by Jon Batson
This story follows the adventures of Nina Richardson, a mild-mannered law school dropout who becomes a kick-butt heroine after innocently acquiring a metal case filled with military prototypes. Determined to knock out the growing crime in her formerly posh urban neighborhood, she discovers her superpowers to be her own inner-strength and purpose.
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Nina Richardson is tired of living in a run-down neighborhood where residents are behind bars and criminals roam free to take advantage of the unwary. Shy and retiring by day, she chooses to dress all in black and stalk her prey by night.
The roof was cold and rough against my belly. I could feel everything in sharp relief: my left eye pressed against the eyepiece, my cheek resting on the stock and the grooves on the trigger, even through the glove. I shook my head again to rid myself of the sweat that was clouding my vision and making my eye sting. The October night had a biting chill, but that didn’t stop a trickle of sweat from running down my neck and between my breasts.
The dark figure slid from the shadows behind the brickwork chimney and took a step closer. I had to take the shot, but I was still unsure of the target. Who was it? I had to be sure! The gust of wind stabbed at me and I felt the rough metal of the tin roof against my elbows through my thin blouse and jacket.
The man in the darkness drew closer, menacing and slow. If it was the FBI man, I would have to find a quick and clever way to get down from the roof. If it was Carlo, my aim had better be true. I would have to do something I swore never to do: kill a man.
The wind found my wrist where the button had broken off and the cuff fell open. I ignored the icy cold that shot up my sleeve. My attention was out there, in the dark.
The shadowy figure darted from the chimney array to the gutter, avoiding the dips where puddles formed; he was coming closer. It was plain that I was his target just as he was mine.
The FBI man would have yelled some sort of warning, an identification. If it was the other one, he would be shooting already. It must be…
The rain began to fall, blurring my vision. Perfect! I thought.
Now, as the man stepped from the edge of the roof into the light from the street two stories below, I could see him clearly; it was Carlo. Sucking in hard, I squeezed the trigger.
“Click!” The rifle misfired. My eyes went wide and I felt a shudder throughout my body. This had not happened before. There had been equipment failures, but none like this; this was unthinkable! I released the bolt and let the jammed cartridge fly out, then loaded another.
Too late! Carlo was on me in an instant! He kicked the rifle out of my hands and it clattered to the edge of the roof, down the wet tiles, over the edge and into the alley. Carlo kicked again, but I rolled out of the path of his foot. Wheeling onto one knee, I flew up into a standing kick, half-ballet and half-karate. The angry eyes, the twisted mouth and the scarred jaw were in sharp focus in the moonlight as my foot connected with Carlo’s stomach. His eyes bulged and he doubled over.
I recovered my stance and kicked again, this time at Carlo’s face. He folded back, then rolled to his left and toppled down the tile siding over the edge of the roof. Carlo let out a short, surprised yell followed by the sound of his body hitting the cold, wet concrete of the alley below. Somehow I was still alive and standing while Carlo was lying on the ground two stories down.
The elation of victory was mine for only an instant. The slick tiles gave way and I felt my feet slip out from under me. I tumbled down the tiles, my fingers grasping at anything at all to keep from falling. I could feel the thin gloves tearing, giving me no protection from the pain that stabbed at my hands. The slick, leather soles of my shoes were no help on the wet surface; I slid down with nothing to stop me. At the edge, I felt myself falling, then stopped. I had found a grip on the gutter’s edge. It was an effort to throw my other arm up and grab the gutter, which bent under my weight. The rain ran down the open sleeve of my shirt. I could feel the cold wetness run under my arm and down my side.
Now what? I felt with my feet for something to get a toe-hold, but there was nothing. There was no sound but that of the rain on the roof and the gutter breaking. It pulled away from the edge of the building and bent awkwardly down and out. I felt my grip slipping and fell, stopping at an odd angle. My jacket had caught on the dangling end of the gutter. I was being held by the thin material of my space-age jacket. I wondered how long the new technology would hold me. It didn’t take long to get the answer; I heard a rip.
Frantic, I tried to grasp something – anything – to break my fall, but my flailing arms touched nothing but thin air. Wide-eyed and disbelieving, I saw the light defuse in the rain as the roof pulled away from me. A streak of lightning shot across the night sky as I landed, hard and on my back. I heard a sharp “Snap!”
“Well, here I am,” I said to myself, as my life flashed before my eyes – all two weeks of it. “The only time I felt really alive.”