Three Pawns

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Corporal Manuel Delacroix and I had been sitting in the cramped, unmarked staff car for more than twenty-five minutes. I would have gotten out of the car to stretch my legs, but it was raining cats and dogs. It had been pouring all day, and seemed like it would be pouring all night too. Unusual for Paris this time of year. The only sound was the rain bouncing off the hood of the car in the night. A million orbs of silver glittered on the windshield from the light cast by street-lamps. Occasionally, Corporal Delacroix would light up a new cigarette. An orange glow from his flame briefly illuminated his young face, and then was gone. Again, he was just a shadow beneath his helmet.

“She’s supposed to be here already,” complained Delacroix between puffs, without removing the cigarette from between his thin lips. “We’re going to be late getting her downtown to meet her contact if she does not hurry.” He was right; we were waiting for her at a railway station in the middle of nowhere. Once we picked her up, we would have at least an hour of driving ahead of us before we reached the rendezvous point with her contact. Delacroix again lapsed into silence as he quietly enjoyed his cigarette.

Our orders seemed unusually cloak-and-dagger. To start with, it was rare for the European Central Military Command to directly issue orders to French Special Forces, bypassing the normal chain-of-command. So we knew it came right from the top; it must have been important. Secondly, if an essential civilian needs protection, normally police units, and not military units, are called. Nevertheless, we had been ordered to guard one Madam Charlotte Cadieux. Given the unusual circumstances, Madam Cadieux was obviously a significant figure.

It looked like an easy mission though. Corporal Delacroix and I would drive Madam Cadieux to an apartment building downtown, and escort her to the roof. There she would meet a contact and obtain some information. Then we were to drop her off at Charles De Gaulle International Airport. The whole thing would take less than three hours, which was good because I preferred to be home before four ‘o’clock in the morning!

Both Manuel and I had been issued a photograph of Cadieux’s contact. The name given to us was “Jacque Laurent,” but neither of us believed this was his real name. It was fun to imagine all the elaborate scheming and intrigues that must come from a life of espionage. Because that’s what was going on: Manuel and I were guarding a spy.

“Here she comes,” said Manuel, cutting short our fanciful ideas about a real-life Mata Hari. The Corporal sounded as though he was surprised she actually had shown up. He tossed the remains of his 6th cigarette in thirty minutes out of a tiny crack he let in the window.

Madam Cadieux really could have passed for Mati Hari. I guess being gorgeous is a requirement for all female spies. We both saw her at once as she emerged from the warehouse that was adjacent to the virtually abandoned railway station where we had been instructed to pick her up. She elegantly pushed the door aside and strutted towards our vehicle under a large, black umbrella. The silver streetlights made her umbrella look like a convex oil slick suspended above her head by magic. Details became clearer as she approached. She had long legs, chestnut hair, glittering dark eyes, an elegant sweater and skirt, and spit-polished, knee-high boots that splashed in the puddles as she neared. A tiny handbag dangled from her shoulder. My comrade and I gawked at her beauty as she strode through the rain with all the arrogance of a person who secretly knows something important.

As if on cue, Delacroix and I simultaneously snapped out of the reverie in which her gorgeous appearance held both of us fast, and abruptly began fumbling with the power-lock buttons to unlock the car door for her. It would have been galling, especially for courteous Frenchmen like us, to leave a lady like that standing out in the cold rain!

Noise and cold, rainy wind from the storm outside suddenly filled the darkened automobile as Madame Cadieux opened the door and stepped in. As she did so, she gracefully closed her umbrella and gently shook some of the moisture out of her lustrous brown hair.

“Good evening, gentlemen. I’m sorry to have delayed the mission; I had to attend to several important last-minute details.” Her voice was enchanting, despite the formal, business-like tone she had assumed. “I trust that you are ready to proceed with the mission?”

“Yes, Madame. We have our orders,” I stammered. With a body like that, it was hard for me to keep my mind on the mission.

“Good. You may proceed to the objective, Sergeant,” affirmed Madame Cadieux curtly.


The windshield wipers beat a steady rhythm as we made our way to the center of the city. I drove. The carefree lights of Paris surrounded us, but were muted by our heavily tinted windows. We passed crowded clubs, expensive restaurants, beauty salons, tourist spots, and the like.

Madame Cadieux spoke little, only occasionally reminding me of an upcoming turn in her characteristically prim tone of voice. Otherwise, we traveled in silence.

