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Day Two Hundred and Nine: My Sister, the Assassin

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

For the month of December, I’ll be world-building. This means taking a look at the people, places, and institutions that I have created over the last six months and trying to figure out more about them. This will involve a look at the stories in which they’ve appeared, and then some speculation, stream-of-consciousness writing, and with any luck a few revelations. In addition, I may come back and add new material as the Elves in my unconscious ship out new ideas, so I’ll be sure to link them up.

Your feedback as readers is, of course, more than welcome. There are probably questions that I’m forgetting to ask and holes that I need to fill.

Wish me luck!

——————

What with the death of Christopher Hitchens, I wish I had a character who was even a faint echo of the guy, but I don’t. That has to be remedied, I think.

Having said that, let’s roll the 361-sided die and see which character gets to be featured today!

*rollrollroll*

Number 210 – Loren Rudi from day 98, Back in the Saddle! Lucky you, Loren, come on down! Let’s see what the story tells us about you:

  • She’s returning to a job from which she had taken a hiatus. That job? Assassin.
  • She has a sister, Anna Lambourne, and a nephew, Alton. Anna seems to have no problem with what her sister does.
  • She’s killed 81 people.
  • She’s not allowed to share specific information about her job.
  • Her target is Brant Laidler, a businessman who is in talks with Munin Scientific. Her employer doesn’t want those talks to happen.
  • She counts doubles to relax.

I wrote this story after my vacation back to the US in August, and I wrote it for a specific reason: the ridiculousness of a vacation to see the family, compounded by the utter absurdity of international travel, had kind of thrown my writing mojo way, way off. I managed to get a few stories done, but not nearly one a day. I missed more days than I made, actually.

When I cam home, I wasn’t sure I could pick it up again. The blank spaces in my writing calendar just glared out at me, and for a brief and horrible moment I thought it would just be easier not to write than to write. I mean, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it through the year anyway – that was some kind of insane idea I had. And like most of my insane ideas, it was wildly unworkable. So maybe it would be okay to be satisfied with the ninety or so stories that I had done and call it quits.

What’s more, I have come to realize something important about the way my creative impulses work: they are capricious and liable to switch around without warning. There was a period a few years ago where I did a lot of drawing. My DeviantArt page is testament to that. And then the impulse to draw just… stopped. It just went away, to the point where I pretty much gave up on drawing anything before the pencil could touch the paper.

So I figure that was what was in the process of happening with writing – I had done as much as I could do, and the time for being a writer was over.

But there was another part of me that refused to let that happen, and I’m sure we’re all glad that that part won out in the end. At least, I’m pretty sure we’re all glad. Some of us, anyway.

One of the nice things about writing is that you’re allowed to explore these little mental quirks, wrapped up in an obfuscating cloak of character and fiction. I was able to take my worries about not being able to write any more stories and gave it to Loren.

I’m not sure why I decided to make her an assassin. Maybe because it’s not a job that’s usually linked to this kind of problem. People don’t (I imagine) take breaks from being an assassin and then pick it up again. But Loren did, and she seemed perfectly happy to be a killer for hire. She’s got enough experience and kills under her belt that no matter how much self-doubt she may experience, deep down she knows that she’s good at what she does.

So there are three questions – no, four – that come to mind from her story.

First, how did she get into the business of being an assassin? It’s hard no t to take a cue from Grosse Pointe Blank and give her a start in the military, but I’m not sure how else one becomes an assassin. She’s all-American, so there’s no life of having to kill government soldiers or rebels to survive. From how she talks to her sister, she sounds fairly middle-class, though that could be because she’s been doing this for years and has moved on up. For all intents and purposes, Loren sounds very well-balanced, with the exception of the fact that she kills people for a living. So this might take some research, although I have no idea how you research the life stories of professional assassins.

Secondly, why did she take a break? All we know is that she was off the job for a while. I’d like to think it was because she was given a target that showed her how terrible her job was, but that wouldn’t hold up – she seemed to have absolutely no problem killing the guy in this story. So it seems that the “moral flexibility” that she needs to do the job is still intact. Perhaps her identity was revealed and she had to be holed up for a while. Maybe she – like I – had a moment where she thought, “Is this really what I want to be doing?” That led her to take some time off, but the need for work and money was too much for her. She had to do what she was good at, which was murder.

Thirdly, what did Brant Laidler do that needed killing, and who hired Loren? Excellent questions both. Laidler was working on merging his company with Munin Scientific, a company that we all know specializes in computer components, with a focus on storage and memory. Perhaps Laidler had a manufacturing role to play, and taking over his company would allow Munin to do more in-house. It is a fairly secretive company, after all, so fewer outside vendors would be a plus for whatever big secret thing they’re working on. But then who would want the merger stopped? Someone who has a beef against Munin, perhaps. Or someone who manages to lose from the merger. It could be short-term gain or a move in a long-term plan. I haven’t quite worked that out yet.

Finally, why is her sister cool with what she does? If I may pat myself on the back for a moment [1], I’m really happy with how their conversation works out. I think it has a good natural feel that tells of a long history of knowing each other. They speak in such a way that when you get to, “No problem, sis,” Anna said. “Happy shooting”, you’re not surprised to find out that they’re sisters. And I did it without resorting to the old, “You know, Loren, as your sister I think…”

But all that back-patting doesn’t answer the question. Why isn’t she freaked out by the fact that her younger sister is a killer for hire? I mean, I love my brothers and my sister, but if one of them decided to be an assassin, I probably wouldn’t be cool with that. I most certainly wouldn’t joke around about it on the phone while I was cooking dinner. But Anna does, and she wishes Loren, “Happy shooting.” How weird is that?

