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Shane (The End – Chapter 2 – Part 1)

(If you’ve missed the beginning of The End, start with this link)


She opened her eyes, only to close them again. The daylight hurt. That’d teach her to fall asleep with the shutters open. The alarm clock read 10:23. How long was she going to last if she kept on like this? Less than five hours of sleep per night – well, morning. That was not sustainable.

She sighed a little too emphatically, pushed back the bed sheets, and put her feet on the floor. She stood up, stretched again, and noticed that she wore her burgundy satin nightie. She had no memory of putting it on, but it meant she hadn’t fallen asleep with her clothes on. That had to count for something.

She spent the following minute staring at the back of a book that she had never read and that gathered dust on the shelf. Then, she finally headed for the bathroom. The mirror revealed exactly what she feared. The mascara around her eyes and on her cheeks sure drew interesting patterns. It also made her look like the old tired whore that she sometimes crossed paths with at night, down the street.

“My dear, she said to herself while grabbing the makeup remover, it is time that you stop that bullshit. You could also find yourself a boyfriend. A real one.”

A face wash, a shower, an aspirin, some clothes, and another sigh later, she returned to the living room. She put her right foot on a wobbly stool and grabbed the mini-holster from the bedside table. She looped it around her thigh through her slit skirt. She was tightening the metal fastenings of her boots when the phone rang.

Shane picked it up, leaning against the green-grey wall she never bothered repainting.

“Hi, my beautiful brunette.” A warm and sensual voice greeted her.
“Hello, sweetheart. To what do I owe this call?”
“The five calls that you didn’t return last night.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I was out. My phone was off.”
“Work or pleasure?”
“Both. A very enjoyable evening. I would have liked to finish the night with him, but he was my job.”
“I see. Do you know why I’m calling you?”
“As a matter of fact, I don’t.”
“That’s what I was afraid of. Better to talk in person. It’s a good thing I’m downstairs. Will you let me in or what? I’ll have some green tea.”

The water began to boil. Shane was happy to see her old friend, much less to learn the reason for her impromptu visit.

“You know very well that I don’t want to work for the Taulier anymore. That’s the very obvious reason he no longer has access to my encrypted line.”
“Yes, he knows that. He also asked me to remind you of Naples.”
“Yes, Naples, the one in Italy. What happened there?”
“A lot of things happened in Naples. Including contracting debt to him.”
“Ah. So this is why…”
“I guess so. What else did he say?”
“Not much, except that we’re due in HQ in two days.”
“Two days? I see… And what do you mean by ‘we’ are expected? You too?”
“Yes, you, me, and most of everybody else, I think.”
“Wow, it sounds serious. Do you know what it is about?”
“No, except that it sounds very serious, indeed.”
“Well, look, not that I want to kick you out since you just got here, but…”
“No problem, let’s not waste time. That’s why I was downstairs waiting for you to wake up. Thanks for the tea.”
“Thank you. Take care of yourself. See you in two days.”
“Yes, you too, take care of yourself. I mean it. I have a funny feeling.”

They hugged.

Shane closed the door behind her old friend and wondered which suitcase to choose. Was it just about going to HQ? Most probably not. Fieldwork had to be part of the thing. Should she bring her own equipment or would she be provided with some for whatever mission it was going to be? Lack of sleep wasn’t the only reason she had trouble thinking straight. Margaret’s last sentence kept echoing in her head. When her friend had a funny feeling, it was never a good sign. Never.

For a moment, she thought of not going. Why not just ignore the Taulier’s request? She had sworn to herself to never see most of these people again. Couldn’t she just disappear for a while? She let out an emphatic sigh once again but this time it did come from the bottom of her heart. There were destinies that you could not escape.

After a while, she managed to close her suitcase. She put on her sunglasses and went down to the garbage-filled street. Ignoring the beggars’ pleas, she strolled down the avenue towards the station. She stopped a second. Had she locked the front door? Too late to check.



(to be continued)



Frenchman, exiled on the other side of the planet, DavidB writes. It's not always very good, but who cares, the goal is to write. Sometimes, he also does other things.

MetaStructure is one of his longest-running projects. It was started in the early 2000s. Stopped many times. Started over a few times. Let's hope this time is the right one.

Sand Rougelune

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