Seriously, what else can you do but laugh?
If you can laugh and cheer at the idea of someone being killed, then you’re the problem, not the solution, and nowhere near innocent.
“Whatchoo doin’ on my street bruh?”
He hadn’t looked where he was headed, but as he looked up Cliff could see at least three individuals standing in his path. All three of them were muscular individuals that looked ready for mayhem, the masks covering the lower half of their faces stamped with the BLM symbol and an upraised black fist making them look even more imposing. Three sets of angry eyes glared at him as Cliff stopped, holding his backpack strap a little tighter out of sheer reflex as he stood where he was.
“I asked you a question ya little half-breed bitch!” the first man growled at him, “Whatchoo doin’ on my street homie?!”
“I’m just going home,” Cliff stated calmly.
“You’re what?!” shouted one of the others, a bald-headed individual with muscles upon muscles.This man approached Cliff first, with the other two trailing behind, swaggering as most street hoods did. Upon their shirts he could see the BLM flag, one of the many that had sought to replace the symbol of the country that these piles of human garbage professed to love but had helped to tear down. That was his father talking to be certain, since Cliff had tried to do his best to just get by without causing any problems. Unfortunately, problems had a way of finding just about anyone. Case in point with the three men coming at him now.
“I’m just going home is all,” Cliff said calmly, standing his ground as the first to approach him pushed forward until his mask was almost touching Cliff’s face. The coronavirus that had ravaged the world only five years prior was pretty much gone, but some people still wore the mask since it made them feel stronger, more badass somehow.
“You don’t live around here!” the thug yelled, “I woulda turned yo ass out by now if you did little bitch! You in the wrong hood homie!”
“My home is-“
“Bitch I don’t give a fuck where your home is at!” the man shouted, “Matter of fact maybe I do. Gimme your address so I can go pay your mama a visit. C’mon little coon wannabe!”
Cliff sighed as the man shifted, his intentions quite clear as he shifted his hips and launched a haymaker at Cliff’s face in the next second. If he’d been anyone else, this might have worked. But Cliff had been living in the city for the last ten years, and he’d learned a few things in that time. This man obviously wasn’t a boxer, or a martial artist, and as such he likely had no defense for what was coming. As Cliff stepped to his right he swung at the same time, his fist crashing hard into the other man’s jaw with such force that the thug’s head rocked to the right hard enough that he didn’t have time to stumble before he went down, hard, to the pavement below.
That should have been the end of it, but of course it wasn’t.
(to be continued)
Keep it hidden, keep it safe, the day will come when people will want it again.
That had been almost twenty years ago, and Cliff wasn’t certain that his mother’s words would ever come true. He kept the item, the precious item that he’d looked at so often when no one else was looking, under lock and key and on his person as much as he could since he was a teenager. But there were some days when it felt so heavy, as though it had gained weight with each passing day that he’d kept it hidden. But revealing it wasn’t the way to go just yet, especially not with the current sentiment that stood so firmly against it.
Had America gone to hell in the last two decades? Damned right it had, and he had the losses to prove it. As a half-black, half-Irish individual in what remained of America, he’d learned that he would be easily accepted by some if he did what his parents had taught him so long ago, which meant being respectful, honest, and forthright. But if he was caught being nice to said people he was called every vile and racist name that people could think of, and there were plenty since he’d heard a dictionary’s worth in the past 20 years of his life. Then there were the apologists, the anarchists, and those that had believed that tearing down the governmental structure of America had been the way to go. Reform hadn’t been enough, they’d wanted to tear it all down, from the White House to the police force to, well, just everything.
The politicians had fought, they’d tried to quell the fires that they’d started, but it had been too late. The cops couldn’t do anything any longer, as they were just another glorified street gang being paid by state politicians who were taxing their people into oblivion. This was no longer the United States of America. It was still America, but there was nothing united about it. Each state existed for itself and would gladly take what it could from its own citizens, all while denouncing each other and claiming why one state was better than another because of this or that. The worst thing was that due to the so-called government losing such vast control, the worst gangs, Antifa and Black Lives Matter, along with several splinter groups, had finally done what no one else could. They’d abolished the flag, the symbol of the United States, and they’d burned every last one they’d found.
The only reason one still existed, as far as he knew, was that they’d never found the one in his pack. But that particular run of luck felt like it was running out.
