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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21. RECKONING

 

CHAPTER TWENTY - RECKONING

EVA

It was late afternoon when the Priest came out of the chapel with a bell in his hands, why he didn’t ring the bells of the chapel was one thing, but he came out with a bell that would be used in schools to call the kids to the playground.

He came to her first and she straightened, working the knots from her back and legs, “What’s the bell for?” she asked as he rang it loud and clear across the field.

“There’s a Reckoning, you need to stay here,” his voice was grave and tense, “The other Wives should be coming soon, that was the first place I went.”

He stalked off, not giving her more of an explanation more than that. He walked off towards the Warehouses and she was left with dirty hands and a crate with a single flower left.

She planted the final flower, letting the dusty pink petals soothe her for her ignorance and she waited for the other wives to come, resolute in her conformity.

She didn’t want to conform but she didn’t know what would happen if she didn’t and that was the thing that got her. Every time she had thought about going against Victor’s threats she had always known what the consequences would be, but this time she was completely blind.

She washed her hands in the left over water from the watering can and relished in the numbness. Over the setting horizon she saw Kate, Naomi and Melanie walking towards her, coming from the Wives Quarters in the Chapel.

She waved her numbed hands at them as they came close enough to her. “I would shake your hand or something but I’d rather not pass on the coldness.” This humorous sass was what Melanie thrived on and it was the quickest way for her to initiate a response from the otherwise still cold girl.

Melanie was getting there but the progress was slow, slow was better than nothing however.

“I wouldn’t want to hold your hand anyway,” Melanie cracked and watched as Eva wiped her wet hands onto the fold of her pale purple dress. Eva liked purple, more than the white, and she wanted to keep Victor on his good side in the first week of her being a wife.

The other wives smiled at the two girls getting along but they were forced, almost as though the thought of the Reckoning had put them off. “What’s a Reckoning?”

“It’s the religious ceremony for the Rack,” Kate began.

“The Rack is punishment for anyone who has defied Victor’s rule, basically the Reckoning is the public display of the Rack for whoever person who has done that, usually there’s some caution before the bell tolls but this time…” Naomi couldn’t finish the sentence.

A man approached them then, well not approaching them but going past them to the centre of the field where Eva hadn’t gotten to with flowers yet. He nodded at the wives but in his hands was something much more sinister; a crucifix.

“Is that normal?” Eva asked nearly lost for proper words.

Naomi just nodded. The words had been robbed from her too.

The light faded and more people joined them, drawn to the field with the crucifix by Will’s toll of the bell. Soon the field was full with every man that was a part of the Compound, hundreds of faces that Eva had never met or seen before. There was a gap, just big enough to fit two people, leading all the way from the Warehouses all the way to the crucifix. Murmurs rose from the group as they wondered who the next victim would be to land on the crucifix.

Then even the wind stilled and Victor came baring his victim.

This was a woman Eva recognised, the exact woman who had cornered her in the Warehouses and held her elbow to her throat, the mark still being on her collarbone after days of it being put there. Her hand itched to go to the mark but she stared at the woman’s eyes and they were already dead.

Deadened with fear.

The wind didn’t dare move as the Priest followed after the pair, the bell still tolling. Victor’s arm was harsh against the woman’s arm, dragging her through the deadened grass as though he was desperate to get her to the crucifix. The Priest dropped his bell as soon as the pair reached the wooden cross, and he produced three lengths of rope. The woman was positioned against the wood and both wrists and her feet were tied to the wood.

“Please, Mr. Able, please, please,” the woman begged, the tears flowing down her cheeks even though she knew what her fate would most likely be.

“There is no time for begging, the crime has already been committed,” Victor uttered, turning his back to the woman as she cried, the tears flowing like rain.

“I repent, please Mr. Able, I will do anything but this, anything Mr. Able,” the woman was referring to becoming a wife, begging for the chance to upgrade and punish herself in that way instead.

