Syndicate – Chapter One

(Blogging… Effort… Lack thereof… So, here’s chapter one of Syndicate, the previous, abandoned version of my current WIP. Strong language follows, so…)

Chapter One: The Catalyst

Erin woke up. That wasn’t the problem. She woke up abruptly, from a sound dreamless sleep of complete, glorious blackness, to completely wired. In bed with her, Khloe’s blinding yellow eyes flew open, staring into Erin’s grey. But, the couple shared the same expression of tired annoyance, with their eyes half closed and their brows pulled down.

“Do you want to kill him, or shall I?” Khloe asked. The little clock on their bedside table read five-thirty-two. Khloe groaned, sounding like a wounded animal, and hid herself further underneath the warmth of their duvet, nuzzling up in Erin’s chest. Any other time and Erin might have called the way a half smile played across Khloe’s small round face cute. But her friend next door was her prime focus right now. Anthony was the prime target.

Ladies.

The thought wasn’t her own, nor did it sound like a thought. It was Anthony’s voice, clear and crisp in her head.

Are you actually looking to die? Erin thought. The number of times she had told him to stay the hell out of her head must have been bordering on the hundreds now. Even with the consequences of slashing him across the face, he still hadn’t learned. She shut her eyes tight, wishing she could just jam a knife through Anthony’s head and be done with him. That would surely stop that damned telepathy of his.

Leach called, Anthony sent to her head. He wants us to do another errand for him.

Erin’s eyes flew open as she stared past Khloe at their room door. It was five-thirty in the morning. Five-thirty in the morning and both Erin and Khloe had gone to bed only a few hours earlier. And  now Anthony woke them up because that useless swine had an errand for them?

“I’ll kill him,” Erin mumbled, rolling out of bed. She opened the drawer of her bedside table, pulling out a short, but effective combat knife, and walked through the solid wall of her bedroom, as if it were nothing but air, into Anthony’s room. He was already dressed and was on his laptop, doing one thing or another. He looked up at her and scrambled off of his bed, his laptop falling from his lap and snapping shut, upside-down.

“Erin, wait. This is—” He looked down her body, and then averted his gaze.

She looked down, finding herself in only her underwear. Well, if this was the worst the telepath had seen her as she would have been grateful. But right now, she couldn’t give a damn about how he saw her. As she approached him, she let out a quiet yawn and wiped the tears it made in her eyes. He did well staying right where he was. Resistance never faired well for the man. She cornered his stuttering, jittery self and stabbed him in the knee. Nothing fatal. Nothing Jessie wouldn’t be able to heal. But painful enough for him to clench his teeth, groaning in pain, as if it made him any more of a man for not screaming. He still pathetically writhed around on the floor.

Erin shut her eyes with her head down, a reluctant smile playing across her face. If she could continue to stab the man and get away with it, she so would. Not only would she love the feeling, but she wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore. But nothing more needed saying. She walked back through the wall into her own room, crawling back under her duvet with Khloe and swiftly proceeded to holding her close.

“You didn’t kill him, did you?” Khloe asked.

“Not yet,” Erin mumbled, closing her eyes and begging sleep to take her again.

Anthony managed to limp his way to Jessie’s room, all the way on the other side of the headquarters, holding back the groans he wanted to make with each step. He had knocked on her door a couple of times, but on not getting an answer, and the sharp agony in his knee getting more and more painful by the second, he resorted to banging his fist against it. The door eventually opened, revealing a young woman rubbing her eyes with one hand and the other arm leaning against the doorframe. As she stood in the doorway, she didn’t look at her boss with pity or even mild concern. She took in his injury and her frown gave way for a short giddy chuckle. “If I wasn’t here, would you still piss off Erin as much as you do?”

He shook his head. “If you weren’t here she wouldn’t be able to do this all the time.”

She gestured him in. “On the floor.”

Anthony carefully lay himself on Jessie’s floor, gritting his teeth, and pulled the leg of his trousers to past his knee. He winced at the open wound and the trails of blood all down his leg, and immediately turned away, closing his eyes before his stomach could respond to the sight.

Jessie just chuckled quietly at him. “Nice.” She placed her hands over the wound. Initially, it stung sharp and harsh. Anthony took a sharp intake of breath, but shut his eyes tighter. Jessie wasn’t the best healer out there, but she got the job done . . . eventually. After a good half minute of silence, the pain slowly subsided, and when he opened his eyes, the wound slowly but surely began to close and heal.

