Sticks And Strings. Part 35

author: G.N. date: 04/03/2013 category: fiction
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Sticks And Strings. Part 35
By a stroke of luck, we managed to grab an empty table close to the stairs; perfect place to sit back, fill up and await the appropriate time to head into the pit. A few spike studded leather outfits stuck out among the alcohol-happy crowds, special care would need to be taken when encountering those guys on the floor later, nobody likes to exit a pit and find himself bleeding from a misjudged shoulder check against one of those. When quarter to seven rolled around, the place became so loud and so packed it was a challenge to pick up the sound of a guitar being strummed over the speakers from our table upstairs, a few hoots and cheers from below confirming show time was nigh. "Hey! Mitch!" He looked at me, eyes bright and shining like two little crystals. "Sounds like they're getting ready," I waved towards the stage, "now's your chance to see if it's them." "Who's what?" He pressed a hand against his forehead, the flesh stretching and curling around the edges. I could have started laughing right then and there, the irony was delicious. The three pitchers we'd all shared seemed to be hitting him hard, while my own head was beginning to swim with that woozy, see-sawing churn, as if your brain is being run through a washing machine. Luckily, mine was still set on delicates. What was that he'd said about me needing a lesson in chug-a-lugging? "Your buddies," I said. "You want to see if it's them or not, you should go now." He considered this, then stood up with some effort, shook his head as if trying to clear his vision and then wandered towards the stairs as straight as an arrow. "Save us a spot near the front, eh?" I called. "That's a good boy." Mitchell flashed horns at us and disappeared. "Poor sod," I couldn't help laughing. "And he thinks he can out drink me." Kayla giggled and nuzzled her head against my shoulder, and not for the first time; her head hadn't moved once since the first pitcher arrived almost an hour ago. "Just be careful now," Adam said with a pleasant albeit cautionary smile. "I don't want to have to carry more than one of you out of here tonight." This was met by a dismissive wave and a hoisted pint glass. This ain't my first rodeo, cowboy. Adam knew darn well this one could hold his own. Besides, once the show got underway, drinking would be relegated to the list of things I could care less about. Carrying a bottle (or any drinking vessel) into a moshpit was a recipe for disaster, a lesson I'd learned at my first concert when a shirtless drunkard wandered onto the floor with a half-empty Budweiser bottle. The next time I saw him, he'd been wearing a liquid crimson mask and was being dragged towards the bathroom by security. No thank you. "Hey," Kayla said, waving a hand at Adam, her bright red face taking on an impish grin. "You just worry about Mitchy and keep your hands off this one. He's mine." And she slid her other hand deeper into my pocket. On second thought, compared to the semi-coherent slur I'd just heard, maybe Mitchell wasn't so far gone. Adam smiled again, though there was definite concern in his eyes now. Good old Moderation Merritt strikes again, having only two glasses out of the small lake of beer that'd been bought and consumed in the past two hours. Quite a guy is my pal Adam. I shook my shoulder and watched Kayla's head bounce about as though her neck was a slinky. "Hey you, you doing alright?" "Totally." Her head went back to its original position. "Are you?" "It's you I'm more concerned about." "I'll survive," she said out loud, then brought her lips close enough to my ear that I could feel her breath striking the side of my head. "I wish we could be alone, just for a little bit. You know?" I could have jumped straight in the air, hearing that. Please, tell me that was the beer talking. This isn't the time or place for anything like that. "Later," I said, praying my pocket was as far as her hand would go, at least for now. "I don't know if I can wait till then." "Try!" It came out harsher than I intended, her whole body trembled a little. "You don't want to miss the show," I tried again, praying I hadn't frightened, or worse, enraged her. "Besides, the guys might get jealous." You know how you always go for the line of least resistance to save face; one of the few instances in life where having a terrific line of bullsh-t might do you more good than harm. She thought about this, and then began to giggle, an initial nervous reaction that soon overtook her; giving into great gales of infantine laughter. Adam looked at me with a mixture of confusion and warning, yet even he couldn't resist cracking up, watching her cover her mouth with both hands while her chest rose and fell like a see-saw. Soon we were all going strong. At some point, our glasses emptied again. I may have been laughing on the outside, but the inside was fraught with bother. I once heard an ancient Cherokee fable about an old man telling his young grandson how we all have two wolves living inside us, constantly at battle for our souls, the winner being