She stands beneath a streetlight in six inch high heels, trying her best to attract certain attention while avoiding other. It's been a while since the last police drive by, and her internal clock tells her they'll be coming around any minute. Nothing scares away business like a cop hovering by.

Despite the cold weather, she's not wearing much. Just what she likes to think of as her business attire- fishnets, short skirt, leather jacket. On her belt is a small sheath most of her customers think is for decoration. There's a fancy hilt sticking out of it, but whenever anyone gets curious enough to try and draw it, they find it's rusted stuck. She never takes it off.

Starting at her ankle, twining itself around her leg, looping once around her waist, going up her back until it finally ends just beside her neck is a tattoo of a snake. Its head rests on her shoulder, as though perched there to get a better view. It's the only tattoo she has.

Huh, she thinks, absently scratching the snake's head. Slow night tonight.

She's in the middle of lighting up her fourth cig of the night when she thinks she hears something. She closes her eyes and listens.

Running. Frantic, uneven steps coupled by short, gasping breaths and grunts. Behind that, more running. This time the strides are smooth and confident. The pursuer, then. She frowns. If there's any breathing being done by the second, she can't hear it.

She opens her eyes and shrugs. Whatever's going on isn't her problem. She takes a drag off her cig.

The running gets closer.

"Hey!" someone shouts. She groans and looks up to see a portly gentleman waving at her from down the street.

"Hey! Please-"

He stumbles, falls face-first into the road, then picks himself back up again with speed she wouldn't have expected from someone his size. She watches with mild interest as he huffs and puffs his way over to her.

"P-please," he gasps, grabbing onto her shoulders. His long-sleeved shirt is torn in places, and there's the beginnings of a shiner blossoming over his left eye. He's at least two inches shorter than she is. "It- he's coming!"

She recoils at smell of sweat and she takes a step back, shrugging him off. "Not my problem," she says with only the barest hint of an accent. "Call someone."

"He broke my phone. I was just-"

She glances over the man's shoulder and sees the second runner.

He is taller than the first man. Thinner, slightly paler. She flicks out a forked tongue, just for a second, and catches his scent on the wind. Unlike the first, who is coated in the smell of fear, perspiration and cologne, this one is steeped in the stench of death. She closes her eyes, just for a second. She can't hear his heart beating. He isn't breathing.

"Please," says her runner. "We gotta get help-"

She groans and pushes him aside. "I'll take care of it."

Without another word, she strides towards the pursuer.

He grins when he sees her.

"Well hello there. Bit forward, aren't you? I could be a cop-"

"Get away from here." Her tongue briefly flicks out from between her teeth.

"Now that's no way to treat a potential customer." He grins. Not because he's amused, but to show off two specifically sharp teeth.

She grins right aback at him, showing off longer, thinner and sharper. Unlike his, her are retractable and filled with venom. For a split second, her pupils shift from circular to diamond shaped. She blinks and they're back to normal.

"Get out."

Any charm he may have been trying is gone. He points to the man, who is watching nervously at what he probably thinks is a safe distance. "It's mine," he says. "I'm fucking hungry."

"I don't care about that. I care that you're here. Your kind aren't allowed on my ground. Get out."

"Fine," he says. "I guess you'll do instead."

He lunges. She's faster. By the time he reaches her, she's already drawn out a serpentine blade much too long to have been able to fit inside the sheath. The metal is clean and gives off its own silver light. She strikes.

His severed head lands in the street with a thud. For a moment, she allows herself to relax. The snake on her shoulder has moved down her collar bone. It's mouth is open, silently hissing at the smoldering corpse. She puts the knife away.

In seconds, the body has disintegrated into ash, leaving nothing behind but a pile of clothes, shoes, and other personal effects. Casually, she reaches down and begins rooting though the pockets.

Damn, she thinks after a moment of rummaging. Nothing good.

Disgusted, she goes back to he runner.

He hasn't moved from the spot where she'd left him- which, when she thinks about it, seems rather stupid of him. She scowls. She hates stupid people.

"Y-you just-"

"Yes," she says, taking up her place once more.

"He just-"

"Yes."

"And the knife-"

"Do you have a point?"

He stares at her, eyes wide. "Thank you. Thank you so much. I don't know how I'll ever repay you-"

She sticks out her palm. "Five hundred dollars."

"What?"

"Five hundred dollars, or I'll toss you to his brothers."

He laughs nervously. "You're joking."

She gives him a look.

His face, which had been flushed from the run, suddenly goes pale.

"I- I don't have that much cash on me."

She glances at his watch. "Is that a Rolex?"

"Piaget."

"I'll take it."

He doesn't hesitate. As soon as she has the watch, he almost -but not quite- runs away down the street.

She smiles and tucks the watch into her jacket pocket. The side of her neck begins to feel warm. The smile widens as she pets the snake, who is rubbing its head against her in what passes for a hug

"You know," she says, running her fingers over the watch. "I think I'll call it a night."

The snake silently agrees.

Street"walk`er (?), n.

A common prostitute who walks the streets to find customers.

 

© Webster 1913.

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