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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20. TO THE DEVIL

 

CHAPTER NINETEEN - TO THE DEVIL

EVA

Days passed and Melanie was starting to warm up to her. Now it wasn’t just Kate and Naomi that talked to her, now Melanie tentatively offered conversation starters that they all could get involved in and Melanie nodded at her when they passed each other throughout the day.

It was something at least.

She asked Victor for plants and books about botany and the next day a new crate was positioned in the storage room ready to be planted and explored.

She spent her days bent in the dirt planting flowers and herbs and watering and watching things grow and live. When her back got too sore from kneeling down for too long, she laid on her back with her eyes on the sky counting the clouds and imagining them take shape into dogs and doves and whales.

Will – the Priest – came to see her multiple times, giving her water to drink, or an apple to snack on, or a conversation to analyse and work at. Then he left her and sometimes he watched her through the stained glass, watching as she moved away from the chapel and explored the fields to plant flowers in circles and triangles so that an Eden could be formed when the summer hit again.

When she was back at the Wives Quarters a book was in her hand, and she and Kate discussed books and immersing themselves into a world that was different to their own.

It was one of occasion where she was lying and looking at the sky that she tumbled into a memory, when her and Lucas were back in Penrith, their first proper night of freedom, and they were rediscovering themselves.

“Why are these beds so bouncy?” Lucas had cried, stripped down to maroon joggers just because he could. Eva would have been stupid to say that she had never checked out the boy’s chest, the abs that were building nicely and the wide set shoulders, but this was her best friend and she didn’t want to let some stray thoughts wreck what they had. What they had was precious and she would keep it for as long as could.

“Because they’re new and made out of only the finest things?” Eva answered from where she and Lucas were bouncing on the Queen sized bed in the master bedroom. Her uncle’s ex-wife had won the lottery and had spent many a pound kitting the house out with only the best. Also with the lottery she found a man in the Maldives and her Uncle was left with a lonely heart and a lonely house.

“That makes them the best then!” Lucas decided, jumping high enough that Eva was surprised that he didn’t hit his head off the ceiling. It would have been awful if they had to cut their trip short after just one day to take Lucas to the hospital for a concussion and split open head.

But the beds were bouncy enough that even Eva could make shapes in the air, a starfish reaching its limbs out into the sky, and a smile rose to her lips.

It was all fun and games until Lucas chucked one of the many decorative pillows at Eva, smacking her square in the face. She stopped bouncing, her body stilling as her brain processed what had just happened. Then she was picking up a pillow and whacking the boy in the chest, catching him only mildly off guard.

Then it was full frontal war. Pillows came towards faces and chests and legs and they were bouncing just to avoid being hit.

Lucas jumped to the floor, a white oblong pillow in his grip, and he was quick to leap to the other side of the bed, flipping the pillow to Eva’s feet. Her legs went underneath her and she was on her knees on soft mattress, shock written in plain English on her cheeks. Then a tear glistened in her eye and Lucas came close to apologise. A pillow thrown in Lucas’s face was enough to set that to right.

Feather were flying, twirling and ripping from the pillows. The pair of them were teenagers and their hearts flew like eagles, leaping to their throats in a good way, just to be able to speak clearly.

White feathers decorated Lucas’s hair, getting stuck into the nearly there stubble that he had on his chin, and laughter was in the air. Finally, their pillows connected between their bodies, exploding in a puff of angels feathers and the war was finished, a tie that neither had won.

They fell back onto their backs, surrounded in white sheets and white feathers, the giggles in the air like an auditory hug, winding its way around the energetic air like a child’s spinning top. The pair looked at each other, eyes meeting eyes, laughter colliding with laughter, and their souls reacted like an implosion.

Maybe it was then that set them on the path of becoming more, taking the risk just to feel their own feathers skim against the skin of their backs. They felt alighted with mirth and pleasure and youth, and they would not have it any other way.

Eva smiled into the sky and got back to work, letting the pale violet petals of the pansies wisp against her fingers and remind of her cotton sheets and floating flowers. Maybe she could float there too even though her feet and legs were firmly against freshly overturned soil.

 

AMY

Maybe it was a bad choice to escape from the cattle shed, to wander the corridors, to threaten Eva Able, the newest wife to a monster. But maybe it was a good choice because she had gotten an ounce of freedom, won by pickpocketing a key from an idiotic guard’s key chain, because she had won back her friends honour.

