A hit man pursues a woman on Christmas, only to discover that his target isn’t what she seems. Warning: for mature readers only.
Fresh snow crunched under Greg’s feet as he placed both hands on the window and pulled. As snowflakes settled on his ski mask, the window slid up easily. Good, it was unlocked, just like the client had said it would be. He lifted himself up and crawled inside, where the air was stiflingly hot and aromatic with the scents of cinnamon and fake pine. As soon as Greg was through the window, he surveyed his surroundings.
He had seen lavish mansions many times before, the palace-like residences of drug lords and crime bosses, but this place put those others to shame. Raymond Dodd, the tech guru and CEO who lived here, certainly spared no expense. Everything was tastefully decorated and obscenely expensive, to the point where he wondered if the Grecian vase across the hall was actually thousands of years old. It explained why Raymond hadn’t blinked an eye when Greg had named his price.
The huge house was eerily silent and despite his best efforts, Greg’s footsteps echoed down the long hallway. He paused when he entered the living room, where a Douglas fir gleamed and sparkled with tinsel and ornaments. The sight of the tree reminded him that today was Christmas and that he should have been at home, still in bed with Karen, his girlfriend. What sort of guy hired someone to murder his wife on Christmas? Raymond’s face had been emotionless as he had explained what he wanted Greg to do. Not that Greg could really judge him too much…he had been a hit man for the last eleven years and his soul was far from being squeaky-clean. Still, it bothered him as he stared at the glittering tree and the velvet stockings hung over the sprawling fireplace. It would be nice when this job was finished and he was back at home.
He turned to go back into the hallway, cursing as he bumped the edge of the tree by accident. One of the ornaments, a gleaming golden angel, tumbled from its branch and shattered on the floor. Shit, shit. Had anyone heard the crash? Greg held his breath, listening. There weren’t any footsteps or voices, thank Christ. It seemed like he had been lucky this time, although he was still irritated with himself. Normally he wasn’t so goddamn clumsy.
Greg continued down the hallway, remembering the blueprint of the house, the one that the billionaire had showed him during their last meeting. “Moira will be in the pool,” Raymond had told him. “We just had it installed a few months ago and she seems to spend all of her time in there.”
The sweet cinnamon smell gave way to the sharp chemical odor of chlorine, and the wooden floor became tiles. Greg spotted light shimmering off of the walls at the end of the hallway and when he cocked his head and listened, he could hear faint splashing. Bingo, he had found the indoor pool. Taking a deep breath, he reached down and pulled out his pistol. If he did this quickly, he could be back at his apartment in time for all of those maudlin Christmas movies that Karen forced him to watch every year.
As Greg approached the indoor pool and his target, he heard singing. The voice was low and he could barely make out the words, but it was distinctly feminine, a rich contralto that sent shivers down the length of his spine. He peered around the doorway, his eyes gradually adjusting to the dim light. He spotted the white and sapphire-tiled pool first, then the woman swimming in it, her body tall and slender and very much nude. A necklace gleamed from around her neck, thick bands of silver and gold woven together. It was unlike any other piece of jewelry that he had ever seen, and he wondered whether Raymond would miss it if it happened to disappear into Greg’s pocket.
Beneath the ski mask, Greg licked his lips and started to raise the pistol, preparing to shoot Moira in the forehead. Just as he was starting to squeeze the trigger, she stopped singing and spoke, startling him: “I can see you there. Raymond sent you, didn’t he?”
Moira was looking in his direction, strands of mahogany-brown hair plastered around her face. Something about her eyes was unnerving him. There was no fear there, he realized. Not even the slightest hint of doubt. For the first time in years, Greg’s heart began to beat faster and the pistol wobbled almost imperceptibly in his hands. Just shoot her! an internal voice shrieked, and so he gritted his teeth until they ached, aiming the gun. As he pulled the trigger, Moira reached up with a dripping hand and touched her necklace. There was an ear-splitting bang from the pistol, then a flash of brilliant light that completely blinded him. He cried out, bewildered, the gun clattering to the ground beside him.
He groped at his face, instinctively rubbing at his eyes and trying to restore his sight. What the hell had the bitch done to him? To his great relief, his sight slowly returned, colors coalescing together into definable objects. Except everything was so…wrong. For one thing, he seemed to have been transported somewhere else, although he could still smell the sharp odor of chlorine. Greg glanced around, frightened, and then froze when he heard a tremendous splash of water. It sounded like a tidal wave crashing against a shore and as he looked up, he saw something immense rise up in front of him.
