Note to readers: I am currently accepting betareading requests.

A PARADOX

Ah. Here he is.

Retracing my steps. Just as I knew he would.

He's staring at the singing dummy, wary, confused.

I seal my fate.

I speak.

"So, Mr. Finch. Finally, we meet."

He spins. His mouth opens, but no sound issues forth. It is a noiseless shriek.

My hands move toward my throwing knives, ever so slowly.

He really is taking quite a while to recover, isn't he? Now the shriek that wasn't is gone, replaced by wonder and grotesque terror. The air between us is pregnant with anticipation, with the sense that something momentous is about to occur and neither of us can stop it.

The sleek metal of the knife bites me even through the thickness of my glove. Finch snaps awake, draws a pistol.

The knife flies from my hand. Casually.

The bullets thunderously escape the confines of the barrel. Anything but casually.

There are four of them. Three enter my abdomen, one lodges in my chest. Finch screeches; my knife found its mark.

Pain. Burning, stabbing, traversing my body. The cloth around my wounds grows warm and damp.

I ignore it, move forward, pluck the gun from Finch's trembling hand. My face is reflected twice over in his eyes, eyes that are a classic portrait of glazed fear.

"There. Did you think to kill me? There's no flesh or blood within this cloak to kill."

True and false.

"There's only an idea. Ideas are bulletproof. Farewell."

I turn and walk, fighting to stay upright with every step. My last battle, isn't it? Getting this weary body back to the Shadow Gallery. Back to my heir.

Sweet Eve...

Warm liquid spills down my torso and onto the ground, leaving a ragged scarlet trail behind my weaving form. Behind me, a voice triumphantly rings out. The triumph of the hunt.

"I killed you!"

How entirely correct and dreadfully wrong Mr. Finch is.