(to be continued)
Angie was sitting at home, enjoying her day off despite the misgivings she had about lying to everyone. The cuts in her face were suspicious, the doctor had said, and they looked self-inflicted. She’d insisted that it was a freak accident, that her friend and boss Tiffani could corroborate her story and would agree that it was just a freak accident that had occurred. She’d been worried for Tiffani all day, especially after finding out what had happened to Becky and Katie. Her husband and her boys had made it clear that they were there to help her out, and she appreciated it truly. But somehow she couldn’t help but worry.
It was only when a breaking newscast came on that she felt her blood run cold. This feeling wasn’t helped when she saw who it was that was in the headline as Tiffani’s picture was shown on camera. She felt herself go numb again as the mention of a ‘secret tryst’ beneath the boardwalk was mentioned, along with ‘secrets’, and ‘revealing photographs’. But what made her truly glad that her husband and sons were currently outside doing something fun came when she saw the woman that had started this whole affair, her face a sobbing mask of grief as the reporter described just what had happened according to Casey, and how she had defended herself from the knife-wielding and obviously mentally distraught woman, Tiffani, that had come at her after being found with the bodies of two nameless drifters that she’d apparently been intimate with.
“No…” Angie stated, her voice trailing off as she heard that Grady couldn’t be reached for comment at that time. It was likely that he had no idea what to say, or what to even think.
“You bitch,” she whispered, “You disgusting, whoring, bitch!”
The newscast was cut off as someone hit the OFF button, though as Angie felt someone’s arm encircle her waist she suddenly realized that she’d been about ready to throw something heavy at the TV, the mug she’d been sipping from as she looked to her right hand. Even as she looked back to the TV her husband and sons were trying to subdue her again, but as she watched, the monitor came back on, this time dominated by Casey’s smug, smiling face. The woman’s lips turned up in a vicious grin as she wrinkled her nose in delight. Angie was screaming now, but she could still hear the words that drilled directly into her conscious mind.
“Don’t worry Angie. You’re next.”
Her traitorous body didn’t stop until she and Casey were well under the boardwalk, screened from sight by supports, a small hillock, and plenty of dune grass that blocked any easy line of sight from the condos that sat in the near distance only a few hundred yards away, or even the path that ran parallel to the boardwalk just ten feet away. She could likely scream for help, but as of yet she hadn’t tried.
“Here is good,” Casey said with way too much exuberance in her voice for Tiffani’s liking.
“Good for what?” she asked. To her surprise Tiffani had to drag each word out of her mouth.
“I’m sure it’s not a surprise to hear ‘you’ll see’,” Casey said with a grin, “Fellas? You can come out now.”
As though summoned by her voice alone two men suddenly made their way around the dune that had accumulated under the boardwalk, wrapping around just enough to hide this site from the view of anyone. The two men were dirty, disheveled, and looked as though they’d been sleeping outside for the better part of a month. Plus they reeked of something that Tiffani couldn’t help but think was their own excrement and some other vile concoction.
“Now strip,” Casey said to her.
“You heard me,” Casey repeated, as she started to take off her own clothing. It wasn’t the nicest of days but at least it wasn’t raining. Yet still, Tiffani had no intention of taking off her clothing for anyone, as she had a bad idea of where this was about to go. The call of a gull in the distance reminded her that this was real, it was happening, and as her hands and fingers began to work against her, pulling the clothing from her body, Tiffani watched in horror as each article fell to the ground from her nerveless fingers.
“Ooh yeah, look at that body will you boys? You think she’s ready for this?”
“I am,” said one of the men in a gruff, panting voice. The other man didn’t speak, but his leering gaze spoke volumes as Tiffani found herself wanting to cry. As Casey began to tell her what to do, Tiffani couldn’t resist, no matter how much she tried. As the woman moaned and groaned she even felt her body reacting as the men touched her, grabbed her, and treated her to every depredation possible as she couldn’t help the fact that her body was reacting so favorably to all of it, the arousal sickening her in such a way that she wished she could vomit all over the disgusting trio. But nothing came, and despite her revulsion she felt her arms wrap around each one of them in turn, her fingers grasping at hair, at backs, at anything that she could hold onto as their crazed gyrations spurred her on further even as their own passions continued to rise. Through it all she dimly heard one click after another, though her pained and agonized sensibilities didn’t register just what it was until it was too late.
At one point she realized it was over as the men, both spent, lay to either side of her, fully-clothed once again and snoring peacefully, one of them with a smile on his face that made her want to….to…to what?