Victor appeared physically offended by this and produced another length of rope from his own pockets. First he slapped the already reddened cheeks of the woman, watching as she cowered to the side away from his hands. The Wives had to keep staring even though they had all felt the abuse of Victor in some way or form.

Then the rope was forced between her lips, acting as a gag, and the trailing ends of the rope were tied around the crucifix. The woman was tied to the wooden cross in every way that she could, more rope being added to bind her wrists and legs to the crucifix, and even though she struggled she got nowhere except the exact same position she was in.

“This woman, Amy Charlton, has committed one of the ultimate atrocities,” Victor began addressing the crowd like he was a presenter of some great show and the pause was for dramatic effect, “she hurt one of my wives.”

The group of men gasped and the wives looked at themselves in an attempt to figure out who had been hurt. Eva’s eyes remained on the woman’s like the woman’s remained on hers. The woman’s eyes weren’t exactly sorry that she had hurt her, she was sorry that she had gotten caught doing it even though she knew that that had a great chance of happening.

Victor stalked up to Eva without a second delay and ripped down the front of the lilac dress, which she had chosen because it of its high neckline. The fabric ripped down to her breasts and the red explosion mark was exposed to the crowd and to the wind.

The wives eyes were sharp on her and Eva knew it.

How did Victor know that that mark was there?

Who had told?

One of the wives?

The questions swirled around her brain like a breeze and yet Eva looked Victor in the eyes. Victor said nothing to her, he was too busy addressing the crowd and pretending to be famous.

Victor stood back from her and his eyes went to the crowd of men. “That crime is punishable by God, and he says that the Rack is appropriate. We’ve only had four public Reckonings before but the severity of the crime calls for it. The Hierarchy of Punishments written up by myself and my Father says that the punishment is Scindere.” He took another dramatic pause because that was what he was like. “Scindere comes from Latin and it means to cut.” He put his hand out and the Priest put a dagger in the open palm. “This dagger was blessed in holy water and God says to have his word. Each of you will come forward and cut Miss Charlton and I mean every single one of you. If a refusal is heard then a cut will be delivered to them instead.”

His eyes found hers when he said everyone and she wanted to run away then, but the white collar of the Priest was behind her, a hand on her arm, staying away from the ripped front of the dress.

“I’ll be the first and the last,” Victor finished and he twirled the blade in his palm, his eyes calculating as he choose the place where he would cut. His hands fisted the front of her cream long sleeved top, and Eva recognised the cotton weave of Naomi’s hand, and pulled until it ripped and ripped and ripped. Soon Amy Charlton was wearing nothing but black leggings and a bra and goose pimples rose to her skin like flowers.

Eva felt sorry for her. But then she didn’t either. Had being in the compound done this to her? Made her so desensitised to others sufferings that she was neutral on the subject of suffering?

Victor chose the place where Eva had her mark to cut, a narrow line that curved slightly to the right, and the blood welled.

Amy Charlton’s eyes screwed tightly shut as the blade came into contact with her skin, and her head forced itself upwards in an attempt to escape it. Victor took it as a prayer to God to repent her sin. “You hurt my Wife, the embodiment of Gods wishes. God won’t forgive you for that my dear.” He told her and he stepped back, blood dripping slightly from the corrupted blade and he handed it to the nearest man.

Every man had a blank stare, almost as if they had no eyes at all, because no expression or emotion lingered in the depths of them. The first man cut her on her shoulder. The second near her breast. The third on her upper arm.

The memory of her father applying a blade to the same place made Eva start and the Priest’s arm held her firm hiding the jerk from Victor’s sight.

The Priest’s head angled downwards so that his voice travelled directly into her ear, “The less you struggle and the more you watch, the quicker this will be over with.”

“How?” she asked completely perplexed about how this moment could speed up in any way.

“Because your eyes crust over.” That didn’t make a lick of sense but his hands still remained on her and he moved himself so that he was almost completely behind her but not totally so that it looked like he was encroaching on what was Victor’s wife.

The fourth cut her wrist. The fifth her stomach. The sixth her collarbone.

