Friday, October 17, 2014

Birth of a Vixen Excerpt: Bloody Highway

Retaking control of my body was normally a good thing. The moment I opened my eyes to a sea of green leather, entrapping me, I realized this was the exception to the rule. Jazz's beanbag had landed on my head. I threw it off.

The table and benches were bolted to what used to be the floor and was now the ceiling. Garbage was everywhere, broken glass, papers galore and busted blood bags saturated the cabin. The side door handle dug into my back. My head ached. The damage must have woken me up. I scanned over the rest of me. The dress was torn and covered in blood. Four fresh scars were on my chest and I realized some of the blood was mine.

The last thing I remembered was the meeting. I was used to bad things happening when Thais was in control, but I never came back to a mess this horrific. What the hell happened?

I searched for someone to answer my questions. I hoped we had time for questions to be answered, and weren’t still in serious danger. Jazz limped in wolf form over the debris scattered over the broken sink cupboards. She dragged Guillermo by his shirt collar to me. I doubted they would be of much help.

An exasperated groan came from beside me. Kaelanna lay sprawled across the front passenger seat. She moved in slow, achy movements and plopped onto the armrest.

Jared's body drooped lifeless in his chair. His arms were entangled in the steering wheel. His head rested peacefully against the horn. Well, peacefully if not for the fatal gunshot wound to the head. Blood dripped from his broken sunglass’ frame. The back of his head was blown out. The dark cavern in his head had a faint glisten to it from the streetlight like rotten meat soaked in melted rubies.

I grabbed the back of the passenger’s seat beside Kaelanna's leg and used the seat to haul myself up. I stood, shaky, unsure of how my body felt until I moved. "Kaelanna, you okay? What happened?"

"Yeah, I will be." She stretched her neck. Then she noticed her captain lying on the cupboard. "Guillermo?"

I crawled over the trash to Jazz and Guillermo. Jazz pawed the cupboard door next to him. His face was damaged during the collision. Bruises darkened his left eye. "He's out cold."

Outside two motorcycles circled the accident. The only sound louder than their motorcycles was their laughter. Their cries of victory echoed throughout the cabin.

"Come out, come out wherever you are." I recognized Brutus’ voice.

"What are we going to do?" I turned to Kaelanna for guidance.

Her hair tie had fallen loose, which left her wild fiery curls in a disheveled mess littered with broken glass. Various cuts and scrapes ran along her cheeks and nose slowly healed. She attempted to stand but slipped on the beanbag. Kaelanna caught herself on the counter's edge. Her gun, still in hand, clanked against the counter. I was proud of myself for not jumping at the loud unexpected clang.

"Move." She shoved me out of her way. I inched back against the passenger seat. Kaelanna grabbed Guillermo under the arms and pulled him closer to her. She untucked his bloodstained shirt to reveal three gunshot wounds in his stomach and one in his right shoulder. With the shirt gone the suction the shirt had made against the wounds ceased, blood escaped his pale abdomen. The wound began to heal.

"He'll live." Her body sagged a little from the sudden loss of tension.

"Okay, Thais, here's the game plan." She pulled out the gun cartridge, and checked her ammo.

“I’m Angela.”

“Shit." She slumped her head on to the counter. I heard her count to ten and watched her regain her composer. She spoke through gritted teeth, “Okay, Angela, I need you to crawl back there and get the bag o' guns. We’re gonna have to fight our way out. There are only two of them left so I should be able to handle this without any more problems. After you get me the guns I’m going to pop out of the emergency hatch and fire. Jazz, that is when I need you to pick up Guillermo and carry him to safety. Angela, you’re going to follow them. Try not to draw any attention to yourself. Only fire if they get past me. Do not come back for me. Whatever you see or hear just keep running."

I nodded while I visualized the plan in my head. She caught my shoulder and stopped me in mid-crawl to the back. "I need you to stay calm and focused. I can't spare a second for you to retreat to your happy place and let Thais do this. I, we, need you to stay with us. We don’t have the time for it. Got it?"

"I'll do my best. What happened?"

She shook her head. Her eyes lacked their brilliant shine. “Brutus is just a prick. Other than that, I have no clue who sent him after us. But I’m betting it had something to with Thais. The vamp we questioned seemed pretty damn spooked by her.”

“This is all my fault.” A large weight tightened my chest. I swore if it wasn’t one thing I did wrong it was another. This time I had no control over any of it.

“Don’t start. I could easily say it was my fault for triggering you or changing the way you look. Guillermo could say it was his fault for not forgoing the contract and getting the fuck out of here. In the end," she checked the ammunition in her gun, then snapped the clip back into place and cocked it, "it's everybody else’s fault, but yours."

I couldn't say anything. What could I say? It was the first rational and honest thing Kaelanna ever said to me. In that moment she taught me the meaning of bravery. She put up a good front, came up with a strategy plan, but under all that she was scared. Her feelings didn’t matter. She knew that and kept going. I vowed that, if Kaelanna didn’t finish him off, someday Brutus would get what he deserved. Whether it was my fault or not it was the least I could do for them risking their lives because of my alter ego.

I crawled to the back to retrieve the weapon’s bag. Perched on the last cupboard, so as to not step on the bag or the broken bed, I dug through to find it.

"Excuse me puppies." I wiggled my foot at the dogs and shoed them away from the debris. The two mastiffs climbed free. The remains collapsed and filled the void their large bodies left behind. "Dang it."

I tossed parts of the pile aside one item at a time. My search took me closer to the broken windowpane. I was so focused in what I was doing that I paid little attention to the world around me. I found the bag in the far corner. "I found it."

Only after I shouted to Kaelanna did I realize the error of my ways. The motorcycles were quiet. There was no laughter. Only that stinging tension of being watched rang in my ears. That sixth sense that most people got when they were about to be killed warned me of the inevitable danger that lurked behind me. I turned as if gravity fought against me. Brutus stood there staring down at me.

"I've got some candy for you little girl." The air around him screamed with his malicious desire. He grabbed me by my hair and yanked me from the wreckage before I could react.

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