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Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Lesbian

The Switchblade Mamma

1.

It was 1:00 AM and the end of my shift. The two heavy metal doors flung open and a wall of people came cascading out like a waterfall. I exited the building and rushed to my locker. It was only November, but it was a cold one. It had been raining on and off all day. And I, who was very susceptible and did not like the cold, was fumbling with the zipper of my jacket. The cold was messing with my hands.

With my jacket zipped and finally in place, I walked myself to the edge of the patio. I was greeted by a cold slow drizzle. I pulled my hood over my head and looked to the sky to let the drizzle slowly slide down my face.

The clouds blanketed the sky like a dark purple haze. The moon was hidden behind this ominous blanket, but every now and it would play peekaboo in the sky. I pulled the hood closer to my face and tried to hunker down as I swiftly walked to my truck. There was a slow lazy breeze about. It wasn’t constant, but when it came around and it hit me in the back like needles. The hair stood straight on the back of my neck and I rushed to my truck a little bit faster.

She was old and tired, but she still meant the world to me. She was my old 1989 Chevrolet Suburban. She was midnight blue and dark gray, a birthday gift my father had given me before he died. I was a very sentimental girl and this truck meant the world to me. Every time I sat in it, it gave me good memories and reminded me of good times in the past, of a once happy family.

The suburban in my mind, still in her prime, almost had 300,000 miles on it. Thankfully for the Arizona weather there was virtually no rust on it. I didn’t know how much money I put into it, but I knew I put all my blood and sweat in it to keep it running. It went through three rear differentials, two transmission rebuilds, one front end rebuild, and I didn’t even want to think of the crap I had to go through with emissions. I had spent quite a bit of money trying to get all-terrain tires on it, and I was in the process of thinking about getting a new paint job; all of which would cost of a boatload of money and a butt load of overtime.

Since the truck was stolen three times; every time recovered and returned by the police, I installed an alarm and a remote unlocking mechanism. I unlocked the doors and hoisted myself up into the truck. Though it didn’t have an actual lift, the all-terrain tires that I had put on it required a little bit of climbing to get in, especially for my small stature. I jumbled with the keys and dropped them twice before I could even get them into the ignition. I so hated the cold, it always messed with me in such ways. For example, my hands weren’t working right. I turned the key, and the engine slowly rumbled the life. I waited patiently while the engine warmed up.

It had been one of those kinds of days at work. One of those days where every person seems to get under your skin and make it crawl. All I wanted to do was to go home and have a couple of beers and play some Xbox. That was my Thursday ritual.

To supplement my rage, I decided to listen to some music that would enhance my mood a little bit more. I decided to listen to some Nine Inch nails, “The wretched.”

The truck was finally warmed up so I put her into gear hightailed it out of there.

The rain had started coming down a little bit harder now, but I still kept on course and headed to the nearest gas station to pick up some beer and some snacks for the night. Driving with a nonworking compressor was never an easy thing to do. The cold and the rain did not make my situation any easier. Low visibility from fogging windows made it difficult to see. I pulled the sleeve of my jacket over my hand and rubbed the windshield, creating a momentary window. At least until it fogged over again. As I turned into the gas station, I breathed a sigh of relief that I had got there safely.

By the time I got what I needed, it started to pour buckets of rain. I didn’t run, but briskly walked to my truck. I didn’t want anybody to think I was sissy about the rain, did I?

Key’s, ignition, vroom. By now, my two rear windows were completely fogged up and visibility was at zero. I slowly backed up maneuvering, peeking out the driver’s side window as I did, so that I would not hit anything. Good thing it was only one in the morning, because barely anyone was in the parking lot.

Driving in the pouring rain was proving to be difficult. Unfortunately in my older model truck, the windshield wipers seemed to only have two speeds… slow, and slower. Lucky for me, there were not too many vehicles out on the road at one in the morning. I didn’t have to worry too much about crashing into another car.

I came off the highway and pulled up to an intersection where I would turn right to get to my apartment complex. It was a no turn on red intersection. I sighed partial irritation as my truck rolled up and crept to a stop at the red light. Not paying attention to any other of my surroundings, I continued to stare blankly into the illuminating red glow. I was still jamming out to Nine Inch nails, and enjoying my pepperoni stick that I had purchased from the gas station. I didn’t notice the other vehicle pull up behind me, quickly and abruptly stop.

It happened so fast I didn’t know how to react. One moment I had both my hands on the steering wheel feeling good and venting my rage through song, and in the next moment, my driver side window exploded sending a blizzard of glass all over the place. I began to protest by saying a slew of cuss words. I threw the truck into Park, which was my biggest mistake, because after I did, two gigantic pairs of arms rushed through my driver side window and pulled me out of it. I should have just floored it.

I was dropped to the ground like a rag doll. My ribs were violated by an oversized steel toed boot. It was a blunt force of painful sensations that I had never felt before. Instinctively I grabbed my ribs, and coughed up, hard. I looked up, trying to get a glimpse of my attacker.

All I really saw was the yellow glow from the street lights bouncing off the millions of small droplets of rain. With the moisture in the air and the extreme cool down from the cold front, there was much vapor exiting my mouth and nose from my heavy labored breathing. I was scared Shitless.

I went for my pocket which contained two knives that that I carried with me every day. The attacker anticipated this for I was quickly kicked in the arm before I could even grab one.

Once again, I felt a spiral of shooting, quick traveling pain. It was the first time that I had actually ever been assaulted, and I had absolutely no way of knowing how to fight off my attacker. It was one of those kind of moments that occasionally flashed through my mind on a day-to-day basis, but I never really thought it would happen. And even though I thought of the conclusion over and over again and how differently it could be, I still was not prepared for the events to come.

The rain was still pouring down and I was completely drenched. In a last futile attempt to save my life and to ward off the mugger, I tried to take a stand. I looked up, planting my palms into the cold soaked concrete. Trying to get up, trying to raise to my feet, I flinched and turned my head as I saw a fist coming for my face. Blackness, I saw nothing but total blackness.

I woke up shivering. My eyes slowly opened to an exploding pain in my head. At first I thought I was blind because I saw nothing but darkness. I moved my head around a little bit, only to find that I was wearing a pillowcase or something cloth like over my head. I was lying on my left side and completely bound up like a pig. My hands were tied behind my back, and my legs were tied together. I could barely move.

I was trying to figure out where I was at. Besides me shivering from my drenched clothing, I felt a warm vibration beneath me. There was the smell of car oil and grease. My senses started to come to a little bit more. My mouth tasted of blood, as my tongue poked and prodded around a gag that was in my mouth. I thought about yelling help, but it seemed useless. I didn’t think anybody would hear me from any moving vehicle. As I moved my head around a little bit more, I could feel the bloody crispiness from drying blood stuck in my head bag. Its coppery aroma mixed with the oil and grease smell of the vehicle started to make me gag. I began to wiggle around trying to gain my freedom back. The ropes were tight but they weren’t that tight and I tried my best to wiggle out of them. I froze when heard a man’s voice.

From the distance of his voice I could tell he was sitting really close to me. I got really nervous and started to sweat bullets. “A boss man, she start to come to. You want me put her out again?” The man’s voice was low and grungy with a hint of Louisiana. I couldn’t see him but from the sound of his voice I imagined a short, stocky, furry, and chubby man. I started squirming a little bit more. I was hoping the putting her out again wouldn’t consist of another punch to the face. “Yeah I suppose you should. I don’t want her to give me too much of trouble when we get back to camp. Give her another hit off that rag Clive, not too much though. We’re going to have to interrogate when get her there.” His voice was coming from the front of the vehicle. He must’ve been driving. His voice was a little bit higher than the other guys. He seemed to be a little bit lighter in weight. His voice though, his voice was what scared me the most. I could hear a dark undertone in it. This was the guy that I would need to fear the most. As I was waiting for my hit from the rag, I could hear the driver. From what I could tell he was on the phone. “We got her chief. We picked her up just where he said she would be. We are on our way back to base camp. We’ll get her ready for the procedure.” The only thing that really went through my mind when I heard that was what the hell’s going on? Procedure? Was I kidnapped by evil doctors? What kind of procedure, and where was I going? Really? How the hell does this just happen to somebody? And who the hell was he?

I heard Clive move. Before I could react he had his hand across my face. I twisted and turned my head thrashing like a wild bull. No avail. Thrashing just led me to running out of breath and having to take deeper ones. I inhaled deeply to catch my breath. Before I knew it, there was darkness, again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.

I awoke to a bashing headache. I awoke to pure darkness. I awoke to lying on my back. I slowly lifted up my torso. I took a deep breath and tried to figure out where I was. I could smell dirt. I lifted my hands to my temples, so that I could rub away my exploding headache, only to find that my hands were bound by chains. Because I was enveloped in complete darkness, I used my hands to be my eyes. I figured at this point I had all the time in the world, and started feeling everything up. To the left of me, it felt like a wooden wall. To the right of me I could feel the edge of a wooden platform, some sort of makeshift bed. I took my legs and twisted them off the bed. I felt ground. I took a stand. Usually roller coasters quickly go down, but the roller coaster of pain shot up my back and climaxed in my head. The pulsating within my skull overcame me, and I had to sit back down again.

I took my thumb and my index finger from my left hand and began to rub it in the space between my thumb and my index finger on my right hand. This was a pressure point that somebody had showed me a long ago to relieve headaches and it does work. Seeing how I did not have any aspirins laying around, so the method would have to suffice. As I felt relief, I decided to try to stand up again.

As my head began to clear, other pain throughout my body became more apparent. Both feet planted firmly on the ground, I slowly raised my aching body up. Both hands lay by my sides. I took one, two, three steps, and came to the end of my chain. Great! I was now living in a big wooden coffin. Fantabulous!

Frustrated, I then sat back down on the bed. Complete despair was flooding my mind. I figured becoming frantic was not going to help at all. I could yell, I could scream, I could rave and rant like a crazy lady, but I knew in my heart that it would do nothing but drain my energy.

So I sat there, in complete obscurity. I heard no sounds and I saw nothing. It was the worst feeling that I ever felt. Complete loneliness. Completely cut off from anything.

I started to fidget with the metal cuffs around my wrists. I was always known to be some sort of an escape artist and could get out of anything. Twisting and turning, turning and twisting. I started to feel pain, but I kept going. More twisting and turning until the pain became unbearable. I started to feel wetness in my right palm as I twisted the metal cuff from my left wrist. Blood began to flow. The skin began to peel off my wrist and I stopped as the pain became excruciating. As the Borg would say in Star Trek, resistance was futile.

Resistance being futile, I laid my back against the wall to get some sort of comfort. I knew there was no way in hell that I would fall asleep comfortably. So I stared, into the murk. The cold began to settle in. My clothes were still wet and damp from the rain. I felt there was a blanket and a pillow. Gravy! Not really giving a shit, I sat there staring into the dark emptiness that now became my life, thinking of the things to come.

I didn’t whistle, and I didn’t hum. But I tried to think of the most soothing song that I could think of, and I played it over and over again in my head. I tried so hard to be strong and not to cry, but what the hell was I supposed to do?

The tears were rolling down my eyes. My whole world was gone, everything that I knew. You never know how important something is until you lose it, and I just lost it all. No more beer, Facebook, Xbox, work, everybody that I loved. I thought about my mom, and my sister, my niece, and I hoped whoever “he” was, had no idea who they were. I felt an insane rage growing. I felt a complete madness that I have never felt before. In the pitch black of the night I stood up like a beast. I raised both my arms. I was going to gain some speed and yank the metal mother fuckers out of the wall! I was going to break the chains, or at least make an attempt. One, two, three, and I ran like a bat out of hell. I didn’t get very far at all before I was stopped dead in my tracks. The end of my chain came and I fell to the ground on my face. Complete failure. Discouraged I got back on my feet, brushed the dirt off of my already damp dirty pants, and took those few steps back to my shitty wooden bed. I sat there, at a complete loss, and started to hum that song that soothed me so.

I had so many questions that plagued my mind. Most importantly, what were they going to do with me? Why was I there? Would I be dead tomorrow? I did not want to even think of the vile things that they could do to me. I pulled my knees up to my chest, laid my chin upon them, and rocked.

At some point in the night I fell into some insane slumber. I dreamt of fists, rain, and pain. I dreamt of my mother and her beautiful face. How the sun used to accent her beautiful brown eyes. How she use take every bad moment and make it a good one. How she used to call me up and ask me if I was happy. I dreamt of my father and his big beard and his stunning blue eyes. How he used to be bold and brave and never afraid of anything. In any sticky situation, my father would find a way out. I dreamt of my grandmother and my grandfather and how they were always supportive. They always taught me that there was another way out. And then there was my sister Elaina. We were always fighting as we grew up. But what siblings don’t fight? I always said, she got the beauty and I got the brains. It was weird, but for some reason they were all there in my dreams that night. They were all there for my support. They were all there to help me get through the worst night of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.

There was a rooster call, and I slowly raised my eyelids. It was still very cold, and my clothes were damp, as my teeth were chattering uncontrollably. My boots were wet, and the steel in the toes made no comfort for keeping them warm. Somewhere along the way, I had lost my hoodie jacket. I crossed my arms and started rubbing my chest trying desperately to keep myself warm. The rays of the sun weren’t bright but were creating enough light for me to see my newly kept dungeon. About ten feet in front of me from where I was sitting on my bed, there was a staircase leading upward. To the right of me, there was the dirtiest rusted out toilet that I had ever seen, and next to it was a porcelain pedestal sink with a single cup sitting on top of it.

Finally able to see myself in the light, I tried to take survey of the damage that had been done. My wrists were bloody. The blood had slithered from my wrists, and rolled down to my fingers. My wallet was gone, along with my two knives. My watch and my metal studded leather cuff were missing from my wrists. My cell phone was gone to. Of course my keys were missing because I left them in the truck. The only thing that resided in my pockets was my Chapstick. This was a relief, for my lips were chapped as hell, and I applied it liberally. The cool stinging brought little relief.

I couldn’t remember the last time I had taken care of business, and though it didn’t look very inviting, I had to piss like race horse.

There was no way in hell that I would sit on the decomposing, un-cleaned, smelly, decrepit looking toilet seat. I was the kind of person that used an ass gasket wherever I went. I slowly undid my belt, unbuttoned my jeans, lowered my zipper, and like molasses pulled down my damp heavy pants. In an instant the stubbly hairs on my legs went straight up. I felt like I had jumped in a pool of ice water. The damp dungeon was cold as hell. I closed my eyes and I clenched my teeth and I just let it all flow out. In the whole nights events this was the most relief that I felt. I looked around and of course there was no god damn toilet paper. “Christ” I spoke it loudly. No bloody toilet paper. What the hell could I expect? It wasn’t like I was staying at the holiday inn.

I heard footsteps above me. I heard unlocking. The wooden flap that was my new door slowly opened. It squeaked and creaked upon opening. One brown boot stepped down and then another. Slowly descending down the stairs was a chubby man about 5 foot 10, wearing blue jeans, boots, and a camouflage hooded jacket. The man had shoulder length hair; with little curl’s at the end. He had a 10:00 PM shadow beard upon his face. Expressionless he came to the bottom of the stairs with a gun in his right hand pointed directly at my face.

I wasn’t a total expert on guns, but I shot competitively with my father for many years, and by the looks of it, it was a .45 semi-automatic. Big holes I thought to myself. I stood there, with my hands by my side, awaiting instruction, eyes wide.

He stood there for a bit with the gun pointed at my head. He held out a black pillowcase. I figured he wanted me to put on my head, but I waited for the command.

“Take dis pillowcase slowly, and put it over your head.” Both hands reached out by now. One hand on the gun, and the other on the pillowcase. His voice was rich with Louisiana. He must have been Clive.

I closed my eyes. I took a deep breath. By this time my heart was pounding inside my chest. I opened both my eyes and I made direct eye contact with my now captor. His eyes were of a black kind. I couldn’t see anything but total gloom. I couldn’t read anything, so I obeyed. I slowly raised both my arms. The chains lightly clinking as I lifted them. My whole life at the moment was in his hands. As of the morning I finally saw the light, but as I pulled the case over my head, darkness ensued. I took another deep breath, and released.

As I had darkened out my world, I heard his voice once again. “Now hold still, and don’t you move. I ain’t afraid to shoot ya. I’ve got dis gun here, and I ain’t afraid to use it.”

I heard another unlocking sound, and then another. All the way, I heard my chains rattling. Both my hands on my side, I felt a pulling. I was being let out, slowly. Walking upstairs with a bag over my head was difficult and after stumbling a few times I managed to make it up.

After we had left my dungeon he pulled me close. I felt as he pulled himself behind me, and the gun was pointing into my back. I tried to keep in mind how many steps I was taking. He stopped. I heard him unlock something, and a sliding noise. After that the walking became more difficult. It was snow that I was walking in. It must’ve been a sunny day, for the sun rays were beaming on my damp black shirt. I felt the warmth, rejoiced the warmth. Still counting, we came to a stop where he opened another door.

It was a house, because as soon as we opened the door I was hit by the intense smell of breakfast. My stomach began to rumble. It was hours and hours ago since I had my last meal. Bacon and hash browns flooded my nose. There was soon the whiff of coffee that teased me so. God, I could have used a cup to warm me up.

We came to another stop. He put my hands on which felt like a stair rail. We slowly descended, away from the beautiful sunshine, coffee, bacon, and hash browns. The lower level from what I could not see, but could feel was dark, dank, and musky. We reached the lower level, and I heard another door open. He sat me down. I heard my chains clinking again as he locked me down warding off any escape. There was a flick of a switch, and I could see a dim light oozing through my head bag. The door was shut, and I was alone again.

I didn’t know how long I sat there. There was a table in front of me, and by the feel of it, was metal. I didn’t have very much slack on my chains. I lifted my arms as far as I could upward; I put them to my sides, and had barely any slack. I figured I was chained to the table. I figured since I was alone I could pull the bag off my head, so I did. The room had four walls, all flat white paint. Above me were two grungy fluorescent lights. And of course, in front of me was a metal square table.

I sat there for some time just staring into the white walls, dozing off. I heard rustling upstairs. I heard voices, men voices. My head was still pounding, and I lowered it onto the cold steel table. As I began to enter the world of unconsciousness, I heard the door behind me open.

I lifted my head quickly and tried to be as alert as possible. He sat in the chair across from me. He laid a manila folder, and a bag upon the table. I saw the driver. His eyes were as cold as ice. They were the only set of blue eyes from hell that I’ve ever seen. His head was shaved, but it was a buzz cut. His red hair slowly drifted from his sideburns down to is neatly shaven goatee. He was tall and husky. We sat there in silence and he said nothing. He just looked into my eyes. I couldn’t take it anymore of it, so I looked into my lap.

I heard a rustling noise and looked up. He was taking things out of the bag. They were my things. He pulled out my wallet, my two knives, and what looked to be my phone in pieces. Shaking the bag, my cuff and my watch fell out. He looked at the cuff and then he looked at me and said “a bit kinky aren’t we?” Smiling he laid it down on the table.

He opened my wallet and pulled out my driver’s license. He placed the license on the table and looked at it. He then placed both his elbows on the table, pulling his hands together and crossed fingers. He then looked at me, blue eyes blazing like hell.

“Tell me your full name please.”

I just looked at him. The only thing I could think of was: you have my license there, why don’t you look at that? “Look at the driver’s license…”

It was quick and swift. Before I knew it, I had a backhand to the left side of my face. It was stinging. My jaw had dropped open, and I was trying to compute what had just happened.

He looked at me again and repeated the question. “Tell me your full name now.” It wasn’t very polite this time, but I figured I’d better comply. I didn’t want another strike to the face.

“Lillian Ann Cross.” I said swallowing hard.

He leaned back in his chair and smiled a wicked crooked smile. “Good, that’s what I wanted to hear.” He examined the license a little bit longer than he looked at me. “Now, tell me your weight, hair color, and eye color.”

Becoming short fused, I had quickly forgotten the last bashing. I took a deep breath, looked at him in the eyes, and hoped I gave him a good blazing. “Go fuck yourself, you evil little redhead.”

Once again, short and quick, there was another backhand to the left side. This time my lip caught my tooth busting it open. Blood gushed over my jaw. I tried to catch the bleeding with my hand, and winced as the pain flowed through my body. I then once again complied and gave him what he wanted to hear. “I weigh 120 pounds, I am 5’2…I have blonde hair, and hazel eyes.”

“Good.” He said. “You are learning.” He leaned forward and looked at me again. He had his fingers entwined, elbows on the table, and both thumbs touching his lips. “The more difficult you make this, the more difficult I make this for you.” He had some sort of sweet sadistic satisfaction in his eyes. It made my stomach churn. I really wanted to go home.

“Lillian, do you know why you’ve been brought here today?” He released his arms from the table and sat back in his chair. He looked at me again, eyes cold.

“Unpaid parking tickets?” I shot out my patented half smile.

Once again I was struck on the same side. My sanity was losing control. I closed my eyes tightly and tried to Ward off the pain.

“Go fuck yourself.” I said. I lifted my arm and extended it as far across the table as the chain would permit. Blazing my middle finger to him, I tried to get it as close to his face as I could. “You go fuck yourself, and you die mother Fucker.” I was totally waiting for another backhand. I sat back and made sure my tongue was where it should be, so I would not bite myself again. There was nothing, nothing at all. I was waiting for the strike, but it didn’t happen.

He didn’t move, and his expression didn’t change. He just raised his right hand, dropped it quickly and bashed it down on the manila folder that was lying on the steel table. He then slid it in front of me. He looked at me again with that sadistic smile. I knew he had something wrong in store for me. “All right you little bitch, no compliance equals I need to play these cards.”

He raised his eyebrows and urged me to look. I hesitantly raised both chained hands and pulled it within eye view. I opened and looked at its contents. It was a blurry 8 × 10 photograph. It took me some time to adjust to the blurriness, but I was blown away as soon as I recognized who was in the picture. My heart just turned into a black hole. My life just became that much more difficult. My life was now in the hands of his mercy.

I leaned back in my chair, shaking my head. Staring at the ground I replied “fuck me.”

A mile wide smile the size of the Grand Canyon developed on his face. In his mind it was nothing more than mission accomplished, the cat was in the bag, and the fish was on the hook. “Now little girl, you see how the game is being played. All I have to do is make one phone call, one God damn phone call. You don’t obey, you don’t comply, that phone call goes through and your mother will suffer the worst torture before her death. Understood?”

I pretty much just sat there like a wax figurine; the only thing I could muster was a slow oozing nod. Even though my heart was still physically beating, mentally it stopped. If I did not obey, then my mother would suffer terribly. That was what I thought to myself, there was no other way. I was not going to let my mom down. I dropped my defenses and I agreed to myself that I would comply. I would however, not lose my ability to be a smartass. If I was going to let these people have total control, then at least my smartass ability would keep some sort of protection in my mind.

So it came down to it. I leaned forward crossing my arms and laying them down on the cold steel metal table, chains clinking all the way. I looked up into the cold empty eyes of the man who would gain control of my body, part of my mind, but never my soul. I nodded once again, slowly closed my eyes, rolled them back up and said, “all right guy, you have my compliance, what would you want me to do?”

Leaning back in his chair and resting both his arms on the armrests, he finally introduced himself, and his intentions. “My name is Barrett, Barrett Jackson.”

I tried really hard not to laugh. My mouth slowly dropped open; my eyebrows slowly sloped down with my mouth. “So… You…” I really tried to behave and hold my tongue but once again my smartass remarks kicked in. “So you’re named after that famous car auction, right?”

I’m not sure, but even though all four walls of the room were a bland flat white, it seemed I had sparked a fire in Mr. Jackson’s complexion, for the redness in his cheeks seemed to spill over onto the walls. Maybe it was the lack of food, or the multiple bashes to the head, but I swore to God that I saw his white skin a flaming.

There was no hesitation in the man’s movements. He stood up right quick, and with a full closed fist, I took one to the left side. At that point something on my face exploded for I saw, and heard the blood splatter on the wall. The taste of copper pennies flooded my mouth, and everything became a whole lot more blurry. With the last few brain cells I had, I tried very hard to pay attention to the devil man.

“Are you ready to pay attention now?”

I nodded. Blood was running down the side of my head and dripping off my chin.

“Good.” He said. He sat back down and leaned in the back of his chair. With his other hand he cradled the fist he used to smash my face. “Now listen closely.” He leaned in closer to me, elbows on the table, making direct eye contact. He wanted me to be sure that I knew that he was serious, no bullshit. “You will be eating, sleeping, and shitting what I’m about to say to you for the rest your life.”

My heart sank at the sound of it. The rest of my life, was this guy serious? Whatever the hell did I get myself into, or the most irritating part, who the fuck got me into it?

“Are you familiar with cockfighting?”

I nodded.

“Good.” He said. “This however, is on a bit of a bigger scale. This is called Hen fighting. You see, unlike cockfighting, there is a lot of money involved, I mean a lot.” His eyes just got bigger as he looked at me. I felt as if he had done this a couple times before. “You…” He lifted his arm up and pointed at me. “You will be transformed into a fighter. You’ll be taught many methods of fighting, and you’ll go up against other girls who have learned many different other methods of fighting.”

All of this just seemed so unreal. My whole life I was never a violent person, and could never imagine of harming another human being. I used to go hunting with my dad, but that was hunting. You were out there with a purpose, and my father always made sure that none of the carcass was ever wasted. But this, this made no sense to me at all. Sure I saw fight club, and watched UFC, but this? I had questions, I had a lot, but I thought this time I should let him finish; for it was my life that was in the balance.

He continued on with his instruction. “We have a sponsor, and he is the one who is backing you, paying for your room, your board, feeding you, paying for your procedure, and making sure that you are trained properly.” He paused for a moment trying to regain thought. “Everyone, here has a stake in this. We all have something to lose.” That part was so very serious; I knew that he had something to lose to.

I felt like my head was mashed potatoes, and I was trying to ingest all of it. I was not a fighter. I was a silly little girl that used humor all day. My main goal every day was just to make somebody laugh. I became sick to my stomach. I tried to focus but it was all way too much. Fighting what, and learning what? At the time there was only one question that came to my mind and I had to ask it. “Why me?”

He drew a deep breath through his nose and exhaled it out his mouth. The expression on his face was a perplexing one. It seemed it was a difficult question for me to ask. He lowered his head and looked at the cold steel table. He sat there for maybe thirty seconds until finally he looked up, making eye contact with me once again. “You’re not the first one. I have trained other fighters.” He leaned back in his chair again.

It seemed I had struck a nerve. The man that I just met, that I could’ve sworn was the devil had feelings. I didn’t think harsher of the question, I just needed an answer. What did I have that any of the other girls didn’t?

“You see.” He just started shaking his head left to right. “All girls use in these hen fights are usually homeless woman. Most homeless women don’t have families, and if they disappear nobody cares.” I could tell this part was a tad bit uneasy for him because he sat up in his chair and placed both his hands on the armrests and started swaying back and forth. “You see, because homeless women have nothing to lose, they have nothing to gain either. So, there’s a point at which down the road they give up.” He started shaking his head again. He stopped and looked at me. “The biggest problem is the health. At the time that we do pick them up, they are too unhealthy to survive the procedure.”

I raised my right eyebrow. “The procedure, you keep bringing this up, but you have yet to explain this to me.” At this point the smart ass was gone. I was really concentrating and focusing on the conversation at hand. Yes I was a joker, but I knew when it was a time to be serious.

“In hen fighting,” He stated, “beside the use of weapons, we are allowed to manipulate the human body. So… Surgery, any kind of body manipulation is possible, as long as the human body can survive.” His eyes drifted left to right, and I could see he was thinking very thoroughly. “Our sponsor has a lot of money. He is the head of a major pharmaceutical company. This procedure that we have adapted has been performed on a few girls, none of which have survived.”

“Because?” I lifted both my arms wide. It was sad, but it was getting interesting.

He looked at me sharply, short fused. “Because their health was not in order, or so I was told.”

“Oh.” Gravy… My apple a day that kept the doctor away was now benefiting in my hen fighting competition, fantastic.

Barrett’s low toned voice cut through the room and his words just shattered my mind. I felt as if I was given a death sentence, but I had no other choice. He played his cards well, and with the hand he played, he won. I put my thumbnail in my mouth and bit it hard. I took a deep breath and let it out fiercely. “All right guy, you have my life in your hands.” What other choice did I have? I did not want any harm to come to my mother.

He stood up quickly and slammed both his hands down on the table. A crooked wicked smile protruded from his face. “Now that you understand the game, it is time for meat tenderizing. I must warn you though, this will not be easy. You will feel the most pain that you have ever felt in your life. The tenderizing is just the start. We need to know how high your tolerance for pain actually is.”

Oh yeah, I was beginning to understand the game. But I was smart enough to know that at all games, it was possible to cheat.

He left the room, slamming the door behind him. I placed my right arm on the table cradling my bruised and abused head in my hand. I massaged my forehead trying to release some tension. From what I could feel my head was moist with blood. I was in pain, I had an extremely empty stomach, and I was trying to make sense of all the morning’s events. I tried to close my eyes and wait for sleep to come. As soon as I started to slip into some sort of unconscious slumber, I heard the door open again. I lifted my head, put my hands into my lap, and patiently waited for the bag to be once again put over my head.

There was a shuffling sound and clomping of heavy boots behind me. I heard a familiar voice from the ride over. “You want me to bag her boss?”

As usual Barrett became short with Clive’s forgetfulness. “Clive you idiot, bag her and take her to the war room please… It’s time for tenderizing.”

God help me if they were going to tenderize me like a steak. I was a human being not a piece of meat, but unfortunately, when there’s money involved, none of that really mattered…

As the black bag slid over my head I held my breath. I tried to close my eyes and think of a better place. I heard my chains clinking again and the sound of unlocking. Once again I was being led. We didn’t walk very far, I counted around eight paces. We came to a stop and I heard another unlocking sound. It was really irritating being yanked around like a damn dog on a leash, but I had no other choice; I just went with the flow.

With the door now opened we walked into the room. Our steps just echoed. I was walked another fifteen paces, until I was abruptly stopped by Clive. No words no nothing, just the sound of my chains rattling. The clacking continued and the slack of my chains seemed to disappear. My arms began to rise. Higher and higher until they were both strung above my head. I began to feel the tension as they raised me higher on to my tippy toes, barely touching the floor.

This was nothing more than an awkward position. I felt nothing but extreme vulnerability. The door opened once again, and there was another set of footsteps menacing my hearing. They came closer and closer until the bag was ripped away from my head.

There was an explosive bright light blaring into my eyes. The rest of the room was completely dark. It took a while for my eyes to finally settle, but I recognized the man standing in front of me. It was Barrett. His face was dark and cold. His eyes filled with complete evil. He raised both his arms and slowly slid up my cheekbones. He came so close to my face our noses almost touched. He abruptly turned my face and whispered into my right ear, “sorry, but this is going to hurt.” He stepped back until he faded into the darkness and then I heard, “Clive, do it.”

Clive once again emerged from the shadows. He walked in front of me with his hands at his sides. “Dis is meat tenderizing. Hold on to ya nipples.” He lifted his right hand and backhanded me in the face. It was only the first of many to come. Hits to my right and hits to my left, over and over again till I could feel the blood gushing out of my face, out of my cheekbones, and from my lips. I tried to cry out in pain, but there was just too much pain to deal with.

My head just drooped. I had absolutely no more energy to keep it up. Arms raised up high, I felt as if I was nailed up to a crucifix. Blood was slithering down my face and dripping everywhere. I heard the echo of Clive’s boots nearing again, but I really didn’t give a shit.

After they had made ground hamburger meat out of my face, it was time to condition my stomach. Blow after blow I took. I threw up bile countless times. After each hit I let out a gasping yell. My legs buckled my head went gray. My arms took on the full weight of my body. Limp, I just swayed.

The blows finally stopped. I couldn’t understand anything but I heard voices. I finally felt my center of gravity changing and I was being lowered onto the cold cement ground. I tried to catch my breath. If only I had enough energy to get up and run, but I didn’t. I hated myself for that.

The last thing that echoed through my head, the one thing that disturbed me the most, was I heard Barrett say, “Take off her clothes, Clive.”

Clive came up to me and pushed me from my side to my back. I felt him pull off my shoes, undo my belt and pull off my pants. He sat me up. Clive removed the chains, and then took off my shirt.

As soon as the shirt was removed, Clive walked away. Out of it and without support, I fell back down to the concrete. I kept myself in a fetal position. I held myself tight, hoping to Ward off any intruders with the tiny amount of strength I had left. Nothing, I waited but nothing. I wasn’t hassled, and I wasn’t violated. There was just a strange smell of heating metal in the room.

I didn’t remember how long I laid there motionless, but I tried my best to stay awake. I couldn’t tell who it was, but somebody walked up to me, with something flaming red in their hands. It hit me like a volcano. There was a searing pain that struck my right thigh. I woke up instantly and started to scream, loudly. I started to smell burning flesh. Just as the pain began to subside, I blacked out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.

The rooster called once again. I sat up straight in my bed, wearing nothing but my bra and panties. I was shivering uncontrollably. My body was frail like porcelain. I was breathing heavily, the vapor expelling from my mouth. Head pounding, I threw off the comforter and ran to the sink, turning it on and sucking in as much water as possible. I was so thirsty. I drank as much as I could, and when I was content I fell to my knees, nauseous. Losing it, I bolted for the toilet and vomited. When the vomiting was done, I went for the sink again and started guzzling water. When I felt secure that I could keep the batch of water down, I stumbled quickly back to the bed and buried myself in the comforter. I rubbed my hand up and down my face, dry blood crumbling, and falling off. I could not see myself, but by the feel of it, I was a train wreck.

I sat there for while rocking back and forth, trying to keep myself warm. It wasn’t long before I heard a rustling upstairs. I clenched both my fists, and prepared myself for what was to come. Barrett and Clive made themselves both clear. Behave yourself or you shall feel indefinite pain. I heard the unlocking sounds of the door flap above. I braced myself. Still breathing heavily, vapor exploding from my mouth; I watched as the figure slowly descended into my dungeon. I sat up on my makeshift bed, pulling myself into the corner. Frightened, I quickly tried to cover my naked flesh with the comforter.

Subtle clothing. It was a sleek slender body form that of which could only belong to another female. She didn’t wear the typical boots, they were only converse. She was however wearing the typical overalls. My eyes, slowly coming to terms, raised from her shoes up to her torso, and finally met her Brown light autumn eyes. She was at that point, the most gorgeous thing that I had ever seen. She looked at me with eyes so sincere. The condition I was in must’ve frightened her, for her mouth dropped wide open.

“Jesus H Christ,” she said. “What the hell did they do to you?”

She rushed up to me quickly, and only by normal response I quickly propelled myself further into the corner of my bed, even though I had run out of space. I raised both my arms over my face and tried to protect myself as best I could. Even beauty could be dangerous. At that point all I knew was that I had enemies.

I sat there in the corner, trembling with both my hands covering my face, and tears rolling down my cheeks. It wasn’t until I felt two warm hands gently grasp my wrists and pull my hands down from my face, that I finally opened my eyes, and gazed into the soul of an angel.

Her face was prim and proper, and her lips were the shape that any beautiful lip should be formed. Her skin complexion was of buttermilk, and her eyes, oh God her eyes were so beautiful. All fear completely faded away and I melted into her. There was nothing I wanted more then to be nestled into her arms.

She pulled back quickly to assess the damage. She looked at me from top to bottom. She shook her head. She opened her bag that she had carried in, and pulled out a cloth. She went to the sink and started to rinse it. She then came back to me, and raised the rag to my head. I flinched, pulling my head back a bit. Gently, she urged me by softly planting her palm behind the back of my neck and carefully pulled me closer. I gave in, and let her clean my wounds.

“I apologize so greatly. They called me this morning, and I rushed as quickly as I could. I am so sorry.”

I just sat there in disarray. Though the cleaning of my wounds was painful, I felt comfort in her care. She looked me over, bit by bit. She placed gauze around my wrists, and put ointment and bandages over my extremely inflamed and swollen brows.

I sat off the edge of the bed with my legs crossed. She took her hand and placed it on the side of my calf. She slowly raised her hand up my thigh. The feelings sent tingling sparks up my spine, until she reached the fresh burn mark. My newly acquired brand. I shuddered and winced with pain once she reached it. I grabbed her hand quickly and pulled it away. She looked at me so seriously, and she said, “I have to put ointment on this. I need to treat this or it will get infected.”

I finally got a good look at the burn mark on the side of my thigh. It was a lowercase p, and a lowercase b. I looked at her. “What does it stand for?”

Her gaze met mine. She didn’t smile nor did she frown. Her face just remained expressionless. “Oh, let’s see, how should explain this…” Her eyes left mine and she began to look around the room, trying to think of a nice way to put it. “Oh hell!” She looked at me again. “P.B. stands for Paul Bishop… He would be your new owner.”

I let out an “ahhh…” So it has now come down to it. I was now owned by someone. I looked into my lap and just shook my head. “Are you my owner to?” I lifted my head and looked at her again.

She gave a little half smile, and said “no, no. My name is Paige. Just think of me as your personal nurse, your counselor, you’re… Caretaker.” She lifted her flawless arms again and continued to clean the dried blood from my face.

I noticed a tattoo at the bottom of her wrist, it seemed to be a set of initials, IVY. I slowly raised my hand and grasped it to get a closer look. “Ivy?”

It wasn’t a quick movement but she slowly pulled her wrist away. “Someone I care very much about, but I can’t be with right now.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“No need. It was my own damn fault.” Paige pulled away from the bed and stood in front of me, seeing if there was anything she missed.

The cold began to settle in and I started to shiver uncontrollably. I quickly found my comforter and tried to cover myself.

Paige looked at me confused. “Where are your clothes?”

“Dumb and dumber jacked them last night.”

She walked back to me and sat back on the bed. Her hands lay in her lap and her fingers were crossed. She turned her head and looked at me again. “I’m so sorry, they can be a bit overbearing, but I’m here now. I won’t leave your side. I’ll get you some clothes. Is there anything else I can get you?”

One word and one word only spilled from my lips, “food.”

“All right then,” she said as she raised herself from my bed. “I’ll be back in a few. In the meantime, just try to relax. We have a lot to do today.” And with that she was gone. She walked back upstairs and left me alone once again. I had to laugh at myself a little bit, the whole just trying to relax thing. How the hell was that possible after what I had just been through?

I reached back and pulled the scrunchie from my ponytail, letting my little past shoulder length hair fall down. I ran my fingers through my scalp scratching at everything and trying to relieve tension. God I could have used a shower, some food. I shook my head letting my hair fly everywhere. It was soft, and for comfort I’d always grab a strand and twirl it through my fingers.

Nestled in my dirty, smelly, bloodied comforter, I sat up and leaned in the corner of the wall on my bed. I didn’t know how long I waited for clothing and food, but I started to drift off into sleep again. I hoped the bad dreams wouldn’t come back. I waited for Paige. I had already gotten used to her face and her beautiful smell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.

Walking through the forest I came to a clearing. It was a beautiful green meadow. There was one tree in the meadow, and nestled beneath the tree was a rock. It wasn’t a big rock, but the rock was the size of a human torso. My 357. Magnum was in a shoulder holster close to my left breast. I walked up to the tree that was in the middle of the green meadow and sat down. I laid my head down upon the rock and stared into the blue half cloudy sky. I laid there for a while, looking through the breaks of the leaves, and watching the clouds as they effortlessly glided through the blue seas. I never felt more serenity in my life. I never wanted to leave the place. I removed my shoulder holster and placed my gun close to my side. My breathing was slow and steady. I knew my father was going to be looking for me soon, but I had to ingest just a little bit more of its natural peace….

The locks rumbled again and I awoke. I slowly sat up in agony every step of the way. It was quick, but I started to have a “thing” for Paige. Before she could make it to the foot of the steps, I tried to make myself presentable, which pretty much consisted of me putting my hair back into a ponytail. It was quite rough without a brush.

As Paige began her descent into the dungeon, I noticed my chains lying on the floor next to the sink. No wonder I was able to do my hair with ease. I couldn’t help but wonder why I had not been chained. They probably figured after my initiation beating, I would be too weak to try an escape. They were right.

Paige came bearing clothes in her arms, and on top of those clothes laid a foiled plate. Instantly the smell of eggs and bacon struck my nose and my mouth began to water insanely.

Without hesitation I threw the comforter from me and went for the plate. I ripped off the foil and started eating the eggs and bacon with my hands. As I was in my eating frenzy Paige placed the clothes on the bed and watched as I totally cavemaned my food.

“Well I guess you were hungry.”

I looked up at her while shoveling food in my mouth, “you have no idea.” As the food on the plate quickly diminished, I sat back down once again shivering. Belly full, I was hoping to get some energy back. Paige, still standing, was looking at me with her arms crossed. She looked at me and motioned to the clothes that were on the bed next to me. I just realized that I had eaten my food wearing only my undergarments.

I grabbed for the socks and put them on. I picked up the pants and slowly pulled them up; zipping and buttoning them I looked up at Paige and blushed. It had been some time since I had dressed in front of another woman. With goose bumps on my arms I grabbed the shirt and pulled it over my torso. The clothes were mine. Paige had put them through the wash. Last article of the clothing was a jacket. It was similar to the one that I had. I grabbed it quickly, put both my arms through it and zipped it up. Then there were my boots. Paige had brought my boots back. I smiled as I laced up my steel toed Doc Martens.

There was a moment there. I sat content, belly full, dry, and looking at the woman who had given me the most comfort that I could have felt in the position that I was in. I could not hate the woman even though I knew what she was a part of, I could not hate. I hoped my expression showed her much gratitude. I sat back down on the bed once again whole, and waited for my next instruction.

Paige pulled something from her pockets. They were keys on a key ring, and she pulled a black bag from her back pocket. My heart automatically sank. Obediently, I stood up and raised my arms. I just closed my eyes and waited. I watched her grab the chains, clinking from the corner, and felt as they once again inhabited my wrists. The bag was once again placed over my head, and I waited for my lead.

I obediently followed as Paige pulled me from my dungeon. Once again trudging through the snow, I again entered the house. I followed her back downstairs, and entered the room in which I called the interrogation room.

I was seated, and heard my chains locking once again. I heard the chair in front of me being scooted out and being dragged back in. After all was settled, the bag was removed from my head. I focused on the being that sat across from me.

Paige sat there, eyes locked with mine. Expressionless, it seemed to me that it was her best quality. She leaned forward and placed both her elbows on the steel table cradling her chin. No way in hell, could anybody escape those beautiful brown autumn eyes. I was entrapped with her beauty. Of course my weakness was exposed; I lowered my head and looked into my lap.

Her words were cold and clear, and I ingested them the best that I could. “Lillian, I know you are here against her will. You have been beaten, and you have been broken. But these steps you must take to ensure the safety of your mother.”

Those words just echoed through my mind. I could only think that she had some sort of prompter there that she was reading from and it made me sick. Even though her beauty had surpassed all that I had ever seen, all I wanted to do was shove a knife into her throat. Wanted to, but couldn’t.

There was a paper and a pen in the middle the table in front of me. I looked at her and she motioned to it. “I need you to write a letter to your mom. I need you to tell her of your plans of Riding cross-country and taking pictures.”

I just sneered. Cocked my eyebrow and laid my head into my right hand. I closed my eyes and shook my head. Where the hell was that coming from? How the hell did they know what I wanted to do with my life, my dreams? I was extremely angry at that point, but knowing what was at stake, I grabbed the pen in my left hand and pulled the paper in front of me and waited for more instruction.

Paige never moved and her expression never changed. She looked at me with her brown eyes and she was calm and collective. “Write a letter to your mother, and tell her where you are, please.”

I was wondering if I didn’t obey, would she pull a gun out and shoot me in the head. Would she pull out a phone and make that call to torture my mom? Who knew? Regardless, I put the pen to paper and started to write.

“Dear mom, this is your loving daughter Lillian. Thank you, by the way for buying me that wonderful camera. It captures so many moments. As you already know, I have been thinking about a plan to drive cross-country. After becoming fed up with work, and wanting to try something new, I have up and gone like the wind. I bid Arizona farewell, and you know I love you all, but you must know that I strive for something more. My life is not complete until I find that perfect picture. So, I have packed my bags and loaded them into my trusty suburban, and am now driving off into the sunset. I tell you dear mother, for I am so very happy, and so very scared at the same time. I hope by the time I have returned from my trip, I will have plenty of awesome pictures to show you. I will miss you so very much. Please give grandma my best, and if you do happen to talk to my sister Elaina in Michigan, please give her my love as well. I may even visit her if my schedule permits. I love you mom. Please take care. Love Lillian”

So that was it. With the stroke of a pen I had written off my entire life. I disappeared like the wind. I felt so empty and disgusted with myself. It was the biggest lie that I had ever pulled off. Money to make me disappear, money to train me, and money for my so-called procedure, that of which I was definitely not looking forward to.

We sat there in silence for a while as Paige looked over my letter. She didn’t ask for an address. With much regret, Paige looked into my eyes and spoke. “We will be doing this every few weeks. Writing a letter.”

I couldn’t look her in the eyes. I did not want her to see the tears that were streaming from mine. After writing the letter, it seemed as if the last chunk of hope was gone. I was truly lost.

Paige just got up with my letter and pen in hand and left the room. As the door shut behind her it left a spineless echo that rang through my ears.

Once again I was left there alone. At least it was not the darkness of my dungeon, but rather the fake glow of a fluorescent light. I put my head down with my chained hands on my lap, and began to stare at the steel table. It was strange how steel seemed to have its own grain like wood.

After a while of me just sitting there trying to lose my mind for bit, the door opened again. I didn’t bother to look behind me, I wasn’t armed with another smartass remark, and I just sat there and waited for my world to go black again. To my surprise, this was not the case

6.

He sat down in the chair in front of me. He had a navy blue pinstripe suit, buttoned, with a pretty red tie to go with it. He was tall, maybe around 6 feet. His face was Stern. It was like a rock. His lips were well-defined, and there was no smile. His lips lay like a straight line across his face. His hair was Brown and short. His eyebrows were arched like smooth triangles.

After the well-suited man had sat down, an older man whom I had not seen yet walked behind him and stood in the corner of the room. His hair was white, short. He had a beard, and glasses. He wore nothing spectacular, just a collared shirt, jeans and a belt. Paige soon followed, and then Clive standing next to Paige. I could feel that someone was standing behind me. I could smell him and I was pretty sure was Barrett.

So there we were, just one big happy family. The man in the pinstripe suit leaned forward and looked at me. “Do you know who I am?”

I frowned and raised my eyebrows “probably the guy that is putting me through all of this bullshit.”

There was, a wonderful elbow to the back of my head. My head leaned forward and I swear my brains fell out of my nose. I raised my head again to look at the man in the suit. Thinking on the side, just wait Barrett, you’ll get yours.

“My name is Paul, Paul Bishop. As you probably know, I now own you.” That straight line across his face that could only be identified as lips, slowly curved up. It was as if he had taken some sort of hit off a drug and was now feeling the ultimate high. “As Barrett, Paige, and Clive have explained to me, you have been through orientation, meat tenderization, and wrote a letter to your mom. You are now ready to become the ultimate weapon.” The smile never left his face. The man actually took pleasure out of owning human beings.

I disgustedly shook my head “bullshit!”

My brains were once again rocked by Barrett who stood behind me.

Paul shook his head while looking at Barrett. “No, no, no, my dear Sir, please let her speak. I need to know the true woman whom I am spending so much money on. If she has something to say, then let her say it without reprimanding, please.”

Paul seemed to be a very proper man. He was a businessman, but an evil one. He could surely sit there and spit out all of his lies and be a gentleman, but in the end I knew who he truly was, a lying sack of shit. Anyone that was into the human trafficking, human slavery, and had no problem with threatening people and or their families, had no God damn soul. If I had to play on their side, if I had to do what I had to do, to see my mother safely, then so be it, I would do it. The world as I knew it was disgusting and sad. I tried my best to skim by under the radar of all the insanity that that the world could provide, but now, now I found myself in the middle of chaos. I finally met the man of chaos, Mr. Paul Bishop. So I would go with the flow, and as soon as I had my chance, I would be the last thing that that man saw before he died. I would have the last word. I did not care how much money he had or how much power he had. All I knew, was in the end, the last thing that he would be staring into was my wicked green eyes.

“Now,” he said, “as you are aware, you are to undergo a procedure, and I am quite sure that everyone in this room has also gone over it with you as well. Now that you are acquainted with me, and are already are familiar with my trustee employees, Barrett and Clive, and Barrett’s daughter Paige.

My mouth dropped open at the sound of Barrett’s daughter Paige. How in the hell could that woman be related to him? She was so delicate and so frail. Oh, how the plot so thickened! I looked up at her, and she looked down at the ground. At that point I lost some stability.

“The procedure will be performed by this man here standing behind me to the left. His name is Dr. Sebastian Cole. He is the best in cosmetic surgery, and up until recently, the best in surgery with implants. Of course every day Doctors will not know about Dr. Cole, for he mostly specializes in the underground repairs if you know what I mean. Dr. Cole, has been with us for many years, and has treated many girls who have needed surgery, and/or some sort of facial reconstruction.” It seemed Paul was taking pleasure out of what he said because his smile never faded.

Implants I thought to myself, fantabulous. It was all too much to take in. I had never gone to the hospital. Well, I had gone once for a dog bite. Only because I noticed a red line going down my vein, and remembered my mom telling me that it was a sign of blood poisoning. Surely enough it was, and I received a tetanus shot, and an IV for antibiotic. I hated needles, so I turned my head as the nurse was inserting a needle into my vein. I closed my eyes and thought of beautiful flowers. Poof, congratulations to myself, my first needle was inserted.

Paul continued “so with no further ado, I give you Dr. Sebastian Cole.”

The doctor, who was staring at the floor almost the whole time, finally grew some balls and looked up at me. His face was frail and old, withered by time and stress. His beard was short, but his thin framed glasses reminded me of Santa Claus. A gentle old man I thought to myself that was probably bought by money. Side note to myself, he could possibly have leverage against him as well, so I didn’t think of him as much of an enemy, but more of somebody who was trying to do their job. I gave him my utmost attention.

“Lillian,” he said. He pushed his thin framed glasses further up on his nose. He had no papers or notes with him, so obviously he had explained it before. He took a deep breath. “This procedure will consist of me taking several small incisions throughout your body.”

He seemed so frail and delicate. To me, it seemed it was not a very easy thing for him to talk about. I had come to think that there were many before me, none of which had actually survived.

He continued on though; face straight, firm but still frail. “I will insert many titanium-based alloy implants that are coated with a silicate glass, that are bioactive at key points in your bone structure. Certain key points,” he was struggling a bit with it. “Will be your face, forehead, cheekbones, knuckles, hands, knees, shins, and elbows.” Still it seemed he was uncomfortable in his own skin, but he continued on. “This procedure will not be an easy one. You will feel a lot of pain, and be uncomfortable at first, but Paige, she will help you with recovery.”

I was comfortable with the whole Paige and recovery thing, but surely the whole new procedure would require some sort of maintenance. I had remained silent for a while, but my body was being used as a guinea pig, so I had to ask a question. “What kind of maintenance will this require?”

Paul did not even let the man answer. He just butted in. “Lillian, I am sure you have many questions that need to be answered. I assure you that they will all be answered. Now is not the time.” He began to lift himself from his seat, never leaving eye contact. I could only think to myself, a businessman such as him, had many places to be at once. But there was one more thing that I wanted ask him. “So you’re a businessman, but you are in the business of what?”

He slowly turned to look back at me and his smile lifted once again. “Why little girl, I am the head of the major pharmaceutical company. It is our responsibility to create new things for the consumers to use. It is now your job to test those products. If we succeed with these implants, and the cocktail continues to strengthen you and keep you strong, then my girl, I think we will have a breakthrough. So the meantime of testing this, I believe you will bring me in a load of cash.” And with that he left. Single file line everybody left the room, Paige remained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.

It wasn’t every day that you got to be a part of a project called “Young Frankenstein.” Well, at least that was what I was calling it. Apparently, in my mind, because human testing was wrong, Paul needed some, unknown human testers to test his new product. It still worried me so very much, how complete strangers knew so much about me. As everyone left the room, I waited for Paige to do her thing. It was a joke. It was a sad joke and it was being played on me. I had control over nothing. I just sat quietly and waited to hear what Paige had to say.

She took a seat back into the chair and we sat there in silence for a while. She then lifted her head and looked at me. “There are some things that we need to cover before I take you back to your room.”

I just cocked my right brow. “Lady, if you’re calling that God damn dungeon a room, then you’re out of your bloody mind.” I started shaking my head. “Besides, I’d rather waste as much possible time in her as I can. It’s warm, and it doesn’t smell like crap.”

Paige frowned, her eyes moved from left to right, and then she blinked and looked at me. There was a Manila folder that was sitting on the table the whole time, and she reached out and pulled it closer to her. She opened it and began to examine the contents inside. “So, first thing is, I need to know your medical history. Do you have any allergies?”

The first thing that came to my mind was you people and your damn Manila folders. “No, none that I can think of.” I took my right hand and rubbed my forehead. “Ummmm, ahhhh, no.”

She continued to examine the papers in the Manila folder. “So, I see your earlier medical records as a child, and I see you were treated for a spastic colon?”

I didn’t giggle I just let out a slight chuckle. “We thought it was a spastic colon. Sounds stupid but, after my father died I was unable to cope with it I guess. Long story short I got the shits every day. At first yeah, I was prescribed something, but in the end my doctor just prescribed me fiber pills. They actually worked.”

“Mmmmkay.” She said. “I also see that were are admitted to the ER and treated for blood poisoning?”

I pushed out a half smile on that one too. “Yeah so, I was trying to break up a fight between my two dogs. I guess one of them got overly excited and thought my thumb was the other dog. She bit me down to the bone. Later, I noticed some red lines down my veins.”

“What did you do with the dog that bit you?”

“Huh?”

She hesitated but asked the question again. “Your dog, the one that bit you, what did you do with her? Did you put it down?”

“Oh God no! No, I couldn’t do anything like that. That night when I left for the hospital, I saw her looking at me, sad with her tail between her legs. I knew that she didn’t mean it.” Seems my dear friend Paige there was drifting from the subject

Once again into the paperwork and then her eyes were on me. “So when was the last time that you were sick, like really sick? When was the last time you had to take a day off work because you’re too sick?”

I sat there and I pondered the question for a while. I really couldn’t remember the last time I was sick. It had to have beeen years. I had recently started a new diet in eliminating mostly all processed foods. “Ahhhh, then I have to go with 4 to 5 years maybe?”

“Wow really?”

“Well yeah. I mean I have come down with things. I had sore throat and stuffy noses. I’m pretty sure I had a mild temperature sometimes two, but nothing extremely severe.”

“Do you smoke?”

“Yes.”

“How often?”

I narrowed my eyebrows a bit. “Ahh… 4 to 5 cigarettes a day. I do not smoke at home. Oh, I smoke when I drink.”

Paige shifted in her chair and then asked me another question. “Okay, so that would be my next question. Do you drink?”

I don’t know why but I sat up straight. “Hell yeah!”

“How often?”

“Oh, about three times a week.”

“How many beers could you say?”

“Wow, you are really getting scientific with this shit.”

Her facial expression turned to inpatient. “Lillian, please just answer the question, how many?”

I let out a big sigh, “let’s see… 5 to 6 beers on Thursday, 5 to 6 beers on Friday, and about 8 to 10 beers on Saturday. Is that good enough for you Paige?”

She lifted her head from her paperwork and looked at me. “Yes Lillian that will be fine, thank you.”

Paige pulled a pen from her front pocket on her shirt and began writing. Her hand was quick and Swift but smooth. Her head was bent down close to the paper and her brown hair spilled to the side of her face. Beautiful brown curls I thought to myself and smiled as I began to drift away from the conversation. Once again I became curious, and decided to ask a few questions for myself.

“Why all these health questions? Obviously as I’ve heard you’ve done this procedure before.”

She partially opened her mouth and took a deep breath. “As you know, my father,” big hesitation on that one. She swallowed. “As my father told you that in the past we have acquired only homeless women. Due to their current health, none of them survived the after procedure. All girls died with a terrible fever.”

“All girls? How many exactly are we talking about here?” I raised both my eyebrows, my face completely and utterly concerned. I was pretty sure I heard some of it before, but that was after I had been kidnapped and then brutally beaten. I now had food in my belly and had some sort of senses. She just stared at me with empty eyes. “You would be the sixth.”

“Seriously?” My eyes were wide open at that point.

She hesitated. “Well, we did not administer the procedure to the first girl. She was kind of like our test run, what we could do with these women.”

I cocked my eyebrow, my eyes widened. So what happened to the first girl? Was she successful?”

“She was. She did quite well. Her name was Totty. We called her the tarantula.” Paige took a deep breath and then shifted in her seat. “I don’t know why we called her the tarantula. She was really good with all appendages of her body, I guess. She wasn’t hairy or anything.” Page leaned back in her seat, took her hand and started rubbing her lips with her index and middle fingers. “Totty was so eager to learn everything. She was an excellent fighter. She won many battles. In the end though, she took a horrific blow the stomach with a knife. We had to…” Paige’s eyes just drifted off into space.

“Put her down?” I decided to finish the sentence for her.

“Yes…” Paige’s breathing seemed to become heavier. Her train of thought seemed to drift into an empty grayness. “All the girls that we have dealt with were… More willing to do this, but you, you have been a challenge. You have been less cooperative.”

I perked up quickly at that. “You think?!” I felt my temper coming back. “Do you people ponder the reason why I am so pissed?” It was one thing to abduct a homeless woman, thinking to myself I shook my head no, it didn’t matter who the hell they abducted, regardless it was wrong. I felt one of my famous pissed off speeches coming on, and Paige was going to get the blunt of it.

Paige began to protest, but I butted in with my explosion. I leaned in and slammed both my elbows upon the table. “Listen lady, just because a douche bag with a shit load of money thinks he can use it to buy people, he has another fucking thing coming. And just because you’ve had cooperation in the past, don’t mean you be getting it now. The only reason I’m here sitting talking to you right now,” I leaned in closer and gave her my utmost attention and eye contact, at this point I was flaming. “You have threatened my mother, and or my other family members. And unfortunately, because of this I must abide by your bullshit rules. You have no idea what you have done to me. I am not just a little puppet with strings you can move around at your will. I swear to God, mark this day, you all will feel my wrath once I have the chance to give it.” I sat there on edge of my seat. My face was red my neck was hot.

Paige began to open her mouth to say something, but I cut her right off. “One more thing… Right now, I cannot agree more with the phrase, you don’t know how important something is until you lose it. I have just lost it all. My heart is in a million fucking pieces.” I tried to hold back, but I felt the tears begin to drip out of my eyes. I raised my hand to my head and wiped them away with my middle finger and thumb. “These last two nights, were the scariest nights of my whole God damn life. Most nights, I cry because I’m lonely. These last two nights, I cried because it was scared, I was beaten, and alone. I do not know how you can fucking sleep at night. I do not know how you can live with yourself.” I placed my Palm on my forehead covered my eyes and closed them. I began to rub my face with my hand. I drew my hand through my hair and stopped at my ponytail. I pulled out a strand of hair started to twirl the strand through my fingers. It was something I always did when I was under a lot of stress. The softness of my hair between my fingers always calmed me.

Paige just sat there motionless. I saw her quickly glance at the tattoo that was etched on her wrist.

I shook my head and half smiled. “And once again the tattoo comes into play. What is it, what’s on your mind Paige?”

She looked up at me again, eyes true, pure. It was a strange process that brought people together. It was a strange string of fate that brought yourself into another person’s life. Every person that I had ever met, I had found some sort of meaning in their life. I always tried to ponder the reason why they were brought into mine. The biggest question on my mind, was why I was brought into Paige’s, and she into mine. I leaned back into my chair, left elbow laying on the armrest, my fingers flickering. I then leaned forward placing my right elbow onto the armrests and resting my chin into my right hand. “All right kiddo,” I said, “who is Ivy?”

She hesitated, but the beans were soon spilled. “Ian Vernon Yates.” Her head swiftly dipped and she looked into her lap. “In my young teens, I met a boy.”

My half smile still remained. This shit was getting good. I continued to listen.

“When I was young, like every story goes I met a boy. We fell in love, and one thing led to another, I became pregnant.” Her face was not buried into her lap, but she was looking into it like everything she had to say was causing her great pain. She managed to glance up at me, and then continue to look at the steel table. “At the time, my father was involved with heavy gambling and drinking after my mother died.” She shook her head, eyes becoming watery. “I just lost him.” Still shaking her head, eyes now filling with tears. “He got into something dark. He got into something that he could not get himself out of. I became pregnant and when I told him, he told me just to get rid of it.” At this point her lips were no longer straight, but they formed a frown.

Her Brown eyes so beautiful seemed empty, and cold. The tears that were protruding from her eyes we’re creating a magnifying glass that was making them ever so big like the moon. I could feel her pain. Despite our differences I wanted to hold her. I was chained. I was bound to my chair.

“In the end I went through the pregnancy I did not terminate it.” Her face was still like a block of ice. She wasn’t looking at me; she was just looking into an empty space of time. Her body was there, but it seemed as if she was just on auto drive. “After I had a little boy, I gave him up for adoption. By then my father’s mind was completely gone. He owed somebody, he now belonged to somebody.” There was sort of a shift to her train of thought. Her eyes fluctuated and became more strained. It seemed she was trying so very hard not to break into tears. “There was one day, my father came home. I was there with my boyfriend, my father was so drunk.” She left her gaze into the empty space and looked at the ground and shook her head. She looked back up at me and straight into my eyes. “I never saw my love again after that day. I looked all over the place for my son, I wanted to make sure he was safe and with a good family. I found him, I did.” A smile, it was slight, but it was there. “He’s safe, and well provided for. But, I tell you this that you are not the only one that has something at stake here.”

Alas, a sad solemn quaint moment with Paige. She was so tender at the moment, close to breaking. I didn’t want to take it as a moment of opportunity for advantage, but I kept it close to mind. If I had any chance of getting out, Paige was it. Eyes big, I tried my best to comfort her with what I had. It definitely was not going to be a hug… My hands were a bit bound up at the moment. “Paige, I’m… I’m sorry.”

She looked into my eyes for some time, sniffles slowly drying up. “My god… Your eyes, they are so…”

“So?” I said it between my teeth and tilted my head.

“Green… And your hair… It’s not quite blonde, but it is not brown either…Almost gold.”

Well, it seemed she had taken a turn off the path. Perhaps I had her recall a repressed memory and at the moment, her mind was trying to find ways to deal with it.

Snapping out of it, she blinked, and quickly moved around the table and behind me. My chains were unlocked, and the bag was once again slipped over my head. “I need to take you back to your room, err… dungeon. You need to get some sleep. The operation will start tomorrow at 7:00 AM.”

We once again ventured through the door, and up the stairs. We traveled through the house, and through the snow. I waited a brief moment as Paige opened the wooden flap to my dungeon room. We descended and the smell of dirt, and muskiness invaded my nose. I stood once again as my chains were locked and I was bound into my room. The bag was removed from my head, and I lifted my hands and turned so I could sit on my bed.

“Is there anything else that I can get you?”

“Food?”

“You know I cannot give you that right now.” The rays of sunlight were peeking through the small open crevices of the wood above. It made her hair look like strands of gold, and her eyes were gorgeous brown beacons of hope.

I put my arms from the sides of the bed, and placed them into my lap. Moving was such a pain. Being attached to chains was annoying. “In that case, please bring me a toothbrush and toothpaste. If you could so kindly, at least bring me something to listen to, some music?”

“Will do.” Smiling she said it so kindly. “I know Clive has a very big music selection. He listens to everything.” She raised her hands and extended her arms to “everything.” “I will definitely bring you something to brush your teeth with. I know you are so out of your element and I am so very sorry.”

She walked to me ever so close. She keeled down, and placed both of her hands upon mine. She looked at me so sincerely, and said, “I know you do not want to be here, nor do I. I am sorry for your troubles, and your pain. And I thank you, for lending me your ear.” With that she was gone. She disappeared back up the stairs, opening the flap and letting a little bit of the golden sunlight saturate the dark, dank stale dungeon that I was now inhabiting.

I could think of nothing more than her face, her lips being so close to mine. Her mouth was of perfection, porcelain. I wanted so badly to take my hands and place them upon her beautiful cheekbones. I wanted to hold her there, face so close to mine. I wanted to stare into her eyes and feel the oblivion of gorgeous brown.

I was a good girl my whole life. I could never fathom the thought of being stuck in a prison. But here I was. Stuck in the small confines that could only be described as a dirty oversized coffin. I lifted my legs up onto the bed and sat Indian style. I leaned against the wall, and stared into nothingness.

As I waited for Paige’s return, I began to hum a song. Brooks was here, from Shawshank redemption. I was a sucker for soundtracks, and I loved the composer Thomas Newman. I was always hyper and could never get to sleep easily, so I used the music of Thomas Newman to move me to shut my eyes. As I hummed, I tried to picture how the music would actually go in my head; the piano, the strings, and the cello. So quickly did I drift away from my wooden hell; I began to dream about the tree; the tree in the middle of the green meadow; the blue skies and the blotchy clouds. I took a deep breath and I could almost smell the fresh air.

Cold, but comfortable I slowly drifted off into once again a disturbing slumber; a painful slumber. I could feel my head pounding, and my body aching. My face was swollen, my jaw ached. The brand on my upper thigh was pulsing. Still leaning back against the wall, sitting Indian style with my head down, I shivered and tried to catch some zzz’s.

It wasn’t long until once again Paige emerged down the wooden steps. More beautiful than the Venus DE Milo, she was a vision of angelic proportions. Maybe I was over exaggerating a bit because she was the only one providing comfort, but either way, she was a good distraction to the chaos my life had so recently become.

Paige came bearing gifts as she promised. As quickly as I stood up and raised my arms, she placed the toothbrush, toothpaste, and MP3 player equipped with headphones into my hands. I clutched them closely to my heart as if they were the greatest gifts that I had ever received in my life. I placed the MP3 player onto my bed and went to the sink. I vigorously began to brush my teeth.

Blood dirt and grit inhabited my mouth. I wanted nothing more than to wash away the pain and the grief. I brushed fiercely. I tried to scrub away the pain, the hate, and the fear. In the end, all I felt was just a clean mouth. Everything else still remained.

I leaned over the sink rinsing out my mouth, both hands lying on each side. Paige walked up to me and put one hand on my right shoulder. She leaned in close, and I could smell her scent. She whispered into my ear, “I will see you in the morning. I wish I could say that the rest of your day will be good, but I know it will be not. Please stay strong.” She stepped over the chain that was binding my right arm and ascended up the wooden steps. Her presence, her energy had left the room. I finished rinsing my mouth and sat back down on my bed. I placed both the ear buds into my ears and listened to what Clive had to offer.

The sound that began to enter my ears was a new one. It was uplifting, and prideful. It was bold, and filled with beats. It made me want to be the hero. It made me want to rise against all. I could not understand how such a dreadful man could listen to such beautiful music. Though my stomach was empty and I felt so very weak, the strength was pulsating through my ears and into my veins. There were many artists that were ringing into my ears that night. The one I most became adapted to was, Two Steps from Hell, and their album Invincible. It was boldness, honor, strength, and beauty all rolled into one. I laid down onto my bed and covered myself with my comforter. Ear buds in my ears and listening to this new bold venture that I just begun to learn. I called it epic rock. I enjoyed it so very much. I knew Clive Dross very little. Listening to his music though, I felt as if I knew him a little bit more personally. As the music played on I stared off into the emptiness of my room. I watched as a light slowly diminished into darkness. After the darkness had conquered all, I finally let my eyes slowly melt. I finally succumbed to sleep. My mind was raging with the activities to come in the morning. I could think of nothing more but my mother. I saw her there all alone and by herself. I did not want them to lay one hand on her. I knew the operation would not be easy, but I had to survive it. I smiled as I heard good tunes, and felt the strength that they were giving me.

I hadn’t even heard the call of the rooster before they came and got me. It wasn’t Paige, but rather Barrett Jackson and his evil little sidekick Clive Dross. It was quick and without hesitation. Barrett shoved the gun into my face while I was lying on the bed. He ripped the ear buds out of my ears, and sternly said, “if you need to go now, get on that pot and go now or forever hold your peace.” My chained hands slowly slid above my head. I did as I was instructed. I did have to go, but I wished I did not have to go in front of a crowd. I got out of bed, and walked to the toilet, arms still raised high. I wasn’t sure who would get me in the morning, so the night before, I had made sure I was fully clothed. For extra warmth, I began to make a habit of sleeping with my hoodie on. Barrett, still with had the gun pointed at my face, and Clive, was pleasantly sneering at me like a nincompoop. I wanted so badly at that point to rip off his face, but no such luck. Barrett would probably squeeze off a few rounds even before I could get there. I figured I should just pee instead.

Both men were staring at me. Clive was an idiot, and Barrett, well Barrett’s face was unreadable as usual. I looked into Barrett eyes and pulled down my pants. For some reason, it was an odd reason, Barrett never left my eyes. He never looked down at my exposed body. It was strange, but I felt safety in that. He wasn’t there to violate me in that way. Clive, well that boy was a different story. I would have to keep one eye open with that man, but I at least I knew that Barrett wouldn’t let it happen.

After my business was taken care of, my chains were unhooked from the room, and the two boys walked me up the wooden steps. As I reached the mouth of my dungeon, Barrett nudged Clive to remind him to place the bag over my head. I was able to see the inside of the barn. It was big, complete with empty horse stalls and bales of hay. There were no animals though.

The rafters were high, and the wood was old and worn from water and weather damage. They had left the barn doors open. The sun was rising, but it had not yet risen over the horizon. I could barely see, but I caught a glimpse of the sky. The pink burning haze was slowly ascending, melting the blackness. It had been forever since I was able to see the rising sun. As I caught the last glimpse of the beauty, the bag was placed over my head and once again I was surrounded by darkness.

Clive and Barrett were in a hurry. They quickly pulled my chains as I tried my best to follow. I stumbled, and nearly fell a few times. I could feel the anticipation in their steps. They, as well as I, was very nervous about the day’s events.

We once again entered the house, and I smelled coffee and breakfast. My stomach rumbled. I thought of a big plate of scrambled eggs with a side of ketchup. As they drug me downstairs, I thought of another side, hash browns. My mouth began to water.

When we reached the foot of the steps, it seemed as if they were taking me to the interrogation room. But we didn’t stop; we continued a few steps further. A door was opened, and I could see a seeping white light through my head bag. I stood there for a while; hands still chained lying by my sides.

Patiently, I stood. I didn’t realize how cold it was, until the hairs on my arms began to stick up. There were voices in the room. I could hear Barrett’s, and Clive’s, and who I believed was Dr., Cole.

I was hungry, sore, and still shaken up from the beating I had received. Anything and everything the voices were saying was not quite registering into my mind. I heard the door open, and then close. Then, there was silence. Another body mass it seemed, had entered the room, for I heard it shuffling around. I patiently waited for my destiny.

The bag was removed from my head, and my eyes tried to adjust to the light. Dr. Sebastian Cole was in front of me. His dark eyes so elegantly placed behind his thin framed glasses. His neatly cut goatee reminded me of a young Santa Claus. He had his doctors coat on, and was ready for business.

“Lillian, I am going to unchain you now.” He said as he went side from side unlocking my writs cuffs. He once again emerged into my eyesight. “You’re not good to try anything stupid are you?”

Solemnly I stood and shook my head. “No.”

“Good.” He then took my right hand, and led me to the hospital bed.

I sat down on the bed, feeling the comfort of a real mattress. It was way better than the wooden plank I was sleeping on.

Dr. Sebastian Cole put a gown into my lap. “Please take off your clothes and put this on.” He said as he went to his table filled with scalpels, and other devices that made me want to puke.

I didn’t think he really needed to check the table. I figured he already knew what was on it. I figured he just wanted to give me some space so that I could change. Either way, I followed suite and began to undress.

I pulled up my pants leg on each side and undid my boot strings. I tossed my boots into the corner, and stood up. I undid my belt, and slowly removed my pants. The room was cold and I was growing goose bumps everywhere. I removed my hoodie jacket, and threw it in the corner with my boots and pants. I placed my hands at the bottom of my Pontiac Trans Am Fire-bird T-shirt. It was clean, but splotched and stained with blood. I slowly I pulled it up and over my head. I threw it in the corner with the rest of my junk. I was in nothing but my bra and panties, and I felt so naked. Of course with Paige, It was a different story. Dr. Cole, still examining his tools of destruction, his back to me, waited patiently. I undid my bra quickly, and threw it in the corner, pulling the gown over my body. I sat back down on the bed. “Done sir.”

Dr. Cole quickly turned around, and helped me up onto the bed. I was shivering, so he covered me with blankets. I could see, almost a childish smile slither across his face. From what I knew, this procedure had been done many times before, but no one survived. I was the healthiest of Dr. Cole’s patients, or so they told me. I could see victory gleaming in his eyes. He was almost beaming with satisfaction.

I smiled, and looked at the old man. “Don’t get your hopes up too soon guy. You ain’t given me the scalpel yet.”

He continued to prep for surgery. “I have good thoughts about you, young one. Your journey will be tough, but I know you will survive.”

I felt the prick. I felt woozy. I tried to focus my eyes on Dr. Cole, but his image became blurry. He began to say something, and I tried so very hard to pick it up.

“Your face will be worked on first. You’ll have a multiple surgeries. Try not to fret little girl, for the next month or two you will be asleep…”

In and out, and out and in. That was where the pain began. The scalpel tears into my skin. The fading moon and rising sun, and my challenge has now just begun.

My eyes were closed and my mind was gone, but my thoughts were racing. My heart was pounding. Though my eyes were closed, I felt every penetration, every intrusion, and every incision that was made. I struggled so very hard in my mind to keep the scalpel away from my skin. I battled with Dr. Cole, I tried to push him away, and I tried to keep myself pure. In the end, I just gave in. There were two places I could be; the place of hell, burning, or the place of green grasses and Meadows of sanctuary.

I felt comfort in my mind. The oblivion that I was so recently sentenced to did not seem to be such a bad place. I could be anywhere at any time. The only problem was that I consistently felt pain. It could be under my favorite tree, or the in the meadow that set me free, but either way I was pain. I was in a world created of crazy dreams. I was in a world that I had never seen before. There were trees, and/or green grasses and blue lakes, but then there was pain and chaos, and fire. I couldn’t stand the pain. My skin was burning. I wished there was an angel to take it all away.

There was a series of light filled tunnels that I flew through. There was light, and there was darkness. I saw myself in the corner of a dark room sitting down, knees up to my chest, swaying back and forth. My head was buried into my legs. The pain throughout my journey was consistent. I remember my face was on fire, my chest, and my arms, followed by my upper thighs. In the end the pain ended up in my knees, my feet, and then slowly diminished.

It was hard to tell when things began, and when they ended. I was in and out of consciousness for who knows how long. My breathing was heavy and erratic. My skin was always on fire, and I always felt so very nauseous. In and out of my sweat filled sickness, I would catch glimpses of Paige. She would be there by my side, cooling me off, or giving me medicine, but always, always trying to keep me comfortable.

I spent who knows how long battling fever. In an out of unconsciousness, and disturbing feverish sleep. I was surrounded by echoes of uncertain voices, and worried tones. The fever finally broke and my eyes opened clear and conscious for the first time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.

Clarity was a hard thing to achieve at first. My eyes wide open, and all I could see was white. I thought I had died and now was in heaven. Not such the case. My mouth opened and I took a huge gasping breath. My tongue was dry, my mouth was dry. I needed a drink. Through the constant beeping roaming through the room, pulsating my mind and giving me a headache, I lifted both my arms within eyesight. Both hands with devices attached to them. Both hands had IVs stringing from them. Both hands were incredibly heavy and extremely hard to manage. I looked at my left hand, creating a fist and releasing, creating a fist and releasing. It was stiff, and painful. As soon as my eyes adjusted, I looked closer at my knuckles and saw tiny incision marks along each knuckle. Looking at my right hand, and feeling it, had the same outcome.

Woozy, I pulled all mechanical equipment and IVs from my arms. It was painful and I winced. The beeping had stopped into a just straight long beep. I pulled the oxygen tube from my nose, and tried the slow strenuous process of raising myself out of bed. The more I gained consciousness and alertness, the more my head began to pound. I placed my right hand over my four head to cover my eyes. It felt strange and bigger than usual; every part of my face that I touched with my hand hurt and burned.

A little pain was not going to stop me. I pulled the covers from over my legs, and shifted my body so that my legs hung off the bed. Closing my eyes hard and taking deep, deep breaths, I sat on the edge of the bed trying to gain control. I took a moment to look around the room and reflect. It was a simple four walled room. White walls, equipped with hospital bed, medical equipment, sink, two doors, and surprisingly a window. The drapes had been drawn, but the sun managed to peek through a small sliver opening between the two fabric sheets. My eyes had not adjusted yet, but I wanted so desperately to walk to the window to see the outside. I must have been at the hospital. I hoped I was at the hospital.

In the back of my mind, I wished it had all been a dream. I thought that if I woke up, I would be at home in my apartment and in my bed. I thought the alarm had gone off, and I bolted up stiff worried that I was late for work. I frowned, not such the case. I tried to make it for the window. I used my arms to push me up and get me on my feet. The nausea overtook me and in an instant, and I was on the ground like a ton of bricks. It was like a bomb had gone off inside my body and everything exploded with pain. The straight long beep was consistent and annoying and I had to close my eyes and cover my ears to deal. I opened my mouth and began to yell, and in a flash, the door flew open and she was there by my side…

Paige was there kneeling down on the floor beside me, her arms enveloping me. “My God, oh my God, the fever broke!” She had me in her lap now. “Come on babe; let’s get you back in the bed.” With all my strength, and Paige’s I tried with all my might to help her, help me get into bed; we succeeded.

Paige just sat there looking at me and smiling. “I really, really did not think you were going to make it.”

At first, I was very disappointed that I was not actually in a hospital. I had one actual glimpse of hope that I was not really being held captive. My mouth was dry and my throat was stiff but I tried my best to speak. “Well, I hate to disappoint you chica.”

“How do you feel, girl?”

I winced with pain a little bit, weak but I answered. “I feel like shit.”

“Well,” she said. “You’ll be in this bed for some time. Dr. Cole will administer the cocktail so that your implants will not corrode… We will go into it a little bit more later on. There is a lot you will need to learn about your new body.” It seemed as if she was trying to think of the best way to state it.

I raised my right hand so that I could run it through my hair. As I reached my fore head and smoothed my hand over my scalp, I was frightened because there was nothing there. It was a spine tingling scare. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and my stomach churned. I my 22 years of life, I’ve always had a full head of hair. There was no hair just a strange stubbly baldness. My jaw dropped and my eyes grew big and I looked at Paige. “Were the fuck is my hair?”

She looked at me and winced. There was a small upper hook to her lips which almost formed a smile. “I am so sorry Lillian, but we had to shave your head. If you feel, you will notice that the implants go at least halfway up your skull.”

I took my right hand and went over my head; rubbing back and forth, feeling the bulges protruding from my forehead. “Christ. You truly succeeded into making me the God damn tin Man, didn’t you?” I just shook my head.

She gave me a half smile, and said, “I’m so sorry Lillian. We had to build you like a brick shit house.” She moved from her standing position, went to the sink, and pulled a washcloth from off the side. She wetted it and came back to the side of the bed. She took the cloth and started dabbing it on my forehead. “I really think you should get some rest. I do not want that fever to come back. It took me forever to break it.”

I spent days in the bed. I was unhappy, and sad with the fact that I had to piss in a piss pot. I was always extremely irritated, and deeply saddened that it was so difficult for me to do anything for myself. Paige had brought up the MP3 player for me, and some books for me to pass the time. Every time she left out of the flat white door, I always heard a locking sound. I was a prisoner, but at least it was not in the dark dungeon.

As soon as she left, I would crawl out of bed. I would crawl like a worm to the nearest chair that was in the corner of the room, and with my upper body mustering all the strength that I could, I would slide the chair to the window. This was no easy task, for I had not yet established a good balance with my legs yet, and therefore could not walk on them. I tried my best to balance myself and pull myself up with one hand on the chair, and the other on the windowsill. It was a lot of work, and very strenuous. But in the end the view was quite rewarding. I would sit there for hours at a time gazing out to a landscape blanketed by white snow. Snow was something I had only seen a few times before in my entire lifetime. Despite the circumstances though, I very much enjoyed the scenery. I would watch the skyline often, and watch as the clouds would roll in, or slither. As soon as the sky became blanketed with gray mushy clouds, I would watch patiently, and wait for the snow to fall. When the snow started to fall, my mind and my eyes were so very captivated. If I could only get out there and dance and it; I’d imagine myself, at the windows ledge, jumping. I’d fall like a superhero who had forgotten how to fly. I’d hit the snow, but its soft fluffy whiteness would break my fall. I could not help but smile and watch as nature did its finest.

Growing up in The Valley of Arizona, I never saw very much snow. I’d driven up north and played in it a few times, but I’d never actually seen the snowfall. I remember in school as a little girl, we would make snowflakes. The snowflakes were always of course made of paper, and always big, but every time I saw the snowfall, I would never see any snowflakes…

As soon as I became well, and strong enough, Paige would help me out of bed and walk me around the room. My body felt heavier, and it took more effort for me to move my limbs about. My hands felt different as well. I’d rub them together and feel the small tiny implants in my knuckles.

It was so difficult, for the next couple of weeks; I spent every lasting moment in the room. I was fed three square meals a day, many greens, and a good amount of protein.

I felt as if I was a lab rat. It was either Paige or Dr. Cole that emerged through the door. Every day I was poked and prodded, had my vitals checked, and was moved around like some sorry stiff manikin. Not once, in the entire time that I stayed in the white room, did I ever lay eyes on either Barrett or Clive. I could hear them though, in the floors beneath, but not once did they show their ugly heads in my beautiful white room. I was perfectly fine with that.

