Megan ran her fingertips along the control box. Plastic, smooth and unremarkable. She pulled up the antenna and moved the small brown switch, smiling as the red LED began to glow. Not bad for someone who six months earlier had never held a soldering iron.
Just a casual flip of her finger and it would be over. They would all be dead. Thad Robertson deserved to die. Killing his wife and three children would send the right message. And the other two dozen or so people living in the building could be written off as collateral damage.
In Megan's mind, the others were inconsequential. There was only Thad Robertson. She remembered meeting this successful attorney, turned community leader. She was nineteen and a runaway. He seemed interesting in her plight and promised to find her work.
How different he seemed from her parents. Kind instead of condescending. Someone who seemed to always be looking ahead, instead of being locked in the past.
It did not take long to see beyond her first impressions.
After two years, she appeared in over twenty x-rated films, seduced people Robertson wanted leverage over, and had attempted suicide on two occasions. Robertson paid for her therapy, which proved remarkably successful. Megan's anger was no longer the internal sufferings of someone abused by everyone she ever trusted. It was now pointed outward, and lusting for revenge.
How silly of Thad to have her seduce an arms dealer, she mused, while checking the contacts to the box. Gregori had all the information and supplies she needed. He also had the professional discretion not to ask questions. Placing the explosives was a matter of a few educated guesses, but studying how buildings are imploded gave her plenty of clues.
The Internet would be her greatest asset. Reporters and the curious would search the web, and easily find her webpage. People would now know that Robertson, this "pillar of the community", was also a pornographer and a pimp. The money trail was neatly documented. And she wasn't shy about showing the most degrading scenes from her two years as a pornstar. That feeling of degradation was powerful, fueling her homicidal passion.
How deliciously ironic it would be; politicians praising him at his funeral while everyone knew the ugly truth.
She picked up a pair of binoculars and looked at the five-story apartment building. The large picture windows leading to the patios allowed her to look inside. There was a young family with kids. A woman about her age, pregnant and apparently alone. An elderly couple with a huge Persian cat.
It would be sudden, she told herself, they would not suffer.
Then she raised the binoculars to the top floor. The mid-twentieth century abstract paintings on the wall, similar to those in Robertson's office. Might any of these be considered "great art"? This was troubling. She remembered being eleven or twelve and crying when the Taliban destroyed the giant Buddhas in Afghanistan.
But no, her mind had no room for sentiment. Besides, this was not her fault. Robertson led her to this vandalism. His chickens were coming home to roost. She wasn't the only lost soul he had provided sanctuary, only to degrade. He deserved to die, and nothing else could matter.
Everything was set. All she had to do was press that button and it would all be over. Two years of suffering Robertson's whims. And finally, after twenty-one years of abuse and neglect, her parents would see the monster they had created.
She had no delusions of getting away. When the cops arrive she would "assume the position". She would spend most of her remaining life in prison. Then there would be the day it would end; her last meal, and the chaplain telling her it's time.
Two years earlier, she probably would have joined any church or cult willing to listen to her and give her shelter. Gregori's atheism was comforting to her now. There would be no accountability for what she was about to do. No eternal damnation or karma. Nothing.
All her doubts ended with another peek through the binoculars. There he was, the smile he often wore while ordering a slave beaten. She pushed the button. The charges went off like a succession of loud fireworks and the building collapsed into itself. Then there was a few second's silence before the sirens started.
Instead of the sense of accomplishment she expected, there was only a strange emptiness. Perhaps this was not a thing to celebrate. Perhaps those people's lives, even Thad Robertson's, had some value.
Then she thought about that big Persian cat. The anger, so long her companion, had abandoned her. She collapsed onto the soft ground. "I'm sorry, kitty," she said, weeping.
-- Dan Mulhollen