Once an Explorer
The hot desert sun blazed down on her, but the shiny black SR 25 sniper rifle felt
cool against her peach colored cheek. Dora Marquez took a breath and tried not to
cough. The cologne that the client used tickled her nose, but it did nothing to hide
the underlying stink of dirty mangy fur. Even Ramon, her trusty rifle was annoyed.
Qué asco/gross It whispered to her.
Dora knew that her client heard him anyway. So far the client, Wile E. Coyote did
not seem to notice or did not bother to react. For a second, she wondered if Ramon
was just a hunk of cold metal whose only purpose was to put a piece of metal in
things and kill them. Dora took another deep breath. No, she thought, Ramon was a
good friend that saw her through a lot of bad times. She focused, it would not be
long now. A cloud of brown dust was moving quickly past purple buttes to her target
area. Dora smiled as she thought about its almost time to give the gift of Death to
Dora took another breath, and let it out slowly while she prepared for the one
moment. The scope picked out the blue crested head of the Road Runner. A pop rang
out, a few seconds later, the smiling face of her client's hated enemy exploded into
a red mist that dissolved into the dirty brown dust plume of its passage. She was
surprised about the amount of ground the still running legs covered before they
realized that there was no head. The body tumbled onto the ground causing the poor
bird's last dust cloud.
Senor Ramon crowed, “Estás muerto puta!/You're dead, bitch!”
Dora's face was impassive. All the preparation was over, and she just wanted to be
paid. The stink of cologne and coyote increased. Dora tried to get up, but she
bumped into the client. For the amount of time she spent with her clients, it was
not worth the time remembering their names. Her hand moved toward her hidden knife
before the client stepped back.
“Oh, I am so sorry about that. I just had to see!” Enthusiasm blazed out of the
client's yellow eyes in contrast to Dora's bored brown eyes. Already she wanted to
be paid and be gone.
The client reached into its brown fur and pulled out a black and silver tablet. Dora
was beyond wondering how such a creature could afford the latest gear. He swiped
away at his tablet with a dirty cracked claw. “Well, lets see. Liquidate some Acme
preferred stock. Transfer the funds to the Swiss account and there, it is done!” The
client looked up from the tablet and gave Dora a yellow toothy grin.
Dora pulled out her pink and black smartphone then ran the app that managed her
Swiss accounts. She nodded to the client after she saw that the money was there. The
client turned away from Dora then turned back. Now he had a red bib on and a knife
and fork was in each hand. “Well, unless there is something more. I will be off! The
taste of final victory is sooo sweet!” She waited until the client was gone before
getting Senor Ramon ready for transport. He said,”¡Qué bestia repugnante!/What a
disgusting beast!” before Dora got him in his travel bag. Her mind was already on
getting to the SUV, and finding a place for the night. When she got to the black
SUV, it opened the doors for her.
“So where do you want to go now?”
“A cool place with drinks and a bed if you know of a place,” Dora replied.
“Sorry, I don't know now, but let me check my GPS,” The SUV replied cheerfully. Dora
placed Ramon in the back while the car turned on the air conditioning.
She hated sweating, it reminded her of that place, the place that the mean kids told
her to go. Dora learned a lot, but she also paid the price and gave up a lot. Her
time of asking kids questions was over now, distrust filled her heart. She narrowed
her eyes as the memories of the brothel started to surface.
“Um, Dora? I found two places that are not too far from here,” Mr. Map said in his
rustling paper voice. Its suggestion pulled her out of the sweaty morass of her
“Thanks Map, pick a place and tell me how to get there,” Dora said in a tired voice,
the prep for the hit, the heat and the stink of the client just wore her down.
“Dora, d-did you d-do it?” Map asked.
“Yes Map, I did it, the target did not suffer,” Dora replied tiredly as she started
the car. They had been driving through the desert for a bit while the sun sunk in
purple western skies when a bullet hole appeared in the windshield.
“Damn! My freakin windshield! Lady, what kind of goings on you got me in!” The SUV
squealed in pain.
Dora ignored the vehicle to concentrate on making the SUV swerve so she was not an
easy target. This would only work for so long before the enemy got a lucky shot off
and Dora's blood and brains painted the windshield of the whiny SUV. After a few
more tense seconds and after two more bullets punched holes through the windows,
Dora found a large brownish rock outcropping she could hide behind. She stopped the
SUV and rolled out with Senor Ramon in her arms. Another set of shots landed near
her kicking up clouds of red dust. It took her a quick second to duck behind the
rocks. The SUV made for poor cover because a bullet or two could hit the gas tank
and its a fiery end for Dora. She wanted to live, and not explore the afterlife, at
least not yet.