It had been a struggle but I had gotten through it. I had spent day after day looking out of the window, staring out over the white snowy pastures that soon melted. Dark clouds were still in the sky, and the landscape soon became a muddy mess. Beneath the muddy mess, I could catch a tiny glimpse of the gorgeous green trying to fight its way out. Even though I was confined to a climate controlled room, I could feel that spring was in the air.

Finally, when I was able to control myself and move without assistance, Paige emerged from the flat white door with a set of clothes in her hands. I was sitting on the bed, and she placed them in my lap, sitting down next to me. “Did Dr. Cole come and see you this morning?”

Examining the clothes and not looking at her I replied, “Yeah, he did stop by for a bit this morning. He did his examination took my temperature in my butt, yada yada yada.” I raised the shirt to look at it and slowly turned my head and looked at Paige like a robot, smiling. Besides Paige, Dr. Cole was the only other person that I had contact with for that last couple of months… Or weeks? Paige was in every day, helping me walk, helping me regain my mobility back. Dr. Cole came in daily; he checked my vitals, did his checkup and administered me a shot, once a week. I assumed this shot was the cocktail.

“Seriously?’

I smiled back. “Yes, seriously.” I put the shirt down to my side, and pulled up the pants. They were boys, size 30 × 30. Sarcastically I said, “Oh honey, how did you know?” I looked the socks, and put them aside, then held up the underwear. “Thank God you got me bikinis lady. You know damn well I don’t do that ass floss shit!”

She couldn’t help but smile, and let off a small chuckle. “Well, I’m glad you approve. Based on what you are wearing when you got here, I went down to the local store and tried to pick up some clothes that you would be interested in.”

I looked around a little bit because I noticed that something was missing. “Shoes?”

“Oh, hang on a bit.” She lifted herself up off the bed, and disappeared through the door again. I heard no lock after her departure, and felt I had a moment for escape.

For some reason I didn’t move. I kept my mother’s safety in mind, but after all I had been through, I felt that I should follow through and continue with whatever there was to come.

The door once again opened, and Paige emerged. She had a pair of black shoes with white trim in her hands. She placed them in my lap, and I picked them up and examined them.

“New Balance, nice!” I quickly unlaced the brand-new shoes, tossed on my socks, and tried on the shoes. I walked all over the room in them. It felt like a strange sick Christmas. The day was bright, and the sun was shining through the window that was in my room. I smiled and looked at Paige. “Thank you.”

Still looking at me, her smile diminished. “You need to put the clothes on.” She shifted her head and looked away from me, and continued to speak. “I am so sorry Lillian, but today is the day that you have to go back in.”

I was crushed a bit. I knew exactly what she meant. Though I was confined to a small space, it was bright and comfortable. My smile too had faded. Without hesitation, I took off the shoes and moved them to the corner of the room. I took off my gown, tossed it to the floor and turned back around. I was bare, and besides my panties, I was nude. I was the most modest person on the face of the planet, but at that point I did not care. Bare chested, I looked at Paige; as I reached for my pants, and pulled them up to the bottom of my torso.

I was not the kind of person that thought I had a perfect body, but I did work out, and I was very proud of some parts of it. You cannot show me one person that does not look at themselves in the mirror at one point in their life. I liked Paige, a lot. The situation was crap, and I knew it. Despite everything that was going on, from the start I knew she was my only way out. Deceit was a hard topic for me to comprehend. Part of me wanted to be truthful to her, and the other part wanted to be deceitful to get the hell out of there. No matter what, I never broke eye contact. Regardless of what my intentions were, everything was ad lib., and when the time came, I trusted myself to know what to do.

When she brought clothes, she provided me with no bra. I picked up the Dr. Pepper shirt and pulled it over my naked torso. I never left eye contact with her. It was very difficult not wearing a bra. Though my breasts were very small and subtle, it felt extremely uncomfortable.

I gave her a cheesy smile. “Do me a flavor babe… If you could possibly, in any way possible, please bring me a bra.” Motioning with my two hands and pointing at my boobs. “These girls do not like hanging around and dancing.”

Once again I received another laugh from her. “Oh God, I’m so sorry…” She closed her eyes and I saw her smile. “I’m sorry Lillian, I wasn’t even thinking…” She got up quickly and opened the door, almost flying out, but quickly stuck her head back in the room and said, “Hang on a sec. You look to be around my size.” And with that she left.

I just stood there. Once again she did forget to lock the door. For some reason I had no urge to break out and run. I stood there in silence waiting for my baby boulder holder.

The main thing that was plaguing my mind at the time was the dam cocktail. I heard her say that it had to be administered once a week. Dr. Cole came in daily, but once a week he gave me a shot. I could not help but think what would happen if I did not receive the shot.

It wasn’t long after until Paige reemerged from the door again. She came in, with hand bearing a bra.

She handed it to me and I smiled with pure satisfaction. I turned around this time with my back to her and pulled off my Dr. Pepper T-shirt. Topless and with the bra in my hands, I adjusted it to which I thought was my size. I raised my arms and let the straps fall upon my shoulders. It was an underwire, thank God for that.

With that, all clothes were in place. I was healed for the most part, and in my mind, the new Terminator. I did not know the extent of my new abilities, or what was at all possible. All I knew, was I would have to take care of my new body.

Paige looked at me up and down, and said, “Okay girl… It is time for phase 2 of your transformation.” She walked up to me, raised both her hands and slid them slowly up my cheekbones. She was so close to my face, our noses almost touched. She hovered over them, and slowly maneuvered her lips to my ear and said, “I am so sorry for this.” Her hands left my cheekbones, and her quivering voice left my ears. She disappeared out of the flat white door.

I took two guesses of what I thought she would drag back in, and I was right. My heart broke as soon as I saw what was in her hands. It was the god damn head bag and the bloody chains again. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes as she slid the bag over my head. Once again darkness had ensued. Deeply saddened, I lowered my head and raised my arms in front of me like a zombie. I felt the coldness of steel encircle my wrists. My wrists felt heavy as the chains weighed them down. Like an obedient dog, I was led out of my room. A room I had so grown accustomed to. A room that I had so simply enjoyed staring out of the window. A room, I could so comfortably live in for the rest of my life if I knew I did not have to go back into the dungeon.

It was a short trip downstairs, through the house, and back out the door. As the door opened, I was greeted with a sunny warmth, the sounds of birds chirping, and the smell of cool crisp clean air. As I was being led back into my hole, I took a deep breath, inhaling any and all beauty that I could. I slowed my step as I felt the sun’s warmth on my back. By the feel of it, the time had to have been noon.

We stopped as Paige opened the barn door. I paused for a moment as I felt the presence of life in the barn. I could smell animals. I heard the rustling of hooves, and knew that horses now inhabited the barn. I smiled as I thought I had new company.

Paige tugged and I obeyed. We finally reached our destination, the drab wooden flap that would lead me down into my dungeon. The flap opened, and I finally descended once again, down the creaking, old, decrepit staircase, that led me into the one room on the face of the planet that I never ever wanted to be.

I stood and waited while Paige tethered me to the room. The black bag was lifted from my head once again, I could see. The wooden bench that was my bed had the comforter neatly folded and laying upon it. Next to the bed lying on the floor and also neatly folded was the original clothing that I had worn on my way in. My Doc Marten boots were lying next to my stack of clothes.

“Lillian.” Her tone was soft and subtle, but demanding, just a pinch. Minding the chains, I turned to look at Paige. “This is your last step before your training. And I assure you, your training will be no walk in the park. Take this time to reflect.”

Paige walked closer to me and pulled the MP3 player out of her pocket. She lifted up my left hand with her soft delicate hands, she placed the player into my palm. She took my fingers and she closed them over the MP3 player. “I loaded more songs on to this for you. I’ve seen in these past months how music gets you by.” She took both her hands and brushed them against my cheekbones.

My body shuddered at her touch. I became weak and nervous. I tried very hard to hold it in, but it was almost impossible. She stared into my eyes, and I was entrapped. I could almost see the world in the irises of her eyes. “I must leave you now, Lillian. Rest up tonight, for tomorrow your training will begin.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.

After Paige had left, I sat down on my bed and stared off into the nothingness. I put the ear buds into my ears and started to listen to the music that Paige had added to my MP3 player. My favorite soundtracks were there, followed by my favorite bands. It was strange how she knew me so well. I continued to stare; my eyes begin to drift downward. I looked at my wrists, and the chains that I was bound by. I followed the chains as they stopped at an eye loop that was screwed into the wooden planks. I got up off my bed and got on all fours and crawled to the eye loop. I touched it with my hand. I grasped it with my Palm, and tried very hard to turn it. I thought if I could unscrew it, then I was at least halfway out. I thought, that if they were to come to me by the morning, and I got out, then at least I would be out and running and found some sort of authority figure by then.

I tried with all my might to unscrew the loop. The pain was exploding in my palm, but I continued to try to turn it. I tried every position possible. I began to sweat. I thought if I only had something to hammer it with. My eyes grew wide, and my head slowly turned to my Doc Martin steel toed boots that were sitting next to my bed. I got up quickly, grabbed one of my boots, and started to bash the side of the metal loop with it. Blow after blow, and nothing. I needed more force. I looked around the room to see if there was anything else that I could use. Nothing. My heart sank. As I was going to give the loop one final blow, I heard noises upstairs. I tossed the boot in the corner and shot myself back to my bed. I shoved the ear buds into my ears and waited patiently as the unknown visitor creeped and creaked down into my dungeon.

Dr. Cole descended down the squeaking wood steps. He walked up to me slowly, casually, and asked, “May I sit down next to you?”

I pulled the ear buds out of my ears, and motioned for him to sit.

We sat there in silence for a bit. He sat motionless. He was wearing blue jeans, and pretty dress shoes, complete with a blue shirt, lined with white pinstripes. Dr. Cole was wearing a simple jacket. He pulled out of the pocket of his jacket, a small case. He unzipped it, and revealed the syringe. Holding it in his hands, he turned his head to me but continued to stare at the floor. “Do you know what this is?”

I remembered in the hospital room, I was administered many shots. Only one, one of which I received once a week, contained pink fluids. The syringe that Dr. Cole held in his hands at the moment, contained a pink fluid.

“Lillian, do you know what this is?”

“Looks like mopping solution, but yeah, I know what it is.”

He could not help but smile a bit. “Yes, this is the cocktail. You will require weekly shots of this. Without it, you will slowly die a terrible death.”

I lowered my left eyebrow and raised my right one. “Gee Doc; you sure know how to make a girl feel good.”

It had to have been at least late afternoon. The sun was creeping through the old wooden planks that were considered my roof. There was a slight flurry of dust fluttering throughout the room that was reflected by the sunlight. Dr. Cole continued on with whatever he was saying. I phased it out. I had the greatest ability to space out on the most important conversations of my life. Someone could be telling me that I was going to die in the next five minutes. As soon as they started in their conversation, I would space out and start thinking of something else. Dr. Cole’s mouth continued to move, and I heard not one word of his voice. I started focusing on the new hardware that was placed inside my body. I was visually pinpointing every plate that was pinned to every part of my insides. It wasn’t until he shook me lightly that I finally came to.

“Lillian, are you even listening to me?!”

Still staring off into space I shook my head. “Yeah, sorry Doc, you kind of lost me there.”

“The contents of the syringe are a mix of lubricants, steroids, and amino acids to keep you going. At any point you stop getting this cocktail, you will have about a few weeks to live before your body completely seizes up and your heart stops.”

“Seriously?” Finally, the bulk from my mind disappeared and my thoughts became focused.

“Lillian, I can be no more serious on this matter.” Dr. Cole shifted a bit on my bed.

I took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “Is there anything else you’d like to inject me with Doc? Some hot lava maybe, or some dog poop?” I stood up from my bed and looked down on Dr. Sebastian Cole. If there were a soapbox there, I would have gone on top of it. “Or, maybe you would like to shove the kitchen sink up my ass!”

“Lillian, please calm down.”

Both my eyebrows rose, as well as my temper. I used the rays from the sun peeking through the planks of wood as my spotlight. Yes, in my tiny dungeon, for the time being, that I called my home, and for the little time that I had spent there, it seemed as if later in the afternoon was the nicest part of day. Still on my imaginary soapbox, I wanted so very much to create hell. At the to be top of my boiling point, when I thought I could not take any more, the steam just released and flowed out of me. I sat back down on the bed next to Dr. Cole, calm and collective. It finally, like an airplane carrying a banner of information behind it, entered my mind and said, this man is just trying to help. He is either being paid very well, or in the same predicament as I.

He didn’t say anything at first. He just stared off into oblivion. I could tell he was a man that had much on his mind. He was a doctor of much bullshit. Who knew how many girls he’d operated on, or treated? All I knew was, I saw fear painted on his face. He was wore out, and tired. I thought he was at the point where money couldn’t even buy him anymore. He had been in it for too long, seen too much suffering. The wrinkles on his nose, the bags under his eyes became apparent. I thought his beard had turned white from all of the bullshit.

“Lillian,” he said, “can I just give the injection now please?”

I smiled and nodded and offered my vein from my right arm because it was the only big one I had. “Stick it in doc, give me that juice.” I smiled as he slid in the syringe. I winced once I felt the pinch as it entered my skin.

It was in and out. I used both my arms to push me back up against the wall as I felt the coldness injected into my arm. It was a strange high. As I felt the cocktail enter my body, I raised my head up to look at the ceiling, and I took slow deep breaths. My mouth was open, and I was inhaling all the floating dust particles that were in the room. If I was in any pain before that moment, it dissipated in a flash. At that point, I had felt as if I had drank six beers at once. I had never done drugs my life. Well, yeah I smoked pot, but who hasn’t? It was nothing like this.

Dr. Cole got up, put the empty syringe back into his bag, and placed it into his pocket. Without word he began to leave. I knew I had been given the shots before but I had never felt like this. I had to ask before he left, why was this stuff so strong?

“Dr. Cole, why do I feel this way?” It took a lot for me to get it out, my whole body was on a high.

Dr. Cole placed one foot on the staircase, and then turned around and looked at me. “There are, my dear, many levels of the cocktail. This is now the highest. The first couple of injections yes, will be like this. You soon will adapt my dear child.” A slow smile lifted his white beard. He turned around and faced the staircase. With that he walked back up.

If my mind were a butterfly, it swiftly fluttered away with the wind. Dr. Cole’s body slowly dissipated itself into a strange fuzzy darkness. All the noises of the entire room, seemed to melt away like candle wax. Leaning up against the wood wall, my head tilted up toward the ceiling, my mouth wide open. All I could hear was my breathing. In and out, and in and out. My eyelids became heavy like anvils and as they slowly closed. My body slowly slid down to lay on my right side. Deep slumber was imminent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.

I could feel the comforts of sleep. I could feel that I was in a deep sleep. I had forgotten where I was, or what I had been through. All I knew is that I felt good. Neatly wrapped in my comforter like a burrito, I could smell the cool crisp morning air. I had forgotten all worries and woes, and enjoyed my sleep. It wasn’t until I felt something cold pressing up against my nose, that I opened my eyes. It was a gun. It was a semi-automatic pistol pointed right between my eyes. In an instant, I jolted up in my bed only to be greeted by Clive Dross.

“Easy girl, you don want to do no sudden movements.” His straight face turned into a sly smile. “I don want to have to re-arrange yo face.”

No quick movement on my part. I slowly raised my hands and crawled out of bed. I looked at myself from toe on up and realized that I had fallen asleep with my clothes on. Good, at least he did not catch me in a compromising moment.

With my hands raised, I slowly turned around so that my back faced Clive. I assumed the position and waited for chains and a head bag. I heard the unlocking sound of the chains. Clive came around and removed the metal cuffs from my writs, but no bag was placed over my head. I felt the gun rub behind my back. Clive put his hand on my shoulder.

“Walk.” Was all that he said. Unchained and my eyes free, we slowly ascended the staircase. It was a brief moment, but I took a look around the barn. The middle of the barn was clear, and there was a stack of hay at the end of the wall. There were five stalls, three to my right, and two to my left. All of which contained horses. One dark brown horse with a white patch on its forehead. Next to it was just a plain brown horse, and then a black horse with brown accents all over its body. To the far left there was a black horse with a white a white stripe on its head, and next to it was a complete white horse. I smiled, and took a deep breath. I gained the next level of trust. No chains and no bag.

As we emerged from the barn doors, I was struck by an explosion of spring. The whistling of birds and the smell of blossoms greeted my nose. The farm was green and bursting with life. With my hands still raised, and Clive holding the gun to my back, we slowly made our way to the house. Every moment of the outside beauty I tried to grasp and hold on in my mind. Keeping those moments will definitely help keep me going.

We finally reached the house, and with the gun now pointed at my head, Clive opened the door. As the door swung open, I was greeted with the warming smell of breakfast. The comfort of warmed coffee, and the beauty of an older house with history greeted me. We entered the kitchen, and sat at a table where Barrett was residing.

Barrett had nothing more than a cup of coffee lying in front of him. He sat at the table with his elbows upon it; his beard had not been shaved in a couple of days. His cold beady eyes lay on me since I entered the room. Clive sat me down in the chair across from Barrett, and took a chair himself on my left side.

I sat gracefully, and made eye contact Barrett. My breathing became quite heavy. The room was filled with homey smells, but yet I still felt uneasy.

The room décor consisted of farm animals. There was rooster and cow wallpaper, rooster salt-and-pepper shakers, and a container holding creamer that consisted of cow spots, all topped off to what appeared to be a hammock containing bananas. The kitchen/dining room, I thought were perfect in every way. The dining room table rested near two walls that consisted of Windows. The sun was beaming through both of them. Even though the sink and kitchen counters were up against the wall, they were still able to soak up the beauty from the morning sun oozing from the Windows.

Barrett took a sip of his coffee. “Are you hungry kid?”

I hesitated. “Yes sir.”

“Good.” He said. “Today you begin your training. Today is the day that you start to learn how to survive.” He took another sip of his coffee and then called out for Paige.

Paige emerged from another room, and as she entered she gave me a little smile. I looked at her briefly, but let my eyes reside on my palms that were resting on the kitchen table. While Paige was gathering up remnants of breakfast for me and Clive, I examined my wrists. There were multiple scars on both of them. A reminder of the first night I was brought. The scars were a reminder of what I had been through, and the pain that I was going to go through. As Paige set a plate of food in front of me, I inhaled it.

She gracefully walked over and dropped off a plate for Clive, and looked at me. While scarfing down my food she asked, “Coffee?”

I barely came up for air. “Yes, please.”

“Cream, and or sugar?”

“Both, please.”

“Wow, you sure don’t waste time taking advantage of that hospitality do you?” Barrett said looking at me with eyes narrowed. Clive chuckled from the other side of the table.

I stopped eating, put my fork and knife back on the table, and slowly raised my head to meet Barrett’s eyes. “I so do apologize, if you disapprove Sir.” I made sure I emphasize the Sir. “You see, I’m new at this whole kidnapping thing, and I’m just trying to find my place.”

Barrett just started to laugh. “Smart ass…”

“Dad…” I heard Paige’s voice from the other side of the kitchen.

Paige brought Barrett some toast and butter. As Barrett buttered his toast, I could not help but imagine me swiftly reaching across the table and shoving the butter knife to Barrett’s throat. Blood would explode everywhere. I had proceeded to take my middle and index finger and shove them through Clive’s eye sockets. More blood, it was like a blood fountain. My thoughts swiftly dissipated as I turned to Paige. There was nothing that I wanted to do her. I could not bear to hurt her.

“Kid, you thought of a name yet?”

Awakening from my daydream, I turned to Barrett who was chewing a piece of toast.

“A what?”

“A nickname, you know something that we can call you on the killing floor. I’m not going introduce you as Lillian Cross.”

“Killing floor?”

“It is the name of the so-called ring you will be fighting in.” Paige butted in.

The killing floor, sounded so distraught and disgusting. I did not want to even think about it. I couldn’t even imagine of thinking up a so-called alias that I would use to kill other women. I tried to put the thought into the back of my head. “Let’s just think of it as we go.”

“Don forget about a theme song.” Clive’s voice chimed out.

“A what?” I slowly turned to look at Clive, who had swiftly cleaned his plate, and was now slowly sipping his coffee.

He took the mug from his lips, slowly turned his head to look at me. His face was battered with the early morning, and he too looked like he had not shaved for days. “Every girl has one. A song, to help set da mood of ass whooping.” He raised his arms still looking at me. “You know, a song to let da crowd get to know ya.”

I just shook my head disapproving of the whole thing. “Look guys, let’s just get to that point, and I will think of something.” It was insane. I was kidnapped, beaten, undergone an experimental procedure, and there I was, having a normal breakfast and conversation, with the very people that conspired it all… Where was I, la la land?

“Fair enough,” Barrett said as he was finishing off the last drop of this coffee. He got up quickly, and slammed both his hands down on the table. He looked directly into my eyes. “Time for training kid. Time to make you into a monster.” With that, Barrett looked directly at Clive, who then got up as well. Barrett made his way to the door, and Clive followed.

As they both exited, I got up as well. As I opened the door to the outside, I took one last look at Paige. “I’ll see you later?”

She smiled while washing dishes. “Sure thing, later perhaps.”

I smiled, and pushed myself out the door. A new frontier to conquer; my life had done a complete 360. It was a new set of rules and structure, new disciplines, and new daily routines. It seemed as if my old life was fading away. At that point, I barely remembered it at all. The one thing that never left my mind was my mother. God save her, God save me, and God save those souls that I was about to harm.

As I opened the door to the outside, I felt the warm sun, and the spring day envelop my soul. Before I took the last step into the grass, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I could not help but to admire the seasons, to which were ever I was being held. With my head pointed up, and my eyes closed, I slowly opened them. I was greeted by blue skies and wispy clouds. Inhaling the energy of the world, I felt the warm sun as it penetrated my skin, and the crisp spring air as it filled my lungs. I closed my eyes once again, and slowly lowered my head. As I opened my eyes, I was greeted again by Barrett. He was only a few feet out, gun drawn and pointed at my head. My heart sank as I knew that training had begun. Barrett, followed by Clive, led me into the horses corral.

I walked up to him ever so close. I walked up to Barrett, and let the gun rest upon my four head. He looked at me and smiled, “run bitch, run.” With a sly smile, he stepped back a couple feet, gun still pointed at my head.

After all I had been through; I knew he was not going to shoot me. No matter what, I knew it was my mother’s life that lay in his hands, as well as mine. I turned from Barrett, and started to run. I ran from the middle the corral to the edge of the fence. I started to run in a counterclockwise motion.

It had not been many minutes before my run became a jog. I hated running, and I hated jogging of any sorts. Those were definitely not my strong points. I remembered in high school, it took me at least 16 minutes to finish the mile. I did not know how long I had been jogging, before I finally stopped and bent over. I placed my palms upon my knees and started huffing profusely. My mouth was dry, and thick with heavy saliva. In between every other huff I spit into the green grasses beneath my feet.

In the corner of my eye I saw Barrett walk up to me, with Clive in tow. “Kid, are you fucking serious right now?” He bent down as well to become at eye level with me. “It’s been one fucking half-hour… This is seriously all you have for stamina?”

I continued to huff and puff, and raised myself up. Barrett followed me as I did. “Dude, seriously running is not my thing. Not to mention, I also have extra pounds of metal in my ass.”

“Well, I am going to tell you this, running is a big part of this exercise regime… You are going to barf a lot today. But I’ll go easy on you and not beat your ass every time you stop. But tomorrow, tomorrow you better fuckin straighten up, because I will beat your ass.”

It was a straight out threat, and I knew he was serious. I wiped the sweat from my brow, and continued to jog.

It had to have been at least in the upper 60s that day. No matter what, I was sweating like a pig. There was an ice chest placed by the gate of the horse corral. It was filled with beer and bottled water. Clive and Barrett were of course guzzling down the beer, and after every half-hour of strenuous jogging, I was allowed a bottle of water. I chugged it down like there was no tomorrow. There was a fifteen minute rest, in which I sat down to let my legs settle. Afterward, I had to run. After I guzzled down too much water, I threw up. My mouth was dry, and my mind was delirious. I threw up many times throughout the day. I hated running. I began to hum a song that comforted me in times of despair. It was Slide by the Goo Goo dolls. Barrett and Clive just laughed at me as I began to sing it out loud. I hoped maybe the next day, I could negotiate bringing the MP3 player out for the work out.

It had to have been at least the late afternoon when I started to feel my bones ache. I could feel the implants inside my body rubbing up against my skin, chafing on the inside of my body. The feeling was becoming extremely irritating. After every step, I began to slow down more and more. The pain became too excruciating and I stopped running. I fell to my knees, and placed the palms of my hands into the soft grass of the horses corral. I threw up.

In an instant Barrett was by my side, gun drawn. Barrett knelt down, and put the gun to my temple. I could smell the beer on his breath. He was drunk. “What’s wrong bitch, why did you stop running?”

With my eyes closed, I drew deep breaths and slowly exhaled. The pain was all throughout my body. I could barely move, my body had totally seized up. “Too much pain, too much God damn pain.” It was the late afternoon, and the sun was slowly fading down the horizon. The birds chirping had stopped for they were all nesting for the night. The crickets began to serenade us.

“To God damn bad. Get your ass up and start running bitch.” Barrett kicked me in my side, and I doubled over in pain.

“I can’t…”I laid there on my side. I was completely immobilized by my pain. The unfortunate part was Barrett was too drunk to realize my situation. I needed a miracle to get me out of it. Clive had left some time earlier in the afternoon, so it was just me and drunken ass Barrett.

“I give you one more chance to get your ass up, or I’m going to shoot you in the leg.” Barrett’s voice was slurring and heavy with beer.

I tried my very best to get up, but every movement felt as if I was being stung by a thousand bees. Without warning, I heard the gun go off. The birds flew from their nighttime nests like cockroaches hiding from the light. The bullet ricocheted right by my head, creating a tiny dirt explosion. Shards of lead flew everywhere, and I could feel a few that pierced my body. Instinctively I covered my head with my arms. I threw myself into the fetal position and waited for the next shot.

“Father!”

I opened myself up from the fetal position and looked up. It was Paige, who is standing at the opening of the horse corral. I could barely see the contours of her face in the dimness of the light, but I knew she was looking at Barrett.

He lowered his gun. It was strange how one word could turn off his crazy switch. Barrett holstered the .45 semiautomatic and left the horse corral. No words were spoken; Paige’s eyes just followed him as he disappeared into the house.

I was laying on my right side with my legs crossed and my right arm propping up my head. I was waiting for Paige. The sun had completely gone down by now. Evening smells began to fill the air. Because I was able to settle, I picked up the dinner smells from the house. I could mostly pick up garlic bread, and my mouth watered.

Her two blue jean overall legs and converse wearing feet slowly came to rest in front of my sight. I looked up at her casually, smiling.

“I’m sorry about that, my father.” She said.

“Oh, no worries… I suppose that is the hazards of the job these days.”

Paige smiled. “Can you get up?” She asked.

I tried to move around a little bit. There was pain in all parts of my body. I got to my knees, and with Paige’s help, she rose me to my feet.

“Do you need help walking or moving?”

I took a few steps, and though they were quite painful, I felt I was able enough to move on my own. “No Paige, walking assistance will not be necessary, but thank you.”

“So…” She hesitated. “Considering tonight’s events, I assume you will not be joining us for dinner?”

I didn’t think she saw it, though my eyes grew big. “Yeah, that will be a big negatory on that one, but thanks for the offer.” I did relieve myself with a smile. It was the perfect spring night. The temperature was just kosher. Inhaling the night’s air was almost like a drug. The moon was full, and showering us with its lunar magnificence. Oh how the moon so would light up another person’s face. It made it almost look so magical. I wanted so badly to take Paige into my arms, and have her dance with me. We would dance throughout the night. We would dance until the early mornings light. The sun would rise, and it would reflect off of those beautiful brown eyes like gems.

“Lillian, will you join me to the barn?” She asked.

I smiled. “With pleasure.” I said.

With that she extended her arm, and I entwined it with mine. We both walked slowly to the barn.

The full moon sent cascading shadows all over the place. I slowly limped, and Paige kept my pace. “Yeah so, you might want to get with Dr. Cole and make that cocktail a little bit stronger.”

“How so?” She asked.

“Well… Everything was okay at first, but… I started to get a lot of chafing. Everything started to itch, and then everything started to get real painful.” I replied.

“Thank you for letting me know about that Lillian. I’ll get with Dr. Cole in the morning and let him know of the problems.”

As we reached the barn, Paige pulled opened the doors. The lights were on, and we walked in.

I inhaled deeply the smells of the barn. I felt the five life forces of the horses, and tried to soak in their energy. I looked to Paige and asked, “What are their names?”

She looked at me smiling. “Well…” She walked up to the dark Brown horse with white patch on its head. “This is Sebastian.” Her shadow followed her as she walked over to the stall with the plain Brown horse. “This is Stalin.”

I cocked my eyebrow and smiled. “Dude, seriously?”

She smiled back at me. “Dude, yes seriously. I believe my father named this one.”

I shook my head and smiled. Totally, typical Barrett.

Paige strolled over to the stall with the black horse with the brown accents. “This beautiful girl is Nellie.”

“Nellie huh?” I looked at Paige, eyebrows raised and smile ablaze. I had never seen a black horse that had a brown muzzle, and little brown spots under the eyes. The under carriage was lightly browned as well. It reminded me of a black and tan Miniature Pincer.

She continued her short stroll to the stall housing in the black horse with the white stripe. “This black beauty is Karma.”

“Karma, that strange…”

“How so?”

“Well…” I said. “I once had a dog named Karma. The only reason I named her that was because she was a bitch, and you know that saying, Karma is a bitch and will bite you in the ass…”

“So that is the name of the dog that bit you.” She said

“I told you this already?”

“Yes, remember when I was asking you about your medical history, and I asked you about when you had spent that day in the ER?”

I sat there for a moment and scratched my head. I did vaguely remember that conversation. I remember also that I was really out of it. It was cute though that she remembered that moment. “Strange that you would remember that.”

Paige let out a little giggle, hooked her thumbs into the upper straps of her overalls, smiling she casually walked over to the stall with the white horse. “This is Harlie.”

“Harley like the Davidson?”

“No, Harlie as in the girl Harlie.” She walked up to the stall and extended her arm. The beautiful white horse known as Harlie walked up to her and nuzzled her palm.

“I assume that one would be your horse?”

She let out a short laugh. “Well, I do love them all, but Harlie is the only one that shows much personality.” She looked at me and smiled. “So which one do you like?”

“Without a doubt, Nellie”

“Why?” She asked.

I mashed my lips together into a slight frown that turned into a smile. “Well for one, I love the colors. She seems to be the independent horse, she’s been staring at me the whole time since I’ve came in here.” I folded my arms together walked closer to Nellie’s stall. She came from the corner of the stall and walked up to me. I extended my arms and she began to nuzzle my hands. “And, she seems to know exactly who is big pimping in here.” I gave her big kiss on her nose and looked back at Paige.

I stood for a moment and watched Paige as she bonded with her horse. It was getting cooler out, and I could feel the girls in full salute, not to mention my stomach was growling as well. I cleared my throat loudly, and began to speak. “And over here in this stall…” I walked over to the stairs leading down to my dungeon and motioned with my hands. “We have the Caucasian horse named Lillian.”

Paige turned to me and let out a low giggle. “And I suppose that is your way of letting me know that you are cold and hungry.”

I shot out my right arm extending my index finger. “Bingo!” I said sarcastically.

She left Harlie the horse and walked down the small stepped corridor that led to my simple wooden room of solitude with me. There was enough light cascading from the above barn that she could use to negotiate about the room to find the lamp to turn it on and illuminate the dungeon.

I looked at the lamp that was perched upon the newly placed armoire, old as hell I might add, the armoire that was. Either way I was grateful to have something to hold my clothes, or at least I could have a clean pair of undies when I needed it. I turned to Paige and smiled. “Ahhh, for me? You shouldn’t have. When did you have time to toss it down here?”

“While you were getting the shit ran out of you.” She said smiling. “Clive helped me bring it down.”

“Ahhhh.” I said. “So that’s why he made a disappearing act.”

Smiling, I tossed myself like a limp sac potatoes onto the bed. I was tired and I was worn out.

There was silence, and Paige momentarily looked about the room, as if she was lost somewhere, and or someplace. She finally came to and regained her focus on me. “I will go get you something to eat. Get comfortable, and I will be right back Lillian.” Paige ascended up the stairs, closed the wooden flap and locked it.

I sat there chainless on my bed. I looked at the metal eye loop that was bolted to the wooden floor that only half a day ago I was trying so severely to unscrew. Unscrew it to buy me my freedom. I looked at the chains that lay motionless and unused in the corner of the room. I thought to myself that there was only one small locked wooden flap that was keeping me from my freedom and the health of my mother. If I was built like a so-called brick shithouse, then I would have no problems punching open the wooden door. I stood up, and prepped myself to charge. I canceled the thought. I sat back down. Paige was to return soon with my food. I didn’t have enough time to bail. Escape disappeared from my mind. Besides that, I was now dependent on an injection that I was sure was not sold at the local Walgreens. Unbound, I stared at the ceiling lying on my bed. I took slow deep relaxing breaths. I tried to inhale comfort, and exhale the pain. My eyes closed, and I soon sought slumber.

I couldn’t tell if it was a dream, or rather a thought. The endless thumping my feet and legs went through were sending a strange pulsating heart beat up my spine. I had of course passed out without covers, and felt the cool air as it would wisp across my arms creating goose bumps throughout my body.

I was thrown back out into the horses corral. The blades of grass which inhabited the not so big circular area, became bigger and bigger. I, being held down by pounds of metal or the so-called silicate glass as they called it, unbalanced, was trying my hardest not to run into the oversized blades of grass. Barrett, of course was there with his oversized gun pointed into my backside. Pulling the trigger, he sent round after round of lead into my backside meat. Each impact created a fleshy ripple throughout my back. Each impact created a hole the size of a quarter which oozed out blood. Like an hourglass relieving itself of sand, I relieved myself of blood, and so-called mind. As soon as I lost life, I felt falling.

As usual, with any dying dream, I bolted up in bed, breathing heavily. I tried to put grasp upon reality, and once again needed a moment to figure out where I really was. As soon as orientation was gained, my breathing once again resided to a much slower pace. In a paralyzed state, the wooden flap was unlocked, then opened, and Paige slowly emerged with a plate of food in her hands.

I sat cross-legged on my bed, and Paige handed me the plate of warm food. With shaky hands I picked up the fork.

“Are you okay?” She said.

“Yes.” I said. “I just had a bad dream.”

“Seriously? I have only been away for about 10 minutes.”

There was a warm plate of spaghetti in front of me. Meatballs galore. I took my fork and started to twist noodles upon it. Fork loaded, I looked up at Paige. “Yeah, they happen that fast.”

“What are they about?”

I shoved the forkful of food into my mouth, and chewed it quickly. Swallowing, I answered. “Past, the present, and death. I am the kind of person that keeps track of my dreams. I don’t usually dream about people until I’ve known them for a while. Barrett was just in my last dream, and it was not so pleasant.”

“I was only away for 10 minutes.”

Chewing again, I shook my head and let a few words escape. “I know. That’s why I can’t tell if it was thought or dream. No worries babe. It is done, and I am over it.”

“Babe?” She looked at me sideways with half a smile.

With another mouthful, chewing, I shook my head and looked up at her. “Sorry, something I call people when I get to know them better.”

“So you know me better, huh?”

Laying the plate into my lap, I extended and shook my arms while cocking my brow. “Lady, please… Did you not just spend the last four months of your life caring for me? Changing my bandages, sponge bathing me, changing out my piss bag?” The statement was left with a cheesy smile from my face.

“How you know it’s been four months?”

“Well, lucky guess I spose… It’s snowing, you put me down, and I wake up to more snow that slowly melts away and light patches of grass start popping up here and there.” I raised my right arm and placed my index and middle finger upon my lips taping lightly. “One with intelligence can only guess.” I smiled, trying so hard to be a smart ass.

“Smart ass achievement awarded Lillian.”

I smiled. My plate was nearly cleared by now, and I lifted it consuming every last bit into my mouth. I rose quickly from my bed, and handed the plate Paige. Never did I leave eye contact. “Your dish my love.”

Taking the plate into her hands, she never left my eye contact. “Get some rest Lillian, for as the day’s progress and the sun rises earlier and earlier, I assure you, my father makes no hesitation to wake up when he hears that rooster call.”

“Duly noted.” I said.

With a twist, she turned with the plate in hand. On her way up the stairs she said, “good night Lillian. May sweet dreams bless you.”

My mind was blank. All I had drifting in the short threads of my mind was Paige. As they say, curiosity killed the cat. I believed that curiosity would most definitely get the best of me. As I was once again left alone in the lower bowels of my dungeon, I appreciated the slight luminescence that my new lamp was giving off, that now inhibited my older generation armoire. With curiosity, I rose from my bed and walked to it. I opened the top drawer, only to be pleasantly surprised by its contents. Books. It was filled with books. Nora Roberts, Nicholas Evans, Ken Follet, and Laurel K Hamilton. All of my favorites. I smiled thinking to myself, Paige was doing her homework. I remembered the first novel that had I ever received. For Christmas, my mother had given me the Horse Whisper by Nicholas Evans. After that, I was hooked on reading, and could not get enough.

I picked up Guilty Pleasures by Laurel K Hamilton. I had read the book many years ago in high school. I thought it was a good time to reconnect with it. I took the book back to my bed and lay down and started to read. The first time when I had read the book, was a different time. Now, in this time, I took much comfort in reading it. I switched the pillow to the other side of my bed, so that I would catch the light from the lamp that was perched upon my armoire. I nestled myself into my comforter. The room was so old and rustic; the sounds of the midnight air came rushing in. There were no distractions; it was just me and my book. No TV, no sounds from traffic, no wrestling and noises from the apartment above, just me and my book. Well, a few light slams from the horses above, but I didn’t mind it at all. At least I had some company.

Reading about a small 5”2 Hispanic women with abilities to raise, and slay the dead would give me some sort of hope. I knew the book was fictitious, but considering the circumstances I felt I needed something to push me. Either way, I felt my life was somewhat fictitious at the moment as well. I read on throughout the night, and cleared many chapters. I knew the morning would be an early one, but when one’s life contained so little, their focus becomes even more so, severe.

It wasn’t too long until the lights in the barn were shut off. The white lights were no longer seeping through the cracks of my lonely dungeon. The only light that was cascading illumination to my book was the lonely dusty lamp that lay perched upon my old armoire. With the crickets serenade, I soon slowly closed my eyes and fell to sleep. Dreams did not haunt me, for that I was grateful.

For the next couple of weeks the routine was the same. Barrett would fetch me at the butt crack of dawn. Paige would cook breakfast for Barrett, Clive, and I, and after eating my protein enhanced meal, I was shoved out the door to run until my legs fell off.

Running was never an easy thing for me, thus creating a daily, all day run seemed quite difficult. It took about a week to adjust. It wasn’t until then did I see and feel actual changes. They were slow gradual changes, but I knew they were there. By the end of a couple of weeks, my stamina was up. I was able to run all day. I was actually very proud of myself. I would have never thought that running would be one of my strong points, and there I was running ever so quickly.

As we grew closer to the end of spring and the beginning of the hot summer, the days grew longer. The bugs became thicker, and the leaves on the trees, or fur as I call it, became thicker dragging down the lighter branches. The sun had already disappeared over the horizon. There was nothing left but the blue indigo sky. The cool night’s breeze had set in and it whisked the dinner smells coming from out of the house into motion.

Barrett blew the whistle. A whistle blown was either an indication for break time, or for the end of day. Since the sun was below the horizon, I knew it was the end of the day. I came to an abrupt stop, leaning over and placing my hands upon my kneecaps. Huffing and puffing I pulled the ear buds from my ears and shut down my MP3 player. Barrett slowly walked up to me. His dark silhouette was becoming clearer as he walked towards me; His face becoming more apparent as he walked into the light that was beaming from the house.

“Kid, this marks the end of your running days. You have passed of the first test.” He leaned down to level his head with mine and said, “Let’s go get some grub, because you’ve earned it.”

I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I caught my breath. Regaining my strength, I followed Barrett into the house smelling grilled steaks and home-cooked goodness as I walked closer.

As I reached the entrance to the kitchen, Clive was manning the grill at the back of the house. As I followed Barrett in, I stopped and watched Clive as he pulled the cooked beef from the grill and placed them on a plate. My mouth was watering. A grilled steak was a rare occasion. The last time I was blessed with the melt in your mouth flavors was the first time I was able to run a day without stopping. Well, breaks included though.

The smells that inhabited the air reminded me of a simpler time. It reminded me of a time when my family was a whole. It was the late summer nights, when I spent my time in the backyard rolling around in the grass and watching my father as he manned the grill. My mother would be inside making the side dishes. The end result would be a delicious meal with my mom, my dad, and of course my only sibling, my sister.

It was a strange feeling that I got when I sat down at the dinner table. A strange feeling indeed. Clive came in from the outside holding the plate of freshly grilled steaks. He handed them off to Paige and took his seat at the end of the table on my left side. Barrett, who was already seated when I came in, sat at the end the table to my right side. Paige as usual ran the kitchen. She brought Barrett a plate, then Clive, and then dropped the plate of steak, cut broccoli and carrots, and baked potato loaded with sour cream and cheese in front of me. As Clive and Barrett dug into their plates, I had made it a habit to wait for Paige to sit down and to start eating before I dug into to mine.

Such a strange family I thought to myself, if they were even a family at all. Barrett was a thickheaded man with the attention span of a TNT stick; he could go off at any damn moment. Clive, now Clive was a different story. His body type explained exactly what was going off in his head. Big, dumb, stupid, and slow. It reminded me of those little sticky hands that you buy out of the $.25 machines. How you would toss them onto windows and walls and how they would slowly crawl down. That would be my only explanation for Clive. But then there was Paige. She was a kind and attentive woman. She was a woman who was intelligent and cared about many things. She was a woman whom only by circumstance was caught into all of the Bullshit.

Finally, when all of us sat down, we commenced eating our meals. Well, the two boys were already at least knee-deep into theirs. I waited though; I waited for Paige until she took her first mouthful. When she chewed her first bite, I then began to cut my steak letting the bloody flesh ooze onto my plate. The pinkness of the steak sent a tingling sense of pleasure up my spine as I pierced the first piece with my fork and brought it to my mouth chewing with great satisfaction. Paige had a way with marinating meat. I savored every piece. I had to give props to Clive though for grilling the steaks to perfection. It was the little things that brought satisfaction and ease to my mind. As I began to drift into the flavor that my meat was giving off, I barely caught the words that Barrett began to speak.

“Tomorrow kid, tomorrow is the day of your fighting basics. Fitz will be your new trainer. He will train you in many forms of battle, and he will train you on how to defend yourself.”

“You find yourself a new nickname yet Lill?” Clive asked from my left.

With a chunk of meat on my fork, I slowly turned to Clive. I turned back to my plate and put the meat in my mouth and began to chew. Clearing the chunk I spoke, “nothing yet Clive, nothing yet.”

As the meals were finished, Clive and Barrett left to go do whatever it was that they did at night. With my plate cleared, I waited patiently for Paige to finish her meal. As soon as she got up and began to pick up plates, I got up as well and help to clear the table. It was a nice little habit that I was getting myself into. I helped Paige with dishes. She’d wash, and I would dry and put away. I looked forward to my evenings with Paige. As soon as the dishes were done, and the kitchen was clean, it was time for Paige to walk me back to my dungeon.

It was about a five minute walk, but I did cherish every moment of it. Purposely we would walk slowly. In that five minutes time, I would try to go over so many topics with her. I wanted to know so badly who she was, what her pet peeves were, turn-ons, whatever. Paige had so much life to her, but was so unwilling to expose the feelings that she felt inside. As I became closer to her, I felt it my duty to uncover those feelings. For some reason I was brought there. For some reason she was put into my life. I felt we had become good friends and begin to click.

On our walk back to my wooden hole though, I was somewhat short of words. The evening was crisp, clear, and cool. Crickets were playing their song with their wonderful chirps. The grass we walked upon was sending delicate crunching sounds into the evening air. There was so much I wanted to say to her, but just could not get it out.

As we entered the barn and came to the last stop before she departed, I walked down a few steps and turned to look at her. “So, thanks for the evening. Can I invite you in for a cup of coffee?” I said with a sly smile.

Paige just laughed. “Thank you.” She said. “But not tonight. Some other time maybe?”

With that she was gone. The flap was shut and locked, and it was once again just me, my books, and my MP3 player that I pulled from my pocket. With the faded light that was peeking through the upper cracks of my wooden hole, I guided myself to my armoire and turned on my lamp. Its yellowing luminescence lit up the cold dark underground room. I sat down on my bed, and let out a big sigh. I was in no mood for reading. I popped the ear buds from my player into my ears, and hoped that the first song that I heard was a beautiful but sad song. It was. It was a piano solo by Philip glass, one of my favorite composers. I was to worn out to put on pajamas. I laid myself into bed, and let the beautiful music roll into my soul. I stared off into the old decrepit wooden rafters above me. I let the music take me. I slowly closed my eyes. I thought to myself, if this was death, then it was a beautiful thing. Note by note, I slowly let the music take me. My eyes were heavy and my body was weak. My breathing was slow and consistent. In the end, the only constant that remained was the echoing from the pianos.

The evening had dissipated quickly. I slumbered throughout the night with the same song playing over and over again in my head. As I came out of my deep slumber, I could hear as the early morning light woke every creature close in the area. I heard the horses rustling in the barn above, and once again the roosters call. Knowing that it would be a short time before somebody summoned me for my next part in training, I slowly raised myself from my bed. I was still in the clothes that I was wearing the night before. I walked over to my armoire and opened up the drawer. I had very few choices to choose from. At that point, the only thing that I really needed to change was at least my underwear and my socks. I quickly pulled off my socks and my loose-fitting shorts, rolled down my underwear’s and shot them into the hamper. I pulled off my socks and dropped them in the hamper as well. I pulled out a fresh pair of undies and socks and gave myself a little bit of more comfort for the day. I raised my right arm and smelled underneath it. The sweaty armpit smell made me wince.

Showers, in my current position, were too damned far apart. I went from taking showers once a day, to absolutely no showers. I was constantly disgusted with myself. I was the kind of person that when I sweated, I smelled like shit. There was a sink in my room though, and a bar soap. I made it a habit to try to wake up early and at least give myself some sort of a bath.

I stood there by the sink, in just my socks, undies and bra. I took the sliver of soap that was diminishing so quickly and lathered it up. I made sure to get behind my neck, behind my ears, and most definitely my underarms. I so severely wanted to wash my private parts, but the risk of not washing out the soap thoroughly, and the stinging afterword stopped me from doing it.

After I was done washing what I could wash, I took a wad of toilet paper and rinsed it in the sink. I then pulled down my undies, sat on the toilet and used the wad of moist toilet paper to somewhat clean my under parts. I had to be careful though, not to leave any dingle berries in my special area.

This cleaning process had become part of my daily regime. And as I felt 50% cleaner, I waited for my escort to come get me, feed me, and take me to my second part of training. Fitz, here I come!

I sat back down on my bed awaiting retrieval. It wasn’t soon after that, until the above came to life and Clive walked into my dungeon. Without hesitation I ascended with him, my usual routine. I followed him from out of the barn and into the kitchen of the house.

We sat there, Paige, Clive, Barrett and I in silence. Slowly we consumed the food off of our dishes. Clive and Barrett finished first of course. I had consumed a majority of my plate. Clive and Barrett, finishing off the last bit of their coffee, stood up. I, watching Paige as she so elegantly ate, slowly stood up as well. I knew that it was them who would take me to my next step.

Following Barrett and Clive, we slowly descended into the underbellies of the house. Counting the steps, I knew this was the place where they had first taken me and questioned me. We went through a steel door and entered a room filled with a cement floor. The smell hit my nose and sent scary tingles up my back. It was the room in which the first night I was brought, that I was brutally beaten.

I remembered it well. I took my right hand and slid through my shorts and felt the scar that lay upon my right thigh. PB. Paul Bishop was the man that now owned me, and controlled me. My breathing became heavy. My soul became hot. A sneer formed upon my face. My eyes squinted. I could feel the devil inside of me building.

As Barrett Jackson and Clive Dross walked me to the center of the room, I felt the anger spewing from my pores. The white lights, as they had done before were blaring into my eyes. I was not the same woman who had entered the room months ago. I was a slow monster in progress. I was not chained this time, no longer was I innocent. I felt nothing more but hate in my heart. My sneer continued to grow as I waited for my new mentor. Fear was no longer an option; it was only hate that invaded my mind.

With Barrett to my left, and Clive to my right, the taller shadow slowly emerged to the front of me. I threw my back up as straight as I could. I stiffened. I watched the 5 foot 10 tall man as he slowly emerged into the light and became visible to me.

It was difficult to see him at first. The glare from the lights was beaming into my eyes. He was a tall dark shadow, but there were some attributes that I could see. He was tall with short black hair, and dark smoky eyes. His cheekbones were high. He was cleanly shaven. His eyebrows looked as if they were well-maintained. He didn’t seem to be the scruffy grumpy trainer that I thought. Oh no, he was a well-maintained metro-sexual to me. He looked to be Native American. He looked to be intelligent. He looked as if he had a heart. The energy that he was outputting seemed to be positive and pure. His intentions were good, and seemed to me, by the looks of him, to have a good heart.

The tall man with the soft subtle face features walked slowly up to me. He was a towering 8 inches higher than I. Looking up to make eye contact, I felt as if I was looking into the sky trying to catch a glimpse of the moon.

“My name is Fitz. I will be your personal trainer. We will be training in mixed martial arts.” As soon as he said that, the blaring floodlights that were blinding me finally shut off, and the natural ambiance of the room was finally revealed as soon as the normal fluorescent lights were lit from above.

I took a moment to reflect on where was. The floor was cement. There was a bench-press equipped with free weights, and a punching bag standard with speed bag. The room looked to be 25 feet by at least 25 feet I couldn’t tell. There were bleachers on each side of the wall. They weren’t very big but looked at least they can hold about 20 people on each side. I was curious and wondered if they had fights down there. There were tractor tires and medicine balls. There was a large circle in the center of the room. The ground of the center of the room was also spattered with blood spots. I gazed upon them for a little bit and wondered which ones belonged to me.

Fitz began to slowly walk circles around me. And in his journey he began to talk. “It is now the end of April. I have only six months to whip you into shape and to create you into the ultimate fighter. Mixed martial arts are a slew of different kind of fighting. You’ll be learning about punching and kicking, as well as grappling. I have been told that you are familiar with switchblades and knives? We would use this to utilize some skill. Any questions?” He stopped directly in front of me spread his legs and held his hands together behind his back. That kind of reminded me of a sergeant from the Army.

I had spent weeks underneath the soft yellowing sun, running. I had spent weeks outside, breathing the brisk spring air in. And even though I really, really hated running, as time passed I got better at it. I rather enjoyed my days spent outside. I was somewhat bummed out, that I was now to spend the rest of my days inside under fluorescent fake lighting. I drew in a breath and slowly exhaled out my nose. Looking at the ground I lifted my head up and looked up at Fitz. “I’m at your disposal Sir. Teach me what you need to teach me to survive.”

Fitz just smiled. “Good… That is just exactly what I wanted to hear.”

Our session of course began with running. Fitz told me to run around the room for 20 minutes. I did so without hesitation. I ran consistently for 20 minutes without slowing down. I was so used to running I did not even break a sweat.

When the running warm up was complete, we began with strength training. Fitz gave me two 10 pound dumbbells, placed them into my hands and told me to run for another 10 minutes. And I ran. The dumbbells were only 10 pounds, but after at least five minutes I could feel the strain they were causing. I began to break a sweat.

As the day progressed, my exercises became harder and harder. I went from lifting and flipping a 100 pound tire, to doing sprints from one end of the room to the other. I jumped rope for about 15 minutes. I did sit-ups and push-ups. I did blitzes in the middle of the bloodstained fighting ring. With my arms up, hands fisted, and close to my face, protecting myself in a defensive mode, my legs up-and-down, up-and-down, and up-and-down. I was given 15 minute breaks every two hours, in which I consumed a protein shake to help give me energy.

I did lunges across the room. The lunges murdered my back. I did more lunges across the room with dumbbells in my hands. With a medicine ball in both hands I swayed side-by-side to strengthen my core.

Running, lunges, weightlifting, and everything and anything were thrown at me. By the end of the day, I was down on my knees and praying for mercy. The sweat rolled from my brow, trailed down my nose and dropped off my chin. I finally gave in from all the pain and strain. I looked down on the ground. Kneeled over, I looked upon the spatter of blood on the cement and I knew it was mine. I opened my mouth wide, and clenched my teeth together. The sweat was dripping off my face. Both hands placed upon the cold cement I was breathing ever so heavily. I was out of breath and I was out of energy.

Fitz slowly walked up to me. He was standing so tall and so strong. With the little energy that I had left I looked up into his eyes. I tried my best to muster out a few words. “Is the day done?”

He smiled at me and said, “Oh yes Lillian, our first day is complete. Tomorrow, we shall start strength training again and learn the fighting skills.”

I just smiled and lowered my head to the ground. With my mouth wide open, I let the saliva roll out of it.

At some point in a day Barrett had disappeared. It was just Clive that had escorted me back up into the kitchen. The smells of the kitchen were somewhat Mediterranean. As I sat down in my usual spot, I fell into the back of my chair. I was so exhausted and so tired I did not even think I could clear a meal. I laid there with my head firmly planted in the back of my chair. Taking deep breaths, I stared up into the ceiling of the house.

It was a strange feeling that I felt. It was as almost as if I was on some slow tired drugs. I just sat there limp. If I looked close enough, I could see the little dots on the ceiling start to move around and dance. I tried to count them, but they all became as one, then without word scattered.

While working in the kitchen, Paige came to me and framed both her hands upon my cheekbones. “Lillian are you okay?” She had both her hands there, rubbing my cheekbones up and down.

Like a playful child I just looked at her and smiled. I then assumed my regular sitting position, letting her hands brush up against my ears as I lifted my head. The feeling sent a tingles down my spine. I picked up my fork and knife, still smiling; I turned to my right and looked at Barrett, who was watching our playful display, carefully.

Chewing his food, his eyes finally locked with mine. He gently put down his fork and leaned back in his chair. He picked up his bottle of beer and finished it off, motioning for Paige to get him another. Lifting his left hand to his chin he began to scratch his goatee. Eyes still locked with mine, his facial expression was swept with impatience. “Now, what in the hell are you looking at kid?”

As he was finishing his sentence to me, Paige placed a plate of food in front of me. I quickly turned to her and gave my thanks, then shook my head and tried to snap out of it. Not looking at him I replied. “Nothing Sir… I’m sorry.” Of course there was nothing going on between Paige and me, but I thought perhaps he was receiving mixed signals from our friendly closeness. Or maybe it was just the alcohol putting thoughts into his head.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see his position become less defensive. Paige dropped off another bottle of beer, and Barrett quickly picked it up and took a long drink. He put the bottle down, and wiped off his mouth with his hand. “That’s what I thought.”

It was Barrett’s drinking that worried me. I knew the more alcohol that he consumed the more easily irritated and violent he became. He had been gone for the greater part of the day, and at this point I had no idea how much alcohol he actually consumed. I cursed myself for spacing out and creating this small altercation. I had dealt with belligerent people before in the past. Not one of these experiences was ever pleasant.

As soon as everybody was served and eating, Paige once again finally sat down with her plate. I began to eat as well.

Barrett was chewing recklessly. He saw my actions and shook his head. He smiled, but to me it was evil. “Once again, with this shit you little bitch.”

I froze. I could feel his temper was rising. It made me angry because it was for the stupidest reason in the world. I could feel my adrenaline begin to rise. I was no longer hungry. I had dealt with this before. All I knew was that he was egging me on to do something. Something so that he could do something. But I kept my cool and I did nothing.

“Father.” It was Paige’s voice that chimed out. She knew exactly what he was leading on to do. She would not have it. “Father, if you could please just settle down, please.”

It was silent in the room, as it is usually was silent in the room, but this silence was as thin as tissue paper. I was hoping that Barrett’s anger would fade away. I knew it to be a fact in any drunken situation, changing the subject, changing it to a nice subject could quite possibly improve the situation. I felt that I was in no position to change the subject, and hoped so dearly that somebody else would.

My plate consisted of salmon, brown rice, and vegetables. I slowly ate it for I’d lost my appetite. I was so hungry, but eating without an appetite totally blew. It wasn’t until Fitz began to speak that I felt a little bit of happiness in my heart.

“You did well today, Lillian.”

I shifted my attention to him, and raised my gaze from my plate. I had only known him for a day, but his intentions were pure.

“Honestly you did well.” He said. “Tomorrow, we will open the day with more warm-ups. As the day progresses, you will conquer blocking, grappling, and a little bit of defense.” He ended the sentence with a smile. He leaned back in his chair smiling, and his facial expression was as smooth as wax.

I got my second wind then, and finished up the last of my salmon. I wasn’t really looking forward to the next six months of training, but I guess I had no choice. Swallowing my last piece of salmon I looked up at Fitz and smiled. “Thank you sir.”

I waited patiently as usual, finishing off my milk and waiting for the boys to leave the table. Clive, Fitz, and drunken Barrett as usual disappeared from the table and went off into the night to complete their usual scheduled tasks. Once again it was just Paige and I. As usual I savored every moment. It was a difficult task getting to know somebody that was part of holding you captive. I waited patiently as I usually did for her to finish her meal. It was her task as always to clean up, and when that was done, to escort me back into my dungeon.

As soon as she rose and picked up her empty plate, I rose as well. I picked up mine, and Barrett’s and she cleared Fitz’s plate and Clive’s. It was a quiet night and for that I was truly sorry. I wanted nothing more than to have a normal conversation with her. We worked in silence. Her washing, and I drying. So many times, I wanted so badly to open my mouth and to say something. Every time I got the chance, my mouth would open but no words would surface.

I had come so far at that point. I had beaten all odds. I had been scared to death. I had nearly been beaten to death. Everything that I was ever afraid to happen to me had happened. I had been through the worst, though the worst was still to come. But this, this was so hard to comprehend. Talking to a simple person and holding a conversation scared me to death and for this I had no idea why. It was probably Barrett’s foul mood to begin with that started it all.

The rest of the night consisted of doing the dishes. Light bumping upon each other, giggles and laughing. I wasn’t drunk but my mind was mush. Hating myself every step of the way I just went with the flow. As soon as all evening chores were done, Paige retrieved the keys, and escorted me out of the kitchen and into the cool night’s air.

Like an obedient puppy dog I followed as usual. Thoughts and questions were plaguing my mind, at the tip of my tongue, yet so very hard to release. Disappointment erupted in my mind as she opened the doors of the barn and we walked in. I was unable to create good conversation that night and for that I was truly disappointed.

As she waited by the entrance of my dungeon door, I walked up to the stall that contained Nellie the horse. Patiently I waited; I did not have to wait long until Nellie came to me. I stretched out my arms and she nuzzled me ever so delicately. I put my face so close it to hers and I inhaled in. I gave her soft kisses the side of her cheek.

I heard a low giggle come from Paige. “She likes you, you know.”

“Do you think I can ride her some time?” I said. “You’ll have to teach me of course.”

“You never rode a horse before?”

Holding Nellie’s face close to mine, I smiled. “Of course not, I’m a city girl remember?”

Paige laughed underneath her breath. She shook her head and looked at me. “I’m so sorry, how could I forget that every girl is not a country girl.”

I laughed as well, and gave Nellie a kiss upon her nose. “This is true.” I left Nellie the horse and walked toward Paige. I planted myself in front of her so close. “When we have time of course, I would love for you to teach me.”

“Of course.” She said. “I would like nothing more than to teach a city girl how to ride a horse.” Smiling she placed her hand to my back and slowly nudged me down into my dungeon.

Somewhat disappointed, I slowly descended into the depths. I turned around though before she could close the flap. Extending my arms into the air I looked up at her. “And at which time miss, do I receive better accommodations?”

“When you prove yourself.”

Cocking my brow and generating a sly smile I said, “I figured at this point I had already proved myself, but at which point do you think I shall prove myself?”

Flashing her pearly whites, and shaking her head she just smiled and looked at me. “It is not for me to decide my love, but my father’s.”

My love. The sound of it from her lips just made my heart crash. I didn’t care about the rest of the sentence; my love was the only thing that I wanted to hear from her. As she closed the flap I smiled and blew her a kiss. I was pretty sure she didn’t see me do it but I didn’t care. I was still stuck in the love part.

I spent the rest of the night bathing myself from the sink, but that time I was smiling. I needed neither book nor more music to help me sleep. Just the image of Paige calling me love and the formation her lips made gave me peace so that I could. I was so tired, and slept so soundly that night. I dreaded the roosters call in the morning.

The roosters call, and it was once again the butt crack of dawn. I did not budge from my bed. I just laid there, wrapped up like a burrito in the covers. I took a deep breath and opened my eyes, momentarily. I saw the rays of sunlight as they snuck through the cracks of my dungeon. I had already bathed myself, the night before and dressed myself for the day’s work out. I had at least an extra half an hour to sleep before I was retrieved for the day’s exercises. I pulled the covers over my head to block out the seeping rays of sun. I waited for the sounds of the opening flap. That was my cue to hop out of bed and jump into action.

I heard the unlocking. I threw the covers off of me and tossed myself out of bed. I winced with pain as every part of my body with aching. My arms, my legs, my torso. Everything was not without pain. My shoes were right by my bedside and I quickly fumbled with the shoelaces as I tried to tie them and put them on before anyone could emerge from the above. It was success! Success with the burden of pain. I stood up, locked my hands behind my back and waited.

“Morning Clive.”

Clive’s eyes were closely plastered together and very red. He nearly stumbled on his last step down. “lez go Lillian, lez go get some food.”

“Hung over Clive?” I tilted my head and raised my eyebrow.

Clive barely looked at me and then turned around. “Don be a smart ass Lillian.”

With a light wobble he slowly ascended the staircase. I followed. My stomach was growling.

As I exited the barn, I was struck by the warm brilliance of the sun. I paused just to feel its warm glow upon my skin. I closed my eyes and drew in a deep breath. As I opened my eyes I was greeted by a scruffy more than 5 o’clock shadow Clive. Red eyes darker than the planet Mars itself. “You commin?”

He turned around and continued walking as I smiled to myself. “Yes, master.” Still smiling I continued walking behind Clive. I ingested as much of the fresh morning air that I could. I listened to every noise that the outside was to make, and looked at every colorful thing that was planted in front of me. I knew the day’s workout was going to be even harder than the day before. I was ready for it. I smiled all the way up to the house behind Clive. As soon as he opened the door and we went into the kitchen, my smile drifted away. Knowing that Barrett would probably take it personally and start something with me, I didn’t let it drift away. I entered the kitchen with an invisible smile. Face straight, inside I was still smiling.

It was normal breakfast as usual. Everybody was chowing down on eggs bacon and hash browns. Paige was working quickly and efficiently trying to get everybody fed. Barrett received his plate first, followed by Clive and our newly joined table mate Fitz.

Everybody had a fork, a knife, and a spoon. I looked at the empty placement in front of me and noticed only a spoon. Perhaps Paige ran out of silverware. Unfortunately my suspicions were well-placed. Page dropped a bowl of oatmeal in front of me. My mouth slowly dropped open. “Oatmeal?”

Fitz immediately looked up from his dish, mouth stuffed with breakfast sausage links. As he spoke mini chunks of breakfast sausage fell from his mouth. “Sorry Lillian, I requested the oatmeal for you. The heavier the greasy meal that you eat, the more likely for you to upchuck it during training, if you know what I mean.”

I watched him as he swallowed his savory sausage breakfast links. I sighed and looked into my bowl of oatmeal. It was a sea of wavy oats and bland flavors. If it was steel cut oats, then at least there was some nutritional value added. No matter what, I was hungry, so I picked up the spoon in dug in.

Breakfast came, we consumed and then breakfast ended. In the mornings I was unable to help Paige with the dishes. It was straight to business after eating. I had to eat quickly, for if the boys finished before me, I had to follow and was unable to finish my meal. I quickly inhaled my oatmeal, and quietly sat and waited for the boys to finish. As soon as they got up, I got up as well and followed them into the war room.

The war room was the nickname that I gave it. As a child I had watched a lot of X-Men Adventures. The room in which they were trained in was called the war room, thus my training room was called the war room.

I entered the room, and walked into the middle of the bloodied circle. Hands by my sides, I stood up straight. Clive and Barrett were sitting in the bleachers to the right of me. I patiently waited instruction. We began our exercises.

The day began with warm-ups, and followed by cardio. I did free weights and lifting. We worked on punches, punching combinations, and then kicking. I stood solitary while Fitz punched my stomach lightly, and then worked up to my face. The body punches were supposed to help me get used to being hit. At first it didn’t think anything of them; I thought it had felt way worse when I first got there. Fitz continued to punch harder though. They were all exercises to make me stronger and much angrier. They were working.

I had no access to a calendar, and had no idea how much time had gone by. The only way I knew time was fading away was by the seasons of the day. Day by day I was woke up and drug down the war room and trained with Fitz. Every night I was fed and looked at, and sent back down into the dungeon where I licked my own wounds. My whole body was changing. I was more cut in my upper body. I began to develop a little six-pack. My thighs and hips, well, let’s just say they were looking pretty damn good. Despite all I had been through, my body was in the best shape ever.

It had been almost a year without a drop of alcohol, or the drag of a cigarette. Every day I craved them so much. Paige had put a body sized mirror into my dungeon. Though I was never a conceited person, and before this rarely looked at myself in the mirror, I found myself looking into it morning and night impressed with my improvements.

Once a week as usual Dr. Sebastian Cole would visit and injected me with my weekly dose of cocktail. I had already felt the strain of the lack of cocktail on my first day of running, and I was so very grateful for his presence.

Day by day, by day went by. Month by month all I was focused on was training, eating, and injections. It seemed the last of the real world had faded away and I knew nothing more but the daily schedule. I knew nothing but those people. I had a vague picture of my mom still floating in my head. I had a vague memory of what life used to be before I had arrived.

It was the last day of my training and I had graduated. I was congratulated by Fitz and shook his hand. He told me I was the quickest learner that he ever had. I smiled and looked up at him. Class had ended early that night and I found myself sitting on the steps outside that led to the kitchen. The sun was setting quicker these days, and I had barely made it outside to see it slowly slither beyond the horizon. It was beginning to get cool outside. Regardless, it was always cool, but at least, cooler than usual. I was still wearing my shorts and my tank top, and my new balance shoes that Paige had got me after I recovered from my surgery. The falls cool brisk night was embracing coldness. I pulled my knees up close to me and tried so very hard to keep warm. Clive was once again at the grill searing wonderful slabs of meat that I could not wait to eat. My mouth was watering at the smell.

As the sun finally disappeared and darkness enveloped the very small world that I was a part of, Paige came out of the kitchen and sat down next to me upon the steps. She sat there quietly for a few moments before she spoke.

“Are you okay?” She said.

I didn’t answer her question at first. I had to first think of the definition of the word okay. Perhaps I could start at the beginning. I was kidnapped, brutally beaten, put through a medical procedure that no one had ever survived. I could have totally go off on her right then, but I couldn’t. Not to her, not to that beautiful face. I just missed so many things. The news, morning bike rides. Holidays with my mom. Beer of course. It had been months since I let myself cry. I had closed myself off from everything. I had let them create me into the beast that they wanted me to be. Finally without thought, slow tears begin to emerge from my eyes.

“Lillian?”

“Just call me Lill please.” I said.

“Lill, where are you?” She asked

I planted my head into my knees and began to sob lightly. It was a relief; it was almost as if I was on a drug. “I have no idea where I am. You people will not let me know…”

She put her arm around me and pulled me close to her. “It’s okay baby, it will be okay.”

I did find some sort of comfort in that, but wished her not to know. I pulled away. Light tears streaming down my eyes I looked at her. “It’s been months since I’ve written to my mom.”

“I know.” She said.

“So what, she gets one letter from me and thinks that I am okay?” I shook my head.

“I have been writing to her.” The words lightly escaped her mouth.

“What?” My head slowly turned so that I could look at her.

She swallowed hard. The words came from her, but slowly. “I have written her, or typed to her. So far, your journey has ended in Florida where your truck broke down. With little money you had left, you got an apartment and a job at a dive shop. Lill, I am so sorry.”

I had no words. For a while we sat in silence. I let the cool breeze speak for the both of us. I took my hand and let it run through my hair that had begun to grow so quickly. Twenty two years of my life I’ve had long hair. Now I was just dragging my hand through remnants of a memory. “Has she ever written back?”

“No Lill, there was no return address.”

“Ahh…” I said. “So she still suspects nothing then?”

“I assume not.” Paige said.

I frowned and clenched my teeth. It was miss directed, but I felt my anger rising. “What the fuck do you people expect from me?” I stood up then and looked directly at Paige. Loudly I spoke and my voice carried out through the night. “What now Paige, what now! How much time do I have before I have to hurt a person?!” My words were loud and cut through the darkness like butter. The anxiety was getting the best for me. I was getting very nervous for the upcoming week.

Clive looked up at me from the grill. His eyes were filled with concern. I turned my head to him. I just pointed my finger at him. “Dude, you just keep grilling, you just keep grilling.” Without hesitation he just turned away.

I felt the heating anger within my soul. I took a deep breath and tried to release it all. Inhale and it was slowly released. I sat back down next Paige. “I have no idea who I am, or what I have become.”

She took my left hand into hers and held it tightly. I felt the squeeze, and the pressure. “Lillian, for that I am truly sorry. Are you giving up?”

I slowly turned my head to look at her. Eyebrows shot down in a, what are you crazy look? “God no! I am just having a… nervous breakdown.” I turned from her and began to rub my eyes with my hands. Everything was shaking and I could not concentrate. My mind was a strange blur. I couldn’t tell if it was just me or the drugs they were giving me. I could feel a wetness seeping from my nose and I wiped it with my backhand. As I pulled away and looked at the back of my hand I saw that it was blood. I could have cared less and as I let the blood trickle from my nose, I looked at Paige.

She saw it and her eyes grew big. “My God Lill, your nose is bleeding.” Like the caring person that she was, she out reached her hands towards me trying to care for my bloodied nose. I just turned away.

Wise tales always told you to hold your nose while your head was tilted back to stop nosebleeds. That was not the case. Never ever hold your head back. I wiped the blood from underneath my nostril again and plugged it with my head upright.

“Do you get nosebleeds often?”

“Only when I’m seriously stressed.”

“How many times in your life have you had a nosebleed?” Paige asked.

I pursed my lips and lifted my right eyebrow. I had to think about it for a moment. “I think about six times maybe? Let’s see… My dog died, I got one. My friend went in for her appendicitis, I got one. I was at work and I was thinking about my dead dog again, I got one. Ahhh… Was going to get on an airplane to go rescue my grandfather, I got one. Oh, my other dog was really sick and I got one. All extremely stressful times. No worries see, just stress.” I looked at her smiling with the blood streak streaming from my nostril. Giggling to myself I said “and this would be the seventh…”

She laughed and just shook her head. “You have it all figured out don’t you?”

Smiling I said “yes I do.” I paused for a moment. I let my eyes lay upon the night soaked dark horses corral and the fading green pastures beyond. “Since we are on the topic of blood, why have I not gotten my period?” I turned my head back, looking at Paige.

Paige hesitated. She shifted uncomfortably on the cement steps. She let her hand raise to her lips and rubbed over them with her fingertips. “I was wondering when you were going to ask that question.”

“So…” I said. “I assume the answer that you are about to give me is one that I do not wish to hear?”

Once again hesitantly she said, “have you noticed a small scar on your lower abdomen?”

Every time I ever looked at myself it was always dark. There was a mirror in my dungeon but I never really looked at myself to closely. I quickly pulled up my shirt to examine my underbelly. Underneath my belly button there was a small faint scar. “Oh Christ…”I knew something was up when I did not get my period, but I just thought it was the medication that you were giving me, or the so-called cocktail.

“I am so sorry Lillian, but Mr. Bishop…”

I butted in. “Mr. Bishop can lick my god damn balls.”

“But you don’t have any.”

“I do not give a shit. I will grow a pair just so he can fucking lick them.” I was angry then, but out of energy to throw another fit. I was only twenty two and already my womanhood had been taken away from me, without my consent. I felt so weak then. I was no longer whole.

Clive put the steaks from the grill onto a plate and walked into the house. “The steaks are done. I should probably get into the kitchen and finish the rest of dinner. Are you hungry?” Paige asked.

Staring into nothingness I just shook my head. “Not anymore.” The evening’s breeze had died down. The music from the rustling leaves on the trees had dissipated.

Paige slowly rose from the cement steps. She brushed the dust from her denim overalls. She did not look at me but she spoke. “Well, I must go inside and finish dinner. I trust you Lillian, so I am going to go inside and give you the time that you need… Okay?

I didn’t say word I just sat there in silence. A lot of people that get angry yell or shout. I had my moment and my moment had passed. Trembling with anger I just sat there and inhaled and exhaled. I just maintained.

“Okay?”

“Yes…” The only word that I could muster. Without hesitation she opened the door to the kitchen and disappeared. I didn’t move I just sat there staring into nothingness again. The world had felt my despair. It was Mother Nature who wished to talk to me, and once again the breeze began to pick up. The night was growing denser. The evening’s breeze were becoming thicker. The nighttime smells were lying upon the Valley like a heavy curtain. I could hear the wind as it rustled through the leaves in the trees. It was nothing more than sweet music to my ears. Silence was a harsh friend, but in my case it brought me safety and sanctity. I inhaled deeply the beauties of the world, and wished in my soul that they would never escape my lungs. Even though I did exhale, I tried very hard to keep the world’s beauty within me. Many moments ensued before I raised myself from the cool cement steps. I took another look around at my shadowed surroundings that only by day could be defined as complete gorgeousness. Inhaling the last moment of my false freedom, I turned around and headed for the kitchen door. Placing my hand upon the doorknob I took one last moment to think about making or breaking my freedom. I took one last deep breath, and let one last tear stray from my eye. Exhaling I turned the knob. Opening the door I thought to myself I would let those people know what Lillian Ann Cross was really made of.

I strolled in and casually sat in my usual sitting spot. Clive, Fitz, and Barrett were all in their usual spots as well. I could feel the hostility boiling as I sat down. Barrett’s eyes never left me. At that point, Barrett’s anger was fueling my madness. Even though I kept a straight face, inside I was smiling. In any situation I would try to avoid all altercations in any way possible. At the moment though, I was fueling the fire.

The meal was fantastic. The rib eye was perfectly cooked thanks to Clive. Paige as always never marinated, but put a wonderfully seasoned rub upon the steaks. The asparagus was perfectly grilled and flavorful, and the garlic mashed potatoes just melted in my mouth.

There was no conversation that night. Just eating. I had waited in silence. I had waited and felt the heat boil off of Barrett. He of course had a beer in front of him, consumed it and then had another, and then another. I knew I had no chance against him, but at least had to try. I had a vendetta against him that I needed to conclude. All the news that I had received from Paige that night, continued to peel away at my sanity. I was never a confrontational person, but for some reason, I needed to fight, or be beaten just to set my heart right. My fighting training was complete and now he would be the guinea pig. I knew what would piss him off, so in between bites I periodically looked at him.

Finally the dam broke. “What the hell are you looking at?”

I turned to him. “A sorry excuse for a man.” There was so much satisfaction in that. I kept my eyes on him.

He stood up from his chair and he glared at me. “Ohh, little bitch finished her training, so she thinks she’s a big girl now. You want to take this outside?”

I had him where I wanted him. I was sober and he was drunk. He may have been a hundred pounds heavier than I, but I so wanted to take him anyway.

There was of course no dispute between Fitz or Clive. Clive finished off his beer and Fitz just silently watched. It was Paige of course who had to say something. “Father, please stop.”

Barrett’s stance stood still like a stone. His anger was flying off him like an erupting volcano. He was ready to do battle. I was ready for him.

“Are you ready for your first beat down little bitch?” He said.

Smartass remark, here I come. “Already had a beat down, asshole. But, I’m your huckleberry, bitch.” The smirk on my face was worth a million bucks.

He turned out the door so quickly. I rose from my seat and prepped myself. Paige urged me not to go, urged me not to fuel his fire. She knew how he could get when he drank, but I just moved on. I was ready to put him into his place. I was ready to give him pay back for the beat down that he gave me. I left the wonderful quaint confines of the kitchen and greeted Barrett outside in the horse’s corral where the lush grass gently crushed beneath my feet.

Barrett was out there, positioned and ready for me. Cooley and sternly I walked up to him. I placed both my hands upon my hips and said, “Please remove your Sidearm.”

He did so without hesitation. He pulled out his gun and tossed it toward Clive and Fitz who were now sitting on the corral gates. I did not see Paige, but I knew she was out there. My heart was racing.

Barrett put up his dukes, and so did I. The man was at least one hundred pounds more than I, and at least 8 inches taller. I didn’t care. All I had in my mind was a beat down. I knew he was drunk and so thus, my advantage. He was slow to move. I would move like a butterfly and sting like a bee. I would put the asshole Paul Bishop’s money to good use. My whole life I had never picked a fight, but I picked this one. I wanted to prove to Barrett I was no pussy. With anger fueling my fight, Barrett threw the first punch.

I dodged it. Barrett threw another and I dodged that to. Fitz taught me to dodge and wear them out, so that is what I did. With the bigger people, my advantage was dodging. Punch after punch that Barrett tossed, I dodged. He was drunk and there were so many advantages for me to get in there and to give all hell, but I held back waiting for that perfect moment.

There were many times during his punching frenzy, that I could have gone for his balls, but I wanted to keep the fight clean. Let the better man win. Who was the better man? I was. Barrett shot his arm forward at me. I ducked and shot my fist up toward his elbow. With impact I heard cracking noise. He grunted with pain, but was relentless with his attacks. Barrett grabbed my shirt. He pulled me up off the ground so that my eyes could look into his. I could hear my shirt ripping from the stress. He pulled me close to his face and gave me the opportunity I needed to strike. I head-butted him. He threw me onto the ground knocking the wind out of me and I lay there gasping for air. He moved in for a body slam. I saw it coming and I rolled out of the way. He hit the ground on his side and let out a big “Uhhhh….”

While he was on the ground, I got up quickly and put some kicks into his side. I moved away and let him rise to his feet. I put my duke’s back up, and so did he.

He threw another punch and I dodged it. I jumped up toward him and threw a right one to connect with his face. As I landed on the ground, I continued to bombard his lower portions with multiple punches. It was just like punching the bag and I did it with insane speed. As soon as he became dazed, I concluded my attack with an upper hook. Barrett was on the ground in no time.

My biggest mistake was gloating. I towered over him, calling him a bitch; Barrett used his leg to trip me. As I did not anticipate that attack, I fell to the ground. Barrett steam rolled over me. He was so heavy I almost felt him squeeze the eyes out of my eye sockets. He then pinned me beneath him. With his anger he laid punch after punch. I only remember the first five punches before I blacked out.

Darkness had a severity of sweetness. The dreams that come with unconsciousness can be either good or bad. I could not remember those dreams, but remember a short mix of them. Unconsciousness brought a short simple sleep. I did not know the exact pain that had been caused to me, but I felt it. It was one of those moments that I wanted so very badly to wake up, but I could not. Fighting so very badly in my painful wicked slumber, I waited for the early mornings light to remove me from my nightmare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.

I was pretty sure a bomb went off in my head. A tiny, tiny small bomb went off in my head and exploded on the backside of my brain, creating sharp shards of brain to stab every other part of inside my head. I rolled from my side and onto my back. Staring up into the wooden rafters above I noticed it was no longer the morning.

I slowly sat up in bed. The pain was agonizing but I managed. I pulled the comforter from me and planted my feet to the ground. There was a bucket of bloodied water on the ground complete with bloody rags hanging from it. I was extremely nauseous and took slow deep breaths trying to ward it off.

“I was wondering when you would get up.”

Startled and with fierce pain, I quickly looked up in the direction the voice had come from. It was Paige and she was sitting in a chair in the corner of my dungeon. “How long you been sitting there?” I asked.

“Clive and Fitz brought you in last night. I called Dr. Cole, mainly because of my father’s condition.” She said.

I didn’t move and I didn’t change face. I did not feel bad for what I had done. In my mind it needed to be done. I raised my hand and drew it back and forth through my Afro hair, rubbing my head and trying to ease my pain. “And how is your father?” Not that I cared, but I at least had try to be compassionate about it.

“He’s okay now, but you did quite a number on him. Nearly broke his nose and dislocated his jaw. He fractured his arm, and from punching you he also broke his hand. His arm is in a sling now, his nose is bandaged up, and he is crabbier than ever.”

“So what’s my damage report?” I slowly stood up from my bed and walked over to the sink, looking at myself in the mirror. I smiled at first, a big cheesy smile making sure that I had not lost any of my teeth. I was still wearing the clothes that I had worn last night; the shirt tattered and dirtied with blood. No teeth were missing, but my face was somewhat swollen and bruised. You could say I resembled one of the Ferengi from Star Trek.

“Besides being knocked out, you weathered the beating quite well. I apologize, but after tending and making sure my father was all right, I came back down here to make sure you are okay. Dr. Cole did accompany me and we found no signs of concussion. I treated your cuts with ointment, and force-fed you some aspirins.” She simply said in her chair, wearing her usual overalls. Legs closed and arms folded in her lap.