It went on and on and every time Amy Charlton fought against the blade and against the ropes that tied her. Every time she failed and every time she still tried, still having will in her yet.

Victor watched the situation with glee in his eyes, pleasure coming from seeing the pain inflicted on someone else.

Eva remained with a ripped dress and a cloudy sight, begging this moment to just be over with already.

Soon Amy Charlton was a body of blood and open wounds, and it was the wives turn to hold the blade. Hundreds of people had punished Amy Charlton for something that they hadn’t seen her do and soon it would be Eva’s turn to ‘punish’ the other woman.

The only time the Priest let go was to take his own turn, his mouth turned into a downward curve as his tongue clicked out rehearsed words, “God will take you to hell for you to burn there for your heinous crimes, may your sacrificed body be an example to all who dare defy Order in the name of Chaos.” His blade nicked her arm, performing another strike on an arm that was already red and raw and bleeding.

The blade was then pressed to Naomi, whose eyes had glazed over completely, clouded with the horror of the moment. Her blade down on her stomach, almost blindly and hesitantly and she stumbled back over to the other women.

Melanie went next, her face hardened, all of Eva’s work to open the other woman up gone in an instant. The blade came down on the shoulder, an arc like a lightning bolt but in red, in life blood crimson.

The blade was passed to Kate, a frightened statue. Eva would have guessed that she had never experienced a Reckoning before. Maybe she had heard about it, heard the terrifying stories from the other wives, but she had never experienced it. Kate looked terrified, more terrified than even Amy Charlton, so terrified that the blade in her hand rested there for minutes before her feet forced themselves to move.

Her steps were slow and loud against the field, a thousand eyes on her as she made her way up to Amy Charlton.

Kate’s eyes shut as her hand steadied itself on the blade, and despite her hold the blade still shook, and it carved a single small line into her arm.

Amy by this time had given up, maybe the blood loss was too great at this point, maybe she had realised her fate. But she just stood there, still like she was already dead because she may have well been.

Kate stayed in front of her for moments torturing herself with the sight of the victim before she sharply turned and made her way to the women. The blade was held out for Eva and Eva knew that she had to uptake it quick, like a baton in a relay race instead of a dagger.

Let this be over with. Let this be over with.

Her steps matched her heart beat as Eva made her way over to the still and quiet Amy Charlton.

“Make her pay for what she did to you.” Victor snarled from directly in front of the Amy. Eva looked at the other woman’s eyes for just a second.

She didn’t want to punish another woman, not after the last time which had led to Amy ‘punishing’ Eva in the first place. But she had no choice. She never did anymore after all. Eva Grey had a thousand eyes on her and a bloodied blade in her hands, the blood of another woman dripping slowly onto the grass.

Where would she place it?

Undecided and yet decided at the same time Eva knelt, surprise coming from the crowd behind her, and lowered her eyesight to the patch of skin between Amy’s socks and leggings. There was a patch of ankle and leg, untouched by blade and blood. That was where she cut, a straight line that showed and dripped with blood as soon as the blade came into contact with it.

Eva stood and didn’t look at Amy again.

Victor snatched the blade off of Eva, being careful not to cut his wife.

“And now for the final cut, the final sacrifice to God.”

 

AMY

She had felt every cut, every single one, but she did not feel the final one.

 

EVA

Victor was harsh and blunt when he drew the blade quickly across Amy Charlton’s throat, a line that curved from ear to ear, and dripped profusely because it was deep. Amy Charlton’s hands could not come up to preserve her life and soon the light in her eyes dimmed and was extinguished like a bug squished.

The blood still dripped from all cuts.

Kate took the first chance she got and turned the over way, running all the way back to the chapel and the wives watched her go too stunned to stop the runaway wife.

Victor still held the sacrificial blade.

Eva was still stunned, the Priest’s hands on her arm once more, the ripped front of her dress letting the cold in.

They were all in the same game; just different levels. Dealing with the same hell; just different devils.

 

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