Jill Frost

her instructions were to be harbringer of winter, but she became harbringer of death; now she is winter, frigid as the icicles she used to produce.

She is bombarded by an everlasting gale, which whips the tendrils of her burnt umber hair in every direction. It contrasts with the clear blue skies. Meanwhile, the wind tears at her jacket, and she insolently unbuttons the garment before it manages to strangle her. Goosebumps suddenly dot her skin, acting as winter's means of communication. She's already been informed. This morning, dawn awakened a beautiful tragedy: the grasses were frozen. (And for once, she felt joy.)

Nevertheless, she isn't cold enough. They say she used to represent warmth, when the hands encasing her were kind, reminding her of stockings hanging over a cheerful fire on holiday's eve. Back then, she was untouchable- the blizzards were shut out by reinforced glass. But then the icicles fell, and she was shipped off to the orphanage, where each touch bestowed upon her was searing, like the bite of a knife during a blood oath. She vowed to differentiate herself from them, and allowed herself to embrace frigidity. Eventually she became as cold as frostbite; by then, it was too late to turn back, despite knowing their searing touches originated from frozen hearts. (Perhaps she regrets her decision.)

Anger has been known to derive from ignorance, as homicide has been known to derive from anger. This case is no exception. Nowadays, they call her an assassin, and she's too far gone to care. Better than prostitution, anyhow. (Or so she thinks.)

A figure appears in the distance, lonely in his adventures. If an eagle were humanoid than she would be it; her gaze is penetrating, and continues its penetration until he stops before her, a briefcase dangling from one olive-skinned hand. "Good day, Miss Frost," he says, his tone clipped like an entrapped eagles' wings. (They make an interesting pair. On one hand, she is freedom. On the other, he is freedom's slave. Both belong to royalty, in a sense.)

She does not provide a reply, and instead fingers the elusive weapon holstered in her waistband. Her pursed lips are painted an icy blue, and he would find them enthralling, if not for a single task: revealing the notes hidden within the leather case. There are hundreds- thousands, even!- crisp as if they were born today, wrapped carefully in intact cloth bands, stacked precariously atop one another until the case appears to be stuffed full. He gives her an expectant look, and she gives him an appraising one. (Needless to say, she is very, very good at detecting lies.)

With a sweep of her umber waves and a smirk of her periwinkle lips, she snatches the briefcase from his grasp. He turns without a thank-you, seemingly unaware of the daggers aimed at the back of his head, failing to notice a brief inspection of the money, completely ignorant of the revolver that she withdraws from her waistband. The wind gusts, and his charcoal jacket blows with it, billowing around his thin frame. Melted snow freezes. Trees are stripped of leaves. Eyes penetrate, hair contrasts the blue sky, and a woman looks down her gun at the retreating silhouette of a cheat. (He promised her a million to assassinate the mafia's administrator. He owes her as much.)

Paper notes flutter through the air, for the briefcase has been discarded somewhere in the grass, where antemeridian frost does not remain. Fingers, their nails painted a gleaming white, press down on a trigger. And up ahead, a man whips around, his own gun raised, his own bullet flying through the frigid air. Both happen to meet their mark. (She is the only one who falls.)

The man goes to retrieve eight hundred thousand in bills. The bullet has been deflected by a bulletproof vest. (His name is Jack, and he does not appraise the dead.)