They're headed to the end of the fucking line — from Paris it had been simpler than she’d expected — a zippy flight over Great Britain, a gentle transition in Iceland — and Eve had been inattentive, tried to do the crossword in the in-flight magazine, had drunk her complimentary champagne, readjusted her pillow in such a way that she was able to look down at the cloud cover and imagine Niko down there, in their flat, handsome in his apron, chef’s knife in hand and surrounded by the components of things he wanted to cook for her, for him, for them to share.
She wonders if Villanelle knows how to cook. Somehow, she doubts it.
/ / /
They’re in business class. A compromise, the first she has ever offered to another. It thrills her. Is this what it means to be a person?
It mattered so much at first, to be able to treat her the way she should be treated: a princess to her queen, a queen to her knight; but Eve’s brows had knit together when they were standing at the ticket counter, and she’d pulled on her elbow and said in a low, furtive voice won’t that be a bit obvious? First class?
She’d felt it then, what she always did when being contradicted. A rush of savage anger, a desire like a desert wind, her vision blurred, bloody as the Kremlin. When she came to, though, it was just Eve. Standing there, arms folded, and the airline representative clearing his throat.
A bright smile replaced the dark wind, and she opened her wallet. Business class, she said, and clucked her tongue at Eve, as if to say, women, am I right?
The man behind the counter made a sour expression. For a second she imagines him hogtied and gagged, wrapped in a sheath of tight plastic, passing through the baggage conveyor to be dumped, unceremoniously, onto the concrete. That image keeps her happy all the way through security and up to the gate, where she enters the nearest shop and gathers every bag of candy she passes into her arms.
They take up two whole bags, when she’s finished. She pays cash. The cashier offers her a receipt but she refuses it.
/ / /
I’m okay she tells Villanelle when she offers her a white plastic bag filled to the top with Haribo. But thank you.
/ / /
Gummy bears, it turns out, go well with champagne. Who knew?
Eve rests her head against the window, turned away. Her shoulders heave as she sighs, loud enough for her to hear over the headphones.
/ / /
At some point she falls asleep because the lights were on and now they’re off, pathways along the aisles illuminating the way to the toilets.
She hasn’t got a toothbrush. Niko would have packed one, if it were him sitting beside her on this flight.
Niko would have done a lot of things.
Like not being a murderer. You know. For a fucking start.
/ / /
She watches her pass over into the darkened aisles with one eye open. It’s not as if there’s anywhere she can go. They are on a plane, after all.
/ / /
Anchorage airport is gray, the ramp to deplane cold, like it hasn’t been insulated enough from the outside. They haven’t got any luggage to speak of — which must look strange, Eve realizes, suspicious. Two women with only a purse and a couple duty-free bags coming off a flight from Iceland.
But then they’ve come to a place where it’s all too easy to fall off the map. End of the fucking line, indeed.
Villanelle walks them to the rental car counter, past sunburnt men with long, grizzled beards, young couples carrying all their possessions in black plastic bin bags.
Outside it is daytime. The air smells like diesel fuel, pine trees.
Eve has traveled here on her passport, her American passport, not that it's going to buy them any time. It's still her. She's herself in that photo, her hair a frizzy mess, the bags underneath her eyes too wretched for concealer. Unlike Villanelle she hasn’t been given the luxury of multiple identities. Her past is not a thing that can be discarded like a disguise. And yet, hasn’t she taken this leap in the hope that it can?
/ / /
They spend a few days in the city, in a motel. Once again, she wants to tell Eve that it doesn’t matter where they stay. It could be a shack in Denali, a suite at the Ritz. They’ll come, eventually, and she’ll take care of it when that happens.
It makes zero sense why they have to live like animals.
Fuck like animals, okay. Live like them — but why?
Their first fight happens in a Costco, where Eve is staring listlessly at the bananas. She has a cart filled with canned goods, a flatbed piled high with things for their home: towels and sheets, pots and pans. Hunting knives, snow boots, flashlights, an axe. She’s procured a shotgun but wants something handheld as well.
Get them she tells Eve. Put them in the cart.
Oh I don’t know Eve says. She looks sad. How can she be anything but thrilled at this adventure?
Look! she says, pulling a flat of strawberries up from the cart. And fish! All the fish you could want!
Eve rubs her eyes. The florescent lights aren’t doing her any favours. She’ll have to make sure she’s worn out enough to sleep tonight.
I don’t even like fish all that much she says.
She drops the package back into the cart.
Okay she says, and hooks her arm through Eve’s as she sets off for the housewares. Let’s go get some candles for the cabin. I want it to be cosy.
/ / /
After Costco Villanelle has her wait in the car while she goes inside a white cinder block building. She comes out a while later, though how long she can’t be sure. Her phone died a long time ago and she took the keys to the car with her inside.
/ / /
Eve has only been with men, before, and with men she’d found it pretty easy to go off sometimes, when she was too tired; should she find that her mind wanted to be elsewhere, without whoever, with a different someone.
Come morning they load up the car with beef jerky, fresh pillows, boxes of ammunition. Eve's arms hurt from lugging boxes into the trunk, and her wrists have been hurting since yesterday, too.
They string their way across marshy islands, little bridges, after hours leaving the last of the sprawl behind and stopping for petrol whenever there's a station. Eventually there aren't all that many.
/ / /
Behind the cabin there's a river, and in the river she spears fish with her knife, that's how many fucking fish there are.
It's quiet at breakfast, quiet when she brings Eve fish to cook for dinner, quiet when they feed the fire at night.
Eve makes noise, still, at least. So that's worthwhile.
/ / /
When Villanelle is outside she's indoors, and when she's inside Eve goes for long walks. It's quiet, except for the stupid mosquitoes.
She's taken to watching local access television; there aren't any other stations, and she hasn't got a computer.
The only person that comes is the postal carrier, leaning out from a mud-splattered utility vehicle with a roof sign. How they manage to get junk mail: coupons, catalogs, offers for life insurance, when they've been here only a few weeks — a month? two? — Eve doesn't know.
The mail is addressed to CURRENT RESIDENT.
/ / /
It might be, now she thinks about it, too quiet.
/ / /
One morning she waits down at the edge of the dirt lane for the mail truck to come. The driver is a man, which she'd expected, and kind, which she hadn't.
/ / /
The hunting knife is gone when she returns back to the cabin with her cooler full of fish.
Eve she calls out rummaging in the kitchen for something to gut them with. Eve have you seen my knife?
/ / /
The road is bumpy. Eve doesn't know where they're going, really, but figures it's worth it if only to be on the move. It is exhilarating. Such a simple thing. To be in a moving car with the radio on. To think she will try her best to make it to the authorities, to plead for sanctuary, to get herself back home, to be protected, to be found, to be back in her flat, to eat something that isn't fucking fish.
But if she doesn't make it? Well. There's always the chase. That should spice things up for a bit.
/ / /
Eve has taken the knife, as it turns out. It's all right. She has her firearms. Plenty of ammunition. She slides into the car and turns it over, backing out at a speed that makes the tires spin out into the rutted dirt.
It's all right. She only needs one bullet.