Right, so, here’s a little warning. I’m not going to put any on any other chapters. This has some strong language, at the end of the chapter there’s very small bit of slightly graphic violence, so easily offended people feel free to read it if you want. This is chapter one, but there’s a prologue, if you want to look back for it.
I admire my classmates. I really do. Anyone who can stay awake for a whole two hours while Collin goes off on one of his speeches deserves to have a medal. I don’t like history, I don’t care about it in the slightest, but damn, does he know how to make you want to kill yourself. When the bell goes for us to finally get the hell out of here, I lift my head off of my desk.
“Oh, thank god,” I call out. That attracts some attention, and Collin shoots me a sharp look of disapproval.
“Miss Ashley, if I didn’t know any better, I would think that you were volunteering to head to the principle’s office.”
“Well, it’s a good think you don’t know any better, Collin.” Some of the students snigger at that. Collin just deepens his scowl.
“That’s Mr. Francis to you.”
“No, it’s not,” I say bluntly, and stand, swinging my bag over my shoulder.
“Okay, you’re going to the principle’s office.”
“No, I’m not.” As if he can tell me what to do.
“I’m not negotiating.”
“No, you’re not.” It’s amazing how he still thinks he has some control over me. The quicker I no longer have to take this lesson, the better. I turn to Mel, who’s still sitting there, smirking at our little exchange. I just roll my eyes at her, resisting the urge to smirk back.
“Hurry up,” I say, referring to her text books still laid out on the table. I think I lost mine the second I brought them home. Oh well. “I’d kind of like to leave, now.”
“What? Are we physically attached? Just go, I’ll catch up.”
“Yeah, I’ll show you who’s physically attached,” I mumble under my breath. Ladies and gentlemen, my fantastic attempt at a comeback.
“Taylor, you are not leaving.” Collin raises his voice.
I sigh. Yes, because as we all know, when someone tells me to do something, I do it. Ha! What a joke. “See you on Monday, Collin.” Unfortunately.
And within a millisecond, the scenario changes from the air-conditioned classroom to the passenger seat of Mel’s car, in the school parking lot. I wait for her to hurry the hell up, so I can hang out at her house, like I do almost everyday. It’s much more pleasant than going home to mum’s constant bitching and moaning. So I’m friends with Mel. What the hell do I care what she did? That’s only more points in her favour, if you ask me.
Right now, though, she’s probably being that one student who always has to help the teacher with everything, just so she gets on their good side, for whatever ridiculous reason. She, very unlike me, actually cares about school. Why, when we can steal whatever the hell we want? No idea. Then again, I don’t care. But still, it’s amazing how so many of the teachers are willing to let her help, knowing what she is. I turn the radio on while I wait, but when I hear what the news is, I almost turn it right off again.
“Goddamn it,” I mumble.
“Yes, that’s right. Today is the eighth anniversary of Dead End’s glorious defeat. And with only one surviving member, I imagine that this day will be hitting Erin Ashley harder than anyone. We still don’t know who or what caused their deaths, and perhaps we never will. But for villains everywhere, this is a day for celebrating the absence of London’s former number one hero team.”
At that, I kick the off switch. Dead End. I wish I could hate Mel for what she did, but it was mum’s fault. I can’t bring myself to blame Mel. She only did what any self-respecting villain would do. Rule number one: An eye for an eye. Someone kills someone close to you, you retaliate twice as hard. If only my dad wasn’t a hero I might actually cry today. Imagine that. Though, there’s probably no need to. I can feel myself starting to lose it, I can feel myself start to well up, and I’ll be damned if I let Mel see me like this, so I force them back.
I’m not sad. I can’t be sad. The words, ‘Taylor’ and ‘tears’ are not compatible.
Out of the window, Mel is jogging over to the car, and I make one last desperate attempt to bury my emotions deep, closing my eyes and taking in a deep breath. My dad was a hero. My dad is dead. That is a good thing. I exhale. I would grin at that, too, but Mel opens the car door, and throws her stuff in the back seat, getting in and putting her seatbelt on.
“Ready?” she says, turning to me, with that all too arrogant grin of hers. But it disappears immediately once she looks at me. “What’s wrong?”