“So my metal head survived, huh?” I turned the knob on the sink and begun to guzzle handfuls of water. Swishing and spitting out the blood that had collected in my mouth. I took the cool water and splashed it all over my face and behind my neck. “No offense babe, but your pops has a severe drinking problem.”

“Not anymore.” She replied.

I stopped what I was doing and slowly turned to her. “Ohh? How so?”

She was hesitant at first, but she fulfilled my question with an answer. “Well, when he got up this morning I told him what he did last night was completely unacceptable. I told him that if he took another drop of alcohol, I would call Paul Bishop right away and tell him that he was no longer suitable for this project.”

“Ha!” I turned back to the sink. I slowly peeled off my bloodied tattered T-shirt, and tossed it to the ground. I grabbed the soap from the sink and a rag and began to clean myself as I usually did every morning. Well, it was the afternoon but still it had to be done. “So, training is all done, and apparently I am not out running my ass off, so what is everybody up to this wonderful afternoon?”

“Well, Fitz left this morning, he has a competition to go to this week.”

I actually turned in disappointment and looked at Paige.

Her eyes shifted from the floor and caught my gaze. “Oh, don’t worry he’ll be back for your first fight.”

I turned back to the sink and continued my cleansing. “And what of the other two boys?”

“Clive is upstairs, in his room playing video games and listening to music. And my father, well, he’s just sulking around. In his mind he thinks he won the fight, but his wounds tell him differently. You definitely gave his ego a run, Lill.”

I lathered the soap up and rubbed it all over my face. With the rag, I gave it a good scrubbing. “And what might the beautiful Miss Paige be doing this morning?”

“I fed the boys breakfast this morning. I tended and fed the animals. I was in and out of here periodically checking on you. Dr. Cole came down here and checked on you as well and gave you your shot.” She never changed positions. Arms were still folded and lay upon her lap.

“So what is today?”

“Saturday.”

“When is my first fight?” I had washed the lathered soap from my face, and began to clean my torso. Since I was with company, and did not remove my bra, but carefully cleansed underneath it.

“Next Saturday.”

“When will you teach me the rules of floor?”

“Friday. Fitz will be back in, and we will go into the interrogation room and tell you what you need to know to survive. This sport,” she raised her hands and made quotation marks with them, “is not regulated by anything. Rules are changing every day, and as soon as we get the new book, we will let you know.”

“Ahh.” I said. I grabbed a towel that was hanging from the metal towel hanging thingy, and dried my topside off. There was nothing left but my bottom side clean. I was not about to drop full trowel and clean myself in front of Paige. I turned around to face her and leaned up against the sink. “So what now, oh fearless leader?”

She looked at me and she smiled. “Well, since you have a week left, a free week I might add. And, by some terrible circumstance I must keep you separated from my father for a while… I thought perhaps, you could do your usual waking up at the butt crack of dawn, we’ll go for a morning run and do some exercises to make sure you keep yourself on track. But afterward, you could help me tend the animals, perhaps and maybe take the horses out for a run.”

I was excited. “No shit?”

“No shit.” She said smiling.

Putting my explosive headache aside, I burst with a smile. Smiles were so difficult to come by these days, and I cherished that one so very much. Everything I had experienced thus far had been a new experience for me. Everyone was so used their daily grind. I was plucked from my daily grind and thrown into the madness of chaos.

The summer was long gone and fall was well into action. The summer days were cool and mild. It was something that I was not used to growing up the valley of the sun. I still had no idea where I was, but hoped that I still resided in the wonderful state of Arizona. The days grew cooler and shorter and I knew a year was almost upon me that I had been missing. I hadn’t seen any TV for almost a year, but books provided my entertainment that kept me going. Then there was music. I was at least blessed with the wonderful sounds and sensations that music could vibrate in my ears. If I had to choose, I would choose blindness over deftness. In any situation if I was dead, no matter what, music would bring me back.

It was indisputably colder outside, and as the goose bumps rose upon my skin, I rushed back to my bed and covered myself in my comforter.

Paige slowly rose from her chair. “I’m going to fix lunch; I know you must be hungry.”

I opened my eyes wide and slanted my head. “Fuck yes.”

“I figured that.” She said. “I’ll get the boys taken care of, I’ll bring down lunch, and we will take the horses out to play in the corral.” She slowly began to walk up the stairs. “Besides, I got to leave, for I know you still have that underside to clean.”

I smiled again, and I shouted as she left and locked my flap. “I look forward to it.” Achingly I rose from my bed and walked to the sink once again. I peeled off my shorts, and began to clean myself down there. Almost a year had passed since I had a proper shower.

I was given a razor once a week to shave. After I had felt myself to be totally clean, I began to shave my legs and my underarms. Shaving dry was difficult, but I always wetted myself before I did so. I had always enjoyed smooth arms, and after the basics were shaved, I moved on to them.

Anticipation could not kill me anymore. As I waited for Paige and lunch, I dressed myself in some more warming apparel. I pulled up my high socks, and my pants, followed by a blue shirt that said Goonies forever. Clean and fully clothed I sat back down on my bed. I could have remedied my boaredness with a book, but it decided to listen to the MP3 player and soak in some music.

I had one more week until my first fight. I kept thinking of Clive as he always asked me if I had a theme song yet. As of that moment, no. I wasn’t in any kind of mood for any music genre. I was just looking for a theme song. I knew it had to be bold and strong. It was something that would explain my current position, and my feelings. I heard so many things that I liked, but nothing that would suit my mood. Then, I came across it. It was heavy metal. It stated if I had a problem with God, was the future to blame, for what I never became? Psycho, sexy, freak show. I was all of the above. The song was hard and it was harsh. I was down on my luck. They spoke of a new world in the song. My whole world was new. Excited, I knew it would be my song. Looking at the player, I caught the information. It was Sinisstar’s Psychosexy that would define me in the world of hen fighting. I knew the whole song could not be played, but knew Clive had his way with editing music. As soon as I saw him, I would let him know that that would be my song. Now all I had to do was establish my fighting name.

It wasn’t long until Paige brought me down a sandwich to eat. Ham and cheese with Mayo, and honey mustard. The sandwich was accompanied by a pickle, my favorite. The plate was garnished with salt and vinegar chips. Another favorite of mine. I inhaled the sandwich as Paige patiently waited sitting in the chair. All crumbs clear, I crumpled the disposable plate and tossed it into the trash can in my dungeon.

She rose from her chair. “All done Lill?”

“As ready as I will ever be.” I said.

I followed her up the steps and out of my dungeon into the barn. The barn doors were all the way open, and the cool fall November air was flooding in. It was stuffy in my dungeon and always smelled of wet dirt, but the barn was much more different. The barn was clear and smelt of life, and of course horses. As I reached the top of the steps, I resided next to Paige’s side. I waited for her signal, and examined all five horses.

“So,” she said, “we are going to do it one horse at a time. You are to stay close to me, and learn. Understand?”

I uttered not one word, I just nodded.

Sebastian was first. She opened the gate to his stall, walked up to him slowly and placed her palm gently upon his cheek. He slowly followed her out. She slowly slipped a halter on him, and guided him out into the corral. I did not leave the barn, but I watched her as she took him to the corral and walked back.

“You got the idea?” She asked.

Once again I nodded.

I continued to watch, and she did the same thing with the four remaining horses. When she finally got Harlie into the corral, I finally left the barn.

It was now the late afternoon. The sun was in a deep luminescence orange. Even though the season had changed, the sun still put up a fight with its last cooling warmth. Though it was bright and sunny, I could still feel the cool briskness against my skin. I had no jacket so I rubbed my arms trying to generate warmth. I walked up to the corral, climbed the fence and sat there watching the five horses frolic.

At some point I lost myself watching Paige and the horses. I was mesmerized with her patients and sheer coolness. It perplexed my mind to think a beautiful creature such as herself could emerge from such a bastard of a man. But then I thought to myself, it wasn’t the bastard man from whom she came from, but rather her mother. Still, it was still his seed which helped her creation. The only thing that I liked about Barrett, was that he brought Paige into the world.

It seemed I had forgotten all the pains of the world. I had forgotten the pains that I was suffering from currently. I sat there on the fence, hands grappling the wood for support. My mouth was open the whole time. Thinking of all the shit that Barrett must have put his daughter through, it was hard to fathom how she came out so well. In the back of my mind though, I could only think that even in destruction, beauty could still emerge. Barrett was a disaster, and Paige was a seed that grew into a beautiful flower.

Paige finally rose up to the fence with me. We sat there in silence and watched the horses as they enjoyed their time out. I was giddy with excitement and filled with butterflies at the thought of being able to ride one. I smiled and looked at her. Her hand lay next to mine, and I lifted my hand and placed it over hers. She looked at me smiling. She turned back to look at the horses, but she never took away her hand. We sat there for a while and said nothing. I just enjoyed so much the comfort of her touch.

It was a slow but quick process. Since I had grown up riding ATVs, I was used to distributing my weight. Paige was very patient with me. It took only three days before I was able to manage by myself. Horseback riding became my new favorite thing.

Wednesday had come, and by all means I was counting the days. Even though I had wonderful side activities, my mind never drifted from the task at hand. Every day I woke up, was a day closer that I was going to have to do something that I never wanted to do.

Wednesday morning I was up and dressed. I was dressed warmly, for the cold was definitely making its presence known. Paige had taught me well, as she always did. With both horses saddled, I mounted Nelly, and she Harlie. It was a day before Thanksgiving. Paige had given me one of her leather jackets to wear and I cherished it. She led, and I followed. Slowly but surely, with pure balance, I learned how to ride Nellie. Into the depths of trees, I followed Paige as she rode Harlie. It was our first excursion together. She took a loan path into the deep forest, and I followed.

Escape never failed to leave my mind, but no matter what, I stuck to Paige like glue. I was addicted to her. If I escaped, I never wanted her to suffer the repercussions.

We rode fast, and we trotted. I kept up, and I knew I was doing well for my skill set. Sitting up high, and holding the reins, I smiled to myself. Riding ATVs and then riding horses were two different beasts. I was so proud of learning how to ride a horse. Despite all the bullshit that I had been through, I so did cherish the moment.

Page stopped, and I strode up next to her and stopped as well. She looked at me. “Are you ready for this Lill?”

I just looked at her and smiled. “Go for it babe.”

With a loud “He-Yah” Paige and Harlie were off in ablaze.

I gave Nelly a quick kick and shouted, “Let’s go!” In no time we were off and trailing Paige in super speed.

Everything was so quick, the scenery, the trees just flooded by like a mesh of watercolors. The air was cool and it stung my eyes, sending teardrops, the tiny trails of tears escaping from the corners of my eyes.

The trail had turned into wash. Chasing her with Nellie we crawled out of the wash, back into some more trees. Paige came to an abrupt stop in an opening. I glided Nellie right up next to her. Paige dismounted and so did I.

It was the late afternoon, and the sun was not so much cascading through the leaves, but more than needles themselves. It had been forever since I was able to get out and listen to the world. The wind that rustling through the pines made a different chime then the wind rustling through the leaves. It was a low soft wispy sound. A sound that I enjoyed and missed. I closed my eyes and I took a deep breath. I exhaled and looked up toward the sky. The pines were swaying and the clouds were gradually growing darker and moving in.

I extended my arms and closed my eyes once again. I began to turn around in circles. I had lost sight of Paige, the horses, everything. My life was a concentration of madness, chaos. I was prone to depression, and then at that point I was having another breakdown.

The outside of me was built like a brick shit house. But the inside, the inside was mushy like mashed potatoes. The firewall I had built my whole life seemed to be quickly degrading. My whole life I had tried very hard to keep feelings like that from pouring out. I didn’t want people to see my weaknesses. At that point I thought I only had two choices, release the pain with a good cry, or explode and maybe get somebody killed.

I fell to my knees in a heap. I planted my hands onto the ground and tried to grab up as much earth as possible. In an instant, Paige had planted herself in front of me.

With tears streaming down my cheeks I asked her, “what the fuck am I?”

She took both of her hands, and placed them upon my cheeks. Using her thumbs she wiped away my tears. She leaned in closer and placed her forehead upon mine. “Lillian, I know this is so very difficult for you, and I have absolutely no idea what you are going through. I am so very sorry for your pain.”

“Jesus Christ lady, you sound like you’re writing in a sympathy card for a dead person.” I let it out in between sobs.

I took my hands from the earth, lifted them and wrapped them around her wrists. Her body was so close to mine, and I wanted nothing more than to be so close to her.

Doubt was flooding my mind, I was so scared. Time was running out. The time was coming and I would have to hurt another person. I had two days left. Two days. I felt as if I were already a beast, but come two days, I would be a monster. After that, I knew there would be no salvation for me. There was no justification for what I was going to have to do. It was going to be just me, another woman, our lives in the balance, and a bunch of rich douche bags betting on it.

I was falling to pieces, and Paige was close by trying to hold me together. Without words, she felt my thoughts beaming through to her. We were still locked. Her hands were upon my face, and my hands grasped upon her wrists.

It was a quick and swift movement upon her part. Her lips met mine so softly. I stood my position but she pulled back. My eyes never left her gaze. Brown, beautiful brown eyes. She moved in quickly, her lips pressed against mine, fiercer.

I received her with passion. I wanted her to know that I wanted her. Her lips, all over mine, her tongue, caressing mine. I took my hands and lowered them to her waist. I held her closely, and she pushed me to the ground getting in between my legs. Still kissing, her left hand firmly planted on to the earth, and her right one feeling the contours of my body.

I was lying upon the earth now, and Paige was on top of me. She rose, straddled me between her legs. She grabbed both of my hands and raised them above my head, slowly bending down to my face. I was taken aback by her beauty, and totally turned on by the fact that she wanted to be dominant. She leaned in closer, and placed a softer kiss upon my lips. She then kissed my four head.

I did not know what, but I saw something calculate into her head. She swiftly got up from me, and extended her hand to help me get up. I accepted it and she helped raise me to my feet.

“What’s wrong?” I said with concerned eyes.

Her complexion had changed from a plushy pink to a pale white. Her eyes would not meet mine, but she replied, “nothing, it’s nothing. It’s growing dark, we should go back.”

I was not a professional on the subject but, perhaps she was feeling a touch of Stockholm syndrome. The reverse type perhaps. I liked Paige, I really did. There was no doubt in my mind that I felt something for her to. What we just shared, would tear a hole in my heart forever, because I knew that it could never be real.

It was a slow trot back to the house. Both of us were silent the whole way. I always enjoyed how you could see the clouds at night. Their wonderful purplish hue always giving off their location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12.

It was a quick and Swift, rest of the evening. Paige and I stalled our horses and quietly walked up to the house and into the kitchen. It was just Paige, Clive, Barrett and I eating Thanksgiving dinner.

The turkey was flavorful and moist. It had a rich smoky flavor and it melted in my mouth. The green bean casserole was more than savory, and the garlic mashed potatoes were to die for.

Clive was guzzling down a beer. But Barrett, Barrett was dry. He had a big tall glass of milk in front of his plate and for that I was thankful. Thanksgiving dinner was quiet and filled with no conversation. I had no debate against that. I cleared my plate and waited patiently for my escort back into my dungeon. Paige was not even interested in me helping her with the dishes that night and for that I was disappointed.

Paige waved me off, and it was Clive who finally escorted me back. We left the bright warm confines of the kitchen and entered the dark cool brisk outside. Walking slowly, the lights from the house slowly faded away. I pulled my jacket close to my neck. I could feel the hairs on my back sticking up in full salute.

“I figured out what song I want you to play for me, Clive.” I said.

His excitement made him giddy. Clive bumped into me and I staggered a bit to my left. “Oh yeah, so what’s it gon to be Lill?”

I could not help but smile. To me, Clive was dumber than a bag of sand. He was the big brute that punched me and pulled me through my trucks window on the first fateful night that brought me here. I was beaten by him. But I guess I could not hate, because he was only acting on orders. It was all their spiel to make me into the ultimate monster. We came to the barn doors and stopped.

“So you do know that Paige gave me an MP3 player loaded with music, right?”

“Yeah.” He said.

“Any who.” I said. “There is a song that caught my ear that explains my current dilemma. It’s called Psychosexy by Sinisstar.”

“Ahhhhh.” He said as he raised his head and looked upon the stars. Smiling he looked back down on me. “I know that song well Lill, it’s a good one.”

“Okay!” I shot back. I gave him a good point with my right index finger. “So then you know how I want you to cut it, right?”

“I do.”

“You are not shitting me right?” I asked.

“No, no way. It’s a song, that song will set da mood. Everyone there will know you’re there for business.” He said. It was dark and I could barely see it, but Clive was smiling with a gleam.

It was a change of conversation, but he got the point in and I was done with the subject. “So what time am I to get up in the morning?”

“Ahhh, maybe an hour or two before the rooster’s crow.” He replied.

“At which time, we?”

He knew the answer to the sentence and cut me off before I could finish. “We will Lill, go into the interrogation room and teach you the rules of the floor.”

“Is there a lot to learn?” I asked.

“There is…” He said hesitantly. “Barrett figures you is a smart person.” It was a short but awkward silence and then finally once again Clive spoke. “Afterwards though, you do get to pick out you outfit.” It was another short brief silence, but Clive once again excitedly spoke. “Oh, don’t forget to think about yo name, yo battle persona name that is.”

Clive slid open the barn doors, and I knew it was a hint that our conversation had come to an end. Of course, I knew that Clive had been drinking and was without beer for some time. His taste buds were probably calling him and he needed another drink.

As I entered the barn, and walked up to Nellie’s stall. She was in the corner, but she quickly walked up to me. I gave her a quick nuzzle then joined Clive at the mouth my dungeon.

In the light, I could see his dark eyes, but yet they were bright. He seemed to find excitement out of all it. As he tossed open my flap, he could not help but smile. “We got good hopes for you, Lill. Good hopes indeed. I’ll be dare wit you Lill, and don’t worry, I’ll make you song up tonight. Everyone is going to fear da day they met you.”

I really did hate the sound of that. I never wanted anybody to fear the day that they ever met me. But in my current position, I had no bloody choice. The wooden steps creaked as I slowly descended them. The cold night’s air was piercing my skin with a thousand needles in every direction. My biggest hate was changing clothes in cold air. I turned on my lamp and sat upon my bed. I put my face into my hands and rubbed them up and down my head over my face trying to comfort myself. My breath was protruding from every exhale. I kept debating to myself whether I wanted wear pajamas, be comfortable, or sleep in my dirty clothes. I guessed it was no different, for my clothes were only washed once a week, and it was almost a week upon my pajamas.

With my clothes still on, I grabbed the MP3 player from the top of my drawer and whisked myself into my bed. I pulled the comforter over me, and the extra blankets that Paige had provided for me weeks before. I shook uncontrollably until warmth was established.

There was not one wink of sleep that I gained that night. I remembered so many times before, when I was younger, my family would go on camping trips. I was always so excited I could never meet sleep. There was a strange uncomfortableness that dwelled within in my bowels. My eyes remained wide open. And if I ever achieved sleep it was in very short increments.

I remembered those moments well. Short nights when I was sent to sleep, but the journey’s beginnings always led to an early uprising. Everything was packed, and my mom was always in there in the early morning, dressing my sister and me, getting us ready for the adventures ahead. It was a sweet excitement back then, but now, now it was just a straight fear. I was alone; I had no mother to guide me. I lay there, listening to my music, trying to grasp upon something. There was nothing. I had to muster all my strength. I had to go through it alone. I pulled the covers close to my chin and clinched them there.

I tossed and turned all night. I did not think I got one wink of sleep, but I had to try. The end result was pulling myself out of bed getting my clothes on and sitting on the bed waiting. I was waiting for that flap to open and for me to be summoned to my impending doom. Upon sitting, at no point in time did my legs ever stop shaking. My eyes became red, heavy and fiery. My mind was a clutter of thoughts. I tried so very hard to expel the bad, but they did nothing but dwell on my mind. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. The butterflies were on a rampage in my stomach. It was possible sleep came to me a few times in my zombie state. It was possible for me to achieve sleep in the sitting state. I had done it before. But this, this was terrifying. The jumbled mess alone in my stomach would not quit. Finally, while I was in a trance that was flooded by terrifying thoughts and dreams, I heard the barn doors above me slide open.

I stood with my hands by my sides. Like a soldier at attention, I waited for instruction.

It was still dark outside and the barn lights were suddenly switched on. The brightness from the barn lights were seeping their way through the planks of my dungeon top. The flap was unlocked and before anyone emerged I heard a deep rusty voice.

“Are you decent kid?”

It was Barrett’s voice. My face cringed at the sound of it. I was hoping it was Paige coming down to get me. I so desperately wanted to talk to her about our brief moment. “Yes.” I plainly said.

“Good.” He said. He continued to descend into the depths of the dungeon. As he laid eyes upon me, his facial expression told me he was somewhat pleased to see that I was already ready to go.

“Is there anything I need to bring?” I asked.

Barrett shook his head. His face was almost clear, arm still in a sling. “Naw, just bring your body kid. We are gonna go and discuss the rules of the fight right now. We have a long ride ahead of us, so if you’re hungry, we will pick up something on the way.”

I nodded. Without being chained, without my head being bagged, I smiled and followed Barrett out of my dungeon. It was a crisp, brisk morning. The sun still had not peaked over the horizon. It was still completely black out. I could only assume that the time could’ve been either three or four in the morning. Trust at some point must have been established because I walking behind Barrett instead of him behind me with a gun pointed at my back.

We entered the kitchen and it smelled of coffee. My mouth watered for a hot steamy cup. The TV was running and early morning news was on. The house seemed quiet and empty. I wondered where Paige was at. Hopefully, she would be in the interrogation room. Hopefully.

To my dismay, she was not there. As Barrett opened the steel door to the room, Clive was the only one that resided in a chair. I, knowing my place, sat down in the chair that I had sat in many months before. It was much more relaxed than I had been. I was not chained, nor did I enter the room with a bag covering my head. Clive looking giddy as a schoolboy, Barrett sat down in a calm manner.

More relaxed on my part this time, I sat back in my chair. The room was still cold and I could feel the hairs upon my arms prick up. Silence was a menacing fellow and I could hear the deep breaths that everyone was taking.

Barrett leaned forward in his chair and placed his one good elbow upon the steel table. “So let’s begin with the rules kid.” It looked like he had not shaved in days. It looked like he had not slept either. His eyes were bloodshot and they looked like bloody Mary drinks. “There will be six men with assault rifles on the floor. All of them are prepared to kill you if they need to.”

I swallowed hard. My heart began to pound, but I told myself there was no reason to panic, or was there?

Barrett’s facial expression never changing, he continued on. “These fights are placed in buildings. Buildings that look old, decrepit and abandoned, but are not. They are owned. They have been specifically remodeled for this and this alone.”

I could only imagine in my head what he was saying. I could imagine an old warehouse that was rusted out and gutted. I could imagine in my head, the rich people standing in the makeshift bleachers raising their drinks and shouting for their betted women to win. It made my stomach turn, it really did. In the back of my mind was the six men holding assault rifles. My life, at this point, depended on the very words that emerged from Barrett’s mouth. I decided to put my smartass remarks aside and listen.

“Your main goal is to maim, not kill, do you understand?” Barrett’s face was Stern.

Without glancing at Clive, I saw him in my peripheral view. His face was solid as rock to. He was always the goofy, dumber than a bag of sand guy, but in this moment he was serious. I just nodded.

“You will be provided with weaponry.” Barrett reached into his pocket of his overalls and pulled out two knives, placing them upon the table.

They both lay there and I immediately recognized them. One was the vintage switchblade that my father had given to me before he died, and the other was a Spyderco knife called the Merlin my friends had bought me for my birthday. My two cherished knives. The two knives that I always carried with me.

I was always asked by people why I carried two knives. My answer was simple. One to open boxes and the other to stab people with. It was my father’s switchblade, of course that I would use to stab people with. The Merlin however, its arched serrated blade made it very easy to cut open boxes. I used the two knives as a deterrent. I never thought that I would actually have to use them. I out reached my hand and tried to retrieve them, but Barrett quickly pulled them back and pocketed them.

Barrett continued on. “The killing floor, as they call it, is about half the size of a basketball court. Your theme music will play of course, and you’ll walk onto the floor. We will be on the sidelines, rooting you on. But, there will be no breaks, or timeouts. It will be all you.” Barrett leaned back in his chair. It seemed that his good arm was getting tired doing all of the work. “At which point, the announcer will yell, “fight on!” You will then proceed to your opponent.” Barret took a moment before finishing. “Prior to entering the floor, you will have been armed with your two knives. The other women you fight, will be armed as well. I cannot tell you what they will have, but you must be observant and be prepared.”

I was silent. I kept my mouth shut. I took my gaze from Barrett and glanced at Clive. The blur from the yellowed fluorescent lights made him look as if he was wrapped in plastic. He was motionless and silent as well.

“Like I said, there will be six gunmen. Three of which, will be placed on the floor. The other three, will be placed higher up so they can get a better view.… A shot that is. This comes into serious play when you think you need to pull those knives.” Barrett still leaned back in his chair arm across his lap. “Put on a good show kid. Give all those rich bastards the time of their lives. Give all those rich bastards their fucking money’s worth.”

He stood up from his chair abruptly. He leaned in close. He set his dark brown eyes ablaze onto my subtle green ones. I did not like him, but I knew every word that he spoke were the only words that would keep me alive. I would let nothing that he said escape my mind. I didn’t want to die, nor did I want my mother to die either.

It was a cool drift that lay its dirty hands upon my back. I felt the cold shivers of death rattle my soul. I sat up quickly and tried to shake off the fear. My hands clasped together and there was no way to keep the clamminess at bay.

“There is no set time limit on the fight.” Barrett said.

“When do I use the knives?” I asked.

“Use your better judgment.” He said. “At that point. If you should ever get to it. If you ever feel that life is depleting from you, pull your knives out and use them. You have two, so whichever one fits your situation best, use it.” Barrett took a deep breath and exhaled. “This isn’t a game kid. Lives are at stake here. Pull your weapon out to early, and you are liable to get shot.”

I had come so far at this point. I had overcome experimental procedures, I had overcome running and training. I had overcome brutality and great depression. Even through all the madness, I still could not comprehend the insanity that was to come. I could only envision myself on the killing floor, with another woman, trying to keep myself alive and maybe extinguishing another life. My heart was filled with disgust. My whole life had led up to this. This was just sadness.

“I guess, you could follow two simple rules. Stay alive as long as possible and only kill if you have to.” Barrett said. “There will be two judges watching you. And if at any point they find you are not worthy, or find that you are killing without reason, you will be shot to death. Do you understand?”

I had no words. I just nodded. The rules were simple. Get in a fight, make it a good fight, at any point you feel your life is in jeopardy, whip out your specialized weapon. Mame the person that is trying to kill you. If maiming doesn’t work and you feel as if you’re dying, then killing the other person will be necessary. I just nodded.

Barrett just smiled back and said. “Good. Now, let’s load up and get the fuck out of here!”

Clive and Barrett were out in an instant. We all left the florescent luminance glow of the steel table room. Barrett left first, then I, then Clive in tow. We walked upstairs and exited through the kitchen. Around the house I followed them to a small moving truck that was sitting out in front of the house. Paige was nowhere in sight. My heart sank low.

Barrett walked to the front of the truck and got in on the driver side. Clive opened the backdoor to the moving truck. He motioned for me to get in.

I looked at him, eyebrows cocked. “Seriously?” I asked.

Waving his arm for me to get in, he said. “Seriously. We gonna make stops, but we can’t let you out. You gotta chair and there’s a shitter in their for ya. Remember Lill.” He said. “You don’t exist. Just chill out, we’ll get there soon as possible.”

I let a few chuckles. The moving truck was small, but big inside. As I climbed up into the back of the truck, I walked up to the chair. It was bolted to the floor. Right next to the chair, was what I assumed to be the toilet? It was also bolted. I lifted up the flap and noticed there was a small cut hole the size of a grapefruit leading out through the floor of the truck. I shook my head and started to laugh. Clive was having a laugh with me as well. Smiling I looked at him. “This is pretty fucking hilarious.”

Still laughing, Clive added, “yeah so, if you could please just do your business while the truck is on the move.”

“Oh, it’s like that?”

Nodding he said, “yeah, it’s like that Lill.”

I turned from the right side of the truck and looked to the left. There was a lone trunk sitting on the left side. I lifted my left arm and pointed at the trunk with my thumb. “What the hell’s in there?”

Clive immediately got excited. It seemed as if he was hesitating at the door, only to wait for me to ask the question. “That, that there be your plethora o’ outfits. Take a look through it. There be a lot of stuff in there. Pick out an outfit for you fight.”

I scratched my head and I smiled. “Thanks Clive.”

“It’s gonna be a while before we get to where we gotta go. You got some stuff underneath your chair to keep you occupied.” As Clive slowly started closing the door to the small moving truck, he added, “oh, and Lill, don’t forget to think of a name.”

The door was closed blocking out the last of the days growing light. I didn’t know if I’d ever see the light of day again, or if I’d ever see another day.

The ride was a bumpy one. I sat in the chair for the most part of the trip. To my pleasant surprise, there was my MP3 player which was lying underneath my chair. Thankfully, there was also a gallon of water that resided underneath it as well. I sat in the chair, finding it to be extremely uncomfortable. Throughout the majority of the trip, negotiating the intense bumpiness, anticipating the quick stops and trying so very hard not to lose the breakfast that I did not eat, I passed the time by staring into nothingness and listening to music. All the while I kept glancing to my right over my shoulder at my so-called toilet. I had been holding myself for a while. I wouldn’t reduce myself to peeing through a hole in a truck.

The pain finally became unbearable. My bladder was incredibly full. With the truck in motion, I undid my belt to my pants, slowly rose from my chair and carefully negotiated myself over to the makeshift toilet. I opened the lid and stared through the grapefruit sized hole. I watched as the semi-snow-covered road rushed by like a raging asphalt River. With the truck still in motion, I pulled down my pants and sat on the potty.

It was an intense relief and if it were not for the terrible loud noise the truck was making, you could almost hear a bomb releasing from my butt. I let out a great gasp of relief and satisfaction. After all was shit and done, I was satisfied. I looked around for toilet paper. Looking to the left and then looking to the right, I saw none insight. Out of everything I’d been through, it was the stupidest thing to panic about, but yes, I was panicking about no ass paper. I would not leave the seat. When the truck stopped, those doors would open and I would still be sitting on the potty. I reached my arms back behind the toilet and with great relief my left hand caught the feel of a roll.

Wiping myself thoroughly, I dropped the used paper waste through the small grapefruit hole. I did feel terrible about littering, but what other choice did I have. I suppose I could have left the paper waste in the truck, but I felt that smelling my shit the rest of the way would not improve my mood.

Keeping the chill away, I pulled up my pants quickly. We must’ve been on the road for hours, but the climate never changed. The back of the truck was not climate controlled. There was no heat. I stood up and tried to gain my balance. I got back to my chair before there was a stop or turn.

I decided I was done with music. I sat in my chair with my elbows upon my knees. I sat there with my face rested upon the palms of my hands. Periodically I would raise my head and look at the trunk. I figured at this point it was time to find my outfit, so curiosity killed the cat. I lifted myself out of my chair and maneuvered my way to the trunk. I pulled open the top to see what the contents inside withheld.

There was leather pants, white and black tank tops. There was a black leather cowboy hat. There was a leather biker’s jacket. There was stretch pants and workout tops. Nothing that fitted my taste at all. I continued to dig, until I found in the corner something familiar. They were blue jean pants, a regular charcoal colored T-shirt with an outline of the Firebird. I pulled out the T-shirt and looked at it smiling. It was the shirt that I wore the night that I was kidnapped. The blue jeans were mine as well. I peeled off my navy blue collared shirt and replaced it with my Firebird shirt. I tossed off my new balance shoes and took off my black workout sweats that Paige had bought me. I replace them with my blue jeans. I always bought in the men’s section, because they fitted me. They fitted me well. Wearing my Firebird shirt and my blue jeans, I continued to search through the trunk. In the other corner I found a pair of boots. I pulled them out. They were my boots. My high top steel toed Doc Martens. I was so happy to have them, I put them on as well. I continued to search. I came across a black hoodie jacket with a fleece lining. I examined it. It was not my hoodie jacket that I was kidnapped with, but it would do. I was almost complete, but I needed something else. An accessory of sorts.

Near the bottom of the trunk, I found a 7 inch, three buckled leather cuff, black. Without hesitation I put it on. It looked good and I wanted another. I crossed my fingers that there was another and I dove back into the trunk trying to find its other half. Success! My hand grasped another cuff. I pulled it out and buckled it upon my right arm. I took my hoodie from the ground and put it on. I zipped it up and pulled the hood over my head. With excitement and even with the truck still moving, I tried to pull off some moves and see how well and movable my outfit would be. Everything was movable and breathable. With great satisfaction, I sat back down my chair and waited for our destination to come. Why was I so excited about dressing to become a killer? I pulled off my jacket and tried to use it as a pillow.

I found sleep at some point, but once again it was not easy. I had not been fed breakfast and my stomach was grumbling. I drank much water trying to compensate for the emptiness, but once again it would not suffice. The sounds of the truck lay within my dreams. The symbol of the Firebird was floating throughout them. The Screaming Chicken, as they use to call it. I would find the black leather cuffs that embraced my arms, turn into black wings of the Angel of death and carry me away into certain blackness. I was almost sure it was hell. I was almost certain of all that thou shall not’s. Thou shalt not kill was what I was going to commit. My fingers had turned to knives. All 10 of them. The struggling life that was entwined within in my arms was abruptly stabbed in the throat by my finger knives. It was a waterfall of blood that came gushing out. Sleep no more; I pulled out of my dream with staggering breaths and painful doubts in the back of my mind.

With no eating and no sleep, the truck finally came to a complete stop and shut off. I sat in my chair ruggedly beaten by the bumps of the road. With the lack of food, I had no energy. My body was limp and my head lay back against the top of the chair. I could hear voices. I heard the voices of Barrett and Clive as they exited the truck. I made no attempt to move from my chair. I was hungry, weak and tired. I only embraced the silence of the truck. There were no more vibrations and there was no more noise. With my right leg firmly planted upon the ground and my left leg residing upon it. My right arm was hanging off the side of the chairs armrest and my left arm lying upon it. With no vibration I tried to close my eyes.

There was no time to sleep, for the backdoor of the truck opened. I turned my head to see glaring light. Clive was there. I did not move. Clive had a bag in his hand, a paper bag. With the bag in hand, he hoisted himself up into the back of the truck. I still did not move. He walked up to me and threw the bag into my lap.

“Eat dis Lill.”

I pulled myself from the hunger trance and opened the bag. It was a whopper from Burger King and a side of fries. I ripped the burger from its wrapping and inhaled it instantly. After the burger was gone, I removed the fries from their sorry lives. After all the food disappeared, I pulled out my gallon of water and began to chug. Clive the whole time didn’t move, he just watched me.

With what little light there was, Clive looked at me up and down. He saw that I had changed my clothes. He saw my boots, my pants, my black leather cuffs, and the Firebird that embraced my shirt. He nodded and smiled. “I see you got your outfit Lill. Now I look forward to seeing you whoopin some ass.” He outstretched both his arms and pointed them toward the open truck door. “Let’s go Lill. We got little time to prepare for dis. Let’s go.”

I sat up from my seat. I was woozy and wobbly from the ride. I rose slowly only to find the cold wind rushing in and nipping at my skin. I picked up my black hoodie jacket and I wrapped myself in it and zipped it up quickly. Clive had already jumped out of the back of the truck and I followed slowly. Standing at the edge of the truck I stared at the bottom. It looked to be only a 4 foot drop, but I didn’t feel like jumping. I sat on my butt and slowly slithered out like a slug.

It was dark and cold and the cold wind violated me in so many ways. It was nothing but pure black outside. The grass was crunching beneath my boots, caused by a light dusting of snow that had rested a few nights before. I put my hands inside my jacket pockets for some little relief. Barrett was nowhere in sight. The truck was parked by a dwelling which only could be explained as a barn. A brightly red painted barn. There were no windows and there were no doors that I could see.

Clive opened two wooden doors that were planted at the base of the barn. He motioned for me to go in. I walked slowly up to the doors edge and saw that there was a staircase leading downwards. Great, I thought to myself. Another staircase leading downward. I slowly wobbled down.

The walls were wood and painted red like the barn. The ground as well as the stairs, were made of cement. As we reached the bottom, I could see a range of corridors. It seemed as if I was in an underground maze. I knew Clive had been here before and I waited for his direction.

The underground corridors seemed vast. I followed Clive left, then right, and then left again, until we reached a steel door. Like a gentleman he opened it for me and I entered.

I couldn’t tell how big the room was. The floors were cement, except for the corner which housed the shower and it was tiled. My body watered at the sight of the shower. It had been over a year since I took an actual shower. I remembered the exact last time I took a shower. I could vaguely remember how the tiny droplets felt as they were smoothing over my skin. I remembered how a hot shower felt after a long days yard work. I was overcome by a sensation to peel off my clothes and run over to the shower and sit in it for hours. The sensation however faded away. I had to concentrate toward the tasks at hand.

The sides of the room, were lined with bleachers. Leaning up against the walls, there was a portion of the room which had three long-standing lockers. In one corner there was a punching bag, with free weights. I slowly walked into the middle and looked at Clive. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up straight. The food that I had just consumed quickly was unnerving my stomach. I was nauseous and felt at any time I would lose it. I looked around the room for the toilet, but there was none. I figured if I was going to vomit, I would have to vomit in the shower. At least I could run it and wash down the chunks.

Clive stood there and watched me as I panicked for a bit. He stood there with his full beard, his dark blue beanie warming is head, and his dumbfounded look startled by my panicked behavior. “I gotta go find Barrett.”

I continued to twirl. I continued to lose my mind. I continued to walk about the stone cold bleak area. As time was running out and the time was nearing, my mind was mush. Every breath I took was a breath closer to insanity. The words that Clive spoke were just a whispering echo that invaded time and space. The world was spinning and I had a grasp upon nothing. Breathing became heavy, I became desperate. I released myself. I looked to the ceiling and let out an overwhelming scream.

He was quick about it. Clive came out of nowhere, wrapped his arm around me and placed his hand over my mouth. “Shhhhhhh……. take it easy Lill, take it easy. This is stressful, I know. You cannot lose it now.” Clive removed his hand from my mouth and slowly backed away. “I got to go find Barrett. We go to get you set up. We’ll be back in a while. In the meantime Lill, you gotta get warmed up. Get mad, get angry, but don’t be scared. You don’t win dis fight, you gonna get yourself killed.”

No words emerged from my mouth. I stood there motionless, scared. Like a stealth jet, Clive left the room. I was alone. I had the only warning warm-up, don’t be scared. How could I not be scared? Impeding death was upon me.

I raised my fists. I protected my face. In a fighting maneuvering stance, I pranced over to the punching bag and began to punch. I let my anger pour out through my fists. I let my hate for everything explode in every hit I landed. My mind was blackened, my soul was empty. I threw punch after punch and regretted nothing. After my fists were bloodied and raw, I began to run about the room. I ran around, stopped did push-ups, did sit-ups. With both legs, I kicked myself back up into the vertical position and continued to run. I did this until the door opened once again and Barrett and Clive emerged from the door.

Both Clive and Barrett sat upon the benches provided by the room. I stopped, walked and stood in front of them. Arms clasped behind my back. Every word that they would speak would be vital to my survival. I shut my mouth and kept my ears open.

It was Barrett that first broke words. “Eight girls. Eight girls are in this bracket. You have a total of two fights before you get to the main fight.” He shook his head and laid it low. “Apparently the stakes are higher this kid. Eight women. In this faction, on this side of planet Earth, you must overcome these obstacles. Do you understand?”

I said nothing, I just nodded.

“Good.” He said. “I know we went over the rules with you a little bit, but I must go more in depth. As you know, you will be provided with weapons. At no time in any point of this fight, will you just bust them out and use them. Do you understand?”

I nodded once again.

“This is a finicky game. There are millionaires, and billionaires that occupy those bleachers. Their betting stakes are high. You have to put on a good show. You have to show them that they put in their money’s worth.” Barrett raised his good hand and wiped the sweat from his brow. “Bottom line kid, the judge’s control the floor. The six gunmen are watching the floor. If you strike too quickly, if you try to kill too quickly, they will put you down. You will get a warning shot that will be put in your direction. After that, they go for blood. Do you understand?”

“Yes.” I said.

“This isn’t a game. We play for blood and we play for money. If you lose, either way with your life or without, you will have enemies. If you win, you will still have enemies.” Barrett said it was such concern. It was the most concern that he had showed for me since we first met. I should’ve been flattered, but I still hated his guts. “Bottom line kid, you need to watch your back. Not one person here is an angel. They all take pleasure in seeing people hurt. Life is buyable. Life means nothing to them. All they care about is the dollar signs in their bank account. Do you understand?”

I couldn’t think of anything to say. But then quickly, something came to mind. “Do you care about life Barrett?”

It seemed as if I had caught him off guard. He glanced at me quickly, took a deep breath and then placed his eyes upon the ground. “My faith has been questioned many times throughout this process. I have loved and I have lost. But yes, believe it or not kid, I still do value life. If it were not for my past delinquent actions, I would not be here today. I would not have met you, I would not have to deal with that big ass mouth of yours.” Releasing the rest of his breath, I saw a smile emerge from his face.

The thought was on my mind ever since I had left the barn. I continued to wonder of the whereabouts of Paige. It was on the tip of my tongue, I wanted so very badly to ask Barrett where she was. I didn’t think I could go any further without her support. It was she who was my rock through this whole thing. It was her who kept me going. I felt as if Barrett was aware of my so-called ever-growing crush on Paige. I decided not to ask him. I did not want to put him over the edge. I felt I could not manage an ass beating before my ass beating and impeding death.

My back was to the door, but I heard it open. With hopeful thoughts that it was Paige, I was so dreadfully let down at the sight of younger man poking his head through the crack of the door. “10 minutes you guys.” Was all he said. The door quietly closed. I was left in the room with Clive and Barrett and my nerves, falling to pieces.

Barrett looked at Clive and then he looked at me. “Well I suppose we should go. Did you get warmed up kid?”

I nodded. I was left with nothing. No smartass remarks could prepare me for what I was about to do. Clive told me not to be scared. I was scared. The tips of my fingers began to tingle. The nausea from the greasy hamburger began to rise in my bowels. I didn’t think it was a very good time to ask if I could go to the bathroom. I was hit by a sudden flash of anxiety. I rushed over to the floors of the shower. I fell to my knees and relieved myself of all my anguish and fear.

The shower floor was now covered with regurgitated Burger King. I slowly rose. Clive and Barrett’s eyes both lay upon me. Clive was nice enough to bring the water and from the truck. I walked over to the empty bench that it was lying upon, picked it up and took a swig. I swished the water throughout my mouth cleansing it from the vomit. I didn’t bother with putting it anywhere proper. I just spat on the floor. I kept hearing Clive’s voice over and over again in my head. Don’t be scared, don’t be scared. I put down the gallon jug of water. I looked up at Clive and Barrett. To relieve myself of fear, I had to be a smartass.

Clive and Barrett looked to be on pins and needles observing my very erratic and nervous behavior. I was pretty sure they thought the outcome of my fight would be somewhat catastrophic. With a cool and somber face, I raised my right arm with my index finger extended. I began to make a circular motion with my hand. Smiling I said, “let’s do this shit.”

Clive opened the door. Before I exited, I grabbed my black hoodie jacket. I put it on and tossed the hood over my head. Clive and I were walking side-by-side down the bland gray cement corridors. Barrett quietly following behind.

This was it. A year of horrors. A year of hard training. A year of surgical procedures and dealing with implants within my body. I saw my mother’s face flash within my memory. I was doing this for her, I kept telling myself. I hoped the woman that I would fight would show me mercy, as I would show her. Or at least try.

We finally came to the end of the lengthy corridors. We came to the foot of stairs leading upward. I could hear the roaring crowd above me. The chills crawled up my spine and sweat protruded from my forehead. We slowly walked up the stairs and entered the killing floor.

The view was intense. The killing floor was about half the size of a basketball court. It was guarded by a chain-link fence that inhabited six men. Four men standing on platforms on each corner of the fence and two men in the middle. All of which carried high-powered rifles. The judge’s podium consisted of a table outside the left side of the fence, with four men sitting at it. Apparently, these men would approve if death was applicable. Then there was the crowd. My mouth fully dropped open, I was staring at everyone who was involved in this terrible ordeal. Men were in their business suits, women wearing their expensive fur coats. Men were smoking cigars and drinking beer, or cups of brandy or whichever expensive liquor was available. The women would smoke cigarettes with their expensive filters, drinking from exquisite glasses filled with wine.

Disgusted I shook my head and relieved myself of breath. Barrett was talking with the man who had peaked himself through the door and informed us it was time to go. I still stood there with my mouth open, motionless.

Clive came up to me and put his arm around my shoulder. He whispered loudly into my ear. “Here’s your knives Lill.” He began to take a few steps back, but then walked closer to me. Because it was loud, Clive got right up into my face. “Shit, Lillian, what the Fuck I got to call yourself?”

I had to come up with something quickly. Only one name could come to mind. It was a nickname that my boss had given me years ago. I always carried knives with me everywhere I went. Every time my boss asked me for something to cut with, I gave him my switchblade. After that, he called me the Switchblade Mama. That was my nickname he gave me. That was the name I gave Clive. I was going to be the Switchblade Mama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13.

Smiling like a happy child, Clive disappeared into a crowd of people. I stood there by myself. I stood there with my black hoodie jacket on, my hood over my head and my hands in my pockets. I prayed under my breath. I was not a religious woman, but I prayed.

The mood was insane. Besides the people in the bleachers, there were people on the sides, there were people behind me and there were people everywhere.

I took my right hand from my hoodie pocket. I slid it down until it touched my knives. I felt both of them there, I caressed them. I wondered how many people’s throat I could slit before I was shot down by the gunmen. My hands still upon my knives, the lights in the gutted out barn built for fighting and death shut off quickly. Spotlights turned on, highlighting the bloodstained killing floor. The crowd became quiet. The loose menacing people left and went to their seats. It was time. It was finally time for me to put my skills to the test. With the crowd’s disappearance, Clive and Barrett finally emerged. Both of them were by my side. We were finally waiting. I was waiting. I took a deep, deep breath and exhaled. The announcer finally began to speak.

It was an odd static sound that I tried to grasp. Right hand relieved from my knives, I placed my hands into the pockets of my hoodie and pushed them down. The world became a deafening and dulling place. I took my right hand and brushed it through my poufy shorthair. Both Clive and Barrett pushed me toward the doors of the chain-link fence. I listened to the announcer as he called out.

“And in this corner, weighing 230 pounds, 5 foot eight, I give you, the beautiful, Big Bertha!” As she walked out, the parody of Michael Jackson’s Bad, which was weird Al Yankovic’s I’m Fat was playing in the background. Bertha was very good about keeping her step with the beat.

She was big indeed. And the crowd’s roaring cheer seemed even bigger. Bertha had short curly red hair and a freckled beaten face. The sheer height of her sent fear down my spine. I swallowed hard as I watched her slowly enter the floor. The crowd was on fire. She lifted her fists to her face and began to punch the air. She was there to beat my ass and nothing more.

I swallowed my fear like it was the biggest pill I ever took. The song I picked out began to play. It played exactly where I told Clive to cut and edit it. I knew that was my cue. With my hands still in my pockets and my hoodie over my head, the boys at the gate of the chain-link fence slowly opened the doors and I casually walked in with my mouth open and in awe.

I heard the announcer as he screamed out the words, “And in this corner weighing in at 120 pounds, a tiny 5 foot two, we have the Switchblade Mama.”

The crowd roared like rabid dogs. The sound was piercing to my ears. My mind was crowded with fear and lacking strategy. As I entered the killing floor, I stubbed my foot causing myself to almost trip. The crowd flaring with laughter. Great, I thought to myself. It was definitely a good way to show off my macho side.

Big Bertha towered over me like the Empire State building. As I eyeballed her I felt the fear. I removed my jacket and tossed it on the killing floor. I revealed my slender but cut arms. I placed myself in a battle position and admired the leather cuffs that embraced my wrists. I tried to ready myself for the fight. Bertha was big and covering me in her shadow. I took one last look behind me, at Clive and Barrett, hoping that I would see Paige, but she was not there. I swallowed my disappointments, and pointed my necessary anger at Bertha. Holding everything, I held and waited. When the announcer finally said “fight,” I bolted for Bertha.

It was a massacre as soon as I met her arm’s length. Bertha connected her right fist with the left side of my face and put me down in an instant. I tumbled down like a sack of potatoes. It was expected, but unexpected. I was on the ground and I pushed myself up with my arms, but she was there in an instant. She wrapped both of her hands around my face and lifted me up off the ground like a ragdoll. She had strength and she was crushing my head.

I had no other choice. With the pressure of her strength squeezing my head like an orange, I maneuvered my hands and placed my thumbs over her eyes. I had seen it done many times before in movies. My thumbs depressed themselves into her eye sockets. Bertha let out a loud bellow and dropped me upon the killing floor.

I was small and she was big. As I lay with my back to the floor, Bertha standing proud and dominant over me, I threw a low blow and laid a punch directly to her crotch. It hit her right on the button. Just as I wished, the blow had landed on her clit. Falling to the ground and grasping her crotch, Bertha became disoriented. I was on her like a virus. With Bertha on the ground, I straddled her. Fiercely punching with my iron fists, I landed as many blows as I could to her face. Bertha, with one hand grabbed my fist in midair and pulled it away. With her other hand, she cupped my face with her palm. I felt her nails digging into my skin. I felt her nails pulling off my skin. Her nails dug into my skin from the top left of my forehead, digging into my eye and passing my nose. I felt the pain as her nails slithered downward. Stopping my fighting combination, she threw me off with no hesitation. My face was covered in blood. My left eye was blind.

I became pissed. I could no longer see out of my left eye. I couldn’t tell if it was just from the blood, or if she completely removed it. Either way, I had enough of the bull shit. I rose up and took my stance. Both fists up and ready. Bertha charged and shot out and I dodged. Bertha shot again and I connected it and met my fist with hers. I heard cracking noises, and she let out a loud screech. I knew I had broken her fist. Dismantled, Bertha continued with the assault.

I had implants, I had the power. My left eye was out of commission, but I knew I still had a fight. Bertha was cradling her fist that I had damaged. She did not think that my 5 foot 2 stature could do any harm her. She stood there in the defense position. I smiled. I backed up from her. I gave myself plenty of space. I let myself beseech a mighty roar and I lunged myself after her. I took a great leap and grappled myself upon her upper body. My hands wrapped themselves behind the back of her head. I looked her directly into her eyes and I bashed my head into hers over and over again. She wailed trying to throw me off, but to no avail, she finally succumbed to my beatings. My head was bloodied from the bashing. Bertha finally fell to her knees. In the midst of the crowds holler, I heard a whistle blow. I knew it was cue for me to back off. Satisfied that I did not have to use my knives, I released my deathlike grip from Bertha’s neck. I slowly raised myself and walked away from her. Bertha stood on her knees. She stood like a halfway cut tree, trembling in the wind ready to fall over. I could feel the assault rifles upon me. With my hands up in the surrender position, I slowly walked up to Bertha. I raised my hand and placed it upon her forehead. I pushed her to the ground.

I wasn’t too far off. I felt lightheaded. I could see nothing but the blaring lights blinding my eyes. I could hear nothing but screaming people and cheers. I raised my hands and did a full circle. I could take no more. I fell to my knees and laid next to Big Bertha.

Bertha was out commission, and being so tired and wounded, I laid beside her and whispered into her ear. “What is your real name?”

With a soft struggling voice she replied. “Sarah Waters. And thank you for not killing me.”

Why would she thank me? Had she seen terrible things? Had she seen fights were people showed no mercy and just killed? I hoped that I would never have to deal with that. I knew though, that the time would come.

I was gone. I was wasted. I heard the announcer say, the Switchblade Mama, but I was faded. I was tore up and beaten. I lay by the brutal and defeated Bertha. My eyes so close to her blue. I was out of it, and like a dream, I drifted away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14.

Bright lights and a multitude of hands holding me. Bright white lights. Voices, men’s voices. Flowing red blood, and eternal pain. Consciousness at that point was out of the question. My mind was mush. All I could see in my head, was Bertha’s face smashing into mine over and over again. Her claws, digging into my face.

I had broken whichever commandment it was by hurting someone else. I fell into an endless sea of darkness. The sea of darkness had turned into a fiery river. My soul was on fire. By keeping those that I loved alive, I had to hurt another and another and so on until blood stained my soul forever. Asmodeaus himself would greet me into the nine hells. There was now a mark upon my soul in which I could never remove. I faded away into a greater darkness. Reluctantly, again sleep, but not much. I was plagued by blood, I was blinded by evil lights. My soul was tainted, my dreams forever haunted.

I awoke quickly to a bright white ceiling. As I slowly blinked, only one eye was with me. I slowly reached my sore left arm and slid my hand down the left side of my face. There were bandages and gauze covering my left eye. I slowly lifted my head and found myself lying in a big luxurious bed.

The big California king size bed had five big fluffy pillows. Two of which were propped underneath me. I was surrounded by a big brown and white lush comforter. Underneath me, my bum was blessed with silk sheets. “Holy shit!” I said to myself as a looked around and marveled at the sheer size of the bed.

I looked about the room. It was big and it was bright. The bed sheets were spotted with my blood. I could see the outside. The whole wall leading to the outside was made of glass. Outside the glass was a patio balcony and beyond that was a beach and beyond that I could see the ocean. I lifted myself from the bed, turned my legs and let them hang off the sides. The bed was so tall my feet would not even touch the floor.

My head pounded. I became nauseous and I let out a great moan. With my feet hanging off the side of the bed, I laid myself back down. The headache and nausea were too severe. From the corner of my eye, I could see somebody rising from the heap of blankets that lay in the chair that sat in the corner of the room.

As I lay on the side of the bed, Paige came into view. I saw her immediately and smiled. “A little help please?”

I saw a small smile sweep across her face and then it disappeared. “Jesus Christ Lill, what the fuck?”

I couldn’t tell if it was a question or a statement. The whole time I was lost without her. The whole time I was waiting for her to come. Seeing her by my side would have been a great help while I was on the killing floor. But she was not there. And thus, that was my, what the fuck? “What do you mean what the fuck? Where were you last night?” I stopped for a bit. I wondered if it was really last night. “Was it really last night?” I asked her still lying somewhat paralyzed on the bed from my severe headache.

“Yes, it was last night.” She said.

Motionless, I looked into her eyes and she into mine. “I really, really wanted to see you.”

She moved in closer and sat on the bed next me. “I was there Lill, I was there. By the time I got there, you’re already on the ground and gone. I was with you the whole time after that, I never left your side.”

“Where the Fuck were you?” I asked, woozily.

“I had to come here. I had to make sure the place was stocked, had food. Is what I usually do when we come out here. “She said.

Still lying down, I glanced around the room once again. “Where the Fuck is here?” I asked.

“This, my dear friend, is Paul Bishop’s beach summerhouse.” She said.

“Ahh,” I said. “That would explain the ocean out the window. I almost thought I had died gone to heaven.”

Still lying on the bed, I lifted my head once again. Close to the bed there was a door. The wall with the door ended and the other side of the wall reached out to another wall which had a door. I lay my head back down upon the bed and pondered for a moment. Then, I turned my head to the right and looked at Paige. “There are two doors in this room. Well, technically three if you add the sliding glass door that leads out to the patio.”

“Yes…” She replied.

“So, one of these doors has to lead to a bathroom. Am I correct?”

Page smiled and then turned and looked at me. “Yes Lill, one does lead to the bathroom.”

I closed my eyes and gave off a cheesy smile. “Yessssss!”

“What are you getting at, Lill?”

“Well, seeing how it has been well over a year since I’ve had a proper shower and I have dirt and grunge in places I did not think dirt and grunge could dwell, would it be possible that I could take a shower?” I couldn’t see how she could deny me that one simple pleasure.

“I’ll tell you what Lill, let me pull that bandage off your face, clean the cut and I’ll let you get in the shower. You have a whole week to recuperate until the next fight, if you want to stay in that shower for a whole week, so be it.”

Just then, she reminded me of my blindness. “Yeah, so what is the status of my eye?”

“You’re lucky she did not rip your eyeball out. I tell you that you will have a very good scar from now on. And you’re eye, well, she scratched your cornea, but you will be able to see again after a few days. It will take time to heal. Dr. Cole was here and he did his very best. There are some sutures in it that will need to be removed later, but for now I’m pretty sure they will sustain in the shower. While you were out, he gave you your weekly injection of the cocktail.”

It took me some time to get up. Paige gave me aspirins. I slowly rose, but the pain was still a jackhammer in my head. I winced as she removed the bandage from my eye.

“Wow!” She said.

“What?”

With her left palm laying upon her forehead she shook her head. “The cut looks incredibly different from last night.”

“Like how?” I asked.

“Well… It appears to have healed a lot quicker than I anticipated. I think by tomorrow we should be able to pull the sutures. This is insane… Dr. Cole is definitely on to something with that cocktail.”

As she carefully dabbed my wound, the pain led me to grab her other wrist in hopes that I would find comfort from the pain.

As Paige inspected her work, she looked into my eyes. “Did you know you cracked her skull?”

“Who?”

“Big Bertha, silly!”

“Jesus Christ. I actually cracked her skull? I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to…”

She stopped me. She placed both her hands upon my cheeks. She looked at me. “Lillian, you have more power and more strength than you know. With great power comes great responsibility. However, in this heinous sport, responsibility is at times somewhat vacant. My father showed me the video from last night. After we got you under control and comfortable, he showed it to me over and over again. I was completely repulsed. But,” she was about to say something, but it would not come out.

What I had done last night was not a play. It was not rehearsed. What I had done last night made me sick to the core. As people would watch videos from football teams trying to learn their moves, people as we speak were watching me and Bertha go at it. They were now trying to learn my moves. My moves, which weren’t moves at all.

“Lillian, today will be a rest day. Get in that shower, get clean. You are gonna stay in here and recuperate for the rest the day. I’m pretty sure you’re hungry, so after you get out of the shower, I will have some food ready for you. Get your rest babe. Tomorrow, Paul Bishop will be here. We have many things to talk about.”

She lifted herself from the bed and walked out the door. Once again I heard locking mechanisms that she closed it. It was another prison, but at least it was a nicer room.

I lay myself upon the bed once again. I tried to focus on the task at hand. The door to the bathroom was ever so close and I wanted a shower so badly. I raised myself slowly. The aspirins had started to kick in and I was able to rise to my feet. I took the four steps that were required for me to get to the bathroom door. As I opened the door and turned on the lights, I was greeted by a gorgeous room.

The bathroom was bright, covered in gorgeous Italian tiles. It was a straight shower and not a shower bath tub combo. The shower was straight slabs of glass and nothing less. It had multiple heads that would stream multiple streams of water. I was no longer wearing the clothes of the Switchblade Mama, but I was wearing simple boxers and a plain gray shirt. I looked at myself in the mirror.

I saw my face. My cut had extended from the left side of my hairline, over my eye, a little bit over my nostril and down to the upper portion of my right lip. Big Bertha had removed me of much skin indeed. I was not happy about it, but it was a reminder of how much more I had to protect myself. If I survived all, it would be a reminder.

With much pain, I slowly removed my shirt, exposing all of the brightly blue colored bruises. They covered my lower body all the way up. With much effort, I pulled down my boxers and my panties. All articles of clothing had bloodstains.

I slowly walked myself to the shower. I opened the door, walked in and opened the valve putting it on the hot setting. The cool water sent a blast of chilling sensations throughout my body. I waited for the steam to overcome the beautiful glass walls.

I had an epiphany as soon as I walked in. There were streams of water coming from every direction. The heat from the spouting heads of water created such a sensation upon my skin. I melted like butter. I walked up to the main head and placed both my hands against the wonderful Italian tiled wall. I absorbed the heat. I closed my eye, for the left was already swollen shut and let the warm water enveloped my body. The steam from the shower overtook the whole bathroom. Everything became foggy.

As I let the hard hot streams of water penetrate and massage my back, I knelt to the ground and let out my pain. I began to cry humbly, as I watched the hard crispy blood wash down the drain. I hoped that my pain, my fears and my tears would wash away. I had no idea how much time lapsed as I knelt down in the shower, but as soon as I got up, I looked for the soap.

I never took so much pleasure out of taking a shower. You take so many things for granted in life. This was one of the things I must’ve taken for granted. But as I found the soap and began to lather myself profusely, I thought I was in sheer heaven. It was a simple bar of Irish Spring, but I thought it was an Irish heaven. I smelt the bar soap so many times. I inhaled it over and over again. I lathered myself and rinsed over and over again. There was no shampoo, so I lathered my short hair with Irish Spring. With the stink and the grunge, I tried so very hard to wash it away with the simple bar of soap. It didn’t matter if it truly did wash away, for that moment, my cleanliness was my sanctuary. As a washed away the suds of soap, I stood underneath the heated streams a bit longer. I tried to wash away my sins and my bad thoughts. For at the moment, they disappeared and all I could think of was a caressing warm glove that was wrapped around me.

I finally removed myself from the hot sanctity of safety. Everything in the bathroom was covered with a thin film of fog. I slowly exited the shower, wrapped a towel from the rack around my frail body and exited the bathroom. It was soon to be winter and the days were fading fast. As I left the dull lights of the bathroom, I entered the room of fading light. With the towel wrapped around me, I walked up to the nightstand that was close the bed and turned on the lamp.

The only clothes that I knew I had, was the shirt and the boxers that I had just stripped in the bathroom. I threw off the towel and completely naked, gimped over to the dresser just out of sheer curiosity. I pulled out the top drawer. With pure satisfaction, I smiled at the sight of my clothes stocked in the dresser.

The sun was disappearing over the horizon. The ocean had enveloped all light except for a bland blueness that barely glowed through the dark sky. I found some long pajama bottoms and a light top. I put them on quickly for I desperately wanted to walk out of the glass sliding door and smell the ocean and gaze upon the fading sun and the bright stars. Success. I limped, but I reached the sliding glass door. I ripped them open like an anticipated present and inhaled the outside.

It was a rush of gorgeousness that hit my nose. It was a rush of humidity and sweet ocean smells. As I opened the sliding glass door and let myself out into the beautiful gorgeous world, the sun was gone and the night was kissing the sky. I slowly limped and placed both my hands upon the wooden balcony rails. Without any thoughts of escape, I looked up into the cool dark sky. I inhaled many times, the cool brisk ocean air. I looked into the stars. They were so bright and so individual. Each and every one of them, twinkling a beacon of life. I wanted so desperately to leave. I wanted so desperately to rise my soul up into the universe and become free. The wind was whispering through my pajamas, absorbing my skin. I gathered my hands upon the railings of the balcony. I laid my hands upon my fists. I listened to the roaring of the surf upon the beach. I hoped it would calm my mind, I hoped it would ease my soul.

“Beautiful isn’t it?”

Startled, I turned my head quickly behind me to see the man who fit the voice. It was Paul Bishop. He stood tall and firmly like a block wall. He was dressed in nothing but the best. His usual pinstripe suit and red tie. Paul frightened me. With all of his money, he could accomplish good. Unfortunately though, his money was spent on more devious sorts.

I said nothing. I just turned my head and looked back out to the ocean. I clinched my fists and my teeth as well. The thought had crossed my mind. Maybe I could bash his head in over and over again until his brains splattered all over the beautiful wooden planks of the patio. Unfortunately, I was not that person. At least not that person, yet.

He slithered up to me and leaned up against the balcony rails as well. “Beautiful night it is tonight, don’t you agree?”

I said nothing. I just nodded my head.

“That was an interesting fight there. For a moment, I thought you were to lose. I see you’ve gained yourself an interesting battle wound there.” He pulled open the side of his jacket, reached in and pulled out a cigar. Like a burly man, he bit off the end and lit it up. He took a few puffs off the cigar before he took a long drag. “Paige must’ve forgotten to lock the sliding door. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t want to lose our guest of honor.”

That frightened me. I didn’t want Paige to get in trouble by him. I shook my head. “You need not worry Mr. Bishop. I know my place and I know what is at stake. Please just give me this. I assure you, you will have no more trouble from me.”

He inhaled deeply off of his cigar. “Good.” He said as he looked at it. “I see through this journey, you have gained some smarts. You just barely paid off your surgery. I hope in the time to come, you will make me some more money”

Anger. I was a dynamite stick and he just lit my fuse. “Is it really about money? Or is it just about whose balls are bigger. But how can you tell who’s balls are bigger when it’s not you on that floor? Perhaps you gentleman should measure whose purse is bigger instead.”

Paul let out a low deep laugh. “And here comes the smartass remarks. I thought you said that I would not get any more trouble out of you.”

“This is not trouble Sir; this is just me speaking my mind.”

“Ahhh… Did you know, interesting fact I have to bring up? That your sister, that lives in what… Ohio? She’s pregnant again, did you know? Her babies due, what… July of next year? So now you have, soon to be, two nieces?”

Of course I did not know my sister was pregnant again. I had been gone for over a year. It was Thanksgiving weekend, so I knew my niece had turned five only a few days ago. We were distant, but I tried my best to keep in touch. I would always call Kristine for her birthday and wish her good one. Unfortunately the last year, and this year, the lines remained silent.

It was a disgusting feeling that churned in my gut. Not only was Paul holding my mother accountable for my actions, but he wished to further his destruction and continue with the rest of my family. I could gather no more emotions but anger. I wanted nothing more than to hurt him so much. Never in my life did I want to ever hurt anyone so much. “Okay Mr. Bishop, you win.”

I couldn’t see it, but by the way he spoke the word “good”, I knew he was smiling. “Just try to get out there next week, and give everyone a little bit more of a show.”

“A bit more of a show? No offense Sir, but all I am trying to do is stay alive.”

“Oh yes, I understand that, but you must understand, the more drama, the more money is at stake. You have a good thing going for you. The switchblade Mama is quite catchy, but I was a little saddened by the fact that you did not pull out your switchblades, as well as the rest of the crowd was. I know because I was in the crowd.”

I shifted my feet and continued to look out into the ocean. I tried so very hard not to look at Paul Bishop. I wanted to wring his neck. I wanted to kill him. I wanted to throw his body over the balcony, drag him into the ocean, and let the sharks eat upon his useless meat sack. The smell from the cigar was of course enticing my nose. I was a smoker and wanted so badly to have a drag. “But the rules… I was told not to kill unless I had to.”

“Oh yes the rules. We mustn’t forget those. After all, if you do not abide by them, you will be shot. I agree. It’s hard to tell what the judge’s agree with. But remember, you get a whistle blow and a warning shot, before you are shot. Should you make it into the championship fight, the rules are way more lenient if you know what I mean. Anything goes.”

It was obvious Paul Bishop was trying to make me into a bad girl. He wanted me to break the rules in order to make a good show. It was of course always the good shows that brought in the money. And to Paul Bishop, money was all that mattered.

“Make it to the championship fight, please. I wouldn’t want to have to hurt that beautiful family of yours. This next fight, you will go up against a woman known as Serial Carol.”

I let out a low chuckle. “Are you serious, Serial Carol?”

“The name, my dear Switchblade, is nothing to laugh about. This woman has maimed and killed many others. She is tall and her strengths are her wide arm’s-length. She’s skinny and agile. If you’re not careful, she will put you down in one blow.” The cigar was quickly fading and with it I assumed was our conversation.

The moment was silent and I said nothing. I just let the breeze pull through my poufy shorthair. I ran my hands through it over and over again letting the short soft hairs caress my skin.

“Oh,” he said as he took one last long deep drag from his cigar. “Let’s try to walk out onto that floor with a little more assertiveness than last time. I must say, the laughs that I received last night were somewhat, unnerving. If you are going to be a bad ass Lill, you must play the part. If you are going to be the switchblade Mama, then by all means play the part. If you wish to survive this world, please do not play the part as a scared little kidnapped girl.”

I remained motionless at the balcony. As Paul turned and began to walk away from me, he took the cigar, which little was left and handed it to me. I watched as he walked out of the room. As soon as he opened the door, Paige was there. She cleared the way so that he could exit. I turned my head back onto the ocean. With the cigar in hand I took a deep needing drag. I inhaled so deeply I could have sucked the chrome off of a tailpipe. I exhaled and the smoke faded away into the breeze. The buzz gave me a high and sent a tingling comfort down my spine.

The door was left open and quietly Paige emerged into the cool darkness with me. She resided in the same spot that Mr. Bishop had stood. In silence, we both stood there until she spoke. “What did he say?”

“Enough.” I said. I took one more satisfying drag from the cigar before I tossed it over the balcony. I crossed my arms and leaned them on the hard weathered wood. I rested my chin on top of my arm. “He wants me to be meaner. He doesn’t want me to play this, sorry for myself kidnapped bullshit. He wants me to show no mercy. He wants me to kill and maim. He wants me to be on the edge and someone who breaks the rules.”

“Jesus.” Was all she could say.

“Oh I agree.” I said. “The first thing I’d do if I ever relieve myself of this situation is go after Bishop himself, no wait… I’m going after the bastard that gave me up. Then, I’m going after Bishop. Going after him and going for blood. I’m going to make him pay for all of the innocent lives that he has given up for money.”

Paige was silent. She had no words to speak in return. She sat there motionless for a while and let the wind speak for her. Paige finally spoke before she left the room and left me to myself. “Your dinner is on the nightstand next the bed. Good night Lillian. See you early in the morning.” And with that she was gone.

As I sat up there on the patio balcony a while longer, it finally came to me that I was left outside by myself. Shaking off my thoughts of escape, I walked through the glass door and entered the inside. I closed the door and locked it. The smell of the dinner was dancing throughout the whole room. My mouth began to salivate. Like a wolf running to a carcass of carrion, I was at that nightstand inhaling my food. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes, with steamed broccoli, lightly salted. No hesitation, the plate was clean in an instant.

I was tired and worn out. After my meal, I went to the bathroom to finish my nightly routine. Teeth brushed, flossed and mouth washed. I turned the lights off and slowly, achingly climbed into bed. The very thought of it sent tingles of pleasure of my spine. The mattress was so comfortable. The sheets were clean and smelled of wonderful detergent. I thought as soon as I hit the bed, I would find comfort and fall quickly to sleep. Not such the case.

I laid there for a while with my eyes wide open. I could feel the nightmares upon me. I was never a fan of the nightmares I received when I was sick. I was never a fan with the nightmares I received while I was sick with worry. I was so tired, but I did not want to fall asleep. I knew the chaos that my dreams would bring. Even with my eyes closed, I knew I would gain no comfort. I fought the drooping eyelids as much as possible. It was inevitable though, for my eyes finally shut and my nightmares began.

It was a cage, surrounded by darkness. It was just me and Sarah Waters. My hands were clasped tightly around her neck. It was such a tightness, that her eyeballs were popping out of her sockets. On the floor in which we fought, there was a river of blood. The river of blood was caused by the bash that I gave Sarah in her head from head-butting her. It wasn’t soon after that until I began to drown in Sarah Waters’ blood. It was so thick I could not tread it. I begin to gasp for air and thus began to shout for help. My shouts for help were not only in dream, but expelled from my very breath that echoed through the quaint vacation house. As I woke from the nightmare, I shot up from my bed, sitting in my own sweat.

The door was unlocked and I could see Paige’s dark silhouette slowly emerge. I, still grasping for breath and trying to gain ground, finally calmed as I watched Paige walk to side of the bed. Quietly Paige whispered, “are you okay?”

Breathing heavily, I tried to gain thought. “I think so… I had a nightmare.”

Without word, Paige let herself into my bed, carefully slid over to me and planted herself by my side. “Is it okay if I stay here with you?”

I didn’t even have to think about it. “Please.”

She wrapped her arms around me. It was a feeling of security. It was a feeling of warmth. Paige wrapped her arms around me and the nightmares faded away like melting candle wax. She wrapped her arms around me and I felt comfort in a pure heart beat that lay next me. As soon as her arms wrapped around me, I felt the shield from the bad dreams. With her close, I fell asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15.

I was wrapped in cotton comfort. The early morning sun rays beamed in through the glass sliding doors and magnified themselves upon my motionless sleeping body. I was cuddled up underneath the warm comforter in the fetal position. The sun rays were warm and heated me up, thus waking me. With my eyes still closed, I stretched and let out a big satisfying yawn, outreaching my hand, seeing if Paige was still there.

Her side of the bed was vacant and cool. There was some disappointment there, but I knew that she had other duties to attend to. I slowly rose from the bed. Everything was not so sore. I stretched again, raising my arms up high and yawning. I pulled off my PJ’s and walked into the bathroom. In my line of work, it was a rarity these days if I would get a shower, so I took the opportunity. I took another one. As I was in the shower, I noticed a BIC. With great pleasure, I shaved my legs and my underarms and my arms. I couldn’t help but to think to myself, they must trust me now if they are leaving the doors unlocked and leaving weapons of mass destruction lying around. I shaved and cleansed myself until my heart was content.

As I walked out of the shower, I wiped the fog from the mirror. I took the towel and dried myself thoroughly. I looked at myself in the mirror. Times were tough, but I was enjoying this new cut body that I went through hell to produce. I flexed my arms, I flexed my abs. I looked at my calves and flexed them. I couldn’t help but smile. I then looked at my hair. My short, poufy short fairy hair. It was no wonder I was not taken seriously on the floor. I looked like a bloody blonde Q-tip. I rummaged through the cabinets beneath the sink and looked for something that could help me. I smiled as I found some hair gel. I had never used hair gel before in my life. I squeezed the bottle and a glob plopped down into my palm. I put some of the glob in the other Palm and applied it into my hair.

I was looking for more of an aggressive look. I began to spike my hair. I took the front part of my hair, entwined a single strand between my fingers and curled it over so that it touched my forehead. I took the sides and began to build them up into a classic mow-hawk. Grinning and looking at myself in the mirror, I popped up two thumbs. I was beginning to look like an aggressive Elvis Presley. I was a girl, but at this point I was one handsome mother fucker. The newly formed gash on my face didn’t seem out of place at all. I figured my new line of work, it would add edge to my new character, the Switchblade Mama.

I smiled as I walked out of the bathroom naked. I tossed my PJ’s into the hamper that was sitting next to the door. I went to my dresser drawer and pulled out a clean pair of panties and bra. I pulled on some blue jeans and a regular T-shirt. Tossed on my new balance and stretched once again. The morning sun was much stronger now. It was beaming rays of happiness into my room. Finally clothed, I walked outside and the balcony and looked onto the beach, the sun finally reaching its way over the oceans horizon.

I smiled as I saw joggers. I smiled even bigger because I was finally a part of everyday life. For the first time in a year, I finally felt a part of the world again. As I inhaled the crisp cool morning beach air once again, I knew I mustn’t take long for I was being trusted. I wouldn’t want to break that trust. I knew even though this was a quaint little vacation beach house, if it belonged to Paul Bishop, then there must be it’s dark points as well.

I left the wonderful balcony. I quietly closed the sliding door. I walked to the door that was usually locked. I placed my hand upon the knob and slowly turned. It turned without hesitation and the door was open. Like a normal person I was exiting my room and entering another. I smiled. I looked to my right and saw a hallway littered with doors and I looked my left and saw staircase leading downward. Breakfast smells and coffee we leading me downward. I slowly walked down the staircase.

The whole house was bright and filled with colors. The whole house had every window open and the sun beaming through them. As I came to the foot of the staircase, I was greeted by a gorgeous living room with leather couches, a big screen TV, and tiled floors. There was a fish tank filled with saltwater fish.

The TV was on and CNN with it. I glanced at it for a moment before I was greeted by Paige. She emerged from the kitchen and looked at me with a smile. “I was wondering when you were gonna get up, sleepyhead.”

She went to the kitchen and I followed. It was another beautiful quality of the house. Bright, with big open windows. Granite counter tops galore. Deep sinks with touch faucets. An oven range with all the bells and whistles. With my mouth wide open, I noticed nothing more but its gigantic beautiful glory.

“Sit down Switchblade.”

Expelled from my thoughts, I looked toward the voice. It was Barrett sitting at the table with a plate of breakfast in front of him. Scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns. My favorite as usual.

I sat down in my usual spot at the table in the middle, between Clive and Barrett. My plate was vacant and I knew Paige was in the process of loading it, but I used the time to look about the kitchen and enjoyed its gorgeousness.

Clive was reading the comics. I waited patiently for my breakfast and in return, Barrett blessed me with his conversation. “Nice… I do like what you did with your hair kid. It gives you a nice edge. One more week kid, until your next fight, are you ready?”

“Define your expectations of ready.” I asked.

“Mr. Bishop did talk to last night, right?” Barrett replied with eggs in his mouth.

“He did.”

“So you know what you have to do?” Barrett asked. He asked it cautiously. Even Barrett knew the consequences behind the actions that Paul Bishop asked me to do.

“I do.” The response sent a shivering shutter down my spine. I kept getting thoughts in the back of my head of the bullets ripping through my skin as I became reckless on the floor.

“You got those two knives. You are the Switchblade Mama. You’re gonna have to use them.”

“Amen to that!” Clive added behind his newspaper comics. Clive pulled down his comics and looked at me briefly. He lifted up his comics again to read and then slowly lowered them again to look at me. “Damn Lill… Be sure to style your hair like that for next week’s fight. You look damn good. More aggressive.”

I couldn’t help but smile. It was a complement well-paid. “Where was Fitz?”

“He was injured during a competition. He wanted to be there kid. So he will be here later today though, to help you with your knife play.” Barrett added.

I leaned back in my chair and sat casually. Paige moved in with the plate of breakfast and leaned in closely to me. She leaned in so close to lay the plate in front of me that her breasts brushed against my back. I blushed and hoped that no one saw it. I picked up my fork and began to consume.

“Good song though Lill.” Clive stated behind his comics.

“Thanks Clive,” I said as I shoveled eggs into my mouth.

I slowly ate. I purposely slowed down to eat, so that the boys would leave and I would be left with the company of Paige. I so desperately yearned for her presence. It seemed that my troubled soul would only be calmed by the presence of hers.

As Clive and Barrett slowly rose from the table and left, my plan had worked. I finished my hash browns in pure satisfaction.

In no time at all, another part of bliss was placed in front of me. Paige had dropped off my coffee. Once again moving in ever so closely, her breasts brushed up against my back. I blushed even harder, but luckily no one was there to see it.

It was just as I liked it. 35% creamer and 65% coffee. I took a sip. “Mmmm, Mmm my favorite, coconut. Thanks babes, you're the best.”

With coffee cup in hand and plate of breakfast in the other, Paige sat down at the table across from me. While she ate and sipped her coffee, we mingled in simple conversation. Eyes always meeting.

“How are you feeling?” Paige asked.

I took a deep breath and another sip of coffee. “Relatively good, you know, considering…”

She took a moment from her breakfast and looked at the gash on my face that big Bertha had caused two nights ago. “Your wound is healing very nicely. I would have to come to the conclusion that the cocktail that Dr. Cole has been providing you with is actually helping speed up your recovery time as well. Hopefully, there will not be too much scarring.”

Duly noted I thought. However, I was somewhat saddened by the fact that she reminded me of my plight and my implants. The morning was normal and I felt as if I had a great start. But the thought of having implants and the need for a certain cocktail once a week to keep me alive saddened me greatly. I said nothing and half smiled.

“I’m sorry.” She said.

I smiled back and shook my head. “Oh, it’s all good. No worries.”

Paige shifted and let out a big sigh. “No, look… I have no idea what you’re going through right now. I could never fathom the thought.” She placed her elbows upon the table and leaned in close. I had her utmost eye contact. “I am so very proud of you for getting this far. I just want you know, that you have nothing but my support. I want you to succeed Lill. I want to see you live. I like you.”

She extended her arm from across the table. She reached out her Palm. I took her hand into mine. It was an instant feeling of warmth. It was a feeling of being comfortable. With her touch I was removed from all pains, worries and thoughts. I wanted to crawl into her arms forever. I wanted to never again feel another ounce of pain.

I was reminded of only days ago when Paige and I took a ride into the forest. I was reminded of how she deeply but so briefly kissed me.

There was a door from the outside to the kitchen that quickly opened. I pulled my hand swiftly back from Paige’s and placed my fingers upon my lips, remembering her touch from her soft kiss.

Limping, and with a brace on his knee, Fitz slowly walked through the door. He looked tattered, worn and tired. Nevertheless, Fitz was always dressed to impress. He was sporting bright orange running shorts and a long sleeved thin blue shirt. He smiled as soon as he saw me and I smiled back. I rose quickly from my chair and placed my hand into his, giving him a firm handshake. “What’s up guy? I missed you the other night.” I pointed to the brace on his knee. “Looks like you got some battle wounds, bud.”

Fitz couldn’t help but laugh. He took his palm to my face and slowly traced his fingers down my newly formed wound. “Looks like you got yourself pretty fucked up as well, Lill… Or should I say, the Switchblade Mama.”

I laughed a little bit. “Yeah, but I think it suits me well, dude.”

He smiled and patted me on the shoulder. “It does Lill, it sure does.” Fitz limped a few steps more before Paige put a cup of warm coffee into his hands. “Thanks Paige, my savior” He replied. “I have been looking forward to this all morning. I love your coffee.”

“As do I…. With mostly creamer though.” I said, laughing slightly.

Fitz took another sip of his coffee. He looked at me. “Follow me Lill, let’s go check out where you will be working out for the next week.”

I followed him out of the kitchen. On the other side of the room with the big-screen TV, the leather couches and CNN, there was a big opening that led to another room that had a pool table, dart games and various arcade machines. Street fighter 2, caught my eye and I wanted so badly to play it. I followed Fitz through another door into the garage. Of course in the garage there was another trick door leading downward. Fitz lifted the flap and I followed him downstairs that led to an underground room.