Then her cell phone rang. Dora picked it up. A quick glance showed that the phone
number was blocked. A chill raced down her back. She had an idea who she would hear.
“Hello Dora,” The sneaky voice of Snypa slunk into her ear. Dora sighed.
Snypa used to be just a thief who liked to steal just for the fun of it then Dora
was able to show him how to be good. He still stole stuff, but nothing too important
then when Dora disappeared in the brothel, poor Swiper slowly slid to the dark side.
He became a hitman and changed his name to Snypa. He used to be the best, but when
Dora escaped she soon eclipsed him. Also they competed for the job as hitmen for the
Hand of Death. Dora beat him.
Now Snypa swore revenge, but instead of just killing Dora outright, he liked to play
games. That idea made her look up. Snypa was very good at making devices.
“Good bye Dora!” Snypa said with a laugh then he hung up.
She scrutinized the rocks in front of her quickly. The red blinking light got Dora's
attention. Dora ran to the SUV, got in and backed up as fast as she could.
“What the hell are you doing to my drive train?” The SUV whined.
“Do you want to roll back to the rental agency on your own power or to the junkyard
tow truck?” Dora asked. The SUV stopped whining.
When they were several feet away, the rocks in front exploded with an orange flash
and roar. A chunk of rock smashed the windshield on the left side. The SUV just
Dora wanted to scream Snypa no sniping, but she remembered he paid another witch to
take the curse off of him. Anger made her peach hands squeeze the steering wheel
tighter. Dora wished it was his neck. Just one week to take him down, she thought
but her bosses, the HOD would not allow that. She could only do sanctioned hits, no
“Map pick a nice hotel or motel a few counties away!” Dora said. When the adrenalin
wore off she would be even more exhausted, Dora decided to worry about that later.
“No problem Dora. Got one, head west...”
The SUV wept as it drove west.
Drive and Sleep
Sweaty thrusting men were everywhere. Heavy and mean with a stinging slap for any
reply. They were a crushing weight of lust holding her down while she cried into a
soft wet pillow.
Dora awoke with a gasp while salty sweat mixed with equally salty tears. She smeared
both ofthem across her face while she stumbled to the table.
“D-Dora are you alright?” Map asked.
Her shaking hands found the cleaning kit's dark blue box then she pulled Senor Ramon
out of his bag and broke him down for cleaning. The ritual calmed her hands. Sweat
and tears stopped falling as peace filled her.
When Dora walked into the hangar filled with planes that were almost piles of rust
with wings, she knew there was something wrong. Was it the guy stirring his tea with
the handle of a big wrench? Maybe it was the large dog of indeterminate breeding
that wheezed at her or maybe it was the guy in the too large coat that quivered in
A confident voice demanded Dora's attention. “Hello, my name is Richard Dastardly.”
She looked up to see a man with a handlebar mustache. He pointed to the man with the
coke bottle glasses who was licking tea off the handle of a large wrench. “This is
Klunk faced her and said “Fwoop nanny zip gwart!”
Dora was not sure how to reply to that. The dog's wheezy laughter filled the room.
“Hey m-my n-n-name is Zilly and K-klunk said hello,” The shaking guy in the overcoat
The client pointed at the dog and said,”That is Muttley.” Muttley walked up to Dora
and bowed with a fancy flourish. Dora smiled and bowed to the dog. The client
cleared his throat and was all business.
“I would like you to kill a pigeon, a wretched fowl that has cost me almost
everything,” the client continued while an angry sneer covered his face.
She wanted to bitch about killing another bird, but Dora kept her face impassive so
the client would not get annoyed.
“How do you want it done, long range or close up?” Dora asked.
The client smiled, and Dora wished she was back in the desert with the coyote.
“Close up, tell him, I finally catch you. I finally catch you, you excuse for a
flying...” The client went off into a tirade in which Dora could only understand one
word, 'die'. Zilly stammered out 'die'. Klunk made noises with 'die' mixed in. Even
Muttley started barking 'die'.
Dora waited patiently in the hot hangar with the metallic smell of rust until the
client calmed down. It took him five minutes to stop screaming then he looked back
with a sheepish look that switched to a sneer. “Well, sorry about that. Do you have
Dora shook her head, HOD had provided enough info on the target. The client stuck
out his hand to shake. Dora grasped his hand firmly and was rewarded with a soft
limp handshake. She knew dead fish that would give a better handshake.
