The revenger, p.3
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       The Revenger, p.3

           Debra Anastasia
 
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  Toby could do nothing but stare as she stood behind the third man and twisted the metal pipe around his throat. He began turning blue as Savvy panted with obvious pleasure.

  “What the hell is going on?” Toby refused to be afraid of her, though the first man she’d punched was now crawling away, looking over his shoulder as if Savvy were a monster.

  “Go home, Tobias. Get out of here. You weren’t supposed to see this.” Savvy took quick breaths and her eyes stilled and came back into focus.

  “I’m not leaving without you,” he countered. “And you have a fucking lot of explaining to do. Can you drive?” He led her by the arm back to her car.

  She nodded and got in as Tobias went back to his motorcycle and started it. He swung an illegal U-turn and followed Savvy. As they drove, he ran through the events again in his head but couldn’t make any sense of them. At least she’s alive.

  Back at home, Savvy parked the car, but didn’t get out. Toby pulled off his helmet and set the kickstand. They both just sat in the driveway. He wanted to feel his heart slow to a more reasonable rate. He assumed Savvy was doing the same. Finally his anger set him in motion, and he pulled on her door until she unlocked it.

  “You promised me! You promised me you wouldn’t try to kill yourself again.” Toby squatted so he could be eye level with her.

  Savvy’s hands were covered in blood, and her smile brought her face to life in a way he hardly remembered. She looked like she used to when Sara walked into the room.

  “Savvy?” Toby waited until the euphoria passed and his sister’s haunted look returned.

  “I wasn’t trying to kill myself. Something’s wrong with me. I don’t know how I do those things, and I can’t even control it. But after? I get to feel them. Tonight I could smell her hair and feel his laughter. It was perfect. I want more.” Savvy clenched her fists and looked around as if scanning for someone to attack.

  Toby ran his hands down his face. She was explaining nothing.

  “Move over.” He stood up.

  “What? What do you mean?” She clenched the steering wheel again.

  “We’re going. Move to the passenger side.” Savvy let go and pulled her legs over the emergency brake, scooting across to give him control of the car.

  Toby eased his tall body into the driver’s seat.

  “Where are we going, Tobias? I need to go shower.” Savvy put her bloody hand on her window, leaving her handprint as a macabre request.

  He said nothing as he put the car in reverse.

  “Tobias?” Savvy began wringing her hands.

  Her brother didn’t respond. He just prayed Savvy didn’t know the way to the psychiatric hospital.

  *~*~*~*

  Light from the surveillance tape flickered across Silas Sagan’s chiseled face as he watched the same clip over and over in a loop.

  “Do we know who she is?”

  He seemed to be speaking to himself, but soon a voice answered him through the dark.

  “No, sir. We have not identified her yet,” reported Bugs, his tech wizard. The man had large eyes and a slender build, and he moved into the light as he spoke.

  “When she came in, she didn’t have her driver’s license or anything,” the bouncer from the club added, stepping forward.

  Silas picked up a pen and put it in his mouth. “She attacked a man in one of my places of business. I need to know where to send her thank-you card.” He smirked with his sarcasm.

  “Well, there’s a partial license plate number in that shot,” Bugs noted. “If it can be found, I’ll find it. I just need a bit more time.” The bouncer’s eyes widened and he took two steps away from Bugs. He seemed to know wrath was coming.

  Silas wrapped his fist around the pen, and his knuckles turned white. “I don’t like waiting. You have one week. If I don’t know who she is by then, you’ll both start losing things that are precious to you.”

  The bouncer and Bugs nodded and left the room quietly.

  Silas flicked on his desk light now that he was alone. The surveillance tape from behind his building once more gave its unblinking rendition of the woman beating the living shit out a man like he was made of toothpicks and paper.

  He stood, brushing a bit of imaginary lint from his suit, which was impeccable and perfectly tailored. He rubbed the hint of stylish stubble on his jaw. He was devastatingly good-looking and carried himself like he knew it, because he did. His green eyes continued watching the beating without flinching, and without any sympathy for the victim. He ran his finger down the grainy image of the woman the way he would touch a lover.

