I hear a sound, like a marble rolling across the floor towards me. An unfamiliar voice speaks:
Suddenly I’m falling to my hands and knees, coughing and spluttering as I gasp for air. I look around to find my attacker sprawled on the floor beside me, his body trembling. A small sphere glows dusky purple by his feet. He reaches for it but I force myself to stand and slam my foot onto his fingers. My immediate fear dissipates, evaporating into fury, and I stomp again. And again. Harder this time. He’s practically helpless but I refuse to relent. I can feel his bones crunching under my dress flats and I don’t even care.
Large, firm hands eventually grasp my shoulders and pull me away. They belong to a man I’ve never seen before – tall and stocky with close-cropped brown hair. When my eyes alight on the badge on his chest I allow myself to collapse into his arms. Two more officers rush up the stairs behind him. They cuff the blond monster’s hands and feet.
“Get him out of here,” it is the mysterious voice from before, I’m sure. The officer holding me leans down carefully to pick up the marble and slips it into the cuffed guy’s pocket before the other two carry him down the stairs. It’s just the four of us left on the landing – myself, the brown-haired cop, Brie, and a dying Grant.
“Please, please you have to help him! We have to get him to a hospital,” Brie is in hysterics although, considering what she’s been through, I think she’s handling things quite well.
“It’s too late for that,” the cop props me gently against the wall and goes to kneel beside Brie. Grant’s breaths are ragged and shallow now. Occasionally he whines and his facial muscles tense in excruciation.
“I love him. He saved me. He saved my life! He did this for me. Please… he can’t die,” her voice is firm. Brie is used to getting what she wants, but I’m sure even she realizes it’s impossible this time.
“What would you give for him?” the cop asks.
“What?” this was clearly not the response Brie was expecting. How he could ask that of someone watching the person they love bleed out in front of them?
“What would you give for him? Quickly, before the others come back,” he glances down the stairs, “Something you can’t imagine living without. Something you have to swear to give up forever. A sacrifice.”
“What the hell are you talking about?!” Brie screams.
We can hear voices rising from downstairs now. The cop stares straight into her eyes, completely serious.
“Anything! Fuck, I don’t know,” she hesitates for a single heartbeat, “My job!”
“Your job?” the cop sounds skeptical.
“Yes! My career. The marketing position with Vertigo! Any position in any business ever! Fuck, I’ll never work a day in my life ever again if that’s what it takes!”
I’m surprised when he looks at me, as if seeking confirmation. I’m not sure what he expects, but in the interest of time (and Grant’s life), I try to patch together a hurried explanation.
“Her family is very traditional… didn’t want her to go to school. To work,” I cough, and then glance at Brie apologetically for spilling her secrets to a complete stranger. Possibly a crazy one. “She did all of this on her own. It’s her dream. To be independent.”
He nods, and then puts his hands on Grant’s belly. Grant moans. I don’t think he’s even aware of what’s happening around him. I wonder what he would say if he was.
The cop pulls out three crystals from his belt – a large triangular quartz, and two smaller black stones, each flecked with white – and lays them on Grant’s chest. He says more weird words, a language I’ve never heard before. Then he turns to Brie and says, “Kiss him.”
She kisses him. In her bra on the bloody hardwood floor at the top of the stairs, she kisses him. While some weird nonsense-spewing cop leans over them, watching.
And it works. As she pulls away his breathing slows. His skin is visibly less pale. When she lifts her blood-soaked blouse away from the wound it is already knitting together. It looks more like a scar now than a fresh wound.
Eyes wide, Brie exhales in nervous laughter. She glances to his right hand, still burnt and fingerless.
“I can’t fix everything,” the cop replies gently, “Just be happy that he’s alive.”
The paramedics rush to the top of the stairs, stretcher between them, as Grant’s eyes flicker open. They load him onto it and Brie follows them closely down the stairs. She pauses for a moment and turns back to look at the cop.
“Thank you so much,” she says, in awe.
He simply puts his finger to his lips, to which she nods. Then she looks at me.
“And Selene, we’d both be dead without you.”