It was Moira, and she was colossal.
Greg gawked up at the woman who towered above him, water cascading down from her bare breasts and belly. How the hell had she become so gigantic? But as he noticed his surroundings, it dawned on him that she hadn’t become huge. No, he had shrank, as improbable as that seemed. A quick mental calculation later and he estimated that he was no more than three inches tall, the size of a mouse.
“What did you do?” He choked out and far above him, Moira laughed. Or at least, he was fairly certain that the deep, rumbling noise that she made was laughter. It sounded absolutely terrifying at his new height.
The giant woman leaned forward in the pool, gripping the tiled edge.
“I shrank you, of course,” she answered with a nasty little smile. On second thought, there was nothing “little” about that smile. Her crimson-lipped mouth stretched as wide as he was tall.
“Turn me back!” It was half-demand, half-plea. Moira continued to smile as she climbed out of the pool with another great splash of water, the sound making Greg cringe.
“No, I don’t think so,” the giantess replied, and to his horror, she began to stride toward him, the floor vibrating with each incredible footstep. He watched the titanic pillars of her legs swing toward him; then he lunged for his gun, which had also shrunk. As he snatched it up, one of Moira’s feet slammed down dangerously close to him, close enough that he could feel the rush of air. It was astonishing to see the human body at such a scale and Greg’s eyes slowly moved upward from the high-arched foot to the long legs to the dizzyingly-gigantic torso. He briefly caught sight of that strange necklace, shining in the distance.
When her foot shifted, Greg reacted instantly, firing at the curvature of her ankle. He wasn’t sure exactly what he was expecting. True, it was impossible to kill someone that huge, but he hoped that the shots would at least hurt her, like bee stings. But she didn’t even flinch and as he ran out of bullets, he dropped the useless gun and fled.
Moira observed the tiny hit man as he darted across the floor, disappearing back out into the hallway. She considered stomping after him, then decided that she would dry off first. It wasn’t like she had to hurry, either. The shrunken man couldn’t possibly get very far, not at his size.
She picked up one of the nearby towels, running it along the length of her body. Although she was no longer the spring chicken that she had once been, she still took care of herself, exercising regularly and watching what she ate. Most men were attracted to her beauty, to her plush lips and honey-colored eyes, but not Raymond. Her husband had recognized her keen intelligence and encouraged it, using her inventions to build his tech empire.
It was too bad that he had become so greedy in the end.
The towel swept toward the necklace and Moira stopped drying herself, running her fingers along the metallic bands. At first glance, it resembled a simple piece of jewelry; in reality, it was her greatest invention. No, not just her greatest invention, but all of mankind’s. She had discovered what she called the Threads several years back, the invisible strings that made up the fabric of reality. Moira had designed the supercomputer shortly thereafter, focusing all of her incredible talent on developing it. And although she could have given the computer a number of forms, she had loved the aesthetic that the necklace presented. It was beautiful and elegant, and Moira had always craved those things.
With this necklace, she could interface with the Threads, manipulate them and rewrite the underlying code of the universe. Raymond had wanted it, enough that he had apparently sent this assassin after her. What an asshole her husband had been. Moira couldn’t say that she regretted what had transpired a few days earlier.
They had been seated at the gigantic dining room table, Raymond trying to bribe her for the thousandth time. “Anything that you want,” he had said, and his eyes hadn’t been on her but rather on the necklace around her throat. But what could he have possibly given to her, when she was virtually a goddess? Raymond had only seen the tip of the iceberg when it came to her invention’s potential.
“The answer is still no,” she had told him, secretly enjoying his indignation. She had never been able to stand up to him before, not even when he embarrassed her at parties, calling her his “nerdy little wife.” It had felt so wonderful to say what she wanted, to do what she wanted.
He had finally lost his cool, waving his fork wildly in her direction. “Don’t you understand that I made you, Moira? If it wasn’t for me, you’d still be some pathetic engineer trapped in a lab somewhere. You owe me.”