  “You will be mine, you vicious bitch.”

  He was strangely, irrationally drawn to her. He bit his lip as he watched her merciless, flawless actions. The blurry last image was his favorite. She glanced toward the camera, covered in blood and smiling like a kid on Christmas morning.

  Silas Sagan always got what he wanted. He fully expected the woman to be delivered to his door.

  “And soon.”

  Chapter 5

  Patience

  When Savvy saw the sign for the hospital, she curled her hands into fists. The dried blood made her skin feel tight. Tobias pulled her car up to the entrance and put it in park. She reached for the door handle, determined not to make this difficult for him. He was probably right. This was where she needed to be.

  “Wait, Savs. Wait. Don’t leave yet.” Tobias put his clean hand over hers.

  She wanted to smile so he would know he was doing the right thing, but she could only stare out the windshield. “If you think this is where I belong, I’ll go.” She shrugged.

  Tobias sighed. “It seemed like the right thing to do back at the house. Now, not so much. You need to help and tell me why you attacked those men.” He took his touch from her and placed his hands on the steering wheel.

  Savvy sorted through her jumbled thoughts and memories for something that would make sense. Finally, she spoke. “They were bad. I just had to find them.”

  Tobias shook his head, and she could tell her answer had solved nothing for him. That made two of them.

  “Well, we can’t just assume that people in that part of town deserve to die. Savvy, you know better than that. And how were you so strong? Are you on meth or something?” Tobias searched her face.

  “It wasn’t where they lived, it’s how they’ve lived that brought me to them.” Savvy’s eyebrows knit. “I don’t know how I know that. And I’m not strong now. I mean, I can’t do anything special. I don’t know how I could before.” She pulled on the door handle with all her might, but it stayed safely fixed to the car.

  Grabbing his hair with both hands, Tobias looked like he was past his breaking point. “You know, they still haven’t identified the substance from accident, have they?” he finally said. “Maybe it’s having an effect on you.”

  Savvy started at the mention of the source of her pain and waved a hand in his direction, trying to cut him off.

  “No, don’t brush it off. You know what the doctors said after the accident—the substance isn’t just unusual, it’s never been seen before. Ever. You might have absorbed some of it—”

  She slapped the dashboard, desperate to silence him. “I don’t want to bring up the accident! It has nothing to do with tonight.” She paused and lowered her voice. “Let’s get to the reason we’re here. You want to commit me, right? Okay, let’s go. Won’t it be easier not wondering if your sister is lying in the tub with a knife? Won’t it be easier not having to start small talk with someone who doesn’t actually want to be alive anymore?” Savvy opened her door and got out.

  Tobias ran around the car and stopped her. “Yes, okay? Yes, it would be easier not to worry about you. And I do think you need help.” His face went soft as he pulled her into a hug. “I know you lost your family. I am so, so sorry. If I could give my life for theirs? I would do it. I wouldn’t think twice. But I can’t. And you’re the only family I have. I need to protect you, and I don’t even know how
to do that anymore. I’m not totally sure what I’m protecting you from.”

  Savvy patted his back and spoke into his shirt. “You can’t live this life for me, Tobias. My ups and downs are just that: mine. I don’t want to hurt you anymore. I think you should either admit me here or move out of the house.”

  Tobias dropped his arms. “What? No. No! If those are my two choices then I pick here, this fucking place. I can’t come home to you dead. I can’t.”

  Savvy patted his chest. “I’m thankful for what you’ve done. You’re the best big brother a girl could have.”

  She stepped past him, trudged up the stairs, and pressed the buzzer on the door. Savvy hugged her arms as she waited. Then, just as a kind-looking woman opened the door, Tobias sprinted back up the stairs and hid Savvy’s hands in his own.

  “Don’t. Okay? We’ll figure it out. I don’t want you gone from my everyday.”

  Tobias thanked the lady, apologized for the inconvenience, and Savvy let him lead her back to the car.