“Let’s just call it square then,” I manage before choking. She throws me a concerned look before turning to catch up with the paramedics, leaving me alone with our mysterious saviour.
“You okay?” he asks. I nod which sends a jolt of pain through my neck. He notices and walks over to me.
“Seriously, I’m fine. I just want to go home.” I’m finally starting to realize how exhausted I am. Now that the danger is over and the adrenaline is subsiding, all I want is to be somewhere familiar where I can sleep the whole thing off.
He stares at my face for a while, deep in thought. He’s probably trying to gauge whether I’m actually alright, so I lift my face to his, presenting the most defiant look I can manage. I meet his eyes, so bright and clear that they take my breath away. I’ve just been through hell and here I am, minutes later, thinking about how beautiful this guy’s face is. His tanned skin and the freckles sprinkled across his broad nose. The slightest hint of dark brown stubble on his cheeks and chin. To be fair, maybe it’s because I’ve been through hell that I find him so attractive. Either way, I’m the first to lower my eyes.
“Look, I should take you in for questioning right now. Witness reports get a bit fuzzy after even a few hours,” he hesitates before continuing quietly, “but I think it’s clear you’ve done your share for today. I’ve got plenty of other people to interview – you deserve a rest. Give me your name and number and we’ll talk about things tomorrow.”
I cannot express how grateful I am. He gives me two cards – one I return to him with my name and contact information scribbled on the back and the other I keep. The card identifies him as Detective Harvey Yagher.
When we get downstairs Detective Yagher insists the paramedics give me a quick once over before introducing me to a young officer waiting by a police cruiser.
“Officer Black, this is Selene Kondo,” he says, “Could you please see that she gets home safely?”
I nod in thanks, wanting to rest my increasingly sore throat. He smiles at me and opens the passenger door before striding back towards the house. Officer Black crosses to the driver side and I’m just about to get into the car when a tall blond figure running across the street steals my attention.
For a moment, I fear the impossible has happened. It’s him. The blond man. Gravity seems to increase as my knees buckle and all of my internal organs suddenly plunge downwards. I catch myself, leaning against the car door. But no. I’m mistaken. This man is taller, more slender and has grey streaking his blond hair instead of blood. He presses through the crowd of reporters and onlookers already trickling in to investigate, but is stopped by three men in blue uniforms. He shouts over their heads:
“Where is he? Where’s my son? Yagher! What did you do to him?”
I look to where Yagher is still walking away. If he hears the man, he doesn’t acknowledge him.
“Yagher! Don’t you dare ignore me! Give me back my boy!”
This time Yagher does turn. He says nothing, but the older man’s face grows desperate. Fearful. I can make out the glint of a tear streaming down his gaunt cheek. The detective’s back is toward me, so I cannot see his face.
“Miss Kondo,” there is an impatient edge to Officer Black’s voice. I duck down into the seat, closing the door behind me. As he pulls away I turn back to where Detective Yagher had been standing. He is gone now, but the blond man is still there. For a brief moment our eyes meet. Anger has seeped into his expression, mingling with the fear. Why is that expression so familiar? I close my eyes, breaking the nascent connection and allowing myself to slump into the seat.
I’m so tired. When I get to my apartment building I take the elevator. It’s something I almost never do, usually appreciating the exercise up to the fourth floor. I must be more exhausted than I realize because I somehow end up on the third floor, stumbling around the hallway for a minute before realizing my mistake.
When I finally make it to the right floor my body feels impossibly heavy, and walking down the hallway seems a pilgrimage. I am grateful that Wynn is asleep when I get inside. Exhaustion aside, I’m not ready to talk about what happened yet. Not about the blood and the bodies, nor about my own viciousness. I can’t even begin to comprehend half of the things I’ve witnessed tonight. The things I’ve done
I want to shower, to wash off the blood, but I’m afraid I’ll wake Wynn. I settle for washing my hands and face in the bathroom sink. I don’t even turn on the lights – I don’t want to see myself right now. I’m less afraid of the blood, and more afraid of the person that I’ll find staring back at me.
Once I’m done I walk into my bedroom, close the door behind me, and drop onto the bed. I’m unconscious before I hit the pillow.