Enjoy the lighter side of sociopathy with Penny Cain, the amoral hired killer with a wit as sharp as her knives and a taste for brutal torture. Some might people find murder a chore: not Penny. She loves her work and isn’t afraid to tell anyone who’ll listen.
‘Meet Penny’ is the first of the darkly comic adventures of sociopathic assassin Penny Cain.
She slapped him around the face, hard. “Wake up!” His eyes popped open, one with its white bruised a dark ugly red from a burst blood vessel. His dark pupil stared out madly, fearfully. She smiled at him. “Hello.”
“Who are you?” he said. His jaw was swollen where she’d hit him, and his voice came out slurred. His glassy look indicated he may have sustained a concussion too. Well. It wouldn’t matter soon anyway. She didn’t answer, and he stared around, trying to make sense of his surroundings. “Where am I?”
“In a dingy basement,” she said, waving a hand around. “And this,” she reached up and shook the bulb, “is a bright, bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. You see, it disorientates you by hiding everything outside this one little globe of light. You should know though, it’s just bare walls. You’re not really missing anything.” She jerked her thumb back over her shoulder. “Door’s that way, but I locked it. Sorry. Key’s here.” She waved it in front of him, then laughed as he lunged for it and discovered he was handcuffed to a chair. “I know,” she smiled, “it’s shit, isn’t it?”
“What’s going on?” the man asked.
She dragged another chair over and sat down in front of him. “Well, basically, you’re my prisoner, and I’m going to kill you in…” she glanced down at her watch, “…maybe ten minutes? That could change. But that’s usually how these things go.”
The battered man nodded. He was starting to recover his aplomb. “I remember now. You attacked me.”
She pointed at him. “Bingo.”
“You remember Mr Dubois?”
“He paid me to kill you.”
“I don’t know. You tell me.”
The man laughed shortly. “It’s a long story.”
“Oh well, don’t worry about it then.” She stood up. “So, listen, generally I like to have some fun with my targets. Plus, it helps if your corpse isn’t identifiable. I lied about the room being empty before.” She ducked into the shadows then came back with a black duffel back. “This was just over there in the corner. Sorry. I don’t like to lie, but it’s funnier this way.”
He eyed the bag blearily. “What’s in there?”
“Knives and stuff. Oh, and this. Check it out.” She pulled out a complicated looking device. “Got it from some bondage website. I think it’s supposed to be used on your asshole. Wanna try it?”
“Yeah, I bet you don’t. We’ll see how it goes.” She pulled out a long knife. “This was my very first weapon. Just an old hunting knife. My daddy showed me how to skin a deer with it when I was just five. Works on people too though.”
“Does your daddy know you’re here now, doing this?”
“He’s dead. So no.”
“How did he die?”
She leant in and placed the knife beneath his injured eye. “I killed him.” She paused. “Nah, just kidding. It was cancer. Pretty fucked up. Anyway, he’s not around, so don’t try appealing to that side of me. Want to try any other little tactics?”
“If you were paid to kill me, why are you torturing me?”
“For fun,” she said simply.
“You think torturing people is fun?”
“Yep. I mean, I like killing, which is why I’m an assassin, but I guess it’s all part of the same thing. Inflicting pain. Hurting people. Ruining lives.”
“Is it sexual?”
She laughed in his face. “Seriously? I mean, do you want it to be?” She gestured down at herself with her knife. “I have more muscle mass than you do, I’m wearing shapeless black fatigues, and we’ve already established the kind of woman I am. I guess maybe if someone had told you a couple of months ago that you were going to be captured by a female assassin who’d torture you, you’d have had visions of black latex and stilettos. Well, sorry to disappoint, but this is as far away from sexy as life is ever going to get for you. No, I’m not really into sex. Just pain.”
“You’re just a psycho then?”
“Pretty much,” she replied cheerfully, “hence the job. If you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.” She took another knife out of her bag. “Can you believe I got paid ten grand to do this?”
“Is that all my life is worth?” the man chuckled. He looked around him again, and struggled feebly against his cuffs.
“I don’t set the exchange rate. I just pick up the cheques. Ten grand. I’m not sure what I’ll spend it on…”
“Maybe a nice dress?” he suggested.
“It’s probably gonna be more knives,” she admitted without looking at him, “I like knives. They’re very…immediate…like,” she turned to him, “I’ve killed people with guns. That was fine. Used a sniper rifle once. It was quick and through the scope you get to see the victim’s face.” She mimed someone’s death throes. “Urrrrk…course, I couldn’t hear them. It was okay. But knives are good. You get a real,” she moved her hands around, still holding the knives, searching for the word, “you know, a real sense of…achievement with a knife. It’s like the difference between taking a photo and painting something, I guess.”
“So I’m art to you?” he smirked.
She stepped up to the chair and slapped him around the face. “Don’t get smart with me, fuckwit. Don’t try to appeal to some humanity you imagine is buried beneath my cold, sardonic exterior. It isn’t there. I checked. I went through a whole phase of thinking I had some sort of problem.”
“And you don’t think you do?” he asked, spitting out a tooth she’d dislodged with her last slap.
“No, I just realised I don’t give a shit. Now, listen, because I like to narrate. Here is a knife, and here is your fucking eyeball. One is squishy, and the other one is very not squishy. Would you like to see what happens when they encounter one another?”
On a snowy street in Moscow, another man waited for a woman he’d never met, but whom he knew how to recognise. He was just checking his watch as she sauntered up. “Here’s the copy of that obscure lifestyle magazine that’s only sold in one fucking province of Finland or whatever, that I was told to carry so you’d be able to recognise me.” She slapped his chest with it. “Makes me feel like someone’s blind date and, no offence, but I’d be pissed off if I turned out to be yours.”
“Mr Dubois said you’d be like this,” he replied with an expression of distaste. “This is a public street.”
“Whatever. They’re all Russian; no one knows what we’re saying. And you wanted to meet here, smart guy. Anyway, where’s my money?”
“Did I kill your guy? Yeah. And mutilated his body beyond all recognition. Money now please.”
“We need proof…”
“Man, you rich guys are all the same.” She dug into her heavy overcoat and pulled out her phone. “Here, look, I recorded the bit where I cut out his tongue and fed it to him. Sorry, it’s hard to make out ’cause of the blood. See, I generally blind them first, because it makes it scarier. But anyway, this is him gurgling for mercy, and now I…”
“Enough,” he held up a hand, “I believe you.”
“You sure? There’s a pretty good bit where he craps himself when I go for his balls.”
“Your money is in a safety deposit box at the central station. Here is the code. You will also find a train ticket inside that will take you anywhere on the continent you wish to go.”
“Aw, man. Couldn’t you just give me a briefcase full of cash?”
“Mr Dubois prefers to keep his hands clean.”
“Hence hiring me. Okay, well, nice doing business with you I guess. Hey, if Mr Dubois needs any more morons offed, he knows where to find me, yeah? I’m in the book. Just look under Penny Caine. I’m pretty active on Twitter too. See you later!” She took the code for the deposit box from him and departed with a cheery wave.