It was almost as big as the room that I worked out on at the farm. It consisted of florescent lighting, equipped with free weights and punching bags. There were soft pads that lay upon the floor and of course a marked off square that indicated the killing floor.

I walked into the fierce bland luminescence of the room. I looked up at Fitz and he looked at me. Fitz smiled. “Stay here for a minute. I need to get something quick. I’ll be right back. Go ahead and warm-up while I’m gone.” He turned from me and the left. His bright orange running shorts disappearing up the stairs.

I listened to what he said and I began to warm up. I did a few laps around the room, I did some push-ups. I galloped around the room, in my fighting stance. I threw punches and dodged imaginary attacks. I got myself pumped up. I knew Fitz went upstairs to grab my knives. It was time to learn how to be a better Switchblade Mama.

It wasn’t soon after Fitz left, that he came back. I was all warmed up and sweaty. I stopped what I was doing as soon as he entered the room. Both hands lay by my sides, I waited for instruction.

Fitz walked up to me. Holding in his hands were my knives. He looked at me. “Okay, vintage switchblade and a curved, sailors knife?” He slowly opened the knife. It clicked into place, the sound of the click sending shivers down my spine. “The vintage switchblade is nice. I’ll need to sharpen it though. Where did you get it?”

“My father gave it to me in my 15th birthday. He figured no woman should go unprotected. It was his father’s.”

“Okay, nice.” He said. “So it has some history. How about the arched Spyderco blade? Definitely not too old, but looks well used.”

“It was a gift from my friends, for my birthday. I found the serrated edges and the curve of the blade were quite useful when opening boxes. I took both knives with me to work every day. One was for cutting boxes and the other was for people… Just in case.”

Fitz smiled. “Well Lill, I sure do like your style. Let’s put these knives to good use, shall we?”

So the training began. The day went on and I and Fitz trained throughout the day. I didn’t think anybody knew as much as Fitz did. He knew everything there was to know about mixed martial arts and he knew how to use knives, efficiently. We practiced slicing, jabbing… Anything and everything that was needed to know about attacking with a knife.

Fitz of course as usual, let me use him as a fake dummy to attack. I was armed with two knives. I had the switchblade in my right hand and the Merlin my left. He moved and dodged out of my way as I made strikes.

The thought of escape never left my mind the whole time. I could imagine over and over again of me thrusting my switchblade into his neck and making my escape, but the attempt would be made futile. Barrett, Clive and Paige still resided upstairs. I could try my best to escape and to make a scene, but to what cost? No, I would rather stay downstairs with Fitz and train. My time would come. My time would come.

The day had progressed into the evening. Paige ever so often brought in drinks and snacks for us to keep our energy up. I learned so much in one day. I was ambitious and thought I was ready for the next fight. It was only Monday and I still had the whole week to prepare. Saturday would be the day that I met my next battle with Serial Carol.

The days training was complete. Paige came downstairs to collect us for dinner. I was completely famished. Barrett, Clive, Paige and I consumed dinner. The boys, with their nightly routine, left after eating. I, as usual helped Paige with the dishes.

After the dishes were done, Paige walked me up to my room. She opened the door to let me in. She pulled the MP3 player from her pocket. She placed it into my hands, smiling. “I added some more songs on it.” She said. “Music for your soul. I hope the songs will help you get some sleep.” She added.

I smiled and gracefully took the MP3 player. As soon as the door closed, I put the ear buds into my ears and turned the player on. I was greeted by more soundtracks from Thomas Newman, Alan Silvestri and Hans Zimmerman. I embraced the soft melodic tunes.

I took a quick shower and put my PJ’s on. I quickly got my MP3 player. The music was beautiful and it was great for my soul. I laid on bed listening to the wonderful music. I hoped that it would wipe away my nightmares. It did, as long as I was consciously awake. Soon as I lost consciousness, that was another story.

I was so tired; I was swiftly overcome by sleep. Sleep however was not so pleasant. I began to sweat profusely and tossed and turned. I had seen Big Bertha’s face bloodied and battered over and over again. My fist was always covered in her blood. It was once again the pool of blood that I was drowning in. I tread as quickly as possible. It wasn’t soon after that I gained some ground and got my head above the bloodied ocean. Then my own hands deceived me and wrapped themselves around my neck. I became panicked. I was focused and trying to tear my own hands from my neck, all the while not paying attention to the fact that I stopped treading the blood. I slipped below the bloodline. I began to choke. I gasped.

I couldn’t tell how long I was sitting up straight yelling. My yells of despair and panic echoed throughout the room. They bounced off the wall like a well-tuned sonar. My body was drenched with sweat. My eyes were wide and open, but I saw nothing. I turned my head and looked out into a beaming brightness. The moon was ever so slightly twinkling upon little platelets that were carefully drifting in the ocean. It was a twinkling gorgeousness that calmed my sporadic breathing. It was a natural ocean, no blood. I was still alive and not sent to hell. As my breathing calmed, the door to my room opened and Paige appeared from the darkness.

I couldn’t help but smile as she went to the other side of the bed and pulled back the covers, letting herself in. “What, do you have a baby monitor in your room?”

“No silly, I can hear your screams throughout the whole house. It took me a while to realize that the screams weren’t coming from my dream. They were coming from you.”

“Hold me,” I asked.

Paige moved in close and wrapped her arms around me. “And that, I shall.”

Wrapped blissfully with Paige’s arms around me and her beautiful soul so close to mine, I finally fell to sleep. A sleep without dreams, but at least it was a sleep without nightmares. The music for my soul was a good try. It would keep me content through those awakening intense times when I would be alone, but for my sleep, my sleep would require a much more powerful weapon. That weapon was Paige. I was so grateful for her touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16.

The week went on at a normal pace. Every day I was awoke at the crack of dawn. I was fed, I trained, I was fed again, I trained and I was fed again. After dinner as usual, I helped Paige with the dishes. I slept, I had nightmares. Yelling occurred and once again Paige was by my side, arms wrapped around me. The nightmares were horrific, but I had no complaints about Paige. Tuesday, Wednesday and finally Thursday was in our midst. Without nightmare and yelling, Paige just came into my room. She waited of course until everyone was settled down and fast asleep.

It wasn’t until she was in my bed, arms firmly wrapped around me, that I popped the question. It was not the official question everyone pops, but still it was on my mind. “Do you think tomorrow we could take a walk on the beach?”

“And miss your training?”

“No, I can still train, just afterward. Make a stew tomorrow, or some chili. Something that will need to simmer for a while. Just come get me from training a little bit earlier.” I said.

“Okay, it’s a date.” Paige replied.

The night was short-lived. I slept soundly of course with Paige’s arms wrapped around me. The better I slept, the quicker the night was.

It was of course the usual morning. I awoke with her side of the bed vacant. I rose, stretched and took a shower.

I dressed myself, ate and followed Fitz down to the training room. My knife skills were way improved. The switchblade and the Spyderco were appropriately clipped upon my pants pockets in such an order that I would pull out the switchblade first with my right hand and reach for the Spyderco with my left.

I was without a doubt so very happy and impressed with my improvements. There was however, the sadness that plagued the back of my mind which Kept reminding me every day of how much of a monster I was becoming. But the happy endorphin’s were outweighing the monster part. I couldn’t help but to continue on and give it 110%.

It was mid-afternoon when Paige dropped off lunch. Fitz and I ate quietly, conversing lightly, occasionally as we usually did. We would never talk about current events, mine or his past life. We would always discuss the task at hand. Fitz was always a supportive trainer. I was so glad to have him in place of Barrett or Clive. I didn’t think I could get through any of this without Fitz.

Quietly he chewed his sandwich, until his eyes lit up and he had something to say. “Well, my dear Switchblade, tomorrow is Friday. You have one more day until your next fight. How do you feel?”

I swallowed the moist chewed bit of sandwich. There was without a doubt in my mind, that I had butterflies, a butt load of butterflies. After my talk with Paul Bishop and realizing that I had to up my game or lose my life, I felt discomfort in what I would have to do, but at least I gained confidence in the fights to come. I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t be the scared little girl to walk up the platform and onto the killing floor. I would be bold, I would be vibrant. I would show everyone that there was someone to fear, me. I would give Paul Bishop what he wanted, what the crowd wanted. No matter what, I would keep a virtue of mercy. Beat them to a bloody pulp, but keep them breathing. With that in mind, I answered Fitz. “Well, I can’t lie. I’m anxious as hell. Honestly, the feeling I’m getting is a lot like the feeling that I got when I used to sing karaoke. You know, right before I sang. No matter how many times I sang karaoke and I was good at it, I still got butterflies. I’m feeling that right now.”

“Good.” He said. “So you still feel emotion, you still feel something?”

“I do.”

“Good, because without emotion, there is no heart and without heart there is no life. If you lose your heart, then you will surely truly lose the fight. Your heart, which will burn brightly and hurt, will keep you alive. If your heart dies, than so will everyone else.”

Fitz was right on the mark. He could not have been any more correct about the statement. He had worked with many girls before. He had seen many girls fight and lose their lives. He had seen many girls lose their faith and their heart. It was only my second fight. I was losing the light as far as I had known and each and every day that I trained was another day that I lost some more light. I wondered how long it would be until I completely lost it all together.

“Been lost Lill, where are you?”

I heard it, but I did not respond. I finally came out of my trance and shook my head. “Huh? Ohh, sorry, I was thinking.”

“There are, in one’s life, many paths that one must take. There are roads that we take that lead us to the places that we want to go. There are roads that we take; we must take because others enforce it. Many paths surround us. Regardless if we want to take them or not, we must be righteous about those paths. At this point my friend, you find yourself on the path that was enforced by another. Just because it was forced on you, does not mean you cannot control it. I tell you this, my friend, a friend that just like you, who is entrapped by the same circumstances. Your path has been chosen for you. You must make it your own and plant some flowers, if you know what I mean.”

So very true was the words spoken from his mouth. So very true were the words that would give me the energy to continue on and hopefully not become a monster. How honorable and honest this man was. I was glad to have met him. I was glad to have him as trainer and I was glad to hopefully have a friend.

We finished our lunch and we continued to train. The knife work, the punching, the moves, everything. Thursday was dawning to an end and my walk upon the beach was nearing. I was becoming giddy as a schoolgirl. As the day trailed on, I was becoming less and less focused. Fitz noticed, but he didn’t mind. He knew that I had done well all week and he knew that I had something up my sleeve. Something that would keep me real and keep me happy.

Like clockwork, Paige opened the door to the training room and peeked her head in. “Fitz, may I borrow Lill a few minutes early?”

Knowing it was coming, Fitz nodded and smiled. “Yes you may.”

I, with great satisfaction, left the confines of the stuffy training room and followed Paige upstairs. As we walked up the stairs and entered the garage, I followed Paige out the side door.

The door opened and I followed Paige out, with big smile plastered from ear to ear. The moist ocean air struck me with such great awe. I stopped at the last bit of concrete and removed my shoes. Paige took a few steps ahead of me and stopped. She turned and watched me as I took my first two steps onto the cool beach sand. She watched me as I experienced a brief euphoria.

I was only one step from the concrete, but I placed both feet firmly onto the sand. I wiggled my toes and let the sand silk through them. Paige giggled. She reached out her hand and I took it. She led me down the beach and to mild surf.

It was of course cold weather, but I did not care. I was still wearing my warm-up shorts and shirt, still hot from the workout. The cool brisk ocean air was gratefully appreciated upon my sweaty skin. I took a deep breath and exhaled. My endorphin’s exploded.

The sand was dry upon my feet, but as soon as we met the sand where the rolling waves made love to it, I felt the stiff dampness between my toes. There was nothing left but complete and utter satisfaction. Without words, I held Paige’s hand in mine. We walked and watched the sunset. We listened to the waves as they made love to the beach. Words could never describe what I was feeling at that moment. Words could never describe my complete content with the world. I could only think, I could not say. While we walked together, I looked into Paige’s eyes and realized that there was no one else in the world but her. If there were any reason that I was there, in the mayhem, it was because she needed me. If my path was chosen for me, at that point, I was planting my bloody flowers.

The bliss was shortly lived. As soon as the sun faded beyond the horizon, Paige and I walked back to the beach house. The chili was simmering and I sat at the table before anyone else. It was Clive’s big belly that brought him in first. Barrett stammered in and then Fitz, showered and freshly cleaned. It was Friday night, the eve before my next fight. The nervousness returned. I sat uneasy at my place at the table. Chili, was served to everyone else before me. As soon as my plate was placed in front of me, I noticed the extra cheese.

I smiled and dug in. With the flavors bursting in my mouth, I was content. Chili was a dish short-lived. Chili was awesome, but never so often served. I appreciated its warmth and its flavors. The semi-melted cheese added an exciting texture to it. It was the flavors bursting in my mouth that was on my mind, but to everyone else, it was Saturday’s fight. I was not thinking of anything but chili, but to my right, Barrett began to speak.

“Tomorrow kid, you’ll watch videos of your next bout. Watch them carefully, because you need to learn her moves.”

“And this would be serial Carol?” I asked.

“She’d be a tall skinny bitch, but dat girl got moves.” Clive replied.

“Gravy.… How come you guys did not show me videos of Big Bertha?”

“It didn’t occur to us. After your fight with her, we realized that you needed to see some girls in action. It was also requested by Mr. Bishop.” Barrett’s bowl of chili was completely cleared. Paige served his usual cup of coffee after dinner. It was hot so he sipped at it slowly. “Your last fight, to say the least was a bit disappointing.”

“Seriously? Even though I still won?” I asked.

“Yes. Your entrance was flimsy. Your overall energy was just completely scared. You have to get out there and be that crazy bitch. You do what you have to do to win the crowd, but most of all you do what you have to do to win.”

It wasn’t enough that I had won, but I also had to be a crazy bitch while doing it. Being a crazy bitch was not in my vocabulary and even though I was being trained to be a crazy bitch, I could still not fathom playing the part. I said nothing. I just nodded my head and finished off the last bits of my chili.

“She is doing very well with her knife work. I am supposing, Saturday, even with the risks at hand, we shall see the Switchblade Mama at work, Lill?” Fitz asked. He was a tall slender man and stood above all. He was a righteous man and seemed to have been to hell and back. Through all his pains and his woes and even though he had to train women to do hideous acts, he still took the time to keep his head up high.

“I have been carrying knives for majority of my life. I’m finally pleased to say that I’m actually trained in how to use them properly.” The words just slipped out of my mouth. I was somewhat repulsed by the fact, no matter what, it was true. I had carried them, but only used them to cut boxes open, or cut miscellaneous things. What I had said was a complete true fact. I finally knew how to use a knife, defensively.

Clive smiled. “Oh I can’t wait to see dis.”

With dinner complete and the boys leaving the table, Paige and I cleaned the dishes. My tummy was full and pleased, but my nervousness returned. I was known to be very silent during nervous and trying times. I spoke not one word Paige. I just helped with what had to be done, before I would have to be walked upstairs, shower and be greeted by disastrous nightmares.

Paige dried off a dish and handed it to me to be put away. “So, what did you do before you came here? You know, what was your life before we ended it?” She asked cautiously and lightly.

“Let’s be clear on this.” I said. “I was forcefully brought here and I would rather not share that portion of my life until I at least get through this first season.”

Paige nodded. “I understand.”

It was a harsh statement on my behalf, but it was true. I couldn’t say that my life, prior to being brought into hen fighting was the greatest, but at least I had a life. These days all I did was eat, sleep and shit mayhem. I was kept in a cold dank barn cellar for almost a year of my life. All I could do to clean myself, was with water and soap from the sink. For the first couple months of my life, I was chained like a vicious beast. For the last year of my life, I used wooden planks to sleep on and one old ragged comforter to block out the cold. I was nervous and I was mad. I was taking my madness out on Paige. I didn’t want to, but I did.

As the dishes were washed and the kitchen was cleaned, Paige walked me up the stairs and into my room. “I will be in later, if you wish.”

I agree the tone of my voice was not the best. I agree there was some hostility in the words that I spoke. But no matter what, I wished that Paige would sleep by my side. Her comfort gave me sweet dreams and a good nights sleep. I did feel bad for the words that I spoke, but no matter what, they were true.

As Paige leaned in through the doorway, I hesitated on my answer. I sat on the bed for a moment, but finally looked up as the words came to me. “Please. I would love nothing more, Paige.”

She disappeared from the doorway and I was once again left alone with my despair, my confusion, my hate and my anger. I sat on the bed for some time. I held out my hands and watched them as they slowly shook. Throughout the whole day, my body slowly began to ache. The pain began with my hands and slowly spread out throughout my body. I looked at my hands, tiny scars and all. Tiny incisions made to compound my bones with a new type of lightweight but indestructible metal. I was becoming less and less human every day. I was losing my grip on reality.

I pulled off my sweaty smelly clothes and showered. After the shower, I walked outside into the balcony. There was a low pressure moving through and the night sky was filled with dark purple clouds. The air was humid and moist and smelt of rain. I leaned up against the wooden balcony, closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Like flaying rags, my PJ’s rolled with the stormy wind. I sat out there for a while, watching the waves as they rolled upon the beach. It began to lightly sprinkle rain. It wasn’t until it began to rain harder, that I left the outside. Every time I went back inside, I looked up at the camera that was overseeing the balcony and smiled. Letting whoever know that was watching me, I still had not escaped.

I laid myself down onto the bed. Sleepless, I stared up into the ceiling of the room. I listened to the rain as it pattered on the balcony. I remembered nights when I was young and my mother would try to put me down to sleep. I was a hyper little girl then, and sleep never came easy. I remembered how I lay in bed and stare at the ceiling. I remembered waking up in the morning and wondering, at what point did I fall asleep?

As time passed and my eyes begin to fuse with the ceiling, everything seemed to melt together and become darker and darker. The time came. My eyelids finally drooped and closed. Sleep was finally achieved.

It was a clear morning, but the clouds began to move in swiftly. The temperature cooled and the air became brisk. I shoved my hands into my jacket pockets. I balled them, trying to keep them warm from the battling cold. My father was always a swift walker, no matter what terrain; he conquered it with no problem at all. I followed him, but due to his speed, I was always behind him. It wasn’t until we came to a clearing that I noticed little white things falling from the sky. I looked up into the cold dark gray clouds and saw as snow had begun to flurry. It was the first time I had ever seen it snow and to me, it was the first time I had ever witnessed a miracle. I finally got to see that the snowflakes weren’t giant after all, but so very tiny, so very a delicate and intricate in design. My father who had grown up in Michigan, to him this was nothing new, but to me, I had never felt anything so beautiful before in my life. I raised my hands up wide and high and embraced every flake that fell upon my face. My father finally stopped. He turned and looked at me shaking his head and smiling. We were some distance apart. As I lowered my head from the skies I looked at my father to see him, eyes wide looking at something else. I lowered my head and turned to my left. It was the biggest bull elk I’d ever seen in my life. I looked at the elk and then at my father. His rifle was in his hands and I was grateful that it was deer hunting season. I stared at the bull elk and he stared at me. Knowing that I was not harmful to him, he walked off into the snow flurry and disappeared.

I slowly opened my eyes and smiled as I was grateful for having a good dream. It was one of my most prized memory’s. I turned my head to see Paige lying next to me. I leaned over and kissed her lightly upon the neck. I wanted to thank her for the beautiful memory.

Friday was upon me and I woke up as usual. I showered. My pain became increasingly worse. A headache was dwelling in the back of my head. I slowly put my clothes on. I just didn’t feel right. My body was trained to wake up at the butt crack of Dawn, but I was unable to comply. I felt as if I were sick with the flu, I could barely move. I thought if I laid down for a while, I might be able to recuperate and get up to get some chow.

While I was lying down on the bed, I heard a knock at the door.

“Are you decent?”

My eyes narrowed. The voice was from an older man. It was a familiar voice, but I still couldn’t gauge it. “Who is it?”

“It’s Dr. Sebastian Cole. I need to give you your shot and to give you your routine checkup.”

I sat up as quickly as possible. “Oh, please come in.”

Dr. Cole slowly made his way from the door. He came, bearing a black doctors bag. He walked up to me and placed it on the bed. “It is my child, time for your cocktail shot.”

“Is that why I feel like shit right now… Why my whole body is aching?”

Dr. Cole gave me a warm and plump smile. “Well, it has been almost a week since your last shot. It seems I may have to up your dose. Are there any others side effects that you might have?” Dr. Cole took my pulse. He took my blood pressure and then my temperature. He looked into my ears and eyes.

“Like?

“Ahh, dizziness, nausea, vertigo, vomiting… Anything in particular? You are the first person that I have actually administered this drug to. And, I must say that it is actually working quite well.”

Eyes wide, with nothing to say, I just stared at Dr. Cole as he placed a rubber spandex on my upper arm and began to tap the big vein on my right arm. The injection was quick and cool. Each and every time that I had received it it, I almost felt as if it was a drug high. I took it in and took a deep breath. I laid back and waited for the pain the pass.

“Do you feel better?” He asked.

I swallowed hard. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I opened them and replied with, “yes.”

Dr. Sebastian Cole began to pack his things back up. “Good, then I shall see you next week.” He walked up to the door and opened it. “Hopefully, not earlier. If that was the case, then it was because you were seriously injured.”

“Dr. Cole?” I asked.

He turned swiftly from the door and looked at me. “What is it my dear?”

“Well, there may be one side effect, or something, I don’t know.” I was hesitant, but noticed something strange about my nails. “You see, my nails have been growing and I usually bite them, you know…”

He was intrigued. “Go on child.”

“So I’ve been biting them, but they are not as easy to bite off as they used to be… Look, what I’m trying to say is that the shits are strong as hell.”

“Show me.” He said.

I didn’t want to destroy the beautiful room, but either way I had to prove to Dr. Cole that something was different. I walked up to the wall and pulled my nails down it. The paint and the drywall began to peel up underneath my fingernails.

Dr. Cole looked at it in amazement. “My God.” He said. “I would have to say, that the compound is successfully bonding with your body. He grabbed my hand and closely looked at my nails. “Yes indeed. Your nails are now growing with the compound, exquisite!” He went to his bag and pulled out a pair of nail clippers. Dr. Sebastian motioned to me, “May I?”

I smiled. “By all means Doc.”

“Do you have a preference?”

“Nope.” I said.

With some effort, Dr. Cole was able to remove the nail for my right pinky. He was quite happy and ecstatic by the discovery. “Let me get to this to the lab. I will let you know of the outcome.”

I nodded and replied, “thanks Doc.”

He slipped through the door and he was gone.

Feeling much better I rose to my feet. Knowing that I would not have to train, I put on my favorite steel toed boots. I opened the door and walked downstairs. The TV was on and I caught Paige lounging on the leather couch.

She rose quickly and smiled as she saw me. “I saved your breakfast. I hope that you’re hungry?”

“Famished.” I said.

It was a bowl of steel cut oats. It was healthy and light. I gratefully consumed. After my breakfast was diminished, I followed Paige back into the living room with the TV. I sat upon the leather couch and waited.

Paige disappeared. She came back with Barrett, Clive and Fitz. All four sat down. Barrett placed the DVD into the player and we all watched.

It was my opponent, Serial Carol. I guess the idea of this watching exercise, was for me to get used to the moves that Serial Carol would use. That was fine with me. There was nothing better than staying in and watching movies on a rainy day. Unfortunately the movies that I was watching, wasn’t exactly entertaining.

She was tall and slender and her arms were long and deadly. I watched her, fight after fight as she pounded the living snot out of her opponents. For hours I sat and watched how powerful she was. I calculated in my mind, the only way to bring her down, was to put her arms out of commission. But then there was her weapon of choice. What she used was a machete strapped to her back. When the time was right, she unleashed her iron. I was disgusted as I saw woman after woman, lose a limb or their head. I shook my head in dismay.

The fights were gross and bloody. I put my head down many times because I could not watch the gore. Having to watch something disgusting to learn was just plain disgusting indeed. I knew in my heart that Serial Carol had no other choice to do what she did. I sneered. I knew that I would have to put her down, but I wanted to keep her alive.

Carol was dangerous. There was absolutely no hesitation on her part, when it was time to pull her weapon. She pulled, sliced, diced and it was curtains for her opponent.

Every now and then, Barrett or Fitz would chime in giving me pointers. They would point out her weaknesses as well as her strengths. Clive remained in the room quiet the whole time. He was glued to the TV and stared at it like a fascinated child. At last, when the footage was complete, I went down below with Fitz to practice my knife work a little bit more.

I was silent for a long time. I just focused on what I had to do. My anger began to bubble up. I tossed my switchblade at the target harder and harder. 10 feet away from my target and I was about 5 inches off from the bull’s-eye.

Fitz remained silent. When at last he finally spoke, “good, you’re doing very well Lill. You have nothing to worry about.”

I threw the switchblade one last time. I hit the bull’s-eye and stopped. I shook my head. “Please don’t do that.”

“Do what?” He asked.

“Encourage me.” I walked to the bench and sat down. I looked up at Fitz. “You encourage people for good behavior. You encourage children for when they learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. You’re encouraged for getting the job, or getting a raise, but encouraging this?” I took a deep breath and exhaled long.

Fitz walked up and sat down on the bench next to me. He was a beautiful Native American and always smelled so well. His facial features were always smooth and almost boyish like. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you felt that way.”

“Did any of the other girls… Did any of the other girls ever think differently? I mean, is this your usual routine?” I asked.

Fitz replied with silence, but then he spoke. “Well, I must say that you are a different breed. You are most different than the other girls. I’m assuming it’s because you have more to lose.”

I began to protest, but Fitz cut me off.

“And or, have already lost. I’m not encouraging you to kill, maim, Lill. I’m encouraging you to survive. As your trainer, it’s my duty to get you through this. If you fail, then I fail as well.” Fitz sat back on the bench and clasped his hands together.

“You know, before this, I used to be pretty funny. I go throughout my day, thinking who needed a smile. I’d do my best to make them smile or laugh. It was really my biggest goal in life, was getting people to find happiness. A smile.”

“Well, listening to some of things that Barrett has to say about you, needless to say you put his panties into a bunch, but you also got a laugh out of him to.” Fitz said.

“You know.” I tilted my head and began to smile at the thought of the memory. “Wise rabbit once said, a laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it’s the only weapon we have.” I began to laugh to myself and shook my head. I turned and looked into Fitz’s dark Brown eyes. “I don’t see it as a weapon at all. I see it as a cure.”

Fitz lifted his head began to laugh out loud. “This is so very true!”

“You damn right!” I said. “Weapons are used to inflict damage. Cures however, cures are made to save you.” I replied.

“So you definitely have it all figured out don’t you?”

Smug with myself, laughing, I slightly nudged Fitz in the shoulder with my elbow. “No doubt. The wisest man I met though, said to me, find a laugh, find love because life’s too short. Each and every day, what that man said to me echoes throughout my mind.”

It was a good feeling that I was having. I was finally able to connect with somebody. Beside Paige, he was able to have a laugh and share some other aspects of my past life with me.

Fitz and I laughed and talked for some time longer. In his eyes there were all sorts of different kinds of training. The most important training however, was the training to tame the untamed heart. Finding the loss in a lost soul, but trying to keep it intact. My soul was lost; I could tell Fitz was trying his best to bring it back home.

Paige peaked her head in through the door. She let us know that it was dinner time. Still laughing, Fitz and I walked back up the stairs and into the kitchen.

During dinner I stayed silent. Tomorrow was the day. A week had gone by and tomorrow was the day of another fight. I kept all other voices out of my mind. Quiet conversation was going back and forth between Clive, Barrett and Fitz, but I remained silent. I didn’t want to think of tomorrow. I just wanted to remember the laughs that Fitz and I shared.

Dinner was finished and the dishes were complete. Quietly Paige walked me up to my room. I opened the door and closed it. Silence was shared between us, that was all. I took another shower and stayed in there for a while. I tried to let the warm water wash away my fears. As soon as I was done, I put my PJs on and walked back outside to the balcony.

The night was cold. The cool air was prickling at my skin. I walked back into my room and grabbed my leather coat. I came back out and placed my elbows upon the balcony rails. The heavy rain had subsided for a while. There was nothing more than a few droplets here and there. I took deep breaths of the rain filled air, I thought they would be my last. I looked into the sky and gazed upon the dark purple clouds. I took my bare hand and traced it upon the wooden banister and felt the wetness as it slicked underneath my Palm.

I placed my head into my arms and began to cry. The beautiful ways of nature always made me so emotional. I felt I needed a good cry. The rain began to fall down harder. As the skies cried, so did I. As soon as it began to downpour, I sat out there as long as I could. Becoming soaked, I came back inside. I threw off my jacket and dried off. Still just a tad damp, I sat down on my bed. I remained there, thoughts racing through my mind.

Hours passed and as Paige emerged through my bedroom door, she found me still sitting upward on my bed. “Why have you not gone to bed?”

“I could not find sleep.”

She walked up to me and placed her hand upon my chest. Her other hand was wrapped behind my neck. She maneuvered me to lay down. “Should at least try to find some sleep. You have a big day tomorrow.”

“Tell me about it.” I said sarcastically.

“What troubles your mind?” She asked. She walked to the other side of the bed and pulled off her night coat. She pulled back the covers and crawled in.

“Don’t you mean, Penny for your thoughts? There are many things that plague my mind right now.” I lay there for a moment in silence. “Unfortunately, the thoughts that are going on in my head right now are untranslatable through words.”

“Smartass,” she replied. She leaned over me and kissed me on the four head. “Either way, good night to you my love.”

Warm words spoken to send me off into a night of dreaming bliss. As I turned away from her and lay myself into a fetal position, Paige wrapped her arm around me and pulled me closer. Her body heat kept me warm. Her touch, kept me safe.

As the sun rose upon the deep blue vast sea, the rays shed their light throughout my room. Slowly but surely, one ray after another, the beams slowly slipped their way up onto my bed and caressed me in their calming light. My eyelids went from darkness, to a brighter tan and my eyes slowly opened.

The room seemed bright and serene. I turned my head to look out into the ocean and saw that the blue sky had overcome the rain. The clouds were puffy and patchy here and there, the morning was in full swing. The suns reign was nothing to be reckoned with.

I smiled as I lifted myself out of bed. I walked outside onto the balcony and took a deep breath. The brisk, breezy ocean air was all I needed to start my morning. I left the balcony feeling good. It was shower time.

I took my time in the shower, dried off and sat on my bed wearing nothing more than my towel. I took some time wondering what I should wear. The sun had just recently awakened, so it could be no later than 8:00 AM. I had no idea what time we would leave. So, I just put on the casual workout clothes.

I walked downstairs into the kitchen since It was business as usual. Everyone was already at the table. Clive, Fitz and Barrett. I smiled as Paige’s eyes caught mine. She was busy as usual at the stove. I pulled up my seat quietly and sat down.

Fitz acknowledged me first. He gave me a “good morning.” After Fitz spoke, Clive wished me good morning as well. I wasn’t expecting it from Barrett. I never expected much from him except for ass whoopings.

It was uncomfortable for me. It was my big night and I was waiting for something, some sort of instruction. I was now aware of what was to come and I was hoping for some sort of explanation about anything. Everybody kept quiet. They sipped their coffee and they ate.

Paige brought me another bowl of steel cut oats. I ate them in silence. She brought me coffee and I waited for it to cool. During eating and sipping, I kept glancing over at Barrett, who was happily reading his paper. It was a when I needed noise and information. The silence was killing me. I woke up strong, happy and content, but the silence was tearing down my nerves.

I learned throughout my time, to only speak unless spoken to. Everybody was finishing up at their breakfast. Clive was first to leave. He was usually chatty Ann at the table, but today he left without word.

Fitz finished up and looked at me before he left. “I’ll see you in a bit for last-minute training okay?”

I nodded. With that Fitz was up and left.

I was still sitting at the table; Paige had already picked up all the plates and was done with the kitchen cleaning. She leaned in close and spoke quietly into my ear. “My father will speak to you. Just wait. I will see you later.” Paige walked out of the kitchen. I was left with Barrett and his unnerving silence.

Patience and waiting did not bug me one bit. I wore patience like a well fitted glove. What bugged me was the fact that I was being deprived of important information. Information that could very well save my life.

The problem was, waiting for Barrett. A man that held mixed emotions. A man that was a stonewall. Barrett sat behind his newspaper, reading quietly. As anticipation was killing me, he finally spoke. “Tonight, do you know what you have to do?”

“Yes.” I said.

He slowly pulled down his paper to look at me. His eyes were as blue as the pristine oceans that greeted me this morning. Such a gorgeous feature, to compare to his ugly being. “You have seen her videos and are completely aware of what she is capable of?”

“Yes, sir.” I replied.

“Good.” He finished off his coffee and placed the mug down on the kitchen table. He took his hand and rubbed his forehead, his face. The game of training girls and fighting seemed to take a toll on his life. I always wondered, if he ever worried about his daughter’s well-being, or was it because of his daughter’s well-being that he did what he had to do.

I thought about my mom for a moment. I wondered if she was worried about me. I was in my early 20s and every time I went out, she would always ask me if I was going with someone else. My mother’s love was always divine. She never strayed from her two daughters that she loved so much, and for that I thank her. It was her love that gave me the strength to do what I had to do.

Barrett rose from his chair. He bent over and placed his one good hand on the table, the other still resting in the sling. He looked me directly in the eye and said, “I am an ass hole. I am an ass hole for a reason. There are many things in this world that we have to do, and that I do not wish to.” He hesitated for a moment. It seemed as if he was almost getting pasty. Almost getting ready to cry. “I have done many things in this lifetime that I am not proud of. Because of those things, I owe the devil. I have a temper and I know this. But the devil wants my soul, and other things that I do not want him to have. Because I have done those bad things in the past, I owe the devil. I owe the devil everything that means anything to my heart.” He leaned in close. Barrett placed his stubbly beard near my ear and I felt the chafing. He leaned in closer and began to whisper. “I have gotten very close with you. Keep up the fight. Stay with me. You can buy me some time. I cannot lose her.” Barrett turned quickly and left.

The only person that I could think of that meant anything to Barrett was Paige. It was clear to me now, that if I went down, Paul Bishop would do something terrible to Paige. There were now two people that I was fighting for. I was fighting for my mother and for Paige. I closed my eyes and I shut them for some time. Inhaling deeply and trying not to think. I released my thoughts.

As I rose to my feet, and looked to my left and than right, noticing absolutely no one was in sight. Seemed the longer I hung around, was less and less people would watch me. It was almost tempting, just to get up and walk out the door. I thought about it for a moment, but eventually put the thought to rest. I left the kitchen and went down to the training room to meet Fitz. It would be my last training before we left for the fight.

It was short but sweet. I did my warm-up, I played with my knives. Fitz and I talked and joked around. It was shortly lived as Paige popped her head into the door and told us, “It was time.”

Slowly and stiffly I walked up the stairs behind Fitz. As I entered the kitchen and sat down at the table, everyone was in a state of movement. Everyone had something to do and something to gather. I tried to get Paige’s eye contact. “Is there something you want me to do?” I asked.

She stopped abruptly and looked at me. “No… No. Just sit there, we have everything under control.” and with that she left.

Everybody was in and out of the kitchen. Everybody was going into the garage and out of it. I sat there, quietly waiting for someone to tell me to do something.

Paige, rustling about, dropped my boots and battle clothes off on the table. She looked at me as she placed them into a duffel bag. “Your fight clothes have been cleaned. Get ready, because here we go. Do you have to pee? The trip will be a few hours. I’m sorry, but there will be no potty breaks for you. I suggest you go to the bathroom now. There is a cup in the back of the car in case you need to go. There is a bathroom over there in the game room.” Page pointed at it and then quickly took off through the door that led to the garage.

I tilted my head looking at her in awe. Paige Barrett just worded and entire paragraph that sounded like it came from the book of my mother. No, I didn’t have to pee, but I didn’t want to use a cup in a car either. I got up and walked to the bathroom. I pulled down my exercise shorts and sat on the toilet. Nothing came out. I began to push on my abdomen in the space between my belly button and my private parts. I remembered going on long trips as a child. My mom would always tell me to go potty before we left. I called it my PP button. As I pushed and moved around my hand, I began to break a little bit of water. It was all that I could muster, but at least it was something. I pulled my shorts back up, washed my hands and went back out to the kitchen table.

Sitting quietly, Clive, out of nowhere, casually walked up to my side. “It’s time to go girl. Are you ready?”

I nodded and followed him out to the garage. It was the sight of the car that made me giggle. It was a black, luxury Lincoln town car. It was a kind of car the gangsters used. Dark tinted windows and all. I stopped and giggled to myself. “You have got to be kidding me.”

Barrett was at the wheel. He turned the ignition with his good hand and slowly pulled the bad one from the sling, tossing it out the driver’s side window. Barrett then rolled the window down. “Get the Fuck in.”

Still smiling, I shook my head and got in through the rear passenger side. “Oh, this shit is just pure gangster.” I said kiddingly. “If I get killed tonight, are you going to dump my body into the trunk?”

“Yes we are smart ass. And we are going to dump your ass in one of those holes in the desert too.” Barrett said behind the wheel, slowly working the stiffness of his hand.

Clive climbed in to the driver’s passenger side to occupy the seat next to me. Quietly we waited. Paige finally graced us with presence and sat in the front passenger seat.

“Anyways,” Barrett pushed the button for the garage door to open. He then spoke. “We don’t dump bodies in the desert anymore. They always seem to find those bodies. We shall dispose of your body by tying a concrete block to your feet. We will dump you into the ocean and let the sharks have at you.”

My eyes widened and I became quiet. As soon as the car began to back out of the garage, Clive slapped handcuffs across my wrists and placed a black bag over my head. Well, back to square one, I thought to myself, but at least I was not being transported in the back of a U-haul.

“Dude, seriously? I asked from behind the black bag.

“Just a precaution kid. We can’t have you runnin out dis car, now can we?” Clive replied.

Quietly, I no longer disputed, but rather accepted my handcuffs and my head bag.

The ride was rather pleasant. I was in a comfortable seat and in case of accident, I was buckled in. I couldn’t help but laugh at the memory of the U-Haul ride. How I had to use the disgusting makeshift toilet. How much the U-Haul had tore up my body.

It wasn’t long before the boredom of staring into a black bag got to me. I decided to rest my eyes and finally sleep came. All I could hear in the background was the echo from Barrett’s classic rock music that was playing over the radio.

It reminded me of trips with my father. We would drive to the lake, or go hunting as well as camping. My father’s radio station never left the sounds of classic rock. I dreamt of him sitting there in the driver seat, pouring coffee from his hot thermos, having to use both hands and steering with his knee. I remember how my mother would always buy the big boxes of goldfish, as they were my father’s favorite snack on road trips.

Every time we left the Valley of the Sun, I only saw cactus’s. My sister and I would fall asleep, but when we awoke, we saw beautiful pine trees and cooler weather. It was always a mystery to me when I was younger, how exactly did cactus’s turn into beautiful tall trees. Tall trees that would give us such a beautiful fragrant smell and played the most wonderful music when the wind whisked through them.

There were no stops on the way. Apparently we weren’t going far enough that we needed to get gas. Apparently nobody had to go to the bathroom. The drive was straight. It seemed as if it was mostly highway. As soon as the car begin to slow down, stop and take more turns, I knew we were nearing our destination.

At last, the car had stopped. Clive undid my handcuffs and pulled the bag off my head. I got out of the car. It was the same spot that we had parked the first time. Big old side of a metal building, big floodlights. The trunk was open and everybody was grabbing something. I stood still trying to keep my composure.

“You and Paige get the kid in the room. It’s about 7 o’clock now. You guys got two more hours until the fight.” Barrett barked out orders.

“What you going to do?” Clive asked.

“I’m going to go register with the judges. Let them know that were here.” Barrett replied.

“Where’s Fitz?” I asked.

He began to walk away but stopped as soon as the question was asked. He slowly turned to look at me, eyes almost warm. “He’s on his way kid, he’s on his way.” It was all he said. Barrett disappeared through the door.

Paige grabbed her medical bag from trunk of the car. She was going to pick up my bag as well, but I cut her off. I picked it up and looked at her. As I did, she smiled at me and I nervously smiled back.

“Let’s go kids!” Clive said holding the door open.

I took the one last brief moment. I lifted my head to the wind. I looked up at the black sky and gazed into the sparkling stars. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, inhaling the freshness of the air. I turned and looked around. It was dark enough I couldn’t see beyond the floodlight. I tried to savor the outside for one more moment. It was very possible that it could have been my last.

Paige went and I followed. We walked through the corridors and hallways as we did a week before. It was almost an underground mini maze. We finally came to our so-called waiting room. I dropped my bag and began to warm up. My nervous level just shot up to an all-time high. This time I knew what I was in for. This time, I knew the chaos that waited for me beyond those chain linked gates.

While I was warming up, Paige and Clive sat, watched while exchanging quiet words. Since Barrett had left, he had yet to return. I continued warming up. I practiced my moves, my blocks. At some point during my warm-up, Clive got up and left. I did not want to overexert myself. At the point where I felt I was possibly getting tired, I stopped and sat next to Paige.

“Are you ready?” She asked.

I wiped the sweat from my four head. “Ready as I will ever be.”

“Good.” She said. She got up and picked up my duffel bag. She placed it into my lap. “Get your clothes on lady. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

I put the duffel bag onto the bench and opened it. I had no problem dressing in front of Paige, for I had done it before. I pulled out my boots, my pants and socks. I pulled out the shirt, my lucky Firebird shirt. I smiled as I unfolded it and stared at the fiery bird. Finally, I pulled out my leather cuffs.

I peeled off my shirt and shorts while Paige politely turned her head. In my bra and panties, I put my socks on first. I pulled up my blue jeans, followed by my Firebird shirt. “You may look now, my dear.” I said jokingly to Paige. She looked at me and smiled. I continued with my steel toed boots. DOC Martens, and they were probably one size too big, but I loved them. I stood up and put both leather cuffs on.

Paige looked at me giggled. She looked at my hair. It was a dirty blonde Afro. Pointing at it, she asked, “what are you going to do with that?”

I smiled and ran my hand through my poufy short hair. “What do you want me to do with it?”

“Lady, you look like a silly Q-Tip. You’ve got one more thing sitting in that duffel bag. Put your hand in there and find it.” She said.

Curious, I reached into the duffel bag reaching in all four corners. I found a bottle of hair gel. I cocked my brows and looked at her smiling. “Really? You want me to put product in my hair?” I had done it before and liked the outcome. Perhaps it would give me more of an edge to my switchblade look.

“Yes, please… I assure you, if your hair is not done, they will not take you so seriously.”

“Who is they? The fighters of the vicious crowed.” Smiling, I obeyed. I walked over to the mirror that was in the corner near the shower and applied the hair gel. I had at least 4 inches of hair by now and tried to Spike it up. I swished it back and pulled it out. I propped it up and pulled out one single strand. As soon as I was satisfied, I walked back over to Paige and sat down next to her.

“I have faith in you.” She said.

“I know.” Frowning I shook my head. “I wish we could have met under different circumstances.”

“I do to.” She replied.

The witching hour was upon us, As Barrett and Clive emerged from the door. I sat on the bench, elbows resting on my knees and chin in my hands. The time was drawing near and I became more and more antsy. I lifted my leg up and began to shake it uncontrollably. I looked up at Barrett. “Is Fitz here yet?” I asked.

Barrett looked at me and ran his hand through his stubbly beard. “He should be here any minute.”

It was on the dot and speaking of the devil. The door opened and Fitz appeared. I smiled knowing that my mentor and trainer had finally arrived. “What took you so long, guy?” I asked.

He walked up to me and kneeled in front of me. He smiled and shook his head. “Traffic and other things that I needed to take care of. But I’m here now Lill, I’m here.” He put his hand into his pockets and pulled out my two knives. He handed them to me. “I think you’ll need these, Switchblade Mama.”

I smiled and took them graciously. “Thank you.” I said. I took my switchblade and my Spyderco and slid them into the right side of my pocket.

A cell phone rang and Barrett pulled it out of his pants pocket. He put it to his ear and listened. “Okay, we are on our way.” He put the phone back into his pocket and then he looked at me. “Are you ready kid? They are waiting for us.”

I nodded. I got up and pulled my black hoodie jacket from the duffrel bag. I put it on and pulled the hood over my head. I zipped it up. I took a deep breath and exhaled through my teeth.

Clive and Barrett left the room first, with me in tow. Fitz and Paige followed behind. That was how we walked on our way to the killing floor. Two in the front, me in the middle and two in the back. I placed my hands into my jacket pockets with my eyes trained on the ground.

It was time. We walked up the final steps that would leave me into battle. As we emerged from the underground, we were greeted by bright lights and an expensive crowd. When I rounded the top of the stairs, shielding my eyes from it’s bright radiance, an encouraging chant was being repeated. “Switchblade Mama, Switchblade Mama.” I couldn’t help but smile. I waited patiently for my song and my moment. Soon, the chain-link gate would open and I would have to fight for my life, once again.

I saw her as the gates opened. She was so very tall. She was muscular and slender. Her eyes were piercing black. Her hair was long and Brown, well past her shoulders. She walked onto the floor, with such a great confidence. She wore nothing more than a tank top and Capri pants, tattered at the ends. I watched her carefully. I saw the machete as it was strategically planted on her back.

My song began to play and the chain-link gates opened. Moment of truth I thought to myself. I unzipped my hoodie jacket, pulled out my arms and threw it to the ground. With my head up, staring directly into Serial Carol’s eyes, I walked forth onto the killing floor.

My fists were already made. Even though my insides were melting, I kept a stern face. Even though I felt innocence inside, I glared into her eyes. I did not want to harm this girl, but evil was making me to do so.

The crowd was roaring. I felt my eyes become water and I told myself this was no time to cry. I had to be strong, for the most important reasons.

The word fight was unleashed. Both of us put up our dukes. We slowly circled the floor. I was staring into her eyes and she into mine. Over and over again my mind played the words that Paul Bishop had spoken to me a week ago. Without thinking, I pulled out my switchblade, and flicked it open quickly. Without thinking, I threw it at her.

The gunshot was quick. The bullet struck right by my foot sending small shards of concrete debris into the air. I heard the crowd’s roar. I lifted my hands and looked at the judges. I saw them shaking their heads, no. As I looked at Serial Carol, I saw the knife had plunged itself into her left thigh.

She pulled it out, swiftly. I shook my head feeling stupid. That was a bone head move. I just gave her more weaponry. I figured since I threw caution to the wind, I might as well add to the stupidity. I charged and came at her quickly and swiftly. Her long arm’s-length hit me in the face before I could even get near her body. I fell to the ground quickly. I was on my hands and knees looking at her. She was taunting me as I slowly rose to my feet. Carol had pocketed my knife. It was my father’s knife and I was going to get back.

I rose to my feet. I put both my fists up and slowly walked toward her. My eyes were glaring and my heart was feeling nothing but hate. I rushed her. I was able to block her fierce melee of punches and gave her one cold pop in the stomach. Serial Carol winded, took a few steps back. She quickly recovered with another punch to my face. I took it full on.

Blood gushed from my mouth. The hit must’ve caused my tooth to cut my lip. I got up slowly. I rushed her, over and over again, angry and not thinking. Every one of my attacks was put down by her fists and her long arms. My face was cut up and covered with blood. I still had not retrieved my knife. I went in for an attack and she gave me another blow to the face. I fell to my knees, disoriented.

The crowd was in a straight up roar. All could hear was, kill, kill. As I sat there on my knees, I saw Serial Carol as she unleashed the machete from her back.

I remained to play dumb. According to the judges, I was down and out of it. I was in a state and execution was acceptable. Beheading was on its way. Yelling from the crowd became louder and louder and I played with it.

Everything began to slow down. I blinked and it seemed like an eternity. Tiny droplets of blood were falling from my face. It was a light sprinkling of blood rain. I turned my head to look at the gates behind me. Paige’s face was stern but white with fear, her eyes filling with tears. If I allowed it, it would be the last time that I saw her beautiful face. I turned back to look at Carol. Indeed it was a good day to die.

Carol came up to me with the machete, arms wide and swinging toward my head. As soon as her arm swept with the machete, I dogged and shot out my hand grabbing hers with the over-sized blade. Her swing stopped cold. I stood up and apprehended her machete with my other hand and tossed it to the other side of the floor. We were interlocked in hand-to-hand battle.

With the machete gone, I stood up to Carol. She threw another punch and I shot my elbow out. Her fist connected with my elbow. I heard it crack and felt the crunching underneath the pressure of my elbow. Turning to my side, I turned back around with my fist extended, hitting her in the face. I took my right hand and grabbed her left. I lifted my left leg as high as possible and kicked her in the head. She fell back, groping her broken arm. Becoming cocky and not thinking, I walked to her quickly, moving in for a head butt. Carol had other plans.

As soon as I walked up to Carol, she took my father’s switchblade from her pocket, flipped it out and shoved it into my side. The feeling sent a pain up my spine that I had never felt before. The switchblade was lodged in my side, but I did not remove it. Carol was still on her knees as I threw a very hard punch to her face.

Her nose burst out with blood. She fell over backward. I still didn’t pull the knife from my side, but rather took my Spyderco from my pocket. Carol laid there on her back, in pain. The crowd was on fire. I slowly lowered the knife onto the back of her neck, pressing firmly enough to see the small indentation marks from the knives serrated edge dimpling her skin. She laid there in pain and I saw her eyes as she stared up at me and begged, silently for mercy. I pushed the knife harder into her neck and listened to the crowd as they chanted kill, kill, kill. I kneeled and whispered into to Carol’s ears. “What is your name?”

She was confused at first, so I asked her again. She finally spoke, “Carol Banning.”

With that said, I disregarded the remarks the crowd was saying. I leaned closer to her ear and whispered, “I shall show you mercy Carol Banning, even though the mercy was not shown to me.” I rose and stood tall. I gave everyone the finger and pulled the lodged knife from my side. I replied to the crowd with a grateful, “Fuck you!”

The crowd echoed back with mixed thoughts. They were Fuck you’s back, and cheers all the same. The fight was over and the spotlights shut off while the regular lights were turned on. I could finally see the crowd for who they actually were. Well-dressed, uptight businessmen and women. Smoking cigars and drinking martinis and cosmos. It made me sick. The money that they made and spent on human destruction was just plain gross.

I looked at the switchblade which was covered in my own blood, laying in my Palm. It oozed and dripped and glowed underneath the strange florescent lighting that was provided by the old metal warehouse, that was specifically built to host hen fighting.

It was unclear how long I stood out there. My face was bashed. With my blood still on my switchblade, I closed it and pocketed it. There were many things in a person’s life that they must do. Pay bills, go to work, and take care of their children. Hen fighting was most certainly not one of them. It became clear to me, that it was now my job to be brutal. All life hangs in the balance. Now, some ladies lives hang in my balance.

As I stood out there, Serial Carol’s team retrieved her damaged body from the floor. Her shout outs for pain was a mere echo in my mind. Still bleeding, I kept my eyes focused on the bloodstained ground.

When my team was allowed on the floor, I was quickly disarmed by Fitz. In a daze, my eyes met Paige’s. She took my hand and slowly led me back to our room.

I was sat onto the bench. My face was red with blood. My eyes saw things, the my mind would not comprehend. Barrett, Clive and Fitz all inhabited the room at one point in time, but they disappeared. Paige placed both her hands upon my cheeks, her mouth would move, but I registered no words.

I was a worthless lump sitting motionless on the bench. Commands were spoken, but I did not follow through. Paige peeled off my shirt. I could feel her hands and fingers poking and prodding the wound on the side of my stomach, for the pain was becoming much worse. It wasn’t until Paige slapped me hard in my face that I finally opened my eyes and came to.

“Look at me Lill, look at me!” Paige held my face in her hands.

I grabbed both of her wrists with my hands and slowly them pulled away. “I’m here.” I said.

“Finally!” She replied. “I cannot find my gauze. I think I left in the car. You need to get in the shower and clean up. I will be right back.” She kissed me lightly on the four head and left.

The pain was up, down, left and right. I undid the laces on my boots and pulled them off. I removed my socks and my pants. I walked up to the shower that was in the corner of the semi-big concrete room, Opened the head and turned it on hot. The water sprayed out cold at first, but quickly became liquid warm gold. I peeled off my remaining undergarments and entered the hot shower.

I watched the ground as the blood slowly washed away from my body. It made a trail down my legs and emptied into the drain. There was no soap to lather with and no cloth to scrub with, so I used my hands to remove the dried clotted blood.

I felt the heat from the shower releasing the tension from my muscles. Finally my skin washed away clean and there was no blood flowing down the drain. I kept both my hands up and planted firmly on the tiled shower wall. Staring into the corner of the room, I heard the door open and close. “Did you find what you’re looking for?” I asked.

“I sure did.”

It was an unknown voice. Startled, I quickly turned. Modestly, I tried to cover myself.

Like a slithering snake, she came in close. The only way to describe her, was a cougar. She was tall, about 5 foot 10. Her eyes were a piercing dark blue and her hair… Her hair was pitch black and long, with tiny curls at the end. She wore a long black velvet dress, with a slit running up the side of her right thigh. It was a spaghetti strap dress, complete with a feathered scarf.

My eyes became wide and my mouth dropped. I had no words. I stood there naked and vulnerable. The vibes that I was receiving from this woman were completely intimidating.

“Do not fear me child.” She said. She crept up slowly, closer. Her voice was low, feminine, but smooth.

I had dealt with so much, in so little time. This woman gave me nothing more but the willies. I backed up in the corner of the shower as much as possible. I covered myself as well as I could. I gave her my eye contact and she sent shivers up my spine.

“So this, this is the so-called switchblade Mama. Such a radical woman at heart, don’t you think?” She asked.

No words left my lips. Fear, and only fear oozed from my pores. Like a threatened animal, I tried to protect myself. Finally, I was able to say something. “What do you want?” I asked.

Her bright red lips pursed. I could see the excitement dancing in her eyes. Placing fear into other people’s hearts brought joy into her life. “My husband… Has spent quite a deal of money on you. I was just curious as to what all the fuss was about.” She looked at me closer. Eyes probing up and down. She smiled once as she completed her rounds. “Now I can see, what all this fuss has been about. You are quite the beautiful vicious creature, aren’t you?”

She still had not introduced herself, but from her last statement, I knew who she was. Paul Bishop’s wife stood tall and bold in front of me. I swallowed hard, eyes never leaving hers as I slowly turned off the shower. I never left her eye contact not for one little moment. Even though she was a woman, she was still dangerous.

“Such a fine specimen you are. A beautiful, built woman. Beautiful green eyes. I wonder though, how dangerous you could be with me?”

I had no answer. I still stood there, quiet and without words. Even though I had nearly died with Serial Carol, nothing could compare with the fear that this woman was protruding on to me.

“How rude of me. Let me introduce myself. My name is Michelle, Michelle Bishop. I am your so-called, owners wife.”

Backed into a corner with nowhere to go, I was still covering myself as best as I could with my wet gleaming hands.

Michelle walked in closer and I backed up further until I was stuck in the corner and could back up no more. She leaned in closely and brushed her lips over the back of my neck. Her soft lips, slowly kissed, and she whispered into my ear. “My husband has his toys, and I have mine. No matter what, I shall have you.”

I knew who she was and I wanted nothing more than to fight back, but I couldn’t. She was who she was and if I tried to fight back, I would be severely punished. I wished Paige would come back. I hoped that she would save me from this evil, wicked woman. Backed up against the corner, I finally, truly, felt violated.

“You are so sexy.” She said as her lips pressed against my ear. I could feel the warmth of her breath as it expelled slowly from her mouth with each word she spoke. Her hand began to trail up and down my naked wet body. She placed the tips of her fingers on my stomach and slowly slid them down into my crotch, pushing my arm out of the way that was covering my private part..

I became so uncomfortable with this. I wanted so badly to wring this woman neck. I threw my arms to my side, but that was all. I threw my head up and looked onto the ceiling. I tried so very hard wish it all away.

My breathing became heavier, as her hand probed harder into every part of my sacred womanhood. It was unwanted, but the pleasure was felt. I knew she felt my need and she continued to probe.

She moved in even closer this time. She pressed her body up against mine. She was a tall woman and her towering height miniaturized me. She pressed even harder; I placed both my hands up against the tiled wall in the corner that I was being backed into. While she felt me, despite my efforts to hold everything in, trying to feel repulsed, I began to move my body, complementing the motions of her hand. She leaned in closer and kissed me on the lips. I accepted her, fiercely, my mouth giving her’s the slight hint of an upcoming round of rough sex. She pulled back slowly licking her own, eyes glimmering with the possible thought that she had broken me. “You taste so good.”

Her dark blue eyes staring at me the whole time. It wasn’t until the door opened, that her head quickly turned and her eyes and hands left me. It was the greatest relief in the world, as I saw Paige walk through the door, hand filled with gauze. If she had not come when she did, I might have made the worst decision of my life.

“Excuse me ma’am, but you cannot be in here.” Paige must have saw the look of fear in my eyes, for her voice was shaky and startled. The fear had shifted from what Michelle was capable of doing, to the fear of Paige walking in on us in the act. Her eyes never left the tall dark woman. She walked up to her and Mrs Bishop walked to Paige. “You need to leave right now ma’am.”

Michelle slowly flowed to Paige. It wasn’t the normal walk of a human being, but rather a fluid floating that only death could perform. “My dear child, do you know who you are talking to.” Her voice was thick and low. She spoke with such a tone, it was almost as if she owned the whole world and everybody in it. I was quite surprised that Paige had never met Michelle Bishop before. After all the years that she was involved doing what she was doing, it almost seemed that meeting was guaranteed.

In my eyes, it seemed as if the florescent lights of the room had dimmed and flames, fiery flames protruded around Michelle Bishop. “No, I do not know who you are.” Paige stopped in her tracks. It was almost as if she knew where she was going, but not quite sure. With the gauze in hand, she clasped her arms together.

Michelle walked up to Paige closer. The clickety clack of her high heel stilettos, echoed throughout the room. Paige was only few inches taller than I and Michelle, with her tall stature, leaned over so that she could whisper into Paige’s ear. I could not hear what was said because the whisper was so low, but I saw the look and Paige’s eyes.

Michelle stood back up. With her encounter with me, the feathered scarf around her neck became somewhat unraveled. She quickly whisked it around her neck and turned back to look at me. “I will be back for you later.” The clacking of her shoes was the only thing that echoed through my ears. The very sentence that she laid out for me sent shivers up my spine.

I hadn’t moved since she violated me. I was still backed into the corner of the shower, hands still placed up against the wall, mouth dropped wide. As soon as Michelle Bishop left the room, Paige grabbed a towel from my bag and rushed up to me with it. She covered me quickly to dry me off, as I was still in my daze.

“Lillian, are you okay?” She asked while drying me off.

Still staring into space,I released the longest breath I ever held. I acknowledged Paige’s question. “That woman scares me more than anything in this world.”

“Would she do to you?”

“That would be a violation… She touched me, I didn’t want it, but she touched me.” Of course, I had to leave out the part where I was beginning to like it. Still staring into space. I could not collect a pure sane thought.

“Oh, God!” Paige gasped. “Come on, let’s get you dry and put some clothes on you.” Paige wrapped me in the towel and guided me back to the bench on the other side of the room. She pulled a clean bra and panties from another bag. She grabbed her gauze and her medic bag and began working on my face, which was covered in tiny cuts and bruises and flowing with small streams of blood. I sat on the bench, wearing only my lady ware. Paige looked at me up and down, making sure nothing was missed. She went down to the stab wound that was in the side of my stomach. She cleaned it more, and pulled a needle and thread from her bag. I had never had stitches before.

“How badly were you violated?” She asked, while working.

I swallowed. I took a breath and I thought about it for a while. How would I rate it? I winced a bit in pain as Paige sewed up my stab. “I would say… That she mildly fucked me.”

Paige stopped for a moment. She looked into my eyes; placed both hands over mine. “Christ Lill, I am so sorry.”

I shook my head. “No, no, don’t be, please don’t be sorry. It’s nobody’s fault but my own. That woman completely repulses me. She is a sick Fuck and she knows it. I feel sorry for everyone in the past that has had to deal with her sick ass.”

“Lill, this is the first time that I’ve seen Michelle Bishop. I’ve never seen her before with the other girls.” Paige turned back to my wound. She continued with the sew job.

I was staring off into space again. It scared me very much that Paul Bishop’s bitch of a wife took some interest in me. It angered me so much. It was a disgusting terrible world in which we lived in. People with money thought they could own others. If I had my life back, if I was back in the real world with the rest of the people, I might have been able to sue her ass in court over sexual harassment, but this was not the case. I was owned by her husband and apparently was owned by her as well. Michelle Bishop was hot and gorgeous all the same. I didn’t want to tell Paige that I was somewhat aroused by the whole ordeal, that I would keep to myself. No matter what though, my heart belonged to Paige and in the future I would be better advised on the matter of Michelle Bishop.

The sew job was finally complete. Paige gave me a clean pair of pants and shirt to wear. It was unclear to me as to where Clive, Fitz and Barrett went off to. Paige told me that there were at an after party. It was a place where a majority of the boys went to after their team had won, or lost. Paige explained that they usually drank and exchanged stories of training and previous battles. I had absolutely no problem with that. Just another glorified sausage party in my mind. It was just another excuse for me to be alone with Paige.

“What are you feeling?” Paige asked.

“Well, I’m pleased to say the least, that I made it back here walking. I was enjoying my shower until that vicious bitch…” I trailed my words off into silence.

“I know the feeling…”

I turned my head to look at Paige. “How so?” I didn’t want to know, but I needed to know.

“When my father first started working with Paul, he came to our house often.”

I knew in my heart where the story was going. I couldn’t even bear to hear the first part of her sentence.

“Back then, my father would drink heavily and pass out. It was even before Clive was in the picture.” She swallowed hard and took a deep breath.

I was sitting next to her, my face turned to hers. I could only see half of her eye, for It was mostly blanketed by her gorgeous golden brown hair, but I could feel the pain coming from it. Slowly it became moist and teary. I turned away from her and continued to listen, my eyes narrowing.

“There were many nights in which my father passed out and Paul was the only one there. The first time,” she swallowed again and hesitated.

I put my hand over hers. I grasped it. I looked at her and I shook my head. “You don’t have two tell me if you don’t want to.” I could feel the memory was causing her pain. I wanted to tell her to stop, but in my heart I knew she had a get it out. I felt that it was something that she had never shared with anybody else and by getting it out, she might be able feel some sort of clarity. I clinched my teeth and my fists, opening my ears. I continued to listen, in complete disgust.

“The first time, I was coming out of the bathroom. My father of course was passed out. Paul intercepted me on my exit out. He blocked me and pushed me back into the bathroom. He touched me in such ways…”The pain of the memory began to flush down her spine. Without words I could see she was thinking about it and shuddered.

Quickly I stopped her. I reached over, grasping her left arm and slowly pulled. I turned her towards me and laid her left arm over my right shoulder. Paige followed suit and wrapped her right arm around my lower torso. I took her and held in her my arms and I held her there tightly. I felt her pain. I held her tightly in my arms and I rocked her, ever so gently. I shooshed her and whispered sweet nothings into her ear.

As I rocked her, she burst out, “I didn’t want anything to do with him, but I had no choice, I couldn’t fight back. I had no choice.” Her words became broken up and filled with sobs.

My heart was made of charcoal and a lit match was just flung at it. The hate that I already felt for Mr. Bishop became a towering Inferno. I held Paige and rocked her. My mind was ablaze. I thought so many ways of how it could kill Mr. Bishop. There was no doubt in my mind, as soon as I was a released from my prison, Paul Bishop was the first on my list to be executed, by me and in an inhumane way. Barrett was no longer on my number one kill list; Paul boosted his way to the top. It disgusted me the way he threw his money about and owned people. I would no doubt, avenge Paige’s innocence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17.

The night’s events were drawing to a close. In silence, I held Paige. Sitting on the bench waiting, both of us fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion. It wasn’t until later in the night, the boys returned and retrieved us for our departure. We awoke to their sounds outside the door and quickly parted before anyone caught a glimpse of us together.

I was half asleep and sleepwalking. My eyes were heavy and my body ached. I kept rubbing my side feeling the crease where the stitches were. Paige saw it and smacked my hand. “You mustn’t itch!”

I’d obey, as long as she wasn’t looking. The minute she turned her head, my hand was back at it.

We reached the outside and loaded everything into the car. The night had expired and the morning was slowly making its way, forcing the darkness to fade. The air smelled briskly of grass and manure. As I took a deep breath, I looked up into the sky. I saw a bright full moon, lightly blanketed with clouds. Clouds that looked like a thin layer of staccato wool, dancing in front of the moon. There was a faintly gleaming halo around the moon indicating more rain to come. I was abruptly pushed into the car by Clive, who was anxious to get home.

The music quietly played and the mood was simply exhausting. Paige was at the wheel and Barrett was at the passenger side. Words were not exchanged, but both Paige and I knew that Barrett had been drinking. Barrett and Clive were both passed out, the alcohol oozing from their breath. I loved to drink myself, but would rather not consume it from someone else’s breath. The smell made me nauseous. As the exhaustion overcame, I succumbed. I leaned my head back against the seat of the black Lincoln town car and closed my eyes. Quiet words were exchanged, but I paid no attention. The ride was smooth and I took comfort as the low playing classic rock music kept my tired mind busy.

As I awoke, Clive was shaking me. My eyes, still crispy with sleep, slowly opened. We had finally arrived to our destination. Apprehensively, I slowly peeled myself from the seat. The four of us were in zombie mode. I needed no instruction or babysitting. I made my way through the garage and into the house. Behind Paige I slowly climbed the stairs. She went her way and I went mine.

I opened my door, the creaking echoing throughout the silent house. The light from the ever-growing sun was slowly enveloping the room. Without thinking, I dive bombed and plummeted myself onto the bed. I was so tired. I didn’t bother to change my clothes, or to brush my teeth. The sun was beautiful, but I needed my sleep. I tossed my head underneath my pillows. As I began to gain comfort, I heard my door lock as slumber was quickly achieved.

My dreams were plagued with the evening’s events. I tossed and turned every which way possible. Over and over again, I felt my own knife as it was shoved into my side. I felt the cold bloodied concrete as it touched my skin. I saw the look in the woman’s eyes, crazed and disorderly. My only thought was what drove this woman? Perhaps it was the same force driving the both of us? Aching and in pain, I knelt down and waited for my execution. As she brought down the machete, I felt, briefly, the cold steel upon my neck; just before she sliced my head off like a piece of cheese.

It was mid-afternoon when I bolted up in the bed. As usual I was covered in sweat. I was alone. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, because Paige was usually gone at this time anyway. I wondered if she even came into the room at all.

Two more fights and then victory would be mine. Another week would pass before my third fight. Training every day was a must. Barrett of course sat me down and chewed me out for the whole quick knife move with Serial Carol. I told him it was Paul Bishop’s idea, but he shot back with a, “he maybe pay the bills, but he’s not keeping you alive.”

What could I say to that? With that in mind, Paige spent the whole week distant. I know she was suffering from a recovered memory, a memory that must have destroyed her. We barely talked and at night, she left me vulnerable. The whole week I woke up in buckets of sweat. I woke up screaming, but nothing.

I spent the whole week in disarray. I spent every night, on the balcony, staring off into the deep black swelling the ocean would provide, always, listening to the waves crashing upon the shore. Every night, like every other, I would think of my mother. Every night, like every other, since I first met Paige, I thought of her.

I was so crushed by her distance. Even while training with Fitz, he noticed a change in my behavior. He asked me what was wrong, but I just shook it off and said nothing.

The week was tedious and slow. Every day was routine upon routine. I felt distant and exiled from Paige thus causing my lack in focus. Fitz continued to probe from my lack of enthusiasm and tried to say something one again, but I just replied with “it’s that time of the month.” Even though I knew I no longer got it. To me, it was a total loss. It was a week down the drain. As soon as the week was up and it was time to fight, I was no longer eager for any of it.

Paige remained unresponsive and I remained incoherent. The time had come for the third fight and we saddled up as usual.

Unfocused and not paying attention, I did not listen to Barrett as he prepped me on my next girl to fight. I just sat there in the waiting room. I did not train, nor warm-up. Everyone had left, I was left to myself. I was left to myself, just listening to the buzzing of the lights lights.

When the time came and I was summoned to the floor, I was still in a distant state and not ready. Depression was a mad horse and I was riding it blindly. As I walked up the steps and neared the gates that would lead me to the floor, I was greeted by a loud roar. A loud roar that I simply shrugged off. I pulled off my black hoodie jacket and dropped to the ground. With no spunk and nothing left in me, I casually walked to the floor and greeted my new attacker.

Denying the battle I slid my fists into my pockets. I took a deep breath and slowly closed my eyes, exhaling as I opened them again. It is insane what love does to ones soul, their thoughts and even their will to survive. At one time, I was at the top of the world, owning it all and now, I was giving not one shit and saying “fuck it” to all.

By the time I opened my eyes, she was already in front of me… I took in blow after blow. Cannonballs were being thrust into my temples and I embraced every hit. I did nothing to fight back. I took every hit in the face until I could take no more. Without hesitation, I fell my knees. Blood was streaming off my face into small pools collecting on the cold concrete ground. My face was disappearing behind a mask of blood and bruises.

I sat there, down on my knees, hands firmly planted onto the ground, spitting up blood. Perhaps I let it go too far. I wasn’t trying to spite Paige, but rather get her attention. It was a terrible plan that could cause my death, but without her in my life at that point, I had nothing.

I heard her name being rattled off by one of the announcers, Frisbee Frankie, or something like that. I wondered what the frisbees were. I had the shit knocked out of me. Frankie finally came around and kicked me in the stomach and I laid there on my back. I stared up into the bright lights, thinking I was already dead and went to heaven. I laid there motionless as she continued to beat my guts with a slew of nonstop punches. I no longer had the will. I just laid there and waited for a serene death.

As I finally felt I was beaten to mush, I heard the judges acknowledge, “kill her!” Still laying on my back, I saw a glimmer of the blades as she drew them from her sides. Round, sharp blades that looked like Frisbee’s. She pulled them out and raised them up high, ready to decapitate. The crowd was shouting for death, but booing all the same. They were disappointed the Switchblade Mamma had not put up a fight.

I acknowledged my death and prepared myself for what was to come. Frankie raised the two metal discs up high. She showed the crowd and the crowed roared. All they said was kill, kill! I laid there patiently waiting for death, somewhat disappointed the crowd so quickly turned sides. It wasn’t until I heard Paige in the sidelines screaming “Lillian, no!”

As soon as I heard her voice, I sprang to life. I rolled out of the way, just as the metal frisbees made their way to the ground and sent a volcano of sparks into the air. Like a rocket, I shot myself up and quickly balanced my two feet. Since weapons were drawn, I drew mine. The switchblade came out first, and then Spyderco.

My face was completely covered in blood. My hands were damp with it, making it difficult to keep a grip. Face bloodied with red, I looked like a cherry. I smiled, sending off a faint glimmer of teeth and white.

Frankie was surprised by my comeback. Her eyes were wide as well as mine. Prowling each other, we circled the floor, weapons of destruction pointing at each other.

At that point anything was possible. I knew she was tired, she had to have been after the beating she gave me. I waited patiently. Both knives drawn and ready for action. Everything in my body ached and pulsated, but I was ready for it. The flames from the fiery pits of the nine Hells enveloped me. I felt as if Asmodeus himself overtook my body and prepared me for murder.

Frankie came in quickly. Both metal discs, as sharp as medical scalpels came in at every side. I dodged each and every one. Left and right, then left again. As soon as she tried to come in with her right, I lodged the switchblade into her upper arm. She arched her head back and let out a low yell. While she was dazed from my attack, I used it as an opportunity to take the Spyderco and slash her stomach with it.

She bellowed loudly in pain and fell to her knees. She dropped both the metal Frisbees like hotcakes. My mind was such sludge. Everything became a distant echo. I heard the crowd yell. I didn’t care for them at all. Without an ounce of love in my heart, I walked up to Frankie as she sat there on her knees staring up into the lights. I looked into her crystal blue eyes. I took a strand of her long strawberry blonde hair and trailed it between my two fingers. With my heart black as tar, I released her strand of hair from my bloody hand. I took my palms and placed them on the side of her head and slowly slid them down past her chin, leaving a faint trail of blood. I then took my hand and placed it to the back of her head. I grabbed her hair violently, I got as many hairs I could and held her there and brought her face close to mine. I looked at her eyes and I placed my lips close to her ears. “I’m so very sorry.” I said. I released her head and shot my knee up to her chin. Her head chucked up quickly, sending a splattering explosion of blood flying into the air. It was so quiet. I turned and could hear the blood as it landed and penetrated the hungry cement. As I continued to limp with my back to her, I heard her body as it crashed to the ground. I moved away quickly as she fell to the ground motionless.

I continued to limp and slowly made my way to the steel chain-link gates. My vision became blurred. My sight was as a blurry portrait. A portrait that could only be concocted by Ho-Ryon Lee. As the Gates opened, I slowly walked through them, only to be failed by my very own two legs. I wasn’t unable to make it out the gates. The blurred vision became darkness and the darkness became my mind.

Restless and in pain. My soul became conjoined with the darkness of hell. It became attached to the fiery flames of madness that became my life. It was a madness that was plaguing my sleep. It was a darkness of evil souls conjuring something up in my mind that I could not fight. With pain, side after side I slept upon. I felt no comfort. It was my dreams, it was my mind. I tried so desperately to gain control. I tried to think of serenity, happiness, peace. Every time, it was trumped by dark ooze that plagued my very being. In and out of consciousness, fists, fingernails digging into my palms. I tried to fight the darkness. Perspiration covered my entire body. Nightmares entwined my soul. Even though it was a dream, I tried so desperately to wake up and fight my way out of it. Asmodeus was back again and he wished to claim his new prize, me.

There was a slight sliver of light escaping into the under folds of my eyelids. I reached my right hand up and pinched the top of my nose with my fingers. I opened my mouth and swallowed hard. Slowly opening my eyes, I tried to adjust to the brightness of the room. My head, pounding like a jackhammer. I was like a newborn, trying hard to gain control of my neck.

I was in my bedroom at the beach house. By the brightness of the room I could tell it was late afternoon. Breathing deeply, I tried to lay there comfortably on my pillow. I felt the nausea growing within my stomach. With my body in pain, I rose up from my bed and thought about making my way to the toilet. I halfway propped myself up. I became overcome with headache and even more nausea. My eyes were half squinted and my breathing was heavy.

“What the hell were you thinking?” Paige’s voice was low and soft coming from the corner of the room.

I waited a moment for the sleep to escape my eyes. I took the one hand that wasn’t propping me up to rub it out of my eyes. Trying to focus, I turned my head to face Paige, who sat in the chair in the corner of the room next to the sliding door.

“I’ll ask you again.” She asked. “What the hell were you thinking?”

I knew exactly what I was thinking. There wasn’t much left in my world. My mom, her safety of course was number one, but for some reason, there were acts above and beyond committed for love. What were the lengths that people would go to for love? There was a moment, the moment in which time stood still. I took a moment and slowly licked my lips. My heart broke as I knew what I was willing to sacrifice for Paige, my mom. The word slowly escaped my lips, and I softly spoke it. “You.”

Paige rose from the chair quickly. Her anger filled the room. “Are you serious? Do you realize that you almost had your head cut off?”

I, still fighting nausea, replied quietly. “Yes.” I covered my eyes from the light and rubbed my four head. “You have no idea what you’ve done to me.” I replied.

“You nearly died. Were you willing to have your head cut off for me?” She asked.

I quickly looked up into her brown eyes and without hesitation said, “yes.”

Her eyes swelled up with tears and her lips trembled at the corners as she shook her head. Quickly, Paige left the chair and glided towards me. She gently placed her palms, hoovering over my cheeks and brushed her nose with mine. She looked me into the eyes, crying and asking, “Why did you risk your life like that?’

I smiled, framing her face with my palms and wiping away her tears with my thumbs. “Because, I love you so.” I took my hands away and drew a deep breath. “I never knew what love was, until I met you.”

She pulled herself away. She closed her eyes and shook her head. Tears still streaming down. She walked back and began to say, “no, no, this cannot be.”

With the little strength that I had, I pulled myself from the bed. I walked toward her, heart sincere. “Lady, I fought my feelings long enough… But when you came and kissed me in that field, when you kissed me after that ride… Lady you rocked my world.”

Her breath was deep and sobbing. Repeating herself, she asked, “why did you do that? Almost kill yourself?”

Different variations and answers were needed for the same question Paige asked. I gave her another explanation, but similar to the first answer. “I wanted to get your attention.”

Her eyes narrowed and her eyebrows lifted. “Are you serious? You wanted to get my attention?” She let out a low burst of air. She halfway smiled and scratched her chin with her nails. It was so quiet in the room; you could’ve cut it like butter. She sat back down into the chair in the corner. She placed her face into her palms. Paige looked back up at me. “I am not going to deny that I don’t have feelings for you. But this relationship is impossible, it cannot be done.”

I sat at the edge of the bed. Toes cringing at the ends of my feet. I wasn’t staring at her, but rather out at the fading afternoon that was disappearing so quickly outside. “Look, maybe it was a bad judgment call on my side. But I do like you, a lot. I’m not asking for anything, I just want to know if you are okay. I remembered everything that you told me, I will never forget it. I swear to God, I will get him, for all that he has done.” My eyes were locked on hers.

“Thank you, but there is no need. I’m a big girl and I can take care of myself. I just want you to do me one thing. I need you to stay alive, and don’t let your emotions for me get mixed up in this race. Do you understand?”

I nodded. I felt a piercing pain in the right side of my ribs. I grabbed it and let out a short moan.

Paige was up in an instant. She came to me quickly. She helped me lie back down into bed. “You need to lie down and rest. You are not well. Lillian, you took quite a beating. Dr. Cole will be out later tonight to administer your shot. I’ve done the best I can do so far. Your healing is not as fast as it was last week. I think your becoming immune to the shot.”

“Does Dr. Cole know this?” I asked, eyes wide laying upon my pillow.

“Yes, I believe Dr. Cole is currently working on a new formula.” Paige pulled back the covers and got me back underneath them. She fluffed my pillow, extending her torso over my face. I closed my eyes and breathed her in. “Are you hungry?” She asked.

It was the soft gorgeous tone of her voice that always melted me like slow candle wax. I could live a millennium in darkness, only if I could hear her voice. “How long have I been out?”

“Well, it’s Monday, so, you have been out for about two days. You have your last fight next week.” After Paige was done making me comfortable, she sat on the bed next to me. “Will you promise me something Lillian?” Paige took my hand into hers.

“Anything.” I replied. Her facial expression was worried. I could see the years of hen fighting were adding wear into her face. Stress was building everywhere. I could tell she was getting tired of everything. I could tell that she wanted just to live her own life, a normal one. Paige Jackson wanted one thing and one thing only in life. She wanted a normal life to live, with someone to love her. I had no idea if I was a type of girl that she would accept love from, but I knew in my heart that I would have no problem loving her for the rest of my life. I had been gone for over year. During that duration, the one constant in my life was her. If it was not for Paige, I would not be breathing.

Paige took a deep breath and she released. “I need you to make sure that you leave your emotions out of this.”

“But I thought I was using my emotions not be a violent killer?”

“True. Never mind. Just do me a favor Lill.” Professional as usual. Paige sat motionless on the bed. She spoke without looking at me. She spoke staring out at the ocean. “If you care for me at all, you will never, ever, pull a stunt like that again. Do you understand?” She looked at me, eyes fierce.

I had no words, I just nodded.

“Good.” She said. Paige slowly rose from the bed and nonchalantly paced toward the sliding glass doors. She quietly watched as it was another rainy, windy day. Paige gazed out silently as the waves rocked the shore. She unlocked and opened the sliding door, briefly. The room was quickly entwined with the coldness of the outside and the gorgeous smell of rain and sandy beach. She closed the door, and stood there for a moment, quietly and then she spoke. “I do care for you Lill, I do.” She turned from the door began to walk toward me. Her eyes were as pure as angels themselves. “But I feel the closer we get together, the more we have to lose.”

I sat up from the bed and looked at her. “We cannot lose anything. The only things are to gain.”

She shook her head again. “No, no. Nothing good ever comes of this. I know. No matter what, at some point, I will lose you. I don’t want to.”

Painfully, I lifted myself from the bed. She didn’t hesitate and she didn’t move, she allowed me to place my arms around her waist. I moved in close to her. I moved in so very close that my lips almost touched hers. “I know, that you already have my future plans planed out for me. I know, that you think I’m going to die soon. But what you don’t know, is that I already have everything planned out. I am not going to die.” By the end of the sentence my hands were wrapped around her face. So close within breathing distance, I could have inhaled her in.

“I hope you know what you are doing.”

“Without a doubt.” I said. “Give me time, and I shall find a way out of this, for both of us.”

It was a frown smile. She moved in closely and softly planted her lips upon mine. The kiss with her was so soft and divine. I had Paige’s wonderful lips over mine. She pulled away quickly and shooed me back into bed. I did not hesitate, I obeyed. She went for the door and asked one more time as her hand laid on the knob. “Are you hungry?”

I smiled and nodded. With that, she disappeared through the door. I laid there, still smiling. I propped both my palms underneath the back of my head staring at the ceiling, still smiling. If there was any hope for me throughout this whole ordeal, Paige was it. I meant it when I told her I was getting us out of this. When the time was right, I would go after who it was that sold me out, and then I would go after the man, Paul Bishop. My fear these days was shortening as I was becoming fearless.

The week was better and filled with fewer disappointments. Dr. Cole, as usual administered my shot. He even smiled as he gave it to me. He told me it was a stronger new concoction. He told me it was filled with more amino acids and antioxidants that would help me heal faster. He wasn't kidding. By Tuesday, I was nearly at 100% better. By Wednesday Fitz and I began training again. Our training sessions lasted longer than usual. My championship fight was on Saturday and it was the fight of big bucks. Paige and I were doing much better. Though we had very little time to spend with each other, we spent it wisely. Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday, we walked on the beach and talked. We conversed about each other and we talked about life. It was really hard to tell if she agreed on being in a relationship. I wasn't going to press the matter, I was just happy that she was back to normal.

