- Age: 20s
- Species: Human
- Weapons: Precognition, and a really bad attitude
- Special Attack: A murder (of crows)
- Able to control birds
- Can see the moment & circumstances of anyone's death
- Self-destructive and depressive
- She's had a bad run, to put it lightly
- Though she can see people's deaths, she can't change them. Usually.
- Age: Unknown
- Species: Cyborg
- Weapons: Razor fingernails, a hell of an attitude
- Special Attack: Slice & dice
- Body mods (mirrored eye lenses, razor fingernails, etc)
- Takes no shit, takes no prisoners
- Fierce, driven, and tough
- Unfamiliar with the supernatural
- A little emotionally stunted
By Chuck Wendig
Miriam’s head rings like a struck bell. Everything’s gone slippery like a blood-slick floor. She looks down, blinking and thinks, maybe that’s because there’s a lot of blood on this floor. She blinks again and the realization hits her: hey, that’s my blood.
She looks up in time to see the woman’s fist incoming again. And again she fails to duck it. This chick is fast. She moves like a downed power wire, dancing and snapping like an electrified whip. Wham. Miriam’s head rocks back against the row of lockers behind her—her skull dents one as they rattle and bang.
And with that, she’s out. She slides down to the ground. Her heels clearing twin trails through her own blood. Above her, one of those old school clocks ticks off the seconds. Next to that, a banner for the high school football team: The Patriots.
The woman above her opens her fists. Her fingernails don’t look real. They gleam like razors. Those wicked claws did a number on her already—Miriam’s white t-shirt is slashed into vents like she tried to tango at an orgy of angry bobcats. The shirt is stained red, like everything else. As for the woman’s eyes—those ain’t right, either. Mirrored lenses slide and shudder, seeming to rise from the skin.
“I see you staring,” the woman says. “I don’t know how they work. The mirrorshade mods, I mean.”
“Oh.” Miriam winces, swallowing something that feels like a pill going down her throat but she’s pretty sure is one of her back teeth. “Okay. So. You’re Molly.”
The woman, Molly, nods.
Miriam gesticulates weakly toward Molly, her hand fluttering in the air like a struggling moth. “I can’t—I can’t vibe you. I don’t see how you die. That’s usually how I one-up people. I figure out, y’know—“ Here she snorts blood back into her nose, then into her throat, where she tries not to gag on it. “I see how people die, then I use that to my advantage. But you—I can’t read you. First I thought you were like me, like maybe you had a curse or a gift or whatever you want to call it. When I touch you, I just get static. Then I look at your…” She coughs. “Your mods, and I don’t think you’re human.”
“Cool. Me neither, I guess.”
“Why are we here, Miriam?”
Miriam looks around. “Oh, this old place? It’s my high school.”
“I know. But why? You’re just delaying the inevitable, running here.”
“Well.” Miriam’s nostrils flare. “I’ve been nostalgic recently. Thinking about the good old days which definitely feel old but were never really good. I went to this school and here is where everything went south for me. But I remember some good times. One thing I always liked: the school had big windows. Like the one behind you. Sometimes I’d stop in the hall, take a second, stare out at the trees or out over the baseball field. Not much nice to remember from this place and that time, but there’s that one thing. Staring out the windows.”
“You’re stalling. I’m here to kill you, and you’re stalling.”
Miriam laughs, baring her red teeth. “I’m not stalling. I’m explaining.”
There comes a moment when Molly isn’t sure what that means. She cocks her head the way a dog does when you try to confound it with algebra—Miriam almost imagines the woman’s eyes like computer screens, crunching lines of code but failing to make any program from it.
It’s okay, she’ll figure it out soon enough.
Miriam’s own eyes drift closed.
She finds it outside—a presence.
It doesn’t take much. A small urge. A nudge of command.
Molly’s ear twitches. She hears it—the stirring of sound beyond the glass to her six. A whuff, whuff, whuff. And then:
The window behind Molly shatters. A dark shape plunges through the rain of glass—wings tucked in at first, then spread wide to brake. Talons up and out. The assassin, to her credit, pivots fast on her heel, reaching for the pistol at her hip—
But the hawk is faster.
The red-tailed hawk is ubiquitous in these parts, nearly as common as any little brown bird. This one is female, which is to say, she’s much larger than her male counterparts: she’s nearly five pounds, with a wingspan approaching five feet. Though, really, it’s not her wings or her weight that matter. It is her claws. Each talon is an inch-and-a-half of hooked terror, and those hooks go right for the shiniest parts of Molly’s face:
She shrieks as the bird digs in, wings beating the stale air of the high school hallway. Molly dances this way and that, boots crunching on glass.
Then she slips. On all the blood, you see.
Her skull cracks hard against linoleum—Miriam lets her mind mingle with the hawk’s mind for just a moment, just enough to feel the meat squishing in between her taloned fingers. She pulls out of its mind, fighting off a wave of nausea.
“Mama bird here is nesting out there in the trees,” Miriam says, hauling herself to her unsteady feet. Molly continues to shriek as the red-tail now brings her beak into play: clack, clack, stab. “Didn’t take much to find her, bring her here. She’s just protecting what’s hers. And I’m protecting what’s mine. My life.”
Miriam gingerly skirts past the thrashing woman.
“See you, Molly. I feel like we could’ve been friends in another life.” Just for added irony, she extends her middle finger. Flipping her the bird in more than one way, it seems. Miriam likes irony. She also likes not dying.