The pumpkin fields were the livelihood of their small native community. Last Spring everything was a rolling wave of warm orange flowers; now it was an endless, cold, grey slab of luxury-apartment blocks. Her community had been expulsed to the fringes. In just one year: most had starved, some had become scavengers, and a few had turned to dark work …
Observing the marble corridors below she crawled silently through the rafters. Clad in a macabre motley of dark browns, greys, and blacks she was perfectly concealed in shadow. She paused directly above the Guard Master and his unit. Small-minded men made big-headed by moderate responsibility. They were dangerous, but not a threat. She easily slipped over them and reached the apartment unnoticed.
There was a pumpkin by the front door. Large enough to feed her entire family. It’d been carved up into a jack-o’-lantern for the day’s entertainment.
She cautiously lowered herself from the rafters and tried the door—it was locked. She made light work of it and slid into the foyer.
“You’re a new species of jackass! It’s her first Halloween—”
The couple was fighting in a room somewhere to the right. Perfect. She sped left, down a hallway, in search of her target. She found it. The nursery. The door was wide open. The baby was inside—asleep. A swift stab with her stiletto then she’d flee. Toddlers seldom awoke—unless you missed the jugular. Then they’d screech. Horribly.
She had a close call last week … this time she couldn’t afford to miss. Missing meant starvation for her and her family.
She stabbed at the child’s neck but hit something. Hard. Confusion and fear flooded her. In her haste, she hadn’t seen the near-transparent veneer covering the infant.
The child was still asleep … she steadied her weapon searching for a gap in the barrier. She didn’t have to stab deep. Just enough to draw blood. The poison in the blade would handle the rest and by then she’d be long gone—
“Celia? What was that?”
“Nothing—just swatted a mosquito. It was trying to get through little Ano’s mosquito net.”