Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

She had a feeling when he’d pulled up that this wasn’t going to be like every other night, and experience told these feelings were seldom wrong.  The car rumbled at the curb as he eyed her up and motioned her inside.

“Hundred an hour” she intoned through the open window.

“Get in.” His voice was flat, not eager, not bored, merely the noise of purpose.

The door was heavy, and it made a satisfying clunk as it closed, helped by the sudden surge as the car leapt from the curb.

“Name’s Ayna.” She offered, but he didn’t respond, and she didn’t push, most men came here to be nameless anyways.

At the end of the main street was a familiar motel, the room obviously paid for as he palmed a key and walked straight inside. She could feel a deeper blackness, more than the lack of light inside, but she could use the money.

A lamp came on in as she closed the door behind her.  A handful of bills beside the coffee machine would save her having to ask.

He was looking out the window as she stepped into the room and put her bag down on the closest of the two queen beds.

She started unbuttoning her shirt, and in an instant, he leapt across the room, his blank expression twisted now into one of blind fury.  “Stop it, you think I want that?  You filthy whores won’t give a real man the time of day, but for a handful of bills you can’t get it off fast enough.”  Ayna backed startled against the wall, eyeing her bag on the bed and trying to remember if she’d bolted the door.

“What do you want then?” She breathed, trying to keep her voice calm, but she could feel a violent rage starting to burn in her chest.

“I want you to hurt!” The man spat the words as he swung his hand in a wide backhand arc across her face, knocking her off her feet into a heap on the bed. Her head rang as she put her hand to her mouth, fluid seeping from her broken lip.  She stared at the bright smear of blood from her mouth blazed across the back of his hand. He looked down as the smear began to smolder on his flesh. He frowned, puzzled, as he rubbed at the stain on his skin, transferring it to the fingers of his other hand.  Wisps of red smoke began licking across his hands before his startled eyes, then curling around his arms, crawling snakes of sublimated flesh slowly winding their way up to his shoulders.  Where the crimson vapor touched his skin, it left it’s mark, brilliant, scarlet and angry, leaving behind raw scorched flesh.

“What the hell?” Panic overcame anger. “What the hell did you do to me?” Panic gave way to terror as the crimson vapor spiraled around his throat and suddenly dived in through his nose and screaming mouth. He staggered, clawing at his face, chest heaving, the pounding of his heart visible through his shirt, for a moment, then a moment more, then silenced.  He dropped heavily to his knees, toppling backwards into a heap on the floor.

Ayna slid to the side of the bed, and with catlike grace put her feet down and stood in one fluid motion.  She retrieved her bag, pausing only to collect the money from the table before slipping out the door and back into the night.

Her mother, a Turk, had given her the name Ayna, which she said in her native tongue meant ‘mirror’, and a mirror was undoubtedly what she was.  For the lonely, she could be lonely with them; tender, she would be tender to them; but for those full of hate, she would turn that hate loose and let it consume them with unfettered finality.

Ayna took off her shoes and started back down the main-street. It was early yet and if she was lucky, there might still be some easy money to be made tonight.

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