MoboReader> Adventure > Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required

   Chapter 45

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 18309

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


I hit the ground with a cry, my body tumbling to the floor in a kicking, rattling heap. "Ugh." The pain is fresh once more, and I decide I ought to keep count of my injuries. Like in a scrapbook or something, so I can tell my kids about my reckless teenage years. I“m a walking PSA. If I had just resisted peer pressure and stayed off that roof. . ."Can I go home now?"

"Shut up," the drug guy says.

"Okay." No sass to be found here. When I blink up and the ringing clears from my ears, my vision is still splotched with black, blurred by a red and green afterimage. In a breath, my father coils into a ball and springs up from the ground. It happens so fast I think I imagine it, but he kicks up flecks of dirt into my eyes and I know I can“t at least be making that up. He curses under his breath and leaves me on the floor to squirm, my head tucked into my wrists. Flashes sweep the floor like lighting and I can“t help but duck.

"Fallout, sir?" the girl asks, staring at the torn patches of her sweater as if she can stitch them back together by looking at them. After one last tug on her part, the sleeve drooping over her wrists from tears at her shoulders slides free and plops to the floor. "Your health?"

"I“m fine," he says. His boots scuff the floor as he paces. Click. Click. Click. I narrow my eyes and watch as the long white scratches bobble up and down his shoes in the harsh light. He holds his head high and clasps his hands behind his back. My neck throbs. I have to tilt my head to watch my father move, though I“m learning to see better one-eyed. I lift my cuffed hands to rub my bleary eye. "Happens sometimes when you get up in age," he continues. "You would know."

"The first life cycle is always the worst," the drug guy says as the voices echo above our heads. They come in savage screams and hisses that make me chilly inside. Metal clangs on metal. Glass shatters. I hear at all as if were in a distant dream, murky from the space between the staircase and our camp. The drug guy whistles as he preens his fingers through his wispy black hair. When he tilts his head to smirk at my father, I notice a pink scar drawn on the underneath of his chin. His wrist flicks as if he is drawing a lance and offering to dual. "Health is always frail for a super. Madeline?"

The round-faced girl with the orange hair grunts. She gives up tugging her sweater and lets the crumpled pieces slide down her lanky arms, standing cross-legged between the men with a polite smile forced on her face. The skin around her eyes crinkles, and she looks like she“s in pain. "Yeah, yeah. Lots of dizzy spells and arthritis." With a toss of her hair, she sinks to the floor beside the drug guy. He“s propped up on his side, a fist punched on his hip. All the while my father continues to pace. The two supervillains glance up and shoot each other knowing smiles. They don“t even try to hide them from my father, much less care, their eyes half-lidded like lounging cats looking out a balcony window.

"You are so young," the drug guy says, tapping his temple with a spindly tan finger.

"Agreed," the girl says. When she rubs the corner of her lips her fingers come back bloody. She spits over her shoulder and I wince as a red glob splats the wall behind her.

My father punches his fists into the saggy pockets of his jacket and says nothing to his allies“ claims. Instead, he stands tall as they shift on their elbows to make themselves comfortable on the cold concrete. "Suggestions?"

The drug guy makes a “pfft“ sound from the side of his mouth, his eyes rolling back like cat-eye marbles. "You“re the leader, here." He throws up his arms and slams them on the floor, his back cricking into a perfect bow. "Your wish is my command, sir."

I watch my father“s jaw twitch, his balled hands trembling in his pockets. My eyes trace back toward the stairs. The cuffs leave bitter cold traces on my wrists, digging at the touch and cool against my forefinger when I rub them. Fallout paces in deliberate strides as he closes around the perimeter of the room.

Our prison is unimpressive. No bigger than a hallway foyer, no smaller than a walk-in closet. The floor is cold and dirty, the sheets of white wall slat oddly clean as if some poor person has to wipe them down every couple of days. I shift, my socked toes wriggling on the floor. There“s no escape here, even if the stairs are awful close, but I don“t want to give up hope. Not yet. My friends and I fought so hard to escape these people, I don“t want to believe it“s over just yet.

