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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25. DISGRACE

 

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR - DISGRACE

EVA

There was another sermon the next day. Something that looked bleak in the face of the previous day’s events.

The Priest – Will – stood at the front with folded hands, and like always the wives sat in the front most pew with Victor. Naomi looked like she didn’t want to sit next to him, a subtle scowl edging onto her lips, but she remained passive, like what was required of her. Kate didn’t even look in Victor’s direction, not after the Reckoning, not after everything, she wouldn’t dare.

The Priest was stern and his eyes were sheltered, not seeking out Eva’s in the crowded chapel like they often did.

Someone toed the line of what we have drawn here and she was punished accordingly for it. Women are made in God's image just as men are, they should not have to be punished. There are the bearers of Jesus’ children and they will be worshipped for that and for their bravery. But when they toe the line,  just like when anyone toes the line here, Hell rises up to greet them with folded arms.” Will paraded down the pews, his folded hands stuck to his front as he walked down the aisle and looked in the eyes of everyone except Eva.

“Leviticus 20:9, if anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death,” Will looked to Victor and stared into his eyes for seconds more than he had with the others, “The Bible upholds the truth and we therefore punish anyone who curses his Father – God and Victor – and his mother – the wives. Amy Charlton abused both with one action and it has never been more vital to protect what we hold dear. Without Victor and his Wives we would not be who we are today. That is a definite just like God is a definite in our lives.”

The spiel was separated by pregnant pauses, increasing the seriousness of Will’s tone. This was something that was directed to everyone, not just a man or a wife, and Eva didn’t know why the wives were so important to Victor but they were. Her life had been bought by her sacrifice and she had to live with it for as long as she could.

“I need to know, as the messenger of God, that you still believe in Him because any toeing of the drawn line will be seen as a direct act against God. Say ay with me.”

“Ay!” The chapel echoed and they sang like nothing had ever happened and the life of Amy Charlton hadn't been forfeited for something that knew next to nothing about.

Amy had only hurt Eva because Victor had made her hurt Rachel. Victor found out somehow. Victor put her on that crucifix and delivered the killing blow. It was all Victor’s fault. Everything was Victor’s fault and that made her life easier to bear.

The men filed out and then Victor and Naomi and then Kate and Melanie. Eva stayed behind because that was her normal routine. She stayed and she prayed and Will came over to ask what she was asking God. It had only happened once but it had quickly become routine. God that sounded like she had been there forever, and maybe she had been.

“What’s on your mind Eva?” Will asked from her right, his eyes looking into hers for the first time that day.

“How did the rules come to be?” she said impulsively because she had been asking God how he would make this happen to her, and then the panic set in that Will would take it the wrong way and tell Victor about her misgiving, “I mean our behaviour and society is framed from the Bible but who wrote those rules down, who decides when one of us toes or steps over the line you mentioned? How did this begin?”

Will sighed and put a hand on her knee, today’s outfit was black leggings and a purple jumper because the days were cold and the nights were even colder. Autumnal weather did not suit her well.

“I haven’t been here from the beginning,” Will admitted slowly as though he was scared that this admission had damned him in so many words, “But I do know that Victor and his family made this paradise come into fruition and they wrote all of the rules in a book they named The Second Homecoming.” Will stood and made his way to the altar, tugging a key out of his breast pocket and inserting it into a lock at the back.

Eva had to stand so that she could see it properly. There was a drawer at the back of the altar, only on the side that Will always stood at and hidden from public eye. Quickly he pulled out the drawer and a book that looked old, like an old century edition with only a green plain cover and swirls on the spine.

He let her come close enough to see what it exactly was. Eva considered this a privilege. She knew from the nature of the locked drawer that she wasn’t meant to see this and yet Will was allowing her to do so.

He flattened it out on the altar and showed the first page, The Second Homecoming it read in swirling calligraphy on the front page. There was the Able name written at the very bottom of the page too.

“It’s named as thus because the first Homecoming is the story of Noah’s Ark where God placed his wrath on Earth in the form of floods and the need to rescue two of every life form. The Second Homecoming is where he unleashed his wrath again for the seven deadly sins except his wrath is in the form of fear, the one thing that denies us the chance of reaching self-actualization.”

“The chance to reach our full potential,” Eva muttered because she had read that in her psychology books.

“Indeed,” Will said moving closer to her that their bodies were only a width apart from one another. Will turned the page to reveal scrawls of blocked text. “They poured over the Bible and selected where God referenced this Second Homecoming, adapting the rules from his very words.”

He pointed to where Bible Quotes were written in red and rules were written in black next to them. On one of the pages there was the rule of protecting the Wives, this was written in a slightly different hand to the first pages but it was mostly the same.

Beside it was the quote from Genesis, “hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."

He flipped more pages and it was mostly the same and Eva's unsaid question of how they truly came to be was left unanswered.

“How are we meant to deal with the death of someone though?” Eva asked in a quiet voice and Will put his hand over her heart.