The client gave her another sneer disguised as a smile. “I hope you are successful.”
Then he turned and walked away with his crew. Dora did not bother saying anything as
she left. Muttley's wheezy laugh followed her out of the hangar.
Drive and Sleep motel
The sky was full of purple and orange, but Dora's eyes were locked on a blue velvet
box. She had to change her motel room because the pictures of doe eyed children on
the light green walls threatened to bring up bad memories. This room had light blue
walls and forgettable pictures on the walls. Dora focused on the box, inside two
female voices could be heard bantering.
“I recognize those footsteps anywhere girlfriend.”
“Ahh, yeah, Sister we gonna be goin to work!”
“Work is the salt and pepper of life!”
Dora opened the box to look at Slash and Slice, two twin silvery daggers. They felt
good in her hands either for throwing or holding.
“Yo Dora, you have some work for us?” Slash asked.
“Yes I do. We are going to be dealing with a pigeon!” Dora said with a sigh.
“Don't be glum sister. I can't wait to taste some squab blood!” Slash said.
“I thought we are going to taste pigeon blood?” Slice asked.
“Squab is a fancy name for cooked pigeon!” Slash said.
“Sorry girls but the pigeon will be raw. I am not setting anyone on fire,” Dora
“Awwwww!” Slash and Slice replied.
“Too bad we can't have that pigeon on a bed of collard greens with sweet potatoes on
the side,” Slash said.
“Don't forget the corn muffins!” Slice said.
“Ahh yeah sister, you know what I like!” Slash said.
Dora turned away from the chatty knives to check out the packet of info from HOD.
Someone had written down the code to disable the alarms. All Dora had to do was deal
with a paranoid pigeon with a gun fetish. The county had pretty liberal home safety
laws, that meant that Yankee Doodle Pigeon could blow holes in Dora and not go to
jail if he can prove she did not belong there. Of course Dora planned to get to the
pigeon first. It just took her a few minutes to prepare for tomorrow and then go to
1776 Old Patriot Way
Dora was glad it was dark, she did not have to see the red, white and blue of the
yard and house. The Nawcan 18700 night vision goggles were the top of the line, they
cost Dora a cool seventeen thousand, but she knew she would get her money's worth.
Right now, they shaded the red, white and blue items in the pigeon's yard to eye
pleasing shades of green. She had a feeling that inside the house it would be worse.
The HOD psych profile said that Yankee was paranoid, but at least he was not a
trapper. A lot of paranoid types were that way. Dora carefully walked up the steps
to the greenish looking door. It took her a few seconds to pick the lock and get in.
She took another second to type in the security code before the bright green
blinking light switched to a darker green. Now the house's security system would not
send an alert to the cops.
The area around the foyer was dark, the pigeon slept upstairs. Quieter than a cat,
Dora slunk up to the staircase then a light brighter than a thousand suns burned
into her eyes! Somehow she tumbled to the right as thunder boomed.
“Damn! That Snypa character was right. You are slow and careful. You are also
freakin lucky too. If you had fell the other way, I could have gone to bed with a
smile on my face,” The pigeon said from upstairs.
Dora's head throbbed with pain while warm tears flowed down her face. Opening her
eyes just added more agony so she squeezed them shut. Though her pain, she knew that
she had to keep the target talking, and not shooting. Maybe her eyesight will return
“H-how did you know about me?” Dora croaked while covering her eyes with her hands.
“Well, this Snypa guy calls me up, and told me about you. I thought that Dastardly
the prick would come for me, but I know he likes to delegate. Zilly is too scared,
no stones. Klunk got the stones, but he likes his tech toys too much. If only one of
them actually worked, I woulda been a goner. Muttley has stones too, but who knows
under all of that fur? You alright down there?” Yankee asked with false concern in
his voice. Dora tried to open her eyes, but even the light reflected off the wall
hurt her like she was being stabbed.
“So this Snypa guy tells me about Dastardly's play to hire you to get me. I don't
know what you did to piss that guy off, but he is just scary. Anyway, he frames
Dastardly's group of dirtbags so they can't pay you. Then he calls this guy, what
was his name again?” The pigeon paused.
“Oh yeah, Diego. He has been on the trail of the infamous hitwoman Dora Marquez for
years. Don't worry about him, I will probably kill you before he claps handcuffs on
you. There is a cool reward for your arrest and capture. I get to kill one of the
things that have been chasing me, and I get a nice payday. That is what I call a
Coooo Coooo Birdy Day!” Yankee enthused.
