Writers (in order): Charlee D., Gisela Bunch, CL, ZN, E.M. Williamson, James Larson, Angel Strong, H.K., Aritra Nag, Sophia Kou, Asia Donn’ve, Dylan, E.S., Crystal Tse, Kwinch Bingle, Albatross, Sam E. Corduroy, O.M. Griffith, Bookish Vampire, Emily Chaisson, Z. Bransi, Ephraim Smith, A

Editor: Irene Tsen

Oh, thank God.

A woman seated herself on the stool, breathing a sigh of relief. What an exasperating day she had been through.

She ordered her drink, finding herself glancing at the man sitting next to her, sipping his drink in contemplative silence. She found herself mirroring his movement with her own drink, letting the sip linger in her mouth for some time before swallowing. Some of her weariness abated.

Sensing her gaze, he looked over at her. “Long day?”

She nodded, a smile coming to her face at the prospect of conversation. “I just couldn’t get the shot from the right angle. Sometimes I wonder why I took this job.” Did that sound too self-pitying? “But then again… sometimes I like the artistry of it.”

“Ah, yes,” the man agreed casually, taking a sip of his drink. “You just have to catch your subject at just the right moment, eh?”

“Exactly!” the woman exclaimed. Her past weariness began to fade. “Like, moving subjects are so hard, so why waste your time on them?”

“But still, targets are a bore.”

The woman frowned. “I find them quite beautiful, actually…”

The man nodded empathetically. Different people often had different perspectives, and that was especially true in his profession. “I don’t want to get too personal if you’re not comfortable, but who’s your employer? Or are you freelance?”

“Oh, it’s okay,” the woman smiled politely, toning down her excitement as she glanced around the bar before answering his question, “Dawn Hammer. What about you?”

Dawn Hammer? I’ve never heard of an assassination organization with that name... but then again, such organizations are kept secret. He slid his finger along the rim of his glass. “Oh, I’m freelance. I prefer traveling all over, as opposed to staying in one area. It also makes it easier to meet all kinds of people, make connections, stuff like that.”

She smiled, her energy showing. “Yes, of course. I love engaging with the environment almost as much as I do with my subjects. I need to get comfortable with the space before I can get a good shot.”

“Of course,” came the man’s soft chuckle in response. “It’s crucial to understand the dynamics and anticipate the right moment. The environment plays a significant role in capturing that shot, you see.”

The woman’s eyes glistened as she leaned in closer, her interest piqued. “Tell me, have you ever had encounters with particularly challenging subjects?”

A mischievous smile spread across the man’s face as he pondered for a moment. “Well, there have been times where my subjects were quite elusive, one could say. I guess they had a knack for seamlessly blending in with the crowd, making for an enthralling pursuit.”

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