“Use them,” Casey said from behind her. Tiffani had no idea what she was talking about, but as she half-turned towards the woman she noted that in each hand she was holding a large butcher knife, the steel gleaming as though in anticipation of the violence to come.
“They hurt you,” Casey said, her voice low and enticing, “They used you, they humiliated you, and they took pictures,” Casey waved a smartphone in her right, grinning as she never took her eyes from Tiffani, “End them.”
It was as though a flood had erupted within her as Tiffani turned and thrust the blades into each body, one after the other, stabbing anywhere and everywhere, delivering deadly blows to their chests, their stomachs, their crotches, their throats, until they ceased moving and lay there, pain etched across their features as their crimson fluids. Turning around again she was taken by surprise as what felt like a series of hard, swift punches hit her torso in rapid succession as she dimly heard “No! No stay away from me!” Somehow the shots had come before the shouting, but as the ground rose to meet Tiffani’s surprised gaze all she could think of was how cold it had suddenly become.
(to be concluded)
“Is there anything I can say, or do, that will get you to leave us alone?”
Casey’s grin was that of a predator, minus the sharp teeth, “You know, Becky and Katie asked the same thing. You saw my answer on the screen, right?”
Tiffani blanched, “You did that?”
“The physical part? No, no I didn’t. But you’d be amazed how little convincing some people need to act out their darkest desires. For instance, if I really wanted to humiliate you, I’d drop my pants and tell you to bury your nose in an area that even your sons don’t know you enjoy.”
“Stop it,” Tiffani breathed, “Stop your vile, disgusting talk. Angie and I did something horrible to you, and it’s obvious we can’t pay it back. But just stop.”
“Why?” Casey asked with a big smile, brushing an errant lock of dark brown hair from her face as the winds whipped around them. There were very few people on the boardwalk Tiffani noted, and none of the few that had passed by them had even looked in their direction. Why would they? People tended to mind their own business on the peninsula unless they saw someone they knew.
“Are you afraid for your sons to know your sexual proclivities? Because you’re a good little Christian and don’t want your reputation in this town tarnished? I know a bit more about you than you think, Tiff. I know what you and your man get up to in the bedroom. I know that your eldest son is thinking of what it would be like to be with a young man his age, but he’s scared to death to tell his mother for fear of what she would think. I know your younger son is worried about whether a young woman he had sex with at school will rat him out.”
Casey chuckled, “I have my methods. But for right now, I think you and I need to take a visit to the underside of the boardwalk in order to continue our little ‘talk’. I have a couple of associates down there that would love to make your acquaintance.”
“No,” Tiffani said, hearing her voice tremble. “You can’t make me, and I will not be intimidated.”
“Oh, I’m afraid you’re wrong on all counts,” Casey laughed, “Now get to walking.”
To her horror, Tiffani felt as her body turned, and her feet did just that.
(to be continued)
None of the cuts that Angie had to explain to her husband were that deep, but trying to convince him that she’d tripped and fallen, breaking her coffee cup and cutting herself up as she had, was more difficult than the conversation that had come after. Angie hadn’t even remembered what was going on save the pain, telling Tiffani that it had felt as though she’d been slammed away in a dark hole. She recalled the sensation of her skin tearing, and had even felt her arm rise each time she had been forced to cut herself.
After a trip to the local doctor to ensure that the cuts weren’t deep enough to need stitches, Tiffani had watched Angie being taken home by her husband. She’d given Angie the day off without question and had called in another of her employees to cover the bar. In the meantime she was thinking of how to deal with Casey with every available second, realizing that she had no more of an idea at this time than she had earlier this morning. Currently standing on the boardwalk that traversed the coastline, or at least a quarter mile of it, she took a deep breath of the salt air as she gazed out upon the horizon, trying to let her mind go blank at that moment as she closed her eyes.
She had no idea how long she’d been standing there when the one voice she hadn’t wanted to hear slid into her ears like pure poison, causing her bile to rise as she opened her eyes. Tiffani didn’t know whether to be angry, fearful, or simply wary of the woman that stood next to her now, only an arm’s length away. Part of her would have loved to knock Casey over the railing and on to the asphalt footpath below, but somehow figured that she might fail at that just as she’d failed to protect her friend.
“Rough day huh?” Casey asked, the grin on her lips easily felt as Tiffani had to fight down a wave of revulsion.
