Losing Control
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Her gaze wanders over the red liquid. Down, to the end. Up, to the source. It is already turning dark.
There is something stimulatingly soothing about watching it dry. Her breathing becomes irregular and slower.
She breathes deeply into her belly. As deep as her body will allow. Then she hoists herself off the tousled hotel bed and scurries into the bathroom.
After a shower and a look in the huge mirror, she realises, soaked, that it had not been very smart to keep her combat suit on. Since it is water-repellent, however, she only looks rained on.
She rubs her temples. The blackouts haven't given her any real trouble so far, but at some point her luck is running out.
She steps out of the bathroom, forcing herself to perceive the red liquid as blood. She stares at it until she was sure she could no longer be in denial. The fact that she had aligned the bodies, their arms now folded in front of their chests, along the edges of the room (wearing gloves, obviously) helped her.
At last the cramp in her lower body disappears and the rest of her body relaxes.
She allows a smile and leaves the hotel room.

The shaking of the metro lulls the tall woman into a relieving tiredness. How she would like to doze off, but her thoughts are racing.
So she opens her eyes again. It is already evening and it is beginning to get dark. The only light comes from the warm and colourful neon lights and over-bright LED advertising signs at the train stations full of capitalist quarter truths.
She swung herself up, joined the queue at the doors and exited the public vehicle.
The fairly deserted central station most likely has a frightening aura to people with a herd mentality. To others, however, it is a welcome respite after a day of stress.
"Hey, sweetie!"
The voice belongs to a hydrogen blonde eighteen-year-old accompanied by a woman with raven black hair and a man with a crew cut and a peaked cap turned ninety degrees.
"Hey, that's you. Yeah, you in the expensive clothes!"
The woman addressed stops. "How can I help?" it comes in a respectful and calm tone.
"Well. We forgot our hard-earned and you looked like you could spare a donation." That the young man said it with a face apparently meant to look apologetic doesn't change the fact that the three of them are asking not so kindly for the unresisting handing over of someone else's money.
"So this is a robbery?" it comes in the same calm tone.
"Yeah, man, you get us."
A crack is heard as the fist hits the bridge of the blonde's nose, knocking her over.
The black-haired rogue tries to reach for a gun in her tiny pocket. She doesn't get that far as her ill-chosen victim kicks her legs away, which was hardly an accomplishment when someone is wearing high heels.
Slightly smarter than his female colleagues, the man makes a run for it.
He doesn't get far, though, as the corridor in front of him suddenly stretches endlessly and something stabs him in the neck. He collapses.
Desperately he rows his arms and legs, which are not yet completely numb.
"You know, I've had a really shitty day. Like, really shitty. Imagine how much frustration is building up." Every time she takes a breath, a kick in his back follows.
After making sure all three were no longer conscious, the suit looted the robbers' pockets.
As she stands up, she notices an old man with cleaning equipment discreetly trying not to look in her direction where a crime is being committed. "I don't earn enough for that and I'm late anyway," he mumbles morosely. Later, thanks to his thoughtfulness, he 'finds' some money. The rest goes into a donation drum.

