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   Chapter 41

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 9433

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


"No." My fists tremble when I stand, my knuckles squeezed white. There“s a shackle around my ankle, keeping me attached to my chair by five or so inches of chain. I hardly feel it. Hardly care. The room spins and I gasp to breathe. "No, no. No, no, no!"

Owl“s office looks even blander now that I know the things she plots and schemes. The ugly beige of the stucco walls. The cheap brown furniture. The fax machine and the bird“s cage. She leans back in her plush rolly chair, her hands tucked behind her head.

"No?" Her smirk is lazy as she flicks her dagger between her fingers. Legs up on the desk, grinning like a cat over a mouse-trap, she reminds me of a devil "Troubleshoot me here. What“s wrong?"

"Wrong?" My voice is a strained whine. The inside of my throat is rubbed raw, every word a shock. Fear, exhaustion, and anger. The big three. All I can feel. I imagine them as slider boards. Slide one down and slide one up to create the corresponding emotion for the corresponding life-suck. Right now, the exhaustion slider sits at the middle of the board, the fear bounces from low to high, low to high, and anger sits cranked to the edge. I blink and yawn, but my heart pounds out of my chest and my now-full stomach smolders with a heat I“ve never felt before. "You can“t do that! And you can“t make me help you!"

Owl spins in her spinny chair, gliding over the carpet to the other desk. My cat ears twitch. The door is locked, her lasso sits on her hip, and if I made a run for it, I“d be dragging an uncomfortably heavy chair behind me. I press my hands into the table, the weight of Starlight on my shoulders. It is on my shoulders. Its fate anyway. "Sit down, boy."

"No." My teeth grind down, my breathing coming in harsh little puffs. Short inhales. Dizzying results. I squeeze the bridge of my nose and my jittery claws scratch my skin. Blood comes down in trickles and I hardly notice. She can“t do this. Everyone hyperbolizes how terrible Syndicate is and Owl, their leader, how they probably want to take over the world and stuff, but their evil was so abstract. Like peering through the pages of a comic book. I never saw anything so concrete. Actual plans. Actual money allotted to the fight. Actual possibility it all could work. And now, I can hardly see straight.

Owl glances back at me and combs her fingers through her glossy hair. When she smiles, her good eye is so black in the light it reminds me of one of Angel“s. I“m shivering all over, shaking. Her words are like a branding on my mind, searing, shooting pain rippling through every muscle in my body the more I think about them. What she plans to do. What she plans to use me to do. "I could strap you to that chair, Felix, but if you prefer to stand, it makes no difference to me." Her smile twists into a knowing smir

e one of the plan, the easy part. She needs to use me as a lure. Sweat breaks on my clean face. "Why now?"

"My followers are on the brink of mutiny and I need a victory. The time has never been better. These plans were made years ago, the projects tools to execute them."

"You didn“t seem to find Angel that useful. You“d think you were more interested in executing him." My ankle begins to throb.

"I thought I couldn“t control him. But I seem to be mistaken. I do have a way of controlling him. And the superhero."

"Yeah?" I try to hide the fear in my voice. The very air feels like it“s crushing me, heavy with traces of wood scent and ink, Owl“s perfume dizzying. "What“s that?"

She pokes my chest with the tip of her pen. I“m wearing a silk dress shirt, since Owl seems to like dressing fancy here, and she dots the fine material with ink. I stare down at the pen, her dove cooing and cooing. Nothing deserves to live in a cage. I feel a stab in my side.

"You, of course."

I forget about the lasso, the shackle, the locks on the door. I make run for it. It“s almost a reflexive thing, like my mind“s bumbled for too long and my body has decided to get me out. The chair drags, toppling over and cutting off escape when Owl throws her lasso. It catches my waist, target practice, and she yanks me back. The chair comes along for the ride. "Felix," Owl huffs. I force back frustrated tears, hands torn from my claws digging into my fists.

"I don“t want to be a part this," I tell her, beg her. "This is my city and they“re my friends."

Owl shrugs. "That“s too bad." She raises her voice just enough that she sounds threatening, but she“s still half-grinning. Toying with me. "I guess I wanted to feed you again, but if you won“t cooperate—"

"No!" I shake my head, palms raised. Oh, please forgive me Hev, Ang. "On second thought, that sounds like a plan."

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