October 7th, 2017 AD
The screaming finally stopped. The man was dead.
Fayme knew this, but she held the arc a few seconds longer, basking in the actinic brilliance of
the lightning arching between her outstretched hands and through the dead man’s skull, filling his
empty eye sockets with light and washing out everything else in the room.
When she released the flow of electricity, the corpse slumped into the deep leather arm chair he
had been thrashing in moments earlier. Smoke poured from the eyes and ears and the scent of
burnt meat, hair and feces quickly filled the room.
Fayme breathed it in, relishing a smell that usually made her just a little sick.
“Brule en enfer, piece de Russe merde!”
She spat on the body.
A sizzle of fat ran from one ear.
At last her pulsing rage receded. Nikolai Boricov was dead. Adele was avenged.
Fayme almost collapsed as her strength drained away. She caught herself on the dead man’s
desk, palm flat, then yanked her hand away as if she’d been burned by the smooth wood. She
picked up the pink scarf she had dropped earlier while stripping and used it to polish the place
she had touched. Then she found her red silk opera gloves and pulled them back on.
No fingerprints. Never any fingerprints. There was no hiding that Eclair had killed Nikolai.
After all, there were only so many electrokinetics who could burn a hole through someone’s head
and most of them were men.
However, Eclair had no fingerprints on file, while Fayme Verreaux did. Fayme preferred to keep
her minor juvenile record separate from the thoroughly capital one associated with Eclair. She
still had a life to live, after all. Assuming she made it out of the manse.
It had been stupid to plan getting in but not getting out. Insane. However, she hadn’t been sane
after losing Adele. Revenge had been the only thing she wanted. Here on the other side life
looked a little different. Getting out alive had value again.
She took stock of her surroundings, surprised that no guards had come yet. Of course, judging
from the large collection of black leather straps and polished torture devices hanging from one
wall they were probably used to screaming coming from Nikolai’s private office.
They probably had heard her sister screaming that night five weeks ago.
Nikolai’s screaming would have sounded little different. After all, she had made sure to draw out
his finest falsetto.
Fayme pointedly ignored the wall filled with Nikolai’s toys and looked around the rest of the
room. She was surprised to find a large collection of paintings, most from the Italian
renaissance. She had missed it before when she first came in, too absorbed by revenge.
Fayme walked up to a print of Raphael’s Saint Michel terrassant le demon. Saint Michael
slaying the devil. She remembered seeing the original when she was thirteen. Her mother had
taken her and Adele to the Louvre on a Saturday to show them the paintings. She had taken from
ten in the morning until the museum closed. It had been wonderful. She leaned closer,
examining the brush strokes.
No. It couldn’t be. She extended her sensory field, feeling through the paint, sensing the
radiation from isotopes.
This was the original. It had to have been one of the paintings stolen during the Paris riots in
2013. She checked the painting next to it. Caliari’s Wedding feast at Cana. Also the original.
To think that all these beautiful priceless pieces had been wasted on that beast day after day.
Then she thought of her sister being raped to death while the paintings she had loved as a child
looked on and her anger built back toward the storm it had been when she came in. For a
moment she wished she hadn’t killed Nikolai so quickly. Electricity began to crackle over her
fists, leaving char spots on her gloves.
Then she looked again at the archangel Michael standing triumphant over the bestial devil, spear
in hand, and laughed. She went to the armchair, dragged the corpse from it and cast it face down
under the triumphant painting. She liked the symbolism.
Turning her back on the body she extended her sensory field throughout the room, feeling for
metal through artwork, paneling and flooring. She searched around the whole room without
moving from where she stood and quickly found a safe in the north wall behind another Raphael,
an active data line running through the floor up to a hidden terminal in the desk and something
that had to be an equipment locker or a safe room behind the leather restraints on the south wall.