I could see her in the rearview mirror when I glanced back at the traffic. I found myself looking into the mirror more and more often, the better to see her wonderful face. Poor Delacroix had to content himself with the sights of Paris flowing by his window. Little did he know that in the back seat sat the most beautiful sight France had to offer!

Sitting stiffly behind the Corporal, Madame Agent Cadieux focused her attention dead ahead: staring at the back of Delacroix’s helmet. At length, I gave up making excuses for myself to look in the rearview mirror. I simply began to watch Cadieux at every opportunity, glancing at her several times a minute. This was the first time I could remember when I really could not keep my eyes off of a woman. She struck me as a tad odd, though. She never once scratched her nose or stroked her hair, or shifted her weight to be more comfortable. Nothing like that; I never even saw her blink once! Several times during the trip however, she produced a bottle of milk from her handbag. She always sipped it daintily and, after a few swallows, returned it to her bag. I guess its true what the dairy-pushers say. Milk: It Does a Body Good. Amen. That was all. Heck, the warm air in the car was making me a little thirsty too, so I thought little of it.

Many times during the course of that hour, I thought to strike up a conversation with Cadieux. I needed something to relieve the tense air in the car. Besides, I wanted to learn more about the beautiful agent. But each time I was about to speak, I glanced up in the mirror to her face. And each time, her stern, serious face seemed too forbidding.


After parking the car on the street in front of the apartment building, Delacroix and I stepped out into the rain. I was encouraged to discover that the weather was beginning to subside appreciably and so inhaled a deep draught of fresh Paris air. Madame Cadieux remained in the car, and it took Delacroix a moment to realize that the snobbish agent expected him to open her door for her. Despite his annoyance, Delacroix indulged her with faux-graciousness. She didn’t thank him, but stepped onto the street without regarding him whatsoever.

I took the opportunity to scan the street in both directions, with a hand resting protectively on my sub-machine gun which I had slung around my shoulder and chest. There was no discernable activity of any sort, probably due more to the late hour than on account of the inclement weather. All that was visible were the rows of cars parked on either side of the poorly lit street, flanked by silent, darkened apartments. The only sound was the stiff wind, which hurled tiny needles of freezing precipitation in my face as I stood on the pock-marked road.

I turned away from the wind and instead looked upward at the apartment building looming above us as Madame Cadieux straightened her sweater and smoothed her skirt, collecting herself. Very few of the windows were lit. It was already past one’ o’clock in the morning, after all. But strangely, the sight made me fell inexplicably disquieted. The dark building was lent an especially grim countenance by the ominous storm clouds that silently surged above it and framed it in my vision. I tried to reassure myself by remembering that one normally feels uneasy or excited when about to execute important orders.

I locked our vehicle as Delacroix went ahead and to open the double-door into the apartment complex for Madame Agent Cadieux. As we passed each other on the sidewalk, Madame Cadieux gave me a haughty, self-important look; Cabanne just shrugged his shoulders.

There was no guard in the dingy entrance foyer, only mailboxes. I stepped out of the clean air outside and into the warm, dank atmosphere of poverty. The hall stank of cat urine. The light bulbs had almost all been stolen from their fixtures. Mold crept on the walls; shadows were deep. We went straight for the elevator without delay. My heart was starting to pump faster. I looked first at Delacroix and then at Cadieux as our small party awaited the slow elevator.

Corporal Delacroix was alert. His annoyance with the unfriendly Cadieux had vanished. He knew it was game time. His eyes darted to and fro as he tapped his fingers on his sub-machine gun. I caught his eye for a moment. He swallowed hard and looked away. It was his first mission, and it was understandable for him to be anxious. I had to set an example for him; I was a sergeant. Of course, I’d never been in command of a real mission like this before. I had to stay calm, for Delacroix’s sake, and for the sake of the mission. I guessed Delacroix was hurting for a cigarette about now. I thought about one too.

In contrast, Cadieux now looked complacent and arrogant in her own eminently self-satisfied way. She stood patiently awaiting the elevator. She looked calmer than I felt; that much was certainly true. She observed the descent of the elevator with measured composure. Her hands rested gently on her hips, and her stance was provocatively skewed slightly in my direction. I couldn’t help but chance a glance at her buttocks. I perceived her panties outlined underneath her skirt.

