Lucy sighed heavily as she looked at the lists. It was time for taxes again. The papers before her held the names of every household in the settlement. The names in green were paid in full, the ones in blue had begged for and were given amnesty. The ones in red… Lucy sighed once more and chose a name from the last page.
They were a small, young family just down from the icy colonies of the moon. No relatives and a bit of trouble integrating into the community. Perfect. Their deaths would not rouse any outrage. Some would balk at the display of the child’s body, but that was one less mouth to feed in the barren summers to come.
The tax warden locked away the lists before setting out on her mission. She needed a few more examples before the rest of the redlined families would pay up. Lucy whistled as she made her way to the fancy cottage on the shady side of the town green. The well-built home was a thank you from the government for their service in space, but like most one trip wonders, the Trexlers could not afford the upkeep or the taxes.
Lucy let herself in. She preferred to take them by surprise. In her experience, a surprise attack prevented any heroics, pleading, or escapes.
“Jalen? Ahdri?” She called through chattering teeth. The house was freezing, but the tell-tale hum of the central air unit was absent.
“Welcome to your doom,” A disembodied voice hissed. Lucy whirled as a cold hand raked across her neck, but she was alone in the sparsely furnished living room.
“You know what this is guys!” Lucy said, pulling out her gun and moving into the kitchen. “If you have your taxes, say so now.”
An unintelligible whisper floated through the house accompanied by a flutter of cloth at the top of the stairs. The warden thundered up the steps, but nothing was there. She stood on the landing listening for the slightest noise, but her rapid heartbeat was the only sound.
Suddenly, a chair scraped across the floor in the kitchen. Lucy descended the stairs, but halfway down, her feet were snatched from under her. She landed on the glossy wood floor with a bone-jarring bang. The warden looked up and screamed.