Julienne calmly walked through the
mall. She had always hated this town, and especially this place.
San Hernando Mall was situated in the belly of a valley, with picturesque mountains as a backdrop. It was an open air mall from a past age. Hardly anyone walked down the red stone sidewalks, wandering in each store as their whims carried them, anymore. It could hardly be called a true mall, but it was the closest thing San Hernando Valley had to one.
The woman stopped in at the Bath and Body Works store. As she entered, too many scents battled to be recognized as the perfect one. She wasn't really interested in what the store had to offer; she was just passing the time. Slowly ambling past a sink lined with different hand soaps, Julienne stopped to see her reflection in the mirror.
She was an average woman, nothing remarkable about her. Her red hair curled nicely around her round face. Green eyes looked into themselves from under un-plucked eye-brows. Thin lips covered artificially straight teeth. The glint of a small, gold cross on a chain was barely noticeable against the dark tan of her skin. She wore a black spaghetti shirt and jeans. Combat boots were laced up over the faded jeans.
"Can I help you find anything?" a teenager wearing a checkered smock asked. She held out a white and green bushel basket. "Maybe you would like one of these to put your items in."
Julienne smiled disdainfully at her. "No. I've never been able to understand why someone would want to smell like a rotten fruit basket."
"Well, we do have some sweet pea and peach blossom scented things. And we have aromatherapy products too," she persisted. Grabbing a nearby bottle of Nutmeg lotion, she opened it and waved it under Juliennes’ nose. "Here, this smells nice."
Julienne backed up and swatted the bottle to the floor. "Don't go shoving that shit up my nose." She turned and walked out, not accidentally knocking over a display of bottles carefully balanced on a table. Sugar Plum lotion seeped onto the floor, a purple, oozing swamp.
She went across the street and sat on a bench in what passed for a park. Yucca and geraniums were planted together in gardens and grass battled with dandelions for what little water was available.
Julienne was an ex-military specialist and didn't really care that she had come back. She had just finished her service with the US Army and had chosen not to re-enlist for another ten years. The military had served its purpose to get her out of this devils pit and give her some good training in explosives.
She smiled at the memory of the day she showed up to basic training. She had barely weighted 120, but none of it was fat. All the other cadets ragged on her constantly, and the drill sergeant hazed her to the point of cruelty. But, she had survived and even excelled. In three short years, she was a Lieutenant and qualified weapons specialist. She'd seen some action at the tail end of the Gulf War, but not much. She soon grew to loath the military as much as she hated San Hernando.
She got up, bought herself a chocolate ice cream cone, and went back to her rented home.
The house was little better than a dump. Roaches freely roamed the rooms, and flypaper full of the winged insects hung from the dirty ceilings of each room. Paint flaked off the walls into dingy piles on the floor. Julienne didn’t plan to stay here for long. She didn’t even have her mail coming here, but to a different address across the country in Florida.
She half sat, half fell into the old, torn sofa in front of the TV, propping her booted feet up on the water ring stained coffee table she had pulled out of the neighbors trash. One of the wooden legs had been wobbly, but she’d fixed it with duck tape.
The TV had been left on while she was gone. The stupid back door didn’t lock and the torn screen door sometimes stuck, and other times blew open in the smallest of breezes, banging the frame like a drunk construction worker set loose with a nail gun. The TV or radio was always left on so the house didn’t sound empty. She didn’t have much, but she didn’t need anything stolen either. Like that would ever happen in this God-forsaken town.
The neighbors’ poodle started barking at ghosts again. That psychotic animal barked at all hours of the night and day, randomly. In the week that Julienne had been back in town, she’d heard a total of five hours silence without that dog yapping; she’d timed it. Every day, she’d pounded on the neighbors door, demanding that the dog be shut up or put inside. Dora always apologized, but kept letting precious little Coco bark his head off.
Julienne looked at the clock, half past three. She got up and stormed outside, the screen door doing its best impression of a shot gun.
“Dora! Get that dog to shut the fuck up or I’ll do it myself!” she yelled.
The brown toy poodle growled through the rusty fence at her. Julienne growled back.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” a little gray haired, dumpy woman in her sixties came out. “Coco just gets so excited. He loves being outside, you know.”
“Keep him inside, or quiet. I don’t give a damn which it is, but I don’t want to hear that little rat anymore.”
“Well,” Dora picked him up, “Coco just likes squirrels and I can’t keep him inside or he messes the carpet. Dog stains are so hard to clean up.”
“Keep him inside, or else.” Julienne went back inside.
Oh, yeah, I really sounded great there, Julienne scolded herself as she ran water at the kitchen sink. She took a quick drink from the faucet, and then went to the basement and began exercising, doing chin-ups on a pipe.
At four, Dora left for her job at the deli, and Coco was outside, barking again.
Cursing to herself, Julienne ran up the stairs and outside. Coco was chained to his dog house and barking his head off at nothing.
“Shut up, Rat!” Julienne yelled.
Coco growled and kept barking.
Vaulting herself over the fence, Julienne seized him and wrapped the leash around his neck several times, then hung him from the fence.
She went back inside, thankful for the silence.
Within an hour, she had everything she would need for tonight’s mission packed into her old backpack. She was out the door again and on her way to the dam. She wouldn’t take her car; she was hiking the sixteen clicks.
It was well after dark when she reached the foot of the large, concrete barrier. A small river was flowing down the artificial walls. On the other side was a complete reservoir, a whole lake of water just waiting to be set free. If the dam failed, well, San Hernando Valley would become One Big Lake.
Kids had always joked about the dam failing when Julienne was in high school. They had even dared each other to do something to it. Nobody ever did.
Julienne carefully placed her home-made explosives and climbed back up the mountain until she was at a safe enough distance. One push of a button, and the lake surged forward, freed from its man-made imprisonment. Within minutes, the entire town was submerged.
Julienne smiled at the rushing water, swirling around in a chocolate colored mess.