Hearing Diego's name in the crazy bird's mouth added to Dora's anger. She snapped a
quick pain filled glance at the wall. There would be time later for her to feel sad
about what happened between them if she survived. Now, the bird is going to pay,
She ducked into the middle of the stairs, and let Slash fly at the blur up the
stairs. Dora was rewarded with a muffled curse, and a few floating white feathers.
Tears still streamed out of her eyes, but Dora could see a little. It took a few
seconds to crawl up the landing. Dora kept her head low when she pulled Slash
out of the wall. So far the pigeon did not fire at her. That meant that the pigeon
was hiding upstairs waiting to ambush her.
Dora crawled up the stairs keeping her head low. She expected any moment to get
blasted. The first shot sounded like a shotgun. Even if the pigeon winged her, it
still could be fatal.
Dora's cellphone vibrated in her pocket. For a second, she thought about ignoring
it, but then she realized that she had no human friends. This might be an important
call. She let herself slide down the stairs then she answered the phone.
“This is Blood Lilly. Asset Marquez, the termination notice has been canceled. We
have found out that the client is unable to pay due to being arrested. Also it seems
that some of our associates have been compromised. Inspector Diego of Interpol is
also on your trail. Due to the unusual circumstances, we will pay you double the
cancellation fee. Extract yourself and find a safe place to hole up until we contact
you again. Again the Termination Notice is canceled. Unsanctioned terminations will
be punished severely. Good evening,” Blood Lily said and hung up.
Dora lay on the landing and fought her rage before a series of calming breaths
steadied her shaking hands. She turned around, and climbed down the stairs. Any
second she expected to feel a shotgun blast tear through her back. Nothing happened.
Once she stepped outside, Dora knew she was safe. The law would not protect the
pigeon if she was killed outside his house. When she crossed into his garden,
the pigeon screamed something unintelligible at her from a window. Dora did not
care, she walked up to her car and turned around. Dora flipped the bird
at the angry bird. Then she got into her car and drove away.
“Imagine being shot by a bird,” Slash said.
“Being hit by birdshot would hurt a lot,” Slice said.
“Are you, um, okay?” Map asked.
“I'm okay, Maps,” Dora replied.
“So Slash, what did the pigeon taste like?” Slice asked.
“He tasted like plaster covered by cheap paint!” Slash replied.
“Dayum Sister, I feel for you,” Slice said.
“Guys, we are going on a long trip,” Dora said.
No one could see the new tears that were slowly falling from Dora's eyes as she
thought about Diego. A true friendship was gone, and there was nothing she could do
about it. The pigeon's house faded into the background as the car sped away into
Normally the chatter of children and happy adults would grate on Dora's nerves, but
she had four months to think about things. HOD rarely gave her even two weeks off.
She suspected something was going on. Dora spent the time gathering intel on HOD and
Snypa. What she found out about Snypa made her blood run cold.
The fox's hatred of her was so consuming he was killing little girls and boys from
small towns that looked like her. Deep down Dora would not kill a child, she
resented them for leading her astray, but killing them was something she would not
do. Some days even the resentment faded away. Dora found out about the sniping when
she traveled to a town, and watched as a funeral procession wended its slow way past
her. After that, she did her research.
The police in the happy towns did not have the skills to handle crimes of this
magnitude, they only had to handle stolen pies and noise complaints. Serial killers
were beyond them, but not for Dora. She had a plan...
Crisela hopped and skipped down the street, the warm yellow sunlight kissed her
peach colored skin. Dora knew Crisela's cancer was too advanced, and that the end
was near. Many kids faced with such news would want to stay home with their parents
but, Crisela bravely put what's left of her life at risk to stop a monstrous
The hopping and skipping tired her out, and now she was walking slowly across the
street when her head exploded like an overripe melon. Dora did not take the time to
mourn Crisela's passing, instead she scanned the windows across the street for
Snypa. Dora found him on the fourth floor.
The crazed creature was cavorting like he was at a party. He even did some hip
thrusts. Dora's vision was filled with red. One shot, just one shot and the dancing
would stop forever, Dora thought. Somehow she managed to pull herself back from the
rage. HOD knew of the bad blood between them, and she could end up being “retired”.
Dora was the best asset they had, but she would not last long if all of the other
assets turned against her.
“How about we give the brave warrior a kiss?” Dora said.
“Si!” Senor One Shot replied.
