat at the gate, coffee in hand. A quick shower out of the way, rental car gassed up and returned, checked in and security, coffee, and now patiently waiting for boarding. Perfect timing. She pulled out a book and started to read while she waited for the flight to board. The best time to get in quality reading was while sitting in airports, it was where she accomplished most of her reading. That might have something to do with the constant waiting that occurred. She was zoned out for the next forty minutes until the PA system announced boarding.

It was several airports and quite some time later when she finally landed in Miami. But she rinsed and repeated the usual scenario of grabbing her rental car and heading for her vacation rental.

Then she started to read, study, and evaluate. She had a million dollars to procure. And there was no way she wasn’t going to make good on this arrangement.

Image Credit: https://wallpaperaccess.com/assassin-girl

slasher

About the author

Daryl Benson

Just trying to write a little on the side to see if anything can come of it.

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