“What’d you do this time?” Jessie asked.

Anthony took Jessie in as she stared at her hands over his knee. Her hair, usually in a punk rock do from the eighties, was a shoulder-length mess that could only have been achieved right after getting up, natural black on one side and natural white on the other. With her pure white irises, outlined black with the black pupils, if she was in her everyday attire and not her pyjamas, she would look like a walking fad.

“Is there something on my face?” she said, briefly glimpsing up at him before resuming staring at her hands.

“I’m sorry?”

“The staring. Please stop it.”

 “Oh. Sorry.” He glanced around the room, and bit back the urge to ask her how she could live in this twister of clothes all over the place. “I didn’t do anything to Erin,” he said, absentmindedly, as he wondered how someone could let such small room get so messy. Weren’t girls supposed to be neat?

She chuckled a little, again, as the pain had all but disappeared from his knee. “Erin might have a short temper but she doesn’t stab people for no reason.”

Anthony allowed himself a small grin. “Then you don’t know her as well as you think you do.”

“Don’t piss her off. Don’t get hurt.” She stood up straight, hands on her hips and nodded at her handiwork. “There.”

Anthony stood and swung his leg back and forth from the joint of his knee, testing out her handiwork. He smiled faintly at the young healer. “Thank you.”

“No probs.” She smiled back, brushing her fingers lightly on his shoulder on her way back to her bed. “Now get out,” she said, crawling back in and covering herself from head to toe.

“I’m sorry?”

“I don’t know about you, but normal people don’t wake up before six a.m. Get out, please.”

He left it at that, and left her room.

Returning to his own room, he changed into his uniform, tight and uncomfortable as the black and green leather jumpsuit was. Leach had called, saying that a new clan had made a headquarters on his clan’s territory. And even though territory was a dead and buried concept, he had no immediate plans of getting on Leach’s bad side. He had asked Syphon, Anthony’s clan, to take care of it. If he had asked Khloe or Erin, he could have guessed that they wouldn’t have bothered. No doubt it would greatly annoy Erin. But this was Leach, and though the vast numbers of his clan in general may not have been as up to scratch as the few members of Syphon, Anthony just could not see the point in pointlessly arguing with someone like him.

As he left his room, and started down the corridor, he sighed and stopped halfway down it. “Can I help you, Erin? I thought you wanted to sleep.”

Running his hands through his head of blonde curls, he turned to face his co-leader as she stood in her robe with her arms crossed. A few seconds rummaging around in her head was all it took to validate the obvious.

“You pathetic piece of shit,” she said to him with a shake of her head, and began stalking towards him.

“Erin—”

“You pathetic piece of shit,” she said once more, enunciating it far more than before. “What has he got you doing this time?”

“Erin—”

“Why should we even bother calling you a Syphon leader? You do so much for Nexus you might as well fuck off and join them.”

“And a very good morning to you, too,” he said, as she stood right in his face. Well . . . up to his shoulders. From high school till now she had always been a malicious, little, black-haired devil. It didn’t bother him then, but now . . .

“Tell me, because I really want to know; how does it feel being Leach’s bitch?”

Anthony showed nothing on his features and turned his back to her. He wasn’t going to start an argument. There was no point. But as he made to leave her there, she took a hold of his arm, spun him around and pushed him against the door of an empty room with a mild pain shooting up his back.

She leaned in close, a glare sharp on her lightly freckled, yet seemingly poreless face, and as embarrassing as it was to admit, even if he tried he wouldn’t be able to get her off him.

“I’m going to spell this out slowly and clearly of you, Anty, dearie.”

“Erin—”

“You sure like saying my name, don’t you?” Try as he might not to, a small blush found it’s way onto his cheeks, but she thankfully ignored it. “We are one of the top clans in the whole of England. Number one in this fucking city.” London’s not exactly known for their top notch villains, though, Erin, Anthony read in her thoughts, though she kept that in her head. “We don’t need you pissing our reputation away by being Leach’s whipping boy. Okay?”

“We’re allies. Am I meant to just ignore his requests?” As his voice broke at the end, of course, she grinned, short-lived as it was. He refused to let her get to him.