  Once they’d pulled away, Tobias kept stealing glances at her, and she wondered if he now doubted his actions. Unsettled, she could not stop rubbing her arms.

  “Tell me what you’re thinking.” His face glowed green in the light of the car’s instruments. For a moment it reminded her of her victims’ red, glowing auras.

  Savvy shook her head. “You should have left me there. I’m not going to be able to stop.” She turned to look him in the eye. “I can’t stop; I crave it.”

  She looked out the window as the passing trees.

  In the nights after that, Tobias didn’t try to follow her anymore.

  *~*~*~*

  “Bugs, you’ve had ample time to find her. Tell me why I still don’t have what I want?” One week later, Silas had the surveillance tape playing on its loop again. He’d decided it was a lucky charm for him, a touchstone.

  “Sir, I have located at least three possibilities.” Bugs was clearly nervous now. “I’m going to take some men and go check them out.” He gripped his own wrist.

  “I don’t like waiting. I hate giving a second chance,” Silas noted. “Find her. You know what’s at stake for you.” He leaned back in his chair and watched the clip again. In the light thrown by the moon, he could see her profile. She would be perfect.

  “I’m on it right now, sir. I understand. I’m gone. Right now.” Bugs backed out the door and closed it behind him.

  Silas squinted at the closed door and clicked his tongue.

  Patience is a virtue.

  His gaze flickered back to his current favorite part. He loved it when she broke the fourth limb, totally oblivious to the man’s open-mouthed screams.

  But vengeance is a bitch.

  Chapter 6

  The Letter

  Denis wasn’t well liked at work. His mid-level job at the Packaging Packers didn’t challenge him, nor did he challenge it. His company packed packing materials into packages, and Denis was a numbers man. He kept track of how many boxes went into other boxes. After twelve years with the company, he had not had the joy of a raise. Younger, less-experienced employees were promoted past him and seemed to leave him behind easily on the corporate ladder.

  He grumbled loudly and often that he was the spine of the corporation and was terribly underappreciated. But every new recruit soon learned that Denis Motte’s best talent was looking busy while he accomplished nothing. Stacks of papers shifted from one side of his desk to the other. Reports were misfiled, refiled, and lost. His computer screen had more shortcut icons to game apps on it than a porcupine had quills.

  After coming back from a long bathroom break, where he’d thoughtlessly short-sheeted the next poor bastard who would sit down, Denis spotted a letter on his desk.

  It looked formal and important.

  I’ve been promoted!

  His head filled with dreams as his chubby fingers tore into the envelope’s secrets.

  Fuck this cubicle! I’m getting an office, with a door.

  He unfolded the expensive paper to find a short letter:

  Salutations, Denis Motte,

  This correspondence is to notify you of a slight change in your job description. We ask that our employees keep up their spirits in this hard time. To promote financial efficiency, Packaging Packers is reducing the paid hours of some of our employees. Your job function in the Department of Accounting will now be a part-time position, and 12 hours a week have been allotted for you to complete your job requirements. Please feel free to volunteer any extra needed hours. Thank you for your cooperation.

  Sincerely,

  Jeff Cordly

  Vice President, Personnel

  His boss’s boss had emasculated him. Denis’s new paycheck would be less than half his current one. He curled the paper into a ball and tossed it into his trashcan.

  After a quick survey of his cube mates, Denis realized he was the only one affected in his department. After spreading his inquisition wider, he learned he was the only one on his floor with new hours.

  Denis was furious. If he had been a man, a real man, he would have stomped into a bigwig’s office and demanded his hours back, or threatened to quit at the very least. But Denis wasn’t a real man.

  Hours later, as he pulled open his front door in the worst mood of his life, his hard, angry eyes landed on the sad slip of a woman standing in front of him with his robe in her hands and her head down.

  Mrs. Betty Motte had begun receiving beatings soon after her honeymoon with Denis ten years ago. She used to fight back, she used to speak up, but as his fists and kicks continually found their mark, eventually she lost her volume.

