REDEMPTION: Ch 2 : The Alley
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Jessica walked across the school lawn, heading out towards the football fields. The school had a typical setup, with a large football field and a six lane runners track around the outside. The field itself often doubled as a soccer field, and was set up today for an after-school scrimmage against a nearby high school.
She noticed a group of girls in their cheerleading outfits, practicing for the “big game” the following weekend as she headed for the bleachers. As she sat down, she dumped her bag next to her and began to rummage through the contents. (add details in draft 2)
Out came a thin white stick, about three inches long. Paper wrapped tightly around a sweet smelling leaf caused her to smile. She needed this to help dull the pain from her broken nose. Jessica pulled a lighter from her back and sat back to watch the cheerleaders and enjoy her joint. The lighter popped open and with a quick puff, Jessica had it lit.
The cheerleaders in front of her went through their routines for another twenty minutes, but Jessica was only partly watching. Lost in thought, she let herself go…reveling in the feelings and sensations the marijuana produced within her. She leaned back on the bench and stared at the clouds overhead, seeing the patterns come alive in her imagination.
A little while later, she sat up and looked around. The cheerleaders were gone, the sun was beginning to go down. Jessica checked her watch, 6:30. Damn, she thought, how long have I been sitting here? Time to get a move on. She grabbed her bag, and headed out of the track area and down the street into the main city. She walked for about thirty minutes, until she was in the midst of dozens of large buildings.
As she walked between two of them, she heard some noises and saw a flash of light. Still feeling invincible from her smoke that afternoon, she wandered down the alley to see what the fuss was all about. Deeper in the alley, out of sight of the main road, she saw two men arguing in the dim light. The alley itself was dim, the only light cast by a full moon which was blocked by the tall buildings. On either side of the men were trash dumpsters from the local restaurants, mostly full and waiting for pickup. A few rats scurried around, disturbed by the noises.
The man on the left was tall, his face angular and thin. His glasses covered his brown eyes that matched his brown hair. The thing Jessica noticed first about him was the moonlight, little as there was, glinting off of his eyes. Those eyes spoke of intelligence. Cold, brutal, intelligence; the kind that makes decisions where people will die “for the greater good”. The thing she noticed next about him was the clothing; light brown slacks and a dark red flannel shirt that looked like it belonged on a lumberjack.
He had his hand raised and was pointing at the other man.
“Malteus, you need to listen to me!”, his voice was deep and authoritative. A man used to being listened to the first time. A man used to having his orders obeyed.
The other man shook his fat little face in the negative, a salty grey beard waving in the air. He was just as tall, but easily 50 pounds heavier than the first. This man was covered in a long grey cloak that seemed more at home in the 1930’s London than in this small town. He lifted up a walking cane, and tapped the first man on the chest with it.
“No, Treynor, I do NOT need to listen to you.”, he said. Malteus’ voice was softer but still seemed used to being in charge. “We have been over this time and again. You do not have permission to come here. You do not have permission to put those plans into action.”
Treynor brushed the older man’s cane towards the ground. “I don’t need your permission. I will do this, and you can’t stop me.”
Jessica moved down the alley a bit more, curious as to what this was all about. She knew most people in the area, and she had never even seen the likes of either of these men around town. She crept forward inch by inch, wanting to get as close as she could without interrupting their argument.
“Of course I can stop you, and I will.”, said Malteus.
Treynor moved right up close to the man, forcing Malteus to look upwards to stare Treynor in the eyes and not the lips. “You and what army?”, he said. “I already killed your first waves of attack, remember? You have no support coming.”
“Ah, but I have her.”, he said, stressing the last word.
“Her who?”, asked Treynor, a look of confusion across his face.
Malteus pointed his cane down the alley, right at Jessica. “Her, her.” He said.
Jess froze as the taller man looked down the alley, seeing her for the first time. “Come here, girl.” He said.
She was torn for a split second, her brain telling her to run for all it was worth. Warning her of the danger she was getting herself into. She heard her mom telling her to never talk to strangers. She heard the news reports of teenage girls being abducted and disappearing forever. Then the other side of her brain kicked in, the side that told her that abductees were always taken in broad daylight, and no self-respecting rapist would be caught dead in an alley arguing loudly and attracting attention. She also believed, as most teenagers do, that her mom was an idiot, and those in authority (CNN) always lie. And so she stepped into the alleyway, and put her game face on.
“Yeah, whatcha want?”, she said, arms crossed and using her own best authoritative voice.