“No. You’re right.” She let him go, but he stayed tensed. “You are right. Go. Wipe Leach’s fucking arse. Go suck him off. And while you’re at it, you might as well find your own damn balls.”

He knew it was sarcasm, but he still made to leave. He didn’t even take one step before Erin held him by the shoulders again and pushed him against the wall.

“Are you seriously that stupid?”

“Erin—”

“What?” she snapped back. Harsh and vicious.

“You’re being unreasonable.” She didn’t respond, but her brows pulled down more. “Besides, you can’t . . .” He swallowed and averted his gaze. She narrowed her eyes, and Anthony could feel his heart beating faster. “You can’t tell me what to do.” He mentally kicked himself. He sounded like a child. More childish than Taylor, even. And that was quite the feat.

A sound of slight mirth escaped from her, and she let him go. She lightly slapped him twice. Just a light tap. She might as well have said, ‘Aw, bless.’ It would have been just as condescending.

“You are quite the joker.”

“Erin—”

“Again with my name! Stop it! It’s freakin’ creepy!” She stepped back from him and made her way back to her own room. “You do anything stupid,” she called back as she punched in the code for her door, “and I’ll make you regret it.”

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said, as he made his way back down the corridor. No doubt it wouldn’t be anything Jessie couldn’t heal.

Walking the streets early in the morning in his uniform was never an issue. It was certainly smarter the driving in a metal death trap that any random freak could destroy, if they had the right ability. Though, if someone was planning an attack on him, Anthony would see it coming a mile away. It would take a special kind of fool to think that they could get the jump on a telepath. It would take an even bigger fool to walk the streets of a villain-run city. Even if the streets were filled, which at the moment, they weren’t, he wouldn’t be that worried.

The address Leach had given him for the intruding clan was quite a few blocks away from Syphon headquarters. Anthony had known a new clan were converting an old school into a headquarters. It just hadn’t interested him enough to look further into it. All he knew was that they were a fairly new clan called Vitality that had somehow managed to slip under everyone’s radars for so long. He turned on to the road, and it was easy to see that the building right at the end of the dead-end road was the headquarters for Vitality.

It was maybe a three-hundred yard road, and he already knew he had been spotted. A bird perched atop a hanging stone gargoyle on the front of the building had spotted him. Except Anthony was in its head, and it wasn’t a bird. It had been a long time since he had come across a shapeshifter.

As he approached the headquarters, he still couldn’t see the bird clearly, but getting into the mind of the shapeshifter, he knew it some sort of large owl. A smart choice of bird for a lookout. Nevertheless, as much as he could appreciate that tiny act of competence, taking them out was the first thing on his agenda. Getting scolded by Erin was the second. Still in the head of the bird, he listened as the bird-man thought about changing into an eagle, and watched as the far away shape changed and vaguely grew in size. It cried out loudly. An alarm, no doubt.

Anthony pulled out his revolvers, but didn’t quicken his pace. If he was going to get torn to pieces by Erin when he got back, he might as well have fun with this now. Maybe one-hundred feet away now, and in unbelievably quick time from the bird’s alarm, two other members of the clan ran out, and in their own uniform. He had to give them credit. For a new clan, they seemed to be on top of things. Their headquarters wasn’t too shabby, either. But as he neared the clan and the most recent arrivals, he stopped dead in his tracks.

The new arrivals did the same as they took in the sight of Anthony. Neither party could believe it to be true. He willed his legs to move forward. The two new arrivals couldn’t be who he thought they were. Still, as he neared them, there was no mistaking it.

He holstered his guns again and approached Damon and Jon LeRoux.

“Uh . . .” was all that came out of Anthony’s mouth. Damon with his headband, holding back that long blue hair of his, and his turquoise eyes to match. This was Damon LeRoux. “Um . . .” This was new. Anthony rarely came up speechless. But if this was who Leach wanted gone from his territory, then Anthony couldn’t have made a better choice in coming.

Jon looked Anthony up and down. And just like him, even after all the years since high school, he was just as expressionless as ever. “Anthony Raine.” Jon gave him another once over. “In Syphon attire. I never would have guessed.”

He wanted to respond to that, but Damon was the one who took his attention. Damon was the one who had some serious explaining to do. Damon was the one, as much as he knew Erin would hate to admit it, they couldn’t harm. “Damon,” Anthony said as Damon averted his gaze. He knew what Anthony was thinking. How could he not?