“What?” I try and laugh off her accusation, but I silently curse myself when I do. Me? Laugh? Good one. But I just roll with it. “Nothing’s wrong.” I turn away, and catch my reflection in the side-view mirror. Oh, you stupid, sneaky tears.
“Fabulous acting, Tay.” I don’t face her. She’s no doubt scrutinising me, and I don’t need this. It’s almost enough to make me just teleport home, and endure the evening with mum. “Is it because of today?”
“You know what? I’ll just walk.” I unbuckle my seatbelt and open my door. I put a leg out, but it comes right back in. The door slams shut again, and my seatbelt buckles itself, with me sitting firmly in my seat, sighing. Damn telekinetic.
“You can teleport,” she points out, “and you’re not leaving.”
“I easily could.”
“Tay, you realise it happened when I was ten?” she says it so incredulously, as if it makes any difference.
“Shut up.” It’s pretty much a whisper to myself. “Please, just shut up.”
“I didn’t even know you back then, and you can’t say you wouldn’t have done the same thing.”
Oh, I think I can. If her dad just broke into my house and killed one of my parents, I’d slaughter him, not his team.
“Is that what’s wrong?”
I don’t say a word. Nothing can be wrong. ‘Emotional’ is not in my vocabulary.
I don’t bother pointing out how stupid that request is. She obviously knows what’s wrong. It’s the same thing that I’ve tried and failed at hiding every year for the past six years that we’ve been friends.
“Can we just go?”
“Tay, sooner or later you’re just gonna have to—”
“I am fine,” I insist. Very convincing. But if it will stop her talking, and get this car moving, I don’t care. Why can’t she just shut up?
“You’re just going to have to accept that I did what I did. Nothing is going to change that fact.”
Dad dying was a good thing. It was a good thing. It was fucking a good thing. Don’t you dare cry, Taylor!
I take another deep breath, and hold it, keeping my gaze away from Mel.
“And you’re just going to have to accept that I didn’t regret it. I still don’t.”
Real villains don’t cry. Villains aren’t this pathetic. Keep yourself in check, Taylor.
But I can already feel them coming down my cheek.
“Tay . . .” She places her hand on my shoulder. I quickly shrug it off.
“I’ve gotta go,” I choke out.
Nobody needs to see this.
Every year . . . I hope that someday she’ll forgive me. As much as she says that there is nothing to forgive, I know that is not true. If ever there was a reason to hate the Thirteenth of November, Taylor has it. I really believed that she would be fine this year. I guess that was foolish on my part. With a sigh, I start the car.
“—Synergy,” the radio booms out.
This cannot be good. I turn it down a little, so I don’t deafen myself. There are very few reasons why the radio presenter would say that name, especially today of all days.
“Ex-leader of the world renowned clan Syphon. So, fellow villains, as well as a day for celebrating Dead End’s downfall, today is also a day for commemorating an inspiration to many. And now, from inspiration, to abomination; the bounty on Erin Ashley’s head is at it’s peak at this time of the year. Syphon will be paying out a ton of money to whoever can bring her to them, dead or alive, so get planning and embed your name in London’s history by being one of those who contributed towards the eradication of Dead End. Happy planning, and happy November Thirteenth, to you all.”
Garbage, lies and idiocy. Oh, Tay, please tell me you didn’t listen to this.
I spend the rest of the ride home in silence. As pleasing as listening to news of dead heroes is, it just reminds me of how depressing this must all be for her, and that’s something I definitely don’t need a reminder of. As I pull up in front of my house, I take note of the car in the driveway, and just park in front of the house.
“Ugh. You vile woman.”
I can’t deal with this right now. Mother may be a fairly well-known hero, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting to earn a little extra money on the side. Well, a whole lot of extra money, really. Of course, she chooses the most vulgar job, and decides to ‘entertain gentlemen callers’ for money. What’s worse is that she thinks that it is appropriate to talk about her . . . activities with me.
No mother. It is far from appropriate to talk about your sexual activities with your seventeen year old daughter. It is disgusting.
I recognise the car, though. This man comes every Friday, without fail, and from what I’ve reluctantly heard, he is her best customer, both financially and . . . the other way. Oh, no, I’m definitely not going in there.
