Snakes - E. D. James

Olivia went through her checklist one more time before she snapped the aluminum cases closed. There were only a few more chores to get done and she would be out the door and headed to Siberia. She could still barely believe the chain of events would take her from trapping Sandhill Cranes in backyards in Homer, Alaska to trying to figure out what was killing Red Crowned Cranes in Siberia in less than seventy two hours. The photographs of Audrey’s bullet riddled body in the front seat of her car flashed through Olivia’s mind and triggered a thought for one last item to pack.

She went over to her desk and pulled open the bottom left drawer. In among miscellaneous rulers and boxes of paperclips and memorabilia sat an eight inch long silver handle. Olivia picked it up, held it out away from her body and pressed the button on the side. The blade whipped out and settled into place with a satisfying clunk. She ran her thumb along the edge and felt the sharpened steel slide across the ridges of her fingertip. Her dad had given her this blade when she’d headed off to Berkeley to get her PhD in Ornithology. He’d said she’d need something to protect herself from snakes when she was out in the field. She thought maybe he gave it to her to protect herself in Berkeley, a town he considered too loose and liberal to be safe.

She held the knife in her hand and imagined herself straddling the man who had sprayed Audrey’s car with bullets. She wanted to hold the blade to his neck and spit in his face and feel him quiver in fear. She would start slowly letting the blade cut into his neck so that she could watch the pain and disbelief at his fate set in before she laid open his jugular vein and let his blood run out onto floor beneath them. She imagined getting the man to tell her who had sent him to kill Audrey. She wondered if his answer would be the name of someone she would meet in Siberia. She decided to pack the knife. From what she knew of Russians it was just possible that she would get a chance to bring her fantasies to life.