She went to the terminal first. As she uncovered it she caught sight of her reflection in the shiny
black surface of the dormant touch screen. Her long hair, currently dyed red to please the dead
man, was all awry from when he had grabbed her. She combed it straight again with her fingers
and tied most of it into a tight bun at the back of her head. Her green contacts were still in the
right place. Her mascara was a little smudged on one side. No fixing that until she had more
time. Fortunately, the latex pieces she had worn to accentuate her cheekbones and change her
chin shape were also still in place. Even if someone got a good look they would have a very
hard time recognizing her later.
Fayme woke the terminal and found it locked by a thumbprint scanner. That was easily fixed. A
little work on Nikolai’s body with a superhot arc of electricity and she came back with his
Once she was into the computer she went straight for the security records. Nikolai had
administrator privileges for the records of all the cameras on his mansion. She found the ones
for that night and set a 32-pass security eraser to work on them. There would be no pictures of
her for anyone to find.
After that she set up a transfer to a backup site online and began uploading the contents of
Nikolai’s computers. Everything, personal files and security records first. If she did get into
trouble she could probably find something there to use as a bargaining chip, whether with the
police or the mafia.
After that she set up a voice-only call with a hacker who owed her a favor.
“Arnaud, you have contacts in the Paris police, yes?”
“Eclair? Of course.”
“Good. I need you to send them a picture for me. And tell them that if they are very quick, they
might just be able to search Nikolai Boricov’s computer and private office before his men can
destroy any of the delicious things lying around in here.”
“You are doing a very dangerous thing, my dear.”
“I’ve already done the very dangerous thing. Now I just need to escape. Will you do this for
“Of course. I’ll have the police on their way as soon as you send me the picture. I happen to
know a detective who is itching for a promotion.”
“Thank you, Arnaud. We really must have lunch sometime. You are a good man.”
“I look forward to it.”
She signed off and retrieved Nikolai’s smartphone from where he had left it in his jacket. It was
coded. She sighed and left it on the desk for the police. She would have to use her own.
After retrieving it from her shoulder bag next to the door she snapped a picture of the corpse
lying under the painting and sent it to one of the fake emails Arnaud kept for such things. He
would be waiting. That meant the police would be on their way in minutes. She would leave
when they arrived at the front gates.
Distraction arranged she went to the safe in the north wall, carefully removing the precious
painting covering it. Setting it out of harm’s way, she checked around the safe with her senses
but felt none of the electromagnetic telltales of an alarm. Some quick work with a loop of
electricity between right forefinger and middle finger allowed her to burn through the bolts
holding it closed. She had it open in under thirty seconds.
It was filled with documents. A small stack of bank bonds would make a good addition to her
personal savings. There also looked to be several small bars of metal. She recognized them.
Exotic elements. Dull-gold kartium and silver-white vivium. The three small marked containers
next to them would contain radioactive ludium, perfect-black spectrium and liquid-silver alium.
There was probably only an ounce of each, but even that was a small fortune.
Nikolai had been saving up for something, though it could just be his emergency retirement fund.
Everything small and valuable went in her bag. Then she shut the safe but left it uncovered.
On the other end of the room she found that the hidden metal room had been an equipment
locker. She found the switch that slid the wall out of her way and opened the door of the locker
the same way she had the safe.
Inside, an operator’s dream. All Nikolai’s most expensive toys. Some of the guns Fayme saw
had to cost more than a middle-class family made in a year. Several of them had barrels and
other parts made out of 1198 eternite steel so they could fire overcharged high-velocity rounds.
That made sense. Nikolai had possessed some superhuman strength. He could have used those.
She grabbed a field bag and started packing the custom guns away, along with some other small
items that looked useful.
In one corner she found that what she had first thought was a statue was actually a British
Gawain, one of their new powered armor suits. How Nikolai had gotten one… Fayme didn’t
want to leave it, but she had little choice. They had to be fitted and she didn’t have time. She did
take the power packs. They were small and worth almost as much as the rest of the armor.
