Creature of Unknown Origin


Last I’d heard from Delia yesterday morning, Dr. Richards had hired Jack Kelman, another

ruthless hitman. The man was a complete ghost on top of it, more so than anyone else, even myself.

I’d considered whether the woman could be more of a ghost than even Kelman, but to be a ghost,

you had to exist in the first place.

When it came to Kelman, at least I knew my competition. The fact didn’t soothe the grim

lines etched into my face or the purse of my lips.

I took a sip of coffee and lounged back against the park bench. A jogger bobbed passed,

the first one of the all too early morning. Across the abandoned campground ’s surrounding park,

the woman I’d been watching, the one Dr. Richards was so desperately det ermined to find, glanced

over her shoulder before disappearing back into the wooded trails.

With one final sip of coffee, I ambled toward the trail she’d gone down. Over the course

of the last two days, the woman had wandered through the forest, eventually stumbling onto the

trails of the national park, which was how Howie had found her in the first place. A wireless trail

cam had captured her, broadcasting her image for Howie to find and confirm her identity.

In the near-distance, the woman strayed from the path. Again. Like she always did. Cursing

under my breath, I followed after her as quietly as I could. I struggled to keep her in sight thanks

to the lush wilds of the forest. She wove her way through the woods like she belonged there.

Though her body kn ew it, she didn’t seem to. With every chirp, every whisper of the wind, she

shrank, curling in on herself. Maybe that was why Dr. Richards claimed she needed help. I doubted

the integrity of the woman’s statement and knew with an unshakeable certainty the file Dr.

Richards had so unwillingly given me was bogus.

I stopped in my tracks, straining my ears for any sign of her. A twig snapping, the rustle of

the underbrush, anything. My eyes roved over the trees. Just like a ghost, I’d lost her.

“Get off of me!” The woman’s shout echoed through the still air.

My heart dropped to my feet. I took off in a sprint toward the crunch of leaves and the

violent rustle of the underbrush. Grunts and the haphazard symphony of a struggle flooded my

ears as I drew closer to the snapping twigs.


He’d found her.

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