It’s my fault, really:  I cut my teeth on writing visual novels, so I expect multiple endings.  Of course, that’s a luxury that trad novels don’t have.  I am now embarking on the third attempt to kill everyone* in Cursed Hearts.  Given my track record, it will take at least two more attempts.  Look:  here’s “Bad End #1:”

He ran at her. Her horrid grin returned at she ran at him, her arms stupidly held out behind her. I cannot let her touch me! Must render her unconscious…! In less than two seconds they closed –

Maya jumped; he’d seen her flex just a moment too late: his right hand over his head closed on air just an inch below her foot. He skidded to a halt, knowing before turning about he’d lost: there was no way to get to Cat in time. He turned about.

Maya was holding the hands of a shaking and crying Cat, speaking to her softly. But not so soft that Chris could not pick out the word “…death!” Reacting at last, Corporal Cortez directed the team of men towards the wrecked car. The fire was spreading.

Chris began a steady walk towards the only two things that mattered to him. At three meters, Maya spoke up, without turning.

“No closer, brother! Or I eat her!”

“Let her go, sister. Take me in her place.”

Now her head moved just a little left; her eyes sliding to the corners. Red, but lessened, he thought.

“Why not the both of you? Two meals plus a dessert!”

Chris did not understand, but drew some comfort from the sound of another dozen soldiers coming out of the hangar. This group headed towards them.

Fade to black.  WTF!  Seriously, wtf!  That didn’t explain anything!  In a VN, I’d give you that for making poor choices throughout!  Well, I’d have killed you earlier if you’d tried to get an ending like that.

So, it’s 4k words later.  No parking garage, only Anton’s driver dead.  Tomorrow; I swear I’m ending this tomorrow.  Excerpt below.  And, the check’s in the mail, I love you, I  won’t come in your…

*Anton lives**.  There’s an Epilogue.

**I think.  Not finished.

Maya fled around the corner of the huge building, hating. Hating the bright sun overhead; the soldiers that just arrived; that stupid driver; that bitch behind her brother…. Her brother. Whom she both loved and hated…

She ran with the hangar’s wall to her right. She needed to hide, first. Clothing and a plan would come later. The first door handle had been locked. The second – a deserted office of some kind, with a hallway further in. She paused only for a moment, detecting no one. Moving softly into the narrow hallway she used her shoulder to further open the ajar door on her left. A locker room of some kind. Ah.

Surmising she’d only a few minutes before an organized search began, she washed the blood on her hand off in one of the three sinks. Around a small bank of lockers, she allowed a smile: gray overalls. The smallest was still too large for her, but that was quickly remedied by rolling up the pants and sleeves. Turning to leave, something in a half-open locker caught her eye. Better!

With her hair stuffed up in the cap with ‘USMC’ embossed across its front, she cracked the door at the hallway’s rear. She could see only crates in her narrow field of view, but there was much shouting – in Spanish, dammit! – nearby. She let her eyes wander up to the scaffolding and walkways more than ten meters overhead.

Maya flinched at the sudden high-pitched sound. Was she caught…? No: it was that big plane she’d seen behind brother… it was starting it’s engines. No! Was Big Brother going to flee… with his bitch?! Leaving me behind, again?!?

She pushed the door open and stepped through.

The crates weren’t quite stacked three meters high, so no one saw her. Most of the noise was from directly ahead and moving right: teams to look for her? She again regretted not knowing more Western languages. Her enhanced ears heard a faint *tonk* from high above. Maya froze and slowly looked upward.

There were several soldiers moving slowly on the catwalks she’d just noted. For now, the three she saw were looking south, towards the hangar’s open doors and the tumult there.

The human eye is drawn to motion…

She began to move slowly to her left, further into the huge building, pausing only at the tearing sound of another rotor starting. So little time!

I just need to talk to him! He’ll understand!

We just need to touch him! To eat him!

She paused to gulp a breath of air; even with clear diagnostics, it was harder for her to understand her own thoughts. Had bitch Mother made too many changes to me? Was I just a Mayfly project to her?

Further in, ahead of her only five meters ahead, was a ladder to the upper catwalks. The crates ended three meters shy. Another rotor turned over. She froze to think.

I’ve less than five minutes before they leave on that plane!… wait! Why did she think that? It’d been idle when she and the humans had arrived… if Brother was going to leave, he’s have been…

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Maya raged at herself. The plane is a feint! To draw me out! So, I must instead draw him in! But… how?

By taking something of his.

She took a few steps and peered around the last set of crates. Out in the middle of the vast floor was a folding card table with three chairs and the remains of a meal atop it. Just between that and her was some sort of pallet transport like she’d seen when smoking outside the docks at Neuroi. A man would stand at the rear and guide the machine to unload supplies for the butchers, then return stacks of empty pallets – and the occasional return that had dissolved/cremated bodies in them – onto trucks.

She looked down at herself. Between the overalls and hat, she’d survive a very cursory glance. No ID, no rank. They’d rifles; she, nothing.

The fourth engine started.

And, what if they were to escape!?

Maya’s eyes faded to their dark gray even as she smiled. The book she’d ‘read’ through her Restraints had been translated to Japanese, but on her own, she’d looked up the reference in koine Greek.

“<Let the dice fly high!>” She breathed, stepping out around the crates, towards the powered pallet-jack.

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