A malicious smile grew on Dora's face. She was quite sure Snypa would not like this
The bullet flew from Senor Ramon, and grazed Snypa's blue furry cheek. It even set
the fur on fire. The creature dropped to the floor. Dora did not stay to watch,
she collected her equipment, and was running down the stairs. Tears ran down her
face as she mourned the passing of brave Crisela.
Drive N Sleep
The faces of nineteen children looked back at Dora from photographs. Dora was not
sure if there were more. She hoped that Snypa would not go back to child killing.
“Um, Dora?” Map said.
“Yes, Maps,” Dora said.
“I hope you are not beating yourself up about those poor kids or Snypa,” Map said.
“Before my incident, he was starting to come around. Maybe if I...” Dora said as her
gaze shifted from the faces on the wall to Maps and back to the wall.
“You could do nothing. You did not teach him to do those things,” Map said.
Dora sighed. “I wish I could go to Crisela's funeral.”
“No girlfriend. Who knows what sort of nasty crap that crazy ass fox could cook up,”
“You mutilated his face too? Girl, he is going to be gunning for you!” Slice said.
“The best thing you did was to leave,” Map said.
Again, Dora wished she could have attended Crisela's funeral, but she knew Snypa
would find a way to punish the parents to get back at Dora. If she was gone, he
would focus on finding her first then set up another game. Speaking of games, Dora
wondered about the crazy fox's plans for HOD.
Through her sources she found out that Blood Lily had been “retired”. Dora was in
good standing, but an unsanctioned hit would definitely put her on the retire list
even if she did not get the message to back off. That was another issue for Dora.
Also she had enough of killing.
Dora's time with Crisela and her parents reminded her that she missed her parents.
Shameful job or not, Dora wanted to see them again, but first HOD had to be dealt
with. She padded over to the wall and took down the pictures. Each picture came off
the wall with a prayer. Then she put the pictures in a yellow folder with the rest
of her research. The digital version was already uploaded to a few HOD agents she
knew that were not corrupted by Snypa. After that she smashed the burner phone to
shiny metallic bits. Dora's personal phone buzzed on the table. She answered it.
“This is Scorpion. You have a new set of targets. I am uploading the data packet to
your phone. Your targets are six ponies from a place called Equestria. Teach them
about the power of Death any way you wish. There are instructions on how to get
there in the data packet,” Scorpion said coldly.
“Do I need to meet the client?” Dora said.
“No! All you need to know is in the data packet. Good day,” Scorpion replied and
“Tenemos trabajo?/We work?” Senor Ramon asked.
“Yes,” Dora replied.
“Yay we,” Slash said.
“Have work,” Slice said.
Dora shook her head in annoyance, she hated when the daggers finished each other's
“Whats the job? Girlfriend,” Slash asked.
“We have to go to a Pony land and kill six ponies,” Dora said.
“We cut the ponies and they go neigh as we watch their life fade away!” Slice said
with a grin.
Map looked concerned. “Dora, do we have to do this?”
Dora glanced at Map before looking away. “Yes, if I don't do this job, they may
think I know what's going on. Don't worry, I will not kill them.”
Slice pouted. “No pretty horses to cut?”
Dora swiped through the data packet on the phone. “Well, there are monsters in
some place called the Everfree Forest. Monsters might be more fun to kill.”
“The monster from the slab began to rise,” Slash said.
“And we cut out its eyes! Yayyyy!” Slash enthused.
Something about this mission made the hairs on her neck rise. She was familiar with
that feeling. The HOD was sending her on a suicide mission. Dora had been on too
many missions not to doubt that feeling. The six colorful ponies were probably very
powerful. She would study the ponies and see what options revealed themselves.
Map rustled to get Dora's attention. “Um, Dora, how are you going to do this?”
“Maybe I will get the ponies to help me fake their deaths or maybe they can help me
fake my own death. Once I am dead, the HOD will leave me alone. Then I can shut them
down.” Dora said and looked over her friends.
“Its gonna be fun!” Slice said.
“Count us in Girlfriend. We got your back when you stick us in someone else's”
Slash said confidently.
Senor Ramon said,”Voy a ayudar también!/I'll help too!”
Map looked down and then back up at Dora. “I will help you regain your freedom
though I don't know what will happen after you, um, deal with the HOD.”
The support from her friends almost made Dora cry, but she blinked back the tears.
“What are our options?” Maps said.
“There are so many to explore but I was an explorer. Now to do that again!”
A cold smile covered her face.