The whole week I was nervous. By Friday, I watched movies of Catherine Hermosa, a.k.a. Cat the Claws, whom I was to fight next. She was equipped with brass knuckles that shot out projectile spears. I was informed that in a championship fight, weapons were allowed at the start. I was nervous. I knew I could throw knives, but having brass knuckles that had five projectile spears, 10 projectile spears shooting out at you at any time, I became very nervous. I hoped that I was quick enough to dodge them. I hoped that my superior bone structure would stand up to them. I still remembered my virtue of mercy. It was hard to deal with the fact that killing was approved at any point in time. It sickened me to hear that killing heightened the bonuses of winning.

I spent the last hours of the day before we left for the fight with Fitz. He assured me that everything was going to be okay. He assured me that I was going to do well.

“Are you sure? I never been in the situation were killing was approved.”

He sat there beside me, motionless. Lips pursed and fingers entwined with each other. “You don’t have to kill, Lill. Remember your virtue of mercy. But also remember if she goes too far…”

“I know.” I replied, taking a deep breath and exhaling. “I know.” I could not fathom the thought of killing another human being. But I knew it was a possibility, and I knew if all else failed it was something that I would have to do. I hated the thought. I always wondered what went through the other girl’s heads. Did they think the same way that I did? Either way, it was survival of the fittest. I would do what I would have to do.

The ride up was quiet and I slept most of the way. There was a quick stop at a Walmart, in which Paige left to get some things. She quickly returned and we continued on our way. I tried to stay focused. I kept my eyes closed and took slow anxiety relieving breaths.

As soon as we got to the factory, I was quickly shooed into the building. I warmed up in the waiting room, with only one person on my mind. Catherine Hermosa or a.k.a. Cat the Claws. As it was just Paige and I, she remained quiet, as did I. We both knew that there was so much riding on this fight, my life and our love. When my warm-ups were finished, I suited up. Boots, pants and my lucky Firebird T-shirt. The shirt was becoming drab and worn out, Paige trying her best to keep it sewn, but no matter what, it was still my lucky shirt.

Just as Barrett, Clive and Fitz joined us in the room, we were summoned. Walking through the bland gray corridors, I was given my two knives on the way out to the killing floor. As I waited patiently for my cue to come out, I heard the background music for my opponent. So very peculiar for this kind of mood. It was Samuel barbers, Adagio for Strings. As we walked up the lone plain stairs and entered the belly of the gutted out factory, the Adagio for Strings were coming to a crescendo. The strings lessened and then cutoff. .

As I waited, and enjoyed the music, I looked around me. I saw well-dressed men and women. I saw men and women of power. I saw men and women that disgusted me. People that would pay for innocent human beings to be slaughtered was just plain disgusting. As I waited, I plunged my hands into my pockets. I saw across the way as Cat the Claws emerged from her under dwelling. The hairs on the back of my neck pricked up in a shear rush of fear. My breathing became sporadic, just looking at her, sent chills down my back. As I was dazed and in a fearful trance, a small boy walked up to me and lightly shook my arm.

My gaze turned from Cat onto this boy. I was startled at first. He was at least 13 or 14, but to me he was still a boy. I looked from him and into the crowd, trying to figure out who would subject their child to this bloody show.

The young boy looked at me and smiled. “Will you sign this? I’ve been watching you from the beginning. You’re my new favorite fighter. You have heart, and I appreciate that.” His voice was light and filled heavy with a Russian accent.

The little man handed me, what look like a program. It was filled with pictures and bios of every girl. I flipped through it until I caught a glimpse of me. It was a picture of me, holding both my knives. The photograph looked like it was taken at beach house. I knew the house was riddled with cameras, but damn that was ridiculous. I read the bio out loud. “The new contender, the Switchblade Mama. With a heart as pure as gold. New to hen fighting this year, she uses her heart over hate. She fights with the virtue of mercy. She wishes only to survive. The Switchblade Mama, may come in a small package, which is not a force to be reckoned with.” I smiled as I took the boys sharpie. I signed it, “Lillian Ann Cross, may you stay on the path of righteousness”. I smiled and handed back the book. “What is your name young man?” I asked.

He gratefully accepted the book back. “I am, Robert Bailey Ryans.”

I shook his hand. “Do me a favor little dude.”

Robert looked at me his eyes wide open. He was a young boy with big brown eyes. He smiled, and I knew anything that I told him, would soak it in. “Be kind to your fellow man. I appreciate that you like me. Do me a favor little guy, when you get older, please make sure that this ends.”

I didn’t know if he understood what I just said. He looked at me smugly, smiled, placed the book close to his heart and disappeared into the crowds.

The lights dimmed and the time drew near. My song begin to play and out from behind me, Barrett wrapped his arm around my shoulder, his breath reeking of booze. I turned my head in the other direction trying not to smell. The Gates opened and he pushed me onto the floor, my concentration gone. I stood out there, plan less and vulnerable.

She was not very bigger than I, maybe 2 inches more. She had long black hair pulled back into a ponytail. She was Hispanic, but her eyes blazed green like mine. She walked out onto the floor, with finesse. I saw her brass knuckles, equipped with 10 tiny projectile Spears and wondered how the mechanisms worked to shoot them out.

I looked at her and she looked at me. Her eyes were fierce, but my mind was questioning. The crowd, the lights, the cage, everything had faded out. I tried to focus on her. I tried to think of her first move. She was already equipped, weapons upon her fists. I let my knives rest in their pocket.

We waited as the crowd began to roar. We began to pace each other and circle. The order was finally shouted and the fight began.

My breathing became heavy, my eyes became wide. Even after the order, we still circled each other. I watched her fists, for I knew they were lethal.

Catherine, and distant from me, let out a mighty whale. She raised her fists high into the air and then pointed them at me. Right hand above the left hand. I knew what was coming.

I crisscrossed my arms and covered my face with my hands. The Spears were launched. I felt the pain as one planted itself into my right hand. Two more, into my right arm, and three into my abdomen. She no longer had her Spears so I lowered my hands from my face. Quickly, I removed the lodged Spears from my arms, blood now streaming from the vacant holes. Without hesitation, I lunged at her. She tried to put up a block, but I ran, jumped and kicked her right in her upper torso. She landed flat on her back and I was on top of her in a second.

I grabbed her by the shirt and pulled her up till her face met mine. I looked her into her eyes and I gave her a low growl. I was pissed. Still holding her shirt, I punched her a few times in the side of the head. My anger began to block my judgment. As I went in to give her another punch, she hit me from the other side with the brass knuckle.

Dazed, I rose up quickly and fell to my back. The impact, sent me gasping for air. She was on top of me quickly. With her brass knuckles, Cat was hitting me from both sides of my head. As she came in for another blow, I reached out and grabbed her hand. With one hand stranded, she used her other. I grabbed it as well. With both her arms bound by my hands, I used all my power to give her a headbutt.

The blow sent an explosion of blood protruding from her nose, momentarily phasing her. I took the moment to toss her off of me.

She laid by my side, holding her bleeding nose. I rolled away from her and stood up. I still had not pulled my knives. As I stood and taunted her to get up, I could hear the crowd yelling my name. She was on the ground and in their terms, waiting to die. I wasn’t about ready to unleash unholy hell. Even in the worst situations, I was still willing to teach the morals of life.

Catherine finally rose and I waited patiently. Our fight, finally became a fist fight. Each of us took blow after blow. We threw kicks and took them. She hit me multiple times with her brass knuckles. My face was bloodied, just as battered as hers. The fight went on and we continued to hit, kick and throw each other about the killing floor.

She was without a doubt a worthy adversary. I felt that show was over and it was time to end it. As it became another fistfight, I waited for another swing. Catherine shot out her arm once again, and I quickly dodged it. Before she could retract her arm, I quickly pulled up my switchblade and cut the bottom of her elbow. Blood began to spew out of it. She tried to cover it and I took it as an opportunity to drop kick her in the face. Cat fell to the ground quickly and without hesitation. I straddled her and began to choke her. I didn’t want to kill her, just wanted to put her sleep. She struggled with me, punching me many times in the face, but I just kept my grip tight on her neck. As she passed out from the choking, I pulled my Spyderco from the pocket, pulled it open and placed close to her neck.

The crowd was cheering for me to kill. With her passed out, I pressed my Spyderco harder into her neck piercing it ever so slightly that it drew blood. I looked up around the crowd. They were cheering for me to slit her throat.

Catherine was gone and her reputation already preceded her, so I knew her name. I took my Spyderco, folded it backup and put it into my pocket. I placed my lips upon her forehead and kissed her. This wasn’t Gladiator, so I had no Emperor to please. I looked into the crowd and saw Paul Bishop, sitting with Michelle. I saw his eagerness for me to end Catherine’s life. I took the road less traveled and let Catherine live. I rose from her limp but alive body and looked into the crowd. Smiling, I turned and did a complete 360. The chants for kill, became louder. I extended both my arms and raised my middle fingers. I did another 360, flipping everyone off. I smiled as the blood rolled down my cheek, over my lip, down my teeth and into my mouth. I had a bloody face and a bloody mouth. I had tiny spears jammed into my stomach, and I just noticed tiny spears protruding out of my thighs. The crowd didn’t boo at my fingers, but rather cheered. I felt as if they were getting use to my smart-ass. I smiled, and limped out of the cage.

As I met Barrett, Clive and Fitz, they had no words. Their eyes were as big as a child’s would be on Christmas morning as they saw all the presents lying underneath the tree. We walked back down stairs and into the corridors, all three boys talking about all my moves. As I limped, Paige came up beside me and entwined her arm with mine, providing more support. Together, the four of us walked back the waiting room.

As the boys dropped off Paige and I to the waiting room, they filled the corridor with the sounds of their loud laughter and wild stories, while on their way to a night filled with heavy drinking and celebration. Paige and I were left to ourselves. She pulled the projectiles from my body. I winced with pain on each and every one. As I stood there completely naked, Paige looked me up and down. She looked for any open gash that would need to be sewn, or anything that needed to be treated immediately. There was a pretty bad cut over my eye and she stitched it up. Paige gave me the okay, and I walked into the shower. The hot streams of water blasting over me, caused me pain in my open wounds, but I enjoyed every minute of it. As I was finished washing off, Paige brought me a towel. I dried off and she patched me up again. I was covered in gauze and bandages.

“Well, that’s the last of it.” She said as she was placing the last bit of gauze over the projectile wound which was on my thigh.

I quietly stood, naked and patched with gauze as Paige brought me my clothes. I smiled as I took them from her. Paige smiled back.

I was the kind of girl that could not put on a pair of pants unless my socks were already on. I pulled up my panties, pulled over my bra, taking the remaining articles of clothes and sat on the bench. I put my socks on and then my pants.

Paige sat on the bench next to me, her eyes were as warm as ever. I sat there, with just my jeans and bra on and looked her into the eyes. She was locked on me to. We leaned in closer and just as our lips met, the handle on the door began to turn.

Paige got up quickly and tossed the shirt at me. “Hurry up and put your shirt on!”

The door opened. The first person to walk through it was the man, Paul Bishop, with Michelle in tow. Barrett, Clive and Fitz followed.

I kept my eyes on Michelle, sturdy but nervous. Between the both of them, it was Michelle who scared me the most. She looked at me like a lioness and I, her prey. She was behind Paul and in front of the boys. She looked at me viciously and sexually licked her lips. I began to sweat profusely. Finally, when Paul began to speak, I turned my attention toward him.

“Fantastic job out there today. You did well. You made me a lot of money and, you made Barrett a lot of money too.” He extended his hand and I hesitantly shook it. “We finally have a success in this team.” Paul turned and walked toward Barrett. He drew close to his ear and whispered something into it. He then extended his arm and Michelle took it. Like a ghost, Paul Bishop vanished through the door.

Barrett, giddy with excitement, walked up to me with a duffel bag firmly planted to his side. His eyes were wide and filled with excitement. I had never ever seen the man so filled with life. He raised both his arms tall and planted them upon my shoulders, firmly.

I gave Barrett a cheesy smile as the aftershock sent a wave of pain throughout my body.

“Kid, you done fucking good! Do you know how much money I hold this bag? 1 million clams. This is the biggest pay out we have ever had!” Barrett turned and began to walk out the door. “Hurry up! Let’s pack up and get the Fuck out of here! We’ve got some celebrating to do!”

With the bag covering my head, I sat in silence and listened to the quiet chatter throughout the car. At one point in time, I finally fell to sleep.

I was shaken abruptly and woke up startled. Clive pulled the bag from my head. “Get da Fuck out kid. We gonna celebrate in dis house.”

I was escorted up the stairs and into my room by Clive. I walked to the bed and plopped down onto it, face first. I laid there for a bit, in pain, but almost reaching a comfortable slumber. As my eyes begin to drip down and close permanently for the night, I heard the door open. I lifted my head and looked at the door, hoping it was Paige.

Barrett emerged, holding gifts. I sat up on the bed and he sat next to me. He laid down on the bed, a six pack of Miller light, a pack of cigarettes, and what appeared to be a porno magazine. His breath smelled of booze and he just smiled. He gave me a pat on the back. “For your troubles and hard work. Most would get laid after a fight that you had, but unfortunately for you,” he poked me in the chest with his finger. “You ain’t got no one one get laid with, so I brought you a porno magazine. Drink up, enjoy your night and lay yourself! We are gonna leave early in the morning.”

Barrett laughed huskily as he left the room. I could hear the remnants of his laugh echoing throughout the house. I sat on the bed, beer lying next to me, smirking. My mouth watered as I thought of it. I pulled the bottle out of the box and slowly opened the top. I took a sip. It was nothing but pure golden satisfaction. I waited till the flavors left my mouth and I took another sip. I closed my eyes and inhaled the entire beer in one sitting. Its cold bubbles penetrating all the way down. It was liquid gold. After I had guzzled down the first beer, I tossed the empty remnants of the bottle into the trash. I picked up another bottle and twisted off the lid. I took another long drink. I went back to the bed and eyeballed the pack of Paul Malls. I picked up the pack and opened it. I pulled off the foil and inhaled the fresh tobacco. I closed my eyes as I drew in breath. With my fingertips, I partially fished out a cigarette, grabbing the filter with my teeth and pulling out the rest of the way. With beer in hand, and cigarette in my mouth, I walked out to the patio. The cool wind hit me and I embraced it comfortably. I took a deep breath and inhaled the ocean. I walked over to the outside table and picked up matches. I struck it and slowly and lit my cigarette, careful not to let the wind blow out the tiny flame. The first inhale was a deep one. I inhaled so deeply, I almost cleared the whole cigarette. After the deep drag, I took another swig from my beer. I put the cigarette into the ashtray and walked back into the room. I picked up the porno magazine, turned on the patio lights and walked back out.

I leaned up against the balcony and placed my beer upon it. With my cigarette in hand, I began to thumb through the magazine. I was always a sucker for the columns, so I read them. I laid my eyes on the pictures and gazed on all of their naked flesh, hard core penetration that was frozen in time. I really did not care for the brutality that was sometimes depicted in pron magazines, the men with their ladies. As I thumbed through the pages, I imagined Paige’s skin beneath my fingertips. I wished for her warmth and her beauty. As the pages of the magazine flipped through my fingers, I figured it would suffice. I would rather feel Paige instead. I figured I must make do with what I had. I had a beer, I had a smoke and I had porn. What more could a girl want?

I stayed out on the balcony a majority of the night. I was on my fifth beer and smoking my fourth cigarette. I was knee-deep into a story in my porno mag when I heard the sliding door open. I didn’t turn, I just continued to read my article. “Please thank your father for the beer, the cigs and the porn.” I didn’t look, but I knew it was Paige. I could smell her from the door. I could feel her presence, her energy, and her innocence.

“Lillian, look at me.”

Her voice was low and sultry. Her voice was different from what I had heard from before. With the cigarette in my mouth, porno mag in hand, I slowly turned around. Paige was Paige no more. She was wearing a light lavender lingerie. Her hair was down, curled at the ends and beautiful. She was wearing makeup and looked like a woman I had never seen before. She was so grown up. Her lipstick matched her red fingernails and toenails. As I slowly dropped my lower lip, the cigarette pealed from it and fell to the wooden planks of the patio below. “Paige? Is that you?” I asked, cocking my right brow.

She looked at me. “In the flesh.” She looked herself up and down. “Well, almost.” As if she was gliding, she came to me quickly and wrapped her arms around my neck. My mouth was still dropped open.

“You might want to close that mouth. I may try to put something in it.”

I was froze. I stood motionless, jaw still dropped. Eyes wide as full moons.

She took her hand, slid it from behind my ear and traced it down my arm into my hand. She grabbed a hold of the magazine. “If you’re busy, I can come back later.”

I never left her eyes. She was about one or two inches taller that I, but I kept my eye contact. “No ma’am. I am free to accept your company.”

She quickly took the magazine from my hand and blankly threw it into the corner.

I swallowed hard. “Where is everybody?”

“Passed out.”

“How?” I asked.

Page leaned in close and planted a kiss directly on my lips.” I slipped NyQuil into their drinks. It’s a handy thing to have, it tastes just like Jagger. I suspect they won’t wake up anytime soon.”

I glanced up at the overhead cameras and pointed to them with my eyebrows. “And those?”

She placed her tongue on the lower part of my chin and slowly glided it up to my lips. She then whispered quietly into my ear. “I turned them off.”

Finally secured, I dropped the bottle of beer from my hand and placed my hands around her hips. We touched four-head to four-head. She kissed me ever so deeply and pulled back. “It’s getting cold out here.”

As I took my hands from her hips, I slid them up her torso and over her breasts. I could feel the hardness of her nipples. “Yes, it is. Shall we go inside?”

She took my hand and led. As soon as we entered the room, she swung me around and tossed me onto the bed. It had been over a year since I had a drop of alcohol. I was on my fifth beer and I was buzzing, but I tried to stay focused.

I laid with my back flat on the bed and my legs hanging off of it. She wedged herself in between them. She leaned over and placed a hand on each side of my head. I gave her my utmost attention. I couldn’t help but notice the single string that was keeping her subtle but beautiful breasts tightly packed into her lingerie.

She noticed my gaze. “Go ahead. Pull the string and release them.”

I slowly pulled the string and they fell apart revealing so much more. I rose and slowly kissed each breast. I felt pain and pressure in my torso, but I continued to press on. I took my hands, slid them up over her breasts, and caressed her beautiful buttermilk neck. My lips met hers once again. I altered her position. I slowly rose and rotated her onto the bed, peeling off my shirt.

Paige rose from the bed quickly. Removed the top of her lingerie, revealing a delicate and fragile body. It was a body that reminded me of the pale sunlight on cloudy days. She stood there, willing and vulnerable in nothing but her lavender thong.

Gently, I placed my hands around her hips. With pure and caring eyes, she slid her hands over my naked flesh. Both of her hands were over my face, hovering, slightly touching. She took her soft fingertips and gradually glided them up and down the scar that was forever embedded onto the left side of my face. She leaned in and began to kiss the scar. As I stood, still kissing, she made her way down my chest and onto my belly. She began to kiss the stab wound that I had received a week before.

My body trembled beneath her touch. My mouth watered with desire for her. I wanted nothing more than to devour her with my mouth, take her quickly, but I knew nights like this, if at all would happen, were rare. No matter how bad I wanted it, I would take my time and let her take hers.

Paige undid my belt and pulled it from my pants loops. She extended her arm and dropped it to the floor. She undid the button to my pants, slowly unzipping. Paige slowly peeled them down so that they hung off of my hips. She began to kiss my lower abdomen. With a gorgeous, pure set of eyes, her head raised and she looked at me. “Sit on the bed and take off your boots please.”

I obeyed. I sat, lifted each leg, and removed a boot and a sock. As I sat, I watched.

Like a ghost, Paige glided up from her kneeling position. She came to me, floating like a cloud. Topless and beautiful. As she moved in, I extended my arms to feel her. She took both my hands and pinned them behind my back. I obeyed her restraints. Paige remove my bra. She took her hands and caressed them all over my upper body. Something that she had never felt before. Each and every touch sent a tingling sensation throughout my body. She took her time and did it slowly, all the while staring into my eyes. She reached her hands up to my chin and slowly kissed. She pulled back. “Let’s get these pants off of you.”

She pulled my pants off carefully, trying very hard not to cause me any pain. She leaned in to kiss me once again. I placed my index finger and middle finger upon her lips before she could. “Paige, I kind of have not been with another woman for a while. I’m a bit rusty.”

She smiled. She took my two fingers and put them into her mouth. She sucked on them, pulled them out, leaving a trail of saliva dripping from them. She then took them and placed them between her legs. “You just leave everything to me.” She said smiling. Paige leaned into my ear, trailed the rim of it with her tongue and slowly whispered, “You can return the favor later.” She began moving my fingers, slowly back and forth between her legs.

“Have you been with another woman before?” I took her lead and began to feel more deeply.

“Shhh.” She said. “I have been watching a lot of lesbian porn for the last couple weeks, so yeah, I did my homework.” She let out a little giggle. “It doesn’t matter, can you not feel how badly I want you right now?”

I closed my eyes, lifted my head back and laughed as well. I definitely felt it, 100% I placed my hands over her cheeks and brought her in for a deep kiss. Paige was so beautiful in every way I was so grateful to have her in my arms, to feel her, to share her soul with mine. The whole ordeal was bull shit, but the greatest thing in life, was being with Paige.

As the night progressed, our souls entwined and became one. Our bond became strong. I became familiar with every part of Paige’s body as she became familiar with mine. There was not one part of the body that our tongues did not process that night. I never felt so strongly in my life. I tried to keep all thoughts of negativity out of my mind, but I couldn’t shake the thought of losing our bond.

I had been with other women before, but she was the only woman to make me climax the way I did. Her arms were wrapped around me and I hoped that I could see her, laying next me in the morning of the early twilight sun.

 

 

 

 

 

18.

It was a slow ever-growing light that came into the room and penetrated beyond my eyelids. Though I was wrapped in covers, I still felt the warmth of the winter’s early sunlight. I slowly opened my eyelids, looking into the ceiling that was revealing the slightest hint of morning light. I didn’t have to look, nor feel, for I felt her heart beat close to mine. I felt comfort in the fact that she was still there. I pulled over the covers and slowly lifted myself from the bed. The nights alcohol, did indeed, embed such a nuisance headache into my head. With every ache and pain, I slowly pulled myself from the bed and walked into the bathroom. I turned on the faucet and guzzled the water that swiftly flowed from it. Bare and in my birthday suit, I picked my leather jacket up off the ground and wrapped it around me. The sun was halfway up from its oceanic horizon. Hoping not to disturb Paige, I slowly opened the sliding door and crept myself outside. I sat myself onto one of the lounge chairs. I sat myself and watched as the sun slowly lifted itself over the horizon. It was a new day, and new day indeed and I felt so differently. I had gained so much, but with what was gained, included incredible loss. What was gained, I knew could never always be there. I took a cigarette from the pack that laid on the end table and lit it up. I laughed at myself. For the past year I was always up at the butt crack of dawn, but could never enjoy the sunrise. Even with my slow hung over agony, I listened to the ocean as it rumbled and whispered sweet nothings onto the beach.

Quietly, Paige finally emerged from the room. She was wrapped around in the comforter. The morning beach breeze caught her hair in such a way. It flowed carefree like a slow-moving Creek. She sat down in the chair next to me. She too looked off into the horizon at the slowly rising sun. She then turned and looked at me up and down. “You do know you’re not wearing any pants, right?”

Couldn’t help but smile. Without turning to look at her, I replied, “yup.”

“The jacket is covering your tits, but your vag is kind of hanging out. Aren’t you cold?”

Of course I was. I was hoping the cold air would do some good for my hangover. Goosebumps like a patch of wildfire had spread throughout my body. The cold was getting to me, almost to the point of causing pain. But the view was so beautiful, I could not leave it for one second. “Is what we have right now real?”

Paige took half of the comforter and tossed over me. She grabbed me in her arm and pulled her head close to mine. “I will forever be yours and always by your side. Although, there are some people that don’t need to know.”

“Agreed.” I said. “It’s worse than a long-distance relationship. We’re together, see each other every day, but won’t be able to touch. Christ…”

“I can hang.” Paige replied. “As long as I get to see you every day, my soul will be content.”

“As will mine.” I replied.

We waited together in silence and watched. We watched as the sun slowly lifted and made its peak over the horizon. We watched as the sun enveloped the ocean in a million tiny sparkling jewels, jewels that sparkled beauty. Jewels that sparked a moment. A moment that was captured in time. A moment that I wished would never fade away. But it slowly did as Paige lifted herself from the chair, and let the covers fall from her.

Her body was even more so beautiful in the morning sunlight. She leaned over and kissed me up on the four head. “I have to get packing. The boys will be up soon. Get in the shower, get packed and get ready.” She gave me a slower, soft kiss upon my lips. “I’m assuming the bus will be leaving around noon.” Naked and covered in beautiful flesh, she left.

I sat out a while longer. I watched the remnants of the sunrise as it finally became day. I rose from my chair, birthday suit and all. I bunched up the comforter and dragged it in with me. As I peeled off my leather jacket, I saw the remaining beer from the six pack sitting lonely. I thought about it for a moment and then remembered my hangover. I smiled at it and popped it open, guzzling the warm beer quickly. The warmth and my empty stomach was not agreeing but I held it in, hoping the beer would lessen my hangover. The shower was my next stop. I hoped that the warm water slipping and sliding down my skin would wash away the headache. I came to rest upon my knees in the shower. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on feeling better. It wasn’t just the hangover, but rather a mix of that and being beaten.

The time was drawing near. We were to go back home. To me, it was a moldy, dark, musty, dank dungeon. I loved the beach house and would miss it so very much.

I was showered and I dressed. Quietly I packed. I heard rustling and talking below. Everyone was getting ready for departure. I knew that their heads were as cloudy as mine. My bags were packed and I was ready to go. Curiously, I walked to the door and placed my hand over the knob. I turned it slightly. It was locked. I returned to the bed and sat, quietly. Out of boredom, I went to the bathroom and put product into my hair. I spiked it up and gave myself the Switchblade Mama look.

I kept myself busy by making the bed and listening to music from my MP3 player.

I waited patiently. I was sitting on my bed, arms folded when finely Clive emerged from the door. He had what only could be described on his face, was a million-dollar smile. “Holy shit! It’s da Switchblade Mama! You done made us all proud! Million dollar slaughter, indeed! You is, one tough fucker! Come on lady, follow me downstairs, we be going home!”

I picked up my duffel bag and followed Clive out. I was going to miss the beach house. I kept looking around as much as I could. As soon as we reached downstairs and into the kitchen, I kept a lookout for Paige. She was nowhere to be found. Quietly, I sat at the kitchen table a while longer. Barrett, Clive and Fitz were in and out of the house. Fitz quietly smiled at me and Clive gave me two thumbs up. I laughed to myself and wondered if they even knew they were drugged last night. I knew their heads must have been pounding.

Still no sign of Paige, but the time had come. Clive came in and gathered me from the kitchen. We walked in to the garage. With a duffel bag hanging from my arm, I pulled the door handle from the Lincoln Continental, but it was locked. I looked back at Clive and was about to say something, as the garage door began to slowly open.

The U-Haul was backed in ever so closely to the garage. The back was open and there, Barrett was standing. He looked like shit. He looked like he was up all night drinking, but I knew he wasn’t. His beard was coming in scruffy and full. His thumbs were hooked into his pockets and he had a smug look upon his face. Throughout all of his scruffiness, his blue eyes overcame all. He was smiling. I knew he was laughing to himself.

My mouth slowly dropped. I dropped the duffel bag, shaking my head. “Oh, fuckin-A” I took a moment and thought about it. I turned and looked at Clive, lifting my eyebrow. “I’ll be right back.” The bathroom was my destination. I sat down on the permanent porcelain structure, also known as the royal throne. I made sure that I got out everything that I needed to get out. There was no way in hell that I was going to shit, or piss in that truck again.

I was loaded up and strapped in. I put the earbuds into my ears and listened. The trip took forever and was non-relentless with the bumps, the shakes and the, oh hells! The ride out was just as I had remembered it on the ride in. My hangover had faded, but was still slightly intact. My stomach churned with disapproval. I tried to close my eyes and sleep, but sleep seemed so far away. The gallons of water that were available on the way up, were still there. I didn’t care. I drank from them. I guzzled the water. Even if it was four weeks old, it was still water.

Their faces continued to come at me. Their faces, which shone horror. Each and everything, folded over into a wave of molding blood. It was a tidal wave of redness. Their bodies flailing at me. I tried to run, I tried to escape the damnation. Asmodeus himself had returned. He was there in full form, waiting for his commander, me. I tried to plead with him. I laid down on my knees and pleaded with him to spare my soul. It was too late for my soul to spare, for the damage had already been done. I was clasped within the gates of hell. I was initiated and now the commander of the nine Hells. Asmodeus placed his fiery Palm upon my chest. My initiation was imminent. His body, his mouth, filled with fire and hell made me recite the oath of darkness. With the very fire of hell blazing within his eyes, he began to recite the dark oath. “I, Lillian Ann cross, with my soul already pledged and lost, do, by adhered to the fact, that my soul has been taken because of the heinous acts that I have committed. I take my place, next to Asmodeus and lead the nine Hells into battle, against good and the innocent. I take mercy on no one. I shall commit my soul, into a world of darkness. I shall not rest until the very soil of the earth is emerged into a fiery blaze, creating the tenth hell… Soaked in the blood of innocents.

I hadn’t felt it when the truck stopped. I hadn’t felt the end of vibration. I remained motionless and limp, strapped into my chair. It wasn’t until Clive poked me that I fell out of my dream from hell. I looked up at him and saw only a dark shadowy figure. With the floodlights from the house blaring into the back of the truck, it took time for my eyes to adjust. I took a deep breath and exhaled. I wiped the beaded sweat from my four head.

“Come on kid. Get dis shit unbuckled and get out the back of this truck.” Clive stated quite impatiently.

He leaned over and began to unbuckle me. I quickly slapped his hands away. “I can do this.” I said as I groggily tried unbuckle myself.

He stepped back raising both his hands. “All right kid, no need to get pissy. It’s way late.” He raised his watch to his eyes. With the push of a button, the backlighting turned on. “Is way too late in the night,” he thought about it for a moment and then scratched his head. “Or maybe it’s too early in the morning. Either way, get yo ass up out of dis metal shit box so we can all get some sleep.”

I had no disputes with that. As a raised myself from my seat, I felt nauseous, almost floating. I tried to take a step, but failed miserably fell to my knees.

Clive was startled by this and rushed to help me up. I shooed him off. “I got this Clive.”

“You okay, Lill?”

“Fine and dandy like chocolate candy.” I replied as I slowly, slowly tried to raise to my feet. My insides felt hot, almost like melting. My head was not too clear. I couldn’t tell if it was the ride, or something way worse at hand.

I knew Clive was tired and patiently waited as I rose to my feet. Like a drunk person, I wobbled over to my duffel bag which contained my very few belongings. Clive jumped out of the truck and I followed. My eyes soon adjusted to the light and I took my very first look outside of darkness.

Snow was covering the ground. I began to feel the cool wisps from the frozen breeze pressing upon my skin. The air was way lighter than the beach house, for the air smelled of ice cubes and pine trees. I sat down at the edge of the truck. I knew in the condition that I was in, I wouldn’t even be able to jump from the truck without falling. As I placed both my hands on the truck bed floor and I twisted myself off, I was reminded of the emergency bus training I was given in school as youngster. I smiled as my feet successfully planted themselves, crunching the snow below.

I waited. Clive walked in and disappeared. I waited. Where they just going to leave me outside? I waited. Paige finally popped herself outside of the kitchen door. I looked at her, eyes questioning. “I’m waiting for someone to take me to my dungeon.” I said.

She walked down the cement steps and towards me, feet trudging in the snow. She came to me and placed both her hands on my shoulders. Smiling, she looked me in the eyes. “My friend. You have graduated from that dank, dark, dungeon. You have now graduated to a room in the house.”

My eyes widened. “No shit?”

“No shit.” She said smiling.

Paige placed her arm around me, and we both walked into the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19.

Being an abducted person was a hard thought to grasp. I never got to watch the news, nor read the papers. I was never allowed to read magazines, with the exception of the porno mag that Barrett had given me, which I had retrieved from the balcony floor of the beach house the morning after Paige had thrown it. I never knew what day it was, nor did I ever know where I really was. I was no longer chained, but still felt somewhat of an invisible one wrapped around my ankle. Besides the fact that I fought women to the near death, the situation was becoming less stressful. I no longer feared Clive or Barrett, well for the most part. I had passed through the surgery and I was finally trained. So my thoughts were placed upon the off-season. What was I to do?

I had finally proved myself and thus, became trustworthy. I was given a room in the house.

It was nestled downstairs, down the hall from the war room and the interrogation room. It was four bland white walls, but at least it contained a bed with a mattress, a toilet, a shower and a place to put my belongings. The room was illuminated by a single 4 foot long fluorescent light. At least it was illuminated, thoroughly. I had heat. I could feel the warmth coming from the vents. Every time the heat turned on, it reminded me of winters back home when I was a child. The heater always gave off a warm furnace like smell. Every time I smelt it, I thought of Christmas.

Christmas wasn’t too far away either. Or at least I was told by Paige. Christmas dinner was delicious. It was a honey mustard glazed ham, complete with macaroni and cheese and candied yams. Apple pie and ice cream was served for dessert. The Apple pie with homemade by Paige. It was undoubtedly the best apple pie I ever ate.

In the days following after Christmas, the farm was hit by severe blizzard. The only reason I knew was because when I was let out to eat, I could see the flurries outside of the kitchen windows. It looked almost unreal. It was almost like tiny bits and pieces of torn up paper swirling and twirling about in the wind.

The winter at this point anyways, was the loneliest part. I spent most of my days in my room, reading and listening to music. I would also pass the time by doing push-ups and sit-ups. There were bars that were randomly placed in my room. I use them as an opportunity to do chin lifts and work on my upper body.

Paige would come down every so often and we would chitchat. She wouldn’t stay long for she didn’t want Barrett to become suspicious. Dr. Cole of course did his once a week visit. He gave me a physical and administered my shot.

Time had passed and I became restless and bored. I would pace in my room often, though how very little it was. I began to carry on conversations with myself. I began to reenact bits and pieces I saw from movies. I began to lose it. Just for fun, I would have random arguments with myself. I would yell and scream at the top of my lungs, knowing no one else could hear me.

When I felt the insanity was beginning to take over, I would take myself a very cold shower. Crouched on the shower tile with my arms wrapped around my knees, I hoped the cool streams of water would wash away my crazy.

My hair began to grow out. Out of boredom, I would gel it in any position possible. I would use comb-over, I would spike it, I gave myself the boys don’t cry look. Anything and everything I could do to occupy my mind.

Days merged into nights and nights into day. My sanity was wearing thin. Going from doing something every day to doing nothing, created the worst chaos of all. Each and every day that Paige visited me, she saw my sanity wilting away in my eyes.

I was in the middle of an argument. Looking at myself in the mirror, I raised my right hand and pointed at myself with my index finger. I sneered and showed myself some teeth. “I tell you this my friend, cross me again, and I shall skin you with my very fingernails!” I gave myself the old, two fingers pointed at my eyes, I’m watching you spiel. Just as I was about to go at myself in an imaginary flight, the door opened and Paige appeared. Slightly embarrassed, with my arm up and finger fully extended and mouth fully open, I slowly closed it and sat upon the bed.

She gazed upon me, somewhat bewildered. “Were you about to say something, to yourself?”

I pulled out the cheesy smile. “Maybe… I might’ve been having another argument with myself, yeah.”

Paige sat on the bed next to me. “Christ Lill, you have got to get out of here before you lose your damn mind.”

“I think it’s already gone.”

Sitting next to me, she took my hand and placed it into her lap. “I have been working with my father and I believe I have finally got him to budge.

“Budge, how so?” My head perked and cocked.

Paige looked at me and slightly smiled. “Well, when my father isn’t training girls to kill other girls, he and Clive have a side business to make money. You might say he is an extreme home handyman.”

“Remodeling?” I asked.

Looking at me Paige slightly smiled. “Remodeling yes. My father can also build houses.”

“No shit!” I said sarcastically.

Paige shook her head. “Don’t patronize me, lady. I am trying to help you out here. Maybe you can learn a new trade, or at least get out of here and do something different.”

I nodded. “You’re right and I’m sorry. I really would like to get out of here. I would really like to have a purpose. Tell your father that I will not let him down.”

Paige smiled. “Thank you.” She said as she planted a kiss upon my four head. She raised herself from the bed. “I’ll tell my father immediately.” She planted another quick kiss on my head, turned and went for the door. She opened it and began to disappear out of the luminescent of the fluorescent lights of my room, when I stopped her with my words.

“Will you be joining us as well?”

She turned to look at me from the half open door. Fluorescent lights in all, beaming upon her beautifully placed skin. I smiled as she took two steps back into the room.

It was a slight smirk, but she had something in her mind that she wouldn’t quite tell me at the moment. Something was cooking up her sleeve. Paige’s smirk became a smile and she slowly licked her lips. “Lillian, if you get good enough, I’m pretty sure my father will let us work together.”

I busted out with a cheesy smile. I gave out a short laugh. “And that I shall.” I pointed at her and she snickered as she disappeared out the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20.

The snow still blanketed the ground. It expelled a gleaming whiteness that battled against the dark clouded contrast of the sky. The snow covered everything. Footprints in the snow were apparent here and there. Some new and freshly molded and some old, lightly covered in fresh new powder.

As I took my first two steps outside in the fresh white powder, I pulled my jacket close as I shuddered against the cold. It was, as you call it, a light dusting. Tiny snowflakes, drifting about, created a cold but serene backdrop to the world of icicles. As I took a deep breath, I could feel the cool brisk air as it poked and nestled itself inside me. I exhaled slowly, releasing my stress and cooped up insanity.

Following Clive, I stomped through the snow, from the kitchen to the barn. As Clive slid open the barn doors, I smiled as I saw my horse friends. Sebastian, Stalin, Nellie and Harley were all nestled in their stalls. I could feel the warmth of the barn. As I walked in, I peeled off my leather jacket. I walked up to my friends and greeted them individually, nestling each of their noses upon my four head and giving Nellie a kiss on her nose.

As I left the last stall, my gaze drifted into the lone wooden flap that was planted on the barn floor. I felt coldness from the site of it. The warmth from the horses had left me. I swallowed hard as I walked closer to the flap. I recalled my first night, frightened, lonely, beaten and chained. My breathing became heavier and my eyes became narrow. My right hand slowly clenched into a fist. The desperation, the loneliness. All emotions sent a wave of hate up my spine. Fist clenched, eyes glaring, I slowly turned to Clive and set my evil radar upon him.

Clive was bent over some cabinets that he was building. With my fist still clenched, I slowly walked up to him. Clive lifted up quickly and looked at me, smiling.

“Dis is what I’ve been working on.” He said smiling, happy with his work.

My anger and hate seemed to melt away. My fist disappeared. Clive, with his statement seemed almost childlike. I took a deep breath and expelled the rest of my hate. I took my hand and rubbed it hard over my four head, running it through my hair and grasping bits and pieces of its puffiness. As I released the rest of my hate, I listened and watched as Clive taught me a new trade.

Carpentry seem to be a new endeavor for me. It included precise mathematical calculations, extreme patience and a sincere passion. For me, someone who had the attention span of five-year-old, the craft, posed somewhat of a challenge. I watched, listened and tried to soak up as much as possible. The man, definitely knew his shit. He took time with what he did, and he put pride into it.

Measurements, mathematical calculations, clean cuts, everything. Days past, and I worked with Clive. Once again, every morning I was up at the butt crack of dawn with Clive, learning a new trade.

I knew he was getting frustrated with me. But something that he should understand, was that carpentry did not run from my pours.

It took a while, but everything finally seem to click. I was learning my new craft well, and was happy about doing it.

There was so much to learn in so little time. As soon as I became good with Clive, I was passed on to Barrett. His specialty was electrical. His specialty was everything. I was pleased by the fact that I was being taught something new, therefore, I was all ears. I cherished the thought that Paige and I could become a team. I continued to listen, and I continued to learn. Both Clive and Barrett had much to teach.

As time progressed and I learned, I became a new person. I was no longer the killing machine, known as the Switchblade Mama, but rather a sponge. As each and every day past, I learned a new trade. My thoughts were focused. My nights were sleepless only because I waited for the new day to be taught something new.

The snow began to melt. The days became longer. The snow drooped and fell from the Pines. The breezes were still cold, but not too cold. The sun began to rise earlier, killing off the winter wonderland.

I strung the brown belt through the loops of my pants. I tucked the red and black flannel into them. I smiled and looked into the mirror as Paige fiddled with my freshly cut hair. “Who am I again?” I asked.

Behind me, she placed both hands on the side of my head. She placed her chin on the left side of my shoulder. “You are, Benjamin Fray. You got that?” She asked.

I smiled and nodded. I gave her a salute and said, “yes ma’am.”

It was my first day on the job. A real job. I was so happy at the thought of putting my new found skills to the test. I was of course, dressed up like a boy. I was given a wallet, filled with cash, and an I.D. I was now, the one and only, Benjamin Fray.

I laughed as I pulled the fake ID out of the wallet. I examined it, top to bottom. “Damn, Paige. This shit looks truly legit.”

She took a few steps to look at me as a whole. She had to make sure that I would pass as a boy, or young man. “Well, you do know there are some serious bucks backing that ID.

“Seriously?”

“Duh..” She walked up to me and gave me a slight slam upon my four head with her Palm. “Look at the guy that is backing this project. He poops $100 bills in the morning. If Paul Bishop wants to create someone, he can create someone.”

“He can also kill someone.” I added.

Paige walked up to me again and straightened the lapels on my flannel. Hesitantly and sadly she said, “and I have no doubt in my mind that Paul Bishop has killed and/or murdered countless people.” She grabbed my lapels and pulled me close to her face. “And don’t you dare pick a fight with that man.” She turned and started for the door. She placed her hand over the knob and began to turn it. Without looking at me, she spoke. “I’m glad that you and my father are finally getting along. Maybe… Maybe things could be different, maybe…”

I didn’t want to be an ass, but I had a stop her right there. I knew exactly where she was going and I knew it would never work. I knew Paige wanted someone normal to be with. And I figured after all of this, her feelings had become even stronger. Mine were just as strong. It couldn’t happen, it wouldn’t happen. No matter what, I knew my place was not here. I couldn’t live in captivity for the rest of my life. I had, I needed my freedom. I wanted to wake up in the morning and watch the news. I wanted to drive around town, do my own shopping. Have a job, work for retirement. I wanted vacations. I needed a bar and karaoke to sing. I needed friends to laugh with. So I cut her off before she could finish her sentence. “Paige, I…”

She cut me off before I could get it out. “Clive will be down in a minute to pick you up. Do your best, do not speak unless spoken to. There will be other people there, primarily the house owners. I believe you and Clive will be remodeling some cabinets in the kitchen. For the love of God Lill, please behave.”

“I thought you and I were going to work together?”

“We will Lill, we will. Give it time.” Hand still on the doorknob, she pointed at me with her other arm. “You get good at your new trade and make yourself useful.”

It was a strange question to ask, but it was on my mind. I stopped Paige once more as she nearly disappeared out the door. “With all that money I just won, why work?”

Page stopped and smiled. “Well for one, it costs money to run this place. Second, my father is not the kind of person to sit around. Even though he is well-funded, he prefers to keep busy, every day. Now get ready, I’m sending Clive down.”

I was the kind of person that had to keep busy as well. My mind would always wonder. Not so much on the positive parts of life, but more of the negative. I assumed the same was for Barrett. He seemed to be a big man with many demons in his closet. A big man that needed to keep busy in order to keep all those dying girls faces out of his head. Barrett must’ve had so much bloodshed upon his hands. It was crazy to think how someone could so deeply get themselves into doo doo, that they had commit such heinous acts upon innocent souls. I found myself many times at night, wondering who it was that sold me out. Who was the person that gave up my life into this world of deadly servitude? It wasn’t my plan, but the more I obeyed and succeeded, the more trustworthy I became. I knew the time wasn’t right, but I waited patiently. It was the off-season and I had no more fights and no more training for now. I would learn a new trade. Perhaps when I fought my way out of this place, I would use it in the free world as I started my life over, hopefully. The greatest task of all would be trying to stay alive to get to that point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21.

The spring had melted away as quickly as winter did. The days became longer and warmer and the grass grew in thicker and greener. My nights were peaceful and filled with less nightmares. I dreamt about the job constantly. I heard job-related noises, I was the best carpenter in the world and built the most luxurious house anyone could have. It became a well needed constant. I woke up every morning, dressed up and became Benjamin Fray. Breakfast was served and quickly consumed. The three of us, Barrett, Clive, and I, filled our thermoses up with coffee and greeted the early morning sun.

Car rides out the job were always quiet, or at least for me. Barrett and Clive would always engage themselves in a quiet banter. I however, remained silent as I listened to my MP3 player. With the windows deeply tinted, I was always required to wear a head bag. I would keep my thoughts focused however, on the tasks at hand. I was proud of myself for learning something new. I was happy, that I actually found something to do that made me happy. I remembered my old job from my old life. That was just a job. I heard from someone once, if you enjoy what you do, then you never work a day in your life. Of course, I wasn’t getting paid for what I did, but I so dearly enjoyed it.

With my living quarters in the underbellies of the house, I never again woke up to the sounds of the roosters call. My body became adjusted to the early summons of the morning. I woke up without alarm.

Day after day past and each and every day I made myself more useful. I became a handy and a needed person. I prided myself on the fact that I was summoned here and there for miscellaneous duties. I learned how to tile, install showers, I even helped someone put a Jacuzzi in the back of their house. I helped dig the trenches, lay down the pipes. Pulling the electrical wires for it was fun. Barrett showed me a trick of using dish soap to make the pulling of the wires a lot easier.

Evenings after work were even more enjoyable. Paige and I spent much time riding the horses. I, as always mounted Nelly. We would ride crazily through the forest.,and would always come to that one opening. The opening in which I shared my first kiss with Paige. We’d lay on the pine needle covered ground and look into the skies. As the summer became deeper, the monsoons became more apparent.

The development of the monsoon storms, was the only indication that I had that I still resided in my home state of Arizona. Every now and then, as Paige and I would ride out after work, we would get caught in one of the storms. We never tried to run back or seek cover. We would dismount our horses and lay on the ground, staring into the sky. The flashes of lightning and the crashes of thunder were enough to melt one’s soul.

Every now and then, when the time was right, Paige and I would roll back to the very spot that she kissed me for the first time and we would make love. Right there upon the ground. Love was even more passionate during a thunderstorm. Our passion for each other was nonstop. Paige and I were as one. We shared each other and we shared each other passionately. I could not imagine a world without her. I needed her, I need to breathe her in. I wished I could live a normal life with her, be her rock, but I knew that was not possible. So every moment that I spent with her, was a moment that I spent with time that stood still. I loved her with every bone in my body. I would die for her.

Without killing and training, life finally resumed its normal. I saw daily faces. As I was told, I only spoke when spoken to. But even I was getting attached to the people whom I was working for. I was pleased with my new found normal life. Every day, after a hard day’s work, I was greeted by a delicious meal that Paige had created. We talked and ate. I was pleased by the normalcy of this life. As summer slowly began to drain its life out, I became more and more impatient. For I knew, as soon as fall fell upon us, I would have to train and once again be submitted to the killing floor.

 

 

 

 

22.

Finally, alas, Paige and I were grouped up to work as one. As the boys, Barrett and Clive, took off in the suburban, Paige and I, made our house calls in a 1996 Ford Bronco, equipped with a lift and big mud terrain tires. The vehicle was maroon with tan trimmings. I was more of a Chevy girl myself, but couldn’t help but think that this vehicle was one damn fine machine.

It had been over a year since I was exposed to the songs that were being played on the radio. Paige would at least play the radio and let me know what was going on in the world.

Every morning Paige and I were dispatched to work on tasks. We would fix simple things, such as dishwashers, or pulling weeds from an elderly person’s yard. We would replace toilets, or fix broken drains.

One of our daily tasks, led us to a barn that needed re-shingling. It was at least a week’s worth of work. We worked together. Cautiously, we worked through the thunderstorms. Paige and I were an unstoppable team. We worked so well together. We casually talked as we put new shingles into place.

The day was flowing long and of course both of us were growing tired. As I crawled down the other side of the barn to gather new shingles, I heard a ruckus as Paige was screaming for help.

I swiftly ran up the side of and came to the top. Paige was dangling from the gutters by her two bare hands. The gutters could not hold her weight and were slowly peeling away from the barn.

I quickly dropped the shingles that resided in my hands and chucked myself over the top side of the barn. I too, lost footing as the older shingles gave way. I fell hard and abruptly onto my butt and slid down to where Paige was hanging on for dear life. On the way down, was able to hook my two feet around a pipe that shot out of the rooftop. I was able to grab Paige’s hands just as she let go of the gutters. The pull of her fall, caused my feet to lose their grip around the exhaust pipe. With nothing left to hold onto, Paige and I began to spill over the side of the barn’s roof.

I knew if I fell, I would most definitely survive the fall. But Paige, she might be injured severely, or even worse, death. I held onto her tighter. I looked down at her eyes and she into mine, eyes wide, and frightened. I could see the fear as is it cascaded over her like a dark blanket.

Paige had her hands in mine, and her body was swaying uncontrollably. I tried so very hard to keep her there. I saw below a jumble of wood, stacked. I knew if she fell, she would truly break her back.

“Please, don’t let me go.” She pleaded.

“I won’t.” I said. “Is the upper-level door open?” I asked. The heat from the saucy summer day began to create a lubrication of sweat between our hands. My heart began to pound harder as she slowly slipped. She was down to just my fingers, clasped. I held on tighter. I cringed as I felt my nails digging into the base hers.

She took her eyes off of me for second. Nervously, she looked ahead of her. Her gaze that reached back into mine. “Yes!”

“Okay.” I said. It was just a thought. A quick calculation in my head. Some way, somewhere, I had seen it done on TV. Yes, it was a movie, but hopefully with my strength I could apply it here. “Going to start swinging you. Try to hang on the best that you can. When you get enough momentum, I am going to release you.”

“Are you shitting me?” Paige looked at me, eyes wide with fear. “No offense, but you’re not a superhero.”

“I know, but you have any other better suggestion.”

“Yes, drop me and save yourself.”

My eyes narrowed in disbelief. I shook my head. “Fuck that lady. Hold on, and for the love of God, have faith in me.” I took a deep breath and hardened my abdomen. I began to sway her slowly. Back and forth, back and forth. Our grip became more volatile. I could feel her slipping from my hands. I worked harder. Her momentum became stronger and stronger. The sweat began to bead up and roll from my four head. My breathing became explosive and my heart was on speed. As I felt she had enough gumption to go, I gave her the go-ahead. “When I say go, you swing your legs as far in front of you as you can.”

Paige’s eyes begin to tear up.

The moment before I said go, everything slowed down in my mind. My heart stopped and my breathing became rhythmic. As I could feel the positive energy welling up inside me, I tried flowing it through me and into Paige. I hoped the positive flow would give her the strength to do what she would have to do. One last giant swing out. Before she hit the crest of it, I shouted. “Go!”

As if on a swing, her legs extended straightforward. Her momentum, quickly glided her. Before I could safely see her into the barn, the gutters gave way. I saw wood planks on my way down. Protecting my head, I covered it with my arms. I didn’t scream. I just waited for the inevitable.

I was, and would always be afraid of heights. I remembered many times at the lake at my father would take my sister and I hiking about. We would scale tall mountains. My fear of heights was always there, but as long as I was with my father, they were kept at bay. There were many things that I didn’t want to do growing up because I was frightened. Because my father was fearless, I was fearless. I never purposely put myself into situations, but others find themselves into those situations. And for that, without thinking, I was totally equipped to handle them.

How to deal with yourself after a great fall? The greatest fall I had ever taken, was off the monkey bars in the fifth grade. It was a quick oops and then sand in your face. I rolled over of course, for I had survived. Finding the strength to brush the sand from your jeans and get back on the monkey bars was a whole different beast. Even though I climbed right back on, memories of the fall were still fresh in my mind.

As I slowly opened my eyes, the sky was still blue. I took a deep breath, swallowing hard. My mouth dropped open and I let out a deep gasp. Clenching my right fist, I felt another hand that laid within it. As I took another deep breath and slowly blinked, I opened my eyes and saw Paige looking into them.

She laid close to me. Her arm behind my neck, her other hand brushing my four head, rustling through my hair. As I slowly rose and tried to get myself into a sitting position, Paige backed away to give me room. When I finally sat up and got a good look at her, I saw the blood her shirt was covered in. My mind was still in a mix and I gave out a gasp as soon as I saw the blood.

Paige looked at me and shook her head. “Oh no, Lill, it’s yours.” Smiling, she moved in closer and brushed her hands over my cheeks. Paige kissed me gently, hoping to hurt nothing further. “You saved me.” Moving onto her knees and placing both her hands upon my cheekbones, she placed her lips even deeper onto mine, looking into my eyes and slowly pulling away. “You saved me, thank you.”

I looked at myself up and down, I noticed the blood had also covered my shirt. I raised my hand to my face and felt a moistness from my nose. I rubbed it slightly and pulled away. My hand was covered in bits and pieces of blood.

“I saw you fall, but didn’t see it hit the ground. As I rushed down, the position that you were in, looked like you hit your face first.” Paige’s eyes slowly began to well up with tears. “Your nose was bleeding. You were out, I tried to get you up, but you wouldn’t wake. I had nothing to stop the bleed, so I used my shirt. I held you there for at least 30 minutes trying to get bleeding to stop.”

As Paige’s tears became more apparent, I leaned over and I hugged her. I held her tightly and embraced her sadness. “I’m okay babe, I’m still here.” I held her tightly and kissed her neck, slowly making my way to her ear. Quietly I whispered. “Thank you. I am okay my love, but thank you.”

I didn’t mind the time that passed between us. As we held each other, the clouds of the mighty monsoon began to roll in. The winds began to thicken. Time was running out and a job needed to be completed. Smiling, I slowly pulled her away from our embrace. “Lady, we still have a job to do, so let’s do this.”

Paige pulled away, kissing me once again as she rose to her feet. “I know you’ve got my back.”

Paige assisted me to my feet. I was wobbly at first, but she helped lift me up and held me in her arms. Carefully and gently, she kissed my bottom lip. Smiling, she slowly tore away, taking my lower lip with her until it snapped back into place. “Let’s finish this.” She said. “Are you OK? Will you be able to go on?”

My gaze never left hers. Grinning and agreeing, I smiled. “No doubt babe, let’s get this shit finished.”

With the memory of the fall still fresh in my mind, I slowly followed Paige up the ladder onto the top of the barn. I of course, brushed the dirt away from my jeans and made my way back up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23.

I never knew in my whole life what true love was. There was at least one time that I thought I was in love. My heart of course, was rapidly ripped from my chest. There was another time, in which I fell in love with another woman’s sadness. She was married and straight. It seemed I was always getting myself involved with straight women. As usual, it wasn’t I who initiated, but rather the married woman herself who came to me. For some reason, I felt it my duty as a human being to try to fix another. I became involved with this woman, not sexually, but rather emotionally. I gave her the attention that she truly needed. The attention that her husband wouldn’t spend one minute to provide, our bond became strong. She would come to me for everything that she needed and I would help her as much as possible. I became fond of her family and her three children became my light. Her husband seemed nice to me. I didn’t see the disgusting things that she told me he did in his eyes. Our friendship spanned over a five-year period. She took ill and so did her mind. I was her rock and tried to help her through it as much as possible. She would call me at times, screaming and in pain asking me why God was putting her through this. There is not much you can tell another soul that is suffering, or why God has forsaken them. There was a series of events that occurred in which she was torn from my life. The worst part about being lied to, is that they didn’t think you were worth the truth. I thought I meant more to her than that. The series of lies became more apparent as people who knew her told me more and more things about her. My heart was sincerely broken. Not one day went by that I did not think about her. I truly missed her, so very much. At one point, I found her number. I just wanted answers to know that what others spoke of her was not the truth. But she could not find the time to tell me. It took a very long time for me to get over her, but I did.

My heart became stone cold after that. I could not bear to look at another woman. It took at least six months for me to get over missing her. I still think of her every now and then. Despite all the lies that she told me, I still wish her well. You can always forgive a person, but forgetting, that’s the hard part. I figured, perhaps one day maybe I should get my answers. Maybe we could even become friends again, as far as me trusting her, that’s as a whole different beast.

A love that cannot be broken. Paige was Paige and I knew the first moment that I saw her, I wanted to be with her. After having my trust destroyed in the past, I could not help but have questions about our relationship. The biggest thought was if it was out of necessity. That was a big possibility. She was stuck in a life, a life that was dark and closeted. She had as well, many demons in her closet. She spoke of her true love and her son and often I wondered if she still missed him, her true love. I wondered if he was still on her mind daily. I knew she thought of her son every day, that was a given. But I could not help but feel a little bit of jealousy for her first true love. Even if our relationship was a sham, I figured I had my heart broken enough, that if something happened to Paige and I, I would recover. But deeper inside of me, I wished and knew Paige and I was for real.

The summer began to move on. The days became shorter and the smell of fall began to plant itself into the air. At least at work, Paige and I were strictly business. We made sure we got there and got the job done, with quality and care.

It became hard to be apart from Paige. I spent most of my nights, lying in my bed staring up at the ceiling thinking of her. I still had my nightly nightmares and Paige, when she could, found her way into my bed and laid her warm body next to mine. It was not every night though, and the nights that I found her vacant from my bed, where the nights that I suffered the most.

It seemed our excursions on horseback out to the forest became more and more frequent. It was the only time that we could truly spend together without the prying eyes of others. Each and every time, our love making became more and more passionate. The fresh air, the wind blowing through the pines. The blue skies were sometimes riddled with puffy white clouds that were sometimes cascaded by a lightning show. I held her in my arms, feeling her body quiver as she climaxed, with the thunder rumbling in the distance.

Afterward, we would lay with each other in our arms. I didn’t want to, but I often brought up the subject of if her father ever found out, what would he do? She wouldn’t say anything, but rather shrugged it off. I didn’t want to think of it either, though our encounters became closer and closer together, someone would become suspicious.

The last days of summer had gone and past behind us. September came and we continued to work as usual. I was happy with the new trade that I had learned. I never thought I would ever find what I was meant to do in life, but it seemed, handyman/home-building/home repairs/carpentry, was my calling. I picked it up quickly and didn’t mind at all the physical labor; I much rather enjoyed it. I found myself at peace in the work that I did. As September came to a close, I was on more projects with Clive, building cabinets and creating dining sets.

October had passed by with a breeze. With Clive and I working so close together, Paige and I were left further apart. We saw less of each other, each and every day. Every day, all I could think of was her. Paige was like a wanted plague upon my mind. At times, my mind became truly a cluster fuck, for all I thought of was her.

November was finally upon us. I was given the heads-up by Barrett at dinner that my second season of training would begin to start soon. I knew what that meant, absolutely no more time with Paige.

As the night progressed, I continue to look at Paige and her at me, exchanging small simple subtle smiles during dinner. At one point, I turned away from her and continued with my plate, I saw Barrett in the corner of my eye with a terrible frown.

A tingling sensation sent its way up my spine as I felt Barrett get a heads up. As Paige walked me down to my room, I said nothing. I didn’t want to alarm her, for I was becoming a nervous wreck. As she leaned in to kiss me, I quickly pecked her and wished her a good night.

The night was unnerving. Even with the help of music, it took me time to get to sleep. I kept seeing Barrett’s facial expression over and over again in my head. How his crusty white lips rolled over his semi-fuzzy beard. How his blue eyes became dark beady ones. Finally, all thoughts flushed into a nothingness of darkness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24.

At some point into the darkness of night, I felt that I was no longer alone. There was another breath that was being drawn as well as mine. As I continued to sleep, I passed it off. It was probably just a part of my dream. But as the breathing began to exit itself from the sequence of my dream, I slowly began to awake. As I slowly opened my eyes, a dark shadowy figure stood over me.

Barrett’s eyes widely glowed like bright red fiery embers straight from the pits of hell. His breathing was heavy and filled with drink. The sheer exhaust from his mouth reeked entirely of whiskey. I lay froze and afraid, for I knew Barrett had brought hell with him. He put his hands firmly around my neck and pressed hard. I felt the air slowly dwindling from my lungs. Barrett’s face leaned in closer to mine and in the darkness, he quietly asked one question upon my lips. “Are you fucking her?”

I said nothing. Like a deer caught in the headlights of a car, I stood still. Life was fading quickly as Barrett continued to strangle it out of me. I closed my eyes and swallowed hard. Everything was true, why should I deny it? My lips rolled opened and a simple yes was uttered. It was all that Barrett needed to continue his attack.

Without hesitation, Barrett ripped me from my bed and threw me into the corner of the dark room. His fists were fireballs of fury and he planted punches upon my face. They came down on me hard, as a meteor shower upon the earth. If not for my implants, the second blow would’ve cracked my skull.

Punch after punch, toss after toss, Barrett swung me around like a rag doll, wailing over and over again, “are you fucking her?”

I thought that I had answered the question, but I guessed he couldn’t believe it. As my shirt had tattered and torn and there was nothing left for Barrett to grab onto, one more toss into the corner of the room, one last beat down to the face, that I finally lost consciousness, finally. It wasn’t a good thing, but at least I had escaped the pain and the fear.

My eyes opened slowly. I saw the cement ground as I swayed back and forth and around. I coughed up a mouthful of blood. I expelled blood from my nose. As my eyes became clearer, I watched my dripping blood upon the floor as it created a bloody looking spiral graph. The room was cold and dark and I remembered it well. It was the training room. A faint glimmer of light expelled itself from the side of the four walled hell hole. As I looked up, I saw Barrett sitting on the bench, leaning up against the wall. The room was being filled with the sound of chains rattling, chains that were tightly wrapped around my ankles as I was being hung upside down. I also heard the sound of a hollowed out glass tapping. I strained and looked up at Barrett, I could see he had a bottle with him. A bottle that was nearly empty. Barrett was drunk and I was fucked. I swayed, hoping the motion would slow down but it didn’t. I became queasy. My arms swayed, hairs on my skin prickling with the coldness of the air. I knew that if Barrett wanted to kill me, he would have killed me to begin with, but he couldn’t. I was not a free soul, nor did I belong to him. He did what he could to get the message through. The message was through. I said nothing to him, I just waited. I knew that day would come and someone would come for me.

The door to the war room was left cracked open. As the tapping from Barrett’s bottle quietly subsided, my swaying stopped as well. Blood just continued to ooze out of every orifice of my head. My face was pointed toward the door. I was watching it like a hawk, waiting. I inhaled a breath of relief as Barrett finally passed out from the booze. With all the blood rushing to my head, it became hard to remain conscious. As I was almost about to lose it, I faintly saw Clive’s face as he peeked his head inside the door and quickly retreated.

The mayhem started as soon as Paige entered the room. As soon as she came in, I was quickly lowered. As soon as I was lowered, she was at her father’s feet, trying to revive him. As I laid upon the cold bloodied concrete floor, I could hear Paige as she slapped her father across his face trying to wake him.

He quickly awoke. As soon as he saw her, in a drunken rage, he pushed her away from him. He got up and walked out of the room. Paige rushed to me and quickly removed the chains from my ankles. “What the hell’s going on?”

Feeling much relief that I was no longer upside down, I replied, “he knows Paige, he knows.”

Her eyes narrowed and she clenched her fists. She laid a quick kiss over my bloodied lips and said, “I’ll be back.” And with that, Paige was gone.

I was in no position to move, so I just laid there. I tried to close my eyes. It didn’t matter where I slept these days, as long as I got some sleep. As soon as I did shut my eyes, the arguing came back downstairs.

I could hear Paige’s voice, strong, loud and proud. She drug her father back downstairs, meaning business. “What the Fuck is your problem?”

“You two have been fucking, haven’t you?” Barrett’s voice was loud and piercing.

“And what God damn business of it, is yours?” Paige asked.

“It is my God damn business, you are my daughter.” Barrett replied fiercely.

“You know, I had a great life, with my boyfriend. We had a beautiful son together. But you, you had to run him off, and send my son away. I have absolutely no happiness in my life. I have this, this. I have absolutely no life. Day in and day out, I wait on you. I go to my online classes, I work to be a nurse, but at the end of the day I have nothing. I know you don’t want to hear this, dad, but I love Lillian. I love her for who she is and she loves me for me. I am sick and tired of living in the fucking shadows of you. Grow the Fuck up dad, for this is the real world. I know, that all that bull shit that you told me about mom was fake. I knew that she did not die in an accident. She died because of you. She died because you got way deep in your gambling debts. And this whole life, this life is because of your debt to Paul Bishop.”

There was a short silence and then I heard Barrett’s voice. “What you two are doing is just fucking sick. How the Fuck can you fall in love with her? She probably won’t even see the end of next year.”

He was right. Since being recruited into the ladies fight club, my life expectancy drastically shortened.

There was a complete silence afterward. No words were spoken, just light steps upon the stairs. The words that Paige spoke, were securely planted in my mind. Her mother’s death was not an accident. It was rather retaliation for debts not paid. My heart sank. I wondered if everything being told to me was true. Paul Bishop was a grotesque man. With all the money that he had, apparently everything was expendable. Hopefully my mom was not. I held it as a thought. I held it as ammunition for getting myself out of this place.

I felt a warm hand brush my cheek. As I opened my eyes, Paige was a sight for sore ones. I smiled, exposing bloodied teeth and all. “Did Paul really off your mom?”

Paige helped me up. She walked me over to the bench and I sat down. I laid my beaten and battered self against the wall. I sat there motionless, eyes almost too swollen to see out of. “I’m not sure, but I think so. It’s the only reason my father was so gung ho about this project.” Paige tried to prop me up to make me more comfortable. “Wait here a moment while I get my medical bag. I’m going to give Sebastian a call, we may need to x-ray your head.”

Before she left I grabbed her arm. “No x-ray please, I feel fine beside the headache. What time is it?”

“6:35 AM. Why?”

“Well, it’s the first day of training, so I better get my ass out there and start running. Gots to build my stamina back up ya know?”

Paige just shook her head. “You are in absolutely no condition to train. As soon as I mend your wounds, you are going straight back to bed. You will stay there for the rest of the day and until tomorrow morning.”

“Paige, you don’t have to protect me against your father. After all, I am a big girl.”

Paige placed my face between her hands. She came close to me and spoke softly. “Why did you not fight back?”

I smiled. “Because everything that he said was true. I deserved it. I have no right touching you. I have no right anywhere. I’m no one. I’m property that is all.”

Perhaps she felt my statement was true, for she slowly left our embrace. Her facial expressions fell from vibrancy. She took a few steps back before saying, “let me go get my medical bag. I’ll be right back.” Paige left. I sat by myself in the cold dark war room.

I waited patiently. The bottle that Barrett had nearly finished off was sitting on the cold concrete ground. There were at least five shots left in it. I picked up the bottle and chugged the remaining gold liquid ever so graciously. The alcohol burned on its way down my throat. As it settled though, it calmed me. I felt the booze as it warmed me from the insides. I felt comfort as my senses began to dull. I began to have regrets of my current lifestyle. I began to hate myself for finding comfort in a new found everyday routine. How was it that I could find satisfaction and/or happiness in the position that I was in? I couldn’t believe how much my heart had turned in almost 2 years. It was amazing to think. I had been missing for almost 2 years now. When I first arrived, all I could think of was escape and beating my captors, with the exception of Paige.

When my sobriety began to escape, Paige finally returned with the medical bag. As she began to clean up my face, she noticed my sudden loopyness. She quickly glanced at the empty bottle that sat next to my side. “Did you finish all this off?”

Feeling good, I busted out with a cheesy smile. With my best English accent, I replied. “Why yes mate. I believe the bottle was sittin there all by its lonesome. I picked it up and gave it a whirl. Twas a delicious batch indeed!” I laughed to myself. Smug with how well I was able to execute certain accents.

Paige laughed, shook her head and smiled as she cleaned up my face. Still smiling and with such a gentle touch, Paige stood up. “Okay, all done. You may go lie down to rest now.”

I slowly wobbled up. My legs were shaking and my face was in pain. I took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling and exhaled as I tried to release the achiness from me. I then looked directly at Paige. “What time is it?”

She quickly glanced at her watch. “Quarter after 7 AM, why?”

“What’s the temperature?” I asked.

“It’s a little above 30°F, why?” She asked.

“Is there snow on the ground?”

Paige began to become impatient. “A little, why?” She asked again.

I began to slowly walk towards the door. My running gear was a bit out of whack, I was a bit intoxicated, but I tried my best to walk in a straight line. I still had not answered Paige’s question, nor did I tend to. My actions would be the only answering that she needed. I left the war room and entered mine. I pulled off my tattered nightshirt and my nighttime boxers. I glanced at myself in the mirror. I was in such a horrific state. Both my eyes were beginning to get swollen, and bruises littered my body like unfashionable polka dots. Painfully I slid on loose fitting jeans. I put on warm high socks and pulled on a long sleeved shirt. Since the snow wasn’t too deep, I threw on my running shoes. I looked at myself once again in the mirror, and doused my face with a splash of warm water. The cuts were stinging intensively. As I opened my door and stepped into the hallway, Paige stopped me.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going out for a run.” I said.

She grabbed my arm and started to maneuver me back into my room. “Oh no you’re not. You’re going straight back to bed.”

I was not an angry type of person. It must’ve been the booze speaking and controlling my actions. I grabbed her arm and stopped her in mid tracks. I looked at her directly in the eyes. “Look, I realize that some shit has gone down. But you have to realize that I have a few weeks to train and get back on top. If I am not fully ready to go, I will die. Do you understand?”

Paige said nothing. She just nodded.

“Good.” I said. “Now, I already know Clive is up. I know you have your morning duties to attend to. You get Clive’s ass outside to babysit me, plain and simple. Do you understand?”

Paige nodded once again.

I smiled. “Good. So, I shall do my morning routine and run my ass off. When Fitz finally gets here, we shall continue our training downstairs.” I took my hand from her arm and placed it placed it on her cheek. “Paige, you understand how important this is?”

Still speechless, Paige nodded.

“Good.” I said. The next words that I muttered, killed me. I did not wish to speak them, but I felt for the safety of both of us, the rules I must abide. I bit my tongue, but I spoke them truthfully and wholeheartedly. “Paige, I think out of the best interest of your father, we should stop seeing each other.”

Paige frowned and began to shake her head no. She began to speak, but I stopped her and placed a finger upon her lips.

“Shhhh.” I softly hissed. “You know damn well that I love you more than anything. You know damn well, that this relationship was condemned even before it began.” I took my hands and laid them on her shoulders. The underbelly’s of the house was never heated. Even though I had a long sleeve shirt and pants on, I could feel the coldness creeping in. The girls were definitely in full salute. “One of these days my love, we shall be free.” And with that, I gave her a big smile and began my journey upstairs, eyes peeled for any irate Barrett of course.

As I was led outside, the cool brisk air hit me suddenly. It was a quick flash of heat and then coolness smacking my face. The fresh outside air began to slowly melt away my mild intoxication. As the cold air molecules began to envelop my eyes, they fought off the intense swelling. I took a deep breath and exhaled. A big cloud expelled from my mouth like a mighty Dragon. Without words, I turned to Paige. She disappeared and I patiently waited outside the door. The sun was beginning to rise and I could feel its warmth as it began to penetrate through my clothes. There was a light dusting of snow that laid, powdering the ground. The sky was clear and the day, was virgin. As I waited, I stretched. I could feel the hunger as it rumbled inside my stomach. I shook it off. It was a week of strenuous exercise. I had to regain my strength. It was either make or break myself. If I couldn’t make myself, then death was my prize. Fuck you death, I thought to myself as I warmed up with some push-ups. Soon after my warm-ups, Clive appeared from the house.

His eyes were wide as he looked at my face, dropping his jaw. He began to point, but I batted his finger away. Eyes still wide, he said, “holy shit Lil, I thought that scar was the worst, but this…”

“Shut your mouth, Clive. Just leave me be, okay?”

Clive nodded.

I began to jog in place. I started to warm up.

“Were you gonna run kid?” Clive asked.

Jogging in place, I smiled through the bruises on my face. “Just around the corral, guy. Keep that gun pointed at me, for I might run away.” I said kiddingly. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to run far.” I began my trek off to the corral. Just as I had started my training a year ago in the corral, I started my second season training, running around it.

As I ran, Clive watched and babysat from the steps of the house. I, like a mad woman, trying to desperately to run out my frustrations. At first, I was out of breath. I continued, no matter the strain, I continued. As the day progressed and noon came upon us, Clive and I were summoned into lunch.

It was a basic lunch, the only new edition was Fitz. He had finally arrived. Thank God on my part, Barrett was nowhere to be seen. I assumed he was off somewhere, nursing his hangover and his fists, better for me. It was a lunch that consisted of sandwiches and potato salad. I inhaled it just as well. As Paige, Clive, Fitz and I, sat at the table, we laugh and shared stories of fights from the past. Despite my present pain and my aches, I managed to mutter a few laughs. I laughed and shook my head in dismay. It was so hard to imagine myself, laughing and having fun with the very people that took me from my so-called life. Fitz remained silent about my battered face. I assumed Paige had filled him in.

Lunch had concluded itself. I had left on a happy note. With a smile, I walked downstairs with Fitz. Training as usual, but today, Fitz would teach me on the bo staff.

Training was exciting, for I spent the afternoon learning the ways of the staff. I smiled to myself as I imagined I was Donatello, my most favorite Ninja Turtle growing up as a kid. At one point, Fitz used me as a dummy. He hit me in tender spots with the staff, just so I could feel how the pain was. They were not hard-hit, but just enough to cause pain. I knew he was going easy on me. Every time he looked at me, he winced at the sight of my bruised up face.

As the day grew older and training came to an end, Fitz and I sat and talked as we usually did and waited for Paige to gather us for dinner. The conversation at first, was silent and nonexistent. I thought many times of breaking the ice, but had nothing really important to say.

I thought of Fitz as a friend. I remembered having friends at one time. I remembered how you could talk about anything. No topic was not important. Every topic was valid and worth discussion. Unfortunately, in my current situation, this was not so. Even though I saw Fitz as a friend, he still was one of them. I struggled with the silence, but because I was used to it and my ways of socializing with people was fading, I let the feeling pass. In the time of now, silence was my friend. I was able to think more clearly. My friends were distant fragments that remained memories in my mind. In my loneliness, I would try so desperately to recall those very few saved precious moments. Finally, when one of those precious moments was recovered, I savored the simple pleasures of producing a smile.

I stood over the dried bloody spiral graph that I made earlier in the morning. I stared at it and examined it closely. Each and every path, I imagined myself hanging upside down as the blood slipped from my face and dropped from my nose. I looked up at Fitz as he was sitting on the bench. As my mind clouded, I slipped away and I saw Barrett sitting there, drinking from his bottle.

My thoughts were lost as soon as Fitz spoke. “Do you love her?”

Leaving my thoughts I looked up at him. The coldness of the room sent shivers up my spine. I was backtracking my thoughts and remembering Barrett’s mindless craze as he landed punch after punch upon my face.

“You’ve been silent the better part of the evening. I’m not going to ask if you are okay, because I know you are not. If this discussion bothers you, then I shall drop it.” His eyes were so pure at the moment. His soul was harmless. Fitz was another soul lost in the game, the same as I.

My mouth finally opened and words escaped. “I do, or at least I did.”

Fitz smiled. “You do realize, in real life and in literature, there were many loves that should not have been?”

I cut him off. “I know where you’re going with this…”

Fitz just smiled once again. “I believe the most forbidden love in literature, would be Romeo and Juliet. Are you familiar with them?”

I nodded. I began to walk toward him, my limp becoming more apparent. I knew the story of Romeo and Juliet well, for I played Romeo in a high school play. I sat down next to Fitz and welcomed his young but positive wisdom. “Continue on my friend. I am listening.”

His half smile faded as his lips began to form words. His soft black hair danced as his face worked with his words. “Give Barrett some time. Give Paige some time. I have known Paige for a while now and I know she does not make decisions lightly. She’s a strong hearted woman despite everything that has happened in the past. She weighs each and every decision in her mind and she weighs them heavily. Paige Joyce Barrett does not make a decision unless her heart is set upon it.” Fitz took his arm and wrapped it around my shoulders. “Apparently, she has made it for you.

I welcomed the warmth from his arm. I took in a deep breath and exhaled. “I remember a time in my life, when routine was everything.” I smiled and let out another sigh. “I was, so indeed the only. Every time I thought that I found someone that I could love, I sabotaged it.” I took my hands and I ran them over my sore bruised face. I ran my hands through my hair. Cold, tired and worn out, I looked into Fitz’s eyes, slightly laughing. “Truth is, I wouldn’t know true love even if it bit me in my own ass.”

“What do you feel when you are with her?”

I paused for a moment. Thoughts, nor words could never describe how I felt when I was with her. Each and every moment was like firecrackers bursting at my fingertips with the need to touch her soft skin. All I wanted was to feel her warmth next to mine. All I needed was her to feel safety within my arms. As I thought about it, my mind was on fire for the need to be with her. As I thought about it, the loss of her mind, her body, her touch and smell drove me completely crazy. I closed my eyes, tightly, for at this point, the need of someone else only made me weaker. I shook it all away. I shook it all into the darkness that was the back of my sad pathetic mind. I knew I loved her. Love at this point was so forsaken. I imagined Barrett’s fists over and over again bashing my face. Lying, I shook my head and replied to Fitz. “I feel nothing. It was just something to pass the time.”

Fitz placed his hand over mine. He held it firmly there and spoke. “Lillian, you know that anything that you say here, shall not be repeated.”

I wanted so desperately to tell him. I wanted so desperately to have a true friend. I felt the pain. I felt my body ache. I took my hand away from his and looking at him, I just smiled. “Thanks Fitz, but I’ll be okay.”

I remained, once again distant. My first day of training had ended. Barrett, thankfully was nonexistent during dinner. Talks were shared between Fitz, Paige and Clive, but I remained silent. I enjoyed my meal quietly. It was Fitz who finally walked me down to my room.

I flicked on the switch and illuminated the simple dwelling which I called my home. Fitz left with one last smile. The heavy metal door tightly shut behind him. I threw myself down on the bed and in the dull fluorescent lighting of the room, I buried my head into my arms and began to cry. I cried for my pain, but most of all I cried for my loss, Paige. It was a decision that weighed heavily upon my soul. I knew it was a hard decision to keep, but I would try so very hard. If there was anything that was keeping me going at this point, it was Paige.

With tears still dampening my eyes, I peeled off my clothes. I brushed my teeth and put on my PJs. I pulled out my MP3 player and listened to the very sad music that would help me cry and set my soul free.

There was placed in front of me, the four faces of doom. Melting faces. The fiery depths of hell which enveloped my skin, ate my soul, penetrated me with their eight beady eyes. As the heat overcame my body, the sweat rolled down in multiple beads of fear and of hate. I was not going to plead with the four faces of doom, for I already knew they had my fate planned out for me. I sat there, on the very planks of the fiery hell, waiting for my sentence. No smile, nor frown. As I inhaled the fiery madness into my soul, I felt the very devil himself and his many constituents. I tried to fight them off, for I knew I was not made of evil. Even though, the visions in my mind led me to the thoughts of death. With Paige long gone from my mind, the demons within my head were pointing toward death. As I tried to shake all thoughts off, the four faces of doom were agreeing with the fact that death will be in my hands. I knelt and looked up at the sky and screamed as the red blood ran from my palms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25.

It was a tough couple of weeks. All I could think about was Paige. I did well at keeping our relationship professional. Barrett was up and about. He didn’t look at me very often nor speak to me. It didn’t bother me very much anyways. Though I didn’t really care much for the man, I was somewhat disappointed for I had crushed his trust.

The seasons change had been in full swing. Over the last couple of days we had gotten a lot of snow. The smooth white blankets covering the forest ground was enough entertainment for me at times. I enjoyed the views, the soft white virgin snow provided as it blanketed the forest floors. Untouched and undisturbed by man. It was always a beautiful site as the sun fought its way through the trees and reflected itself off of the sparkling snow.

I would run and Clive would follow behind on the ATV. Its ruckus was disturbing me and the wildlife. I turned up the volume on my MP3 player, but when I found a spot that was beautiful, I had to stop. I pulled out my earbuds and listened. Clive was nice enough to kill the engine of the quad. I’d look up toward the sky and listen to my favorite noise, the wind rustling through the trees. I knew Clive didn’t mind, for he knew and I knew that this was beneficial for my mood.

Thanksgiving had come and the time to pack up and leave for the beach house had arrived. It was the early morning after Thanksgiving dinner and I was packing by myself. I had one more week until my first fight of the second season. I had no idea if I was ready for it, but I had no other choice. It was either fight or die.

I pulled my battle clothes out the drawer. I pulled out my gray Firebird T-shirt. It was still stained with blood, torn but sewn. My pants as well were spattered with blood. The dark rusty color refused to be removed in the wash. Paige pleaded with me to wear something different. My Firebird shirt, with a single hole where I had been stabbed nearly a year ago, was my lucky charm for life. Everyone had their lucky charms. These were the clothes that I was wearing the first night that I was kidnapped. If anything, they were the clothes that I would die in.

“You ready to go?”