“Why are you doing this Casey? I know why you said you’re doing it. But after all this time, isn’t there a way we can work this out?”
Casey scoffed lightly, “Oh, sure there is. You can let me seduce Grady in front of your sons, maybe perform a striptease for him and even dress up as a young schoolgirl for his pleasure. Or I can always convince a couple of actual schoolgirls to do the job, I hear there might be a few morally questionable young ladies among the bunch. Would you mind if I let them slide their way up and down your husband’s-“
“Enough,” Tiffani spat, “If you want your revenge on me and Angie you take it. You’re right, we were stupid little bitches that did something foolish,” she turned to face Casey fully, “But I will not allow my family to pay for my sins.”
“Why not?” Casey said with an evil smile, turning to face Tiffani, “Mine paid for what you did, so it’s only fair.”
(to be continued)
Tiffani felt a tear roll down her cheek as she clicked the ON button, finding it easy to hate Casey with every fiber of her being in that moment. The first channel she came to was a news channel, and though there was no possible way it could have just picked up on the story, the newscaster could be hear throughout the room
“Two women were reportedly brutalized and left for dead today near Esther Short Park,” The news went on, but Tiffany was already tuning it out as she turned to Casey, who was no longer grinning but instead glaring at her with chin lowered as her eyes blazed once again.
“What did you do?” Tiffani whispered, “What in God’s name did-“
“God has nothing to do with this,” Casey snapped, “And He’s certainly not going to be helping you two out.” Behind her, Angie screamed again, but this time the tail end of it came out sounding like a sick, demented giggle.
“We’re sorry Casey,” Tiffani almost sobbed, keeping her gaze from the TV as she heard “-were both raped repeatedly-” in the background, “We’re so sorry. We were stupid, evil little bitches….” Wait, had she meant to say that? It had laid so easily across her tongue, and yet Tiffani was certain that she hadn’t meant to say such a thing.
“You were evil little bitches,” Casey said calmly, “And for that you should be skinned alive. But that’s too messy, and death is too quick. So you’re going to find out what it’s like to live with the shame, and you’re going to find out what hell really is. Get ready bitches, this was just the warmup.”
Casey turned around to leave, sauntering away like a cat that knows the mice weren’t going anywhere. Sadly, Tiffani felt that she was right.
(to be continued)
“She’s right,” Angie said with a vicious grin on her face, “I don’t work for you here bitch. Turn on your own goddamned TV, and do it quick.”
“What? What do you mean?” Were Angie’s eyes glowing red? What was going on? How had one of her best friends suddenly turned on her? Was this a setup of some sort? Had Angie even found something on her lawn this morning? Even as these questions and several others were running through her head though, Tiffani watched in horror as Angie lifted her coffee mug, a heavy piece that Grady had given Tiffani as a birthday gift, and brought it down as hard as she could on the tabletop, smashing it to pieces and gouging a small chunk out of the wooden surface.
“Watch closely Tiff,” Angie said, her voice as cruel as she’d ever sounded. Holding the jagged remnants of the cup tightly in her fist, which was dripping the mixture of coffee, whiskey, and creamer, Angie brought it closer and closer to her face, until a single jagged edge was resting upon her skin. Then she pulled up quickly, and Tiffani could swear that she would hear the sound of tearing flesh to the end of her days. Angie’s scream was even worse though as she howled in agony, despite the fact that her eyes never left Tiffani’s, and never lost that strange spark of red within their depths.
“I’d advise turning on the TV,” Casey said calmly from the doorway, “Or poor Angie might not have much of a face left by the time you hit the ON button.”
As though to make that point clear, Angie’s hand rose again, and once more the jagged edge of the cup found soft flesh as it dug in and the woman screamed again, an unearthly wail that tore at Tiffani’s heart as she turned to glance at her friend, sobbing openly as she saw the damage that had been done. A two-inch gash had been opened next to Angie’s mouth, while another had been opened just beneath her right eye.
“Whatever you’re doing,” she croaked, turning to Casey, “stop it, please. I’ll turn on the TV, just-“
Angie screamed again as the sound of ripping flesh squelched into her ears, followed by another ear-rending scream as Angie was now bleeding from a cut delivered directly next to her right ear.
“Let her go!” Tiffani yelled, turning back to Casey, “Dammit let her go!”
“Turn on the TV, and I will,” Casey said with a big, friendly grin.
Behind her, Angie screamed again.
(to be continued)