Treynor looked her right in the eyes, “I said, Come Here.” He raised his fingers and snapped them together. Jessica felt unable to resist, as though hypnotized her feet began to move. She walked forward until she was standing right in front of the two men.
Treynor laughed loudly, and looked at Malteus. “This? This girl is your last protection?”
Malteus nodded, a small smile flitting across his face. He raised his cane, and put the tip of it against Jessica’s forehead. A small burst of electricity seemed to shoot out of the cane and into her frame. Jessica stumbled backwards, collapsing against the wall while feeling the jolts course through her body. It felt as though it would never end, although while not painful she could feel every course of energy as it coursed in her veins.
Treynor looked at Malteus, “What have you done? Not even I have ever broken that rule. Are you mad? Are you trying to destroy all the worlds?”
Malteus matched his look, “and for what matter if I destroy all worlds, if leaving them alone were to mean leaving them to you? I did what I must.” He raised his cane to defend himself, as Treynor stepped backwards a few feet, his fists raised in a fighting stance.
At first Jessica thought they were going to fist fight it out, but as she watched Treynor, he thrust his hands forward one at a time to let loose a small ball of light from his palm and head towards Malteus. The older man deftly moved his cane up and down, batting away the energy like a baseball bat, knocking them into the alley walls. Each spot they hit was blackened with a small hole in the middle.
Jessica could still feel the source in her veins as she stood up and watched the fight rage on for a few more minutes. Treynor was getting off plenty of shots, each time drawing his fist back into his chest, as though gathering more energy for the next volley. During these pauses, Malteus would tap the cane against the ground, and flick upwards. This caused a stream of light, about three feet long, to fly from the point on the ground where the cane hit, and up and out towards Treynor.
Malteus’ aim wasn’t quite as good as Treynor’s, though. While Malteus was forced to actively deflect the incoming missiles with his cane, Treynor had to simply dodge left and right, with the occasional duck down to avoid the beams of light. These moves allowed Treynor to keep his hands close to his chest, which only made the next volley even more powerful than the previous.
As the cane deflected more and more bullets, and fired off fewer and fewer of his own, Malteus looked over at Jessica. “Come on, girl. Get moving. I need your help…”
Jessica stared at him for moment, still feeling the energy in her veins. “Why?” she asked. A simple enough question, but little did she know the ramifications her delays would have. She stepped forward closer to the battle, watching the two men fight. Neither seemed to really give much ground, but it was clear that left to their own devices, Treynor would eventually win.
Malteus spared a glance for her. “Why? You ask me WHY?”, he said, “Because I just gave you access to unbelievable power. Don’t you think a simple thank you would be nice?”
She looked at him for a moment, her fists clenched and unclenched. This energy felt even better than being stoned. It was like being on top of the world and never having to worry about the munchies ever again.
“Thanks.”, she said. She turned around, and started to walk away. She called out over her shoulder, “But I didn’t ask for this power, and your fight isn’t mine, so…” and she raised her middle finger back over her shoulder, flipping off Malteus.
As she came towards the entrance of the alley she heard a cry of anguish and the sound of a large *pop*, as though a giant balloon exploded. This was followed by a laughter, that was clearly Treynors. She thought about heading back, but instead shrugged. fuck em. she thought, not my problem.
Two hours later found her back at home, in her own bed, backpack tossed to the floor. She lay there, trying to decide if the incident in the alley was a dream she’d had or a hallucination from a bad joint, or what. The only thing she knew for certain was that she could still feel the energy buzzing all around her, or rather, inside her.
She lay on her bed, elbows out to her sides, hands clasped over her chest tapping lightly in thought. Picking at a piece of dirt under one fingernail, she held one hand up to her eyes to examine it. She flicked it away into the empty room. Hands back on her chest, she felt another piece of dirt. This one she also flicked away, causing a small ball of light, the size of a pea to go flying out of her fingertip and headed straight into the wall where it crashed with a small fizzle and a light black mark.
Jessica quickly stood up and went to go examine where the mark was. As she touched it, the walls began to disappear. Rippling one by one, she watched her walls fade into blackness. She watched her stuffed animal collection ripple and disappear, followed by her desk, her computer, her memory chest, the four walls. Even her fish tank turned to blackness, leaving only her bed and the small patch of floor she stood on as any reminder of what her room used to be.
“What the fuck is going on here?” she said aloud.
Next her bed disappeared, and the last of the floor, and Jessica stood there in the blackness by herself. For some reason, the next thought in her head was that of Alice. “Yeah.”, she said, “I’ve definitely fallen down the frickin’ rabbit hole…”
And then…all was blackness.