whichever one we choose to feed. Of all the allegories to describe the battle between right and wrong, good versus evil, light against the dark; that one was my favorite and it seemed most applicable to my current situation. The primal wolf kept snapping away at my soul, its voice growing louder each second, urging me to throw caution to the wind and give in. You're only human, after all. Was it wrong of me to hope that she might get drunker as the night went on... drunk enough to forget this conversation if nothing else? "Hey! You guys!" Like a well-timed deus ex machina, Mitchell shot back up the stairs as though he'd found new life, running up to the table and slamming his giant hands down, looking at us like he'd just won the lottery and couldn't wait to share the good news. The heavy slamming sound of his palms meeting the tabletop sent Kayla into a wild panic, standing up, tripping over the table legs and falling into me, landing right on my lap. "Don't die," I said. "Sorry," she said, without moving. Her smile was the widest I'd seen it in a while. Part of me didn't believe this was an accident. "Mitch!" she turned to him, "what's got into you?" "Man, no offense but you west coast people don't know sh-t about concerts!" None of us had any clue what that was supposed to mean. "You won't believe it," he said after Adam asked the question on all of our minds, "people are just standing around the bar like sheep, unsure what to do, there's tons of room up by the barriers. You want a good spot by the front, now's our chance! Forget the drinks, they're replaceable. Let's go!" I assumed the reluctance was chalked up to this being a bar gig. Still, Festering Brides were getting their name out there. You'd think a little more excitement might have been in the air. "Well, what about this Bloodwood?" I asked. "Did you talk to -?" My sentence was brought to an abrupt end by Kayla leaping up again, shoving an empty chair out of the way, grabbing my hand and yanking me to my feet in one fluid movement. The world tilted at a dangerous angle and spun around for a minute, my hand planted on Kayla's shoulder to prevent me from ending up on top of the table - or her. "You heard the man!" she squealed. "Let's go, boys!" And she was off like a rocket, her iron grip clutching my hand the whole trip down to the concert floor, dragging me around like an old doll. Damn, she could be quite a strong little firecracker when she wanted to. I think I found something else to like about her. *** Nature has Aurora Borealis; India has the Taj Mahal and Brazil the hundred foot statue of Christ the Redeemer. But if you were to ask me, one of the great wonders of the world in my eyes is the moshpit. It's as synonymous with metal concerts as headbanging, skull-crushing volume and metal horns. To the avid headbanger, the moshpit is a type of unexplainable magic; the only form of controlled chaos I've ever known. Nobody really knows for certain why this has to be, it just is. It's that split-second connection which runs deeper than fan to fan; two individual spirits coming together to share the love of music. Music aside, it's one thing that I love above all else, the ability to reach across the entire spectrum of fans, from the hardcore ones jockeying for a spot in front of the barrier to those sitting in the back of the nosebleed sections, throwing out a single scream. Screw judgments from the outside world; in the kingdom of the concert, we are the kings and queens. Of course, those who don't share the same opinion are apt to point out the perceived idiocy of a bunch of sweaty guys (and girls) smashing against each other all in the name of enjoyment. Sure, the dangers are obvious, but I liked to think of it as Darwinism at work: Only the strong survive. The mentality of approaching a mosh pit varies from person to person, but it's generally understood that nobody wants to hurt each other on purpose. The only people not accepted are the wishy-washy ones who haven't the slightest clue what's going on. I remembered D telling me one time at Cage, "Mosh pits Richard, are a lot like New York City. You must know who you are, where you're going, how to get there and have several ways to protect yourself. One false move could land you some serious injury." I have no idea how the two are even remotely related, but when a veteran headbanger shares advice, you tend to listen. We were right up against the barrier, dead center; Mitchell and Adam on either side of me, Kayla squeezed in under my arms, clutching the barrier. A sizeable crowd began to form around us once it became obvious the four of us meant business, a fact emphasized when the house lights dimmed, casting the stage in a ghostly blue and white, eliciting cheers and metal horns across the room as the first act began to assemble. Nobody knows why we react like this either, screaming ourselves hoarse at the slightest movement of someone on stage, it's just one thing that makes metal concerts that much more awesome. Rock on, brothers and sisters. I watched closely as the musicians took their places. "Is that guitarist wearing a kilt?" I said to no one in particular. "That's different." "I don't think that's