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   Chapter 22

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 11348

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


Angelos.

I almost smile. There“s something Poison and his friend didn“t bank on, and that is that I“ve been dealt a lot more pain than they can keep up giving.

And now I“m flying. Figuratively, that is. I wriggled out of the ropes around my feet, but my wings are still all tied up like they“ve been gift wrapped. The ropes dig into all the tender nerves and muscles and make struggling pretty painful, but a guy“s gotta do what a guy“s gotta do.

"Hey!" Poison calls. Black splotches well up in my eye as I run, blinding me, and my head pounds like the inside is padded with cotton balls. The ground rushes up to meet my feet, my body swaying like I“m trapped inside a disco ball. Someone make it stop.

I tell myself to keep moving, even though each breath makes my lungs swell up and my chest feel like it will explode. I can hardly keep from toppling over. All I see are stars.

Though I don“t know where I“m going, I manage to stay footed, moving forward. I can feel the asphalt digging in under my socks and the coolness of the shady sky. If I keep moving, then surely I can get away. I can find a way into a, I don“t know, forest or something. I can lose Poison and crew, rest up, and find somewhere to phone home. Then I can continue searching for Gats and right now, that“s all that matters.

I wriggle my fingers to make sure they don“t go numb. Poison may suck at rope tying, but the handcuffs hold up, no matter how hard I flex and struggle. My wrists ache, but that can only be summed up as a dumb thing to worry about as I flee vicious, soulless captors who like seeing me writhe on the ground in agony.

Scary, much?

Twilight is dark now, a few early stars showing in the sky. It was noon when Poison and Company captured me. Time sure flies when you“re trying to escape rope ties on the floor of someone“s beige Impala.

"You." Poison speaks low and measured on my blind side. I nearly jump. This can“t be happening. It can“t be. I never heard his footsteps. He snatches my elbow and I stumble, and f he tugged me any harder, my arm would pop out of my socket. Oh, no. I cry out. Just when I had a chance. Just when I almost made it. "What am I going to have to do to you to make you play along?"

Pretty much nothing. Bile rises in my throat and I twist and struggle to get out of his grasp. I hate him. I mean, no kidding. Hate that he“s supposed to be my brother, that he wants Heaven so badly and thinks of her as a thing. I tremble. The black spots move like inkblots in a Rorschach test. Out of the corner of my eye, I see bashed-in windows of a peeling mini mall“s front, the brick parts crusted with mold and the vinyl parts cracked, yellow, stringy and dry. My heart beats so fast I can feel it in my fingertips. How can he be my brother? I take deep breaths and try not to explode. "I can“t help you," I say simply, but it comes out something like, "Ay ant elp oo" from behind the folds of the handkerchief.

Poison bristles beside me, quivering. I can tell he wants to hurt me, but even he knows he already did and it didn“t help much. His friend appears at his side like a loyal puppy. I have to twist my head to see him and his pale, sweaty face. I blink. He looks the way I feel.

I heard him existential crisising all over the front seat, panickedly mumbling string after string of ethical questions about the nature of superheroes and supervill

gs she did in the last sentence. I don“t want to. I don“t want to even think about it.

I cross my arms glumly in the passenger seat. We“re at a gas station, and some time has passed since we left. Parked outside, Cat talks on a payphone. "Hey, Heaven!" she calls.

"Yeah?" I hop out of the door and almost hit the pavement. My voice is so shot each time I speak I can feel a spark of pain pass from my throat to the inside of my head. I hobble over, glancing over my shoulder.

"Uh-huh, okay, yeah, Old Newport, the Craptorium, got it." She looks up, her hand over the receiver. Her smile is toothy and sweet. "Hey, hon, could you scream for me?"

Cold wind gives me goosebumps. I never changed my shirt after the Syndicate henchmen kidnapped Gats, so the black WWE tee is blood soaked and tattered at the back, allowing the wind to blow the strips this way and that. "No—Ow!"

Cat reaches up and yanks my hair so hard and so suddenly I can“t help my cry. I drop as soon as she lets go. "Proof enough?" she asks. "Great, great old buddy. And yes, I have been reading Machiavelli again. Shut up, you do too. I mean, we have to follow some philosophy, and I guess it“s good we don“t follow Kant. Oh, Lord! Ends-in-themselves. We“d be screwed."

Kant. The guy who devised Kantian ethics, basically saying we should always follow certain moral rules no matter what, like, you know, Batman and Spider-man and a bunch of other "mans" do. I find it so weird Cat would know anything at all about that.

"Yeah-huh. Might be five, six hours? Would you know about cat-guy by any chance?" My chest tightens, but I don“t interfere. "Yeah-huh, Syndy got its hands on him. What! Ah, darn. Well, make a call. Another call. If you do want this to work, then you“ll do as I say. Capiche?"

I sigh and listen in, feeding Cat quarters whenever she asks. "Alright." She slams the phone back on the hook, nearly crushing it in her hands. I can“t take my eyes off her. She“s kind of entertaining when she isn“t trying to kill you. She whirls around and braces the back of her head in her hands, giving me a look that says “See? I“m a genius.“ "We have boys to save."

And we would get back to the car if we didn“t hear screaming.

***

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone!

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