Next to the armor she found a light railgun with ammo and more power packs. That she did
take. It barely fit in the bag, even broken down, but the amount of exotic elements in one of
those was absurd. She couldn’t bear to leave it.
When she laid eyes on the last item she truly smiled for the first time since stepping on the
manse property. A full US military tactical rig, complete with computerized tactical helmet and
ballistic armor. She was much lighter than Nikolai, but just as tall. This she could wear.
Minutes later she stepped out of the equipment room wearing black tactical armor with the straps
tightened all the way down and a blank-faced matte-black helmet. She had a large black field
bag slung over one shoulder. She had stuffed her shoulder bag into the field bag so she could
keep her hands free.
Before leaving she checked on the computer terminal to make sure it was finished downloading.
It was. She melted the hard drive. Then she went to the main door and ran enough electricity
through the deadbolt to fuse it. Finally she went to another door in the north wall. This one
would lead to Nikolai’s private quarters.
As she waited before the door she fished out her mother’s St. Nicholas medal from where it hung
around her neck on a long silver chain. The shiny gray pewter image showed the wear of many
years in an anxious hand. She kissed the medal and put it back under her new armor.
In the distance she heard sirens fire up. They had probably waited until they were already at the
gates to avoid warning the men in the house.
Fayme smiled again, put one hand over an open wall socket, and blew the wiring in the house.
She opened the door, searching the dark hall beyond in an instant with her sensory field. She
found no adults waiting, but almost missed the two small children standing right in front of her.
The oldest, a girl, barely came up to her waist. She shined a flashlight in Fayme’s face.
Autodampers in the helmet compensated, but it was still annoying.
“You are not papa,” the girl said in perfect French.
Fayme stared, trying to take in the situation. She knew Nikolai had been married. Her research
said he was separated, with two children, a daughter and a son. These had to be them. Camille
and Luc. Both born in France. Where was their mother? Why were the children here?
She couldn’t let them see their father.
Gently she pushed them both back a step so she could close the door. A zap from one hand
fused the doorknob and lit the hallway with a momentary flash. The children jumped at the light.
Fayme knelt in front of them and flipped up the faceplate on her helmet. What would she say?
She thought of St. Michael.
“No, I am not your papa. I am an angel. My name is Michelle.”
She concentrated and a white glow filled her left hand as she excited the electrons in the air for
an inch above her open palm. She could only pull that trick off at very close range, but that was
all she needed right here. The glow filled the hall with soft white light and the children stared at
her in wonder.
Then Camille met Fayme’s eyes.
“Where is my papa?”
Fayme sighed sadly.
“I am sorry, Camille. Your papa is no longer here. He did many very bad things and I was sent
to take him away.”
Camille continued to stare into Fayme’s eyes before letting out a small gasp. She grabbed her
brother and squeezed him until he squeaked.
“Shhhh,” Fayme said. “You must not cry now. Do you know where your mother is?”
“Good. Do you have her phone number?”
Camille nodded again.
“Very good. You are very smart, Camille. You must call your mother as soon as I am gone.
She will come and get you.”
“I want to see papa!” Luc cried.
Fayme glanced down at him. He looked so much like his father. Same sharp nose, wide brow,
brown hair. He couldn’t be more than seven, but Fayme could easily see that he would look just
like Nikolai when full grown. She wondered if he would be a beast like his father.
“You cannot. You must go with your sister. Your mother will come and get you.”
“I want to see papa now!”
Fayme narrowed her eyes.
“You would address an angel so? You are very much like your father, I see.”
Camille clapped a hand over Luc’s mouth.
“Please, do not kill him.”
Fayme exhaled. She hadn’t even been aware she was holding her breath. She wasn’t here to kill
a child. Even if he did look like a copy of his monstrous father.
“Teach him to be a good boy, Camille. See that Luc listens to his mother.”
“I will, miss.”