So, I wait, resisting the urge to turn on the radio. I practice trying to lift and move my car, mentally. I get nowhere. I wind the window down, send a fly out of my car, and wind it up again, mentally. I even attempt to levitate myself. I don’t even move an inch.
How long does it take to—actually, I really do not want to know, but I get my answer soon. I don’t know when he arrived, but since I have been out here, he has been in there for around thirty minutes. He straightens up his tie as he exits my house, with mother leaning in the doorway, wearing nothing but a shirt that barely covers her underwear.
She notices my car immediately, and her smile falls. She says her quick goodbyes, and shuts the door, leaving the man to just stroll to his car and drive away, fully satisfied that he just defiled my mother. It’s really quite interesting how men never seem to notice me in my car, right outside the house, when they leave. Maybe I should kill them all as they leave. At least they would die happy. Ugh . . .
Before I get out, I start the car up again, and park it in the driveway. Maybe that will deter any other ‘gentlemen callers’ for the day, because I am not just going to sit in my room and endure the sounds if more come. Swinging my bag over my shoulder, I get out, and prepare myself for the wreckage that I know I’ll find.
I’ll be honest, I would not have even needed to see the man or his car to know that it was him who was here, because as I walk through to the living room, so many pieces of furniture have been broken and shuffled. Yes, the living room. I used to call it the family room, but hardly any family friendly activities happen in here anymore. The coffee table has collapsed, the couch has tipped over backwards, all my bookshelves have also either fallen or broken with my books scattered all over the floor. And if those don’t prove the fact of what took place here, I make a show out of picking up her bra from the floor with my thumb and forefinger. She comes in, actually wearing legwear for once, when we don’t have guests.
“You whore,” I say, holding up the exhibit for her to see. Her hair is still out of control, not as much as Tay’s, but hey, she is actually wearing something appropriate, so I won’t complain.
She cranes her head around me and above me, looking out of the door of our little bungalow. “Where’s Taylor? I thought she was—”
I just shake my head before she even finishes.
“Same as always?”
I nod slightly. Maybe she needs a psychiatrist. It might help.
She sighs, much like I did. “So, I put my clothes on for nothing.”
“Whore.” I try not to laugh. It doesn’t work out.
I pass her on my way to my room, and she calls back down the hall, “Hey, if you’re good at something and it feels good, why not do it for money?”
“Whore,” I call back, and throw my bag across the tiny space that is my room. You wouldn’t think that mother earns a lot from both of her jobs, just by looking at this place.
The bed feels fabulous, though, as I fall back on it, fully clothed. Today was, indeed, tiring, enduring mind-numbingly tedious lessons, having to pretend to be nice to people who I wish would just hurry up and die, and then there’s Taylor; just waiting for that inevitable moment when she would just break, and not believing how much she is still hurting from it. Yes, if there is one thing that I regret, it’s hurting her.
Stop . . . Stop . . . Just stop. This is sick. I need to stop. My pillow is swamped with tears, with my face buried in it. Mum, for once, is knocking at the door, hoping that I’ll let her in. That’s not going to happen. I remember when we all used to be so happy, when everything was carefree and I didn’t have to restrain myself from killing every last person who felt the need to make me feel better.
“Taylor, please let me in.” Wow. Mum’s being nice. I hate nice.
Dad’s dead. It’s her fault. Why would I let her in? I can’t let her in. I don’t want to kill her. No.
Just stop, Taylor.
I’m sobbing. I never sob . . . except every year on this day. That’s when I’m always weak. Pathetic. I roll over, with my back to the door. As much as I try to wipe the tears away, more come, and more, and more, endlessly. I may be crying, but it’s as if my body is just laughing at me, saying, “Ha, ha! You’re life’s a joke. Why don’t you do something helpful for once and just die. Ha, ha!” Sounds like a plan, to be honest.
“Dad.” It’s barely a croak. I didn’t mean for it to come out. Mum sighs outside of my door. Why can’t she leave me alone?
I quickly bury my face in my pillow again, and drown in it, letting it soak everything up, wishing my body could just tire out, wishing this day would just hurry up and leave me alone. Hell, maybe I’m right. Maybe I should just die.
Leave me alone!
I shoot a sharp glare at her, before turning away again. Why is she here?