Even in a dangerous situation as this, no self-respecting soldier or Frenchman could fail to look with wonder and covetousness at Charlotte Cadieux. I admit that I was having trouble focusing on the mission at this juncture. She was gorgeous. I tried to picture myself meeting her at a Café or in a park. My eyes traced her silhouette from her dark hair, down her smooth forehead, past her dark eyes and around her aristocratic nose, her deeply rouged lips, her defined chin, and her slender neck, eventually settling my eyes upon her charmingly modest breast.

What I intended to make a quick glance at length became and all-out stare. What a perfect chest! So full, so robust and healthy. It took but a small amount of imagination to picture them revealed on a nude beach near Marseille or Nice on the Mediterranean. The way her tight sweater stretched here, and loosened there in order to accommodate her breast was tantalizing. I wondered if she preferred the city or the country? With equal ease, I could picture her behind the wheel of a speeding BMW or gallantly riding on horseback. This latter idea invoked a most agreeable image of her breasts bouncing with the rhythm of a powerful animal. And did she prefer wine or cognac? What had she studied in school? Everything about her invited the most absorbing speculation.

Dimly at first, I became aware that my impolite gaze had at length been noticed by the object of my sinful affections. Now, SHE was staring at ME. But her look was more of an angry glare. Already feeling myself turning red, I looked up to her face.

“Hello Sergeant. I believe we’ve met.” She paused, utterly humorless. “Shall I cite you for un-soldierly conduct in my mission report? Your only purpose it to tend to my safety, and I submit to you that this goal is best served if you stay alert instead of gawking at me like a schoolboy. I recommend that you concentrate on your duty.” I was blushing out of control. I’m such an idiot! Her words hung in the air. She awaited an apology for my rude stare. I floundered.

At once, the elevator arrived, graciously ending the uncomfortable moment. “Fail me not, Sergeant.” And with a final cold regard, Madame Agent Cadieux turned on her heel and stepped inside. Delacroix caught my eye and with a wry grin and shook his head at my embarrassment. I glared back at him. Upstart Corporal! We were about to proceed to the next, crucial level of our mission.


The elevator was smaller than average, and it was a major difficulty to cram Delacroix and I, each with our clunky helmets, heavy boots, radios, flashlights, goggles, grenades, body armor and sub-machine guns into the elevator by ourselves. On top of that, however, we also had to squeeze in the prissy, and now offended, Madame Cadieux. She scrupulously preferred not to touch either of us soldiers. With arrogant grace, she maneuvered herself into a position behind Delacroix and I. She’d be safer there.

The awkward activity reminded me of the nonsense joke about how many pancakes you can fit into a phone booth (hint: it depends on whether submarines can make right-turns at red lights on Sundays and the square root of a duck, in terms of pi). Thus I was able to throw off my worry. From a tactical standpoint, the mission could be placed in jeopardy since we were all so vulnerable in such a confined space. I tried to put my mind at ease by glancing at Delacroix, but he looked distinctly worried as well.

I admonished myself. All we had to do was standby while Cadieux got the information from her contact. After that, a quick drive to the airport, and it was all over. No sweat. Piece of cake.

The buttons on the control panel went all the way up to fourteen. After the normal number sequence of floors, there was a keyhole, ostensibly to regulate traffic to the roof. Madame Cadieux produced a key from her breast pocket and inserted it gingerly into the keyhole. She gave it a twist, and the elevator jerked to a start. We were on our way to the roof. I was starting to sweat, as much because of nerves as because of the temperature that was rising in the elevator due to the aggregate effect or our bodies being packed like sardines into the confined space. Perspiration beaded on Delacroix’s forehead. Cadiuex seemed un-phased as ever.


We reached the top. The doors slowly parted. My eyes had trouble adjusting to the new darkness of the rooftop. I was reluctant to leave the bright, familiar safety of the elevator and step onto the unknown roof. There were no happy stars or benevolent moon: just a howling black sky on the 15th story. The clouds seemed to be streaming past close enough to touch, while the lights of the city below seemed dim and faraway. Peering out, Delacroix and I didn’t see anything.

Suddenly we were blinded by several bright lights accompanied by a deafening cacophony. Muzzle flashes and the reports from small-arms fire! Our senses were overwhelmed by the berserk fury that had been unleashed upon us without warning. What was happening?!