Her soft voice startled me. I loved the fact that it was her, but I hated it at the same time. Her smell danced about the room. It caused such turmoil inside my stomach. It was a good turmoil though, it was a wanting thing, a need. I smiled quickly before I turned to face her. “Yes, all packed.”

“Are we really doing this?”

My expression remained dull. I looked at her with no smile nor frown. Deep down inside my heart, it was burning fiercely for her, but at least for my safety and hers, I denied those deep urges. I swallowed hard and playing the dummy, I spoke, “are we really doing what?”

She walked to me quickly and planted her hands over my cheeks. Paige looked at me with those piercing bright brown eyes. “You have muttered nothing more than a yes or no to me since my father…”

I raised my hands and slowly pulled hers from my cheeks. “Rearranged my face? Yes, I know. I’m trying to keep a professional relationship between us. It isn’t easy. Every time I look at you, my heart burns for the need to touch you, kiss you, and make you whole.”

“Then why don’t you? I need you too, you know.”

I gave her a half-witted smile and cocked my head and raised my right brow, Pointing at my face with my left hand and circling it sarcastically. “Ahh, face rearrangement, I thought we covered this?”

“I gave my dad a nice long talk. He’s cool with it.”

I shook my head and let out a deep sigh. “That’s not the point Paige. The point is, I might be dead by next week. How do you gather that?”

A single tear developed in the corner of her right eye and slowly dropped down her cheek. “You seriously don’t think I haven’t thought about that? Lillian, I am a big girl and I can think for myself and make decisions for myself. Love is about this, these decisions.” Paige sat down on the bed and I sat down next to her. “Each and every day with you is a risk, I understand that. You and I both know that this is not just a physical thing. I mean, granted the physical thing is pretty fucking good, but there’s something more than that, can you not feel it?” She took her hands and wrapped them around mine.

I sat for a while, silent. I didn’t know what to say. She was right. I was being stubborn, but I only wanted to protect her, protect her feelings, and save her soul from getting mixed into something evil. Each and every day, something evil was being drug out of me. I didn’t want Paige anywhere near me when that happened. But maybe, with Paige in my life, just maybe it wouldn’t happen.

“Have you nothing to say? Are you willing to just let this go?” Paige let out a deep gasp and more tears protruded from her eyes.

I wanted to protect her, but at the same time I was destroying her. I was damned either way. If I loved her, she’d get hurt. If I let her walk, she’d get hurt. I said nothing, but my mind was pointing more towards the love. I would rather to have loved, than to have never loved at all.

Sobbing, Paige rose quickly and went for the door. Her hand was on the doorknob and turning it.

“Paige, I love you. I want you. Your soul sets me on fire. I love the taste of your skin in my mouth and I love the way your eyes dance in the sun. I love the way your hair feels through my fingertips and I love the way your hips feel in my hands. I love how you’re so caring and always brave and afraid of nothing. Paige, I love you.”

She slowly removed her hand from the door and turned to me. Her eyes were filled with tears, but she wore a smile of sweet serendipity. She came to me quickly and sat down next to me on the bed. She placed her hands upon my face and mine upon hers. We shared a deep need. A comfort that only the two of us could provide. We shared each other’s lips and united our souls. Till the end of eternity, I was hers and she was mine.

There was a bit of a pop and a skip in my step. I smiled as I tossed my bag into the back of the U-Haul. Paige was just what I needed and the world was in my hands. I danced about giddily as Clive was the last person that I saw before he shut the flap down and encased me into total darkness. I could not help but smile, for my happiness enveloped my soul. Love was a strange thing, but one thing that I did know, was it was love that I needed to get me through.

I looked forward to once again being at the beach house. I enjoyed the smells of the ocean. I enjoyed the rhythmic heartbeat that the waves sent as they crashed on the shore. Buckled up into my throne, I listened to my MP3 player. I thought for the New Year, I should have a new song. I finally found one by Marilyn Manson, The fight song… The song took the words right out of my mouth. I could not have said it any better.

I slept the whole way. I knew what was exactly ahead of me and what I had to do. The suspense and the nervousness was all gone. Well, almost all gone. I did think of the four girls I would have to fight to survive. I would show them mercy. I hoped that they would show me mercy as well.

The long trip had finally ended and once again the U-Haul was backed into the garage of the beach house. To the unsuspecting eye, we were just the snowbirds moving in for the winter. As the back of the U-Haul door opened, I was greeted by Clive and a wonderful amber hue that was cascaded into the back of the truck by the fading sun. I smiled and took a deep breath, inhaling the damp ocean air. I greeted Clive, picked up my bag and jumped off the back of the truck. Because I already knew the drill, I quickly walked into the house and entered the kitchen.

The kitchen counters were already clambered with boxes of food. I sat at the kitchen table quietly, waiting for sight of Paige. Barrett and Clive walked in and out of the garage bearing duffel bags of clothing and personal belongings. Still no sign of Paige.

As everything was being unloaded, I waited until the last moment, when I knew Clive was going to take the U-Haul and hide it to ask him if I could change my song. He was on his way out with the keys in hand when I caught him. “Hey Clive, got a question.”

He stopped in his tracks. Smiling behind his thick beard, he walked the table and sat down in the chair across from me. “Ohh, and what might dis question be?”

“Could you change my theme song?” I hesitantly asked.

Like a five-year-old with a grizzly beard, he grinned. “Any tin for da Switchblade Mamma!”

I smiled back with all lips and no teeth. “Good. You gotta put on, The Fight Song by Marilyn Manson, got it?”

He quickly got up and put both palms on the table. “Roger that, little blade.”

Clive dross happily left the beach house. As he opened the door to the garage, I yelled out with a big “thank you!”

I still, silently waited at the kitchen table. It was a little after 5 o’clock and the amber sun rays had completely faded into a dark blueness. The sun no longer shown through the windows. The house was now illuminate by an electric bliss.

My stomach by now was on fire. I had at least been waiting at the table for over half an hour. Barrett was taking all the duffel bags upstairs and into the rooms, but still no sign of Paige. I became worried. I didn’t want to move from my spot for fear of Barrett, even though I was dying to play the Pac-Man arcade that was sitting only feet away.

Paul Bishop had a wonderful beach house. One of the rooms that was next to the kitchen was a game room. It consisted of a pool table, a ski ball, many arcades and pinball machines. I salivated at the thought of playing one of the arcades. At least for the last 15 minutes prior to Paige’s emergence, it was all I could think of.

As I grew bored and tired, I laid my head into my arms and rested on the table. I slowly drifted into sleep. I was suddenly woken by a firm hand shaking my shoulder. Startled, I quickly turned to look behind me and saw Paige’s face.

“Shall I walked to your room?” She pleasantly asked.

Feeling the sleep encrust my eyes, I rubbed them. I rose from my chair and sleepily followed Paige out of the kitchen, into the living room and up the stairs. The hallway was brightly lit and my door was the first one on the right. She gracefully opened it and let me in.

The room to be was brightly lit. It was filled with the smell of clean linens. I walked to the bed and plopped myself down, letting out a deep breath of comfort.

“Are you hungry?”

Still lying on the bed and staring at the ceiling, I replied. “Yeah, I could use some vittles.”

“Everyone has already hit the hay. I can bring you up a sandwich or something you wish.”

I raised my head from the bed. I looked at Paige momentarily. She stood there by the door, heart so caring as usual. I could feel her warmth and smiled at her. “I love you, Paige.”

She walked to me, came to the bed and placed her body onto mine. She wrapped my face into her hands and kissed me. “And I love you.”

Paige, still looking into my eyes, her lips slowly left mine. She took her hand and drew it through my hair. “Are you still hungry?”

I gave her a grin. “Naww, your love just filled me up.”

She could not help but laugh, revealing her gorgeous smile and perfect pearly whites. “So damn cheesy, but cute.” Paige kissed me once more on the cheek, slowly rose and walked to the door. “I gotta get everything situated downstairs. See you later tonight?” She asked.

I sat up and I nodded. “Later tonight, mi amore.”

The week ahead was business as usual. Fitz arrived in the morning and training had commenced. I had begun to watch videos of my new opponent. Beautiful Bo was a big girl. Her weapon was lethal, but not lethal, hence my training with the bow staff. Apparently, in the rules of hen fighting, it was okay for your opponents to reject your current weapons of mass destruction, if they were not as destructive as your own. My weapon, being knives, were currently Rejected. According to Fitz, my first fight of the second season, I would be armed with the bow staff.

I didn’t mind it, but was rather happy with thought. How could a bow staff be deadly? I embraced the teachings of my new weapon. Yes, there would be blood, but at least there would be no slicing, nor dicing. My exercises and training was as pleasant as pleasant could be. The week went off without a hitch and come Saturday, I was ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26.

Nervousness shook through my body like an insane twitch. I was dressed and ready for battle. Everyone was in the holding tank, rattling about. Complaining about this, bitching about that. I held my hands to my ears and tried to block it all out, I had to concentrate. I had to know my course of action. The voices kept rambling about, back and forth, about nothing. I sat upon the cold metal bench, head pointed down, eyes closed. My mind was trying so desperately to draw a blank.

I became worried as Barrett finally received the phone call. We were summoned out onto the floor. My mind was never cleared, nor course of action obtained. As we left the holding tank and walked out into the corridors, my mind was still ablaze with a worthless banter.

Paige, Barrett, Clive and Fitz were all there. The lights that were beaming onto the floor, were blaring into my eyes. I could not gather one completion of my thoughts. I swallowed hard as Fitz shoved the bow staff into my hand and turned me toward the metal gates. I held onto the staff hard and gritted my teeth. I took a deep breath as I watched big Beautiful Bo walk onto the killing floor. Her tall stature and her long brown wavy hair, complete with her dark eyes and firm chin structure made me shake in my Doc Martin steel toed boots. I swallowed hard. My song began to play. I dropped my staff, threw off my jacket like a rock star, picked up my staff and walked onto the floor, lights piercing in my eyes all the way.

I’m not a slave to a god that doesn’t exist… Sure, that may have been true, but I was a slave to a man with an ass load of money. As my theme song was blasting, I walked up to Big Beautiful Bo, both hands tightly wrapped around my staff.

The fight began and the crowd rumbled with a low bellow. Beautiful Bo and I began to circle each other. I twirled my wooden staff, showing off my skills and she twirled hers even better. Twinkle toes and fancy footing, Bo gracefully tip-toed her way over to me. She made the first blow and I raised my staff high in defense making a loud clacking noise as our thick wooden sticks clashed together. I felt her strength as it crashed down on me like thunder. Her bow fell hard upon mine, nearly causing me to lose balance and to fall.

Beautiful Bo made lunges, striking and hitting the mark every time. I tried blocking them the best that I could. Every time I could feel the strength behind her blows, thus weakening my arms. Every time that I struck back, she blocked it. My blows were nothing compared to her strength. I had nothing that I could pin against her. When at last my arms had enough, she knocked the staff from my grasp sending it under the fence and out of range. Recovery of my weapon was no longer existent.

Panicking, I reached for my knives. Neither one was there, my pocket was empty. I felt my heart sank as I remembered, I forfeit my knives for the wooden staff. I was now completely defenseless. She was still making strikes and I was trying my best to dodge them. Every time I went in, trying my best to punch, she hit me back even ten times worse. To buy myself some time, I was using the backs of my arms as shields. I could feel them become raw and then bloody.

I became irritated with the game that she was playing. My face, with open wounds was bleeding from the damage that she had done. My anger had finally taken over. When I transitioned into berserker mode, a mode of anger that had created itself after the great beat down from Barrett, I anticipated her thrashing move and caught the bow just as it was meant to plow into my face with my hand. With my anger in place and through with her game, I yanked the bow from her hands and threw it to the side.

My mind was complete rage, I was pissed. With nothing more to batter me with, Beautiful Bo lunged at me with her hands. Her gigantic hands grasped around my neck. They grasped hard and tightly. Before I knew, my back was planted onto the ground and Beautiful Bo was on top of me. I could see nothing but her black eyes and insane wavy hair draping over me. I grasped both of her wrists with my hands and tried so desperately to pull them away, nothing. I even took my nails and dug them into the skin of her arms as hard as I could. The skin was breaking and blood was flowing but Beautiful Bo didn’t budge. With her tight grip and non-relentlessness, I began to lose focus and darkness clouded the edges of my sight. As I was on the verge of losing consciousness, one more thought came to mind. I could gouge her eyes out, but her head was too high for my reach. Her neck was close though and out of sheer desperation, I did something that I never thought I could do.

I raised my left hand and placed my palm onto the bottom of her chin. I forced my fingers inside of her mouth and gripped the bottom of her jaw. I reached my right hand to her neck. I gripped and like tiny daggers, I dug into her skin. With all my might, I forced my fingers as hard as I could into her neck. It was almost like pulling a cooked turkey apart. As my fingers entered her throat, I gripped as hard as I could and pulled out the insides of her neck.

Like a waterfall, blood gushed out all over my face. It was a tidal wave of red madness. It was quick but I knew it was painful. Beautiful Bo never saw what was coming. My virtue of mercy disappeared as her heavy dead body fell limp over mine, bits of her neck still clasped in my hand.

In complete shock, I laid underneath her lifeless body as I heard the crowd cheer and go insane with complete uproar. I laid there still and silent, until the Gates opened and Beautiful Bo’s team pulled her lifeless body off of me. With her tremendous weight removed, I still laid motionless on my back, staring into the bright lights, hoping that I would wake up and this would all be a nightmare.

It was Barrett and Clive who finally lifted me to my feet. I stood there wobbly, weak and in complete shock, still holding the innards from Bo’s neck in my hand. Feeling a complete sickness and disgust inside my stomach, I threw the neck parts from my hand and ran to the side of the cage. Grabbing the chain links with my right hand to prop me up, I expelled all evils from my stomach. I vomited on the killing floor. The exiting bile from my stomach was greeted by the crowd with a loud laughter.

I fell to my knees. Right hand still grasping the metal chain links of the fence, I felt it being pulled away as Clive and Fitz dragged me away and carried me back to the waiting room. I closed my eyes the whole way and barely walked. The two men held my lifeless body, but mostly drug me.

As we entered the room, I rushed to the corner where the shower was. I continued to vomit. I continued to be sick to my stomach. I stood on my hands and knees trying to retch out everything. I looked up and saw Barrett, anger in his face.

“Fix this, please. You know where we will be.” Barrett’s face was expressionless but Stern as he spoke the words to Paige. He turned and went to the door. Clive and Fitz followed suit.

As soon as the boys left the room, Paige rushed to my side, her hands holding

mine, still covered in blood. I was out of it and shaking uncontrollably. “Lillian, please look at me. Snap out of it baby, please let me see your beautiful green eyes.”

I did, I looked at her, but I couldn’t face her with what I had just done. I pulled my hands away from hers and raised them up, slowly. Looking into her eyes, I quietly muttered words. “I killed. I spilled blood, I killed.” I lowered my eyelids and shook my head. Blankly, staring at the ground, I spoke again. “There is no turning back now.”

Paige leaned in closer to hug me and to hold me closer to her. She planted my head on her shoulder and quietly shushed my ear. “It’s okay, you had to. Everything will be okay.”

I wanted to believe that everything she said was true, but I knew it wasn’t. I had a black mark placed upon my soul. The evil that was dwelling within me was tightly packaged. Now that the package was pierced, the evil was free to run its rampage within my mind. I swallowed hard and ingested not only my blood and remnants of my vomit, but the particles of her blood and bits of her soul. I took in a deep breath and tried to regain my collective conscience. If I was truly evil, I would have no doubts nor remorse for what I had just done. My mind was plagued with the replay of my hand tearing out her throat, over and over again. My sanity was stained by the fact that I could be going crazy. My soul was frightened by the fact that I could be evil.

Paige, with her beautiful tenderness, coaxed me from the ground. She got me to my feet and talked to me into a shower. I was covered with blood and could use the warm streams of water to wash away my guilt and the remnants of a dead woman. Paige helped me. Gently, she peeled off my blood soaked shirt. She lowered herself and pulled the strings from my steel toed boots, slowly lifting both legs and pulling off each boot. She then raised herself and placed her face in front of mine. She took her hands to my belt, undoing and removing it. She made sure her eyes were in contact with mine as she slowly undid my button to my pants and pulled down my zipper. Paige slowly pulled off my pants and threw them in the corner. Caressing and with finesse she slid off my panties. At my lower portions, she wrapped her hands around my ankles and slowly pulled off my socks. Paige trailed her hands all the way up my body until she reached my shoulders. She slid them slowly down onto my back and undid my bra.

I stood there cold, naked and vulnerable. She gently pushed me into the corner and turned on the shower. I could feel the mist from the cold streams, prickling over my skin, as it slowly warmed up.

When the shower was finally at temperature, Paige gently coaxed me in. The heat penetrated me instantly. I felt the pain as the warm water encompassed every open wound on my body. I closed my eyes as I tried to fight away the pain. The blood washed away, but the memories would always remain.

I was cleaned, clothed and wounds mended. As Paige and I waited for the boys, we sat in the corner of the room, huddled together. I closed my eyes at first, just to let Paige think that I was sleeping, but I wasn’t. Every time I closed my eyes, all I could think of was her. All I could see was blood spilling. Every time I closed my eyes, I felt nauseous.

I felt like I needed some time alone, I wasn’t going to get it with Paige, so I made up a lie. I shook Paige lightly until she woke.

Her eyes slowly rose, tired and filled with sleep. “What is it?”

“I don’t feel too good, can I use the bathroom?” I knew there was a bathroom on-site. We passed it every time on our way in from the outside. It wasn’t too far, it was probably about 15 steps, left turn and then another 10 steps.

Paige took in a deep breath, slowly stretched and then exhaled. “Okay, give me a sec, I’ll come to.”

I gritted my teeth and shook my head, holding my stomach I spoke. “Oh no, Paige. I would rather you not. I feel something tremendously disgusting brewing within my insides and to have you there would only cause me more pain.” It was a 50-50 shot. I knew and Paige knew that all doors that lead to the outside were locked and could only be opened by key. A key which only belonged to the doormen and the very people that bring their fighters in.

Paige thought about it for a moment. She nodded. “Okay, then make it quick. Do not let anybody see you.”

Graciously I nodded, turned and slowly departed out the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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27.

The corridors were empty, but filled with echoes. Echoes of laughing. Men laughing. I caught a faint hint of cigar smoke as I slowly made my way to the bathroom. I stopped as I heard the faint echo of footsteps that I knew were not mine. When I heard nothing more, I continued my trek to the bathroom.

The bathroom looked like a normal public bathroom. It had four sinks, complete with eight stalls. It was a wonderfully tiled bathroom. The tiles were color coordinate with the stalls. I felt almost normal, it was as if I was in the bathroom at my work. I turned on the water to the faucet, waiting patiently for the heat. I stared at my pale beaten face in the mirror. When the water was finally heated, I splashed it all over my face. I took in handfuls of water and swished, spitting out anything that remained. Finally, content and warm faced from the water, I walked to the last stall. I reached for my belt buckle to undo my pants. Ready to sit on the toilet, think and try to relax, I heard the bathroom door slowly open.

My eyes opened widely. I almost stopped breathing completely. It was the woman’s bathroom, but the boots that echoed did not belong to that of a woman. I out reached both my arms and grasped the metal rails on each side. Trying to make no sound, I slowly lifted up my legs up and placed them onto the toilet seat, crouching.

My heart began to pound as the noise from the boots came closer. Whoever it was, knew that I was in the bathroom. I had no idea what to expect, but I expected it all. I swallowed hard, my eyes becoming watery with fear. As I could no longer contain myself, I began to breathe out of my mouth. I no longer heard the sound, but I knew the entity still remained inside.

In less than the blink of an eye, the stall door shot open, connecting with my nose. As I fell from my crouching position, my butt crashing upon the toilet seat, out of instinct I grabbed my nose for it was gushing with blood. As the pain was sending shock waves throughout my body, I caught a glimpse of my attacker.

He was the tallest man I had ever seen. He had long black curly hair, black eyes and a curly black bushy beard. Out of nowhere, his hands came and grasped my neck. He pulled me out of the stall like a rag-doll and violently thrashed me into the tiled wall of the bathroom. I heard tiles break as I made impact, losing my wind.

With little breath left inside, his grip became even tighter. His eyes were dark and black as tar. I took my fingers to his arms and dug. I tried to pierce the skin with my nails. Even though I began to draw blood, he did not flinch once. His arm’s length was too long for me to even connect with a decent punch. I could barely reach his eyes to push them in with my thumbs. As I felt lightheaded and felt the life leaving me, I tried one last thing. I plugged his nose.

As I tried holding on for dear life, his mouth dropped open. My chance. My hand shot out quickly into his mouth, gagging him. He dropped me like a sack of potatoes. I went after the only thing that I knew would hurt him, his balls. It was a hard punch to the family jewels with my packed fist. The big hairy man gasped his balls as he fell back, hitting his head on the edge of the toilet seat. It would seem that on the verge of anything, anger could fuel it all. After having my face bashed in with the door and being nearly strangled to death, I found the strength to crawl upon my attacker’s body and punch him numerous times in the head, without remorse. As the blood poured out of his face in various locations like a volcano, shaking, I pulled myself up using the metal side rails of the bathroom stall. With my face and fists covered in blood, I sneered at him and and then spat in his face. I had no idea if he was alive or dead, but I left it at that and tried to casually walk out of the bathroom. It was the worst fake shit in my life that I had ever tried to get out.

I slipped through the door, but fell as soon as I took a few steps. On my knees, I coughed loudly and spit up the blood that had run from the back of my nose and into my mouth.

Paige opened her eyes slowly, looked at me and then closed them. They then opened again, this time wildly. “What the Fuck, are you okay? What happened?”

I was still coughing uncontrollably. I released only a few words. “Attacked, in bathroom.”

Paige was swift with her response. She pulled the walkie-talkie from her belt. “Dad, emergency.”

The line was silent for at least five seconds before he replied. “Go ahead Paige.”

“Code red dad, she’s been attacked.” Paige looked at me as she spoke. Worry was in her eyes. I knew she wanted to be my side helping, but she had to send out the call for alarm.

“Okay, make sure the doors locked, get everything packed and ready to go, we are on our way.” Barrett’s voice chimed over the walkie-talkie.

Paige didn’t hesitate. She pulled out her Sidearm and walked to the door. She opened it and looked out in every direction. She locked the door and then came to my side. “Are you okay?”

My head was exploding with pain, my vision was blurred and I could barely breathe, but all I knew was I wanted to get the hell out, so I nodded.

Paige was swift in packing and in no time the boys returned. Our departure was quick. Everyone had guns drawn except for me. On our way out, Barrett inspected the woman’s bathroom, only to find a pile of blood where the gigantic body had lain. When finally I was placed inside the car, a brief sigh of relief was expelled. The blood that had spilled from my nose was dry and crusted down my face. I looked forward to a warm shower and hopefully a good night’s sleep.

I felt a coldness disengage me from the warmth. I felt the hot sweats as they covered me like fireballs. As I keeled upon the fiery grounds of hell, as I once again met the eyes of Asmodeus. He surrendered me to the construction of a temple, Solomon’s Temple. As I held the whip, I watched as innocent lives were forced to use their blood to build the structure. And as they resisted, I was to whip them, but I couldn’t. No matter how much destruction and death I caused, I could not force them into a fiery labor. As I watched them falter, I wished to help. As I stood there motionless, whip in hand and non-responsive, I was whipped myself. I fell to my knees and planted my hands into the ashy grounds of the hell and clenched my teeth as hard as possible, for I knew, no matter what, I would never give in. Asmodeus’s eyes grew a fiery yellow. His sly smile showed his sharp fangs. He just laughed as I cowered in his presence.

As I was finally shaken from my nightmares, I woke up to a virgin sun. I awoke to a mild yellowness cascading throughout my room. As I extend my hand and smoothed it over the mattress, I felt her indentation. I knew she was there and knew she had left. I wondered, if she had not been there, would my dreams have been any worse? Regardless, I raised myself from the bed. Every part of my body was sore and I walked slowly with a limp. I walked outside and admired the beach view. I took a deep breath and enjoyed the cool wind as it caressed my sore body. I took a few moments outside, soaking in the air and the sounds. When I finally felt content and calm, I walked back inside. As I slowly touched my face with my hand, I did so very lightly trying to survey the damage, without causing any pain. The crusty blood still inhabited my face, which I gratefully washed off in the warm shower.

I used the time to wash away my pain and quietly cried to myself. I sat in the corner, put my head down and softly sobbed into my lap. As I was losing myself into my sadness, I heard a knock at my bathroom door. I got up quickly and turned off the shower, verifying a door knock is what I heard. There were two more soft knocks on the door and then I heard Paige’s voice.

“Lill, are you okay?”

I stood still the shower, hand still placed over the faucet handle, body dripping wet. “Yeah, just taking a long shower, why? What’s up?”

“Oh nothing, but Dr. Cole is here to see you. He wants to make sure everything is okay and to administer your shot. I’ll send him up in about 20 minutes or so, give you some time to put some clothes and to compose yourself.”

I was pretty sure she knew that I was crying. I was okay with that. I knew no matter what, when you’re with somebody that you care about, they know everything about you.

Since it was Sunday, I skipped the whole workout clothing thing. I knew there was no training on Sunday, just resting. I pulled up my jeans, threw on my New Balances and pulled over a shirt. I sat on the bed waiting. I was no stranger to the waiting game anymore these days. I could stare at a wall for hours and hours and still not be phased. Sitting at the edge of the bed and getting tired of the position, I laid back. I tried to take deep relaxing breaths. It was the end of the week and I was wondering if my muscle aches were actually from fighting, or rather lack of cocktail. As I began to relax and the world stopped moving, my eyes began to close. Just as I found a bit of peace, there’s was a knock at the door and Dr. Cole emerged.

His glasses as usual were low and hanging from the tip of his nose. His smile always gleaming behind his white goatee. He was a short man, maybe about five foot four. No matter his task, he always performed it gratefully and with pride. As he walked up to me and settled his bag on the ground, I sat up and greeted him with a smile.

Dr. Cole smiled and shook my hand warmly. “How are you, my dear Lillian Ann cross? I hear, you had some excitement last night. Well, after the excitement that you already had.”

He had to remind me. My smile faded as well as my handshake. But if anything at all, perhaps I could get some answers out of him. “I did.” I shook my head. “I mean, besides what happened earlier in the evening. Afterward I was attacked in the bathroom by a very big man. Does that ever happen?”

As he began to look over my face, and my nose, he spoke. “Well, I have heard of things like this happen. It would seem that, some of the other teams may not be so happy about a death of their fighter. Out of retaliation, they have sent someone to kill.”

“Oh.” I said as Dr. Cole extended my arm and penetrated my skin with the cocktail syringe..

“Now, let’s talk about you shall we? How are you feeling these days? Do we have any pains that we need to worry about? How are you holding up?”

I shrugged my shoulders and smiled smugly. “Well, I cannot tell if it’s from the fighting, but my muscles do ache at the end the week.”

As Dr. Cole placed in the syringe bottle back into his bag, he replied. “Mmmmm, I have been working on this cocktail. Every month or so I seem to have to make it stronger. I don’t know if your body is adapting to it.” He breathed deeply and took a few steps back. “I’m trying to perfect it and put it into pill form, but this is becoming sort of a tedious process.” He took a few more steps back, pulled his glasses from his nose and began to wipe them clean with his shirt. “Well, for the most part, you seem to be healing quickly and well.” He smiled. I knew his smile derived from the fact of pure satisfaction, for I was his Frankenstein project that had been successful.

Feeling the coolness from the cocktail pulsating through my veins, I watched as Dr. Cole packed up his bag and began to leave. “Dr. Cole?”

He turned from the door to face me. “Yes child?”

I was hesitant, but I asked anyway. “Is there any way at all you could get me out of here?” It was a stupid question, but I had to ask it anyway. I loved Paige so very much, but I knew were her loyalties laid. Dr. Cole was not a last resort, but rather another option. I had been out of the loop for so long. I had been missing out on real-life. I was losing my grip upon humanity. I was losing my soul. As I continued on my path of destruction, my humanity would be completely dissolved. I was turning into an animal. I was turning into a creature that I tried so desperately to fight. Lillian Ann cross was a faint entity that was slowly fading away. All I knew of myself these days, was the Switchblade Mama. She was a horrible creature. She was a disgusting shell of a human being that did terrible things to survive. She was nothing more than pure evil and I wanted nothing to do with her. So I reached out. With the last part of my human side, I reached out for help and asked it from Dr. Sebastian Cole. All I could hear in the back of my head was, everyone has a stake in this. For a moment I tried so desperately to hold onto that one last glimmer of hope. That one last chance that I might be able to breathe in air as a free woman.

Dr. Cole placed his glasses back on to his face and answered. He smiled, taking a deep breath and expelling it through his words. “My child, your request has been duly noted, but I…”

I didn’t let him finish. I just raised my hand and shook it. “It’s okay Doc, just forget I asked.” It was gone. That tiny glimmer, the speckle of hope was gone. It was the last step to me losing myself. Lillian Ann cross was dead. I shed her skin completely from my body. The Switchblade Mama was now at the reins. I had no choice other than to press on and become vicious and soulless. Dr. Cole gave me one last smile before he left.

It wasn’t the week from hell, but it was a week. Everything was business as usual. Wake up, eat, train, eat, and sleep. It wasn’t until Friday, the day before my next fight, that something peculiar happened.

It was after training and I had showered. It was nearly 4:30 PM and the sun was slowly making its descent. Training had finished early and I had time to relax before dinner. I laid on the bed, MP3 player blaring, trying to relax. As I saw the knob on the door turn, I figured it was Paige summoning for dinner. This was not the case. A well shaven, well-dressed man entered the room with a box in hand. He was a short man. His hair had turned to a salt-and-pepper hue. The lines that creased his face shone the wear and tear of life. His face was clean shaven and his eyes were green. He smelled of a pleasant cleanliness. He was but a humble servant of the Bishops.

I shot up quickly from the bed and as he spoke, hearing not a word for I still had the ear buds firmly planted in my ears. As he placed the box onto the bed, I pulled them out. “Come again?” I asked. Barrett, Clive and Paige came into the room, following the well-dressed man.

With his hands neatly by his sides and with his chin up, he eloquently spoke. “Lillian Ann Cross, Bishop is requesting you to a dinner. Please put on the clothes provided inside the box. Please put them on hastily, for your limo is waiting outside.” He turned, and in military mode, left the room.

I looked at Barrett and he looked at me. I cocked my right brow. “Is he serious?”

Barrett lifted his arms and shrugged. “Well, that is his driver and that is his limo below. This has never happened before, but it’s legit kid.” Barrett walked up to the box that laid on the bed. He pulled off the lid, looked at and inspected the contents within. Inside laid a tuxedo. A plain black and white. Barrett’s expression was as flabbergasted as mine. He walked back and shooed everyone outside of the room. He gave me one last look and spoke. “Well kid, you better put it on and please the man. After all, he is paying our bills.” Barrett left, giving me some privacy to dress.

I was left with the first tuxedo I would ever have to wear. I completely hated the whole idea, but I had no other choice. Once the suit was on, I looked at myself in the mirror. The hair. The hair was not going with the whole attire. I went to my bathroom and re-did my look. I soaked it, gelled it and slicked back. I went back to the bed and pulled the scarf out of the box. It was a silk scarf, white. I wrapped it around my neck and ever so carefully offset it. I put on the shiny dress shoes that the box contained and my outfit was finally complete. I went to the door knocked.

Barrett slowly opened the door. Paige and Clive were also present. As I took a few steps out of the room, I could hear Barrett’s low raspy voice. “She looks just like a man. What the Fuck is possessing through Mr. Bishop’s mind?”

I sneered and looked at Barrett. I pointed at him. “Please do not make me feel more ridiculous than I already do.” I smiled and continued my way downstairs. I was led through the kitchen and out of the garage. The garage door was opened with the limo waiting in the driveway. The proper driver was waiting patiently outside limo. As soon as he saw me, he opened the door to the back and let me inside. I took one last look at the house searching for Paige. When I saw her eyes, I smiled. I had to as least give her a quiet goodbye. The whole situation had my nerves in a bind, something was not right.

With my head pointed downward, I plopped myself inside the limo. The door was firmly shut. With my eyes pointed downward, I gathered the sight of black high heels. I began to trail upward, legs, a black velvet dress, spaghetti straps and a firm upper body. When at last I finally reached the eyes, the blue icicle eyes, it was not Paul Bishop, but rather his evil counterpart Michelle Bishop. She was wearing the same dress the night that she met me. I could feel the chills running upside my back. I did not like this woman and she knew it. She fed off of my fear. What a fantastic game she played. It was a game of cat and mouse and I was the mouse. I covered my hands over my brow and rubbed my eyes. She looked at me, pleasantly evil, champagne in hand, sipping it slowly.” That’s quite a number you did on my man the other night. You actually brought a grown man to tears.” She took a deep breath and rubbed her bottom lip with the top of her teeth. “He seriously could not believe that he had been beaten up by a girl. He came in crying and then he quit. Because of you I lost a very good man. A man that had no problem doing my dirty work.”

It made perfect sense then. She sent the goon to the bathroom. She tried to pick me up the other night. It was true then, she would stop at nothing to have me. “So he is okay? He’s not dead?” I asked.

Michele leaned back in her seat and let out a low cackle. “Oh no my little warrior, he’s not dead, but his pride may need some working on.” Eyes narrowed, she leaned in closer. “Why is it that you care? I thought you would be happy if he were to be dead. You killed somebody that night, what’s the difference if you killed him?”

Breathing quietly, I sat for a moment to gather my thoughts. I closed my eyes and slowly raised them back up. I took a deep breath and exhaled it with my words, slowly shaking my head. “Because I don’t want to become a monster.”

She licked her lips, showing teeth with a wicked smile. “Well, I think it’s a little too late for that.”

Her eyes met mine once again. She took another drink of her champagne, pulled out a cigarette, lit it and began to smoke. “I told you, my husband has his toys.” As the limo began to move, she indulged in her cigarette a little bit more, taking deep long drags. “What he has, eventually becomes mine.” Her head tilted. Behind those red covered lips in lipstick, she grinned. “By the way, you look absolutely smashing in that tux.”

I became angry. My eyes narrowed and I scowled at her. “Fuck you, you sick, sadistic, old wilting bitch.” Were the only words that I could muster out. My hands were grabbing at the ends of seat in the limo. My nails were digging into the fabric. I could feel the anger rising. I could feel the insanity of the Switchblade Mama trying to release itself. I wanted so desperately to put my hands around her neck and ring it.

Michelle took another drag from her cigarette and released. The plume of smoke clouding the whole Limo. She once again gave off another grin as she took a sip of her champagne. “That is the whole point, isn’t it, my little warrior.”

I was disgusted. I looked at her up and down and tried to reply with something hateful. “Old fucking bitch. Who the Fuck would want to touch you? You’re probably filled with fake ass parts that you bought.”

Michelle Bishop never flinched. She didn’t purse her lips, nor flash any kind of movement from her eyes. My statement completely did not phase her. It was apparent that my remarks had absolutely no effect on her whatsoever. No matter what, I would continue to jab at the bitch, for I did not like her one bit.

Her red lips once again swirled upward, creating a smile. “I’ll have you know girl, nothing on this body is fake. It has been molded and sculpted by the best trainers money can buy. But, no need to kiss and tell, for you shall soon find out.”

The very words sent shivers down my spine. I had already gathered the conclusion, but her statement verified it even more. I knew exactly what she wanted to do with me. There was no way out. I looked left and right out the windows of the limo. Plans were jumping into my head. I could punch out the window and escape through it. Sweat began to bead over on my four head. Nervousness began to plague my mind. I clasped my hands together, and placed my elbows upon my knees and stared at the floor of the limo. The plan was in check and nearly ready for execution. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, ready for action, I heard Michelle’s voice.

“If you plan on escaping, don’t even think about it. I have big plans for your little bitch of a girlfriend should you do so.”

I looked at her quickly, my eyes filled with fear. I swallowed hard. I tried to play the dumb girl. “I don’t know what you’re talking…”

“Please, you cannot bullshit the bullshitter. Don’t think I don’t have eyes all over the beach and the farmhouse? I know about this affair you two girls have been having. I know about the extreme ass whooping Barrett gave you. I even know about you two ladies and your rendezvous’ in the forest.” She took a deep breath and sat back in her seat, switching her crossed legs. “What have you got to say about that, Ms. smart ass remarks?”

I said nothing. I remained silent. It was disgusting. Another person was being used against me. Another person that I loved.

She tilted her head and smiled once again. “Good, now that we have an understanding for each other, I suggest you will behave yourself?”

I just nodded my head. All plans for escape had faded away. I had nothing left. I was once again another bitch in someone else’s life.

Michelle raised her arm and back tapped on the driver’s window behind her. It slowly lowered and she barked out orders. “The blindfold please.” The driver, with one hand gripped on the wheel, picked up the blindfold from the passenger seat and handed it to Michelle Bishop. She smiled as she chucked it onto my lap. “Please place the blindfold over your eyes.”

I hesitated but did as I was told. The blindfold went on and once again, I was shrouded with darkness.

With the blindfold firmly in place, and silence concrete, I wished to start a conversation and kick it up a bit. I didn’t know much about Paul, but from what Paige told me, he had a hunger for the disturbing. Sitting tall and remaining firm, I began to size Michelle up. “Did you know your husband has an appetite for young girls? Despite all that money that you have put into your body, he would prefer a young girl over you?” If I was to learn anything about the man that I needed to defeat, I had to spark the fire. “I mean, really young girls.”

There was a bit of a silence after my statement. I was almost sure that my question would go unanswered. It was soon after, that the silence was interrupted by Michelle’s voice. Her words were short and filled with anger. “Yes, I am aware of my husband’s indiscretions. I am aware of his fascinations with little whores that litter themselves upon the streets at night. You play quite the hand, my little warrior.”

The spark was made. I could feel the anger flowing out over her tongue. Blindfolded, smiling and not able to see her facial expression, I shot back with another bullet.” It doesn’t bug you at all that your husband’s dirty playful antics in these alleys aren’t bringing back some sort of vagina melting disease to you?”

Her voice once again came over the smooth vibrations of the limo. “Sweetie, my husband’s dick can melt off for all I care. As far as him using it on me, not in ages. I care not to have the diseased old wilting piece of shit inside of me. You come at me with every disgusting detail, but as far as I’m concerned, Paul and his little whores can burn in hell.”

Small victory for me. The smile was placed within my soul, but my mouth remained motionless. Paul had a weakness, whores. If I ever escaped, I would use it to my advantage. For every weakness, there was an angle to succeed. Still not smiling but happy with myself, I could feel Michelle flustered.

I must’ve pushed a few of Michelle’s buttons, for she remained silent the rest of the way. Behind the blindfold, I closed my eyes. I tried to relax. I tried to focus. I knew upon reaching our destination, what I was going to have to do, was what I dreaded doing. I focused on seeing Paige and her beautiful eyes. I wished to hold her and keep her close. As time pressed on, the cabin of the limo was filled with cigarette smoke and champagne once again. I so desperately needed a drag from a cigarette. I denied myself the right to ask. I sat on my seat blindly wearing my tux, butterflies fluttered about my stomach.

The limo finally slithered in for a slow stop. I could feel my heart inside my chest begin to race. I dug my nails firmly into the seat of the limo once again. I swallowed hard. The queue was given and I pulled off my blindfold. Blindsided, I stared in the eyes of the ice Queen herself, Michelle Bishop. I still muttered not one word. I just awaited instruction.

Michelle, the strong bold woman that she was looked at me, solemnly, and laid down the line. “You do understand what here is at stake? We currently reside at a five-star hotel, something which the likes of you, everyday trash, has never had the pleasure to experience. Do you understand?” Her menacing smile completed the chaos.

I wasn’t too happy with the last statement, but I nodded nevertheless.

“Good, so let me be clear. You try anything and that little bitch you call a girlfriend will suffer the utmost torture by my hand. To be more specific, I will cut off each of her titties, one by one and shove them into her fucking mouth, do you understand?” She leaned back in her seat and with much pleasure licked her lips, slowly.

If anything, I could feel the heat from the flames spewing from her mouth. I always wondered what Asmodeus’s purpose was in my dreams. It was perhaps true that Michelle Bishop was Asmodeus himself in human form. Either way, I wanted no harm to come to Paige, so I complied and once again nodded. After all, I wanted nothing to do with destroying Michelle Bishop’s evening. It was a quirky move on her part and I wondered if Paul knew what she was up to.

Her face of satisfaction never left. She slightly smiled at me and notified the driver that we were ready to exit the limo.

I was frightened. It was the first time in two years that I was to be exposed to true human life. I was to exit the limo and be with actual people. I kept my head down. When at last, the rear door was swung open by the driver, I waited for Michelle Bishop to make her exit. As soon as she stepped out, I followed. Like an obedient dog, I stood by her and took her arm into mine. I was prim and proper and dressed to impress. I walked with Michelle, no smile present. I held my breath as we walked through the crowds of people and entered the magnificent five-star hotel. I smiled but spoke not one word as Michelle went to the front counter and obtained the key to our room. The very key that would lead me to darkness of mind.

As we entered the elevator and waited, the silence was a welcome friend. My nostrils were filled with Michelle’s perfume. I kept my head pointed to the ground and not once looked at her, though my arm, snugly locked with hers.

As the elevator finally stopped and the doors opened, I could feel my pulse elevated. Arms clasped, she led and I followed. We walked down the hallway some bit. The dim glow of the floors light created the undertone of a mild hell.

When at last our destination was finally met, Michelle placed the key card into the door and it opened. The room was extravagant, as well as the big men nested within it. My motionless face became a frown, as I was ready to take my medicine.

The room was of course nothing less than perfect. Beautiful Victorian decorations. Comfy sofas, wonderfully crafted wooden tables. Vaulted ceilings and crystal chandeliers. The room was decorated with freshly cut white roses. With candles lit, they enhanced the fragrance throughout the room. Their uplifting smell momentarily gave me an inside calmness.

There was a table set and beautifully decorated with china plates. I was urged into a seat by one of the large guards. Michelle was nicely seated by another. The candles were nicely lit creating a warm feeling. I tried not to let myself be fooled. This woman was not trying to be nice. This woman wanted something other than companionship.

She began to eat. I remained motionless. She looked up at me. “Eat, my little warrior. I have provided a delicious meal for the both of us.”

Without looking at her, I slightly pushed my plate in front of me. “I’m not real hungry, but thanks.”

It was loud and abrupt. She looked at me with her piercing blue eyes and spoke. “Eat.”

The guards came closer to me. Startled, I pulled my plate closer and picked up my fork and knife.

Chewing, Michelle smiled as she waved off the two big bodyguards. They silently faded away. They hid themselves into the darkness of the other room. Their presence melting, leaving the slight pitter patter of their gigantic feet, for the moment.

I slowly cut a piece of my meat. Since being kidnapped, I found myself always hungry. But at that point in time, I ate just to survive. As I chewed, my mouth was bursting with flavor. The lamb was succulent and rich. I tried not to rush, for I knew after dinner, the unpleasant was to begin, but I was so hungry. I tried to lag, but before I knew it my plate was cleared.

As Michelle finished, she pushed back the chair standing up. Her wicked smile once again emerged. “Wait here. I shall summon you when I’m ready.” With her long legs carrying her, she disappeared into the bedroom.

I waited for some time at the table. I stared the candles miniature blazing fire. I began to lose myself into deep thought. The door to the room opened and the driver emerged. As he walked beside me and entered the bedroom, my eyes locked on him. He pulled open the door and disappeared.

I waited once again in silence and entertained myself by the single flame of a candle. I took my fingers and slowly caressed the tiny flame with them. It was a trick my uncle used to do on holidays. Of course as a child, it almost seemed impossible and therefore the trick, so entertaining. But as an adult, the trick was to do it slowly, but with quick haste. As I moved my fingers slowly back and forth through the flame, I could see my uncle’s facial expression. Calm and collected. I could remember my sister and I’s reaction. Complete fascination. We never knew how my uncle could trail his fingers through the fire without burning them. It was a simple trick of illusion. If you had high tolerance to heat, it could be done.

As soon as I began to calm and lose myself from the madness, the door to the bedroom was opened and the driver summoned me in. I frowned and lowered my head. I knew what was next. I took a deep breath and lifted myself from the chair. With head still lowered I walked into the bedroom.

I could see Michelle Bishop from the corner of my eye. Without directly looking at her, I could see her in her battle gear. She had even higher heels on now, fishnets, and leather outerwear’s. Her upper body was amazing indeed. Her skin was silky smooth and off-white. Not one blemish. I did not want to admit it, but she had the body that every man would crave and every woman would yearn for.

She looked at me but said not one word. Not looking at her, I raised my head and set my gaze around the room. The bed which was made of four wooden cross posts and a canopy, was big warm and inviting. The two bodyguards stood behind her and the driver, like a statue quietly stood behind me. And who could overlook the contraption that sat in front of me. It was a disgusting state of mechanical creation, equipment that was used only to keep a person bound. Two posts and chains hanging from it. I knew it was my wrists that belonged within those metal cuffs. My heart began to race and I waited once again for instruction.

Michelle, high-heeled and dressed in her whippin boy attire, reached over to the dresser and picked up a box of cigarettes. She pulled one out and placed it into one of those fancy filters. Obediently, one of her bodyguards walked up from behind her and lit her cigarette.

She inhaled deeply, tilting her head she looked at me once again. “Now, slowly peel off your suit.”

I shuddered and shook my head. As I still stood motionless, I could feel the driver as he placed his hand firmly on my left shoulder. I took my right hand and quickly smashed it upon his, nails digging. I could feel his hands straining as I continued to dig deeper with my nails. He pulled back quickly and I scowled at Michelle. “I can do it myself, thank you.”

I took another deep breath. Michelle’s eyes were deep, penetrating and scary. Like a devil exhaling fire, the plumes of smoke slowly lifted from her mouth.

Hesitantly, I pulled off the jacket. I began to unbutton my shirt, pulling it off and tossing it to the floor, my upper body was exposed. The only thing keeping me from four beaming and penetrating eyes was my black bra. I unbuttoned my pants and pulled down my zipper. I tossed off my shoes and finally removed my pants.

Michelle’s lips began to swirl upward once again. She licked them, lubricating and creating a glossy shine over her lipstick. “Well, I see all that exercising and training has been paying off. I couldn’t be any more pleased with what stands in front of me.”

“Piss off, you ugly old fucking bitch.” My anger began to flare up again. I could probably have taken everybody in the room, but unfortunately the two bodyguards were carrying side arms.

“Tisk, tisk my little warrior, there’s no need for you to get angry. We are just playing a simple and fun game.” She took her cigarette and quickly crushed it out in the ashtray. She then returned to my gaze. “Now, remove of the last two undergarments please.”

I swallowed hard. I blinked hard and let out a deep sigh. I quickly tore off my bra and threw to the corner. Slowly, I pulled down the black panties. As soon as they cleared my hips, I heard a gasp from Michelle. I looked up to see her eyes wide and her mouth had been dropped open. The two bodyguards were covering their mouths with her hands and shaking their heads, quietly laughing to themselves. My nakedness was finally complete. I had nothing left to protect myself with. I had my fists, but I couldn’t use them. There was nothing protecting me anymore from their protruding eyes. I was all flesh, I was nothing but vulnerable. I could feel the coolness of the air as it pricked up the hairs on my skin. I just stood like a statute trying to cover myself with my arms the best that I could.

Michelle walked up to me. She leaned down a bit to match her face with mine. Michelle placed her right index finger on my four head. She trailed down my nose and slowly staggered it over my lips. She took it and trailed it down my chest, slowly cupping her palm over each mound of my breasts. She trailed her hand down my stomach, digging her nails into the soft tissue as she spoke softly into my ear. “The one thing I cannot resist is the soft touch of a woman’s body. Her warmth, her connectivity with me. Luckily for me, my husband gives his warriors the opportunity to keep themselves clean.” She leaned in closer, lips hovering over my ear. “Luckily for me, you have good hygiene. But there’s one thing I can’t seem to overcome.” Her hand reached lower until she grabbed me. Her long nails digging in to the very delicate tissues of my womanhood.

I leaned my head back looking into the ceiling. I clenched my eyes shut wincing with pain. She had gone there and I had finally been violated.

Before she pulled away from her violent embrace, her serpent like tongue rimmed my ear. Leaving a thin coat of saliva dripping from it. She slowly pulled back and looked into my eyes, trying to see if any turmoil resided. She took a few steps back and looked at her driver. “Get her into the bathroom please and make sure she’s properly shaved. I do not wish to be irritated by that.” Before she released her death like grip from my woman parts, she made sure to have a handful of hair to pull away.

It was the worst feeling. I had never had the hairs pulled out, down there. Well, I take that back. There was one time I was using a beard trimmer to “sculpt” it down there. Unfortunately, there was not enough power in the trimmer, thus causing an entanglement. To say the least, it was not the best experience.

As the driver began to take my arm, I pulled away quickly. I faced him and pointed my index and middle finger at him with my right arm. “Unless you wish for me to gouge your eyes out and skull fuck you, I suggest you slowly backed the fuck up.” I turned to Michelle at the sound of her laughter. Both bodyguards had their jackets pulled back and side arms ready to go. “I can do that myself, thank you.”

“Sure, let me put a weapon into a known killers hands, I don’t think so.” Michelle said smugly.

“Look lady, you already took my dignity away. Just give me this. You know damn well I’m not going to try anything.”

She folded her arms and looked at me suspicious like. “You never know, you might hide the razor and come at me with it later.”

I lowered my right eye lid and raised my left eyebrow. “Are you serious? First of all, you already stated that you were going to hurt another person that I love if I tried anything. Second of all, where the hell am I going to hide the razor, in my ass? I’m a tad bit naked here, if you already haven’t noticed.”

“Fine, razors in the bathroom. Make it quick, please.”

I turned, walked to the bathroom and shut the door behind me. I stood for a moment, back leaning against the bathroom door. It was a situation that I had never dealt with before, but at current, I was dealing. I looked at myself in the mirror, completely naked without protection. It’s amazing how safe you feel fully clothed. It’s amazing how completely useless you can feel when completely naked. I found the razor lying upon the bathroom counter top. It wasn’t the usual Bic razor, but rather the old-fashioned types. The kind of razor that Jack the Ripper used to kill his prostitutes. I slowly opened it and looked at its shiny stainless steel in the mirror. I had never used one of these razors before. I took the razor and slowly began to shave the top. Carefully I worked my way down, trying not to nick anything. I said goodbye to my bush, as the hairs glided to the floor of the bathroom. If I wasn’t naked before, surely I was naked now. When I was finally finished with my bottom side manicuring, I held the razor in my hand and looked at it one more time. Such a small device, but so capable of such destruction. I took some lotion and carefully smoothed it over my now irritated shaved women part. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath as I could feel the stinging sensation bombarding my newly shaved area. I put my hand upon the doorknob and drew in one last deep breath. As I opened the door, I was prepared to lose one last part of my soul.

Michelle hesitated not one bit as I exited the bathroom. She motioned and both of her goons came at me quickly, one at each arm. They guided me to the bounding contraption. With my body in their hands, they placed each of my wrists into the metal cuffs. With a loud metal clinking noise, both arms were raised to a vertical position. I stood motionless, hanging on. My mind became lightheaded. I was still able to visually see things, but unable to register. Everything was a light fuzziness. My eyes were open, but no one was home. I became a shadow of my actual self. I saw things, felt things, but had no control.

The devil was apparent in her eyes. Her pupils of pure ice blue turned into a puddle of red blood. Nothing good came about her. Her smile became menacing and hallucinating stalagmites of flames shot from her back.

I was now a pawn it her disgusting game of cat and mouse. The mouse was finally caught and I was left to please her with her disgusting needs.

As she glided towards me, I could feel her need of destruction. She snapped her fingers and quickly a cat of nine tails was placed into her hand. A fancy whip with nine whipping heads.

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I clenched my teeth in preparation for the pain. For support, I grabbed the chains with both hands and held on for dear life.

Michelle Bishop whipped my back as hard as she could. I knew she wanted to hear me scream, but I would never give her the satisfaction. I bit my tongue as hard as I could and screamed loudly inside of my mind. When she grew tired of whipping, she placed every inch of my body into her mouth. When she regained her energy, she began to whip again.

The night proceeded on with me at her mercy. And when she was done with whipping, she slapped my face over and over again. She grabbed around my body, scratching and every piece of skin she could grasp onto. She took my mouth into hers over and over again, biting my tongue, nipping at my lower lip. My back was covered in blood and bits and pieces where she had broken the skin. If her intention was to break me, then she succeeded.

When at last, I could take no more, the strength of my legs buckled beneath me. I closed my eyes and with pure exhaustion shut down my mind. In and out of consciousness, I could feel the metal cuffs being removed from my wrists. I could feel my body being laid upon the bed. I could feel Michelle as she was on top of me, hands all over. Every bit and piece of my soul was completely violated and protruded by her hands. Coming in and out of consciousness, I could feel the pleasure, but mostly I felt the pain.

Darkness befell my mind. In a state of incoherence, I felt peace. Sadly on my part, I wished I were dead. Nevertheless, the darkness was a needed state of energy, for I felt comfort within those walls of solid black. I could feel my chest rising and lowering and was disappointed that I was not dead. No, lungs were still processing. I could hear and feel the outside world. Voices, chattering about. I remained silent and darkened in my world of untouched bliss. I wouldn’t try to break myself of unconsciousness, oh no. I placed value on my time of disorientation. I welcomed any dream of darkness, or any out of body experience. I just wanted to get away from that wicked woman. I knew that the day would save me. I knew no matter what, she could not keep me in her clutches forever. Though I felt myself rousing I kept my eyes closed. As I remained numb, I could feel motion from the outer world. I kept my eyes closed and my body unresponsive. I felt, once again the smooth vibrations from the limo. In my mind, all I could think of, was that I wanted to go home. In my mind, and winced, for home was not my home, but overall, it was.

Shaken and awoken from a painful slumber, the driver’s hands were gripping my shoulder. Waking up, and disoriented, I wrapped my hands around his neck, nails digging deeply. As I penetrated harder, my eyes met his. His expression became filled with fear. Realizing that he was not there to hurt me, I released him from my death grip. I leaned back again and let the tears of fear and pain roll down my cheeks. The driver with all his strength, pulled me up from the seat of the limo and walked me into the beach house. It was still dark outside, but with a hint of rising morning. With me hoisted over his shoulder, he punched in the code and opened the door. In pain I struggled, but I appreciated his efforts to help move me. He was pretty tough for an older guy.

As he opened the door to my room, he took the time to lay me on my bed. Exhausted and beaten, I laid down without complaint. My eyes remained trained on him, for he saluted me before he exited the door.

His smile was wide and never ending. His face became pleasant and inviting. “Lillian Ann Cross. Never forget who you are. You were dragged into a world of complete bull shit, but you still have the power to survive. Don’t let these rich bureaucratic ass holes rule you.” He smiled at me one more time and turned to the door. Before he placed his hand upon the knob, he looked back and spoke. “We’re all stuck here. Show us the way Lillian. Get us out of here.”

The words were inspiring but spoken a bit too late. Michelle Bishop had completely broken me. She had completely beaten the fight out of me. My pride was gone and my sanity was withering away like an old piece of fruit. I laid and stared at the ceiling, that with every blink of an eye, the pain became more and more. I laid on my back in complete agony. In the limo, I had laid on my side. I tried it again, but the pain was too much. Letting out a low grunt, I raised myself from the bed and sat at the edge.

Even though the heat was on and the room was warm, I began to shake uncontrollably. I sat at the edge of the bed, still in my wrinkled bloodied tux and stared into nothingness. The darkness soon became unveiled as light slowly began to melt its way into the room. I couldn’t move. I was stuck. I wanted so badly to wake myself up and get into the shower, to wash her from me, but I couldn’t move.

I couldn’t tell how long I sat there in silence and in darkness, well, at least until the sun began to rise. I did nothing but sit and breathe. The evening’s events continued to play over and over again in my mind. No matter how many times I thought of it, there was no way I could have changed it. It was inevitable. As the sun began to rise and placed its warm rays upon my back I could feel its heat, but still I continued to shake.

The door slithered quietly open. Paige, bright eyed and a wonderful sight for sore eyes, strolled in as usual to get me up for breakfast.

My eyes rolled in her direction, but my body never moved. I swallowed hard and tried not to let the tears flow, but I knew as soon as I saw her, tears would protrude.

Her smile quickly faded and her eyes became concerned. As she walked to me quickly, she spoke. “What’s happened?” She knelt down in front of me, took my hands into hers and placed them into my lap. She looked at me, her beautiful eyes blazing with the true fire of love and of passion. “What has he done to you?”

As I could see her past experiences with Paul and his violations toward her flooding through her eyes, I placed my hands over hers. I felt comfort in her touch. I felt the need to hold her and to breathe her in. To place the icing on top of the cake, I replied to her question. The words, slowly slithered out and rolled off of my lips. I took a deep breath before replying. “Is not what he did, but rather what she did.” My eyes remained straight. I remained motionless.

Paige’s eyes narrowed. She tilted her head and looked at me confused. “Michelle?” She stood there for a moment questioning. Her head tilted and then her eyes widened. It was then that the memory of Michelle Bishop visiting me in the waiting room while I was taking a shower recovered in her mind.

I took her hand and held it to my cheek, rubbing it up and down my head. I needed to feel her touch, her warmth. “She was the one who sent the attacker in the bathroom.”

“What did she do to you?” Paige firmly asked.

I closed my eyes, shook my head and took a deep breath. “Everything she wanted to. Everything on my body has been violated… By her. Her hands, her mouth. There is not one inch of my body that does not contain her essence.” As I slowly opened my eyes, tears rolled down.

Paige got up quickly. She was on her way to the door. “I have to tell my father.”

Before she could leave my side, I grabbed her arm to stop her. “He must not know. She told me specifically, if anybody found out, it would be your life. I cannot put you at risk like that.” I swallowed hard, pulling Paige closer to me. As her face came closer to mine, our lips almost met. She moved in closer to make the connection, but I pulled away. “No, please. I cannot kiss you with her scent on my lips.”

Paige sat down on the bed next to me. She put her arm around my shoulder to provide comfort, but only created more pain. As I flinched and winced, she pulled back. “What’s wrong with your back?” As I said nothing, Paige slowly helped me peel off the tux jacket.

The morning sunlight revealed the turmoil that had been caused. The shirt was soaked with blood. My back was tarnished with embedded whip marks. Paige had no words at first. She softly and slowly traced her hands over my backside, feeling the swelled bumps from the welting whip lashes underneath the blood soaked shirt. “I have to fix this.”

“Please just get me in the shower, please. I need to wash her away.”

Paige came back to my side and looked at me. “I do not treat these, you will feel complete pain in the shower.”

I shook my head. “I don’t care. If I feel pain, then I know she’s washed away, Paige, please just help me.”

She nodded, helping me up from the bed. Together, we walked into the bathroom. It was a painful process. My blood soaked shirt, as she peeled it off slowly, had dried. As she tore off the shirt, portions that were dried, were ripped off. Quietly, I cried out in pain. When at last, the shirt was finally removed, Paige moved to the shower and turned it on.

The hot streams from the shower heated and fogged up the room. Paige helped me remove my bra. Tired and with no energy, she assisted in the removal of my trousers. When at last I was finally stripped and without clothing, Paige stood in front of me and slowly removed her own.

As I would have taken extreme pleasure in the sight, I was in absolutely no mood for anything, but Paige, out reached her hand and I took it. She slowly led and I followed her into the shower. The hot streams of water were bursting over my open sores upon my back. The sensation created such agony, but the cleansing was a great comfort. I was glad to have the evil woman washed from my skin. Paige came close and held me as grief was casing me to lose balance.

She was so delicate every step of the way. She took a sponge and lathered it up with soap. She cleansed me of all my sins. She took my insecurities and disgust and washed it all away. I could barely stand on my own, but Paige was there to hold me up.

As I was finally removed of my impurities, naked and clean, Paige assessed the damage on my back. She rubbed ointments and placed bandages, and where necessary she gave stitches. As she clothed herself for the day’s work, she gave me a simple pair of boxers and shirt to wear.

“I’ll make an excuse for no training. I’ll tell my dad, that Paul give you too much to drink, and you’re just hung over. Just stay here and try to get some sleep. You’ll need it. I have to go downstairs and get breakfast ready. I’ll bring you up plate, okay?”

Sitting once again at the edge of the bed, I nodded. “I doubt I can get any sleep with that bitch in my mind. I’m totally fucked.” I looked at Paige, eyes burning from the lack of sleep. “Paige, promise, you won’t tell them anything, please?”

Paige looked at me and smiled. The sun had completely risen over the horizon. The room was lit by the natural blazing fire of the sun. Paige came in closer to me, light from the sun setting her brown hair ablaze, damp with natural curls and flowing. She knew my mind was still a mess, so she swifted a light, soft kiss on my forehead. “Sleep, my love. I shall say nothing. I wish to see you through another fight. I will return. Take care.” She kissed both my hands and then disappeared out the door.

I fell onto the bed laying on my stomach. I tried to close my eyes, but every time I did I saw her face. I could feel the pain from my back pulsating throughout my body. I could see Michelle as she devoured my entire body with her mouth. I saw her as she stood there smiling. The two bodyguards laughing, unchained me from the dirty contraption and threw me onto the bed for her pleasure. As I laid motionless, I watched as Michelle slowly removed what little undergarment she wore. She crawled onto the bed like a hungry vampire. Her hands were everywhere, touching and grabbing. Her naked body, all over mine. She devoured my neck, biting softly, then hard. As hands wrapped around my neck, she grabbed tightly. Choking, and gasping for air, she straddled me and thrust hard.

It must’ve been the anger inside of me growing, for when she grew tired of thrust, she traded places and gave me a turn. It was a burst of energy. If she wanted it rough, I would be more than happy to give it to her. I placed my hand on her neck, nails digging. As they began to draw blood, she arched her head in sweet ecstasy. I began to ride her like an insane rodeo rider. Keeping in mind the bodyguards at bay, I tried my best to do harm without doing harm. But the harder I got, the more she enjoyed it. As I became more insane with madness, my mouth began to explore. I took her breast into my lips and bit her nipples, lightly, but with some force.

“Lillian?”

I jolted up quickly. As I did, my hand out reached and I grabbed an arm. I looked up to see Paige. She had a notch of fear planted in her face. I quickly released and drew back my arm. “Sorry, I was dreaming.”

“I’m sorry to disturb you. I brought you some breakfast. I thought you should at least try to eat something.” Paige placed the mug on the end table. She sat down on the bed next to me and began to run her hand through my short puffy hair. “It’s chicken noodle soup. I know it’s not a big elaborate breakfast, but it’s good on days you don’t feel well.”

I quickly sat up and picked up the mug. I tested it to see how hot it was and slowly sipped the broth. “Thank you, this is perfect. Did you talk to your father?”

Paige nodded. “Yeah, I told Paul kept you out a greater part of the night. I told him that you’re working off a hangover.”

I let out soft chuckle. “Well, I only had one glass of champagne.” As I took another sip of the soup, I began to think. After dinner was finished, my mind began to melt and become fuzzy. I acted crazy and could remember only bits and pieces of the night. I wondered if Michelle had drugged me as well.

“I’m not going to bother you the rest of the day. I want you to sleep. I’ll come by about two hours before we leave, to feed you. You need to at least have food in your belly before your fight. How is your back feeling?”

“Like bloody mashed potatoes. I think I’ve been through worse though, I’ll survive, but thank you.”

Before Paige left, she brushed her hand through my hair one more time. I closed my eyes and she snuck in one more kiss. Once again, left me to myself.

I did my best to do it, I truly did. I drank all the broth of the soup, welcoming the warmth from the liquid. I laid back down on the bed, stomach first. I closed my eyes. As my eyes slowly lowered, my other senses became more enhanced. My ears were catching anything and everything. I could hear the TV downstairs, as well as Clive Dross’s big mouth. I tried to focus on anything but downstairs or anything that included living for that matter. I focused on the waves as they crashed upon the beach. With every crash, I inhaled. As water silently receded, I exhaled. It was in this rhythmic melody of the ocean that I finally found sleep. At last, the TV in my head which depicted dreams was not working at the moment. The blank, a complete utter blankness of my mind was such a needed thing.

As I was once again loaded into the black Lincoln town car, I felt great pain once again echoing throughout my back. The black bag was placed over my head once and I graciously accepted it. Though I had slept, I felt as if I didn’t sleep at all. The smooth harmonies of classic rock continuously vibrated throughout the cabin of the town car. I listened quietly and patiently. I used the scent from Paige’s perfume to comfort me and to help me to sleep. As I slowly began to lose consciousness, I could hear Barrett’s low voice.

“So, Lillian, what did you and Paul talk about all night long? What was so important that he had keep you all night and into the early parts of the morning?” He asked.

I heard the question and slowly roused. I took a deep breath and quickly tried to think of something. “We talked about current and past fights. In the end, I think it just became a drinking game.”

“What did you drink?”

I had to think fast. I knew a man like Paul Bishop wouldn’t be sipping on champagne. I took a wild guess it spouted it out. “Brandy…”

There was a brief pause. I thought I was off the hook. I drew a breath of relief, but was once again startled as Barrett asked another question. “Out of all the girls that I have ever had, you were the first that he wanted to have dinner with. Why is that?”

No one could see it, but my eyes grew wide behind my head bag. My mouth slowly dropped and I tried to think of an answer. “Maybe, because none of your girls made it past the first season. Maybe, because I’m the first to surpass your so-called procedure.”

He was silent for a bit. Then over the classic rock music, his voice chimed. “Point taken kid. Consider yourself blessed, for the big man himself wished to spend time with you.”

Blessed? Fuck that! I didn’t find myself blessed, but rather cursed. I had a body full of silicate biotechnologies that required weekly nourishment and without it I would cease to exist. Was that blessed? I didn’t think so. If I didn’t receive a shot full of who knows what kind of bull shit, my heart would stop and thus my life discontinued. What would he do if he knew my night was actually filled with hard-core sex and continuous whipping? Blessed? Because a guy with a gazillion dollars wants to have dinner with you, you should feel blessed? Fuck that! I once was a human being, with simple functions and needs, but now, now I was just a crazy bitch, “what now master?” Machine. I shook my head. I should be blessed… I was nothing but disgusted. If no repercussions came to my actions, his head would have been removed and even though I didn’t really care for the taste, I would have drank the blood from his neck with the utmost pleasure. Blessed, my ass! If I didn’t have anything riding on this, I would have killed him the moment I had my chance. Oh no. The human machine stood still. I was glad for his little remark, for it would give me the strength to do what I would have to do on the killing floor. I sneered at Barrett behind my head bag. I smiled as I thought I would place his head upon my opponent’s face.

I was still in no condition to fight, but I continued on. The moment was upon us and with just Paige and I in the waiting room, I dressed myself for battle. I was still extremely sleepy, and still in extreme pain.

Paige handed me my knives and I slowly placed them in my pocket, wondering if I would have to use them. As Barrett’s voice echoed over the walkie-talkie letting us know that it was time, Paige and I held hands as we exited the door.

The corridor was empty. The lights were fluorescent and bland as usual. The walls were gray and plain. I held on to her hand as tight as possible. In my current condition, I didn’t think we would see each other again after the fight. We quietly walked together and as we finally reached the steps, the steps that would lead us out to the killing floor, our hands parted. I did not know what would happen, but I knew in my head I was not in the game. I wanted to tell her so many things, I wanted to tell her that I loved her. As we emerged to the floor, the crowd became rowdy and cheered at the sight of me.

The bright white lights blared into my eyes once again. It was beyond me, why I was not shown videos of this woman in action, so I knew nothing about her. My previous anger for Barrett had worn off, so I lost my ambitions. As soon as my song began to play, I casually walked onto the floor. My mind was distant and gone.

I knew if I didn’t fight, I would be dead, or otherwise severely damaged. As the song changed, a little girl casually walked onto the floor. She was short, but well built. She was Asian and looked dangerous. Basher as they called her. Basher entered the floor. She had hands wrapped in leather, with metal studs at her knuckles. At the sight, I knew her weapon wasn’t lethal, so I would have to wait. I couldn’t draw my knives, unless it was in a kill off situation.

Basher looked at me, eyes so peculiar. She looked at me in such a way that she knew me. My eyes widened and I became uncomfortable. Perhaps she was shown videos of me. Anything was possible.

The whistle was blown and I put up my dukes. I was quick and irresponsible with my moves. I flew at her quickly, punching and kicking, but neither made their mark. She was dodging everything I had for her. She was trying to wear me out.

Basher was quick in everything. As I thought I was predicting her move, I wasn’t. She was on top of me and in my face. No matter what, as soon she had a chance, she got behind me and punched my back. I winced with pain. Multiple times, over and over again. The back, always the back. She knew, she had to have known.

I had enough. I had enough of the destruction. Basher, with her iron fists, was all over. As I fell to my knees, face bloodied, I looked to the crowd. I saw Paul, eyes wide and open with such irritation. Then there was Michelle, sitting next to Paul, innocent and by his side. She looked directly into mine, smiling. I knew it was her, she wanted me to fail. The whole fight consisted of my ass getting handed to me. It was difficult fighting with someone else that didn’t have a lethal weapon. Basher had her fists and she was using them well. The whole fight was completely unresponsive on my part. Sure, I fought back and gave some punches, but I knew there was nothing there.

I knew it was dirty pool, but to get at her when I could, I used my nails. I got her face a couple times, grabbed her by the arms and dug hard. Either way, it didn’t seem to slow her down one bit. She was in my face constantly and if it were not for the implants, something in my face would’ve been broken.

I grew tired and began to fade away quickly. She was just a shadow. Too quick and knowing exactly where to hit. At one point, I thought severely about pulling one of my knives. If I was to break the rules, they would shoot me. At least if they shot me, I wouldn’t have to feel any more pain.

As I balled up my fist, with whatever strength I had left and with little pride, I went in for the connection. The connection, however was never made. Like a disgruntled bull, she bypassed me quickly and kicked me hard on my backside… I embraced the cold concrete as I hit it with my knees. The bottoms of my palms skid over it, breaking fresh skin. With my mouth open breathing heavily, blood slowly poured out. My face was a mask of blood. It was time. Basher was ready for the kill. As she walked towards my head, her fists became solid rock. I looked at her. Her face was filled with pleasure and with pride. It would have brought her nothing more than happiness to end my sad pathetic life. As my gaze left hers, I looked into the crowd and saw Michelle. Nothing but pure satisfaction was planted within her face. With the mayhem she caused upon my back, she must have tipped them off. Because I would not totally give myself to her, it was Michelle Bishop that wished to see my demise.

The anger inside of me grew once again, turning my gaze back to Basher. I could hear the crowd as they chanted, kill, kill. Basher was skilled. She was quick and knowledgeable. She had the drive to survive. Unfortunately, she was unaware of my game of dirty pool. As she egged on the crowd, I prepared as I bled upon all fours. The timing would have to be right on, or in 30 seconds I would no longer be breathing. Basher moved in position for the final blow. The blow that would put me out of my misery once and for all. As she raised her arm, I went for my switchblade. Just as her fists were about to slam down to meet my face, I flipped open the blade and chucked it at her. As the knife pierced her neck like warm butter, her fist almost made contact. I twisted my body and rolled out of the way.

Little Basher dropped to one knee, removing the switchblade from her throat. As she pulled it out and tossed to the ground, she tried quickly to cover the hole that was spurting blood everywhere. I laid on my side and watched her. I watched her as the life slowly faded from her eyes, while she gagged and gasped fighting for air. I watched her as the crowd cheered insanely and no one came to her side for help. I watched her, fall to the ground, bleeding, the very fluid of life slowly seeping away from her body. As I laid on my side, I watched as her very soul escape to hell.

 

 

 

 

 

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28.

I was in and out of everything. I heard noises and faintly saw people, but could recollect nothing. I tried very hard not so much to focus on the mind, but rather to focus on my regenerative abilities. I had pains, fits that would rip me out of sleep. I would struggle and fight with anything that was near, only to find that my wrists were binded and I was simply confined to a bed. I would rage out, in crazy arguments with myself, screaming at nothing. My mind was quickly degrading and all I could see was death. In and out of madness, I tried to control the rage. In and out of madness, I could see once again, Asmodeus.

He welcomed my insanity and embraced it. “So close to the goal my dear girl, but yet so far away.” His chin was shaved and clear of whiskers, but he lightly itched it with his long fingernail. “You are halfway there. Alas, the monster shall be achieved. Remove all love and any parts of caring for your people and you shall totally be free.” As his hands began to envelop themselves in fire, he placed his palm around my neck, flames searing my skin. His eyes were dark and warm, but became warmer. He smiled as his grip became tighter. “Nearly there, my protégé. Release your human side and you shall truly be free.”

The Sounds of his words, and the strange slow German accent, slowly rolled off my ears. I heard it, but I didn’t want to believe it. I fought the urges to become a monster, but I knew the monster was becoming me. I tossed and turned in pain with mind in turmoil. I felt as though I were nearly dead. My head and my mind were becoming my own destruction. My soul was a fireball inside me, waiting to explode.

When the fiery waters of hell had finally preceded, I slowly opened my eyes, one by one, as a sane person, with one mind in reason. When I finally came to and opened my eyes to a bright room fulfilled with sun, I was greeted by the love of my life, Paige.

She smiled as my calm self was finally revealed. As I laid patiently, the very binds that were constraining me to the bed, were finally removed. I inhaled and exhaled a sigh of relief. I sat up, feeling the restraint marks that were impressed into my wrists, I must have put up a fight for the skin was broken and raw, bleeding in some spots. “What day is it?” I asked.

Paige sat on the bed by my side. Her eyes brown and filled with love. “Technically, at least five days. You were quite violent for at least three.”

I shook my head and blinked. “I am so sorry.”

She looked into my eyes and took my hand into hers. “It’s not your fault, it’s this, it’s everything, but it’s not your fault.”

I looked at my wrists once again. “Looks like I gave you pretty hell of a fight.”

“Well, it wasn’t just one fight, it was more like quite a few fights.” She shifted, just a tad bit uncomfortable. “I had a get my father and Clive in here a few times. You were raging pretty bad, almost broke your restraints.”

Straining and feeling many aches, I pulled myself up in bed trying to sit up right. I looked at Paige, directly into my eyes. Open soul and heart, I frowned and shook my head. “I don’t know how long I can hold on.”

“What do you mean?” She asked.

I wiped my nose and passed my fingers beneath my eyes, wiping away the tiny tears that were welling up. “I’m going mad. You all know it firsthand, for you have finally seen it these last couple of days.” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. “I keep having visions, or nightmares… Either way, I keep getting visited by this one creature…”

“Asmodeus?”

My eyes widened and I tilted my head. “Yes, how did you know?”

Paige took my hand once again. “You were screaming its, his name, quite a few times while you are out of it.”

I took a moment and rubbed my hand over my lips. I then smoothed it over my face and through my hair. “Every time I close my eyes, he is there. He’s telling me to lose myself, lose whatever part of my human side I have left. He feeds off of my insanity, my chaos.” I swallowed hard and slowly. “Paige, I am losing this battle. I tried so very hard to think that I could be a woman of righteousness through this path of bloody destruction, but I’ve been proven wrong.” The tears begin to well up again and slowly trail their way down my cheeks. “I don’t know how long I can hang on. My mind is going. I’ll be nothing but a creature of the night, craving blood and violence. You’ll have to chain me up for the rest of my life, because I know for a fact that I will be a danger to myself and to anyone regardless of who they are.”

Her eyes as well started tearing up. Sitting on the bed next to me, she took my other hand into hers and looked into my eyes. “We can fix this together. I won’t let you fall apart.”

I just shook my head, eyes glassy with water. I wanted to smile, but it just turned into a half frown. “There’s nothing you can do now. We’ve been closer, more now than ever, but the nightmares just get worse and worse. There is no use in helping me, for I have already lost the battle. I have killed and now, am tainted.” I drew in a deep breath, causing great pain within my battered rib cage and exhaled slowly. Hoping my demons would expel themselves and vanish, but not such the case. The evil still dwelled within me. The blood in my veins flowed black and my soul, scorched for eternity. “Help if you wish, but for the love of God please keep your distance. I love you Paige and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

Paige rose from the bed quickly. Her eyes were squinted and I could see anger in her face. “I will not accept that.” She leaned in closer and rested both her hands over my shoulders, eyes glaring into mine, lips nearly brushing my lips. “Love will conquer all. I will not accept that you have given in to this bull shit. Everyone has the capabilities to overcome. You will overcome this.” She leaned in closer and whispered into my ear. “This whole situation is crap, I know that. Even after a nuclear disaster, life still finds a way. Fight this Lillian, please. If there is anything that you need, I’m here at your disposal, but please don’t leave me. I finally found true love.” She rose quickly, paused and then leaned back down towards my ear. “I will fight for our love, as long as you fight for ours as well.”

She tore herself from my hands and left the room. I sat quietly in the comforts of a big, beautiful, sun filled room. I sat quietly in bed, not thinking, but mind finally clear. I took a deep breath and stretched, feeling pain as I did so. Her words planted in my mind and seared within my soul. I wanted nothing more than to be with Paige and live a happy, long life with her, but I knew it couldn’t be capable. Or perhaps it was, I just wouldn’t let it be inside my mind.

I removed myself from the bed and planted like a seed, into the shower. I made it last as long as I could, underneath the streams of the hot shower. Regardless if the feeling was the same every time, no matter what, it washed away my sins. As I toweled off, I wiped the condensation from the mirrors with my hand. What I saw was a sad shell of a woman. A beaten and battered face, puffy with blunt hits. My face was huge and swollen from the beating I had received nights before. No matter what I had to fight, the temptation from the dark side was so very addicting. To love, would mean to sacrifice, but darkness and insanity would require nothing more than the need for chaos. At least with chaos, I would never be let down, for chaos would be with me for the rest of my life. At least until I died.

The week, what was left of it had slithered by in slow paces. I kept silent and kept my head down. Paige had noticed but kept silent as well. Perhaps in her mind, she figured it was part of the healing process. After all, I had been through a lot. I murdered, nearly beat a man to death and was violated beyond my wildest imagination. I continued to train with Fitz and he too as well took his time with me. It was all summing up to me being sick and tired of being a forced war machine.

I sat on the bench, huffing and puffing, worn out from hitting the bag. I took my water bottle from underneath and swigged deeply, letting the cool water coat and calm the irritated sides of my throat. I drew my hand through my hair and sat back against the wall, staring into nothingness. Fitz quietly took a seat by my side.

Always the caring trainer as he was, politely asked. “Are you okay?”

I said nothing. I just continued staring off into oblivion. The quietness of the underground room helped. If no one moved and no one spoke, just the sound of silence would comfort my ears. If I closed my eyes and thought real hard, I could actually see a rainbow forming as I laid in the grass of the park in which I grew up around as a child. I would give anything to walk through the park once again. As the sun slowly set and the amber waves slowly faded beneath the horizon, I would lay with my arms crossed beneath my head, smiling. The day’s departure into evening, in the great state of Arizona, always left the wonderful smells of grilling meat dancing in your nostrils.

“Lillian?”

The thought was gone. Like a snake firecracker that was lit up and burned, if it was touched by a finger, the complete ashy structure was obliterated by one simple touch. My thoughts were gone, but the question still remained. Was I okay? Fitz should be able to answer that himself. I was not okay. I was insane and thoughts everywhere, questionable. But of course I would not answer so. Perhaps, maybe I should.” Yes, and no.” My life was leading a path of chaotic destruction. I had killed. I had maimed. Everything I did in my life was in question. I could no longer go on as a sane person and do things that I did. I nodded and shook my head. “If I go on, I shall do so without will and without soul. Lillian Ann cross is becoming a faint distant memory. I am becoming a horrific, Switchblade Mama.”

Fitz remained silent, but alas, words rumbled through his lips. “Lillian, I don’t know what you’re going through. I could never feel what you feel. Just remember who you are and what you fight for.”

“What do I fight for?” I asked, turning my head to look at him.

“Well, your mother, of course.”

I closed my eyes and shook my head. “Honestly, I don’t think she would want to live knowing with what I’ve done. She probably would just tell me to let it go. It’s not worth all of the lives I’ve had to sacrifice in order to keep her alive.” I sat for a moment in silence thinking of her, trying to understand the words that I had just said.

My mom was a short girl, but she was tough. She had bright Brown eyes that always seem to see through any difficult situation. No matter what, even though she was down, she tried her best to see it through, us through, my sister and I.

After my father died, my mom tried so desperately to take care of her two children. She went back to college and tried to learn a trade. It wasn’t easy for a women raising two teen girls on her own, but she managed. My sister moved out with my aunt and I stayed. When she finally remarried, I had a job and was able to move out on my own. If she hadn’t remarried, I would’ve stayed with her. No matter what, no one could fill my father shoes.

“If you won’t do it for your mom, do it for Paige.”

I turned my head to look at him. “Oh, so you know.”

“Who doesn’t? Both Clive and I know damn well why Barrett gave you that ass whooping. Honestly, I’ve never seen Paige so happy.” He lifted his arms and exaggerated. It seemed to bring pure excitement to his heart that Paige was happy. “You can’t let her down. Which heart owns you?”

How could you choose? Which heart means more? Both hearts drove me with a passion. Both hearts were embedded within my soul. To ask me such a question would tear me apart at the very seams. I was disconnected from one life, but molded onto another. The Very thought plagued my mind. I shook my head in such dismay. “How could you ask that question, knowing how badly it would tear me apart?”

“The question is, which question do I have to ask that will tear you apart? All I want to do is keep you going.”

“Save your speeches Fitz, I’m going.”

“All I want is for you to survive.”

“So you can collect a paycheck?”