a guy," Mitchell said, "kilts aren't normally that thin and sexy." He pointed at the stage. Two girls in similarly suggestive attire walked into the light, one of them taking a spot behind the drum kit. "Oh my God," I said, and laughed, more out of shocked disbelief than amusement as recognition set in. Kayla looked horrified. "What the hell kind of crap is this?" she screamed, as a lone violin began to cry through the darkness, the singer stepping up to the mike. "Openers, are you kidding me, f--king openers? What a gyp!" I leaned over to Mitchell. "Looks like your buddies have been promoted!" He nodded, looking as surprised as Kayla, who seemed to have forgotten to cheer for her friends. "Good evening, motherf--kers, we are Festering Brides," Lizzie Borden Blackman greeted the crowd with lacklustre enthusiasm, like she couldn't care less about performing anymore, unless this was part of some new stage act. She was sporting a white dress that had seen better days; large, thin gashes up and down the sides, messy swatches of red and brown that I prayed wasn't real blood. Real dirt made little difference; she wouldn't have been the first to purposely muddy their clothes for a show. I'd heard some pretty strange tales about the black metal scene over in Europe. As long as they didn't bring out an animal's head and skewer it on the mike stand, I could humor their performance. "Take off your top!" a slurred voice yelled from the back of the bar. A few hoots and wolf-whistles followed. Boy, there's always one a-shole in every bar. Lizzie ignored the catcall. "We are gathered here tonight to join in unholy matrimony... Till Death Do You F--king Part!" Her apathy died among the feral, snarling scream that capped her last sentence. Wow. Kayla hadn't been kidding. That girl had a sterling set of pipes on her. Somehow, swearing seemed to get the crowd more excited, a fact I never understood. Then again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? As the violin's take on the Psycho theme came to an end, a cymbal crashed in the darkness and the band broke into their first song. From the first note, Kayla turned into a ball of energy. Her pink head became a bright blur slicing through the dark, arms flying about with no concern for those around her, one of her black nails missed my eye by inches. At times, I didn't know whether to keep watching her with increasing awe or focus on my own thing while the Festering Brides played on, lightning bass lines and a howling tale of mutilating the remains of an unfaithful groom filling my head: "Feeding you what you treasure least Scarlet rivers weep from my severed heart I do You don't Blades glisten in the dark Till Death Do You F--king Part..." ...Nobody said death metal lyrics were pretty. Doing my best to ignore the sea of thrashing bodies and whipping hair surrounding us, I examined the stage, trying to find the bassist, eventually spotting a five-keyed head on the singer's right. Just as I started to point at her, a small, shapeless object sailed through the air as the Brides' opening song came to an end amongst a sea of cheers. It landed right at Lizzie's feet. At first, she looked confused, crouching down and retrieving it off the stage floor, and then her face switched to disgust. Action on stage seemed to die down when she held the object in the air, and activity in the pit pretty much stopped for the most part, apart from a few disgusted groans and a select mocking laughter peppering the otherwise quizzical silence. I was one of the groaners, staring at the limp missile shaped balloon-like projectile dangling from Lizzie's pinched fingers. "All right," Lizzie said, holding the offending object as far away from her as her arm could stretch, "just who's the a-shole responsible for this? We are not playing another song until I find out whose idea of a joke this is!" The drunken voice from before called out to her, "You're welcome, sweetheart!" "Oh," went Mitchell, shaking his head and covering his face. "He's dead." Lizzie's face darkened, her hands clenching into fists so tight I feared the microphone would snap like a twig. "Hey, Dick!" she snapped. "I know I didn't just hear that! You're such a stud, I dare you to come say that to my face. Go on, I dare you." The pit was buzzing. I hung my arms around Kayla's waist, wondering how long this temper tantrum would go on. Her head twisted to watch the people behind us as though she were hoping the pig would actually appear and continue trying to be mister sexy. "Hey, there he is!" Lizzie said, now sounding almost pleased. She looked in our direction. "Guys, Give Him a Little Room Eh?" Mitchell granted her request, stepping aside and allowing the guy who seemed to have confused condoms for water balloons to approach the barrier. Kayla started to gag and hid her face in my shirt, wrapping her arms around my chest. He stank to the high heavens of stale beer and some kind of aftershave that made my eyes burn, his obnoxious face plastered with a grin. Oh silly me, aren't I a funny fellow. Lizzie set the microphone in the stand, looked down at the guy, pointing a long, skinny finger at him, then herself, mouthing "You and me? You wanna