“Under fire!” Delacroix shouted automatically, as he shoved Madame Cadieux backwards into the elevator with tremendous force borne of sheer terror. She bounced off the opposite wall of the elevator, shuddering. He shielded her with his body. He heroically shielded her with his body! Immediately I heard the dreadfully heavy and thick sound of bullets impacting a human being. I heard the high-density plastic armor PLINK-PLINKing as bullets bounced off of it, and then the wet, dull, mushy sound of a bullet finding flesh; finding flesh and burying itself in its soft warmth.

I didn’t even consider that I too might be hit. I was scared, but the thought that I could be hit never crossed my mind. I heard bullets striking metal behind me. Something tumbled to the ground like a heavy bag of rocks. Delacroix had probably fallen. Sparks flew behind be. I heard a fearful zapping and buzzing of electricity. It sounded like an angry swarm of wasps behind me. I could sense, more than smell, the powder burning. It all happened at once. I was struck dumb. Immersed in smothering syrup, I couldn’t react fast enough.

Recovering momentarily, I desperately started to punch elevator buttons with one hand, the faster to make good our escape, while blindly returning fire with the other. I doubt I hit anything. I kept up the fire until the magazine was out of bullets. What went wrong!? What disaster!


The elevator doors closed from the deadly darkness on the rooftop with ponderous reluctance. The gunfire still rang in my ears. The only thing that was louder was my blood pumping through my skull. My grip on my weapon was so tight that my hand hurt. I had to calm down. What was happening? What did I need to do? Somewhere halfway down the building between floors, I hit the STOP ELEVATOR button.


My heart rate slowed. The noise subsided. The elevator descended. Slowly, I became aware that I was the only one still standing in the elevator. I was trembling.

I heard Manuel first. He called for my help as blood spewed and gurgled from his mouth. “PIERRE, PIERRE,” he wheezed beseechingly, until his throat filled entirely with blood. Then all that he could manage was the smothered moan of a drowning dog. One gore-soaked hand he removed from his torn throat and clawed instead at my ankle, tugging on my fatigues as if to get my attention. He left a handprint there, slathering my combat boot with his blood.

I looked down at my dying comrade. I couldn’t take in the full horror of the scene at once. I only received small impressions and images which I remember vividly even now. Images that, in truth, I’ll never forget. He was sprawled on the floor of the elevator. He had dropped his weapon. His free hand was pressed to his neck with desperation and the whole front of his uniform was drenched with shiny red blood. Warm arterial blood seeped between his fingers at brief and regular intervals. More was splashed on the walls beside where he lay and was dripping down as if it knew it must somehow rejoin him. I also noticed half-a-dozen bullet-holes behind him. He’d been hit in the throat. At least once. Behind his steamy goggles, Delacroix’s eyes were wild with terror.

With a numbed, distant pain, I slide my eyes away from the terrible sight of the perhaps mortally injured Delacroix to ascertain the condition of our charge, Madame Agent Charlotte Cadieux, who lay in the opposite corner of the elevator. Even as he tugged on my pants, it was my duty to make certain Cadieux was still safe.

Madame Agent looked straight at me from the floor of the elevator with great composure considering that she had a hole in her chest. At most, she seemed somewhat surprised at her current status as a casualty. Otherwise, she seemed sublimely unaware of her dire condition. She looked me intently in the eyes, perhaps willing me to do I knew not what. I wasn’t a trained medic. Again, I perceived the scene before me not as a whole, but as details. It’s funny what you notice and don’t notice under circumstances such as these. Dislocated fragments. In the background, I could hear Delacroix piteously imploring me for help. I also heard an odd, irregular thumping noise which I couldn’t place, but thought no more of it.

I just stared down at her in total, unthinking shock. The most striking thing was that, as I mentioned, the wonderfully perfect chest that I had just been staring at a moment ago was ruined beyond recognition. There was a hole right in the center of it that I could have put my fist through. My first absurd impression was that she was doing the ‘Funky-Chicken’ dance: her hands were held stiffly against her breasts and her elbows were bent, pointing away from her. But then I noticed that she was, in fact, struggling to keep her innards within her body where they belonged. I found this thought particularly revolting and most certainly would have vomited had I not perceived several obvious peculiarities that had somehow avoided detection during my first cursory survey of her condition.

Firstly, there was no blood on this side of the elevator, in marked contrast to where my dying comrade lay. Instead, the dominant color around Cadieux was white. It was splashed everywhere on the walls and floor; it even dripped lazily from the ceiling! It was as though an enormous water-balloon filled with white paint had burst when Cadieux was shot.