Stop crying. Stop. Stop, damn it! She can’t see you like this.
My mattress falls a little as she sits down on it. She’s here to stay.
“Do you know why I put up with all your shit?”
Put up with me? That makes me feel fabulous mum, thanks.
“It’s because you’re my daughter and I love you.”
The L-word. I think I might puke.
“And I know you won’t care, you won’t listen, but it wasn’t my fault.”
Of course not. Your knife just jumped out of your bandolier and inserted itself into Anthony’s chest. I really believe you, keep it up.
“But you can’t keep doing this to yourself. I really mean it, you need to stop being friends with her.”
I need to stop being friends with the only person I care about, anymore?
“You know it makes sense.”
No. Just leave. Come on, Tay. Just tell her to fuck the hell off.
But it does make sense, and yet she’s my best-friend. That’s not going to happen, mum.
“Come on. At least talk to me.”
And say what? If I open my mouth, I know what will come out and I don’t want to start that again. I’ve learned to just stay quiet with her. It’s better for both of us, that way. But she does need to leave now, and what better way than to make her wish I was never her daughter?
And there’s the unmistakable sound of a door being blown off. It would be far more startling if this didn’t happen every year. If I wasn’t trying to just block everything out and just cry myself out. Why can’t the world just leave me alone?
“Where are you, you dumb bitch?” some half-brained cunt shouts from downstairs.
Worthless, pathetic, swine. I roll out of the bed, and open my drawer, pulling out a black carbon steel knife. Taking a firm grip of the black leather handle, I glance at mum, as she walks out, probably going to get hers, and I teleport downstairs, into the entrance hall.
There’s a whole crowd of people about to storm the house, all wearing the same very dark green jumpsuits, with the letter V embedded on the left and their small logo of the head of a bull on the right. This is a clan, one of the more well-known ones, but that doesn’t mean a damn thing. They still stop when they witness me just appear in front of them, out of nowhere.
“Every year,” I mumble. “Take a fucking hint!” I scream at the crowd of wannabe villains, commonly known as criminals. No self-respecting villain clan would have a uniform. Same colours? Maybe. Uniform. Never. Even I know that. “You’re not gonna kill my mum, so stop trying. Now get the fuck out of my house, and go die!” That really does a number on my throat. I can usually scream until the sky turns black.
As enjoyable as taking out every last one of them can be, I am just not in the mood. I never thought the day would come when I would stand in front of a group of idiots like these, a knife in my hand, ready to hack, slash and stab, and I wouldn’t be in the mood to slaughter them all. I need to get a grip.
“Get out of the way,” one of the men in the doorway says, stepping in, making his way towards me. “We don’t want to hurt a comrade.” He brushes his hair out of his eyes, staring intently at me, with his arms out. He may not want to hurt me, but if he even so much as touches me or mum, there’s only going to be one outcome.
They’re not my comrades. They’re just pathetic criminals, way in over their heads.
“Put the knife down.” He actually has the audacity to reach out to me, edging closer so that we’re inches apart. The other criminals behind him, there must be at least thirty, slowly start to file in. And then he makes the biggest mistake of his worthless life. He places his hand around mine and says “We won’t hurt you, and we won’t kill her, but we will take her.”
You’d think that people would be smart enough to not piss off a girl who could kill them in a second. You learn something new everyday, I guess. One very simple thing happens when he says that. I teleport behind him and jam my knife in his back, through his spine, between his ribs and right where his heart should be. Dead. I jam it in there deep, very slowly twisting, savouring the moment, and very slowly pulling it out. He falls forward with a thud, staining our carpet with his blood. That does makes me chuckle a little. Oh god, that gives me goose bumps all over! To say that was satisfying would be a massive understatement! And to think, I thought that this wouldn’t cheer me up. I’ve got a whole horde of criminals in front of me with a death wish. What could be better?
“I think you enjoyed that a little too much,” mum says, coming down the stairs with her bandolier and knife belt, two knives in her hands. It’s funny, the only time I like her is when we’re killing together. Every year on this day when she’s either your inspiration to do good, or to hate heroes for life. “Wanna make it a contest?”
That gets something of a smile out of me, and as she throws one of her knives into the head of an idiot at the door, they all charge in.