Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

The steam was overwhelming, clinging to her skin and making her sweat. Sweat seeped slowly into the cuts and bullet wounds, creating a steady stream of biting pain. Her hair was matted to the back of her neck, making some vain part of her glad there weren't any mirrors around.

Her grip was still tight, to her surprise, as she placed the gun firmly against the spine of the woman laying in front of her. The hammer cocked easily, and her finger rested lightly on the hair trigger. She took a half breath, and faltered, removing her finger.

"You shouldn't pull a gun if you don't intend to kill someone." The woman opened the eye facing upwards and examined her without moving.

"I could still do it, one shot to the spine is all it takes."

"You'd be dead before the bullet left the barrel, but you already knew that. So what sort of pathetic nonsense brought you here in this sorry state? Outlive your usefulness to them, maybe?"

"I need you to... my wife has cancer, it's inoperable."

"Mmmm, I see. Why not have your little pet do it? Too ethical? Maybe she just wants to save your poor wife from having cravings for a little human every now and then. Oh let me guess, she went and tattled on your little favor. Not so fun being on the receiving end of those nasty little shards of lead, eh."

She dropped a slip of paper, "she'll be... here."

* * *

It was a long moment before Maxine moved. First she carefully slid the gun away from her spine, then slid off the small cot away from the woman. Her skin crawled a bit as she stretched out her shoulder muscles and craned her neck around to examine the weapon's holder.

Maybe it's rigor mortis, she thought to herself, examining the stiff woman's clouded eyes. She hadn't ever heard of anyone remaining standing when they died, but there was a first time for everything she guessed. Perhaps, she thought with a hint of respect, this was just her bodies way of honoring the iron resolve that had brought it here in the first place.

She picked up the paper and flipped it over a couple times in her hand. The steam had bled out all the ink except for the last name Cruise. Perhaps she would simply wait at the funeral, or just not do it at all. One eye flicked over the still standing corpse, definitely wait at the funeral.

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. You came of the Earth, and now you go back to whatever god may be." She intoned, "and may she be as loving and forgiving as they say, because you're going to need it."

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