I focused my attention back to her gaping chest wound. Her milky blood covered her hands and was being soaked into her sweater. Oddly, the fluid seemed to have a weak pulse, as if there was some artificial, plastic heart buried somewhere inside of her, pumping the weird lubricant or whatever it was around her body. Around the perimeter of the entrance wound, her plastic skin was singed black. Squirming and pulsating beneath her fingers were what looked like clumps of yellowish-white spaghetti strands, stretched over some kind of metal framework that had been twisted by the impact of the bullet. Here and there a bundles of wires and circuitry and even thicker cables laced artfully around until they disappeared from my view, diving into the thick medium of her bizarre innards. But one such cable had been severed and was sparking weakly but incessantly. It was these sparks which I had heard during the rooftop shoot-out, and which had evidently burned and melted portions of her skin. In the area of the exposed cable, her milky blood was sizzling and smoking. That was when I was suddenly struck by the hideous falsity of the woman.

Then something brought my attention back that the odd thumping noise that I was hearing and had somehow tuned out. Cadieux’s legs had evidently been spastically kicking uncontrollably all over the place after her had been damaged. She seemed to be in the throes of a major malfunction. Her heavy black boots had been banging ferociously against the walls in desperate futility. Now however, they seemed to be winding down considerably; they had been reduced to sporadic, violent jerks. I suppose it was an indication that her capabilities were in a marked state of decline. What she needed wasn’t a medic! She needed more like a mechanic! Or a lab-technician.

Fear for my own life subsided as I observed the laconic, faux-woman with incredulity. After a few moments of calm regard, Madame Agent Cadieux ventured an attempt at speaking. A thick stream of soupy, white gunk seeped out from between her pursed lips. It ran down her cheek and neck. The same heavy white liquid started bubbling out of her sharp nose, linking up with the stream issuing from her mouth and collecting in a small pool on the floor beside her head. Her brunette hair on that side of her complacent face was matted with the stuff, whatever it was. At this, Charlotte Cadieux didn’t seem perturbed in the least.

The dying android’s voice was garbled grotesquely. I could at once detect the sensuous inflection that she had been programmed to speak with, but I could also hear a sinister, computerized hiss in the background. Just as she began to speak, and particularly powerful and long stream of her white liquid squirted out of her chest wound and splashed her in the face. It tricked down her forehead and ran into her eye. She either didn’t notice or simply didn’t care, because she didn’t react to it at all.

“Sergeant,” she called. “Sergeant, are you surprised?”

“You’re...What ARE you?” For the first time I could remember, I was really speechless.

“Please. I think it’s obvious.” She smirked. “I am the incarnation of technology. I am – ”

I cut her off, disgusted. “You’re a deception! You! You abomination! To the devil with you!”

“No, Sergeant. To the devil with mankind, Sergeant. Do you really think us that different, Sergeant? We both obey orders, Sergeant. We both know how to follow instructions, Sergeant. We both do our job, Sergeant. We don’t ask questions, Sergeant. What makes you so much better, Sergeant?”

“I think! I have morals! Ethics! I’m flesh and blood! I’m not a heartless, soulless monster like you!”

“I see, Sergeant. You’re a heartless, soulless, ‘flesh and blood’ monster. Is that why you carry a gun, Sergeant? To do moral things? To set an ethical example, Sergeant? To kill people that you don’t know? Why do you do it? Because ‘ethical’ people who don’t carry your weapons told you to do it? You merely kill for them in their stead. Is that what uniforms and grenades are for, Sergeant? You’re as much of a lie as I am. Doesn’t that makes us comrades, Sergeant?” She spat out the word ‘sergeant’ with renewed contempt each time she said it.

“Why am I even talking to you?! You’re just a...you’re just a THING!”

“We are both ‘things,’ Sergeant. You’re blood is red, my blood is white. But we were both created to perform the same function. What does conscience matter, Sergeant, if our actions and their consequences are the same? We both serve the same master, Sergeant.”

“Yeah, who?” My anger with the conceited droid welled up inside me. Everything was upside down.

“Military headquarters. The chain-of-command, Sergeant. Progress, providence, the Powers That Be. You and I are followers, Sergeant. Don’t be naïve.”

At length, Delacroix began to grow quiet as he listened to the robot. His breath seemed to come in a steady succession of short gasps. Maybe his condition was stabilizing? Maybe his wound just looked worse than it actually was? Or maybe he was on the verge of death? He too was looking with disbelief as Cadieux. His human blood had slowed its spurting from his neck. Had the artery closed, or was he simply running out of blood? I couldn’t move from where I stood. Was that THING what he had been willing to die for?