Maybe Loren saved her life, or the life of her child. Or both. Maybe it was something that she did have a problem with at first, but some event occurred where she saw her sister in action, how good she was at it, that it reinforced her desire to see her sister happy. Although it would have to be one hell of an event to completely overcome the natural aversion most of us have to cold-blooded murder. I’ll have to work something out, and I will – I like this relationship. I like that Anna is supporting her sister, no matter what Loren chooses to do. So I have to find out what it was, and it has to make sense

Any one of those would make a good story. I’d like to pair her up with Wynona Mooney from day 41, All According to Plan – another very dangerous lady, although a bit more flashy than Loren is.

—–

[1] You may.

Day Twelve: Bad Boy

“Get out of my room Lyssa.”

“No, Lea, you have to listen to me!”

“No I do not.” Lyssa tried to shove her sister out the door. “I have to get ready for this date, is what I have to do. And you’re not helping.”

Lea tried to push back and keep the door open. “That’s what I’m trying to do! You can’t go out with Jack tonight!”

Lyssa flung the door open, and Lea fell face-first into the room. “Klutz,” Lyssa said, stepping over her. “Now what’s this about not going out with Jack?” She grabbed the back of Lea’s shirt and lifted her to her legs. “What have you heard?”

“It’s…” Lea felt her nose gingerly. No blood this time. Given the stink her sister had made the last time she got a bloody nose, that was welcome. “It’s complicated,” she started to say before her sister was shoving her to the door again. “It’s complicated but it’s really important because I don’t want you to die!!

Well. That was new.

Lyssa glanced at the clock. She was running late, yes, but that was just part of the standard routine for new boys. And Jack Browley might be Jack Browley, but she wasn’t going to give him any kind of special treatment. Not yet anyway.

“Okay,” she said, sitting at her desk. “Fine.” She turned to the small mirror she’d propped up and started slowly applying eyeshadow. “Go ahead. Tell me exactly why I shouldn’t be going out to the movies with the captain of the swim team. With the rich and handsome younger brother of TV’s Biff Browley? With the student council-” She winced as she said it, but a title was a title “-vice president?” She glared at her sister’s reflection. “I cannot wait to hear this.”

Lea sat on the bed, and her mouth had gone dry. Only two years separated the girls, but Lyssa had made up for that unfortunately small gap my grabbing as much power as she could, ever since Lea was able to understand what power was. Lyssa had all the new clothes. She was the one who arranged the presents for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and made sure they knew it. She was the one who checked Lea’s report cards before their parents got home, and made damn sure that she couldn’t hide them.

If their parents died, Lyssa would be the next in the chain of command. She knew it. She loved it.

“Well,” Lea gulped, “it’s like this.” She started to crack her knuckles and then stopped as soon as Lyssa’s back straightened. “He’s… he’s not a nice boy,” she said.

“I know he’s not a nice boy.” Lyssa applied her thumb to her eyelid to try and smooth out the eyeshadow. “If he was a nice boy, I wouldn’t be going out with him.” She wiped her thumb on a tissue. “Keep going, but just know that I’m getting bored very quickly.”

Lea took a deep breath. “Ithinkhe’sawerewolf.”

That got her attention. Lyssa sat up and slowly turned around. At any other time, Lea would have had to stifle a laugh at seeing her sister only half made-up, but this time she was too scared to worry about that. Lyssa stood up, hooked her thumbs in her belt and walked over to the bed. “Say that again,” she said. “Slowly.’

“I… um… I think he’s a werewolf.”

“A werewolf.”

Lea nodded.

“A werewolf.”

Lea nodded again.

“A werewolf.”

Lea didn’t really think she had to nod again.

“Sweet jumping Jesus,” Lyssa said, grabbing her sister by the arm and hauling her to her feet. “I knew letting you read Twilight was a bad idea.” She opened the door again, but kept her hold on Lea. “Jack Browley may be many things. A great swimmer, richer than sin, and a little bit too fond of… well, let’s just say he gets bored easily with girls.” She smiled. “But a werewolf? Have you seen him? I have been to every swim meet this term, and I don’t think there’s a single hair left below his eyebrows.”

“But -”

“No.” She pushed Lea out into the hall. “I don’t care what stupid books you read or what craziness your brain is feeding you. Jack is not a werewolf.” She glanced back at the clock. “And now I actually am late.” She slammed the door in Lea’s face and locked it.

Lea stood outside her sister’s bedroom clenching and unclenching her fists. She knew what she knew, and she knew what he was. She couldn’t prove it. Not yet. But she knew.

She walked down the stairs, taking deep breaths to try and be normal, but it was probably no good. Werewolves could smell fear, she’d read. As she got to the bottom of the stairs, she could look into the living room. Jack and her father were sitting on the sofa, each one with a can of soda in hand. They were laughing about something – probably dad telling another one of his stories about his days on the basketball team – and Lea felt her chest tighten just a little more.

Jack turned to look at her. She must have made a noise.

“Hey, Lea,” he said, white teeth shining in the lamplight. Were they sharp? They looked sharp. “Is your sister ready yet? We’re running late for the movie.”

“She… She’ll be down in a minute,” Lea said.

“Their mother was the same way,” her father said. “One time I waited for an hour and a half in her father’s house, and this guy is an ex-Marine! Guns everywhere you looked!” The two of them laughed again. Lea took it as a cue to go to the kitchen.

Before she could turn away, though, Jack caught her eye. He looked at her, and she could swear his eyes had a gold tint to them. Maybe it was just the light. Maybe.

He winked.