She woke suddenly. Well, her mind came back to life, but her body could not move. After a few moments she managed to prise open her eyelids, her vision was blurry, snow had melted and refrozen over her eyes, sealing them, she focused her attention to clearing her vision and after a few moments she could see again. She hated this part.
Slowly warmth began to spread through her body, melting the ice and snow, sending shooting pains throughout her body as her blood started to move again. She wondered why she did this. Then remembered the money. Her muscles were still slow, but she managed a smile. As her muscles began to loosen she moved slowly, getting accustomed to everything again. Gingerly, she stood, careful not to do anything too quickly. That could set her back. She moved her limbs trying to build warmth faster. Her clothes had been drenched by the melting snow, then they had refroze. She stripped, cracking the icy clothes as she undressed. Her car was near by, she would dress again in clean, dry clothes then. She wasn’t too worried about being exposed in the icy slush, she was used to the cold and it didn’t bother her as it seemed to bother other people.
She stretched, enjoying the feeling. She always felt new, revitalised after a freezing. It was much more pleasant than a burning. Turning, she looked down at where her body had been cocooned, there was a blood stain, bright red in the white slush. A snow flake fell slowly, drifting to the ground, in a few moments the skies would open and unleash a torrent of thick, white flakes. It would bury the blood and when it melted, it would wash away. She didn’t need to concern herself with that. They had shot her before leaving her in the snow. Pressing gently on her shoulder, she wondered what had happened to the bullet, things like that seemed to be absorbed into her body. There seemed to be no ill effects yet. She walked through the snow, careful not to slip, already the snow was falling thickly, if she didn’t hurry she could easily get turned around and lost in the storm.
Reaching her car, she opened the back door and took out a towel. She didn’t leave the car locked, she could never seem to keep her keys. A spare set was always kept in the dashboard. It might be unwise and unsafe but she never had a problem. People knew to avoid her. After quickly wiping herself down she sat into the car and dried herself properly, then dressed in the backseat. Wrapped in clean, dry clothes she climbed over the central console into the drivers seat and retrieving the keys she started the car, turning the heater full blast. The last of the shooting tingles were ending, and soon she would luxuriate in the warmth the car emitted. Once she was sure her body was responding properly, she started to drive. She was lucky it had not snowed much while she was gone, enough to hide her body, but not enough to trap her car in the snowdrift. It took some careful manoeuvring to get out, but soon she was on the roads, they were recently ploughed and made her trip easier. Soon she would be home.
The house was in darkness, as she liked it. She never bothered turning on the lights at night, she had memorised the layouts and it would make it difficult for anyone who broke in to navigate through the rooms. The heating had come on and the house was warm, she climbed the stairs, surprised at how tired she was, but then, she always found herself tired after such experiences. She turned the bathroom light on, it was necessary as the hum of the shower would conceal the noise of anyone who was moving inside the house. She always felt the need to shower after her renewals, it was a part of the problem. Though it allowed her to reacquaint herself with her body, to reassure herself everything was the same and to wash the weird, almost slimy substance that coated her skin. It was scentless and could be wiped away with a towel, but she could still feel it until she washed. She took her time in the shower, enjoying the warmth, the movements of her body, she had been frozen for at least a day, maybe longer. She didn’t know the date, it was not necessary.
After she was done, she stepped out of the shower, beads of water dripping onto the floor. She wrapped herself in a robe and began to towel her hair. Normally she didn’t like to use the hair drying but it was late and she was tired. The low roar of the hair dryer drowned out all noise but after a few moments her hair was dry. She wiped the floor with a towel and turned off the light. After listening for a moment she opened the door and went to her room. Still in darkness she opened drawers, taking out underwear and pyjamas. She normally slept only in her underwear but after freezing’s she craved extra warmth, just like after burnings she slept naked, with the windows open and the covers off, relishing the cold.
She woke around midday and ate a large breakfast, she needed the energy. As she was finished, her telephone rang, “Yes?” “Oh Val, good, I was worried about you.” “Why?” “You didn’t answer the phone for the past few days, no one knew where you were, we thought maybe you were gone.” “Don’t be ridiculous. You know what I do. It just takes a little longer sometimes.” “It seems to be taking longer now. A lot longer than before.” “It’s just your imagination.” “If you say so. What’s the plan?” “I’ll deal with them.” “Alone?” “Always. They won’t be expecting me, they think I’m dead.” “Ok, well listen-” She hung up the phone, Simon was always trying to draw her into conversation, telling her things that didn’t matter. If it was important he would ring her back. The phone sat in it’s cradle, silent. She smiled. Val was a good judge of character, always had been and each time she was right it pleased her, reaffirming her belief to trust her instincts.
Val had friends and some family left, however she never wanted to mix work and her social life, she had learned the hard way that some things just don’t work out that well. It was difficult for her. She had to constantly monitor her feelings or else. She couldn’t do damage from afar but if someone just brushed against her, that was it. She never got upset in public, especially not in crowds. She didn’t mind so much when she was happy, she was still careful of course, but touching someone then wasn’t bad at all. Tiring but sometimes it also felt a little good. She did try to help people out every now and then, to restore some balance, looking for those who deserve it.
It hadn’t been a wait-till-puberty-then-bam thing with her, she had it her whole life, and while it did get stronger when puberty came, she had learned to somewhat control her emotions by then. Of course puberty came along and decided that she deserved an emotional rollercoaster but for the most part she was able to manage. Her parents suspected and they had figured it out together, they didn’t cast her aside like they should have, they worked through it as a family. Of course they died when she was 15. She blamed herself for a while but then she moved on. It wasn’t really her fault. It was this thing inside her. She controlled luck. If she was in a good mood and touched you anything could happen, winning lotto ticket, finding money, winning some competition you vaguely remember entering months ago. If however, she was in a bad mood, her luck could be fatal. Car accidents, falls, even a few suicides. Though they took a few weeks of bad luck. It was a unique skill that paid big. Sometimes she was hired to give someone luck, sometimes to give others bad luck. That seemed to be the thing lately, make it look as though it was the other sides fault or their bad luck that you won rather than your own skill. It seemed to throw suspicion away from the winner. The job paid very well, which was good for her because her own luck didn’t work on herself.
She had had an argument with her parents and her mother, trying to sooth her crying child, hugged her daughter. An hour later they had been in a car accident, conditions lined up in that singularly perfect way that spells disaster. It was just bad luck all around everyone had agreed. The icy road, the wheel puncturing, the car spinning into a fallen tree. It was so unlikely but it happened. Val was taken in by her aunt and they lived in relative peace. She occasionally threw her aunt some good luck but not often, she didn’t want to arouse suspicion. She thought she was being clever, discreet, she was wrong. They approached her on her eighteenth birthday, telling her they wanted to offer her a job, well, all sorts of jobs really. They would hire her out to the highest bidder and she would use her little gift as directed.
Val was prepared for tonight, she always felt some kind of release when giving bad luck, as though something poisoned and infected was being drained. She opened the door and went to her car, not bothering to glance around, she knew she was safe for the moment. She knew where they were and she would find them easily. After all, you can’t run from Lady Luck.