Fitz lowered his brow and gave me a dirty look. “Yes, I do collect a paycheck and yes I as well have something at stake in this, but Lillian, you’ve grown on me. I, like you am a lost soul in this. One day we shall be free, but for now, we must fight for our lives.” He placed his arm around me and drew me close. Fitz always had a wonderful fresh smell to him. Beside Paige, he was the only other person that I could connect with. Though they were short and sweet and I was an ass hole, I enjoyed our talks.

“So, who do I have to kill?”

Silent, Fitz took a deep breath. “Her name is Susan and I have seen her in battle. She uses a sword. Her strikes are swift and cunning. She has no regrets in any of her swings. She uses blunt force. Since it’s the last fight of the season, weapons are used immediately. Lillian, you must be swift and use your brain, or she shall strike you down without hesitation.

Out of everything he said, all the dangers, the only words that protruded from my mouth were, “Susan? That’s it? No flashy name? Seriously?”

“Lillian, have you heard anything that I have said?”

My eyes widened. “Yeah, Susan the sword, of course.” Yes, I had heard everything that he said, but as usual was trying to be a smartass. Talking to anyone, seemed to do nothing for the pain that was dwelling inside my mind. I could pretend all I wanted to, but to be a sane person, in the end I knew it was all just a charade. In the end, I knew I had gone beyond that point of being a human being. The facts were laid upon the line. The fact was that I was possessed and a complete psychopath. As soon as my old life began to flash before my eyes, I would crave its sanity, its comforts. No matter what, the darkness would pull me back. I had come too far. No matter what, I didn’t think anything could pull me from the grasps of the switchblade Mama. Blood would always be dripping from my hands and that was something I would have to get used to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to do. I had no idea myself. I erased all thoughts of happy humanity and focused on violence. The very blood that was coursing through my veins, transferred violence throughout my body and pulsated it to my brain. No one could see it, but my eyes glared red madness behind my head bag. Throughout the whole drive, my nails were digging into my palms. The blood slowly oozed out. I remained silent and focused the whole ride there.

As we entered the waiting room, the boys left so that I could get dressed. Page quietly sat upon the bench and watched me as I changed. She remained silent, but her eyes, trained on me. “Aren’t you going to say anything?”

I remained silent and continued to dress. I sat down quietly and put on my boots.

“Hello?” She took her hand and grabbed my arm forcing me to stop tying.

Like a robot, I slowly turned my head to look at her. She leaned back and gasped as soon as she saw my eyes. “My God, where are you?”

I gave her a sly smile. “Apparently, not here.”

“Jesus Christ, Lillian. I’m not fucking around here, what are you going to do?” Paige asked.

I took a deep breath and smiled. “What I must do, survive.”

“Please don’t do anything that you will regret.”

I let out a little laugh. “Been there, done that. I have no idea what brought me into this life, but I do regret whatever mechanism it was that brought me here. But as soon as I figure it out, I’m out of here like a blaze of hell to consume their soul with fire. No Mercy Paige, no mercy.”

“Do you love me?”

I once again turned to look at her. I didn’t want to lose focus from my anger, but I didn’t want to lose Paige either. I just needed some time. I needed time to lose myself. I felt if I had love inside my heart, I wouldn’t be able to commit heinous acts that I would have to do to survive. But if there was a barrier inside my heart that would prevent me from feeling any love, to become soft, Paige just sliced it open with a knife. “I do, without a doubt I do.”

“Then stop this madness.” Her lips quivered as her eyes teared up.

I exhaled. I placed my thumbs lightly over her eyes wiping away the tears and softly spoke. “But it is the madness that will help me survive.”

“Lillian, there are horrible things that people do. But there are also horrible things that people have to do. Just because you have to do it does not mean you have to embellish upon it. Get in there and be swift, but don’t put on a show. Just stay alive.”

If anything, the tears had magnified the autumn in her eyes by 1000. Her face became so fragile like porcelain. I knew I had come too far just to not care, but the problem was that my anger for the world was masking my true emotions. I took my hands and pulled her brown hair from her face. I closed my eyes and kissed her slowly, softly and deeply. Releasing my hands from her face, I smiled. “Hopefully my love, I shall see you on the other side. “I stood up and walked over to the bag. I began punching and warming up. I tried to leave Paige behind and tried to feel the anger stew up once again. In between my hits towards the bag, Paige’s soft sobbing echoed throughout the room.

When it was time, Clive and Barrett entered the room. They collected me like I was some sort of convict ready for execution. We walked in silence down the halls. It was an incredibly cold year and our breath was admitted and spread out like tiny clouds of smoke in a tiny little atmosphere.

As the boys walked in front of us, Paige grabbed my hand and held it tightly. It’s coldness impressionable at first, but soon warmed up. I felt she was trying to cast her positive energy onto me. She was trying so desperately to keep me from doing the unthinkable. Her efforts were no doubt admirable, but unfortunately, non-effective.

As we walked up the staircase and entered the killing floor, my hand left Paige’s. I had no butterflies, nor any more nervousness. Everything that I had been through four the last two years had built up to this. I could not have been any more ready. My soul was ablaze and I was willing to do Asmodeous’s bidding. As I peeled away my black hoodie jacket and threw to the ground, I felt my two knives resting within my pocket. They were of course no match for a mighty sword, but I at least I had madness on my side.

The lights lifted and blared into my eyes, with my fists clenched, I slowly walked past the chain-link gate fence and onto the killing floor. I stood motionless and waited for my opponent. I could hear the crowd yelling. They were thirsty for blood, as was I.

As the theme music changed, Susan slowly emerged. She was quite the tall girl. Her hair was long and blonde and pulled back into a ponytail. I could barely see her eye sockets, but her eyes flared an ocean blue. She looked dangerous. I hoped the feeling was mutual. We walked into the middle of the floor and the music stopped, both eyes locked on each other, we waited for the cue to kill.

There was a moment when time had stopped. Everything slowed down. I took a deep breath. I exhaled and tried to think of my next course of action. Death was an option, but at this point since I learned so much, it was no longer. Because I felt I was no longer human, I craved blood. If the rich people wanted a show, I was the one to give it to them.

The okay to fight was given. Neither of us rushed each other, but rather circled, slowly. I was so into it with myself, I could hear my own breathing. She knew as well as I, it was a show we were to put on. Fists first.

She moved first. The transfer of fist fighting was quick and sporadic. She came in quickly with her left and rights, I dodged. I moved in. She dodged my left and rights. As soon as the fists were exhausted, legs came into play. She was quick. Susan planted many kicks upon my torso, but I sent them back.

It seemed in the game of mixed martial arts, both of us were as equals. It was possible we could go all night, leaving ourselves with battered and bruised arms. I knew the crowd was growing tired with our simple battering, but I would not draw my weapon first.

We continued in the transfer of punching, kicking and grappling. My face became battered and bloodied, as well as hers. When the crowd finally began to boo us, was when Susan finally pulled her sword. With one arm, as she slowly pulled it from the sheath that was planted on her back, it glimmered and sparkled underneath the bright spotlights. My eyes widened and my mouth dropped as I saw its steel glory.

My knives were nothing compared to her sword, but I knew in fact from my last fight, if I threw it right, I would hit the spot that would end it all.

My dreams never depicted me dying. Of course I swam in other people’s blood and relished over their death, but then never did I die. I had a quick case of déjà vu. I could foresee Susan’s moves before she made them. The sword would come down quickly and I would dodge. Being the Switchblade Mama, at some point I would have to release my weapons. To keep things going, I was going to play dumb. I took my teeth and scraped them over my lower lip. I pulled out my switchblade. The sword was of course mighty, but it was big and dumb. If you did not make your strike, then you were vulnerable.

Susan came in for a strike. I quickly moved out of the way, pulled my blade out and struck into her back. I made sure it was not a lethal spot, but priming the beast for a glorified death. I kept my distance as she screamed out with pain, pulled out my knife and tossed it outside of the fence. One last knife remained. But first, the wolf must play with the sheep.

My lips curled at the edges and I began my planted plan of chaos. Dinner was served and destruction was on the menu. Without hesitation, I moved in and began to choke Susan. Her eyes filled with fear, she planted the blunt end of the sword into my head and created a mighty gash. As I willingly fell to the ground, allowing much blood to spill, I awaited her attack. Her sword came down as I rolled out of the way. The sword clashed with the concrete, creating a blaze of sparks.

I rose to my feet, smiling as I knew I had her attention. Continuing with my plan, I dodged each and every swing of her swift metal sword. I moved in close enough to at least get hit by her fists. Her hits of course were hard, but none of which faded me. I still had one knife left at play.

It was a cheap shot, but I wanted nothing more than to just piss her off. At the end of one of her swings, I pulled out my last knife and jabbed the curled end of the serrated Spyderco Merlin into her side. Purposely leaving myself vulnerable, Susan planted the hilt of the sword several times into my face. As I felt that one, I fell to the ground on my hands and knees, face exploding with blood. Positioning myself so, I knew she was going in for decapitation. I wanted it. I was ready. The timing had to be right, or it would be my head rolling over the ground.

The sheep had finally turned into the Wolf. As the crowd roared and cheered Susan on for the final kill, I wanted my last gaze to be directly into Paige’s eyes, but it was impossible. Knowingly, with my back to her, I awaited a false execution.

Smiling, with blood coated teeth, I looked up at Susan as she lifted the sword and began to drop it. On my hands and knees, I pulled my legs up from behind me and swung them outward. As the sword dropped down, I stretched my boot to make contact. Using all my strength, I kicked it out of her hands and watched it as it flew across the floor and into the chain-link fence. Its hilt prevented it from escaping at all.

Susan was caught off guard and I got up quickly, head-butting her and smashing my face into hers over and over again. As I crushed her face against mine, I could hear the bone cracking. As the mighty Susan fell onto her knees, I casually walked to the edges of the chain-link fence and grabbed the sword.

I could’ve ended it at that, but I didn’t want to. The madness was screaming for more blood. Susan would die by my hands. As she tried to stop the gushing crimson waterfall from her face, I walked up to her with the sword. I was no longer seeking the virtues of mercy, but rather the will of Asmodeus. As she was blinded by her own blood, sword in hands, I raised it without mercy. I could hear the crowd in an insane uproar, thus fueling my fire. With bloody teeth showing and without hesitation, the sword dropped, clearing her head completely. As the head rolled upon the floor, her torso dropped, motionless in a sea of red. No longer, Lillian Ann Cross, the Switchblade Mama went to the decapitated head, picked it up and threw it into the crowd.

It was a direct hit, right beneath Paul Bishop and his evil bitch wife’s feet, Michelle. I raised my arms and yelled like a crazed maniac, “you want a monster, you fucking got one! “Arms raised, in a crazed state, I screamed. I wanted everyone to know that night, that the Switchblade Mama was not one to be reckoned with. In my deranged passion, yelling, un-hinged, I was pulled from the floor. Screaming in wildly all the way.

I sat, motionless and covered with blood on the ground and in the corner of the room. It was empty and cold beside Paige. She kept her distance and said nothing. Her eyes glazed with the acts I had just committed. Her face, covered in dread and fear. I refused to shower and/or any other comfort. I sat in complete madness until the door opened and Paul Bishop emerged and cleared Paige of the room.

I watched him as he slithered closely. He had a cigar in mouth and walked with a drunken pace. Smiling, he placed himself in front of me. Smelling of liquor, he spoke. “You put on a good God damn show tonight. It was like, you knew every move she was going to take, but you did not take advantage. That fight, was the greatest fight!”

I remained stationary and stared into the ground, blood slowly dripping from my face and quietly splattering on the ground “Glad you liked it.”

Paul Bishop’s moves were drunk and reckless, but she spoke with great sincerity. “For your extreme achievement, I shall reveal to you, he who sold you out.”

I raised my head to look at him. I took a deep breath and my mind became focused. I knew he was drunk and I also knew he was prime to say anything. “Do tell, sir.” I said and my eyes became wide and ready for the answer underneath my blood soaked face. I knew it was just a possible ploy. Perhaps, for some reason he wished to stir up my anger even more, but why and for what reason? I had already won the season and we had at least another year to go before I would fight again. But either way, I listened quietly.

He took another Puff of his cigar and smiled. “I’ve known the man for quite some while, actually. He worked with me, once upon a time. Old gambling buddies we were as well.” He took another puff of his cigar and sat down next to me higher up on the bench. Through the stale taint smelling fumes of my blood, I could smell his expensive cologne entering my nasal passageways. “Fortunately, he had the greatest gift of losing. And I don’t like not collecting. Whether it be $10, or 50,000, he owed. I extended his debts, but he still didn’t pay up.” He turned his head to look at me, a plume of smoke blowing into my face. “I gave my final ultimatum. Pay up or lose a limb. So, your stepfather, knowing what I was into, gave up his healthy stepdaughter girl to pay off his debts.”

I said nothing. With my eyes wide open and my mouth dropped, I leaned back against the wall. It was so very hurtful, but it did not shock me one bit. I knew my step father was shady, but for some reason my mother fell for him. It was always happiness that she was looking for and at least some sort of happy complete family for her children. In the end it didn’t seem to work out that way. As soon as she remarried, my sister was out of the house and so was I. I didn’t blame her one bit. A person can be a person on the outside, but then be completely different on the inside. It was always the human condition that broke us down into pieces. You can be the strongest person in the world and be made of steel, but as soon as you start feeling with your heart, your strength can swiftly fall apart.

“Cat got your tongue, kid?” Paul said as he rose himself from the bench, cigar almost spent.

It was a plan changer for sure. I knew more than ever that my mother’s life was in danger. I would have to think hard and good on how I would be able to escape.

Paul leaned in and put the nearly spent cigar into my Palm, the singe from the burning cherry scorching my skin. He leaned in closer and spoke softly into my ear. “Enjoy the rest of this cigar. Oh and by the way, don’t worry about your mom. She passed away nearly 2 years ago in a bad car accident.”

I swallowed the biggest brick down my throat in my entire life. I watched Paul Bishop slowly tilt and wobbly make his way out of the room. The cigar which was still lit and still placed into my palm, I closed my fingers and crushed it with my fist, feeling the burning. I took a very deep breath and began to shake uncontrollably. I exhaled through my tightly clenched teeth. As the door opened and Paige came in, I bolted to the nearest wall, the nearest innocent wall, easiest access. I began to punch it over and over again, screaming loudly and obliterating the tiles of the shower. Blood began to spasm from my balled up fists. Head butting and punching the wall, I lost myself. I was completely overwhelmed by anger and hate.

As I felt Paige’s arms around my waist, I barely heard the words that she spoke and in a crazed rage, I quickly turned and pushed her to the ground. I was a mad woman and it wasn’t me inside my body, but I looked at her, bloody fist raised and ready to pulverize something else. Stricken with fear, she pulled the gun from her side and pointed it directly at my head. As her lips slowly moved, I still heard not one word, but tried desperately to calm down. I closed my eyes hard and rubbed them. As I slowly opened them, the redness of rage had finally disappeared.

Gun still drawn, I fell to my knees in a weeping heap. Paige’s arms were wrapped around me in an instant, wiping the bloody tears from my face. “What the hell did he say to you?”

I wrapped my arms around her and held her tightly. I wanted to feel her touch, feel her breath upon my skin, needed her to sooth me. I cried, frowned and shook my head. “Enough, he said enough.”

It was a tough task, frail, broken and in pieces. Paige managed to peel the blood soaked clothes from my body and get me into the shower. I stood a good while, underneath the warm streams of water. I let it flow into my mouth and swish out the old crispy blood. I closed my eyes and tried to keep calm, but I raised them slowly at sound of the door opening.

Once again, another serpent from hell had surfaced. Michelle Bishop. She gave Paige a look. Without question, nor word, Paige obediently left the room. I was left once again with the bloody siren known as Michelle Bishop.

I removed myself from my stance of comfort and stood brightly and tall. I no longer cared about my modesty, nor hiding myself from the evil wicked woman. Eyes glaring, I prepared for what was to come.

“Good show you put on, thanks for the head, by the way.” She slowly walked up to me and touched her finger to my cheek.

“Do as you wish, I am no longer afraid of you.”

She smiled and took her finger trailing it down my chin, down my neck and onto my chest. “Sad, you were more fun when you were scared.” Her lips twitched at the edges.

I didn’t want to, but I could feel a heat and a need propelling from her body. The sensation sent a spiraling want throughout mine. For some reason, in my wicked state, I was craving her abuse. As I had a flashback and thought of her whipping my backside, I craved it. I slowly licked my lips as I wanted her to fulfill a newly implanted darker side to my soul. As it was just barely there, I pushed it away and spit in her face. “That get you off?” I asked.

She took her fingers to her face and wiped away the saliva, licking it from her fingers with great pleasure. “Barely, thank you, but I would much rather be licking something else.”

In my mind, the switch had once again flipped. Though she was taller than I, my arm lunged and I grabbed her neck, nails digging. As I saw her eyes widen, she put her hand around my arm and curled her fingers around it. When I finally saw a hint of fear placed within her eyes, I spoke between my gritted teeth, my naked flesh, wet and dripping. “Three people are on my list. You are the third. When I relieve myself of my shackles, I shall come for you in the night. I shall strangle every last ounce of breath, evil breath which ignites your sad pathetic soul.”

Michelle Bishop relieved herself from my grip and took two steps back, trying still to play it cool. I saw the faint glimmer of fear twitching in the corner of her eye. “This is not over, my little warrior. This is not over.” She said as she turned and went for the door.

Satisfied with my placement of fear, I chimed back. “Wait for me love, for I shall send you into the darkness.”

I smiled as I watched her leave the room. My lips muttered, “burn in hell, you evil whore of Satan.”

The remainder of the night was dark and spent in silence. I was cleansed and cleaned. Paige and I sat quietly within the confines of the waiting room. All activities of hellish thoughts had finally left my mind. And even though I knew Paige wanted so desperately to seek comfort within my arms, she kept distant. She knew I wasn’t the same person. I was grateful for her distance, for I did not want to harm her. I knew my mind was a mass, a chaotic explosion of falling blocks. I tried so desperately to keep Lillian close, but the Switchblade Mama continued to plague my mind.

The night dragged on as we waited for the boys to return. It was the championship fight and pay was issued. I never knew what was to be on the other side of the fighter’s dungeon, but I suspected and saw with my own eyes that it consisted of drinking and much bullshit talk.

When boys finally returned, Paige and I were jerked from our slumber. I didn’t care. I was tired and just wanted a warm bed to sleep in. At least the remainder of the morning was uneventful. I slept the rest of the way on the ride home, decapitated heads rolling around in my mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30.

I didn’t remember being removed from the car, nor did I remember being taken up to my room, but I woke to the warm sun rays basking on my skin. And as I woke, wishing to stretch my arms, I was unable to, for I was once again bound to the bed by leather straps. I looked and concentrated on my right arm. I had to go pee and I was not about to lose myself in the bed. I took a deep breath and with everything I had, I tried so desperately to tear myself away from the strap. With much effort it came loose and ripped away. Concentrating on the other side, I applied the same force and finally became free. With a headache and sore body, I rushed to the bathroom. I relieved myself and let out a mighty gasp.

As I left the bathroom and began to make my way out into the balcony to get some fresh air, the door opened and there was Paige. She had a tray in hand, which look like soup. Her eyes widened and she looked at me fearful. I looked at her, questioning her expression.

“You’re up? Ha, how do you feel, you okay?” Shakily she asked.

I felt her uneasiness. I looked at both my wrists, the bed and then I looked at her. “Oh, good, but I’m sorry, I had to pee.” I did recall my behavior. I knew I had done some bad things. Her fear was of course, expected. “I’m fine Paige, I am back.”

She put the tray onto the armorer, sniffled and then rushed to me. She wrapped her arms around my shoulders and cradled the back of my head. She kissed me over and over again and I held her. I was so glad to be back. I wanted nothing more than to be human, but I knew the evil was dwelling inside of me. I wanted to hold her inside my arms forever, but I knew the evil would call me back into duty.

Paige pleaded with me as she held me in her arms. “Please, please don’t leave me again.”

I couldn’t help but tear up as I held her tightly. “I’ll try not to, babe. I love you so dearly.” With my arms around her, I inhaled deeply. “What day is it?” I asked.

She took a few steps back. Her eyes were wide and brown as ever. “Wednesday. My father didn’t think we should travel until you were right of mind. You were in and out of it once again. He didn’t think we could successfully and quietly load you into the truck. We had to wait. Now that you are here, we must go.”

I didn’t want to leave, but I saw it in Paige’s eyes that she wanted to go home.

It seemed that everything had been already packed. Everybody was just waiting on me. I slowly brought myself to a shower. I peeled the bloody gauze away from my knuckles and pulled the bandages from my face. I vaguely remember using them against the wall. As the showers steam began to well up, quickly coating the mirror with its fog, I wiped it away. I looked at myself in the mirror one last time, tracing the long scar down my face with my fingertips. Even if I could, I would never remove it. I was a reminder. Things were becoming bad and I knew it. I wish I could be that person once again. The day that I received the scar. At least then, I was filled with mercy.

Either Paige was really busy, or she was afraid of me and in avoidance. For the rest of the winter, I spent a lot of time in my room. Of course, breakfast, lunch and dinner were always served at the same time of day. And of course, I did always eat at the table. But it seemed, the attitude in general was a bit toned down. We would converse about things, but it seemed as if everybody was a bit gray as far as I went. I was coming to the conclusion that everyone was becoming frightened of me. Of course I didn’t blame them, but what could they expect for creating a monster?

Days would go by and I would not see one bit of Paige. It was Clive who brought food in for me. I would get excited when I saw the doorknob move, in hopes that it would be Paige, but no, just Clive. Another day of eating in the room. I just shook my head and cursed at my boredom.

Clive Dross was not a good cook at all. He failed at even the simplest creation of a sandwich. If it was breakfast, it was one of those SmartStart breakfast TV dinners. If it was lunch, is was a cheese drenched mayonnaise sandwich. When it was dinner, mostly I got SpaghettiOs. I was blessed if I got a can of beef stew or at least some leftover grilled steak. But Clive never embellished on his meals. He was great at the grill, but anything else he just sucked balls.

Barrett was almost completely nonexistent during the winter. Which was fine. I really didn’t want anything to do with him to begin with. I couldn’t blame him for beating the shit out of me for fucking his daughter. And of course, I couldn’t expect conversation from him either.

Winter was my worst season. I had absolutely no use in the world. I sat in a small confined room living a bland life of nothingness. The nightmares became worse and worse every night and I constantly screamed out with fear, but Paige kept distant.

During the morning, exercises consisted of sit-ups and push-ups and pull ups with the bar provided on the wall. During the afternoon, reading. For the evening, music was served. I didn’t have a clock in my room, so I based the time off of the meals that were served. For being such a cash cow, I was severely neglected. I would purposely seek songs on my MP3 player that made me cry. At least my pain was diffused within my tears. Sometimes, when I became desperately bored, I thought of myself at work and kept the whole day within my mind, working.

One early morning had arisen. My room was dark and I was fast asleep. As my door bolted open, I shot up in fear as I saw Barrett bulldoze in.

Before I could protest, he threw a heavy jacket into my face and said. “Get dressed, quickly. The drive is covered with snow and I need to get out fast. You’re going to help me shovel it.”

I didn’t say anything. He waited patiently outside the door while I dressed. If anything, I was a tad bit excited. It wasn’t much, but it was something. I had been cooped up the whole winter and finally I was going to be able to see outside. To feel it, to smell it, was all I needed to keep me going. I threw on my jeans and my steel toed boots. I picked up a long sleeve shirt and fastened Barrett’s jacket around me. I took two steps outside my door. He looked at me and nodded. We extended through the bowels of the house, cleared the stairs and went through the kitchen. We traveled through the living room and out the front door. The sight was nothing more than sheer amazing.

The snow was coming down in insane buckets. The world was almost colored white. I took a few steps, and fell into the deep snow. The sky was gray with clouds and the land was covered in white heaven. As I followed Barrett, he threw a shovel into my hands and said. “Let’s get digging kid.”

The drive was long and filled with heavy snow. The job and all took at least an hour. I shoveled nonstop without one break. I wanted to prove to Barrett that I was worth more than rotting inside a room. As we finally finished and shoveled the last bit of snow from the drive, I handed Barrett my shovel. He gave me a big smile and a “thank you.”

I wished I wasn’t so quick with it, but we left the winter wonderland and went back into the house. As he prepared himself to leave, I sat myself at the kitchen table. I waited for him to take me back to my room, but apparently he had other plans. With an eye bolt that was sticking out of the hardwood floors of the kitchen, Barrett took a metal chain and securely locked onto it. He then took the other side, brought it to me and clasped my ankle into it.

He then pulled over his heavy jacket and sternly looked at me. “I have no time to feed you, so you are now on the trust system. I’m going into the city to get Clive medicine. Please, feel free to feed yourself, but you do understand the repercussions if you try to escape.”

I said nothing, but just nodded.

He picked up his keys, opening the door and letting a swirl of the winter’s hell to enter the house.

I raised myself from my chair and walked as far into the living room as I could. Barrett rumbled the suburban to life and like a bat out of hell, he removed the vehicle from the drive and started his mission to save his friend.

At first, I found myself not to be really hungry, so I sat myself back at the kitchen table. I began to hum and twiddle my thumbs, but began to look about the room. It seemed as if the kitchen was in a bit of a disheveled mode. Plates were littered about the place and the sink was full. Out of sheer curiosity, I walked up to the eye bolt and gripped it with my fingers. I tried my best, my hardest to turn, for I knew it was screwed in, but the damn thing wouldn’t budge. I had about 15 feet of slack in my chain. I figured I could use leverage, so I looked through every drawer in the kitchen to find a screwdriver. I knew a knife wouldn’t cut it, but I just could not find a screwdriver. With my escape plan diminished, I tried to find other things that would keep me occupied.

The TV, was on the left-hand side of the living room. And as I walked toward it, I just became too short. I flopped down onto my belly and onto my side. I tried reaching out to the power button, but I just didn’t have enough slack. Cross that one out. I came back to the kitchen. There was a radio, an old cassette tape radio that sat in the kitchen. I turned on. Apparently there was no reception. Still bummed out, I popped open the cassette tray, only to find a tape by the Doors. I smiled as I recollected the Doors was my father’s favorite band. I pushed play.

Break on through to the Other Side was the first song to play. I began to tap my foot and shake my head. It had been weeks since I was let out of my room. With the vibration of the music, I began to clean the kitchen. I hand washed, scrubbed and made everything neat. I told myself, fuck the dishwasher. Dishes shall be hand washed today.

It wasn’t until the kitchen was sparkling clean, that I decided, out of boredom, to search the cabinets. The Doors, caressing sweet tunes within my ears, urged me to seek further entertainment. Cabinet one, dry goods. Cabinet two, canned goods. Cabinet three, jackpot, alcohol! I hated hard liquor, but at this point, my mouth salivated at the thought of it. I took the bottle down, grabbed a glass, and sat down at the kitchen table and filled the glass full with glorious whiskey. I took the whole glass and slowly chugged. The warm liquid, burning all the way down, but I didn’t care. I just embraced and felt the warmth as it slid down my pipes. I smiled and took a deep breath as I felt my whole body warming from the soft caress of an insane liquid known as whiskey.

As I sat at the kitchen table, the bottle of whiskey was completely diminished. As I poured the last drop into my cup, I was warm and happy. Because I was drunk, when I first saw her, I thought it was because of intoxication. The door flew open and the swirly snows flew in. I tilted my head and looked at her with eyes wide.

Paige slowly walked in through the back kitchen door, brushing the snow from her shoulders. Her eyes were wide and she looked at me sitting at the kitchen table. Words that were muttered from her mouth were, “what the Fuck?”

Out of drunkenness I began to laugh. My cheeks were rosy and my hopes were high.

Paige’s eyes narrowed as she looked at me. “Are you drunk?” She asked.

I stuck my tongue out and smiled. “Yup. I cleaned the kitchen.” I said as I extend my arm and pointed about.

“Where’s my father?” She asked.

My eyes widened and I smiled. I bobbed back and forth as I listened to Riders on the Storm. “Pops went out to get pills for Clive who is sick. No one here to feed, so I is chained up, to feed myself.” I said with a big cheesy smile.

Paige left the room quickly and went upstairs. I assumed she went to go check on Clive. I would’ve, but unfortunately my chains. As the bottle of whiskey was empty, I threw it into the trash. I took the glass, washed it quickly and put it back into the cabinet. Hopefully Paige had medications with her, but to help her I found some bouillon cubes and tried to make some broth for Clive. Still drunk and listening to the doors, I jammed out but tried to be responsible.

Paige finally returned from the upstairs. She looked at me quickly before she left out the door again. “I have meds in the Bronco. I’ll be right back.” The door once again opened and the swirly flurries of snow flew into the house.

I sat in somewhat of a drunken, stupor phase. The warming alcohol was making me hyper. I began to shake my legs uncontrollably and tap my fingernails upon the table top. As Paige reentered the house, I tilted my head back to look at her and trailed her as she went back upstairs. As a young girl, I enjoyed entertainment that karaoke would provide. As the Doors played on, I began to sing along.

When Paige finally came back downstairs, my hyper state was in full effect. She walked across the kitchen and over to the radio. Quickly she pulled the plug.

I tilted my head and looked at her, eyes glaring, dropping my mouth. I lifted my hand up and pointed at her with my finger. “Party pooper.” I said.

“How much did you drink?” She asked.

“I don’t know, a fifth?”

“Have you eaten?”

I smiled. “Yes, I ate a bottle of whiskey.”

Paige just shook her head. “How long has my father been gone?”

Honestly, I really wasn’t paying attention to the time. I was bored. I watched Paige as she called her father’s phone. There was no answer, so she called over and over again. She looked at me with eyes narrowed, I just lifted my hands and shook my head replying with my answer. I had no idea.

Paige stood up quickly and motioned to the downstairs basement. “Come on, let’s go.”

I looked at her and my mouth dropped. “Where?”

“I have to go find my father. If he’s in trouble, I have to find him. You need to go back into your room so I can find my father.”

There was no other moment like this than to kill a Buzz. I shook my head and turned behind me to look out the window. The snow was coming down in sheets and you could barely see anything. “You’re fucking mad. It’s a miracle you got home yourself. I’m not going back down into that fucking shit hole. Besides if you need help, let me help.”

“You are drunk.”

I sat back in my chair, lifted up my arms and with eyes wide looked about the room. “But I can still function. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in over a year and you are over here busting my chops.”

“You had booze for breakfast.” She rubbed her hands over her eyes and let out a low sigh. “Look, I don’t have time for this. If you’re going to help, help, but don’t be drunk.” She said at the end of a pointing finger.

“No worries. I can be drunk and responsible the same time.”

Paige smiled and shook her head. She reached in the back of her pocket and pulled out her keys. As she fiddled through them, she made the decision at once. She walked over to me and knelt down. Her key opened the lock that bound my leg. I pulled over my heavy coat and followed Paige out into the plastered white day. Growing up in the Valley of the sun, snow and snowy days were rare sites for me. I felt the cold sneak its way into my collar and chill my backside. I pulled the jacket closer and picked up the pace, slightly stumbling through the snow due to my intoxication. As Paige and I finally reached the Bronco, I climbed in and breathed a sigh of relief for at least I was out of the wicked chilly wind.

We headed into the only direction she thought he was going, town. Everything was white. I looked and watched, with my head tilted wondering exactly how she was finding her way through the white out.

“Put your head down.”

“What?” I asked.

Paige stopped the truck in the middle of what was supposed to be a road. “Put your head down and stop looking. We’re coming up on road signs and I just can’t let you know.”

“I can’t even see, but 20 feet in front of me” I was extremely disappointed but I obeyed. I placed my head into my hands and closed my eyes. I hoped that Paige’s good driving would see us through the rescue mission.

Loudly, the truck putted along for some time. Slowly we made our way. Finally, when Paige stopped the truck, I lifted my head. A tree had fallen and blocked the road.

Paige got out quickly to assess the damage. In this kind of weather, no one would emerge to move it. She got back into the truck and her facial expression became completely distressed. On either side of us were small ravines, no way the tree could have been passed by even the toughest truck. As Paige turned the engine and was ready to take the Bronco home. I investigated my side of the ravine a little bit harder. I barely caught a glimpse, but I knew something was down there. Just as Paige was ready to pull the vehicle into reverse, I stopped her by placing my hand on hers, which was firmly planted onto the wheel.

“What is it?” She asked.

I said nothing, but rather took my hand and pointed it downward into the ravine tapping my fingernails upon the window.

She pulled the Bronco into park and jumped out of the truck. She walked across it and over to my side. One look was all it took. Her face went from sheer disappointment and to extreme fear. She came to my door and pulled it open. “It’s his truck, my God, it’s his! Lillian, please help me!”

Nothing could have spurred me into action more than the cries of the love of my life. Still with great intoxication, I fumbled with my seat belt. Unfortunately, my dismount was done with very little grace, as my leg was caught upon exiting the truck and I fell face first into a big mound of snow. As I popped my head up from the mound, I could see Paige as she worryingly gazed off into the ravine. I shrugged off the mind melding as best as I could. I lifted myself from the snow and walked to side myself with Paige. I looked at her, eyes welling up with tears.

Paige was on the phone. 911 was at her fingertips. Every time she tried, nothing. She became more distraught at the fact that no help would come.

As she continued to try, I took my hand to hers and lowered the phone from her ear. “Paige, nobody’s going to come. We have to do this ourselves.”

She looked at me, eyes still wide and scared, but nodded.

Smiling with her for agreeing, I took a step forward. Apparently I wasn’t ready for the sophisticated steps I would have to take to journey down into the ravine, for I tripped and fell. I rolled and tumbled all the way down. I fell again, face down in the snow. As I lifted my head, I had clear site of the suburban. It had rolled and crashed into a tree. Still trying to fight my inebriation, I slowly rose and wiped away the packed snow from my knees. I walked to the suburban, trying to open the driver side door. It was locked. I could see Barrett inside, face wedged up against the steering wheel, face bloodied. I looked back up at Paige and yelled, “doors locked, but hang on.”

As I breathed heavily, the vapor plumes expelled from my mouth at an incredible rate. I pulled back my right arm, balling my right hand up into a fist. I struck hard and Swift, making contact to the window, but not completely breaking it. Even though I was fueled by whiskey, the coldness and the constriction within my hands created great pain. I put my arm back once again and struck. The window shattered into pieces. I reached my hand in an unlocked the door. When I turned once again to make communication with Paige, she was right by my side.

I left the driver side and gave Paige time to see to her father. She reached in and checked for his vitals. “Still here.” She then felt his core temperature. She looked at me, face tainted with worry. “We have to get him out of here. He won’t last long out in this cold.” She put her arms around him and tried to pull him out of the handicapped suburban. Her efforts were in vain. She had not the strength to pull him out. She tried over and over again and when her strength was finally exhausted, she looked at me, eyes filled with worry. “What can we do?”

Even though I was intoxicated, I had a plan brewing. My right eyebrow roused and I gave her a sly smile. “Do you have rope in your truck?” I asked.

She nodded and I pointed towards the bronco. “Good. You get your ass up there and throw me down a bit. You tie it off somewhere strong, you understand?”

Paige nodded and began the excruciating trek back up the ravine. As I waited for the rope, I search the back of the suburban for more. Success! I found another bundle. I crawled out and waited for Paige to drop her end. The end was dropped and of course it wasn’t enough to make it to the bottom. I took the other bundle of rope that I had found from the suburban and tied them together. It was whim, just a tiny thought that burst inside my head. I knew I didn’t have the strength to drag him up out of the ravine, but at least I had strength to pull him out.

As Paige nervously paced back-and-forth at the top of the ravine, I continued with my rescue plan. With the ropes bound together and tightly in place, I reached in suburban and pulled Barrett out with all of my strength. The snow no doubt creating such a menace to my plan, but nevertheless I continued on.

I wasn’t the greatest with knots, but I knew nothing more than a fisherman knot. Even with its simplicity, it still helped out. As I wrapped the rope around Barrett’s body over and over again, I finished it with a fisherman’s knot. When I felt the rope was secure with his body, I used it to help me guide myself up out of the ravine. I met Paige who was in a complete state of distress.

“Now what?” She impatiently asked.

I gave her the last of my drunken cheesy smile. “Patients my friend is a virtue.” There was a dead anchored log that sat along the roadside. It was planted firmly enough that I could use it for leverage. I sat down and shoved my all into it, leaning back until the slack was gone. I took the rope and got a good grip. I swallowed hard and took and inhaled deeply, a big enough breath to inhale so much snow that it burned my very lungs. As I exhaled I began to pull. There was a breath and then exhale, which led to another pull. It was like reeling in a really big fish. I strained. I used every muscle in my body and pulled as hard as I could. I yelled loudly and used every profanity in the book. I didn’t know how long it took, but it seemed to take forever. Finally as Barrett’s body crested over the top of the ravine, Paige cried out with relief.

As I keeled over with reprieve, huffing and puffing, I threw up. I expelled the whiskey and any last bits of food I had left in my stomach. I could see Paige in my peripheral trying to drag her father to the truck. I stood up, eyes burning from the retching. The swirling and falling of the snow became more intense, the winds became heavier. The trees were swaying, tilting further and further. The branches were stressed and heavy with snow. If we weren’t in danger before, we were surely were now. At any moment another tree could fall, blocking our way home. As I wiped the vomit away from my mouth, I heard Paige cry out in despair.

“Lillian, help!”

I disengaged myself from my pains. I ran over to Paige and her father. I shooed her away and motioned for her to pick up his feet. I picked up his torso. Paige and I carried him to until we got the back of the bronco.

“Fuck! Now what?” Paige asked.”

No way in hell Paige would be able to lift him up. Barrett was at least two times my weight and I knew damn well I wouldn’t be able to do it either. So, without word, I began another pulley system.

I took Barrett’s legs and drug him back a few feet from the Bronco. I remembered seeing some plywood in suburban that I could use. “Wait hear Paige, I have an idea.” I said. With that, I stumbled back down the ravine and towards suburban. I found a wide plank of wood in the back, suitable enough to pose as a ramp. The only question was, how would I get it back up? There were tie downs in the back, enough that I could swing over the wooden planks and make a backpack.

Time was not on my side and I had to move quickly. I took the tie downs, made straps out of them, hands completely clumsy due to the freezing cold. Firmly, the wooden plank was attached to my back. Slowly, I made my way back up.

Paige’s eyes lit up as soon as she saw me emerge. I almost felt as if she thought I had run. Of course I did think about it, but I knew damn well I would never survive out in the cold.

I rushed over to the truck, propping the wooden plank on it. I stomped hard making sure it was firm and in place. I even walked up it, verifying that it was sturdy enough. I took the rope once again and wrapped it around Barrett’s upper body. I then crawled up the ramp into the truck. I placed my two feet up against the tire wells for leverage. Once again it was time to pull. As I did so with all my might, Paige tried her best to push at his feet.

Finally, Barrett was loaded into the back of the 96 Bronco. Paige looked at me and I looked at her. “Somebody has got to stay here with my dad to keep him warm.”

I looked at her and I shook my head, pointing at him. “Oh no, honey. I am not laying back there and keeping him warm, oh hell no.” I said as I took a few steps back.

Paige looked at me, throwing the keys. “Then you drive.”

I smiled as I caught them with my right hand. “Why of course, Ms. Daisy.”

She loaded herself up in the back with her father, the tailgate unable to close due to his large size. Since Barrett was still tied up by the rope, I took the other end of it, lacing it in and out of the passenger side window which I had rolled down. I shut the door hard to make sure that the rope was firmly in place. From the driver side of the truck, I looked back at Paige to make sure that she was ready to roll. “Okay babe, hold on to him hard. He is definitely fastened, but once we start to hit those bumps, make sure you be holding on.”

“Are you still drunk?” She asked.

I smiled slightly through my teeth. “A little bit.”

“We’re going to die.”

I smiled as I shoved the keys into the ignition. The mighty beast roared to life. As I threw the truck into reverse and swung around, I began to rap a little theme. “Because I’m Switchblade Mama, so save your drama. Talk that shit and I’ll pull your card, whip out my knife and I’ll cut off some lard.” As I was turning around, I looked up into the rear view mirror and could see Paige as she was shaking her head.

I was trying to haul ass, but knowing that speeding would be dangerous, I tried to keep it a quick but slow pace. I watched Paige from the rear view mirror, I saw as she held her father closely. She placed her lips upon his neck and blew, hoping the warmth from her breath would keep warm.

The roads were covered deeply with snow, and of course, I wasn’t able to see everything that laid upon them, we hit a big hefty bump. I was not wearing my seat belt and was lifted up until my head hit the ceiling of the Bronco.

“What the hell was that?”

Knowing she couldn’t see me, I shrugged behind the wheel. “Well, I’m sure it wasn’t a person, a deer maybe? Paige, where am I going?” I asked.

“Turn right when you see a sign that says, Barrett’s home design.” She replied.

I kept a sturdy hand on the wheel, knowing that my precious cargo laid in the back, unsecured. The cold was penetrating me. I could feel the booze as it was rumbling inside of my stomach. I was becoming nauseous, but I tried my best to keep my wheels and eyes on the road. I could see the world in turmoil. Everything was falling apart at the seams. Downed trees were everywhere. I smiled when I finally came to the sign and took a hard right in.

“Holy hell!” Paige yelled from the back.

I shouted back in reply, “hold on to your nipples!” As I drove through the short wood that would lead us to the back of the house, and insane thought popped into my mind. I was going to drift and back my way in. Once the house became visible, I hit the brakes and turned the wheel, quickly. I could hear Paige in the back yelling in fear. When the truck finally came to a stop, it was planted perfectly and in-line with the kitchen door. I took a deep breath and let out a big laugh, honking the horn obnoxiously.

Paige disembarked herself from the back of the truck, I, like a child, threw open the driver side door and tossed myself back flopping into the snow. I laughed heavily, with sheer excitement of what I had just done.

The snow still falling in incredible clusters, it continued to fall about my face and plant small but light touches of briskness. But of course the job was not done, Barrett still had to be removed from the vehicle and taken upstairs into his room. And as I laid in the snow, still lightly intoxicated happily creating snow angels, Paige stood over me. I took it as an order to move my ass and got up from my partially made snow angel.

As I slowly made my way to the back of the bronco, the door to the kitchen opened and Clive appeared. I hollered to him loudly and motioned with my hand. “Hey, fucker, feeling better? Get your ass over here and help us with this guy!”

Clive disappeared quickly. He then once again protruded and ran out, still in his long Johns but wearing his boots and his heavy jacket. “How can I help?” He asked as his breath escaped in a cloud from his mouth.

I smiled. “Feeling better fucker?”

Clive nodded.

“Amazing what Tylenol does for one these days.” As I walked towards the back of the bronco, his eyes widened when he saw Barrett laying there, motionless. “Get in there and grab his torso, please. I’ll pick up the foot part. Let’s get inside and him to bed.”

With Paige close by, Clive and I hauled Barrett up the stairs and into his room. I had never been into the upper portion of the house. And though I was very curious, I tried so very desperately to keep my mind focused on the task at hand. Of course, mission was accomplished and Barrett was safely placed into his bed. Paige worked desperately to keep him comfortable and to try to revive him. With Clive and Paige’s attention focused on more pressing matters, I slowly snuck my way downstairs.

I riffled through all of the drawers looking for something in particular. I finally found the treasure. It was a pack of cigarettes, with just three left and the lighter packed in the box to boot. I smiled as I pulled out one of the cigarettes. Finally something to complement my whiskey. Happily, I crept myself outside and sat down the cold snow covered concrete stairs that led up to the kitchen. As the cold attacked my face and affected my poor limbs, I fumbled with the lighter hastily trying to light my cigarette. Finally, success! I took a very deep long drag and exhaled a volcano’s worth of smoke. The nicotine flowed through my body and I could feel an incredible numbness and well wanted buzz.

Sitting on the steps, I stared off into the tiny world that had become my life. Everything was covered with white powdery snow. The bronco was beginning to lose its colors as snow started to pile up. Everything was quiet, beside the wind whispering through the trees. Soft nothings, it spoke into my ear. As I finished the cigarette, I lit up another, turning my head up toward the skies. Everything came down like tiny little white intricate stars. And the snowflakes that fell onto my jacket, I saw each and every one, how individual their designs were. I couldn’t help but smile and forget. All the hate, the anger and the pain just seemed to dissipate and flow away. It was almost like the snowflakes falling. Each and every one so individual, but as soon as they met the ground, they molded into one solid statement. My statement at the moment was sheer contentment. I knew it was only a matter of moments before it was completely fumbled, so I lived it up. I took the last cigarette from the box and ignited it. I leaned back further and closed my eyes, listening to the world.

As the third cigarette was nearly exhausted, my prediction had come true. Paige burst through the back of the kitchen door, and nearly tripped over me. I sat up and turned my head to look at her. “Hey babe, how’s your pops?” I said as I blew out a plume of smoke.

Her mouth was open the whole time. “How… how long have you been out here?”

I pursed my lips. To be a smart ass I actually thought about it. “Well, let’s see… It takes me approximately 7 minutes to smoke a cigarette. I am currently on my third, had brief interludes between them, so I am estimating about 28 minutes?”

“Could you please come inside?”

I stood up quickly, inhaled the last bit of my cigarette and put it out to my palm, flicking the butt. I looked at Paige, took a deep breath and exhaled, letting the vapor flow away from my mouth like Dragon’s breath. “If you’re implying that I need a babysitter, or you wish to confine me, by all means please, tell me to my face.”

“You need a babysitter.”

I lifted my arms and shook my head. “Are you kidding me? I have been sitting out here, granted I’ve been freezing my ass off, but I have been at least enjoying myself. I have been cooped up in that little fucking room and everything that we have been through so far today, you still cannot trust me?”

Paige began to shake her head. “No, no, it’s not that, it’s just…”

I stopped her. “No, I understand perfectly. I am good enough to sleep with, good enough to fuck around with, but not good enough to stand next to you as you are equal, no, I understand perfectly. Here, let me obediently like a dog, walk myself back to my bland little hellhole so you don’t have to worry about anything else.” I pulled open the kitchen door and walked through it. I came to the foot of the steps that led downstairs and I looked at Paige once again. “Make sure you watch me as I go downstairs. Make sure I go into the right room so that you can sleep easy.” As soon as I began to descend downstairs, I bit my tongue and began to hate myself for what I had just said. I opened the door to my room and quietly closed it. It was a one-way locking door. You could open it from the outside, but it required a key to open it from the inside. My clothes were wet and drenched. I peeled them off and threw on some sweatpants and a sweatshirt to keep warm.

I sat myself down on my bed and rubbed my hands over my face. My stomach was queasy and I wasn’t feeling my best. I wished I had some Alka-Seltzer’s to ease my troubled stomach. I kneeled and hugged the edge of my toilet. I waited for it. As I felt it brewing inside of my stomach, I urged it to come specifically through thought. Finally, the raging volcanic acids of my stomach made their way out and I expelled the remainder of my whiskey into the toilet. I pulled myself from the bowl, guzzled some water from the sink and tossed myself on the bed. I was still extremely hungry. The main goal of the morning’s events was to feed myself and I had completely failed. I substituted nourishment for booze and at the moment was completely paying the price.

My stomach was so empty, I could feel my heart pound throughout my body. I swallowed hot dry starches from remnants of my retching vomit. My head was pounding with a headache. I prayed for aspirin and food. I was so uncomfortable I couldn’t even achieve sleep. My eyes were closed, but my body was in full denial of sleep. It’s insane how shitty you feel after drink has worn off.

Hours passed and I restlessly tossed and turned. No doubt, my bad behavior with Paige was plaguing my mind, but Barrett was also swirling around in it as well. Even though I was not able to achieve REM sleep, in and out of consciousness, my mind would playback scenes of the day’s events. For some reason, I wondered how Barrett was.

After all the bad things that I had done, the killings, I had no idea if redemption was even possible. I couldn’t help but see Barrett’s face as he sat motionless in the suburban. I couldn’t believe that I would risk life and limb to save him. But I did. After all the evils that I had accomplished, at least I knew, somewhere inside there was still some good.

My eyes opened again to the glaring light of the pale white room. My stomach had nearly settled. As I was ready to get up and turn off the lights, the door opened and a double black-eyed Barrett emerged.

I stiffened and sat up quickly as he took his place sitting at the edge of the bed. I blinked hard and rubbed my eyes to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I swallowed, taking a deep breath. Barrett looked at me. Nose, swollen to hell and eyes, black circles that could only be described as black holes themselves.

Barrett folded his hands into his lap and looked down at them. “That bottle of whiskey was the first gift that my wife gave me on our first anniversary.”

My eyes became wide and I felt the fear stiffening up my back. “Yeah, so you did tell me to find something to eat, but I…”

Barrett cut in. “As far as I’m concerned, it was a good trade-off for my life. I’m pretty sure my wife would rather me be breathing today, then having an unopened bottle of whiskey sitting in my cabinet. Sometimes, to do the things that scares us the most, requires a little bit of liquid courage.” Barrett laughed to himself. He looked at me, eyes sincere. “I thank you for saving my life. I realize that I have put you through a lot. I know the both of us are not in the best situation and I wish that perhaps we could have met each other under different circumstances. You are an excellent fighter and an even better home-builder.” Barrett stood up and took two steps to the door. He put the key into the lock. “How was the whiskey, anyways?”

For the first time I looked up at Barrett’s eyes as an equal. I was no longer afraid of his presence. I felt his warmth for the first time as well. I felt his human side. I smiled. “Damn fucking good sir.”

“You hungry?”

“Famished!”

He smiled before he left the room and closed the door behind him.

It wasn’t long before the door came to life once again. Paige slowly walked, plate in hand. As I could smell the simple sustenance that rested on the plate, my mouth began to salivate. Paige sat down on the bed next to me and handed me the plate. “Be careful, it’s ho…”

Before she could finish the sentence, I grabbed the plate from her. I took the grilled cheese and dipped into the cup of tomato soup. I didn’t care how hot it was, I just molded my mouth around its gooey cheesy warmth. I dipped the sandwich into the soup and savored its wondrous flavor.

“I wanted to thank you…”

“No need, your father just did.”

“No, but I personally wanted to…”

I still had grilled cheese jumbling around in my mouth when I leaned over and pressed my finger against Paige’s lips. “Shhhhh, no worries babe. I apologize for my behavior earlier. I was… Drunk.” I spoke with a full mouth. “Besides… After all the bad things I have done, it felt good to do something right for once. I know I am not a super hero, but I am not like any other… Maybe one day I can use my ability’s for a better cause, rather than just chaos.”

Paige said nothing, but rather nodded. She looked at me, eyes so deep and smiled. She rested her hand on the top of my thigh.

I took a moment from my gorging and put the plate down on the bed next to me. I put my hand over hers, firmly gripping. “So, you sticking around, or you gonna take off?” Paige’s smile faded and without words I already knew the answer. I let out a breath and drew my hand through my hair. It had been months since my last haircut and it was beginning to get out of control.

“The storm is still too bad outside. I’ll be leaving first thing in the morning, if weather permits.”

“Hate to see you go.”

“As I hate to leave you.”

“So, are you becoming the ultimate? Are you doing what you always wanted to do?” I kind of had an idea what she was doing. As much as I wanted her to stay, I knew she was trying to grow up and have her own life. She was going to school. I could see it in her eyes. That one tiny glimpse, an ounce of a sparkle. If I gave a hint, the word, I knew she would stay indefinitely without hesitation. But as I knew, if you loved someone, you wanted them to be happy. I knew her happiness laid partially with me, but the other half needed some sort of completion. The other half needed to be somebody. I wasn’t going to be rude. I would make my best attempt at pushing her gently in the right direction.

Paige smiled and nodded. “Yes. I am learning many things. I figured the winter would be the best time to school, because our downtime.”

I agreed with her, sort of shaking my head sarcastically. “Yes, yes, I totally agree. You just do me a favor.”

Her eyes widened. “What is that?” She asked.

I smiled bigger, this time showing teeth. “You get your ass back at the school and make sure that you’re first in class, okay?”

Paige’s eyes teared up a bit. She gave me a heavy smile and a big wet kiss on the cheek. She gave me a hug and thanked me many times inside my ear. Before she quickly left, she whispered, “see you come spring.”

Once again I was left to myself. The next morning, Clive embraced me with a big breakfast in appreciation for saving his best friend’s life. His chunky butt, waddled in like a penguin, big smile.

I was still in bed and awoken by his commotion. He placed the breakfast tray across my lap, smiling as he took a few steps back, fingers fiddling each other like a madman. “I heard Paige sayin, you don like my meals. Well, today, you be eaten good.”

I smiled as I sat up. Examining the plate covered with eggs, bacon, hash browns with a side of ketchup and an English muffin, covered in jam. I looked up at Clive. His face was blanketed with the worst scraggly beard that I had ever seen. His eyes were completely pale and had bags underneath them. I didn’t know how long he was sick, but it looked like he lost weight as well. I took more appreciation into the breakfast that he made. He was still wearing his pajamas. He was wearing a plain blue T-shirt and blue plaid bottom sweats. I could tell it was the first thing on his mind when he got up. Make breakfast for Lillian. I knew he could grill, but I never actually had a taste of a fully cooked meal from him. I took the fork and pierced some of scrambled eggs with it. As I put the eggs into my mouth, I could actually taste the goodness. I finally came to the conclusion that Clive knew how to cook, he was just lazy.

Clive, like a little boy waiting for a kind word looked at me, head sideways. He was waiting for the end result. “Well, how does it taste?”

For some reason I enjoyed Clive’s accent and now as well enjoyed his cooking. With my mouth full, I nodded in a pleasing manner. “Damn good.” I muttered through the clustered eggs in my mouth.

Clive let out a sigh on a happy note. “I appreciate what you done, for my friend, Barrett. If it won for you, he’d be dead. I jus don know what I’d do without him. If you need anything, don hesitate to ask.” He smiled and was on his way out. I did want something.

“Clive?”

He stopped at the door and turned to look at me. “Yeah?”

I took a deep breath and let it out as I spoke. “If it is not too much trouble, do you think you can take me out before the snow melts. I would love to go out for a run.”

Clive smiled. “Sure thing Kid. I be feeling better tomorrow.”

The unfortunate thing was, that it was not the next day, but rather the day after that Clive finally took me out. When he finally did, I tried to soak up every moment. The morning sunlight was cool. Even with the briskness of sunlight upon my face, it still gave me no comfort from the biting cold. As I was becoming to be extremely trusted, Clive went into the garage to fetch one of the quads while I stretched.

The sun was bright and soaring through the trees in a million different rays. There was absolutely no breeze. All I could hear was the morning songs that the birds chirped. In some places, the snow was up at least to my knees. It didn’t bother me much at the time, but I knew as soon as the flakes would begin to melt through my pants and get them wet, some irritation would grow. I wouldn’t let it bother me until it came to that point. I just continued to stretch and inhale the fresh morning air.

When I finally got done stretching and became limber, I sat up on the fence of the corral, waiting for Clive. If I was moving, I was warm, but with Clive taking his sweet ass time, I began to feel the cold air creeping up my backside. As I began to shiver, I started expelling the warm air into my palms from my mouth. When the cold finally started to break me, I jumped from the fence and began to jog in place until I finally heard the quad rumble around the corner of the house.

Clive drove up to my side and shot his finger out in the direction of, onward, I chose not to give him crap for his lateness, for I knew starting vehicles in extreme cold was not easy.

The run was a much needed time off from my confined room of hell. I felt the need as it fueled me like a drug. I could feel the adrenaline as is it coursed through my veins once again. The cold air pierced my lungs with every inhale. With one simple escape outside, my life inside confinement was placed within the shadows.

With Clive slowly pacing behind me on the quad, I trudged through the snow as quick as possible. With my MP3 player flowing pure fuel into my ears and throughout my body, I figured I could run forever. My run, which consisted of many circles around the house, lasted, for what seemed to be like a lifetime. When at last, I felt my limbs could take me no further, I plopped myself down into the snow and made an Angel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

31.

The rest of the winter, was indeed unbearable without her, but I managed. When the early signs of spring finally emerged from the depths of the chaos that winter had caused, I was recruited by Clive and Barrett to make simple repairs around the house. As soon as the snow melted and faded into the soil of the ground, I was out and about. I was inhaling the fresh spring air and listening to the breeze as it danced through the Pines.

My greatest and most satisfying duty, was feeding the horses. I had nothing but contentment in my mind and was keeping the thoughts close to my heart. My daily activities were helping me keep my mind off of the slaughter which would occur at the end of the year. It was in an insane thought to think, but Clive and Barrett were treating of me as one of their own.

And as the memories of winter slowly began to fade away, my mind was more occupied on the task at hand. There were vegetable gardens on the side of the house which required tilling, and I gratefully accepted the task. It wasn’t easy work, but I much enjoyed the smell of freshly tilled soil in the air rather than being cooped up inside a room.

My hard work finally paid off. And as I finished off the day, Clive walked out and greeted me with an ice cold can of Miller light. As I pulled back the tab, I watched its frothiness slowly ooze its way out of the aluminum God. It was mid spring and the sun was staying up longer and longer. The hues of dark red and purple began to linger a bit longer in sky before the rising of the moon.

Sitting on the steps outside of the kitchen, slowly sipping my beer, I watched as the light slowly faded. The rest of the world was buzzing, going about their daily business, worrying about work and bills, but I, I was relaxing with a cold one, enjoying a sunset, and thinking of the next day’s challenges. For a brief moment, I smiled, inhaled, and let my mind yell happiness! As I diminished my can of beer into one last lingering drop, I crushed it with my hand and tossed it behind me. The can hit the side of the house and bounced into the trashcan. Clive, who was grilling at the time saw the toss out of his peripheral view. He turned and looked at me. “Nice one, Lill. There’s more cold ones in the fridge, if you like.”

“Don’t mind if I do, Clive.” I said as I stood up and entered the kitchen. Upon entering, I was greeted by Barrett who was sitting at the end of the table. He had his reading glasses on and looked very into what he was doing. He peered up at me as I entered and nodded. I nodded back. As I was grabbing another beer from the fridge, Barrett spoke.”

“How’s it looking out there, kid?”

I cracked it open and sat down at the table. “Tilling is all done, I’ll get the seeds planted tomorrow and we should be good.” I said as I took a big swig of my beer afterward.

Barrett nodded and then put down his paperwork. “Good. Looks like we’re going to have a very busy summer. It seems the winter storm did plenty of damage on people’s houses. Lots of orders came in for kitchen remodels and the whole bunch.” Barrett smiled. Even though he wore a full beard now, I couldn’t help but to think of him as a child. “Grab me a beer from the fridge, will you kid?”

I did so, happily. I was finally no longer scared, but rather content. Barrett and Clive were no longer on my hit list, for I knew it was not them who created the chaos. They were simply taking orders from the madman themselves. Each of them had something important to lose. And as I finally released my hate and my anger I was finally able to see with an open mind. I was able to see that they were not actually bad guys after all.

It had been at least 2 1/2 months since I’d seen Paige. I hoped that her schooling was going well and that she was passing her classes. I didn’t want to be a nuisance, so I never asked Clive or Barrett what her status was. I just hoped and wondered if she was okay.

Since I was let out an able to do actual things with my life, I thought less and less of the turmoil that was my old life. No matter what, I cried nightly for my mom. I wished I could have said goodbye. Even though Paul Bishop had told me she was in a, “car accident” I knew it wasn’t true. He took her from me. The day would come when revenge would be served on a cold, cold dish. I would go after my stepfather first and then, Paul. Mercy would not be a virtue in that mission. I would make sure that I gave it to him just as cold as he gave it to me and my mother.

As I picked up my beer and left the table, I joined Clive outside once again. The summer warmth had not set in, yet. The day was almost faded and melted beyond the horizon. The steaks were giving off a warm and juicy succulent smell. As I took another deep draw from my can of beer, I could hear a vehicle rumble its way up the drive. Lowering the can of beer, I saw Paige’s bronco drive-up. As I smiled, I asked Clive for cigarette. He tossed me the pack. I pulled out a smoke, quickly lighting it.

Taking a long drag from the cigarette, I walked out to the bronco to meet Paige. I inhaled deeply and gave her a big long hug. “God, have I missed you.”

She gave me a big kiss on my cheek and hugged me, again, hard. Our embrace was met underneath the twilight of the slow dancing moon. As I hugged her and held her close, I could hear and feel the sheer pounding of her heart beat. I placed my nose close to her neck and inhaled deeply. God, did I miss her scent. We pulled away and she cupped her hands around my cheeks, trying to get a better look.

“My God, how you have grown.” She said kiddingly.

I tilted my head and smiled. I took another swig of my beer and a drag off of my smoke. “Yes I have.” I said nodding.

She pointed at the two. “Apparently you have earned your keep around the house, otherwise these two extensions would not be, allowed?”

I placed the beer can upon my lips and took another chug. “You damn right.”

It was a wonderful evening and at least on my part, much was accomplished. I was boozed up, filled with cigarette smoke and belly filled with steak, mashed potatoes and french fries. Clive had done an awesome job of making dinner.

The four of us, like an insane and crazy dysfunctional family, sat at the table and talked about random bull shit. “Shooting the shit as my mother use to call it” I was drinking my fourth beer and feeling pleasant. Finishing my meal, I went to the fridge for another beer. Nothing was said. I was just like a normal, functioning person of the family. I cracked open my beer and chugged down more golden happiness.

Much laughter was shared. Paige was recalling our rescue mission with Barrett. With great facial expressions and wide arm movements, Paige explained to Clive how I drunkenly saved the day. It felt good to be described in a Savior manner, rather than my evil half, the Switchblade Mama.

Barrett and Clive began to explain to Paige how useful I was around the house. I was no longer as useless as a turd in a punch bowl as they so called it.

The night was filled with much laughter and booze. And in no time, the clock ticked 12. Way past anybody’s bedtime. Clive and Barrett said their good nights. As the boys left the kitchen and went upstairs into their rooms, I buzzing, helped Paige clear the dishes.

When the dishes were done and the kitchen was clean with content, Paige walked me down into my room. I sat down upon my bed, warm and drunk with beer. As I began to pull off my shoes, Paige came in closer and pulled them off for me.

Like a viper, with her arms at the sides of my legs, slowly she slithered them up to my face. She placed her hands over my cheeks and kissed my face softly in various spots. “God, how I have missed you.” I softly chuckled and she pulled away, looking into my eyes. “What, and this is funny to you?”

Still smiling, I replied. “Nahh, not funny. Just feels good to have you here.” I picked up her hands, leaning back and laying on the bed, I pulled her close. We laid side-by-side, face-to-face.

She put her arm around me, resting her Palm at the back of my head. She began to serenade my lips with hers. I chuckled again and pulled away. Paige gave me another look. “What’s the deal? You have sideswiped every pass that I made with you.”

Smiling, I said. “Nothing in particular. How was school? Did you pass?”

“Ohhh, so that’s what this is about. You want to know about my personal life?”

“Well, yeah… Isn’t that what couples do? Ask each other about their days? I mean, relationships are definitely not just based on sex alone, are they?

Paige sat up. Her hair was down so when she got up quickly, it fluttered around her face in a rebound, slightly hiding her right eye. Of course it was a completely sexy look on her part and I wanted nothing more than to take her where she stood, but I wanted us to be more than that. I knew we could be, for I remembered those nights when Paige held me tight and made all of my nightmares disappear. We had pleasant and fulfilling walks on the beach and of course who couldn’t forget our horseback rides. The majority of the ride was bonding, but the remaining was, well, quite exceptional.

Page smiled and began to trace my face with her fingertips. “Who are you?”

I took her hand and I kissed it softly. “Just a woman who is trying to forget her demons with another woman whom she loves dearly. A woman who wants to spend the rest of her life with another woman in at least somewhat of a normal atmosphere.”

If Paige was a stick of butter, she melted instantly on the spot. She laid back down next to me and wrapped her arms around my neck. She gave me a long slow kiss on the lips, pulled the covers over our bodies and whispered. “Then, let’s lay here together, tonight. I will see you in the morning. By seeing you, I mean lying next to you.”

I smiled taking a deep breath. I extended both my arms toward the ceiling and clapped twice loudly. The light in the room shut off.

It was Paige then, who started to chuckle. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me!”

I gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “It’s what I got for good behavior. Yay for good behavior!” I happily said I the darkness.

As soon as the spring had dwindled away, summer was creeping up and the business was in full gear. Paige and I had spent every day together, as well as every night. Despite our closeness, I didn’t want to give in to the seduction just yet. I kept every day as close to my heart as possible. With every day that had slowly flowered itself, was another day closer that the Switchblade Mama would once again make her stand.

Paige and I answered many house calls. Many tasks small, and some that were rather big. As I was more accomplished with my new trade, I would remodel. I would build cabinets and kitchens and Paige was my right hand man. My mind was occupied, clean. I was happy and content.

Every night was like a night around the round-table with the family. Either Clive grilled, or Paige and I whipped something up the kitchen, but either way, it was the four of us that ate dinner together. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t see another year of fighting. I just played it day by day. I cursed the night, every night for overtaking the day, for I knew it would just lead me closer to the inevitable. I knew, if I had another round of fighting, I would completely lose my mind. Nevertheless, I tried so desperately to lose myself in the moment, but in the back of my mind, it was there.

Days became shorter and the nights were cool. The four of us, found ourselves sitting around a bonfire out in the yard, shooting the shit and drinking beers. And as we spoke of various topics, I found myself at times, laughing at my previous life of freedom. How solo and lonely I was indeed. My only comfort was beer, bar and karaoke. Without having to say it, I came to the sad conclusion, that I was completely distant from my mother.

As I thought of her and her loss, I swiftly lowered my head. I breathed in slowly and could see Paige’s concerned face from my peripherals, flickering shadows from the fire dancing upon her complexion. I hadn’t told her about her death, or what Paul had told me about my stepfather. I needed it for fuel. If I was to leave, I knew I needed something to give me the go.

The night had slowly faded away. Barrett and Clive, happily filled with booze, quickly ascended into the upper bellies of the house, seeking sleep. Paige and I sat quietly around the warm crackling fire. We had spoken not one word since the boys left. I just eased my pain with the warmth of the fire.

Without even looking, I could feel Paige’s eyes upon me, through the orange yellowish hues of the fire. I still remained silent. “What’s with you?” She asked.

At the moment, silence was my virtue and I said nothing. Finally, I took a deep breath and spoke. “Penny for my thoughts, do you say?”

She nodded and said, “yes.”

Still staring at the fire I pursed my lips. I nodded as well. “Let’s see. I am a woman who lives in a complex structure. Though I have certain freedoms, I cannot obtain all. At this point in time, I am warm, smoking, drinking and dry. Many factors which should be a subscription for happiness, but despite their upper perks, they are quickly dwindling.” It was definitely the alcohol speaking. I wanted to reach out. I wanted to talk about the loss of my mother, and the fear that there was no more need to fight. The thought, that if I took one more step onto the killing floor, I would have no more drive to survive and therefore simply cease to exist, but I could not. I just continued on in a strange rambling manner. “I have carefully constructed my life in a distant manner. I am no longer who I was, but more who I am beginning to be built to be. I have power and I have strength, but yet I am so weak. Matter has nothing over mind. Your whole energy, your power, your entity is placed within your soul. Who you are here and now, is a mere speck within this universe. We are but simple fleshy beings, but our minds, our minds are so much more powerful.” I sat back in my chair, warm from the fire and ended my crazy rambling with one last verse. “Ask not what your world can do for you, but what you and your mind can do for your world and your universe.”

No matter what, Paige was listening the whole way. She slowly walked up to me, took my half drunken beer from my hands and threw it into the fire. As I began to say something in protest, she pressed her finger to my lips and shooshed me. She firmly took my hand and said, “Let’s go to bed.”

I gave her crooked smile. “Ain’t the first time you grabbed something from my hands and threw it.”

I followed her up the concrete steps that led to the kitchen. We entered the house and as I began to turn to go downstairs and into my room, she pulled me with her. I was a bit shocked as she took me upstairs and into her room. It was the first time I had ever seen her room. Quietly as the floor planks below us squeaked, I entered the room cautiously and waited for Paige to turn on the light.

I stood frozen like a statue, nervous. It was almost as if I was a teenager about to lose my virginity for the first time. She turned on the light and I saw her. Beautiful and pure. If God had created an Angel to walk upon the earth, it was Paige.

Her steps were slow and light. She came to me as if she was on a floating cloud. Both of our eyes, locking. She placed her hands upon my arms and slowly slid them up to my shoulders. Paige slowly peeled away my jacket, letting it fall to the floor. My heart began to flutter and pound. As she came closer to me and pressed her body against mine, she slowly came in for that first kiss. Our lips met and the warmth was tremendous.

Paige slowly pulled away from our kiss. She took her hands from around my waist and softly framed my cheeks. Touching foreheads, making her two inches higher more apparent, slowly we looked into each other’s eyes. I too, took my hands and cupped her face. My body was trembling beneath her touch as well as hers beneath mine.

It was almost as if it was the calm before the storm. We took a moment just to be with each other, breathe in each other’s souls. It was more of an affirmation, the need to know that it wasn’t a dream. If we held each other, if we could feel each other, then it was real and not a fantasy.

As the calm began to diminish, the waves became stronger and harsher up against the shoreline. Our lips met once again, this time hungrier and fiercer. Paige began to push me until the back of my legs met her bed. As they buckled, I sat upon the bed and Paige followed, knees at my sides, straddling.

As the kissing briefly subsided, Paige pulled away to unbutton her shirt. I took my gripping her wrists, slowly moving them out of the way. Once again, locking lips, I finished unbuttoning her shirt. Her skin as usual, was pale like the soft moonlight. Her skin was within the parameters of perfection and virtually, blemish free.

As I undid her bra, I snapped it off and quickly threw it into the corner of the room. Her breasts were beautiful subtle mounds. I slid my hands softly up and over them, making sure I paid close attention to her nipples with my mouth and tongue. As I could feel her tremble beneath my touch, I slowly maneuvered her so that her head rest comfortably upon the bed pillow. I peeled away my shirt as Paige, rose up and removed my bra. She too, tossed it to the side of the room. I took both her hands, and interlocked her fingers with mine, slowly raising her arms above her head, lightly pinning her hands to the pillow.

As our flesh touched and rubbed, a unity was met within our souls, our bodies. I wanted nothing more than to love Paige and I wanted to show her my appreciation. The night was filled with gasps and a feeling of exhilaration. Out of our excitement and the sheer need to be with each other, we tried so desperately to keep the noise down, but when you’re in the moment and the passion is hitting you like a diesel truck at seventy-five mph, well, you just go with it.

With the twilight above us and the moon shining its nighttime rays into Paige’s room, the cascading light covered us in a serene blanket of bliss. I held Paige tightly in my arms as she slept. My mind was clear and my conscience was happy. I dreaded the very moment when the sun began to make its ascent into the sky, for I knew it was then, that my beloved would be removed from my arms.

I didn’t think I slept a wink. Natural, naked, Paige and I laid in the bed, bodies entwined. My eyes wouldn’t shut, not because I had nightmares, only because I never wanted to leave the moment. As her head rested on my chest, I could feel the warmth from her breath as she exhaled. I kissed her forehead softly and continued to stare off into the darkened ceiling of the room. I turned my head and looked out through the window. I didn’t want trouble in the morning, so as soon as I saw the first morning light of the sun, I slowly unhinged my body from Paige, and removed myself from her bed. I quietly walked downstairs and to my room. I closed the door, hearing the simple clicking, indicating that it was locked. I laid in my bed, palms resting underneath my head. All in all it was a beautiful day. Paige was staying with me on a daily basis in my room, my room. Since the end of winter, Barrett and Clive had been good me. I did not want to jeopardize my good standings. Winter was coming and I had to make my plan. I was ready, I was only waiting for the moment. The right moment to make my escape and avenge my mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32.

The summer had closed and fall was creeping in like a distant aunt who never called. I could see and feel the world changing, more so in my bones. Even with Dr. Cole’s weekly injections, I could still feel light pains here and there. I even told him, hoping he would up the dose, or perhaps create a new cocktail. Either way, I knew the pain would be an issue.

As Halloween past and November plugged in, Fitz came and became the usual installment around fight time. I no longer woke up early to maintain regular duties around the house. I woke up early, to stretch, run and to train daily with Fitz. I was with no doubt, pleased to see him. If there was a simple balance in the world, beside Paige, Fitz was it.

I was awoken in the morning by Paige. The door thrust open and I quickly rose from my sleep. I looked at her, eyes still crusted with sleep. “Where’s the fire?” I asked.

Page somewhat smiled. “No fire Lillian, I just need to go out for some errands. Barrett and Clive are out as well. I just need you to wait for Fitz. He is on his way and will be here shortly. Get ready.”

“Roger that,” I said. And just as quickly as she came in, Paige was gone. I suppose when you got to go, you got to go. So I did as I was told. I got up, put on my workout clothes and patiently waited for Fitz.

My mind was racing at the moment. An opportunity was shining. Barrett, Clive and Paige were gone. Soon it would just be me and Fitz. As I sat quietly inside my little room, underneath the yellowish florescent lights, ears filled with their faint silent buzzing, I started contemplating my course of action. My heart began to pound as I knew execution was imminent. I did not want to hurt Fitz, but I knew it was the only way I could get free. And as Fitz opened up my door, smiling, I felt the guilt is it poured out of me.

It was hard not to be stiff as a rock. Fitz walked me upstairs. As he sat at the table, I prepared my breakfast. Stomach filled with butterflies, I just made a quick oatmeal. “You hungry Fitz?”

“No, I already ate, but thanks.”

I nodded and looked out the kitchen window while my oatmeal was warming up in the microwave. The ground was covered with snow, a thick layer. I shook my head and said “shit.”

“I thought you liked the snow, Lill.” Fitz spoke from the table.

I walked back from the window and saw that coffee was still warming up the pot. I went to the fridge and pulled out the creamer. As I filled my cup up with mostly creamer and a little bit of coffee, I turned and looked at Fitz. “Coffee?”

He smiled at me and shook his head. “No thanks, I’m good.”

As I pulled my oatmeal from the microwave and sat at the table, I held a sad expression upon my face. “So when did the snow come in?”

“Last night. As soon as I got home, it just started coming down. For the first snow of the year, it is quite heavy. The forecast says that we will be getting more today, midafternoon I believe.” Fitz let out a little laugh. “I suppose I will be having to spend over, tonight.”

I gave off a short chuckle. My plans were becoming devastated one piece at a time. I knew if it began to snow hard, my chances for escape were slim to none. It had to be perfect. I cared so very much for Paige. Even Clive and Barrett were becoming a constant in my life and if I escaped and died before reaching my goal, I knew they would die as well. If I was going to go, my plan would have to be fully executed. The snowfall would hit, mid-afternoon. If I ran as fast as I could, I would make it to the main road. I would have to find a ride, but I would survive. It was now or never.

As I lifted the coffee cup to my lips to take a deep sip, I imagined momentarily of bashing it to the side of Fitz’s head, but I shot the thought down. I couldn’t do it like that. It would have to wait until we were training. I didn’t want to harm him, but I knew I had to.

After breakfast, Fitz and I trained. I had a quick warm-up. I stretched, ran, hit the punching bag, and finally begin light sparring with Fitz.

My dukes were up, as well as his. In his mind it was simple training that played out just as it had played out many times before. He punched and I dodged. This time the trigger was for me to accidentally get hit, and I mean accidentally get hit. My heart begin to race as I was ready for the bogus punch. As Fitz came in, I purposefully put myself into the punch. As his fist connected with my nose, I faked it to be worse than it was. I covered my nose quickly and backed away from him. Holding my face with both my hands, I pretended to be in great pain as if my nose were broke.

Fitz moved in quickly trying to comfort me from my pain. “Christ, Lillian I am sorry! Are you okay? Seriously, did I break your nose?”

I said nothing, just held my face in a pretend pain. As soon as Fitz moved in, I grabbed his shirt with both hands. When my eyes met his, they eyes filled with fear. He knew. I arched back my head as far as I could and thrust it towards his. With the first hit, there was a crunch and a burst of blood from his face, covering mine. With My hands still grappling his shirt, he struggled. Tightly holding on to him, I arched back once again and struck. This time I could feel the crushing underneath my four head and I could feel his bones break in his face. And as I pulled back, face bloodied, Fitz still within my grasp, his body went limp.

Fitz was out cold. My moment had come. As I slowly released him and laid his body carefully upon the floor, I felt for a pulse. He was still alive. With my mind in a complete jumble, I tried to focus. I ran to my duffel bag that lay next to the steel bench and fished out my knives. I grabbed my Spyderco and my switchblade, pocketed them and rushed for the door quickly. As I thrust inside my room, I propped the door open with a pillow. I fumbled as I threw off my workout clothes and threw on some blue jeans and my Mountain Dew shirt. I put on on my New Balances, good for running and looked about the room. I grabbed my hoodie and made my way out. I rushed up the stairs, zipping up my hoodie and preparing for the cold. I grabbed a glass from the cupboard and filled it with water. I drank every last drop. As I swallowed hard, I went for the door. When I opened it, I came face-to-face with Paige.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33.

I had forgot that my face was covered with blood. As I stopped outside the kitchen door, Paige’s eyes became wide with fear. She dropped the bags that were in her hands and pulled out her gun, pointing directly at my head.

“What the fuck, Lill?” Her eyes were focused and trained. The gun remained pointed at my head. I could hear and feel as her heart was breaking.

Upon instinct, my unarmed hands shot straight up into the air. I took a slow deep breath and exhaled.

“Where’s Fitz, what did you do to him?” She demanded.

I was froze, with my arms up right and in a surrender position, I witness the start of a light snow dusting. I was running out of daylight and I was running out of time. “He’s alive, but he needs medical attention.” I slowly lowered my hands. I looked at her and tried to reach out to her with my soul. “Paige, I love you so very much, but you knew as well as I that this day was coming. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, but I cannot like this.”

Tears begin to well up in her eyes. She blinked hard and let them drip from her face and fall to the snow. “I cannot let you go. Paul Bishop is going to…”

“Die. I swear to you, I’m only leaving because I’m after him and the man that sold me out and allowed my mother to die.”

Paige hesitantly lowered her gun. She swallowed hard and blinked off more tears. “What?”

I slowly nodded. “I never told you. But you remember that night when I went completely crazy and almost hit you? That night, Paul Bishop told me that my stepfather gave me up over a few gambling debts, and my mother, well, she was apparently killed in a car accident a month after I disappeared.” My eyes became watery as well. As the snow began to fall harder, I saw Paige as she lost her heart. I looked to the ground and then to her. “Paige, even if my mother were alive, I know she would frown upon what I’m doing. She would tell me just to let her go and to save those lives.” I shook my head and couldn’t help but laugh at myself. “She was the kind of woman that loved everything. She would go out of her way just to rescue a cockroach and release it outside.”

“If I let you leave and you do not succeed, we all will die.”

I tried to reassure her. “Paige, I know I will not last long out there. But I know one thing for sure, I will not stop until those who are responsible for this are no longer breathing. My last dying breath will be them strangled at my hands. Please, if you love me you will let me go. If anything, if there’s any way that I shall survive, I would love nothing more than to be in a loving domestic relationship with you. Because of you, I have survived as long as I have. Because of you, I have found a new purpose.”

She began to cry. She placed her hands over her eyes began to sob, dropping the gun. “Why do you do this to me?”

I wanted to comfort her, and hold her and let her know that everything was going to be okay, but I couldn’t. In my mind, I wasn’t even sure if I would succeed, but I knew one thing for sure, I wasn’t going to give up without a fight.” Paige, Fitz needs you. You and your dad and Clive and Fitz get the Fuck out of Dodge. Hide. Don’t come back until you see that Paul Bishop is dead. Please, I love you. I want you to live a life of your own I want you to be free. Let me do this. I will not let you down.”

She looked back up at me and wiped her tears away, picking up the gun. She once again pointed it at my head and looked away. “Go, get the Fuck out of here.”

I did as I was told. The gun pointed at my head was a kiss in disguise. I gave her one last look and then I ran. I wanted to look back, but I didn’t. The snowfall became heavy as I trudged through it. I ran like an insane madwoman running with the devil. Exhaling, the breath was escaping my mouth like an exhaust from a 67 Chevelle with a 750 horsepower engine. I ran as far as possible. I ran until I was out of breath and my nose bled. My freedom had finally been granted. I ran with the images of Paige in my mind as her heart broke.

It was a Thursday and my shot was not due until Sunday. I had two, maybe three weeks until my heart would give in. I had to keep on the move and I had to keep my head straight. I kept running and I stayed away from the side roads. If Barrett and Clive returned, they would surely be looking out for me. I kept to the forest, keeping my eyes peeled for a main road.

I was losing light. I was losing visibility as snow began to fall harder. Even though I was running and sweating, I could still feel the cold as it was nipping at my outer extremities. Everything I wore was wet. The chaffing was becoming irritating. I had become so use to sleeping in a nice warm room, it was bringing back memories of when I was held captive in my little underground outside box.

It had been hours since I started running. As the night began to suck up the day, I stopped and sat leaning up against a tree stump. Breathing heavily, I tried to catch my breath. I was almost at the point of hunkering down and trying to get some shut eye, when I heard a noise. I followed it, and as the snow slowly dissipated and the moon slowly crept in and out of tiny sprinkles throughout the breaking clouds, the noise became clearer. Passing cars. My heart began to pound again as I knew I had found the main road. Passing my exertion to the side, I ran to freedom.

When I made it to the black glorious asphalt, I laid my lips upon it and gave it a great kiss. I looked up at the moon, blowing its great beauty a kiss as well. It was a subtle sigh of relief. I would walk alongside the road until I found a ride to town. I had no idea where I was, but I hoped I was still the same great state that I was from, Arizona.

Food. My Body required nourishment. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I hadn’t drank since I started my escape. I was completely running on fumes. As I mindlessly walked the road, I continuously stuck out my thumb at every passing car. As every car passed, I thought to myself if there was any good Samaritans left. But then again, I wouldn’t even stop to pick up myself.