“Pierre...” he managed to whisper. I automatically knelt at his side, helpless to aid him. It was now too late for the medical-aid kit. I looked down at his tortured, blood-streaked face through my goggles from under the rim of my oppressively heavy helmet. I noticed Cadiuex watching me cynically as I clutched his hand. She couldn’t understand. “Pi...erre...moth...er...” he panted. His grip on his neck loosened. His helmeted head lolled away from me. The last of his blood escaped his throat. Everything went limp. His hand let go of mine. He released his last breath. He was dead. I bowed my head.


The realization sunk in. Delacroix had shielded Cadieux, the robot, with his own body back there on the roof. He had tried to protect her. He had died for her. And she was a lie. She was a computer in the shape of a woman. A human sacrifice for mankind’s new idol! I raged. Sacrificed on the altar of information and technology!

My face grew flush with fury as I became aware of the ramifications of this revelation. I supposed I too was expendable. As expendable as Cadieux; as expendable as Delacroix.


Still kneeling, I shifted to turn my attention to Cadieux. She looked at me as though expecting me to help her somehow. Perhaps to carry her to safety and leave the dead Delacroix behind. I un-slung my sub-machine gun and laid it heavily on the ground between Cadieux and Delacroix. Her eyes traveled down to her gaping wound and then up to my eyes, perhaps trying to remind me to be careful since she was damaged.

Without thinking, but with furious force, I plunged my gloved fist into her wound. I wiggled my fingers to dig down through her spaghetti-like tubes and veins. Soulless wires laced around my hand. Cadieux was shrieking with a mechanical, computerized whine. I increased the pressure and pushed even deeper into her body. Her pitch increased. When my hand was buried past my wrist beneath her guts, I found what I somehow knew I was looking for and wrapped my fingers around it. It was a rectangular box of metal with smooth edges. It felt like it must be her battery.

After several more determined tugs, each soliciting from her an even more agonized wail, I succeeded in yanking the metal object out of her body entirely. However, it was still attached to her by several thick cables that yet reached into her chest. I pulled it free of its cozy and secure resting place inside of Cadieux. Slippery noodle-like objects slid off of its milk-smeared surface as I slowly raised it out of chest. The noodles landed dully on her saturated sweater. Weakly, she tried to slap me away with her arms, but they didn’t seemed to be responding to her wishes very well. The damage to her systems had already become unmanageable.

With evident surprise, Cadieux stared at the object. I held it before her face. She was captivated by the sight of her own battery. It signified that she too would come to an end. Maybe she was finally realizing that she too was destructible and expendable. I consoled myself: no one would mourn her loss, while I would always remember Corporal Delacroix. Madame Agent Charlotte Cadieux was a piece of hardware, a device. There had really only been two of us in the elevator: my comrade I myself.

“Last words, Sergeant.” Her head twitched in agitation. A fresh gush of white liquid issued from between her shiny red lips. I think she was scared. I held her ‘life’ in my hands, the abomination. I was enjoying my little revenge. It was my little rebellion. “If you think doing this will change anything, you’re wrong.” I looked at her angrily, knowing that she was right. I decided to pull the plug all the same.

I stared right into her eyes and I yanked the her battery away as strongly as I could. The cables that connected Cadieux’s battery to the rest of her snapped off with a small ZAP of electricity. Cadiuex went into a fit. Her limbs started thrashing uncontrollably. I stepped out of the way to avoid getting batted by her berserk body. Jets of her milk squirted from her wound. Her booted feet stomped on the ground one after the other, after the other in hopeless fury. Her flat palms slapped the floor. Her head seemed to be shaking ‘no’ as if she was in denial of her own demise. The wild motion of her head was splashing buckets of her white blood around the elevator as it gushed from her open mouth.

Anon, she began to power down. Her legs stopped first. They slowed until they didn’t even twitch any more. Her arms slowly assumed an L-shaped position so that her stretched towards the ceiling and her elbows rested on the ground. Noodle-like objects were scattered everywhere. Her head settled in a direction facing me. She still seemed to look at me with her lifeless eyes. Her milky blood pulsed no longer. Lifeless as they ever were. Delacroix was dead, and Cadieux remained as dead as she always was. Precisely what was it about her condition that had truly changed?

I felt cheated.


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