go?" He nodded, wobbling to and fro, hardly able to stand, and made a gesture I was glad Kayla hadn't seen. Lizzie smiled, nodded and turned to face the drum set and, in the blink of an eye, spun around, drew back her head; the hem of her skirt still hovering in midair like a leaf caught in an updraft, and hawked a gob of spit at the brute. The soggy, foaming projectile hit the guy dead between the eyes. The pit roared, laughter and f--k yeah's being tossed about while the guy swore like a sailor and pawed at his face like the idiot he was. An idea came to me. Gently, I disengaged Kayla's hold on me, moving her towards Adam, both of them looking at me with questioning faces. Mitchell, as though somehow tapping a previously unknown telepathic level, seemed to understand what I had in mind. We looked at each other. "One," my lips moved, "two..." Mitchell crouched down. Lizzie looked at me with arched eyebrows. On "Three!," Mitchell grabbed the guy's ankles and lifted while I grabbed the back of his shirt and together, threw him headfirst over the barrier, where he landed right at the feet of the Tub o' Lard who'd been minding the door when I first arrived. Lizzie looked down at us from the stage, impressed. Then she threw back her head again, laughing this time, and hurled the beer-soaked condom down on the guy. That set off a wave of behaviour I hadn't expected. Amidst a barrage of mocking laughter and jeering swears, everyone at the front began spitting on the guy, while others reached out and dumped whatever beverages in their hands all over him. "Be my guest," I said with a satisfied smile. Tub o' Lard didn't smile back, glaring at me with warning eyes while grabbing the guy by the back of the neck and pinning one of his arms behind his back while another guard grabbed his other arm and dragged him off, struggling, covered in spit and alcohol, swearing a mouthful. Kayla and Adam both looked shocked, except Kayla was also smiling. She reclaimed her supposedly rightful spot - inside my arms and kissed me once. "You're awesome." Adam unfortunately, didn't look as impressed. He also seemed to recognize the futility of pointing it out, for now. "Well, well," said Lizzie, plucking the mike out of the stand. "Now that we've taken the trash out, perhaps we can get on with our show." Cymbals crashed twice and they began another song. I can't remember when Kayla disappeared into the raging circle pit; halfway through the song, during the sinister bass solo was my best guess. The other guys didn't seem to notice; Mitchell in particular too busy demonstrating an impressive windmill at the expense of the others around him having to deal with his hair slapping them in the face. As the low, droning solo continued, I remembered my plan and found the bassist again while the little voice protested, only to be drowned out by the music. The girl attacking the strings with a red pick was average in size, her long golden hair tangled and knotted like overcooked spaghetti, similar macabre makeup smeared on her face like the rest of the girls. She reminds me of Lizzie, I thought. Upon closer examination, the only feature that set the two of them apart were their wardrobes, the bass girl seeming to break with the wedding from hell motif and choosing an all-denim ensemble. Otherwise, either girl could have passed for the other. A horrible thought struck me: Holy sh-t, they're twins! Something else struck me; a heavy blow against the back of my head that sent the world into a violent spin. Somebody grabbed my shoulder and yelled something in my ear. Thanks to my spinning head, I had no idea who was talking, it didn't sound like anyone I knew. Somehow, I was able to keep one hand on the barrier while a large shadow passed overhead; security moving in close. My vision cleared a little, and after wiping a palmful of sweat from my eyes, I watched a body clear my head and land in the waiting arms of the Tub o' Lard. Another wipe of my face and I watched, gobsmacked as the security set Kayla down and ushered her off to the side, grinning and flashing horns at everyone, along with reaching out to slap a few hands. Spotting me, she reached out and planted a sloppy, wet kiss on my mouth, much to the annoyance of security. Then she was gone. I looked to my left, feeling my face tighten. Mitchell, his big hand thumping my shoulder, was laughing so hard, I was sure he'd black out. He looked more worn out than me. "That's our Kayla! I knew she'd fit in just fine!" I could only shake my aching head and smile, which made the pain in my head flare up again. I almost fell. "You gonna live?" he asked. "Water," I blurted. "Just need water, be bright back. Save my spot?" "I'll try. Hey, make sure they don't try to throw her out or get her I.D. off her." "Let's hope not." And I set off, in pursuit of both my crazy girlfriend and the men's room, reassuring a visibly perturbed Adam I would live. *** Spending a good few minutes in the men's room while my head and stomach debated whether or not to vomit, the world stopped spinning, but my head was lit up with pain, although a cautious hand and several sheets of paper towel revealed no blood, thank God. Once the momentary