Summer Kids

When Lucas Tweedle, leader of Left Hand Private Investigators, receives a box containing a film he hasn't seen in years, he is prompted on a road trip across miles and years. He has to save Eva Grey, the only girl that ever loved his teenage self.
She may be in the clutches of the Nemesis Crime Ring but the memories of the summer after college graduation haunt the both of them.

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6. DELIRIUM

 

CHAPTER FIVE - DELIRIUM

EVA     

The marriage wasn’t official, so at least there was that. She was the wife to Victor Able but it was only for show, only while she was there.

At least she didn’t have to worry about divorce and the backlash when she got out of there. She would get out of there because if she could get out of the box then she could get out of the Crime Ring.

“It gets easier,” a voice caused Eva to turn, the dress catching under the cream pumps that she wore. The woman whose voice it was wore a black dress, something long like Eva’s dress, and she had two other girls behind her both wearing grey.

“What gets easier?” Eva asked watching as the three women walked closer to her.

“Everything, all of this,” one of the girls in grey took over and ignored the look that the woman in black shot her way.

“Come,” the woman in black said instead and Eva was ushered out a side door of the chapel and up some stairs, stairs rickety and thin enough that Eva had to hold her dress up to prevent herself from face planting into the wood.

The women opened a door into what looked like an attic, a large enough attic that covered what must have been the whole of the chapel. There were four single beds near the back, three of them having a different hand knitted blanket thrown over them. They all looked slept in to some degree except the one furthest away from the stained glass window to the right and this one didn’t have a blanket on it.

Eva could tell that this was where these women slept and the new bed was where she would sleep from then on.

“Who are you?” Eva asked politely, folding her hands over one another nervously.

“Who are you?” one of them retorted rudely, this woman wore grey and her black hair coiled into a tight bun.

“Melanie,” the woman in black reprimanded, clicking her tongue against her lips as she made her way to the bed nearest to the window. This bed had a blue knitted blanket over it and there was a flower pot filled with balls of yarn and knitting needles, instead of flowers next to the bed.

Melanie didn’t say anything, she just huffed and made her way to the bed next to the other woman. The third woman, the second wearing grey, didn’t meet her eyes and followed in the others examples.

“We’re Victor’s wives,” the woman in black replied to Eva’s question, “Now answer our question.”

Melanie looked irritated at the use of ‘our’ but she said nothing.

“Eva Grey,” she said but did not move, these women looked intimidating and she did not want to cross them, “Did you say wives?”

“Naomi is the only one actually married to him, but yeah we’re all technically his wives.” Melanie was quick to spit out her words and the woman in black sighed. Eva took her to be Naomi.

“It’s why Naomi wears black because apparently seeing her husband marry other women is something to mourn over, we wear grey because white is for the new wife and black is for the original wife.” Melanie continued and looked at Eva disdainfully.

“I think she gets it Melanie,” Naomi muttered and rubbed her forehead with her hands, “I’m obviously Naomi Able, the first wife, Melanie was the second wife and Kate was the third. You make up the fourth which is unusual because Victor only told me it was going to be three for the holy trinity.” Naomi seemed utterly annoyed and Eva couldn’t blame her, it was technically infidelity to have more than one wife yet Naomi had to deal with it. Victor wasn’t the kind of man to let someone survive if they didn’t agree with him.

Kate was the woman in grey who hadn’t spoken to her. She seemed soaked in the thick ways of the Ring, eyes always staying to the ground unless she was spoken to, hands folded behind her back or in prayer, she seemed exactly what Victor wanted in one of his victims – or should she say survivors.

“There’s rules here for example, Victor likes hair to be worn long, it must only be tied up during work or if Victor tells you to. There’s no makeup allowed. There’s uniforms prescribed to us which are colours, you can wear anything white, black, grey or purple. For you white and purple are preferred until Victor tells you otherwise. You live here from now on and tomorrow night Victor will collect you for the Christening where he will tell you more about your life as a Wife.” Naomi listed the rules like they were all back in school.

“You follow them or you get put on the Rack, it’s how it works,” Melanie stated as she worked to rid all of the bobby pins from her hair, unravelling the tight bun that all of the wives except her had.

“What’s the Rack?”

“None of us have been put on it so you probably won’t but it’s the punishment that is prescribed to anyone in the Ring who steps out of line or betrays the Ring. The punishment is decided by Victor himself or the Council.” Naomi shut her lips and then decided to add something, opening her lips just a little at the side to let air escaped as she muttered, “It’s crude and unnecessary but it’s what Victor demands.”

Eva didn’t like the sound of that. But at least she knew what the Council was. They had visited her multiple times when she had been in the Warehouse – the place where the Ring kept all of their captives – and when she had been in the box. They were a group of religious hacks, people who wore white collars despite not being priests of any sort and crosses on their backs, printed onto their denim jackets that they wore come rain or shine.

