“Julie”

Adam awoke in a dress more expensive than he’d ever laid eyes on. As his eyes adjusted to his surroundings, he noticed the little blue diamond ring on his finger.He lifted his head slowly, his back aching.

“I must say, you make a delightful woman,” Julie said. “But what is about to happen, you understand, is entirely personal.”

“What is this?” Adam’s captor looked down at two small cushions glued over his pectorals. He was dressed in the exact same manner as Julie. Blue bow on the breast to blue bow on the breast.

“And I don’t mean that it’s personal in any sort of malicious sense, not even in the slightest. I mean, if circumstances were different we could have gotten up to all kinds of fun.” She talked slowly and with a teethy smile. “We could have swapped out of terrible dates, for one thing. You must have heard the story of Barbara Eli with the spaghetti stuck between her top front teeth and her bottom front teeth?” She sat down on the table, reminiscing as her prisoner’s sweat began soaking through his make-up. “You’d think surely she’d feel it there – or even hear the spaghetti, whistling tweety-bird in the wind as she spoke…”

“This isn’t going to work,” Adam spat. “We can still fix this. Just let me go.”

“And why won’t it work?”

“You don’t think they can tell us apart? You walk with a limp, everyone knows that. And they’ll notice that I’m a man, for crying out loud. So we can-”

Julie pulled out her revolver and blasted a bullet through Adam’s kneecap. She watched him fall from the chair, flailing in his matching dress, and writhe on the floor. “Now you’ll limp, right?”

Her guards took positions by the windows as the FBI van sirens signalled their arrival. “As much as I think you deserve to die you can still enjoy this moment, Adam. You are now more powerful then you’ve ever been. You are a goddess, a spirit flowing through the wind. You have billions of dollars and ideas powerful enough to match. You can buy anything or anyone and do anything you want – and sleep with any guy you want.”

“And yet a bullet would still kill me.” Adam seethed, blood leaking from where he’d bitten his cheek in pain. From the ground he eyed the revolver in Julie’s hand. “And you.” He could make a grab for it.

“This’ll be a lot easier for you if you imagine you’ve already done that stuff, and this is the blaze of glory where the only thing you haven’t yet done is… be shot down by a swarm of angry agents with guns. Let the bugs devour the chameleon…”

“You won’t get away with this.”

Julie opened the curtain nonchalantly with the end of her pistol and peered through. “…And here they are. Right on que.” Then she began to narrate. “The FBI swarmed like locusts, the plague of darkness. They took positions behind trees and they overturned the bench.” She nodded to her right hand man, previously shrouded in shadow, who, with great strength, wrenched open the trap door in the floorboards.

Dust floated through the room and into Adam’s lungs. The trap door hadn’t been opened in years.

“’Revelations nine: seven;” Julie continued, “the appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads appeared to be crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men.”

“Please,” Adam said. The guards thrust hands under the prisoner’s arms and heaved him to his feet.

Julie, the wanted fugitive, ignored him. She was admiring the little cottage. “The Pargetters won’t appreciate bullet holes in their walls, I’m sure. Such a sweet couple. Worked their whole lives without a vacation. It’s enchanting to me that they had no clue whatsoever of the elaborate escape tunnel built under their house by the French in ’42. But don’t worry, they’ll be well looked after. And they should be back from their ferry of the Bora Bora early in the morning.”

“I can offer you money,” Adam begged.

“It’s wondrous.” Julie smiled, stroking the velvet wallpaper. “Take him to the front door.”

The amplified voice of an agent on a speaker phone blasted through the walls. “Julie Nguyen. Come out with your hands above your head. You have ten seconds to comply or we will start shooting.”

“Please,” Adam said again. “Don’t do this. I have a daughter.”

Julie stood opposite the Prisoner and straightened her bow as if she was looking into a mirror. And your daughter will be proud.” She stroked his cheek lovingly. “This will be her father’s crowning achievement. You’re allowing me to continue living. The Lord will thank you as a hero, Ad. Can I call you Ad?” Now she straightened the new Julie’s bow. “You’re enabling me to play the villain, Ad. Which I guess is fine. It gives that lot outside someone to unite against. Imagine the parties they’re going to throw when I’m dead.” Julie laughed and clapped her hands together. “Oh. And one more thing. When they gauge out your eyes and use your head as a jack-o-lantern, ask for the orange neon lights. They’re much prettier in this cold winter mist.”

The door to the cottage was opened, Julie’s muscle grabbed Adam and he was forced outside.

Time froze for a moment. The FBI didn’t shoot. They thought Julie was surrendering as Adam limped forward; the prisoner’s pride preventing him from collapsing in pain.

“If you wouldn’t mind,” Julie smiled to her guard as she disappeared under the floorboards with all the flair of a great magician.

Her muscle lifted his gun and fired a bullet through the cottage door. It flew hard past Adam’s head and floored an agent on the outside.

The FBI retaliated, they shouted and they swarmed. Adam had only seen them in the movies. But now the bullets pierced his hands, and then his liver, and then his heart.

“Nguyen is down!” The officer’s voice echoed through the cottage. “Move in! I repeat: Nguyen is down!”

“No,” Julie smiled as she walked through the dark, her guards in tow. “But Nguyen is out.”