That had done it. Almost on its own volition, Moira’s hand had reached up and tapped the necklace, activating the supercomputer. It was connected neurally to her, and all that it had taken was a single thought to reach out and touch one of the Threads. Reality had bent to her will. Smaller, she had thought. I want him small enough that I can finally deal with him…
Raymond had seemed to vanish into thin air and Moira had remained where she was, surprised that she had actually done it. Ever so cautiously, she had stood up, approaching her husband’s chair. She hadn’t known exactly what to expect, but when she had spotted the pinkie-sized man, she couldn’t help but laugh with pure delight.
“I don’t owe you anything, Ray,” she had said coolly, plucking him up from the chair. Her tiny husband had been so ridiculously light as he had hung there in her fist, his face darkening with fury and fear. Beneath her fingertips and palm, she had been able to feel the frantic fluttering of his minuscule heart.
“P-put me down, Moira!” His high-pitched, squeaking voice had made her giggle again.
After a moment, Moira had bent down and released him, watching as he struck the carpeted floor. It had probably hurt like hell and he had wheezed as he slowly sat up, looking stunned. The barrage of insults and threats had come next, and she had quietly listened until his rage no longer amused her. She hadn’t been angry with him when she poked him in the belly with the toe of one shoe, causing him to grunt in pain. No, she had just wanted to hurt him.
“Fucking cunt, I’ll—,” Raymond had started to snarl, his words fading away as he saw her expression. The bright redness had disappeared from his cheeks as the blood drained from them.
Moira had sneered down at him, showing her teeth. “Get on your hands and knees, and I might let you live.”
The CEO of the largest tech firm in the world, the man who had appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine and who had been invited to banquets with several presidents, had stared up at her, quivering. Then he had fallen to all fours, his head hanging in utter shame. She had allowed her eyes to trail over his tiny form before she raised one foot over him. That moment she had felt vastly powerful, unstoppable. Her breathing had slowed as she lowered her high heel, the lights reflected off of the glossy patent leather.
“Or I might just kill you,” Moira had declared, and her husband had let out a horrified squeal as he felt the sole of her shoe touch his head and back. She hadn’t hesitated, bringing her weight down upon him, delighted when she heard the first sharp crack. Raymond had continued to shriek, wiggling on the carpet, until his body had exploded under the pressure. The loud pop! had been unbelievably satisfying, and when she had glanced down, she had spotted the thick clump of organs oozing out from beneath her foot, a disgusting mass of purplish-pink meat. It was amazing to think how very effortless it had been to end Raymond’s life.
And she was certain that she could deal with the hit man just as easily.
Humming a Christmas carol beneath her breath, Moira pulled on a satin robe and strolled after the shrunken man.
Greg was trying not to hyperventilate as he looked up at the window, impossibly far away. The damn thing didn’t even have curtains that he could climb, and as he was considering his next escape option, he heard heavy footsteps. His head whipped around and there she was, heading toward him with a smirk on her enormous face. Greg took off, sprinting aimlessly, trying to get away from the approaching giantess.
He ended up in the living room again, where the Christmas tree rose up like a sparkling mountain before him. Panting, he ran toward it, thinking that he could hide in the branches. But Moira’s shadow swallowed him up and a millisecond later, her immense foot crashed down, blocking his path. Greg stumbled backwards and tried to run the other way, but once again, she corralled him in with her foot. The giantess was playing some sort of game, that much was obvious. So he tried a new tactic, scrambling up over her huge toes. That didn’t work, either; with a contemptuous snicker, Moira shook him off, back onto the floor.
Greg had barely enough time to roll over before she lowered her foot onto him, pressing his body into the plush carpet. His vision darkened, and all that he could feel was the soft, oppressive flesh of her sole. Panicking, he tried to push her foot off, his hands clawing desperately, but it was like trying to lift a building. The giantess laughed at his attempts, then rolled him beneath the ball of her foot. Greg screamed, his body battered and dragged against the carpet.
“Stop! Stop!” He cried out as the foot assaulted him. But his pleas seemed to fall upon deaf ears, and Moira started to apply more weight, a little at first and then enough to squeeze the air from his lungs. She’s going to crush me! His mind screeched over and over again, and agony radiated outward from his face and chest and pelvis. He thrashed, trying to free himself, surprised when the pressure abruptly abated. His tormentor raised her foot, allowing him to gasp for breath and tremble uncontrollably.
“You call yourself a hit man? You’re pathetic.” Moira’s godlike voice assaulted his ears. Gazing up, he saw her reaching for him, her amber eyes narrowed.