My father closes his eyes and bows his head. He looks older than the others somehow, his shoulders sagging as if they hold an invisible weight. Juniper said he was tortured. Gritting my teeth, I decide I hate myself. Hate that I care. But as I stifle a groan I can“t help wondering what happened.

The girl“s still bleeding from the edges of her mouth, blood and saliva mixed in goopy red strings down her chin. I drag myself to my knees, my body throbbing and creaking in a numb sort of protest. My chain clinks on the concrete, brushing against my chest with a harsh “thump.“

"Um." My voice is as sneery and punk-little-cool-twerp as ever. I hold my hands out, yanking my neck along with it. I bite the inside of my cheek to draw my attention away from the taut chain and its shiny little links hooked together like zipper teeth. Looking at it makes me feel like an animal. "Do you need any help? I“

ets of her hair tossed over my shoulder and cool against my neck. "Aye, sir." She pats me on the head and winks. "Call me in a couple of decades." I realize with a cold sort of shock she“s a lot older than me. Like sparkly-immortal-vampire older than me, I mean. She scampers up the stairs and I gawk as Kepler licks at my hands.

"How old is—"

"About three-hundred, give or take," Poison tells me over his father“s shoulder. He scoots across the floor and sidles next to me. My mind“s racing in hundreds of different directions. Three-hundred? I guess it“s all possible, rapid-healing and all. But I can“t imagine anyone living that long when I can barely dodge the attacks on my life day to day. I press my wrists flat against my chest in an awkward attempt at crossing my arms. "But she“s pretty cute, I“ll admit. Mean sometimes though."

I shoot him one long glance. My father“s glare makes him sweat. I“ve never seen a man look so murderous. "Poison, go away. I“ll deal with your disobedience later."

My brother“s jaw twitches. His hands tremble and I realize how similar he is to our dad. "If it wasn“t for me you“d—"

Fallout flashes a short knife from his belt that makes me shiver and Poison flinch. "Don“t test me," he says. His tone is low and I can“t help but hate him for threatening his son, even if that son is the worst kid in existence. "Go or I“ll clip your wings so you never leave home again."

Poison whimpers and scuttles away. Fallout shakes his head and I stare at the knife. My reflection is pale. Kepler whines and presses her nose into my hand, thumping her tail. But my shakes have started again. They rattle my chains and I look up at the ceiling. To calm myself, I breathe deep and listen to shouts and snappy comebacks from the girly voices above. Oddly familiar to me, but my brains are scrambled and all I can focus on is that knife.

"This will be hard on you, Angelos, but I have a request," my father says. My calves cramp from sitting on the floor so long, and my ankles throb. "You—"

"Take me home," I tell him. My body quivers with rage. He didn“t want me as a kid, and now he thinks he can use me for my powers. No way. He let my friends get hurt and I won“t forgive him. "Or drop me off at a bus station or something. I can“t help you—"

"Stop acting like a child!" He makes a grab for my collar and snatches the chain instead. I wheeze and make a sound between a cry and a squeak as he pulls. "This is serious. Starlight City is in danger. You“re a weapon, not a kid. Get that through your head and you won“t get hurt."

"You“re supposed to be my dad." I“m shivering, but I“m too weak to try to fight. No one should have to go through this. And he shouldn“t be allowed to hurt me. "I didn“t ask for this."

"Toughen up."

I“m tempted to tell him he“s more mood swingy than Jaylin, but that feels disrespectful. Then I remember I“m supposed to disrespect him. He waited for Heaven to bleed to death and tried to trade Gatsby for me with my mother. "You“re more mood swingy than Jay—"

He drops the chain and yanks me up by the collar. Kepler yelps. So do I. She tumbles out of my lap and I force my hands up against the chain to protect my face. Fallout raises his fist and I squeeze my eyes shut, scrounging to put up my aura and bracing for the blow.

"Fallout," The drug guy calls. "These girls! We can“t—"

"Drop him!" a girl shouts, and her voice makes my heart rocket through my throat. "Drop him right now, Fallout. He“s mine until you and Owl sign on it. Neutral guy. Orders."

I blink. In the dark, I see her round eyes, blazing gold like a wolf“s.

Jaylin“s come to save me.

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