“I know,” Damon said when Anthony didn’t look away from him. Both him and Jon sounded so different from all those years ago. Naturally they would, but it was still a strange sound to him. “I know.”

Anthony opened his mouth, and waited for his mind to catch up with something to say. “If you weren’t Taylor’s father . . .” Damon noticeably winced as Anthony said his daughter’s name. If he wasn’t Taylor’s father, if his old friend, Jon, wasn’t in this clan too, Anthony would just let Leach take out this clan and be done with it. But that was not the case. He looked between the two men and sighed through his nose. “If you’d be so kind to invite me in, I think we need to catch up.” It wasn’t said with the friendly tone of meeting a close friend from high school. He couldn’t keep his gaze off of Damon. He couldn’t even imagine how pissed off Erin would get at the mere sight of him.

“Come then,” Jon said, and turned back, walking back towards his headquarters.

Both Anthony and Damon stayed behind. “Could you . . . stop staring . . . please?”

“Could you give Taylor a childhood where she has a father?” Damon looked to the floor, and Anthony started to follow Jon. “No? Then I suggest against requesting anything of me.”

As Anthony passed the gate, he could read all the scenarios Damon was playing over in his head about how things would go should he see Erin again. None resulted in him being beaten to a bloody pulp.

“Optimistic jackass,” Anthony mumbled, entering Vitality headquarters.

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Syndicate – Prologue

Taylor Ashley sank her knife into just another nobody villain. No matter how many times she did it, she loved the feeling. Nothing compared to it. Carbon steel in squidgy flesh. Watching the life drain from his face, Taylor could no longer suppress the chuckle building up in her own chest. As she pulled the knife out and let him fall to the floor with a thud, she felt tingles all over her body. Oh, how she loved killing!

A final bang from a revolver echoed loud and proud in the now almost lifeless hall. Taylor turned in time to face her friend as she holstered her revolver and watched her own victim fall.

“Well,” Melissa said, “time for bed, I think.” Melissa walked over and linked her arms into Taylor’s, ignoring the frowning it spurred in her and glancing around the hall at all the dead bodies lying over pews, lying on the floor, lying on top of other dead bodies. This wasn’t a battle. It was a slaughter. “This wasn’t nearly as much fun as I imagined it would be.”

“You expected some random clan, fucked up enough to think attacking one of our members was a good idea, to be a challenge?” Taylor shook her head at her naive companion. But still. Melissa was right. Looking outside the windows, it was starting to get light outside and her eyes were starting to get heavy.

In an instant their bland surroundings, the comfort of being around her lifeless victims, all disappeared as she teleported the two of them onto their corridor in their own clan headquarters. If it wasn’t for the unnecessary number of unnecessary sconces illuminating all the way down the corridor, Taylor imagined it would be pretty difficult for Melissa to see. Not that seeing in the dark would ever be a problem for Taylor. It was just a little taste of her mother’s ability. Inherited.

To say that their headquarters was oversized for the number of members they had would be an understatement. On this corridor the only rooms that were occupied were Melissa’s and Taylor’s, opposite from one another.

As they reached the middle of the corridor, and their rooms, Melissa unlinked their arms and kissed her on her cheek. “Goodnight.” She turned and began inputting the four-figure code for her door, while Taylor frowned and vigorously rubbed at her cheek.

“It’s things like that that makes Jess and Kerri think we’re a thing.”

Melissa’s door opened, the green metal sliding upwards, and she leaned in the doorway, smiling back at her best friend. “It’s reactions like that that will make me continue.” She turned on her heel, and walked inside as the door slid back down and closed. “Goodnight, sweetie,” she called through the door.

“Goodnight, cutie,” Taylor called back. As Melissa’s giggle travelled through the door, Taylor’s smile stayed with her as she teleported into her own room. She couldn’t even remember the last time she went to bed at night instead of the morning. Nevertheless, she changed out of her uniform into sweatpants and surrounded herself in the comfort of her mattress and duvet. She slept like a baby, with wonderful dreams of taking on entire clans on her own, and cutting vigilantes to pieces.

Syphon – Chapter One

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.

“Just answer.”

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.

“Taylor, listen.”

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?

“Mum—”

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.