MoboReader> Adventure > Damsel[ed] Some Rescue Required

   Chapter 43

Damsel[ed] Some Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 17043

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


Jaylin.

I toss the bottle over my shoulder and duck.

"Huh?" the hero squeaks, but her hands snap out in front of her like a baseball catcher“s and the bottle lands. Heaven groans on the table, her fingers twitching. The woman swings for me. I duck her blade and ball myself low, tumbling under her couch. In this boring beige room with its boring beige furniture, that“s the best I can think of doing. My ears ring from the ticking of the clock and my nose crinkles from the smell of tarter sauce.

"Do you have a knife?" I ask the girl, dodging the cracks of the woman“s whip. Here, I find my size a boon instead of bane, though I don“t find myself trapped under couches very often. The woman curses and I roll, coarse carpet itching where I land. Bits of cracker and plastic dig into my exposed skin. The smell of unwashed socks and foot cream sting my nose. I breathe in deep. It“s great to smell something, even something terrible, just to reassure myself I“m alive.

"Uh," the girl says, "I have a pocket knife, for cutting through ropes and stuff."

The woman drops to her hands and knees in front of the couch. I squirm back, wriggling on my knees. The dark of the woman“s eyes sear into mine, a smirk twitching on her saggy lips. My heart slams against my chest. "Let me out!" it seems to cry as I brush a spider off my shoulder. "I never signed up for this!" Her blade flashes and I pull back, searching over her shoulder and silently begging for the girl to see me. I could use backup right now.

"It“s been a long time since I“ve killed a super," Maggie says with a low chuckle. As I scramble deeper down in my huddle, strands of my hair catch a bar below the couch and I force back a yelp. It tears at my scalp as she touches the blade to the underneath of my chin. The touch is cool and goosebumps ripple down my arms. All I can I think about is Margot Mclaren, Mayor Curtis“s political opponent. They ran against each other for mayor. During the election, she was found dead under her bed. Someone laced her from head to toe in cuts drawn up so precisely she felt nothing when she died. Her lover nearly died too from a heart attack. He had left the room for a bottle of champagne and returned to find the lamb“s wool sheets bled red and his lover dead. Maggie the Reaper almost choked on laughter when she told me the details over coffee.

"He didn“t die," she said, flipping open a soggy cigarette carton. She lit up and offered me a cig, and I had to take my mask off to accept. Jacob never taught me how to smoke, but he wouldn“t have minded too much under the circumstances. The rules are simple. If a villain offers you a cigarette, you take it. Otherwise, you offend their hospitality, and you never offend a villain“s hospitality. I can remember few details from Maggie“s story. I had to focus on keeping my expression cool as I gagged on the smoke. "He was a super. Can you imagine? Mclaren, the one preaching the dangers of “unchecked“ supers had one for a plaything. I almost wish I hadn“t killed the woman so she could see for herself. But I s“pose it doesn“t matter, does it? I had his powers harvested. The police are still scratching their heads. Since they can“t technically fault Liz Curtis for the deaths, she“s still in the running. Fallout owes me one, Cleo? Clementia? Ah, Catalyst. You tell Jacob if he wants my services, it“ll cost double Fallout“s best offer."

I force the same cool look I gave her all those years ago, back then trying not gag on smoke, now trying not to show her my fear. The woman tilts her head back, watery eyes flashing like warning lights. Her fists clench and unclench around her weapons. Smooth leather and chipped wood. My stomach plunges and I feel awful sick like I could just throw up. "What“s the formal way again, dearie? A stab to the heart? That“ll end it nice and quick."

I raise an eyebrow. "You want to end it quick?" I force my mouth to arc into a smile. Jacob told me there are ways to kill supers, even ones with rapid healing, the lot of us stronger ones. "No, ma“am. If I were you I“d gut me. Yank out all my veins and organs and let me die over and over again."

The woman shakes her head, her smirk curling in the opposite direction, something small and sad. In the middle of our battle to the death, she scolds me like a child. Her fingers tense around her weapons and I know she wants to crook them at me."You mustn“t speak of that. Owl“s son—"

I hear the girl“s cry before I see it coming. I mentally smack myself for being caught so unaware. "Leave her alone!" the little hero shouts, and the lounge chair comes crashing down, right over Maggie“s back. I must“ve distracted the villain so well she ignored the girl. Or maybe she decided anyone clad in silver glitter wasn“t a threat. Either way, I catch a sight of the chair leg before I hear the sickening snap of bone in the woman“s back. She makes a horrible cry and I dart out from under the couch. Strands of hair yank out, pulled by the horizontal bar. Smarting pain singed up and down my scalp. The girl glances at me and unbuckles her cape, h

you."

I clench my hand around the cold leather. It feels good to hold a weapon, even something as cruel and foreign as a whip. The pony-tailed girl stares glumly at her hands, probably sad she didn“t get a weapon. I watch Hev roll the short-handle of the sickle in her hand and her smile fades. She“s Starlight“s knight in purple armor. Somehow, she seems too dignified to fight with something so barbaric. Still, she runs her fingers down the notches and taps the handle to her hip.

"Where“s Gatsby and Angelos?"

I feel the panic fire up inside me again. "Gatsby should be on his way and Angelos is in the basement."

She asks no questions, and that“s what I like about her, all business. Her eyes still glow green when she levels her gaze with mine. "We can“t waste any time then. Lead the way, Jaylin."

Jaylin. She called me by name. My chest tightens but I shake my head to gain my bearings. I have to betray her if ever I want to go home...

I grunt to myself. Angel first. "Follow me then, girlies." I glance back at Maggie, heaped on the floor like a cardigan-wearing slug, then take the door by the knob. I expect it to be jammed, but the hinges open smoothly. The smell of cooked meat wafts toward me even stronger than it did outside.

"Oh, and Jay?" I spin around. Heaven scratches the back of her neck then grins weakly. She holds out her free fist. I almost flinch, but it“s low. I don“t know what she wants, and I stare at it awkwardly, mind churning to understand the alien gesture. "Thanks for saving me."

Load, cock, and fire. The words leave my mouth before I even think them through. "You begged me, princess, and your screams were awful cute. I guess I had to save a damsel in distress because I“m a good guy, now—"

She snatches my free hand shutting me up as I feel her pulse against mine. I watch her curl my fingers into a fist, tapping it lightly to hers. The blonde superhero girl slides into our huddle and bumps her fist too. Heaven“s glowing eyes never leave mine. It makes me nervous.

"Maybe Angel isn“t that wrong about you," she says, but then she shakes her head as if banishing the idea. I grind my teeth. "Or maybe that“s just the aura talking. It keeps giving me weird pictures of, like, meadows and stuff. But I haven“t had my powers in so long and..." She draws in a sharp, sudden breath. Her smile turns wicked. "I want to kick Poison“s butt. And Fallout“s. And Owl“s. They touched Angel and Gats, and I want to make sure they never ever hurt them again. You with me on that?"

"With you on that." I tap my foot, stomach rumbling. I want to go, but what she says sounds important and I“m still numb that she“s so alive and so well.

"Good." She makes a fist again, and I“ve never seen her so energized and so cheesy. Her powers have come back, that“s why, I suppose. It“s almost contagious. But when I look into her eyes, I see them flash, a little like a cornered animal“s. Is it fear? Or is sadness? I want to tell her everything will be alright and that she“s the bravest person I know, but then I remember I“m supposed to hate her. My head spins, and everything I think I know seems to be going round and round with it. "All for one," Heaven starts, tossing her head back to shake a bloody curl out of her face.

"And one for all," the little hero finishes, but I can“t take it. I bolt for Angel and leave it up to them to follow me.

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