Every woman in the cattle sheds had heard the entrance of Rebecca coming back from the Room, and she only knew the girl’s name because it had been shouted as the other girl tried to escape on her first day in the compound. Rebecca had entered relying on the guards to keep her propped up, her feet dragging as the guards held her arms and forced her forwards, round the bend back to her cattle shed. Rebecca had sobbed, her hair bedraggled and her eyes swollen beyond capacity. The guards had told her to shut up and Rebecca had not listened.

Mr. Able had been pacing behind them, his hands folded behind his back like he was glad that this was what he had been able to do to her. She was broken. He had achieved his penance and yet he hadn’t killed her yet. Rebecca had let out a mighty sob then and Mr. Able told the guards to drop her which they did unceremoniously onto the cold, concrete ground. The slap the girl made against the floor made everyone cringe and Amy knew it even though she couldn’t see the other women’s reactions. Mr. Able rolled his eyes, not believing the atrocity of this girl, and knelt down to cradle her chin in his large hand. He tutted at her.

“Do you know why I got her to shock you instead of me?” Mr. Able asked gently, almost like he was trying to keep the girl calm. Rebecca shook her head, minutely because the man was still holding her head in place. “Because I own every woman, even if they are my wife, and I needed you to get that even though you already have enough fear running around inside of that pretty head of yours.” He laughed then and the other girl tried to get out the man’s grip. “I own you, say it back to me.”

Rebecca didn’t say it back.

Mr. Able slapped her, a mark of his handprint being the consequence for her silence.

It prompted her to speak.

“You own me,” Rebecca said quietly, her eyes on the ground.

“Good,” Mr. Able smiled and pushed her into her cattle shed, the one to the right of Amy’s. Amy had shrunk back into the darkness just to avoid Mr. Able’s eyes because they were already haunting, and his anger only added to that intensity. “I own all of you!” Mr. Able shouted back to the women at large who he knew were watching the exchange, then he disappeared and the door to their section of the warehouse was cut off from the rest of society, just like it always was.

Amy was quick to get to the wall which connected hers and Rachel’s. “What did he mean by her shocking you?” she whispered across and begged the younger girl to answer.

Luckily she did.

“He got one of his wives to do it.” The voice was in pain, probably cradling both her sore cheek and sore pride.

“Which one?”

“Eva, of course.”

They all knew that Eva was the newest wife. They had all been there when Mr. Able had went to her cattle shed, a couple down from Amy’s, and offered her the position. Eva hadn’t been reluctant, probably being offered it long before then, and they may not have heard Eva’s response but they certainly heard what Mr. Able had said – he said that this was the best decision she would ever make and he called her by name, letting every woman truly know her identity.

The next day, Eva had walked out and not come back. All women knew that it wasn’t because she went to the Room and died out of fear, it was because she went to the Chapel and sold her soul to the devil just to rid her skin of pain. She traded one fear for the next and this time she had to sleep with the devil for it.

Amy felt glad that she had confronted Eva about it, maybe it was even a blessing that she encountered Eva in the first place since she had got all of her anger, and the anger of the women, off her chest. She only went back to her cattle shed because she knew that she’d be caught and she was worried that Eva would blab, her wifely duties overtaking any shadow of the woman she once was.

But days had passed and nothing had happened. Amy had held her breath, listening as Rachel whined and moaned in the next shed over, her hands cradling the soreness of her jaw from where she had clenched around the mouth guard too much.

So when Mr. Able entered Amy’s cattle shed, she was worried that her reckoning day had come. Maybe it had, maybe it hadn’t. But sticking up for a woman was a good reason to piss Mr. Able off.

The guards that usually came with him unlocked her door and Mr. Able stared at her from the light, peering into the darkness from where Amy was sat huddled at the back. “It’s time for your test,” Mr. Able motioned and Amy almost had to cover up her relief. This was just a prescribed test to evaluate whether she had gotten over her fear yet.

She got to her feet, trailing her hand over the wall which she shared with Rachel because it was code that she was going to be alright. Even though Amy had been there longer than Rachel they both had their codes for their feelings when it was too risky to even talk, which was the majority of the time.