“You feel that?” he asked as he listened to the beat of her heart underneath the fabric of her jumper.

Eva nodded.

Will smiled.

“Well that means that you are already dealing with it.”

“That doesn’t answer my question at all,” Eva huffed not saying anything in the way that Will still clung to her heart like a poor man.

“You sing and you sleep and you wake up and you plant flowers and you be a Wife. That is how you deal because the Compound wants it and demands it.” Will answered finally taking his hand off of her chest.

“But a girls throat was slit right in front of me, it invaded my dreams last night, how am I meant to stay sane with that on my brain?” Eva asked looking him straight in the eyes.

“That’s God telling you that you need to follow the rules and that’s what you do. You survive because you know God wanted it that way, you survive because you can and you will.” Will walked away from her and sat on the front most pew, where they were sat before. “We are God's children and we'll roar to the heavens against fear and tortured souls.”

The words were rehearsed, said a million times before to a million other people before her.

Eva found no comfort in them but she nodded all the same.

“God told me I was a woman and because of my closeness of being a woman I did not tell a soul of the act she did to me, not a soul,” she uttered because her defiance got the better of her.

Will did not look at her, his face grew cold as stone.

“Closeness to the women is advised against. You are a Wife Eva and you stick to the Wives, the women are not your shed neighbours anymore and just because they are the same gender as you it doesn’t mean that you are a Woman like them.” The words were twisted and backwards and ruthless and unlike the Will she had seen previously.

This was the Priest, Victor’s messenger of God. He was a double edged sword and coin with the power of Heaven and Hell at his fingertips and he didn’t even properly know that fact.

“You are right,” Eva whispered just because she had to and she became meek with a lowered head. This was the image Victor wanted of her, what his God wanted of her, and so she became it like she was adopting a second fake skin.

Will nodded and Eva went back to plant more flowers and tend to the shoots because that was all she was good for in the Compound.

 

RACHEL

She knew that Amy was dead when she didn’t hear the scratches on the door the next night and when no men came through the Warehouses with a woman held in their grips. She was numb for just a second and then the anger solidified.

She kicked and screamed and didn’t bother any sort of attempt to silence herself. The other women tried to quiet her with the gestures they all knew by now, the clicks of the tongue, the heavy sighs, the whistling.

“Shut up!” the warning came from one the guards and she did not.

They knew the drill if their voices were heard, beaten and taken straight to the Room and Victor was called.

She knew when the guards came to her shed and threatened to remove her tongue if she did not silence herself. Yet she kept going and when a guard backhanded her she kept going still.

Then she was dragged off to the Room and she found that she was not afraid of the chair in the corner, of the chains and of the box. Her anger had rid her of her fear.

Victor came with unbuttoned pants and Naomi on his arm, just wearing black leggings, socks and a cream bra. His anger rid him of his common sense and Rachel didn’t allow the fear to creep in even then.

“How dare you interrupt the time with my wife,” he said to her as she was manhandled from the guard’s hands and strapped into the chair. Still she did not shiver or cower or shut her lips. Fear would not run through her like it had before, she would not allow fear to disgrace Amy’s memory like that.

“You killed Amy,” she spat at him and when a second more passed, she physically spat into Victor’s face, the saliva hitting his nose and sliding down to his lips.

She smiled while his face morphed to resemble disgust.

“How dare you,” he seethed.

“How dare you,” Rachel agreed less to the killing of Amy than to her own behaviour.

Victor put the mouth guard in then and she still refused to be silent, screaming around the metal placed on her tongue.

Victor activated the remote and the chair and still she did not quieten. She refused to let Victor take her voice along with her dignity and her friend.

Victor hit the first shock and still she would not quiet, shaking and screaming still in anger.

She was a flame and he would not extinguish her.

He did so when his hands went to the switch at the bottom of the remote, the one that no one had ever touched, the one that was labelled four hundred and fifty volts, the killing blow.

Her brain turned to mush and she could not be loud then. He had silenced her, deprived the oxygen from her flame, and he did so by angry force.

 

NAOMI

“That’s the second killing in the same week,” she remarked, and she saw how angry Victor truly was because he was vibrating in place, the pants slipping down his hips as he did so. “They’ll get suspicious.”

“Put her in the freezer then.” Her husband said and Naomi flinched, the girl did not deserve that.

“Victor…” she wanted to protest otherwise, to say for him to risk it as long as the girl’s family would finally know what had happened to her.

“Don’t question me woman,” and she was silenced just as much as that poor girl had been.

He handed the remote to one of his henchmen and held out his hand for his wife, “Let’s go back to bed.”

Naomi was expected to bed her husband even though she had just watched him be a murderer again, to become a monster again, and she did so because she knew she had to.

But in her periphery she could see cold, cold eyes and a slack jaw from where the mouth guard finally came undone and the woman was allowed to speak even when her brain couldn’t form the words.

This was her life. This was her husband. This was what she was now, the accomplice of a murder because she had watched the ending of a girl’s life and had done nothing about it.

What a disgrace she had finally become.

 

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