“No! Stay away from me!” Greg protested, beating at the gargantuan fingers as they tried to curl around his body. “Leave me alone, you crazy bitch!”
He continued to hammer at the fingers until his hands throbbed and swelled. Despite the relatively soft skin covering the huge digits, it was still like punching fleshy oak trees. Moira’s fingernails, painted a festive cherry-red with flecks of silver, clamped down hard, digging through his winter coat. Greg wailed as she picked him up, his legs kicking feebly.
The giantess’ other hand came for him and he twisted, cursing as she peeled off his ski mask. She held him near her face, studying him. Apparently, she wasn’t impressed with what she saw. Then again, Greg wasn’t much to look at, not with his thrice-broken noise that resembled a smushed blob of Silly Putty. Moira frowned as her fingers tightened painfully.
“I’m really, really sorry. If you let me go, I’ll make it up to you, I swear,” he babbled. When she didn’t reply, he whimpered, “I promise I won’t tell anyone about this.”
The giantess’ frown became a smile again. “It doesn’t matter whether you tell anyone or not. The world will know about my little secret soon enough.”
Greg shivered in her hand.
“Shrinking people is just one of my abilities,” Moira said. “I can bend the universe to my will, you see.”
As he watched, terrified and astonished, the giantess touched the strange necklace and the carpet beneath her feet began to move, stretching and reforming into tiny buildings. The burgundy and cream fabric became steel and concrete and glass, a street snaking its way across the floor. Suddenly, there was a miniature city in Moira’s living room, so small that the largest skyscraper was only as tall as a matchbook. As Greg continued to watch, snow appeared in the streets of the city, dusting the speck-sized cars.
“Jesus,” he whispered.
“It’s real, if that’s what you’re wondering,” Moira said to him. “I’m sure that in a few minutes, it’ll be all over the news. After all, major cities don’t vanish everyday, do they?”
Greg stared at the multicolored dots as they moved in the microscopic city around far below. People…there were real, living people down there as well. Shuddering, he looked up at his gigantic captor. “What the fuck are you?”
Moira’s expression was utterly terrifying, and even though she didn’t speak, he knew the answer right away. She was a human transformed into a deity, and not the benevolent type, either. The miniature city continued to spread out across the floor, growing around her legs so that she was suddenly standing in the middle of it. Greg wondered how the hell she was going to walk away without causing massive devastation.
When she took the first step, her foot crashing down upon an entire section of the city, he realized that being careful wasn’t one of her priorities. In fact, she seemed to relish the mayhem that she was causing. The smile that appeared on her lovely face was shamelessly hedonistic and sadistic, and it chilled Greg’s blood as she raised her foot back up. Grayish dust coated her sole, the remains of buildings and cars, and there was a perfect footprint where she had stepped down. Deep cracks, probably as wide as rivers to the microscopic people, zigzagged outward from all around the foot-shaped crater.
“Look at them trying to run,” Moira said gleefully, her eyes on the tiny city below. Greg saw the footprint and the wisps of smoke rising up from it, but it was difficult to make out what else was going on. He didn’t doubt that the minuscule people were fleeing for their lives, though, trying to outrun the titanic menace that towered high above them.
Moira bent down, and the sudden movement jolted Greg enough that he instantly felt light-headed. The giantess’ robe opened to reveal the curves of her large breasts and the dimple of her belly button, her skin shining ever so slightly with sweat. To him, the view was impressive and yet horrifying; to the unfortunate inhabitants of the city, it was simply horrifying.
“You know, Ray used to tell me that I was too meek to ever make anything of myself,” she said, and Greg wasn’t sure if she was addressing him or the tiny city. Or maybe she was merely talking to herself. “I think he was wrong, don’t you?”
Frightened, Greg murmured in agreement.
Moira’s manicured fingertips grazed the tops of skyscrapers, crushing steel girders and shattering windows. With incredible precision, she scooped up a handful of city. The buildings in the center of her palm more or less remained intact, but the ones near the edge of her hand crumbled, dust-fine debris dissipating into the air. She appraised the minute office buildings and tenements and stores, her immaculately-plucked eyebrows lifting. “It’s funny. I should be bothered by the knowledge that I’ve already killed thousands of people.”
Her fingers curled inward with a horrible deliberateness, the immense digits pulverizing the section of the city with a loud crunch. When she opened her hand, she blew the wreckage from her palm, her eyes shining with cruel glee.