She followed Mr. Able willingly because she knew what would happen if she resisted, every woman did, and she went willingly into the Room where the box was waiting.

“You know what to do,” Mr. Able said, now alone as his guards had left him. Amy had done this enough, seven times now, to know what she had to do. Her fear was close spaces, her chest constricted just thinking about it, and ever since she was a child her fear had been the walls closing down around her squashing her as they came together like the doors of a lift.

They had started her out on relatively small spaces, where her limbs could still move, then they had changed to shifting the walls closer. Now she had to get into the box and stay there until Mr. Able told her to get back out. He always claimed that God told him when the right time was, but Amy just called bullshit.

The box was open, the lid on the floor next to it, and Amy approached it with trepidation. The closer she got to it the harder her heart thudded against the fragile bones of her ribs. She didn’t want to do this; she had to do this.

Her feet were in before she knew it, her brain influenced by memory and by the presence of Mr. Able, and she was sitting precariously her whole weight balanced onto her ankles. It hurt since the box was small and not big enough to compensate a human being. But she did it, she tucked her arms around the sides of the box, her shoulders hunching, her back curling in a way in which it shouldn’t have been curled and she was in the box with a kneeled head.

“Good girl,” Mr. Able crooned and picked up the lid, smiling as he brought it into position.

From their very first night in the Warehouse they were injected with a chip which monitored their breathing and heart rate and adrenaline, and Mr. Able could monitor all of this from a hand held device.

“Very good,” his croons continued as the lid came down on top of her shoulders and the back of her neck, and she was plunged into pure and eternal darkness.

Her fingers ached, her toes ached, her heart ached, her lungs begged to scream, panic rising, her skin sweating and her head hurting. Her brain tried to rattle out of her skull. She kept her mouth shut, the scream collating at the edge of her lips. She refused to give him the satisfaction, to condemn her death just because of a fear.

Then the panic attack started to click in, the darkness twisting into hallucinations, her breath becoming shorter.

There was no air in here. There was no air in here. Mr. Able was killing her. She was killing herself.

Something smacked on the floor outside, footsteps came closer. Amy panicked even further, don’t come closer, don’t come closer. She didn’t know if she was talking to the walls of the box or the footsteps.

Then there were thuds as hands were pushed against the box and in one fell swoop the box was pushed onto its side, Amy’s body tumbling and hurtling to the side along with the momentum of the box.

She hadn’t even realised that Mr. Able was strong enough to push a box containing a human body onto the side. Bile rose to her throat, pressing against the edges of her control.

What was going on?

“You escaped,” the voice came grittily, “Tell me why you did that?”

Amy had barely any time to reassert her carefully broken demeanour before the fear truly kicked in. Her life was in danger here, and it wasn’t just her delirium causing her thoughts to go in that direction.

“What?” Amy stuttered, not knowing what else to say.

“You hurt a wife of mine,” Mr. Able’s voice came again, his hands on the box again, “Tell me why you did that?”

The box was tumbling to the side again, Amy’s neck cracking painfully against the wood. It was a firework to her spine, not pleasant and pretty like normal fireworks.

“You hurt Eva, tell me why you did that?”

How did he know?

Amy’s mouth refused to open, her resolve locking shut in that moment.

The box was tumbling again, painfully and in a way that was an angry agony.

The hands left the wood for just a second and Amy allowed herself to breath for just a second. Then the wood was cracking, splintered under the weight of something, something that was sharp and quick and strong, and coming down onto the wood with a crack. Then it came again, crack, crack, and crack, and the wood was splintering, the wood jamming itself into the folded skin of Amy. Amy could do nothing, she had nowhere to hide and her mouth refused to open despite her mind telling it to do so now, please god now.

It was a hatchet and it was coming towards her, for her, through the broken pieces of the wood, light coming through the cracks in a bad way. She had never thought that light was a bad thing, quite the opposite really.

“Tell me why you did that?” Mr. Able’s furious face peered at her through one of these cracks and the fear boiled the blood in her body, melting her limbs before the hatchet could do any work to them.

His face was steamed from this boil, as red as the stems of hell.

Amy broke like a shattered wine bottle and her lips opened to explode in damning, condemning words.

Her life was a wasteland and she sold herself to the devil in a sentence or less.

 

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