  He told himself she probably enjoyed it in her own way now. But even if she didn’t, he always had a reason when he got angry with her. She missed the easy things. He often told her that if she were just a little faster, more thoughtful, he would be able to sit and enjoy his time at home.

  Tonight he stood in the doorway breathing heavily, his eyes darting around the house to find something out of place. Betty’s eyes began darting too, and he bet she was going through her list of daily chores. After a moment her face froze, and she glanced at the end table.

  She forgot to dust! “You worthless whore. I work all damn day, and you sit here on your fat ass. You’re probably fucking one of the neighbors. Or the UPS man. That’s why you don’t have time for the dusting.” He slapped her hard, twice.

  Betty knew better than to cover her face, which just made him angrier. “Oh God,” she managed, her eyes half open. “If I tell you I’m not, you’ll say I’m lying. If I tell you I’m sorry, you’ll think I did.”

  The letter on Denis’s desk earlier in the day had already answered all of his questions for the evening, but of course Betty didn’t know that.

  “Pick one.” Only here did he feel powerful. Her fear made him strong. Denis stood, his eyes bugging out, until she answered.

  She hazarded a guess at what he might want to hear. “I’m sorry, honey. I love you. You work so har—”

  Her words were stolen as he punched her in the stomach. Twice. And then he really got going. By the time he tired, Betty had lost the strength to try to crawl away.

  “Quit your fucking moaning. You’re pissing me off.” Denis grabbed a pack of cigarettes from the foyer table and slammed out his front door.

  The air was cool, but he didn’t want to go back in for his jacket.

  “Fucking bitch,” he mumbled as he lit his smoke. The first drag was long and satisfying. He looked up at the stars. It was a gorgeous night.

  By the time he heard the high heels clacking on the cement sidewalk, the woman wearing them was a stone’s throw away. He’d forgotten to turn on his porch light in his haste to taste nicotine on the back of his tongue. So he couldn’t make out her face.

  “You need directions or something?” Denis liked her silhouette. She had some meat on her bones, not like his skinny-ass wife.

  She walked closer. “Can I bum one?”

  D
enis fumbled as he tried to be suave. The woman smelled like a real woman should.

  “Here you go.” He held one out to her.

  Instead of taking it in her hand, she leaned down and wrapped her lips around it.

  Dumbfounded, his dick hardened. He managed to apply the flame to the business end—of the cigarette.

  Rather than inhaling, like she should have, the woman pulled the cigarette out of her mouth and held it while it glowed. “Your aura is so red, it looks like fresh blood,” she told him. “Have you been a bad boy recently? Don’t lie.” She twirled the cigarette as the orange tip got longer.

  Christ, I haven’t been hit on in forever. If this chick doesn’t want a piece of me, I’ll bend Betty over the couch when I get inside.

  “I’ve been a very bad boy.” He tried to be sexy, and the woman started smiling.

  Her teeth were so white they almost glowed in the dark.

  “I know you have, asshole.”

  She grabbed the back of his neck so fast, he couldn’t even move his hands to defend himself. The cigarette he had so thoughtfully given her was now inches from his left eyeball.

  “I feel like you need things in twos, douche bucket.”

  His screams lit up the night as she pressed the red-hot embers into his eyelid. He lashed out, but it felt like he was hitting a tank instead of a woman. She pulled the burning stick back and gave his right eyelid the same treatment.

  Denis fell to his knees, wondering if Betty was watching from inside. He no longer felt powerful at all.

  Chapter 7

  Daytime Hunting

  It turned out that people with red auras weren’t that common, which was good for society as a whole, but bad for Savvy. Over the last month she had begun to see other colors surrounding people as well, but nothing called to her like red. Beating the ever-living shit out of scumbags was now her addiction, and the dwindling supply forced her to take more chances, get farther away from her home. The aura had to be red—she’d learned that the hard way. Savvy had stopped for an orange aura a couple nights ago and received a shock when she realized mid-fight that she wasn’t quite as strong. She’d barely escaped, and now she knew: she could only partake in her new pastime when faced with a true villain, the redder the better.

 
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