Fayme nodded. “Good. Now go back to your rooms. The police will be here soon and then you
can call your mother.”
Camille nodded and dragged her brother back down the hall into their room, shutting the door
Fayme sighed and got back up to her feet. The weight of the night hit her again. She had not
been expecting the children. She had seen the comprehension in Camille’s eyes. The girl knew
what lay beyond the door Fayme had guarded.
She had never thought of herself as the kind of person who would even consider killing a child,
but Luc had looked so much like his father. Nikolai. Her sister’s rapist. Her sister’s murderer.
He was dead now. She had to let him be dead.
Was that what she was becoming? A monster who would even murder children?
Fayme shook her head and headed down the hall. She heard yelling from other parts of the
house and knew she didn’t have much time.
Past the children’s room she found a window that looked out on the back yard of the manse. She
opened it, threw her field bag down onto a bush and dropped down after it.
A quick scan of the yard showed her an empty run to the hedge bordering the property and the
high fence behind it. She hurried across the grass, carrying the heavy bag effortlessly on her
back even though it weighed almost as much as she did.
When she was almost at the fence she felt a bullet crack through the air over her head. She
dropped, avoiding the second and third as the muzzle report from the first reached her. She
knew which direction the shots had come from and put a large topiary between herself and the
So close to escape, but she couldn’t leave with someone shooting at her.
Fayme extended her sensory field around and through the bush, searching for the shooter, but
found no one. They had to be some distance away if the sound of the shot had taken that long to
reach her. Clear on the other end of the property. Well outside her sensing range. Her best
option would be to blind them and make her escape now, rather than engage.
She dropped the bag, fishing through and pulling out several smoke grenades she had grabbed
from the locker. These were the hot kind that the military used to jam IR vision. She popped
two and threw them to either side of the bush. She threw two more in the other direction for
good measure, re-shouldered the bag and crawled to the fence under a thick blanket of black
smoke. No more shots came.
When she reached the fence she stood up.
A wide, long loop of lighting stretching out from both hands cut through the bush and the fence
in seconds. The flash normally would have given her away, but the smoke covered that. She did
it again a few feet to the left, then again on the bottom to finish it off. She heard steel bars fall
into the street on the other side.
Fayme pulled burning topiary out of her way and stepped out onto the street. A few quick bolts
from her hands took out the streetlights and she was once again cloaked in darkness. Behind her
she heard the yells of the police again as they covered the entire property.
Fayme jogged toward a dark alley. Once she was in it she felt fairly sure of her escape. It would
take several more days to complete things, but once she sold the haul she was carrying on her
back she would have more than enough money to make it out of the country.
It was a victory, but it felt hollow. Even though everything Fayme had ever known was here, she
would have to flee the country if she wanted to have a life. She had grown up in France. It was
where her mother had grown up, and her mother and father before her.
Yet, it also was where her mother had died a drug-addicted prostitute and where her sister had
been raped and murdered by a monster. It was where she had been beaten and raped by gangs
and used by the mafia to kill people and steal things.
Her heart still felt empty, but she decided a life elsewhere would have at least some benefits.
Perhaps in America. She had been working on a minor career as an actress. Perhaps there she
could do it full time.
It was decided then.
“Adieu mama. Adieu Adele. Priez pour moi en paradis.”
She truly wondered if anyone in the darkness heard her. It did not matter. She headed down
another alley, intent on the home of a buyer she knew, already determined that she would never
again return to her dingy apartment in the projects of Paris.
– – –
Charles Cameron Olson is a grad student currently working on his MAT Secondary English in
South Carolina. He writes science fiction and fantasy stories as a serious calling, participates in
the body of Christ as a way of life and reads fiction books at a voracious pace on his smart
phone. He hopes to someday shepherd groups of high school students through the crafting of the
English language and maybe teach them some more useful things along the way. If you’d like to
know about any other stories he writes, check out his blog at CCOlson.Wordpress.com.