Just as I was beginning to lose hope, just as I was about ready to leave the roadside and find a place safe where I could sleep, a car pulled over. I stood for a moment, bewildered. Its red glowing, glaring lights from the back tail lights somewhat mesmerized me. Standing frozen, the driver side window rolled open and an arm emerged, waving for me to come.

The vehicle itself, in words could only be explained as immaculate. Growing up with my father, his passion was muscle cars. I knew them inside and out. As I walked up to the passenger side of the powder blue, two-door 67 Chevy two, my heart melted. When I put my hand on the door handle and pulled it open, the feeling of my mind, could only be explained as exhilarated. I took a deep breath as I sat in the seat. Quietly and obediently I buckled myself in. I had not looked yet at my driver. My two knives lay snugly in my pocket, and I fingered the both with my hand.

“Where ya headed, boy?” Was what the woman asked. It was a simple and short sentence, but her accent was filled with that of a southerner.

I swallowed hard, trying to clear my throat. The days run had made it raspy and dry. “Where, are we?” I asked.

“Shit, boy, how do you not know where you are? You on something? Or are you coming off something?” Her voice was big, loud and she clearly spoke. I could definitely tell that she was a very outspoken woman.

“Coming off something? Yeah, something like that.” I softly replied.

“Well, you don’t have any on you now, do you?”

Cold, I wrapped my arms around myself and shivered. “No ma’am.”

“So, not like you have much of a choice, but I might as well ask once again, where ya headed?”

Once again the same question. I still did not know what state I was in. So I asked, “where you headed?”

“Phoenix, yeah, downtown. Recently divorced from my husband. Used to work for him, but he decided to sleep with his much younger, more attractive, receptionist. So, I took his most prized possession, his Car. Yes, I am a woman in her early 40s that is going to be divorced and living with her daughter, but I don’t Care.” With both hands firmly gripping the wheel, she put the car into gear and began to drive. “So, do you have a name?”

I cleared my throat. “Lillian.” Good. I was still in my home state. If anything, it would at least take a little over an hour to get back into town. I had plenty of time, hopefully. With no money and no transportation, getting there swiftly, would be difficult. Time was not on my side.

“Oh God, I am so sorry. The way you looked, I thought you were…”The lady said apologetically.

“It’s okay. I get it all the time.” Not yet. I’m pretty sure when I hit town I would get it all the time. Phoenix was the destination. I had no money, but I would find a way to get where I had to go. If I had to die walking, so be it.

“My name’s Joyce, by the way. Joyce Heart. So, where you headed in Phoenix?”

Ultimate goal was to get to Tempe. That’s where my mother lived, if he hadn’t moved. I knew, out of the greatness of her heart, she picked me up. I wouldn’t burden her with complex directions, nor anything that would make her have to drive out of the way. I took a deep breath and plainly stated. “The minute we get off the off ramp to Phoenix, just let me out, please”.

“Got nowhere to stay?”

“No.”

“Look, before I worked for my husband, I worked as a social worker. If you have got nowhere to go, I could drop you off at a shelter. The weather forecasts rain. I could at least take you to a place to stay where you would have a roof over your head.”

“No trouble?” I asked.

She took a deep breath behind the wheel and said, “no trouble at all, hun.”

“What’s the date?” I asked.

Her head shifted, slanted and turned my way briefly from the road. “Have you been stuck underneath a rock, or have you been on that stuff too long to remember?”

I let out a half chuckle. “I am going to have to go with, stuck underneath a rock.”

“Well, my love, it is Thursday, November 21.”

The day was needed. I knew the year. I was at least keeping track of that. My heart pounded as I began to think of what I was going to do. I had one shot, one shot at making sure that certain people were disposed of. My stepfather wasn’t necessary, but it was needed out of my pure and sure revenge. Paul Bishop however, in order for me to make things right with Paige, he needed to go. But the worst part of everything, was that he was going to be the hardest to get to. He didn’t even live in the state of Arizona. I would somehow have to lure him out.

There was a brief silence between us. I felt warmth as the heater was blasting its warm engine air. I saw the snow as it hit the windshield. I saw the roads as they became increasingly light in the darkness of night. As my eyes grew heavy, my eyelids began to sink. When I heard Joyce speak, my eyes lifted.

“So, if you don’t mind my asking, what in the hell were you doing in the middle of nowhere?”

I was a stranger and she picked me up. No matter what, it was a valid question that had to be answered. I wasn’t big into telling fibs, but I couldn’t tell her the truth either. With a deep breath and a tad bit of hesitation, I finally answered. “I was out four-wheeling and my truck broke down.”

She nodded behind the wheel. “Uh-huh, you have nowhere to live in town, so you go four-wheeling in your truck. I’m assuming you lived in it to?”

Busted. She already knew what I said was a lie. Obviously if I was homeless, and living in my vehicle, I wouldn’t waste it away in such a manner. I wanted to be honest, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to implement her into any of my future business. “Joyce, what I just told you is a lie. All I can say is for the last three years I have been held captive. I am currently on my way to serve retribution.”

She was silent, but I heard her take a deep breath. “I see.”

“Look, I mean you no harm. I just need to get into town and do what I have to do.”

“Well, that’s a good thing you don’t mean me any harm, because I do have a 357 Magnum snuggled up in between my legs. Your sweet girl, but I wouldn’t want to have to rearrange your face… To clean the upholstery in this car would cost a fortune.”

I liked Joyce. She was a kind hearted and loving person. Despite the discrepancies with her husband, she still held her head up high. As I felt safe, I finally fell into a quiet silent nap. The warm, repetitive vibrations of the car, sent me off into a deep comfortable slumber. Even with the hunger, the emptiness of my stomach and its wretched grumblings, I still managed to enter REM sleep. The bubonic plague was asphyxiated on my mind. The plague was my revenge. After three years of captivity, three years of training and sending innocent souls to their death, I had two lives on my hit list, Eric Desmond and Paul Bishop. No doubt, it was in the bag. After all I had done, all I had been through, Asmodeus was guiding me through this one. If he wanted souls, dirty souls, I was the one to give them to him. Out of all the dreams he had bashed, every time I woke up stricken with fear and covered in sweat, because of him, I would definitely drag with great pleasure two pathetic souls into to hell with me. No doubt, they would go first. Before I never hungered for blood. I was only forced to do so. But now, blood was all I could taste upon my lips. I was an insane weapon on the loose. I was out in the open, I was free, unleashed in the public. I could be capable of so much chaos, but my mind remained focused. I hoped and it was a bad hope, that I could distinguish those two lives, before mine was up. When I was to die, hopefully it would be in peace and with duties accomplished. My journey to Hell, well, it would be a journey with a great smile.

I was woken up abruptly with a gentle shake. I slowly opened my eyes and saw Joyce. The rain was coming down hard and creating such a ruckus on the outside of the car. “We’re here.” Joyce said.

I slowly rose and tried to look outside the drenched windows of the car. “Where?”

“The homeless shelter, remember?”

I nodded. I unbuckled and opened the passenger side door. As the dome lights illuminated, Joyce’s eyes widened as she got a better look at my face.

Her eyes were transfixed on the scar that was on my face. She slowly outreached her hand and traced down with her fingers. “My God, you weren’t kidding. What did they do to you?”

I remembered Paige as she would always trail her fingers down my scar. It made me somewhat uncomfortable that someone else was doing it, so I slowly placed my hand around Joyce’s wrist and pulled her hand away gently. “I’m sorry. I can’t tell you. You are a wonderful woman and I thank you very much for this ride, and for dropping me off at a shelter. If I ever get my life straight, I would like to see you again?” Yes it was a question. Joyce was a bright positive woman and if I ever survived I would love to have her around in my life.

Her wrist left the light grasp of my hand and she rotated and arched herself in the backseat of the car. She pulled out a card and handed it to me. “Since I no longer work for my husband, everything here is an invalid except for the phone number. If you ever need anything, give me a call, honey.”

I thanked her graciously for all of her help. I pulled over my hoodie and covered my head as the rain began to pound upon it. I shut the door to the 67 Chevy two and watched as Joyce left to begin her new life. I was wet and freezing, breath continued to escape from my facial extremities. I turned and walked into the shelter.

I wasn’t aware of the time, but the lights were off and the door was unlocked. Too bad for me, I had missed supper. I passed through the cafeteria and entered the sleeping area. There were so many people that were homeless and in need of help. Like everyone else, I had nothing but the clothes on my back. I looked around and found an empty cot. I pulled off my soaking wet hoodie, removed my shoes and laid down. There was coughing, sneezing, and quiet murmurs about the room. It was something different. For the past three years I had slept by myself, or at least with Paige. I was actually trying to get some shut eye in a room filled with people, living people.

I didn’t know if I got any sleep at all, but I continued to toss and turn. Anything and everything that created a noise, my ears captured. My main goal was just to try to get warm with a small comforter that was provided. I couldn’t be anything more than grateful, for I had nothing else. When the Lightning flashes began to pierce themselves through the window and the thunder crashed shortly after, my eyes opened widely. With the show that nature was putting on, I couldn’t confine myself to bed. I had to get up and watch it. I pulled myself from the cot, threw on my jacket and walked outside.

It was my first night as a free woman. The rain came down in buckets and strangely in winter, the thunder and lightning pursued. As I watched the pouring streams of water fall from the roof, I was greeted by a voice. It was a man’s voice, warm, kind and somewhat menacing.

“You want a drink fucker?”

I turned to my left and saw a man. He had his hood on as well, with smoke expelling from his face. “Pardon me?”

“Do you want a drink, fucker?” He said again, much more slowly, while holding out a bottle of Jack Daniels.

I smiled and graciously and took the bottle, taking a long deep drink. I could feel its warmth as it coated my throat and enchanted my underbelly’s. It was always that first sip that would give your body a warm like kick. Satisfied, I handed him back the bottle. “Thanks guy, I needed that.”

“No problem, little bu-day.” As soon as he took a swig of the bottle and put it down, he handed me a pack of cigarettes as well. “Want one?”

I pulled one out of the pack and lit it with the matches that were attached. “My God, you are a lifesaver.” I said as inhaled deeply on the cigarette.

Handing him back the pack of cigarettes, he spoke. “Once again, no problem little bu-day. I haven’t seen you around here before, you new Scooter?”

I smiled in between drags of my cigarette. “Yeah, something like that.”

“Got a lot on your mind, don’t you?” He asked.

“Yup.” I nodded, even though I was standing next to him and I knew he couldn’t see.

“So tell me a story, anything.” He said, giddy like a child.

I had just met the man. I didn’t know who he was, or what he was about, I just felt that he was safe. There were two tasks weighing heavily upon my mind. Knowing myself, I knew that talking it out would help. I was always open to opinions and suggestions. My way of life was an open partnership. I always sought the guidance of others, compiling their information with mine, hopefully making the right decision.

I figured first thing was first though. I at least should know his name. Out of the night, cutting through the sound of the pattering rain, I asked. “Got a name, friend?”

With absolutely no hesitation on his side, he answered. “Dumont, I am Dumont James. And you, little fucker, you got a name?” I smiled. He was rough around the edges, straight and direct, but he had a purity to himself and for that I found him to be noble.

“I had a name, but then apparently I died. I suppose, since I will be involved in unlawful behavior, I give you my current alias.”

“Which is?” He asked while handing me the bottle of Jack.

“Well, I suppose you can call me the Switchblade Mamma.” I took another big swig the Jack Daniels.

He looked at me and smiled. I could barely see his face as it was nearly hidden underneath his hood, but the flash of lightning brightly lit up his eyes, showing the blue. “And the story, little bu-day?”

Handing Dumont back the bottle of Jack, I smiled and tried to think very hard of where I would start. The only thing that I was missing was a warm campfire, but I figured the lightning was enough. I took a deep breath and gave it my all. “Well, let’s see. I worked a 9 to 5. I loved beer, karaoke, and Xbox. Due to the insecurities of my stepfather, his inability to gamble properly, his major debt was paid off in the form of a human being. I was kidnapped, beaten, kept underground in a musky, dank, dark, wooden prison for about a year. I went through surgery, implanted with God knows what kind of material. Apparently, it’s some sort of new bio something metal. Something, that if is not maintained properly, I die. I recovered, I trained. I was thrown into a cage with other women who wanted nothing more than my head upon a platter. I had to forget about love and kindness and focus more on murder and destruction. I began to lose myself and go crazy. I fell in love and I found a new trade that makes me happy. I was drugged and date raped by an insanely hot cougar. I found out my mother was dead. I killed and I saved a life. I loved, once again and then I broke her heart. Finding my moment, I ran with the devil and I escaped. And now, I’m here talking to you.”

Dumont was silent. He then sprang to life, looking at me. “Holy shit, scooter, that was somthin fucked up! Now what little bu-day?

I was silent, but I knew what the, now what, was. I was contemplating whether I should tell him or not. I guess it didn’t matter. If Shit was vague enough, but who cared. Dumont was just like me. You had nothing but yourself. A person’s demons are a person’s demons. None of us were running to the police to tell anybody anything. We were all just trying to survive. In any moment you could be grabbed and forced to answer to either heaven or hell. I knew I was to answer to hell. So I finished my last will and testament to Dumont James. “With my last breath upon this earth, two men shall die by my hands. Eric Desmond, my stepfather and Paul Bishop, a vile man whose soul can only be described in the dictionary as wretched and empty.”

“Scooter, if it is retribution that you seek, if these men are truly evil and justice in no way could ever touch them, then by all means, little fucker, do your worst. Give me a hug though, little bu-day”

I did, giggling. I sat next to Dumont, on the bench, in the middle of the night. Warmed by Jack Daniels and fueled by revenge, I gave Dumont a big hug. My mind had already been made up, but at least I had a different insight. At least it was from someone who wasn’t filled with hate. I wish I could be like Dumont. The world was cruel and had so many capabilities of turning you the wrong way. But Dumont, he stayed pure no matter what. A force of positive energy from himself, and feeding it to others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

34.

“Sir… Sir, I will need to ask you to dispose of that bottle of liquor.”

My eyes slowly rolled open. I was groggy and my head was pounding. I looked up at the woman who was speaking to me, morning sun glaring into my eyes. The bright rays shined upon her red hair, giving it an “on fire” look. Her blue eyes, just a tad frightened behind her glasses.

“Sir, I will need you to dispose of that bottle of liquor, please.” She asked again.

Maybe it was the alcohol, or perhaps the hangover. Either way, I chucked the bottle into the trashcan next to the bench and for my satisfaction, as well as hers, I grabbed the bottom of my hoodie jacket and my shirt and pulled it up, revealing my breasts. The cool brisk air struck, sending my nipples into an upright position. If that didn’t tell her I was a girl, I didn’t know what would.

Her eyes widened, and then rolled. I knew it wasn’t her satisfaction, but at least I got some. I figured I would do that from then on… Whoever was confused with my sex was going to get an itty bitty titty show! The fiery red head didn’t like my show at all. “Ma’am, I’m going to need for you to leave the premises.”

No worries. Even though I could smell the breakfast protruding from the halls of the homeless shelter and my stomach was grumbling with hunger, I agreed and nodded. As she walked off, I pulled my hand through my hair. A single cigarette fell from my ear into the ground. Even though it wasn’t breakfast, it would still satisfied me. As I put the cigarette in my mouth, just out of inclination, I searched my pockets. But of course, there was the book of matches. Dumont had given me just one last bit of fuel to keep going. As I lit up the cigarette, I headed for the highway. If I was to get to where I was going, I would need bus fare.

Because of the great loving hearts, from the souls exiting the highway, I was able to collect enough money for bus fare and something to put inside my belly. As soon as I reached my destination, close enough to walk, I hit the nearest fast food chain. I gorged myself on empty calories and exhausting trans fats.

When I walked through my old neighborhood, I saw nothing much had changed. Weeds littered and lawns were unmowed. As I passed the park, I reminisced. I remembered growing up at that park, the playground and I remembered my mom pushing me in the swings. I remembered how our family would have picnics, and my father who had a kite, his kite would always fly the highest of all.

As I passed the park, I came to the last block that would lead me to my mother’s house. I had no idea if my stepfather still lived there. My heart was jumbled with butterflies. As I swallowed hard, I walked. The dead giveaway, my 1989 suburban that my father had given me, was parked in the driveway. The same suburban that I was kidnapped out of, three years ago. I could feel the heat as it overcame my four head. As a casually walked past the house, flames instilled within my mind. Retribution would be served. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The moment of truth was upon me. I circled and hid in an alley across the street. Besides my suburban, no other vehicle resided in the driveway. I would stay close, and watch.

Soon enough, as a sun began to fade beyond the horizon, a Mercedes pulled up into the driveway, next to my suburban. As I sat crouched and hidden in the alley across the street, I patiently surveyed as I watched my stepfather exit the vehicle with another woman. She was dressed in an extreme risqué attire. She was way younger than him as well.

Anger bestowed me. I wanted to rush into the house and to slit his throat where he stood. He gave me up, as well as my mother. It was three years, and no remorse. All he could place his fingers upon, was that hooker’s body. He smiled and laughed with the hooker as he jumbled with the keys and tried to open the front door. With some effort, the door was opened and they both entered. Lights lit up the inside and the dwelling was no longer alone. The place came alive as I heard music begin to vibrate through the windows. I swallowed hard and wiggled my jaw. Lillian was gone. Switchblade Mama, she was pissed off and ready for action. I waited a bit longer for the sun to go down and the darkness, let darkness be my guide.

Soul and chest heavy with breath, I stalked across the street and into the driveway. I settled my hands on the suburban and trailed my fingers all the way down. I missed its greatness and its bumpy ride. As I came to the front door, I knew a simple knock to invite me in would not suffice. I gently turned the knob just to make sure it was locked. It was. I knew my mother kept a spare key. I reached up and felt around at the top of the door frame, and sure enough, there it was.. With pure madness inside my mind, I took the key and shoved it inside the lock, turning. Heat and anger. I felt sorry for the souls that resided in the house, for I was about to unleash the wrath of Switchblade Mama.

Slowly, I opened the door, peeking. In the front living room, there was the dining room table. I spied, just the hooker was sitting at the table. The music played loudly… Good. As I didn’t see my stepfather anywhere, it would cover my entrance.

Stealthily, I pushed open the door entering, gliding like the cloud of death. My beef was not with the hooker, but her presence did trouble me. She looked up at me, smiling and in a drunken stupor. Her lips parted, showing me her pearly yellows. I looked at her, eyes narrowed and fierce. I raised my lips and spoke through my teeth. “Leave…”

She nodded and smiled. Perhaps she didn’t catch my words. So, I used more of a direct approach. My hand went to my pocket and I pulled out my switchblade. In a swift and single movement, I flicked open the blade and chucked the knife directly onto the table in front of her. I asked her once again. “Leave.”

As the knife planted between her elbows, her eyes widened and her jaw dropped. She had got the picture. She lifted herself from the chair quickly and walked towards the door. I opened the door for her and before I let her out, I jetted out my arm stopping her. She was a little bit taller than I, so I rose to my tippy toes, speaking between my teeth and directly into her face. “If you speak of this to anyone, I swear to God I will hunt you down. I will cut off your dirty pussy lips, shove them into your mouth and for the rest of your life you will be turning tricks from your worthless gob.” Filled with anger, I moved in even closer, lips nearly brushing up against her ear. “The next time you hear a short little fucker tell you to leave, you leave. Do you understand?”

Her face was expressionless and white. She nodded. I opened the door for her and let her out, locking both the security gate and the door as I went to greet my stepfather.

Wicked and empowered with hate, I cautiously stalked to the master bedroom as the music continued to play loudly. I pocketed my switchblade. I wouldn’t go in with weapons glaring, just yet. I knew my stepfather owned guns, so I would have to be careful.

The door to the master bedroom was not shut all away. There was a tiny crack. Holding the doorknob, I lightly knocked, twice. I heard my stepfather’s voice over the music. “Be right there sweetie, just trying to freshen up.”

I cringed at the words. Christ, he made me want to puke. He gets rid of me, offs my mom and finds comfort in the arms of prostitutes. I smiled with pure satisfaction as I was ready to make my entrance. I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face. My cheekbones raised high as my smile overcame everything. I took one last deep breath and slowly pushed open the door.

“Hello, daddy…” I said it low, menacing and hopefully leaving the stink of putrid upon his skin. I took two steps in and I stopped. I gritted between my teeth, smiling and hopefully showing some fang.

He was in the middle of buttoning his shirt. He stopped cold as soon as he saw me. The life drained from his face and he became extremely pale. Fear painted his face like a mural, quickly, but then he tried to pass it off. He quickly changed his expression from fear, to relief. He slowly raised his arms and spoke, “my God, you are still alive!”

I sneered. I quickly widened my eyes and narrowed them once again. “Shut it.” I said as I extended my arm, pointing with my finger. “I know about you. I know about your debts. Drunken birdie told me.” I lifted my right eyebrow and smiled. “This is what you do in your spare time, Fuck whores?’

His arms slowly lowered. He took a few steps towards his nightstand. I knew he had a gun there. Within his sad pathetic skin, he began to plea. “I had no choice, he was going to kill me.”

“Well, you should have let him kill you. The shit that I’m going to do to you now will not even compare. You are a low life, fucking scumbag. For a whole year, I have been dreaming about this. Retribution, bitch.” As I took two steps closer, he took two more steps closer to the nightstand. I lowered my hand and began to finger my knives. I could throw it quickly and maybe get it into his neck, but for some reason I just wanted to make him suffer. Make him suffer the way he made me.

It was a standoff. Both of us stood, froze. If either of us had holsters and guns, our hands were closely placed to them, waiting to draw. My eyes glared and he just stared. My tongue rolled out, licking my bottom lip. “You have no idea what they have done to me. I am no longer a human, but rather a creature of the night.”

Eyes filled with fear, he shook his head. “It doesn’t have to be like this, Lill. We can work together, be a team.”

I took one more step in. “Fuck your team.”

It was quick and I had to act fast. My stepfather went for the drawer, pulling out the .357 Magnum. I leaped onto the bed and went for the gun. I grabbed the collar of his shirt with my left hand and covered my right palm over the muzzle of the gun. The trigger was pulled in the gun went off.

Stricken with fear, his eyes widened as mine winced with pain. He watched as I pulled away my hand. The bullet never exited. With his eyes mesmerized, he watched as I wiggled my hand about, the bullet falling covered in blood, onto the bed. There was no exit wound. The bio silicate material within my hand, had stopped the bullet completely.

I took the moment of confusion into my hands, grabbing my stepfather’s T-shirt and pulling him in quickly for a head-butt. As he was disoriented by this, I pulled the gun from his hand and aimed it toward his face. “Do you see? You now know, what I am.”

Arms raised and face in complete terror, he looked at me. “What are you going to do, Lill, shoot me?”

I smiled insanely. “Well, you didn’t pay me the same respect. But the way I see it, is you’re not even worthy of the bullet. Tonight, you shall not be eating Winchester, but rather Smith & Wesson.” With the utmost hate that drilled within my heart, the need to distinguish an evil fire, wanting to end a dirty cycle, I saved the bullet and jammed the gun as far as I could through Eric Desmond’s mouth. It pierced through the other side, breaking teeth, complete with flesh crunching out of his skull, pinning him to the wall.

He went limp and I removed my hand. I stood for a few moments and watched as the blood gushed from his mouth. His ragged teeth hung from his gums and his life slowly drained. As I came out of my Switchblade Mamma trance, I placed the back of my wrist over my lips became nauseous at the site. Bending over, my hands gripping my knees, I took a deep breath. I looked up at him pinned against the wall, with his gun protruding from his mouth.

His eyes blinked and I became sick. I retched and threw up on the spot. He was still alive. As I no longer wanted him to suffer, I pulled the serrated Spyderco from my pocket and unfolded it. I placed my left hand over his eyes to cover them. With my right hand, I pierced the skin of his neck. Taking my knife, I dug in. Feeling the crunch as it slowly punctured the skin, I drug the knife across his neck. As the blood slowly spilled out, the faint life quickly faded from his eyes. I was completely disgusted with what I had done. I rushed to the bathroom and tried so desperately to wash the blood from my hands. I hoovered my head over the toilet and began to throw up more.

I had to leave. Going to the closet, I searched for and found my mother’s leather biker jacket. I pulled it off the hangar. I was freezing the last couple of days, not to mention, at least I would have something to remember my mother by. As I left the bedroom, I headed for the guest bedroom. I began to search underneath the bed. Wooden bed planks. I finally felt what I was looking for. My mother’s coffee can of saved money. I pulled out the money and pocketed it. I really did not want to be a thief, but it would come in handy.

I did not take one last look at my slain stepfather. I left through the backyard and out to the alley, making sure my hands and fingertips were covered the whole time. I pulled the leather jacket over my hoodie, relieved from the extra warmth.

I walked briskly. The sun was completely gone by now and the darkness was my cover. Every now and then the usual backyard dog would rush the fence, startling me. I would of course quickly jump out of my skin, for at that point time, I was going out of my mind.

I was disgusted with what I had done, but either way, I could not take back the past. At least I had remorse. I did not want to think what went through a psychopath’s head, but I was pretty sure it was not remorse. At least I knew I was still human on that part. Even though the guy was an asshole, I still felt bad. I hoped it was my feelings that separated me from the brutal killers.

As I made a vow to myself to keep a low profile, I was in great need of a good stiff drink. I took a few buses out and made my way to the center of Phoenix. It wasn’t very far from where I had been, but at least I was not sitting at the neighborhood bar.

It seemed, after drinking Barrett’s whiskey, I had acquired the taste. I had one problem, no ID. I figured I could at least try. If I was asked for one, I would simply state I left it in my car, and leave it at that. I entered the dark musky bar. The smell of Clorox bleach and mold overwhelmed my nose. Something I had not smelled three in years. I was anxious to get alcohol in me. I needed to erase the evening’s memories. Flashbacks of my stepfather’s face continued to invade my mind. If I didn’t get liquor in me soon, I would go crazy.

As I held up a fistful of dollars to the bartender, compliments of my mother, he graciously took them in exchange for a glass of whiskey. No questions asked. As I downed the first, I asked for another. I downed at least three, before I slowed down and began to sip the fourth. The memories began to fade, like wet paint excessively placed, slowly rolling down its intended object. I could feel as everything slowly rolled out of me.

The night drug on, and the music played loudly. Boys were rowdy and fights instilled. I had my eyes plastered on the TV sets, just in case. Who knew how long it would take to discover his body, or how much time I had left. Saturday night was turning into Sunday, and my shot, my wonderful drug known as the cocktail was due Sunday. Even though I could still feel the pain quietly rumbling throughout my bones, I knew the next day I would be uncomfortable. By the end of the week, I would be in extreme pain.

As I was beginning to get even warmer with the passing moments, an older woman sat to the right of me. I didn’t acknowledge her first, but I saw her eyeballing me out of my peripherals. I inhaled deeply as I felt her rest her hand over my shoulder.

Without turning my head, I could hear her raspy over smoked voice. “Hello there, young fella. Aren’t you a little bit too young to be in this bar?”

I was in no mood for games. I slowly turned my head to look at her. She had hazel eyes and over processed blonde hair that slowly stopped a tad bit above her shoulders. She was without a doubt, wearing fake jewelry, and an extremely low cut shirt that screamed, Fuck me!

As I turned to look at her, she got a glimpse of the scar that covered the left side of my face. “Holy hell! Well, you have been in a few fights, haven’t you?” As she said it, she took her hand to my face, outreached her fingers and tried to trace them down my scar. “I think that’s rather sexy.”

Paige used to do that. And before she could even reach the top my scar, I quickly grabbed her hand. “No thank you, I’m not in the mood.” I said as I slowly lowered her hand for her.

She gave me a quick sneer, squinted her eyes and said, “freak.” With that she picked up her drink and left.

Fuck the world, I thought. I hoped that no other ladies would visit me that night. I had only one woman on my mind, Paige. I figured it served me right, for I was there out in the spotlight. I could have went to local Circle K, purchased my booze and drank it behind a dumpster. But instead, I was sitting at the bar, like a worm placed upon a hook waiting to be taken. Not my intentions at all. I was just a victim of circumstance.

As the night began to wind down, and drinking anymore would induce my vomiting, I paid the bartender and slowly slithered outside. Prior to leaving, I purchased a pack of Pall Mall Red, 100’s.Stepping outside, I pulled out a cigarette and lit it up. Nothing felt better than that first drag after a night of drinking. As I exhaled, I saw out of the corner of my eye the woman who I had rejected earlier standing by a truck with two men.

I walked from the entrance of the building and into the parking lot. I heard one of the men shout out. “Hey, this chick here tells us you dissed her. What are you, some kind of homo? She’s fuckin hot!”

I gave them no satisfaction of reply. I continued to walk. My feathers began to be ruffled as soon as both men ran up to me and stopped me in my tracks. I took the cigarette from my hands and put into my mouth, still smoking.

“So what’s up, fagot? You too good for chicks around here? Or do you just like sucking cock?” The words came from a man that was at least 5 foot 10. He was probably a little bit older than I, but by the looks and sound of it, he never left his age of adolescents.

I remained non-confrontational. My anger began to rise, but I took a deep breath to lower it. His other friend who remained silent, was it least 5 foot six and still towering over me. The taller man pushed me. “We don’t allow fagots in this bar.”

Standing tall, holding and smoking my cigarette still in my mouth, my eyes began to glare. “Leave it. Walk away now, before you regret your actions.”

The taller man pushed me again, his little buddy chuckling in the background. “What’s wrong? Homo don’t know how to fight?”

Well, I tried my best at diffusing the situation, but drunk asses didn’t know when to quit. “You can kiss my Fucking gay ass!” I hollered.

The match was struck, fire ignited. With the cigarette still hanging from my lips, the tall man thrust his fist foreword, aimed at my face. Quickly, I raised my left arm, catching his balled up fist into my hand. Once I had that secure, I thrust my right arm and fist into his elbow, breaking it. He raised his head and like a screeching howler monkey, screamed out in pain, I grabbed his shirt with my left hand and pulled him in closer, raising my right leg and stomping his knee, breaking it. As he fell to his knees in pain, I kicked him in the chest, pushing him to the ground.

One down, one to go. I turned my sights to the shorter, much fatter guy. I smiled showing teeth. “You have your chance… leave while you can!” I yelled as I stood casually, ashing my nearly spent cigarette. He put up his dukes and began to jump in place, back and forth. I just shook my head and put the cigarette back into my mouth.

When he threw his first punch, I shot both arms up, covering my face. When his punch landed the back of my arms, I could hear the crunching of his fist as it broke. When he pulled back, holding his broken hand, I moved in quickly, thrusting out my leg and smashing the contents between his. As he fell to his knees and screamed out like a girl, I walked up to him and held his collar in my hand. “You take your asses to the hospital and tell them you got whipped,” I leaned in very close to his ear so that my lips and tongue touched it, “by a Fucking girl.” I threw him to the ground and released him from my grip.

The whole time, the blonde haired, hazel-eyed lady was watching. I turned to her as her eyes were wide and her mouth had dropped. “Be careful who you hang out with, they might just be scumbags.” Smiling, I took one last drag of my cigarette and threw it to the ground. So much for staying incognito.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35.

The week in question was no doubt a hard one, and a waste of time. I had no idea where to search for Paul Bishop. I knew he did not live in the state of Arizona, nor did I know where to look. My days were spent sleeping in alleys, and drifting on streets. During the day, with what strength I could muster, I’d hit the library and search the Internet trying to find Paul Bishop. Even if I figured out where he lived, it would still take time to get there. Only problem was, I didn’t have the time. One more week, my heart would seize and I would die. I hated myself every day for being a failure. I promised Paige that I would succeed, I had to succeed, but I had nothing.

It was painfully difficult to come to the conclusion that I had failed. As every day past, my bones hurt more and more as I was reminded of the fact that I was soon to die.

A whole week had passed and I had accomplished nothing. I spent my nights in alleys, leaning up and comforted by the sides and warmth of dumpsters. Every morning when I woke up and breathed in another day of life, was another day that I felt a whole other system of pain.

As the third week was upon me, I swallowed hard slowly opening my eyes, blinded by a newspaper that lay across my face. Without hesitation, I quickly pulled it away, but one word grabbed my eye. Bishop. As my eyes came into focus, I investigated the article more. “Paul Bishop to stay at a hotel in the great state of Arizona, to accept an award, blah, blah, blah.” I said loudly to myself. That was it. My big break had finally come. As I read on, my fears of failure began to diminish. It was Tuesday and my goal was Thursday. I breathed heavily as I tried so desperately to lift myself up. Every bone in my body burned with an insane fire. I had to survive. Four more days at the most, I had to survive.

Like a moth attracted to the light, I stood close to the hotel. I watched closely with every lasting breath. As midday Wednesday approached, the limo that contained the bad ass mother fucker himself, had finally arrived. Decrepit, melting, and fading away at the seams, I tried to keep myself focused and keep myself together. I watched Paul Bishop walk into the hotel, without further nourishment, not caring about my health, I waited patiently.

I knew his appetites and I knew his wants and needs. If I waited patiently, I knew my window would open. Surly enough, it did.

Long ago, the sun had melted and the moon rose, letting all of the creatures of the night know it was their time to shine. I watched Paul Bishop as he left the hotel. I followed as he casually walked. I kept my distance and stalked. My head was pounding and my stomach was grumbling with emptiness, but I continued on. My whole body was in pain, the seizing had begun.

The night was complete darkness. The clouds created a dark purple overcast and the rain droplets began to fall. Cursing my disabilities, I huffed and puffed as I tried to keep up, vapor expelling from my mouth in large plumes. Finally, Paul took a turn into a dark alley. He disappeared as the blackness swallowed him up. I, across the street, took a knee. I thought about doing it just then, getting it over with, but due to my own determination and my stubbornness, I didn’t think I had the strength to do it.

Minutes had passed until I saw another woman. She was taller with brunette hair. Short skirt and long jacket, high stilettos included. She entered the alley way and disappeared as well. I took a deep breath and rushed across the street, back up against the wall of the building, I turned to take a peek around. I could barely see anything, only Paul’s head over the garbage can. From the noises that were echoing from the alleyway, I knew exactly what was transpiring. I ran back across the street, hiding once again. I watched as Paul casually exited the alleyway, headed back in the direction in which he came. I waited for the woman. I thought I could use her.

When she finally emerged from the darkness, I began to follow her. She walked a few blocks and then I watched as she was violently pulled into a dark alley. I picked it up a notch as I went from a slow walk to a quick gate. Seizing up indeed. I could feel the tension as it tightened in my muscles. When the woman began to yell, I pushed aside everything and ran to her defense.

I turned the corner and entered the alleyway. I watched as a tall man backhanded the woman, sending her crashing to the ground. My anger was once again ignited. Eyes grew wide and my speed picked up. Just as the woman hit the ground, I jumped and became airborne, shouting, “hey, fucker!”

The man had no time to react. Just as he turned to look at me flying towards him, I was on him like flies on a turd. I grabbed the collar of his shirt with both hands and with my momentum, he fell to the ground with me on top. As I made sure the back of his head hit the concrete hard, I gave him a low growl and said “like to hit girls? Well, hit me!” With no chance to retaliate, I gave him one of my hard and heavy patented head-butts.

His head hit the ground hard. Like a fat kid in dodge ball, he was out. With my head split open and blood slowly slip and sliding down, I took my hands from his collar and planted my palms flat against the cold ground on either side of his head. What I had just done took a lot out of me and I needed time to catch my breath. My breathing was still heavy and my head became light. With no relief coming to the rescue, I turned my head towards the woman, who was looking at me.

As I began to lose my grip on reality, I saw the woman’s lips slowly move, but I heard no words. A tingling sensation overcame me and as I left the woman gaze, raised my head and looked toward the sky. The cold droplets of rain provided minimal comfort, but at least it was something. As the clouds swirled and lightly expelled the moon from their covers, I felt its brief warmth of luminescence. After that, consciousness’s was lost and darkness became my blanket for sleep.

Propped up and sitting, I heard a low murmur of female voices. Warmth surrounded my body and I smelled the heat from a cooking stove top. Slowly opening my eyes, I swallowed. I found myself sitting at a table with three other women. Two blondes and one redhead. There was a cup in front of me and not speaking a word, I investigated its contents. It was a cup filled with plain water and without asking, I drank and drained its world. As I put the cup down, I rubbed my four head, finding a bandage where the gash had been.

The woman who was in the alley, walked up to me and slid a mug onto the table. As I inhaled the warm insides, I knew exactly what it was, but just asked to break the silence. “What is it?”

“Chicken noodle.”

I picked the cup up and placed it closer to my nose, inhaling its wonderful chicken goodness. “Thank you.” I said.

The brunette haired, blue-eyed woman took her seat at the table next to the other three. The three of them watched as I slowly sipped the hot broth. My eyes were heavy with sleep and my body was filled with pain. The brunette finally spoke. “You have a name?”

I leaned back and took a few slow sips from the water. “I used to.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” The brunette asked.

I bypassed the question and got straight down to business. “That man that you’re with, the one before the pimp, how well do you know him?” I asked.

The brunette haired woman’s eyes narrowed. “Why were you following me?”

I shook my head. “Please just answer the question. Do you know that man?” I asked once again.

She nodded. “Yes. And I’m telling you this only because you saved my ass out there. But, yes I know that man. He says his name is Paul Rogers. He is rich, and from out of town, but he calls every time he is in.” Her eyes once again narrowed and she began a short but light glare. “Now I answered your question, answer mine. Who are you and why were you following me?”

I sat for a moment in the back of the chair. I had nothing to lose by lying. If I wanted her full cooperation, I should be utterly and totally honest. “My name is Lillian Ann cross. Three years ago I died. Three years ago I died because of that man. That man, kidnapped me and forced me into a world of pain and hate. He destroyed my life and he killed my mother. There are other people that I love and their lives are on the line as well. If I do not dispose of him, their lives will be in jeopardy. That man is nothing but pure evil, he must be put down.” Being in complete control by someone else, that should have been their forte. Four women, prostitutes and owned by a pimp, should have known exactly what I was going through.

The brunette smiled and nodded once again. “My name is Natalia.” She stood up and placed her hands upon the shoulders of each girl as she introduced them. Going from right to left. “This is Dossa, Camille and Carver.”

I turned my head to the corner of the room and pointed. “And who is that?” It was a little head covered in straight brown hair. The body, with the exception of the top of the head was mostly hidden behind the couch.

Natalia left my gaze and looked into the corner. “Dava, it’s okay, you can come out.”

What I saw was a young girl. She was tiny and fragile. She had light brown eyes and long brown hair that past her shoulders. She reminded me of younger version of Paige. “Is she somebody’s sister?”

The room remained silent. All I received was head shaking. She was young and perplexed, I asked, “so where did she come from?”

Natalia was hesitant, but she finally answered. “Our pimp, Tech, bought her from her mother.”

I slowly released my breath. My eyes widened and my jaw dropped.

“Her mother was a homeless woman, who was starving and couldn’t afford to feed her and her daughter. So, thinking it would help, she sold her to Tech for $500.”

It wasn’t unheard-of. People had to survive and in such circumstances had to do terrible things. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes exhaled. A sweet, impressionable young child, sold to such trash. He probably talked a good game to her mother, saying that he’d look out for her, keep her safe. But I knew this type. And even though I didn’t want to know, I had to know. The next set of questions were short, only because she was in the room. But I had to know. “Has he ever?”

“Yes.”

“Has he used her for?”

“Yes.”

Now is was time for the toughest question. I could feel my anger boiling up in my body such as a cauldron. With every question I asked and every yes that I received, I regretted with every bone in my body, that I did not kill him. “How old was she, and how old is she now?”

“6 and 8.”

I shook my head, disgusted.

“What you did to him tonight, he is going to come back. He’s going to punish me, us. Her…” Natalia’s, eyes widened and filled with fear. It seemed that she was the head of household. She looked after her girls.

It was time to talk business. I stood up and reached my hand into my pants. I pulled out the wad of money that I had taken from my mother savings can. I threw the money onto the table.

Carver’s eyes lit up at the stash. “Nice, that’s a new place.” Her blonde hair was up in a French braid. She wore brown eyes and spoke with an Australian accent.

The four girls looked at the money on the table and then looked at me. “Its $1500, it’s all I have. Natalia, when you go see Paul again, I shall remain in tow. When would you expect to see him?”

Her mouth dropped open. “Ahhh, tomorrow night, I think.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Take the money and get the hell out of town. Get packed tomorrow and get ready to go.”

Camille who had remained silent the whole night, finally spoke up. “And what if Tech comes back?”

“Well, then he will have to deal with me.”

Camille was not quite satisfied with the answer. “How is that possible? You can barely stand as it is.”

As I looked at the girls from face-to-face, Carver nodded as well as Natalia. “She’s right. You barely have energy to do anything.” Said Natalia.

“Trust me, when the time comes, I will jump to action and do what I must. Natalia, tomorrow before you rendezvous, let’s discuss the plans. And as for the four of you, take this $1500. I know it is not a lot, but you have a young girl. Get out of here, take her with you and find something else to do. Keep the young-in safe. Promise me that. She has no one but you four. Give her a life. And start yours over, okay?”

The four young ladies nodded together and in unison.

I smiled and blinked. “See? Fate plays silly games with us. I am in your life for a reason, as well as you are in my life for reason.” I could feel the bottom of my back burning. My eyes were on fire as well. It had to have been the extreme early-morning, but either way I needed sleep. I rose from my chair and stretched. “Now, who’s ready for bed?”

As everyone dispersed and disappeared into their rooms, I remained to myself in the living room. Of course, with my new silent visitor, little Dava. As I sat on the couch and got ready to sprawl myself out, I looked at her, hunched up and tucked close to her knees, sitting in the armchair. Through the blanket of darkness, I smiled. “Do you want the couch?” I asked.

Saying nothing, she just shook her head.

I had no idea what she was going through. She was young. I had only experienced it later on in my life. But for some reason I was there and so was she. With whatever comfort I could provide, I tried to do so. “Dava, I know this is not much coming from a complete stranger, but I want to help. I want you to know, though my stay will be short, I won’t let anybody hurt you. As soon as tomorrow night comes, you’ll be on your way to a better life.” I shook my head and laughed at myself. For the next sentence that came out of my mouth, was a sentence that my first boss spoke to me. He was old and wise and everything that he said stuck with me. So I smiled as I said it, because it gave me great pleasure to say. Only because I knew it to be true, only if you stuck with its value. “Wise man once said, you do not have to be a product of your environment. With every hard lesson learned, is a new door opened. No door shall ever be remained closed. Take every lesson and use it as a purpose to fight harder. Live, young one.” It was a cold sentence as soon as I was done. And even though she said nothing, I hoped the words meant something, because I meant every word that I said.

With Dava being my dream catcher for the night, I laid myself down. Finally, on a warm couch and without the extremities of a cold night penetrating into my body, I could close my eyes surrounded in artificial warmth. Even though I slept, I tried to sleep with one eye open. In my current condition, it was prohibiting me to do so. Either way, the darkness of night achieved its friendship by covering me.

To keep myself in slumbered bliss, I’d Dream of Paige. Her warm hands around me, her heart beat pressed against mine. I missed her so much. An incredible hole was digging deep inside of me without her. The only time I felt comfort, was when I dreamt of her, and it was difficult to dream of her when all I could do was focus on the pain that was surging through my body.

I heard voices. I heard screaming. As I tried very hard to slowly roll open my eyes, I caught a glimpse of a blurred face, hands around my neck. Startled, I took my hands and wrapped them around the arms of my attacker. Swallowing hard, I transferred the pressure to my fingers and began to dig with my nails. As I heard a female cry of pain, I blinked hard removing the film from my eyes and realized that I was hurting Carver. I pulled back my hands quickly. I shook my head. “I’m so sorry…”

Carver raised her right fist and planted a hard one across my face. “Wake the Fuck up, he’s back!” She pointed over the couch and towards the door where I heard the scuffling.

I raised my head and looked. Sure enough, Tech had Natalia in a choke hold. The adrenaline surged and the heat began to boil my anger. He didn’t see me, but I chucked myself high over the side of the couch and bolted for him. He didn’t even get a chance. As soon as he saw me, he threw Natalia from his grips and went for the gun that rested in his pants. He couldn’t even pull it halfway out before I was on him. With my speed and with what little weight I had, I rammed him.

We jetted out past the the door, into the hall and I slammed his back into the wall. We were both struggling for the gun and still it remained halfway hidden in his jeans. My smaller fingers found their way to the trigger guard and onto the trigger. I pulled it, shooting one round into the only thing that he described himself as being a man. His face turned white and slid down, falling to his butt and quickly removing his grip from the gun.

As he gripped both hands firmly upon his groin area, I knelt down, with one foot firmly planted on the right side of his body and my other leg, extending out to the left. I took the gun and shoved it into his mouth, leaning in closely so that I could whisper in his ear. “Now, you listen to me, you waste of human meat. I do not like you at all. You treat women like Shit. But the thing that takes my cake, is that there is a little girl in there and without remorse or second thought, you have used her to your disgusting and vial disposal.” Out of anger, I gritted my teeth and shoved the gun further into his groin, feeling satisfaction as he cried out in girlish pain. I moved in towards his ear again. My teeth were gritted and through my sheer anger, my voice dropped an octave lower and I almost growled as I spoke to him. “Now you listen to me you little fuck. If I didn’t have anything important to do tonight, I swear to God I will pull this trigger and blast off the other side of your pathetic ball sac. I would then watch you, with pure satisfaction, as your life slowly faded away one ounce at the time through your pathetic opened up go-nads.”

I began to laugh a menacing laugh as tears rolled out of his eyes. At least I had caught his attention. I grabbed his shirt and pulled his face close to mine, for-heads touching. “Now you know what it feels like to be beaten. Now you know what it feels like to be on the other end of the gun. And if your balls weren’t shot to fucking hell, I would almost say that you pissed yourself as well.”

My transaction was done. My point was made. I rose quickly, gun still pointed at his face, and grabbed his right ear and pulled. He protested, but obediently followed as I dug my sharp nails into the back of his ear. As we reached the staircase, I released his ear and pushed him as hard as I could down the stairs. As he rolled down, I waved. “Adios, fuck ass!” I stood there for a moment, realizing what I had done, but had absolutely no regrets.

There was clapping. I backed up a few steps from the foot of the stairs. Wide-eyed, I turned to my right following the clapping. There was an old woman who had come out of her room. She was wearing a red robe, hair rollers, and wrinkled to oblivion. But she was happy and smiling. She gave me a wink and said, “thank you, young man. That piece of shit has been terrorizing this complex forever. Finally, we can all sleep better tonight knowing that you have taken out the trash.”

I blinked smiling and shook my head. I looked the gun that I was holding. I turned back to the room with the girls, all five of them were waiting at the door. They were amazed but still filled with fear of what I had done.

Natalia came up, questioning. “What happens if he comes back?”

As she said it, I took a few steps into the room and collapsed to my knees. A lot had been taken out of me and the pain was becoming unbearable. I knelt for a moment, trying to gather my breath, my thoughts. I lifted the gun up over my head. “If he comes back, shoot him. Tell the police it was self-defense.” Receiving help from the women, I was lifted to my feet. Taking a few steps, I stumbled back to the kitchen table and sat in the chair. I took a few deep breaths, trying to slow down my racing heart.

Natalia sat at the table next to me. She folded her arms and carefully watched my deteriorating condition. “Seriously, what is wrong with you?”

I smiled, swallowing hard. “I’m dying.”

“From what?”

I swallowed again, shaking my head. “A broken heart.” Questions, questions, questions. When shall they ever end? I realized my situation was somewhat un-normal, but explaining to people what I had truly been through, was just out of the question. Not unless they were Dumont. But Dumont wasn’t here, so I had nothing real to say. “Does anybody have any painkillers in the house?” I asked.

The girls scurried about and disappeared. Soon enough they emerged with a cocktail of drugs that they lined up on the table. I looked about, doing little grocery shopping. I picked up some OxyContin and swallowed them whole. I then looked at Natalia, with one eye halfway shut and the other wide open. “What time are you meeting with Mr. Rogers?”

The plan was set and agreed upon. As the girls rushed about, packing and getting ready to leave their life in Phoenix Arizona, I sat at the table, weak. I had eaten what I could, only to keep up my energy, but I could feel my body shutting down. While sitting at the table, I was in and out of consciousness. I watched the sunlight as is it glared through the curtains of the room, cascading all the way across. And as the day had turned into night, I became anxious. Natalia was to call the land-line and let me know when Paul Bishop contacted her for their rendezvous.

As all the women had left to do their jobs and to collect their money, I was left to myself. Well, little Dava was about, but she hid most the time. It wasn’t until later in the evening that little Dava slowly approached me, with a tiny token in hand.

I tilted my head and accepted the gift. It was a bracelet. A friendship bracelet, colored with green, blue and pink. I smiled and asked, “what’s this for?”

She looked at me, her little eyes glowing and her long brown hair flowing. “Thank you for making the bad man go away.” She said.

I smiled as I put the bracelet onto my wrist. “I will never take it off. I love it. What do the colors mean?” I asked.

Dava smiled as she pointed at each one, giving explanation. “The green is for honor. You are filled with pain, but serve a great purpose of honor. The blue, that is for loyalty. You are loyal to one, but expand your loyalty to others.”

And at the pink?”

Dava smiled and nodded her head. “The pink is for love. Love is what keeps you going. Love is what keeps your heart pure. If it wasn’t for your love, you would not have gotten this far. In the end, you shall be reunited.”

A chill rode up my back. I hoped she was right. If I could see Paige again, well, I would do anything to do so. “Thank you. I will never take it off, I promise. It will be a reminder, for me, to make sure I’m a good girl.” I replied smiling.

I continued to rest at the table, admiring my new bracelet and waiting for the phone call. When I felt the fiery spasms of pain retch up my back once again, I popped two Vicodin. I had to numb myself as much as possible, for I knew the end was finally near. As I began to drift off, and darkness clouded, the phone rang.

I took a deep breath and my eyes widened. I knew it was the call. I hesitated momentarily, but I picked up the receiver and answered. “Yeah?’

“In an hour… Meet us at the same place.”

“Gotcha”

I put down the phone and slowly rose to my feet. Wobbling and completely disheveled, I walked to the couch and threw on my hoodie and my mother’s leather jacket. It was finally game time. I was nearing the end of my journey. I sat on the couch for a few more moments trying to gather my composure. I had an hour and my destination was not too far off, but I knew I needed the whole hour to get out there. Dava was nowhere to be seen and I did not wish to be nosy by looking in the rooms for her, so I wished her farewell as left out the door.

I struggled the whole way. I cursed at myself. I needed each and every structure and building to hold me up to keep me going. I was burning up, my body was melting. The need to reach an end was fueling my heart which continued to go. When I finally reached the other side of the dark alley, my heart was pounding.

I could hear voices at the end of it. I knew exactly who they belonged to. I walked slowly and slanted, leaning, dragging myself as I used the brick wall for support. As I came up with the two insight, I cleared my throat loudly. On cue, Natalia stopped what she was doing and casually walked away leaving Paul Bishop, his pants down and vulnerable.

Before he could react and pull his pants back up, I slowly emerged from the darkness, face, wicked. I took a breath and loudly I spoke, “good evening to you sir.”

From a distance, underneath the faint glow of a single alley light, I could barely make out his facial expression as it went from pleasure to fear in a manner of seconds. And even though I knew he could not see my face, I knew he recognized my voice. The pleasure I was feeling was unimaginable. I was making a grown billion-dollar man shake in his undies, so to say, and at the moment, he wasn’t wearing any.

“Who, who is there?” He asked, voice riddled with fear, knowing, but not wanting to know.

I knew he knew who I was. And just before he could pull his pants up to make himself a little bit more comfortable, I took the three big steps, revealing myself underneath the streetlight. “Ah, ah, ahhhh…” I said as I extended my right arm and waved my index finger about, menacingly. The piece of shit was in my court now. He was protected by no one. It was just him and I. It had been months that I dreamt about this moment, hell, I had dreamt of this moment since I met the guy, but my appetites for destruction, his demise became even more so after what he had told me. Because of his own drunken bigmouth, his death by me would be even more gruesome.

I didn’t make the big bucks and I was not the boss of my own company, but I was finally calling the shots. “You have two choices guy. Either you pull up your pants, go for your gun, but have my hands around your neck before you do, or, you can go for your gun, plug me a few times before I get there. But in this scenario, if you don’t put me down, I’ll be on you like flies on a turd. I will rip off your balls and shove them in your mouth so fast, the blood you drank from your balls, will be pouring out of the empty hole where your sack used to be. Choose wisely, you stupid rich prick. The decision you make now will determine whether you go home and not fuck your wife.”

Hands by his sides, Paul Bishop stood motionless. A man that sat daily in a $1000 leather chair looking over the city and his decisions alone could change one person’s life dramatically, was at my complete and utter mercy. My only problem was that he wasn’t even making a move, so I decided to put the icing on the cake to get him to go. “By the way, did you know that your wife likes to be fucked hard in the ass? In fact, she let me do it with an extremely big strap on.” His eyes grew big. “Oh yeah, while you were running around, sticking your doodle into dirty girls holes, I was tasting your wife, and riding her. Such a sweet piece of ass for you to neglect.”

The match was struck and fire ignited. As soon as Paul put his hand into his coat, I bolted. With every part of my body melting away and losing control, I tried my best to move. And as Paul Bishop pulled the trigger and squeezed off two rounds, I met both of them with passion. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t get me in the head. And as I reached him, I grabbed the gun from his hand and threw it to the ground.

There was no stopping me at that point. I was in complete berserker mode. With my left hand around Paul Bishop’s neck, I dug in tightly with my nails. His struggling made it difficult to remain in control, so I gave him a hard and fast headbutt. As he was dazed, I took my right hand and did exactly what I told him I would do. I reached down, grabbed and ripped off everything that made him a man. His screeching was horrendous. I had never heard anyone in my life scream in such a manner. To shut him up, I placed his manhood into his mouth, violently shoving, so I knew it made it down his throat.

I took a few steps back. Everything was becoming difficult to do, but I just wanted to savor one last moment. Already on his knees, he began to choke off of the blood from his own sac. Becoming impatient, I hurried up the process. I put my Palm over his larynx, grabbed and ripped out his throat. I watched as he fell to his side and slowly died, bleeding out. I spat on him, throwing the bit from his throat to the side. “Burn in hell, you fucking piece of shit.” I finally was at the end of my line. Hands and face were covered in blood. I backed up a few steps and leaned up against the wall, slowly sliding on to my butt. As the pain of everything began to rush up, and as the blood began to ooze from my bullet wounds, the rain came back to blanket my world. Without any more need in the world to carry on, I waited patiently for death. I wouldn’t fight it. After all, I could have used a good night sleep. Without any more control of my body, my head tilted back. I was left to look at the black, purple velvet sky and to meet the drops of rain as they pleasantly fell and cooled off my overheated face. I was so tired. I needed to sleep. Before I closed my eyes for good, I caught a glimpse of one last angel, Paige.

After seeing Paige, the darkness completely took me over. Finally I was peaceful without pain. But I never saw a light. I only felt and saw darkness. The last thing that I heard was the rain pattering on the concrete.

Even though I had completed what I wanted to complete, absolution was never given. And as I swirled around, hovering in a world of darkness with zero gravity, all I could think of was the bloodshed. I didn’t think death would be so unsure. And as I finally felt myself, reaching for the stars and climbing, my world was struck down by a fierce and shocking pain. A pain which was indescribable. A pain that I had never felt before. It was a fierce burning sensation. And as I thought I was finally reaching for the outskirts of the universe, I was brought back once again into the pit of darkness. To me, it was a waiting room for the damned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36.

My eyelids were heavy, but I was awoken by the sound of my own breathing. As I slowly rolled open my eyes, I felt them burn. I swallowed hard to wash away the dryness in my mouth. When my eyes, finally fully opened and came into focus, I was greeted by a white room. Turning from one side of the wall to the other looking, my heart sank.

The first thought that came to mind, was that somehow they found me, and returned me back to the farmhouse. But that was impossible, I watched Paul Bishop die. Distraught and heart in pieces, I slowly raised myself from the bed. Curiosity was on my mind and the cat needed killing. There was a window in the room. It was the only thing that would give me my answers. As I placed both feet onto the floor, the cold floor, I grabbed the IV tower and used it for support. I took a deep breath and began my slow walk to the curtained window.

Finally reaching the window, I raised my right arm, shaking as I lifted it. I grabbed the edge of the curtain. I closed my eyes and took a moment to reflect. It was the moment of truth. I slowly raised my left arm and grabbed the other side of the curtains. With my eyes still closed, I took a deep breath, whisked open the curtains and waited a moment.

I gave myself, and old “please God,” underneath my breath. Even though the view outside of farmhouse window was to die for, it was the last place I wanted to be. Like a little kid on Christmas, I slowly opened my eyes, waiting to be surprised.

My right eyebrow cocked upward and my eyes grew big. The yard was filled with a pool, rectangular in shape. The day was bright, clear, and filled with sun. The Palm trees were swaying in the breeze and people below me were taking laps in the pool, lounging in chairs, and just out enjoying the day. I slowly blinked my eyes and smiled. Tears began to stream from my eyes. Relief swept over me like a tidal wave. As far as I knew, I was alive and free. I took a moment to collect myself before I walked back to the bed and sat down.

Contemplation and thoughts began to plague my mind. I was dead. I had no ID, no identity. Whoever picked me up and brought me here, I had no idea what to say. I had killed two men in cold blood. I had killed before that. I didn’t know where I would go, or how to start my life. The only plus was that I was not handcuffed to the bed, at least I knew I was not a wanted fugitive, yet.

Perhaps I could claim amnesia. Either way, at any moment, someone was to come through that door, needing answers. I figured, what the hell… I’d rather it happen sooner than later. Sitting on the bed, I raised my right shaking arm and pushed the call button for the nurse. I sat, with my back facing the entrance. I waited quietly and gazed out of the open window, watching the Palm trees as they danced in the light breeze.

Minutes after I depressed the button, the door opened then closed. I didn’t turn my head to see who was there, no, I waited patiently, looking out the window. The presence inside the room was hesitant. I knew they were there. It wasn’t until I caught a quick whiff of a familiar smell that my knees became weak. It was a smell that I had not been blessed by smelling in weeks. I realized that perfumes and body sprays were sold all over the place. Anyone and anybody can wear them. But this particular smell belonged to Paige. I, being a sniffer, was angered by the fact that someone else was gracing her beautiful smell. I took the initiative and turned my head, making sure to keep a stern and angered face. As soon as my gaze reached the eyes of my nurse, my facial expression eroded and became blank. I swallowed hard and blinked staring only into the eyes of my Angel.

Paige stood, clipboard in hand and covered in full nurse’s garb. My eyebrows arched and my mouth slowly dropped. “What?”

She dropped her clipboard and came to me quickly, kneeling. She cupped her hands around my cheeks and began to kiss my face, everywhere. “My God, it is so good to see you up. I didn’t think you’d make it, twice, we almost lost you.”

Though both my arms were still shaking, I wrapped them around her, hugging. “You are a mother fucking, sight for sore eyes. I missed you so much!”

We locked in a tight embrace, our lips meeting, touching hard. Both of us held each other there, soaking in each other souls. I didn’t realize what I truly needed in life until then. After everything I had lost, I still had Paige. I held her tightly, and kissed her hard. I touched my lips to her neck, kissed, and then breathed her in. I breathed all of her in.

“How did you find me? Why did you find me? I told you to leave, get out of town, and start over.” I asked. My smile became a frown, and my eyes grew big, “Fitz, is Fitz okay?”

Still cupping my face with her hands, Paige pulled away. “Yes, Fitz is fine. My father and Clive left.”

“So how did you know where I was?”

Paige was hesitant, but smiled. “As a certain precaution, Paul Bishop had a GPS tracking system inserted into your body. My dad was extremely distraught that I did not leave with him, but he knew why I wouldn’t. I ran with the GPS trying to hide it from Paul. I followed you, taking some time before I lost Paul’s tail.”

My eyes narrowed. “I woke up one morning with a newspaper planted across my face telling me were Paul Bishop was, was that you?”

Paige nodded and smiled. “Yes, I couldn’t encourage anything like that, but I knew you had your mindset. I hate to admit this… I don’t condone killing, but Lillian what you have done, you released my father, Clive and I to a new life, and countless others to come.” She wrapped her arms around me again and kissed my neck. “Lillian, we are free. Let’s make the best of this, let’s live life to its fullest!”

I pulled back a bit, trailed my index and middle finger between the collar of her scrubs. “What’s with this, what’s going on, what’s happening?” I asked, kiddingly.

Paige smiled. “Well, since I am no longer employed by Mr. Bishop, I needed a job.” Paige took a few steps back, and raised her arms spanning left from right. “This mighty fine establishment in which you currently reside, belongs to one great doctor known as Sebastian Cole.”

I leaned back and cocked my eyebrow. “No Shit?”

Paige smiled. “I no Shit you, my love. This place is on the back burner to the world of the media. Celebrities come here to do things, make changes to their bodies. Since the curtains are open, I know you looked outside, but did you fully look at people’s faces?”

I shook my head.

“Well, when you do, you’ll notice some familiar faces from the big screen out there.” She replied.

I sat for a moment quietly, staring at the floor. I could feel a subtle headache beginning to awaken in the back of my head. Took my hand and pitched the top of my nose, closing my eyes. “There’s something different, I felt strange.” Paige took a chair from the corner of the room and sat.

She watched me as my eyes fluctuated and my body language, its movements were different. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her facial expression. She knew something was different about me. As she watched me fiddle with my eyes and struggle with my equilibrium, she spoke up. “Something happened to you when we brought you in.”

I lifted my head, nodded and looked at her. “Yeah, you did say that I flat-lined twice? “

Paige looked at me, eyes wide and filled with concern. “Something else happened. Something that I cannot explain.” She got up from her seat and began to walk to the door. Just as she touched her hand to the nob, she turned and looked at me. “I need Dr. Cole to explain this to you, because I cannot.” I smiled and nodded, as Paige disappeared through the door.

I wasn’t going anywhere. I had nowhere to go. I sat on my bed, staring at the blazing sun spot on the floor. I couldn’t imagine what would be so freaky, that Paige could not tell me herself. I waited for some time, almost dozing off while sitting up. My stomach grumbled with hunger. I looked at myself up and down. I pulled up my gown and noticed the bloodied gauze where my two gunshot wounds had been. I felt an itching sensation upon my chest and between my breasts. As I pulled my gown up higher, there was gauze covering that spot to. My curiosity began to linger. I knew for a fact I was not harmed in that spot. Just as I was ready to lay back to catch some sleep, the door finally open. Dr. Cole stepped in first, Paige in tow.

Dr. Cole walked up to the side of the bed, and greeted me, pushing his glasses further up his nose. “Good afternoon Lillian, how are you feeling?”

“Good, I guess. Paige told me that you needed to tell me something?” I asked.

“Yes, there is something I think you should know about your implants.” He said.

My eyebrows lifted. “My implants?” Honestly, I didn’t see that one coming, but perhaps I should have.

He took a deep breath. He had a clipboard in his hand and he was thumbing through the pages, but he put it aside. He knew that he didn’t need to look at it. “Lillian, something happened while we were resuscitating you.” Dr. Cole hesitated. I got the impression that even he himself even could not explain what had happened. “While using the defibrillator, a bizarre reaction had occurred.”

My eyes grew big and my jaw dropped, slowly. “Yeah?”

He cleared his throat. “Somehow, you were able to hold an electrical charge. When we hit you the first time, nothing. But when we hit you the second, a complete electrical charge expelled from your body, through the defibrillator and throughout the building. The lights flickered and we nearly lost power. I have never seen anything like it in my life.

It was some complete science fiction bull shit. It went from complete reality to straight up Star Trek. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but the worst part, was that there was more.

Dr. Cole took another deep breath. “Paul Bishop told me that the material I inserted into your body was a high-tech titanium bio silicate. This is not the case either. After what had happened with the defibrillator, I took x-rays of your body. The bio silicate has expanded 25% more than what had first been placed.”

“It’s growing?”

He nodded. “Yes it’s growing. After finding this out, I tried to pull a sample of it from your body.” He pointed at my feet. “You’ll notice tiny incision marks there by your big toe.”

I lifted my foot from the side of the bed looked at it. There were tiny incision marks, a few of them in fact.

“I tried to pull some samples of the silicate. Exposed to air they were fine, but as soon I removed it from the body, it just simply dissolved. I had to find a solution in which I could put the silicate in so it would not dissolve. I was able to complete the simple surgery in a saline solution, as long as it was embedded into your DNA code.

I was still confused. “My DNA code? What are you saying, Doc?”

His eyes wavered. He was filled with answers but was still confused as I. “I sent the silicate out to be tested by experts. The material in question that is lining your bones is in fact alive. It has adhered to you. The silicate in question has 165 different compounds and many many enzymes that are not known to this earth. It is in fact now coded to your DNA, and if removed by force, by defense, it shall dissolve.”

My eyebrow was cocked. I still had no idea what Dr. Cole was feeding me. “Doc, without all the technical bullshit, could you just tell me what’s up?”

“Bottom line is, whatever I put inside of you, is in fact extraterrestrial in nature. The plus is, since we seem to have woken it up, it seems to be releasing a natural enzyme. You no longer need to take the cocktail.”

I smiled. “Well that’s good, because you know damn well I hate fucking needles.”

“You don’t feel any differently do you? Are you hearing any voices?”

“Feel differently, yes. Voices, no.” I said as I shook my head.

Dr. Cole took a few steps to leave before he stopped and turned back to face me. “Oh, and one last thing… You seem to be emitting a signal.”

My eyes narrowed once again. “A what?”

“A signal. A homing beacon. For whatever reason. Paige’s GPS unit is picking up a new signal. It’s picking up a signal, but it cannot be traced. We only knew it was coming from you because the log states it began at the same time we brought you back.” Dr. Cole shook and scratched his head. “And about the whole electrical charge thing, don’t be too liberal about that in public.”

I looked at Dr. Cole and then at Paige. I said smiling. “Ooooh, super-freak in the house! I promise I’ll behave, but you know I got to test this Shit out!”

As Dr. Cole left, I sat smiling and staring at Paige. She looked at me somewhat distraught. “And you find this funny?”

I lifted my shoulders and shrugged. “What? I am already dead. What does it matter?” I walked up to her as she sat in the corner chair, rested my fingers to her shoulder and began to walk them slowly down. “I’m excited, after all it’s not every day that you get to find out that you’re a superhero.”

Paige smiled and her gaze moved to the tiny bracelet that graced my wrist. She took my hand into hers and began to inspect it. “This is new… On a mission to kill and you just happen to pick it up?” Her voice was filled with just a hint of suspicion and a dash of jealousy.

“Ahhh… Since you followed me, then you knew where I stayed”

Paige nodded.

I took in a deep breath trying to find the best way to explain it. “Well, her name was Dava.”

Paige quickly removed her hand from mine.

Smiling, I shook my head. “It’s not like that. Dava was an eight year old girl. Her mom sold her to a pimp and she was subjected to gruesome treatment.”

“Ohh no.” Paige said wincing.

“So, I beat the shit out of the pimp, and gave the girls as well as Dava another chance at life.” I momentary stared off into space hoping they truly did. “Dava made it for me. As long as it permits, I will never take it off.” I took a seat back onto the bed.

Paige got up and sat next to me on the bed, holding my hand. “You are becoming a superhero.”

“Not after the things that I have done.”

Paige’s grip became more firm. “Even Xena had to go thru hell before she died a hero”

I turned to look a Paige. Grinning, I placed my eyes into hers. “Oh, so you are comparing me to Xena now?”

“Perhaps you have found your little Gabrielle.” Paige said laughing.

Smiling and slowly moving, I took Paige’s mouth into mine, slowly releasing her lower lip as I pulled away. “You are my Gabrielle.”

The weeks extended themselves. I was healed and healthy. As Paige continued to work, I was continuously hidden and kept away like some dirty little secret. I was in limbo. I knew Paige and Dr. Cole wanted to keep me safe. I knew they were also afraid. Because of me, both of them knew for a fact that extraterrestrials were out there. I was living proof.

It wasn’t enough for me. I couldn’t just sit around waiting. I was alive and breathing and needed to live my life as well. When I was left alone, I’d experiment with what Dr. Cole told me. I placed my thumb up to an electrical outlet. I took a deep breath and thought. I could feel as the surge entered my body. I could feel the tingling, it’s energy. I could feel myself growing stronger as I soaked it up. As I walked around, charged, I would expel it upon inanimate objects. Everything reacted differently from the discharge of my body. As days past, I perfected my new craft.

When I finally became sickened by my so-called captivity, I waited for the perfect moment. Everyone was busy, daily. Paige worked her ass off, I’d definitely give her that. She was gone most the day. If I was lucky we would share some meals together, but other than that, I was alone. I hated myself for being a freeloader. Lonely by day, the only comfort I would receive was from Paige at night when she laid next to me. I needed to move on with my life, I had to do something, but first I needed closure and to say goodbye.

I knew they kept their eye on me at first, but as soon as time went by, I became as bland and unnoticeable as the pictures that lined the walls of the establishment. Like the daily trash, I slipped away unnoticed. I took a few buses and I found myself saying goodbye.

It was a darkened day. I walked into the cemetery, not knowing where to go, but letting the feelings themselves guide me. As the rain started to fall in gentle sheets, I was guided to two tombstones which consisted of two names that I knew too well. Happy, but sad that they were both together. I read the tombstones out loud, hoping my mother was somewhere and knowing I was alive and well. I laid a rainbow rose upon her grave, and kissed the dirt which contained her lifeless, decomposing body. I looked at my tombstone and out loud read the inscription. “An explorer, loved, who died too early.” I laughed at myself and allowed tears to run. I knew it was my mother who put that saying there. I could only imagine her, years before, sitting in the same place that I now stood, crying, heartbroken and distraught. On my knees, I bowed my head for some time. I could only think of the pain that I had caused. I had a superpower, but I wished it was a superpower to bring someone back to life. I cursed at myself for my inability to do so. I had nowhere to go and I had nothing to do, so I just stood there on my knees, embracing the wetness from the rain. I closed my eyes and wished I could hug my mother one last time.

I read my mother’s tombstone over and over again. What my stepfather put on it was typical. The saying was true, but she deserved so much more. “Here lies, beloved wife and mother.” I shook my head. It should have said, “a bright guiding light to us all, a woman of pure love and compassion. Her heart and her love kept us all going.”

I knew I was there for some time, but I didn’t care. I had missed three years of my life with my mom, and finally I was reunited. Comfortable on my knees, I felt the rain as it pelted down and beat down on my backside. I didn’t care. I inhaled and softly began to sing Landslide by Fleetwood Mac. Both, for my mother and my father, for both were laid to rest. My father was not at the same Cemetery, but I would see him in time.

As I sat cross legged at the two graves, in the pouring rain, a car drove up. I didn’t bother to turn and look, I just continued with my trance. It didn’t matter, because I knew who it was. As I quietly sat, Paige approached from behind and rested her hand gently on my shoulder.

“You didn’t tell us that you were leaving.”

Ever since I had arrived at the clinic, and Dr. Cole realized what had actually been placed inside my body, I was under 24 hour surveillance. They kept it a secret to everyone but themselves. I knew they were frightened and I knew they wondered what I was capable of, but I got sick of hiding. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I couldn’t live my life in the shadows. Yes, there was something different about me, but for God’s sake let me live my life before I go crazy. “Even if I told you I was going somewhere you would not let me go.”

“True.” Paige replied.

I didn’t turn look at her, I just continued to stare at the stones. “I’m fine, in fact I have never felt better in my life. Please trust me when I say, you do not have to worry about me. All I want is a normal life. A normal life I want to spend with you.” I said as I stood up and faced Paige. I took my hands and slowly blanketed her cheeks. As the rain poured buckets, I could barely see, but I knew the tears were there. “Don’t let this hold us back.” I began to tear up as well and smiled. “We’re here, free and together. Let’s make a difference. You and I.”

Paige’s eyes became turmoil, and I hugged her, bringing her in ever so closely. “I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I took a chance and even though I did not have a ring, I knelt down on one knee before her. Last moments thought, I pulled my father’s switchblade from my pocket and lifted it toward Paige. “Paige Jackson, will you take my hand in marriage, to love and to hold until death do us part?” I asked.

Paige smiled and the brown in her eyes became even more apparent. “Yes, yes I will!” She said as she gratefully took my knife.

We hugged. We held each other. I kissed her on the lips, neck, from head to toe. Holding her face in my hands, I pulled back slightly. “Only one problem. I’m kind of dead.”

Paige smiled and kissed me gently on the nose. “It doesn’t matter. Where there is love there is a way. We’ll figure something out. For now, let’s get the hell out of this rain.”

I smiled and put my arm around her shoulder. As we walked back to the car, I turned and looked one last time, blowing kisses to my mother and myself.

As I sat in the passenger seat next to Paige, I smiled but regretfully said, “Sorry, I don’t have much to offer… No job, or money.”

As Paige started the car, she turned and looked at me with a half-smile. “Oh, I wouldn’t quite say that.”

“How do you mean?” I asked.

Paige held my hand and laughed. “You may not have any money, but the Switchblade Mamma, Well, let’s just say she has a quarter mill from her winnings.”

Life will always find a way. Even out the greatest destruction, eventually life would prevail. I had been through a lot. I had learned even more, about humanity, and about myself. A human being could be pushed so far, especially if they were trying to protect someone that they loved. I had reached so many breaking points. I had lost so much of my mind. I had lost everything, but gained so much more. No matter what, a hole would always remain in my heart, not to hold me back, but rather as a reminder to continue to move forward. As I moved forward with my new life, I would make sure that I would help those in need. There is no greater responsibility in the world than that of rescuing the weak from the fire. In the aftermath, the burn and the scar will always be there, but it’s always a reminder of those who have been saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

37.

I woke up late. The morning rays were already blazing into my room. I rushed about, quickly showering, gelling my hair. I rushed back into the bedroom and fumbled with my pants. I pulled over a flannel and threw on my boots. No time for coffee, which was fine for I knew I would meet Paige at the diner. I grabbed my plans off of the coffee table, catapulting myself over the side of the couch and snatching my phone off of the charger.

It was an important day indeed. It was our anniversary. Not only was it the day that we were married, but it was also the first day that we had met. The first day that Paige had walked into my dungeon and laid eyes upon my beaten soul. Eight years was a long time, but it went by so quickly.

I flew out of the house and jumped into my suburban. My 1989 Chevrolet suburban. The same suburban that my father had given me. As I turned the key and the mighty beast grumbled to life, I waited somewhat impatiently as I waited for it to warm up.

I was a punctual kind of person and I hated to be late. But the last two weeks, I had been working lots of hours of overtime at a job, and unfortunately slept in. I hated to speed, but with both Paige and I working long hours, I knew my window to see her was quite slim. I darted through traffic as I tried to make it to the diner on time.

As I drove recklessly, the phone that laid between my legs began to vibrate. As I saw who it was, I smiled as I answered it. “Good morning Joyce.”

“Sweetie, are you there yet?”

“Almost. How are my boys? Did they get there yet?” I asked.

Joyce chuckled over the phone. “Well, Sean’s there, but Castor called in, he’s going to be about 20 minutes late.” She replied in her deep Southern coated voice.

Joyce. A beautiful vibrant woman whom I would never regret meeting. Eight years ago she picked me up off the road and gave me hope. Currently, she is the receptionists for my business. She was the heart that kept us all pumping. Joyce knew who I was and what I was about. She knew me as Lillian, but embraced the new me, Jennifer Ann Drake. There was of course, Sean Archer who used to be Barrett and Clive, of course he had to be Castor Troy. I couldn’t help but laugh because every day was a face-off with the both of them. Sean, Castor and I all worked together. After I was given a new name and a new life, I apprenticed for many years, and used my Switchblade Mamma money to start anew.

I was all into home-building and house remodeling. With Joyce’s help, I even dabbled a bit in the recovery of lost souls. With the money that I had, I built a few shelters. In my spare time, I would seek out those who were lost to the turmoil’s of hen fighting. In my eight years of searching, and rescuing, I had nearly eradicated hen fighting in the United States alone. A great achievement on my part. No matter what, injustices were done throughout the world, and my fight was only extended to the United States.

Paige, who was now known as Rachel, supported my battles 100%. She knew why I came home ragged every night, limp and weak upon the bed. My woes however, were never left unhindered, for at least I knew on a few occasions, the innocent were returned home.

No matter what, I enjoyed my new hectic life with Rachel. And as we went out into the world on a daily basis as Jennifer and Rachel, we would always come home and be Paige and Lillian, always and forever.

As I finally strolled into the diner, seeing Paige sitting in our usual booth, I smiled. I sat down quietly next to her, kissing her lightly upon the cheek. “Happy eighth anniversary.” I said with great pleasure.

Despite our hectic schedule, Paige and I agreed to meet each other at the diner every morning. If we weren’t able to see each other up at home, at least we could share a breakfast together. We took a moment, chatting quietly with each other, trying to stay close even though with everything we knew we had become distant.

Lorraine, the usual morning waitress greeted us both with a warm frothy cup of coffee. I took a deep breath into the cup and inhaled the warm liquid grounds. I gave Paige a cheesy smile as I dumped sugar and cream into my cup.

Paige smiled as she watched me take my first sip. “So, everyone on time and at their jobs?”

I finished my sip, and I replied, “Sean, yes. Castor, no.”

Paige chuckled. “Figures.”

I lifted my head from my cup. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure old Castor was up all night playing that new game that just came out.”

Paige gave me a quick nip upon my ear. “And I’m sure my dear, that if you had time oozing out of your ass, you would be playing that game as well.”

I leaned in closer toward Paige, and kissed her. “And you know this, babe.”

It was a pleasant and beautiful morning. I could not think of any more troubles on my mind then ones that had already been set. I had a few leads on some girls in the area that could have quite possibly been drug into hen fighting. Even though it was our anniversary, I knew Paige would understand. When it came to the matter at hand, time was so very precious. In the blink of an eye, I could lose the lead, and their souls lost forever.

As our breakfast finally arrived, I ate contentedly, alongside my beloved, Paige. As my phone began to ring, I took it as I took every other, “Drake here.”

On the other end was Joyce. Her thick southern accent with a strange hint of uncertainty. “Jennifer?”

Thinking nothing of it, I replied, “did Castor make it in?”

“Yes but…Jennifer, this is not about Castor.” There was a brief pause on her end. “There is a woman here. A woman that says she knows you from your past life.”

I swallowed the last bits of egg that I had in my mouth down my throat, hard. “What’s her name, Joyce?” I asked. Without word, I left the booth. I picked up and walked outside. For some reason I knew exactly who it was. I went to my truck and opened up the passenger side door. I pulled out the pack of cigarettes that laid in the glove box. I pulled out a smoke and lit it up. I knew, but I wished I didn’t. “Joyce, what’s her name?”

I could hear a muffling noise on the other line. Joyce’s voice soon returned. “She won’t tell me. She wishes to speak with you directly.”

I frowned exhaling a plume of smoke. “All right, put her on.” My heart was racing and I could feel a cold sweat upon the back of my neck. The morning’s beauty seemed to dissolve with the ugliness of the phone call.

“Well, hello my little warrior.”

It was exactly who I thought it was. The very voice sent shivers down my spine. I swallowed hard and replied. “Hello, Michelle.”

“Well, at least I get the courtesy of your remembering me. You, are a very hard woman to find these days. I do enjoy your new name. Rolls right off the tongue. Jennifer Ann Drake.” She said it slow, long, and sultry.

Always Michelle with her games. I was no longer a captive, and became impatient with her. “Cut the crap lady, what do you want?”

“Is that all the sympathy that I receive, after you have made me widow?”

I shot back quickly. “Bullshit! You’ve got money shooting out of your ass because me.”

“True. However, I currently have a problem with something that money cannot solve. I will be requiring your help.”

I let out a low laugh. “Sorry lady, but you are barking up the wrong tree. I ain’t doing no work for you.”

Michelle slightly sighed. “You will, once I tell you what I have on the table.”

I had the cigarette in my mouth, my right hand gripping the phone, and my left hand in my pocket. As I exhaled smoke again, I spoke. “Lady, you could offer me all the money in the world, and still would not work for you.”

“Because the details of this job are a tad bit sensitive, I cannot explain it over the phone. However, I will tell you, that if you do this job for me, I will tell you the whereabouts of your mother.”

In an instant, I almost stopped breathing. I could hear my heart pounding in my chest as my mouth slowly rolled open and the cigarette dropped to the ground. “You are lying.”

“What benefit would I gain from lying? Surely if you pulled through with the job, and I did not come through, obviously you would kill me as horrifically as you killed my husband. I assure you, your mother has been alive and well for the past eight years. Do this job for me and I will give you her location.”

I was at the point of no return. For some reason I knew I could trust her, but I couldn’t think twice about it either. If my mother was alive, I had to see her. “Okay. I’ll do your job.”

“Good.” I knew her mouth was twisting a smile. “Do you know of a quiet place where we can meet and go over the details?”

 

 

 


The Switchblade Mamma

Lillian Ann Cross was ordinary. She lived a simple life and she lived it day by day. Lillian woke and slept by the command of a clock's arms. In the blink of an eye, however, Lillian's life changed forever. It was a twist of fate that changed Lillian, for she came to know bloodshed and fighting as a new way of life. She walked a thin line between good and evil and trying to remind herself that she was not a bad person became her daily. In the blink of an eye, Lillian became The Switchblade Mamma.

  • ISBN: 9781370354221
  • Author: Lindsey Schussman
  • Published: 2016-10-08 06:35:15
  • Words: 154697
The Switchblade Mamma The Switchblade Mamma