I trekked deeper and deeper into the forest while the frigid air smacked me in the face, sneaking inside my lungs, as it almost drowned me.
The hairs on my back pricked up, making me whirl around for a second.
Nobody was there.
I shook my head again before shuffling through more of the forest and almost scoffed since it wasn’t like I could use magic to escape. That would attract unwanted attention, and there were already enough problems with the wanted posters of me that were propped up on all the trees in the forest in addition to everywhere else.
Although I could at least smirk because my red wig and sunglasses helped me stay incognito even if the scent of formaldehyde wafted through the air as I continued walking.
Cars honked in the background while zooming by as I came to a clearing a few minutes later.
The blades of grass bounced in the wind as I continued standing on the stretch of land that was adjacent to the highway, and it wasn’t long before a billboard for a nearby hotel popped out at me.
I paused for a moment to take something out of my satchel and smiled while gazing at the man in the photograph even if tears were inevitable.
To think I was the one responsible for his murder was beyond crazy since Damien had been my fiancé (even though I was only 21). I guess that was the problem with not having an alibi in addition to being different by practicing magic.
The hairs on my back stood up again, forcing me to shove the photo back into the satchel before wandering towards the hotel.
I arrived outside the hotel a few minutes later while the neon sign of a coffee shop glowed nearby, taunting me of the life I could have had. After all, my weekly Sunday morning coffee dates with my Mom ended a long time ago.
I went to the hotel bar after deciding to grab a drink or two before getting a room for the night, and the bartender pushed a martini in my direction a couple minutes later. I reached for it without any hesitation.
The burning sensation of the cocktail jabbed my throat before trickling down into my stomach as a man approached me.
“Is this seat taken?” he asked.
“No. By all means sit down.”
The man gesticulated at the bartender, and I went back to minding my own business. Or at least that was what I tried to do.
He furrowed an eyebrow. “Are you even old enough to drink?”
“I have ID.”
“I might need to see it.”
The blood drained from my cheeks, turning them pale.
“I was joking,” he said.
I downed the rest of my drink before tilting my head back in his direction. “Well, it wasn’t funny.”
“I’m sorry. Why don’t we start over? I’m Orlando.”
I shook his hand, admiring his physical appearance. His wrinkle free skin screamed that he was in his early to mid-twenties.
“And I’m Penelope.”
His eyelids widened. “So what brings you to town?”
“I just felt like getting away. What about you?”
The man sighed at me. “I have some work to take care of.”
“Oh. That sounds boring.”
“No, it’s fine. I’m pretty sure it’ll be easier than expected.”
My stomach twisted in ten different directions at the sight of his blonde hair, as there was something about him I couldn’t shake because I could have sworn he was wearing a wig.
The issue of his chattiness was nothing to be infuriated about. Men chatted with women all the time. It was as natural as anything else in the world unless a person had nefarious intentions.
Orlando’s tongue wet his lips. “Why don’t we go upstairs and get a room for the night?”
“Yeah. I’d like that.”
The sound of shower water continued splashing in the bathroom while I stood in a hotel room hours later. I shifted my focus, staring at the flamingo pattern on the curtains.
The bathroom door burst open a moment later as I continued to have my back facing it.
“That was a pretty long shower,” I said.
“Yeah. But it was worth it. It’s too bad you didn’t join me.”
“Maybe next time.”
I whipped my body around after a silence ensued for a couple more seconds longer than necessary, discovering he had a gun pointed at me.
“You’re one of them, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I am Cecily.”
That confirmed it. Only a government agent would know my real name.
“Just think what will happen when they find out I killed you.”
“Yeah, you do that.”
He pulled the trigger while I moved my hand, sending the bullet back in his direction. It pierced him in the chest as blood started oozing out of the wound.
The man made a loud thump when he hit the ground, and it wasn’t long before his shirt was drenched in red.
I went over to his body and checked his pulse.
Yeah. He was dead. There was no doubt about it.
I peaked inside one of his coat pockets, finding a photograph of me.
My hand jerk for a second time while a sea of yellow, orange, and red swallowed the photograph as it then devoured the agent’s body before the fire vaporized.
I bit my lip, realizing I would now have to flee the hotel since finding a new place to stay had become a necessity all over again.
Bio: Chris Bedell's previous publishing credits include essays on the
online magazine Thought Catalog. He has also had several stories
published on online literary magazines, which include "Surface
Tension" on Crab Fat Literary Magazine, "A Little Accident" and "The
House That Never Was" on Quail Bell Magazine, "The Wronger Murder",
"Game Over", "Poof and I'm Gone," and "The Vanishing Girl" on
Short-story.me. Furthermore, Pidgeonholes Magazine will publish one of
his stories in December