“But it’s the opposite. I’ve never been so happy in my life,” Moira said to him. She stood back up, sweeping one foot through entire neighborhoods, annihilating countless lives. Worse, she chuckled as she did it, a husky, excited noise that reminded Greg of Karen’s laughter. Except his girlfriend laughed like that when she was aroused, usually during foreplay. Maybe destroying this city was foreplay for Moira, which was a hideous thought.
It didn’t take long for the giantess to trample most of the city, the floor littered with the smashed ruins of a major metropolis. A look of contempt spread across Moira’s face, and she opened her mouth, lowering her head a little. Saliva dripped down from between her lips, catching the multicolored lights from the tree, and then it plummeted into the ruins of the city, exploding everywhere and coating several streets in warm, sticky liquid. If there were survivors down there, they were no doubt drowning in the viscous goo.
Greg had seen lots of atrocities during his lifetime; hell, he had committed many himself, like the time when a target’s girlfriend had unexpectedly shown up and he had shot her before she could run away. But all of those things paled in comparison to what the giantess had done. A million people were dead, merely because it amused her.
Moira strode back onto the floor, leaving a trail of dusty footprints behind her. One of her maids would come by tomorrow or the day after and vacuum up the prints, unaware that the ash-like residue wasn’t ash at all, but flattened cars and buildings and people. Greg’s gorge rose, and he felt close to vomiting as the giantess looked down at him. As her fingers loosened, he found himself in the middle of her hand and he kneeled reflexively, his posture one of desperate supplication.
“D-don’t kill me,” he pleaded. Beneath his knees and hands, he could feel the steady, powerful heartbeat of the woman who had destroyed a major city, simply because it amused her to do so. The odds that she would spare him, the man who had tried to murder her, were close to nil. Cold beads of sweat dribbled down into his eyes.
Moira grinned viciously at him. “Kill you? Oh, no. I’m not going to kill you. Not now, anyway. I’m going to have some fun with you first.”
Those words filled him with dread, and as her honey-colored eyes moved from him to the shattered angel ornament on the floor, his heart thundered in his chest.
“It looks like someone broke one of my ornaments,” she said, smirking down at him. He started to deny it, but she interrupted him. “You’re going to replace it, right?”
“S-sure, I’ll get you a new one,” Greg agreed frantically.
“Good.” The giantess once again touched the necklace, and for one second, he thought that she would restore him to his normal size. But he remained the same height, and as fear began to set in, he noticed that his body was rapidly stiffening. Terrified, he glanced down and saw that his hands had taken on a golden sheen, the flesh hardening. At the same time, his clothes had become unbearably heavy and they shimmered, turning silvery-white.
“Wait, don’t—,” Greg started, before his vocal cords and tongue hardened too much for him to speak. He tried to flail in her gargantuan fist, but he couldn’t. His muscles could no longer move, not even to blink his eyes. As Moira looked on, amused, Greg’s face froze into a permanent expression of horror, his mouth a wide “O.”
“Not bad, if I do say so myself,” the giantess commented, examining him. The knowledge that she had transformed him into this wretched thing made him want to shriek and shriek, but he couldn’t make a noise. All that he could do was watch helplessly, keenly aware that he wasn’t breathing, that he should have been dead.
And when Moira’s pitiless eyes locked with his own, Greg wished that he was.
She hung the new ornament on the tree, using a small scrap of silk ribbon. For a minute, Moira silently admired her handiwork. The little assassin wasn’t the most attractive man, but she liked how she had captured him in a moment of raw terror, his arms outstretched, desperately grasping at something.
With one index finger, she flicked him in the torso, giggling as his body made a metallic ting sound. The shrunken man swayed on the branch, unable to cry out or even move his head. Perhaps she’d change him back into a human eventually, or perhaps she’d change him into something else, something that was wonderfully humiliating. Or perhaps she’d crush him like Raymond, turning him into nothing more than a smear of bloody meat, fat and bone.
Moira settled down into one of the plush chairs by the Christmas tree, feeling regal, like a goddess upon her celestial throne. Through her peripheral vision, she saw the pitiful remains of the city that was once Philadelphia. Even now, plumes of smoke curled upward from a hundred tiny fires. Aware that the assassin was listening, that he couldn’t help but listen, she said, “I’ll let the world have a merry Christmas.”
Lovingly, she caressed the necklace around her throat. “And then tomorrow, I conquer it.”