They preached Bible teachings at you until you repented the sins you had committed. Victor had been there several times when the Council had come to see her but he hadn’t went along with them, just folded his hands into a prayer and kept his head elevated to the sky. She had called him a coward twice for that action and had been put back into the box for it.

“Let’s hope you don’t step out of line and become the first wife to be put there,” Melanie muttered as she toed off her shoes, leaning back onto her bed.

Naomi ignored the comment and up took a set of knitting needles from the flower pot. She picked a light blue fabric, something that looked soft and durable, and started to knit, her fingers whirring. “Explore, you’ll be here for a while,” she called to Eva as she noticed her staring.

Shaking off the shock, Eva made her way to the bed that would be hers and toed off the shoes. Feeling the cold wooden floor against her bare feet made her relish in the feeling of clean floors without hay or darkness.

The attic, or the wives quarters, had a kitchen and a bathroom off to the side. The bathroom had one room with a bathtub, sink and toilet, and a separate little cubicle with a bench and basin in. This looked like it wasn’t used for cleaning but for making, as the bench was littered with bottles and chemistry beakers. The door wasn’t locked but it did have a chain on it suggesting that it could be.

The kitchen was spacious and simple, pots and pans stacked in a corner. She thought that it smelled like bread but she could have imagined it.

When she made her way back into the larger room she found Kate asleep in her bed, Melanie flat on her back with head phones in her ears and Naomi still knitting. On the bed that would be hers there were a set of pyjamas, a white camisole and purple silk bottoms.

Just seeing other clothes made Eva want to get the dress off her skin as quick as possible. She felt dirty and wrong, like the white dress was made of fluttering butterflies crawling across her skin. It made her feel ugly even though she should have been beautiful.

Her fingers came to the corset, of which she had helped tie that morning, but they were fumbling too much, catching on the slick feeling of ribbon.

“Here let me help you,” Naomi muttered and put down the needles in favour of stepping closer.

The feeling of another woman behind her was strange but the fingers were quick and adept as they untied the corset. They did not touch the skin of her back when they untied and she just stepped back, making her way back to her bed.

“Thank you.”

“No problem, I made it once so I should be the best one to handle it.” The sad, small smile that Naomi had towards the dress was evident and it made Eva want to gasp.

But she didn’t.

“How…?” Eva wanted to ask how Naomi survived with Victor as a husband, or how she dealt with his other wives, or how it had come about that she had to make the dress that would become the wedding dress of his future wives.

But the words died. The loft went swollen with silence. Eva’s lips remained locked with her nervousness. She didn’t know these women and it was her first day officially out of the box for good.

She didn’t want to risk anything.

She put on the pyjamas like someone used with changing in front of others and covered herself in the staunchly pressed white sheets, at least there were two pillows to stop her from feeling like she was sinking more than she already was.

From this vantage point she could see more flowerpots by Kate’s and Melanie’s beds. Kate, who slept next to her, had a flowerpot full of books, and Melanie’s was filled with sheet music and a flute. It was the only part of the room that looked like the women’s and the lack of anything beside Eva’s made her stomach turn.

She was a ghost here, a ghost wife waiting to live or die, whichever came first.

It was only as she concentrated on herself again that she realised that Kate’s eyes were open, looking at her. “Don’t let the nightmares bite,” she whispered, an exhale barely conveying words.

Eva felt herself nod because her body couldn’t find any other response. But as soon as the words were out, Kate was turning to face the other way and Eva could just see her back still dressed in the grey dress.

But nightmares did bite Eva, they seemed to always do those days. They bit her in such a way that she remembered the first night she had spent in the warehouse.

She was in a car and she was tied up. Her head felt like it was made of cotton balls and her mouth had a brick in it instead of a tongue. Then the car was stopping, someone got out and the doors slammed louder than they should have.

They pulled her out without mercy and her head rolled. She didn’t have enough energy to make her eyes work but she saw passing lights and faint bodies. Then she was in a warehouse, something that may have been a barn in another life. This was because it was separated in cattle like sections, a gate at the front with bars at the top for windows. They tossed her into one of these sections, which was a thin rectangle of partitioned walls, with a ground covered in decaying hay and a mattress. At least the mattress had a blanket on, something fluffy like a throw over and purple.

They tucked her in.

She thought it was delirium. A night of too much drinking. Or a night where she had got hit by a car. She couldn’t decide which one.

But it wasn’t delirium. She woke up the next morning still there and this time when they dragged her out she could see dirty female faces peering through the bars of the cattle rooms, desperate with white knuckled grips and pitying eyes.

She didn’t know what they were pitying. That was until she went into the box and she knew that what they were pitying. They pitied the situation, not their situation as a whole but specifically her situation.

She kept thinking that she would wake up and emerge from the delirium. But every night she was wrong. Every morning dawned a new terror and it proved her wrong in the worst ways that she could picture.

 

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