I turn the corner, barely avoiding colliding into a man. He glances up at my face as if he wants to say something.
But his eyes go wide instead.
I push my glasses up the bridge of my nose and give a nod to the man. He looks at my face a second too long before nodding back and going on his way.
I go back to admiring the wood paneled walls. I’ve never seen walls like these ones before. I’ve enjoyed looking at them for the past few days.
They’re beautiful, and they feel so warm.
So warm for the cold thing I’m about to do.
There’s a faint scent of something ancient here…no, something antique. Maybe it’s all the old leather furniture…But somehow, I really like it.
I look out the windows as I pass through the halls. It’s night now and I think that man was the last office worker here.
All except for one.
I don’t like the word target.
It doesn’t feel very nice…These are people after all. Humans with feelings.
I know that. So that’s why it’s wrong to…
I call them friends.
For awhile, I become their friend. It isn’t like we wouldn’t be friends if I didn’t have this job.
So they’re friends.
It makes sense, right?
…It sounds nicer than target, anyway.
I push open the heavy wooden door, opening the way to an very old, very vast library.
Just like the hallway, it’s beautiful here. Even more so. Just entering the big space makes me feel like I’ve gone through a magical door to another time.
I sigh when I see the woman working alone at the table.
Light brown hair.
A green dress. A little on the simple side for my tastes.
Gold glasses that look as antique as this place.
…And a kind smile.
This has been my friend for the past few days now.
I slide into the seat next to her, a genuine smile on my face. She looks up, at first in recognition, and then in admiration when her eyes settle on my face.
I greet her. I tell her something, some half truth I make up out of nowhere. Maybe it’s something about how I’m here for research, or maybe it’s that I just wanted to see her face.
It doesn’t really matter what it was this time. She seems happy enough to accept it.
It’s so easy that it’s almost boring.
Her tense shoulders begin to relax, her posture slumps a little, her eyes grow brighter. She slides over the book she was reading. It’s a history book, about a trip to the moon. She talks excitedly about what was found there.
I nod, not really hearing the words, but enjoying her company nonetheless.
I felt…lonely, tonight. So I’m really happy to talk with this new friend.
It doesn’t matter what it’s about anyway. For a little while, I can pretend like everything’s fine.
Like I won’t sleep alone tonight, too.
I smile back at her and she looks away. Her face looks red even in his warm light.
It won’t be much longer now.
I start slipping in questions. One or two about innocent things here and there. She seems pleased.
I try not to think about how it’s only my face that she likes seeing, only my smooth voice that she likes hearing.
I try not to think about how it’s only who I’m pretending to be that she likes…
And how she doesn’t see “me” at all.
She shyly puts her hand on mine and I stare down at it, a blank smile on my face.
I look directly into her eyes, still smiling.
“Do you…need a ride home?”
She stares at me in surprise, but there’s suspicion, too.
“I…I don’t think so…”
I smile even brighter, but there’s a weird feeling in my chest.
Or maybe it’s a lack of feeling, like an empty hole that’s gotten even bigger since last time.
“Do you trust me?”
Reality blurs just slightly, the colors bleeding out of it as I focus my augs on her. The woman’s eyes widen momentarily at my appearance before the pheromones hit.
She relaxes and I reach out and touch her hand. She looks down at my hand on hers for just a second…
Then she looks up at me and nods, a drunken smile falling over her face.
I stand up, still holding her hand, and help her stand. She leans into me, her body weak. A hand shoots to her temple, but I keep smiling as we stride out to the hallway.
It’s almost over. I’ll miss this place.
I don’t hesitate as I push open the heavy wooden doors, still supporting her weight. She begins to mumble to herself.
We step out into the cold dim hallway. The sound of the door shutting echoes through the empty space.
I focus on my augs again. This time, it’s different ones.
“My friend needs a ride home,” I say brightly. “She’s tired.”
The woman looks up at me in confusion and I smile warmly back at her. That emptiness in my heart seems to throb, just then.
“Receiving confirmation of target acquisition. Be there in thirty seconds. Four out.”
No one hears the voice but me.
“I thought you were taking me…?” The woman says. I can see stress take hold of her features.
But it’s too late now.
“…I want to. But that’s not my job.”
That’s all I say before I begin walking down the hall. The smile is plastered on my face as I leave her behind.
“Where are you goin-ugh!”
I don’t look back. I don’t need to.
Gianna Ricci, born Gianna Palermo.
Wanted for murder of several PHASe agents.
That’s who she was…
But for a short time…
She was just my friend.
I push the door open to the outside.
She was a bad person…right?
The night air feels really good on my skin.
It was Four. It wasn’t my fault.
I call for a taxi. I’ve got to catch my flight tonight.
I was just doing what I was told to.