By Alanna Piche
Looking in the mirror, Cerise gave a sigh of resignation. She couldn’t believe the lengths she had to go, especially ones involving wearing a vinyl maid’s outfit. Getting close enough to him would be hard otherwise, and this would make it much easier. Hell, this would make it impossible not to be close to him.
“C, report,” a voice crackled, cutting into her thoughts.
“I’ve narrowed down the target, and will intercept tonight,” she replied, still fussing with the costume as she turned side to side in front of the mirror.
“Good. Have you fully briefed yourself on the mission information?”
“Yes,” she lied.
“C…” the voice trailed off in warning, knowing that tone of voice from Cerise.
“Okay, so I haven’t read everything. What’s to know? Put on a show, get close to the target, and drain him. Piece of cake.”
“And once he contacts you?”
“Meet him at Pluto’s and bring him into the VIP backroom.”
“Good. Ensure you are both there by nineteen-hundred hours tomorrow.”
“Yes, yes. Look, I’m not a greenie.”
“Do I need to remind you what happened on your last assignment, C?”
Cerise paused, watching a reflection of herself grimace. “I’d prefer if you didn’t.”
“That’s what I thought. Tomorrow night. Don’t screw this one up.” The connection terminated.
With one last look in the mirror, Cerise shook her head and turned away from the reflection. Grabbing the access key to the hotel room and a few other items, she slipped into a pair of black stiletto heels and hurried out the door.
Cerise could hear the noise from outside the apartment. The bachelor party was in full swing, and her device confirmed one of the voices within belonged to the target.
“I wonder how much a stripper makes. I bet their pay is better than my salary,” she mused to herself out loud, or so she thought.
“C,” the familiar voice was heard, its tone holding a warning.
“I was joking, honest. Could you warn me when you’re on the line next time?” Cerise muttered.
“Go to it, C.”
“Yeah, yeah. How about next mission you can be the stripper?” She replied smugly.
A snort was her only response as she opened a small vial filled with glittering dust. The components to the ritual would need time to charge, and she’d have to apply it to herself now. Smearing a good portion over her lips, Cerise whispered the charging words to accompany the powder. She would only have to get close enough to her mark to evoke the spell, using two words to seal it.
Prepared, Cerise the stripper made her grand entrance.
She had to play it discreetly, spending enough time with the groom-to-be to not bring up any suspicion. Or at least, that’s what they wanted her to do. Cerise didn’t think any of them would realize what she was up to, too drunk to care while they leered at her scantily clad body. Still, she played this one by the “book” since the last assignment had not exactly gone as planned. Better that she stick to their plans, so that if something went south, she couldn’t be blamed for this one.
Cerise smoothly glided towards the target, helping herself to his lap, grinding her body against him. She would have to make sure there were no distractions; that his attention was on her completely. The ritual would require the target’s immersion on her, and with the responses Andy was giving her dancing, she could tell she had it.
Her hands stroked at Andy’s hair, and she grabbed a handful, roughly pulling his head closer to her. Cerise’s sparkling lips moved towards Andy’s mouth, and just as she was about to steal a kiss from him, she stole something else.
She moved past his lips, towards his ear. “Animam solutam.” Cerise completed the ritual, the final words evoking the spell. The indicator light to her device flashed, signifying the soul had been fully absorbed by it. She had him.
Finished with the first step to her mission, Cerise wrapped up the entertainment as quickly as possible. She wanted to get back to the hotel room so she could get out of the degrading outfit and back into her suit. As she was collecting her things, the best man shoved a wad of money into her hand.
“You did a great job. We’ll be hiring you again for sure babe,” he smacked her half-exposed behind.
“Thanks,” Cerise replied through gritted teeth, trying to remind herself she was here as a stripper. She flicked through the money, counting it quickly. After gathering her things, Cerise slipped out of the apartment and into the foyer.
“Damn,” she whistled, leafing through the money once more. “I was right, way better than my salary.”
“Don’t get any ideas,” the voice interjected.
Just as she predicted, Andy had made his way to the club right on time. She could hear the chattering of his teeth at a distance, and by the look on his face she knew he wasn’t happy. Not that she could blame him, walking around without your soul was uncomfortable – to say the least. Well, he wasn’t exactly without his soul.
“What the hell did you do to me?” he demanded Cerise’s answer, after storming towards her.
“I drained your soul. I thought the note cleared that up?”
Andy’s face reddened with anger. “What the hell are you talking about? You’re some psycho, aren’t you?”
Cerise sighed, but didn’t say anything else.
“Just my luck, had to be at the bachelor party with the crazy stripper,” he muttered.
“Look, I have someone who wants to meet you. Follow me.”
“I’m not going anywhere until you explain how the hell I could be walking around without my soul,” Andy crossed his arms, not budging from his place.
“You still have a soul. It’s just currently under different management.”
“Different management…” Andy repeated, partly in disbelief.
“Yeah. Once you help, we’ll be happy to return it.”
“Yeah, we. Like I said earlier, I have someone who wants to meet you.” Cerise motioned to the VIP area, behind the main stage. It was blocked off from the majority of the patrons, two large bouncers guarding it.
Andy grudgingly followed her, catching up to walk beside. “So you’re not really a stripper, huh? What’s your real name, then?”
“Cerise.” She growled.
“Oh. Uh–hey, yeah. It’s a great name,” he tried to recover.
“Just shut up until we get in,” she grunted, nodding to the two bouncers. They ushered her in with Andy before closing the door behind them.
Andy frowned, rubbing at his arms. He still couldn’t get warm, no matter what he did. If Cerise was right, this was likely a side-effect from not having a soul in your body. Still, he remained skeptical.
The room was dark, and all Andy could make out was a man’s shadow sitting at a table within the room. A few chairs circled the large table, facing the man. Andy could feel the tension heighten in the room, seeing Cerise straighten beside him.
“The target is acquired,” she spoke to the man in the shadows.
“Good, agent C. Please, leave us.” Cerise nodded, exiting the backroom and leaving Andy alone with the mysterious figure.
“Andy, we have a few things to discuss. Your soul will be returned to you, provided you complete a few simple…tasks.”
“A few simple tasks?” Andy couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Why don’t you just have Cerise do them?” He muttered, waving at the closed door for emphasis. “Look, did Jeremy set this up? Is this some joke?”
“It’s no joke, Andy. That cold feeling? It will get worse the longer your soul is not in your possession. Besides, doesn’t everyone want the chance to be a hero?”
“The hero? Look buddy, you sound as crazy as she does. I’m getting out of he— ” Andy abruptly fell to the floor, unconscious.