nausea was behind me for good, I emerged from the stall I'd hidden myself away in and rejoined the scene, quickly deciding the noise only made my head scream louder than Lizzie Borden Blackman. I went through the main doors, out into the cool night. I wandered around the parking lot, my arms held out and embracing the icy air. Opposite the two-lane blacktop that divided the Fox's paw from the rest of downtown Brentwood, skyscrapers climbed far into the starry skies above and the roads ran for miles ahead; disappearing into the point over the horizon where from afar, it appeared as if the sky and the earth joined together and became one. Scenery of a metropolitan nightlife was never dull. Kayla was reclining against a light post in the middle of the lot, her bright head tilted skyward, exploring the celestial cinema above. When she saw me, she pushed away from the post and moved towards me, breaking into a sprint to quickly close the gap. "Richy! Taking a break, too?" "Somewhat. My head won't tolerate much more of that ruckus for a while until it calms down from that boot. No offense to your friends." "Huh?" "Your little crowd surfing endeavour," I said, "I forgot to duck." Her face fell. "Oh my God, I'm so sorry!" "Whoa! It's okay. I'm not mad. It's my fault." "How the hell is it your fault?" "Look at me?" I said, showing off my height. "With this in your way, I'd be surprised if you had cleared me." This seemed to reassure her, although she still looked upset. "Besides, I'm sure I wouldn't be standing if you'd done it on purpose." "A-s," she said, a smile crawling back into her voice. I stroked her hair and she shivered a little. "Now if you tell me that little stunt got you kicked out, then I'll be upset." She laughed quietly. "You'd be surprised what you can get away with in a shirt like this." Touch. "Although I will be if I do it again. But I think once is enough for tonight." "So why are you out here then?" Another closed lip giggle from her. "I knew if I didn't, you'd come find me sooner or later." I had to give her that one. We wandered around the lot, hand in hand for a few minutes. "Tell me something." "Anything," she said. "Lizzie, does she have a twin?" I asked, remembering the nearly-identical girls I'd seen earlier. "Because unless my eyes were playing tricks on me, I'd swear she and the bassist looked the same." "Oh yeah, that's Missy. She's alright, I guess." She paused, casting a side glance at me. "Why?" "I was curious." It was the truth. "You're still not thinking of -" "No, no I'm not." That was also the truth. Even after a boot to the head, certain details were becoming clear at last, rendering the rest of Kayla's answer pointless. She continued anyways. "Good... Because you don't really think Lizzie's gonna sit back and let you snatch her little sister away to play for the competition?" "But that Christina chick, she said they were having issues?" "Sure, and so have we, what band hasn't? And perhaps you noticed Lizzie's got her fair share of attitude, too? Let's just say it runs in the family, and Lizzie's the quiet one. 'Nough said." What poured from my mouth next was a sentence I wish hadn't been strung together. "It's weird. You were trying so hard to get me to not consider the Brides bassist, I swear for a second you were trying to keep me from finding out that Sarah f--king Matheson was the bassist." Kayla ground to a halt and stared at me. All at once, the self-critical voice began screaming; mistake, mistake. Her stunned expression broke almost immediately, and she began to laugh, more sarcastic than her usual gleeful shouts, but genuine all the same and I smiled at the sound. "Oh, that's rich!" Now I was laughing too, though I had no idea why; maybe because I felt so goddamned stupid - was so goddamned stupid for my own good, that laughing at myself seemed the only logical thing left to do. "Listen," Kayla continued after pulling herself together, "I tell you, I've not seen or heard from that cow in months. No phone calls or nothing, and as far as I care, after what happened last time we got together, it can stay that way. F--k, I don't need any more of that kind of crap." "By which you mean blowing QuikPawn's window out with a rock?" She looked at me again, worry returning. "Adam told me about it a while ago. He got the story from the ginger who works there. Relax, nobody has any idea you were even with her, and I don't care anyways. If that's the last blip she ever leaves on my radar, good riddance I say." Kayla began to lift her head up to meet mine. She didn't come close before a loud voice caught the both of us off guard. "Hey, you lovebirds!" It was Mitchell, standing at the foot of the wheelchair ramp, waving us to come closer. "You forget there's a concert going on? The Brides just finished up; stuff's being set up for Bloodwood!" We looked at each other and began laughing again. Time really does fly by when you're having fun. "Sorry," Kayla said, beginning to blush. "Pshaw. I've seen them before, remember? Besides, I'm not sorry at all." "Come on!" Mitchell insisted. "I got something awesome to share with you two! Adam's waiting for us." His hand beckoned us forward again as he