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If it were strange for a young girl to march into a bank unaccompanied, Dave didn’t comment on it. He had just finished up with a particularly difficult customer trying to open another savings account and didn’t have the energy to go up and ask the girl where her parents were. It wasn’t his job. The poor kid would have to wander alone, and hopefully her parents show up soon.
He went to the coffee station and began brewing another cup of coffee, humming to himself a song from a musical he saw at the Ellison Theatre the night before. He’d seen it with his wife and her sister Beth, which resulted in them sharing fantasies about quitting their jobs.
Dave was ordinarily quite comfortable in his position, but the customers lately were stretching his last nerve. All he wanted to do was run out of here and take a nice long trip to Cabo San Lucas, take a detour to go to Hawaii, and then never come back.
He withdrew his paper cup from the coffee machine and slapped on a lid. The alluring aroma of the freshly-ground coffee beans was already making him feel much better, better enough so that the shouts from the savings account meeting stopped replaying over and over in his head.
He steadied his coffee in two hands and walked across the carpet to the glass enclosure around his office. He turned to set his coffee cup down on the floor so he could unlock the door and noticed the girl standing in front of an ATM, turning a card over in her hands.
The girl couldn’t have been more than ten years old. She wore a pale blue sundress and flower-print sneakers that lit up when she moved. Her chest-length red hair was in two tight braids—a sign that whoever she belonged to made sure she was well looked after—in the appearance department, at least. Dave was sure that nothing sinister was at foot here, but he had to go check.
“Hello, young lady.”
The girl smiled up at him and pointed at the ATM. “Sorry I’m taking so long. I’m still trying to figure out how it works.”
Dave knelt down and pointed to the card in her hand. “Can I see what you have there?”
“It’s a credit card,” the girl said proudly.
He swallowed. “And this is your…parents’ credit card?”
She nodded. “It is.”
“Can I see it for a moment?”
The girl handed him the credit card and he turned it over in his palm, checking for authenticity. He ran his thumb over the signature in the back and could make out the words “Raina Quinn”. The date stamp was from only two days ago.
“What is your name?” he asked, still holding the credit card.
“Mira,” the girl said.
“And where are your parents?”
“They’re at the grocery store,” she said, as if it were perfectly natural to be left alone at a bank.
“Well, maybe you should call them so they can come get you,” he suggested. “If you come into my office we can make a call.”
“No, they want me to get some money for them first,” she protested.
“You’re not allowed to…”
“Oh, I’m not?” She looked surprised. “They seemed to think I was…” She paused. “Can I please get money for them this one time? I’ll let you supervise me!”
Dave shook his head. “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.” He could see Mira’s jaw working, her eyes narrowing as she thought. “I am sorry, Mira, but if your parents needed cash, they shouldn’t have sent you to get it.”
Mira shook her head. “Then I’m sorry. So very sorry, Dave, because I wanted to do this the legal way.”
For a moment, Dave was just standing there, eyebrows raised in confusion, a mere foot separating himself from Mira Quinn. But—as Dave would learn later—Mira Quinn was nothing if not thorough. Within a second of her last pronouncement, she had whipped out a silver handgun circled by a faint blue light and had shot Dave in the chest.
The bullet made no sound, streaming towards him in a wake of inhuman light, beautiful, really. Beautiful and terrible, an instrument of beauty used to kill. He barely registered the pain when it hit him—nothing seemed to be registering now. There was no scream, no cry of agony, no plea for help. It was just him, Mira, and the bullet—no alarms, no running to help, no move to call the police.
They were alone.
“I am sorry,” she said. Dave squinted up at her as the world blurred, realizing just how young she looked, and just how out of place that gun looked in her hand.
“I...” he croaked.
“Sweet dreams,” Mira said, and left him to succumb to a world of blackness.
What she did next, no one knew—for when the police finally arrived, she was gone—the security cameras shattered, the lights blown out...and every single bank worker lying unconscious on the floor.
Mira was never seen or heard from again, though Dave wondered about her constantly—who she was, what she had done—where she was now. It was perhaps this incessant obsession that had led him to coming across an interesting article published in Cascadia, Washington, about a local teenager who had coerced several students into ripping up their state math test and writing, “I AM NOT A NUMBER” on the school walls in big blue marker.
Normally, he would’ve paid the story no attention, but then he saw the teenager’s picture staring back at him from the front page. The resemblance was unmistakable, down to the two tight braids hanging down from either side of her face.
Mira Quinn had returned.