The flat door closes with a satisfying, soft click behind Retha. The huge seven-room flat has an air of familiarity and security. Which is odd, since the entrance hall has traditional masks from the Nō theatre and regional Japanese festival decor hanging on either side, and the living room has functional weapons and clichéd-looking wabi-sabi stuff that none of the residents seriously believe in.
Seung stands awkwardly in the room, caught off guard by Retha's appearance. "Hello back," he greets with his so typical cheeky manner.
Retha kicks her expensive shoes into a corner and drops onto the couch, sighing heavily. The handle of the briefcase, however, remains firmly in her left hand.
"Demanding mission?"
"It went miserably."
"Oh, you poor thing. Let yourself get a kneading."
Seung begins massaging her shoulders.
"Ah! Shit, that feels good! Harder. Harder," the big woman moans.
Lured by the sounds, Thea comes out of a neighbouring room. When she sees Retha openly enjoying the massage very much, biting her lips and squinting her eyes, she gives a dorky giggle.
Thea is wearing an unironed shirt to match what her exhausted roommate is wearing, and an office skirt. The small bottle of Sjhlfelser Met in her hand indicates that the young northern European is tipsy.
Thea flops down next to Retha and slides closer to her.
"Had a rough day?" she asks, taking a sip and then offering the condensation-wet bottle to Retha, which she gratefully declines.
"We are strange kunoichi and ninjas: we should cultivate abstinence, but one is a womaniser, the other drinks, the third is violent and that one is lazy," she says, pointing to Valentijn, who has just come into the living room and is waddling around the room with joss sticks.
The latter looks up. "What do you mean? … I'm not lazy, I'm in energy-saving mode right now. And very patient and more strategic."
"What are you doing anyway?"
Valentijn waves the sticks through the air, flapping his expensive but hideously old-fashioned dressing gown, inspecting every nook and cranny. "I may have summoned a spirit. Possibly even a Noppera-bō."
He places the incense sticks in the bronze bowl and this on the coffee table, and sits down on a stool opposite Retha. He reaches for the briefcase. "Seems to have been a success."
Retha raises a hand. "Careful. Don't open it. Could have a trap or curse."
Valentijn raises a thumb in acknowledgement.
"And to your question, two security guys got shot."
„Oooh. Deead?"1 mumbles Thea.
"Not sure, but … blood."
"Aah, crap," Valentijn says, his gaze still on the suitcase, trying to think of what might be inside.
"Then two chicks and a guy tried to rob me."
"And?" asks Thea.
"Didn't have the nerve and beat them up."
Thea makes a sound like 'Kha'. Then she takes Retha's left hand and looks at it for a long time.
"Have I told you that you have beautiful hands?", stroking the back of the dark hand on which her light hand contrasts.
"Yeah, whenever you're a little sad and drunk."
"I'm not drunk. Just tipsy."
Retha scratches her cheek as she looks out the window at the surrounding industrial area and office complexes.
"Will you get me something to drink too, Thea?" asks Retha, but her roommate has already dozed off.
Seung leans forward towards Retha's ear. "Shall I?" the Korean purrs.
Retha waves her right hand, indenting his nose as she bumps into him. "Don't do that!" she giggles.
"I can. Still have to move this suitcase into our safe," Valentijn jumps up to forestall Seung.
The latter does a half somersault so that he is sitting on the couch. He puffs out his cheeks in a caricature of a pout. "I'm not a ladies' man. I drive men crazy too."
Retha pokes him in the cheek jokingly. "Sure. You better believe it."
Thea startles as her head threatens to slip off. Yawning loudly, she stands up. "I think I'll go to my snug little-bitty bed."
"Nah wait a minute. Valentijn just brought something to nibble on," Seung begged.
Sure enough, Valentijn returned, a glass full of transparent liquid with ice cubes in one hand and a bowl of salty in the other.
"Martini auf den Felsen2 for the lady."
Retha takes it gratefully. "I don't know what Thea likes about this brew from Schilffels,3 but I prefer martini."
Sihl-fels, like the Zurich river," corrects Thea, "And I have to admit, it takes some getting used to. But once you get over the fishy smell and the herbal tea taste, it's bearable."
Thea squeezes herself between the armrest and Seung, causing the latter to scoot over.
The quartet spread out across the sofa and then start eating the crisps.
Thea suddenly stands up very slowly and feels around in her pockets.
"Looking for something?" asks Seung with his mouth full.
Retha holds up a small cylinder. "Yes, the dart with the stunner I used on one of the robbers."
Valentijn frowns. "Wouldn't this draw unnecessary attention to the incident?"
"Probably, but how would they get the idea to check?"
Thea suddenly takes a big swig from the apparently not quite empty bottle.
"Do you want to talk about it?" asks Retha uncertainly.
"No, not yet. Still have to digests it."

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