Sandy Liqfaux tripped over a pile of tapes, one of many lying on the floor of her tiny room. The distance between walls was too small for her to fall. She thought about organizing her archive, but every time she tried to impose some order on her library it ended up in things getting more difficult to find. There was also a fear that more structure would diminish the probability of serendipitous encounters, so crucial for her work.
Still, she felt clumsy and in dire need for more space. The small room had its advantages though. She looked at the ads tab, filtered the results and sent the offers. Looking for a new place was a distraction, she knew it. Something to occupy her mind while waiting for the Sender. She let the filters run and checked notifications hating herself for allowing herself an unnecessary distraction. She sat on a mat in the middle of the room and closed her eyes.
After a couple of deep breaths, she sensed the hemispheres of her brain synchronizing in slow oscillations. Way better. Assiduity and persistence allowed over the years to develop a perfect multichannel audiation that got her to the top 5% of her trade. She adjusted her hearing aid device. At that moment she heard knocking. It was Sender Kow this week.
He didn’t even bother to say anything and immediately reached into the fridge, where Sandy Left the container with this week’s obligatory tribute of blood and pieces of tape that she scrapped. Kow was a weird one. They were all weird, but Kow was untypical. It was surprising among Senders. They were usually painfully typical. Kow looked her in the eye and started to cry. She knew it’s probably an attempt to test her loyalty which was of the kind born of fear, easily bought and worthless.
Kow’s tears reminded her of dreams she had recently. The dreams were not visual. She heard the swooshing of nine swords cutting the air in a steady four against five rhythm, closer and closer in pitch black darkness. She remembered herself being crippled with indecision. The sounds reverberated in a way that gave her sense of space way smaller than would be needed for nine swords to make motion necessary for that kind of swooshing. That didn’t make any sense. She felt helpless and woke up with her face wet from tears. Now that ugly fuck Kow crying in her room.
She knew what she was supposed to do according to the Code of Conduct, but she reminded herself of the Crow and the Snitching Clause of the Code. She was doomed. There was no proper way to act. The Senders were not content with weekly blood donation anymore. They wanted an excuse to eradicate her.
She knew that this day would come. At any moment she expected a group of hitters enter the room and dispatch her quickly and quietly. The inevitability of her fate was evident like a succession of the seasons. What Kow and a group of hitters didn’t know was that she prepared for that moment and that it was one of the reasons she chose small, narrow digs.
Between visits from Senders, she built a set of movable hyperreflective surfaces projecting from the walls, ceiling, and floor. A neural command came through quickly simultaneously switching her hearing aid device to “cancel all sound” and the surfaces to offensive mode. All the tape machines blasted whatever she was working on blowing Kow’s brain out immediately and then the brains of all the hitmen. She waited a couple of seconds took a bag with bare necessities she prepared for that very occasion. She doubted she’ll make it to the airport, but she knew she wouldn’t go quietly into her grave. New beginnings, probably also a bitter end.