As he spun Cynthia around to mount her from behind, she breathed a sigh of relief – for this one night, she would be spared the huffing and puffing of his Baskin Hound face. Disguised beneath a choreographed routine of cries and moans, she murmured through the next night’s escape. The plan was not clever or grand, it was not going to be the plotline of a Hollywood classic in a generations time, but it did not have to be, as long as she was freed from the hellscape, she was beyond determined. As his hold on her hips tightened in climatic release, Cynthia allowed herself to steal a glance in the direction of his Colt, nested inside his folded jacket. She owed a lot to the telling glint of its silver…

Two years ago, from the moment Cynthia wrote the number that completed her life’s work, project Aubergine – her favourite word growing up, tears filled her eyes and she almost keeled over under the weight of a dawning truth – she was going to save the lives of millions of people. What Cynthia had done, with hundreds of equations and formulas, was work out how to produce proteins that could mutate genes at will. With that breakthrough, Cynthia was on course to revolutionise medicine and to help humankind win the war against disease, once and for all.

But a consortium of the world’s richest and most powerful had other ideas. When a squad of black-clothed men stormed into her house in the middle of the night, Cynthia feared that FBI, Mi5 or even the KGB had come for her. She was wrong. The men belonged to an organisation called Ultraviolet, which was far more powerful and ruthless than all the world’s governments put together. Two years later, and Cynthia’s breakthrough had not saved a single life. Instead, it was being secretly hand-delivered as a serum in a slick lavender case to dictators, oligarchs and billionaires across the globe, with the promise that it would elevate them to the next stage of human evolution. 

Over the years, Cynthia had attempted numerous times to expose the group, but Ultraviolet discredited the accusations and made her out to be an unhinged, fantasist to her science peers. However, against all the odds, Cynthia was able to create and give a dossier to a discreet and talented journalist, who then emailed it anonymously to the Editor-in-Chiefs of the biggest newspapers in the world. But, before a single one of the emails was opened and read, the journalist was dead, the internet had been scrubbed clean of all traces of them and Cynthia was left to fester in a psychiatric hospital. When all appeared lost, she discovered that one of the porters in the hospital, McKenzie, was an undercover agent working for Ultraviolet – the Colt always tucked beneath his shirt, the same gun the goons who broke into Cynthia’s house used, gave him away. With that information, she was able to set into motion months of seduction and endearment.

…As McKenzie sprawled himself out in heightening euphoria, Cynthia slipped out of the bed, dressed, and then inched through the darkness towards the Colt. By the time McKenzie thought to ask her what she was doing, the cold, hard tip of the gun’s barrel was pressed against his temple. In time to the cocking of the gun, McKenzie throw his clothes on. Under the guise of him leading her, Cynthia guided McKenzie to the exit of the building with the barrel of this gun burying deeper into his kidney. With each step closer to the exit, Cynthia could not help feeling sorrier, and sorrier for him – Ultraviolet will make him suffer for this mistake.  Yes, he was a secret agent, but under the spell of love, he got her preferential treatment across all the wards, and even got her graphic novel published, the same one he was too naive to know was a creative reworking of the original dossier.

However, it was only once she stepped into the hash, slapping cold of late-September and endless black of midnight, did concern for him return to concern for herself – where next? She thought. Then she saw a glint of silver. Except, this time, it was coming from a car reflecting the surrounding streetlights. When it began to creep closer, Cynthia’s back tensed and she contemplated taking aim. Until, that is, the image of McKenzie taking advantage of her distraction and snapping her neck with his bare hands, made her think better of it. Sticking to Plan A, she tightened her grip on McKenzie in preparation for using him as a human shield as the car pulled-up a hair-widths from the two of them. For what felt like a lifetime, Cynthia waited in bated breath as the window rolled down to reveal a kid barley into his late-teens in the driver’s seat, who then said: “Who is Jinn Rogers?”  

…2 of 2

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