turned and began to walk back up the gentle cement slope. "Don't sweat it dude, we're coming," I laughed as we began to walk towards the bar, Kayla with her arm hooked around mine, fingers locking together with mine. "Something awesome to tell us, he says. This should be interesting, old Mitchell's good for a surprise or three." She agreed. I checked to make sure my hand stamp had survived the moshpit. A different voice called out from beside the big green dumpsters, "Hey f-ggot!" as a bottle came flying out of the dark, whipped past my head and shattered a few feet behind us. So many moments in life, we are reminded of the cruel mockery hindsight offers us, sitting on the precipice of our conscious mind, never afraid to point a finger and laugh, reminding us well after the fact of how we shouldn't have submitted to our instinct. We stopped dead in our tracks, looking in the direction the slur had come from as a large shadow emerged from one of the dumpsters and began approaching us. Kayla's hand gripped mine so hard, I felt my knuckles crack; the blinking pain beyond concern right now. The closer the dark figure got, the stronger the sour smells of alcohol and vomit became and it burned my nostrils. I gave Kayla an instinctive shove, positioning her behind me and she didn't object, didn't even breathe. The logical wolf had clammed up and slunk out the back door, leaving the primal one behind and on guard. "Hey who the f--k are you -" The punch connected with my face before I could finish the sentence. For the second time that night, the world began to spin while the whole right of my face lit up like a candle. My mouth felt like it was full of marbles. My first thought was to cover my mouth, certain that I'd somehow broken a tooth, but it was a fleeting thought, replaced by screams from both my almost hysterical girlfriend behind me, and the pain of a second fist clipping my ear, triggering an unpleasant ringing. I managed to look up in time to see yet another fist arcing through the darkness and aiming for my, a small, brilliant wink of light coming from one of the fingers. My God, I'm going to be hit with a diamond, I thought as the bitter, coppery taste of blood began to build in my mouth. I managed to reach out with my foot and catch the drunken pig with a good shot to the knee, not the first time I'd aimed to disable in this kind of situation either. Soon as the blow connected, it sent shockwaves riveting through my body like ripples in a pond, and I lost my balance, stumbling backwards, expecting to fall into Kayla and send us both to the ground. Instead, I fell into an open pair of fat arms that immediately grabbed my shoulders. My fists balled and cut thick swatches in the air as I struggled against the tight grasp. Rather than restrict, these hands seemed to be trying to keep me standing, coupled with a tirade of French-laced obscenities. God, Mitchell came from out of nowhere. He can be fast for a guy his size, I remember thinking. I might have even laughed if things were different. Though she was no longer behind me, Kayla's screaming continued to echo across the lot. Listening for it while wiping either blood or sweat from my eyes, I began to realize it was no longer a scream of terror. It was too loud, too forced, and too... Angry? Off to my right, I spotted a pencil-thin silhouette crouching down by the broken bottle, only to stand back up just as fast. Now it was clutching the bottle neck, shards sticking out of the broken end like a row of evil green teeth, and advancing towards the drunk; the same drunk I'd now recognized, too little too late of course, as the repulsive belly-crawler Mitchell and I had upended over the barrier not even an hour ago. This vicious figure continued to storm towards the drunk and as she did, I caught a glimpse of her face reflected by the overhead lamp post before my vision blurred again. All I could see was darkness - darkness, and her face. It was twisted into a grotesque mask of a kind never before seen on her, completely swallowing the brash yet repressed girl known to us as Kayla Morton and leaving behind a foul-mouthed monster. It was as if she no longer knew who she was or what she was about to do. Apparently human women also lost the capacity for sound grammar when angered. They also turned much more vicious, too. This little observation did very little to help ease the current situation. Mitchell yelled. I yelled. None of it had any effect on her. The drunk clambered to his feet, seemingly oblivious to the short girl closing in on him like a lioness stalking its prey. The broken bottle made an unpleasant whickering sound in the darkness. When I had some of the blood out of my eyes, I looked up from my crouching position to see Kayla's foot reach out and catch the guy between the legs. Bull's-eye. I broke free from Mitchell, racing across the lot as the guy went down. The last thing I remembered seeing was Kayla dropping the bottle and turning to me, her face no longer warped but blank, empty, her hand reaching out for mine. I wasn't sure, but I thought I detected the sound of a strangled sob... Then darkness fell.
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