Unstrung Web

Spiders are fearsome and ugly creatures. Staring into the mirror, she couldn't agree more with her namesake. Unsheathing a dagger from a strap on her thigh, she thinly slices her cheek.

Men, sometimes women, blabbered on and on of her beauty, choking her. Then she would kill them without hesitation for the sake of her clients. Some were probably decent people caught up in the wrong end of things. Most were as bad as her.

Small droplets of blood spool out, and she makes another cut. And another and another. Death by a thousand cuts, Napoleon once said. The medics would be displeased. She's not sure if she even wants to come out of the mission alive.

Her fingers dance along the intricate web etched into her skin.

She's no longer Natalia or the Black Widow. Even the frail girl from before has been burned away since the Red Room. She's a soldier for questionable masters and whore for their loyal followers. Not anymore. More cuts. She's nameless and alone, but not afraid. She can never be afraid.

The bathroom door busts open.

Her battle stance should come natural, and her dagger should flow from her face to pointing at her mission's target. She simply stands there; bleeding while an arrow is trained at her nonexistent heart.

She's not afraid. She can still kill him. Only her mouth moves, her lips crimson red. "Spiders are loathsome things."

He thinks the girl is crazy.

"I was a butterfly once," she continues the madness.

Now he knows the girl is bonkers. Still, he puts away the bow and arrow. He easily plucks the knife from the unmoving girl. That's how he sees her—a girl who's alone and afraid.

Tears mix with blood, and her web is ruined.