A Ticking Heart

Ring!

The flashing, colorful lights distorted the message shown on the screen, but it wasn’t too hard to make out the words: Just picked up hot dude. Taking me home. Now it’s your turn… plenty of hotties out there, Don’t worry about me btw!

drinks

photo Yvonne Yiwen Lee 2011© (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Downing her tequila shot, Ashley straightened her outfit, the black dress pants having been slightly wrinkled. Alex had persuaded her to “let go” after winning a martial arts tournament against what was once an undefeated champion, the youngest to win a major league competition as well. Despite the dancing and laughing at first, she found herself sitting on a stool at the bar for the last half hour, and soon, each cocktail that passed by all started to taste the same. Even with Alex’s encouragement, she never found the guys presented before her interesting or worthwhile.

“Bartender! Another shot this way!”

The chilling breeze swept through the city as she staggered out of the bar. Her ability to withstand alcohol had been tested today, and it had obviously been pushed to the limits. The law should just lower the legal drinking age to 20. Glancing back, she had to admit, the bar was certainly attractive, having been placed behind an extravagant garden. As she approached the parking lot, a moan caught her attention, as well as a barrage of several female voices that followed after. While it certainly wasn’t her business to intervene in these types of situations, a pained grunt soon after, prompted her to investigate. The high-pitched whispers and giggles led her to a secluded area behind a few trees, and looking through, she saw an embarrassing sight. 5 teenage females were surrounding a male that looked like her age, struggling to stand up. He never fully made it beyond his knees, remaining in an almost pathetic-looking fetal position.

“Well well girls, who has the honor of starting?”

“I dropped the pill, so I’m going first,” a girl firmly said, her slinky green dress barely gracing the bottom of her backside. Straddling him, she began to peel off his shirt, where all he could do was groan. Sickening…

“Hey! You girls shouldn’t team up on such a defenseless guy. You ruin the meaning of ‘fair game.’”

“Why don’t you go back to where you came from leech? He’s ours. Mess with us, and we’ll hurt you to where you won’t be able to even crawl back for help.”

“P.S. we’re all black belts!”

Ashley didn’t pay much attention to the ones who spoke, keeping an eye on the male student instead. However hard he tried, he flopped back down, his glazed eyes meeting hers, begging for help. Was he worth it? Perhaps he was, perhaps he wasn’t.

She stepped forward, slipping her heels off, as the sounds of her cracking knuckles echoed through the clearing. “Bring it on.”

But she loved a fight.

The first who rushed forward most definitely wasn’t involved in any physical activities. Even if she was, she certainly didn’t show it, as she collapsed instantly. And that was one of my softest hits…

The others went down fairly quickly, except for the one still straddled atop of him. Her eyes were dark, yet fearful after realizing the rest of her sad companions had fell.

Shoving him into the ground, she stood up, now exuding confidence. “I’m warning you. I’m a black belt.”

“Try me then.”

She must admit, the girl had a nice form at first, where dodging her blows actually required effort. However, it was fun toying with her. The effort would be remarkable, were she a decent person. Now, only a weakened, pathetic being stood in front of her, makeup smudged from the sweat that dripped down from her brow.

“Now it’s my turn,” Ashley said, spinning around and delivering a flawless back-kick.

Still conscious enough to groan and attempt standing up, Ashley lifted her up by the collar of her dress. “If you tell anyone about this, I’ll be sure to make good of my wealth and destroy you.”

The girl slumped down exhaustedly after being let go, while Ashley made her way to the still groggy male. Hoisting him up, she led him across the clearing to where her car was parked. After leaning him against the passenger seat, she made her way behind the wheel, and sped back to her house at godspeed.

She laid him on the couch, a blanket now draped over him. She had also set a glass of water on the table nearby, in case he were to wake up after the effects of what she deduced as the date-rape drug. Tired herself, she didn’t bother to slip in the nightgown she regularly wore to bed, and slipped under the covers as soon as she reached her bed.

A loud thud woke Ashley up, and soon, her bedroom door burst open as well. She sprang up immediately, grabbing the nearest lamp and smashing it atop the nearest intruder’s head. Within the chaos and sounds of her own punches and groans, she could make out: “Get him to safety!” Suddenly, a strike on the small of her shoulder sent darkness overcoming her vision.

Ashley awoke to a dim light, though harsh after her recent awakening. She tried to raise her hands up to rub her eyes, but a cold metal pressed against her skin, halting her action. Struggling, she attempted to get them off, but in the back of her mind, she knew it was a pathetic move.

“I know you can hear me you dogs! Let me out right now!” she shouted, staring at the one-way mirror. She kept her eyes on a specific spot, scowling where she could safely assume someone’s eyes were. I’ve been in these situations more than enough to know what’s going on.

Accepting her trapped condition, she put it to good use, laying her head down onto the cold, metal table. “I needed the rest anyway.”

She had just begun to drift off, when the door opened. In walked the once defenseless male she had saved just earlier. Now, he was surrounded by bodyguards in dark sunglasses, one with a nasty-looking cut right where she had struck with the lamp.

“I deeply apologize for the treatment Ms…”

“Vera.”

“Well Ms. Vera, I apologize for the actions of my bodyguards earlier. They were just trying to get me to safety, and they thought you were a kidnapper. My contractor father is quick to react.”

“How flattering.” She raised her cuffed hands as high as they could, raising an eyebrow. “Would you mind letting me go now?”

“Of course, I’m sorry. I hadn’t thought of my rudeness to explain in front of a cuffed person. Guard.”

Ashley rubbed her wrists after she was released, where she promptly made her way out of the door.

“Wait, would you like a ride home?”

She brushed off his hand from hers, continuing on. “I’ll manage.”

Beep beep beep!

“4 hours of sleep. Wonderful.”

She combed back the lion’s mane on her head, brushed her teeth, put on her uniform, and hopped in her car. The drive to the university was brief, where her apartment had served the purpose of doing saving her the trouble of a long drive. Came at a price though. $500,000 my ass. Lucky my charms kicked in when they did. 

Making her way towards her locker, she felt a few stares thrown in her direction. And my day was going so well already. Next time I see that bastard, I’m going to beat him up for the sake of my sleep schedule. She reached her locker, and promptly unlocked

Bouquet_of_pink_roses

photo Kain Kalju 2011© (CC BY 2.0)

it. What she saw after almost made her drop her books. On the door, stickers read: From Apollo Rin ♥.
Stacked inside for a dozen chocolate boxes and a bouquet
of roses delicately set against the side.

She grabbed her books and slammed the locker closed, shocking the gawking surrounding students, who immediately began to whisper. “If I see that bastard, I’m going to do more than beat him senseless. Creep.”

The bell hadn’t rung yet, but she would rather sit in a surely empty classroom than wander in the hallways filled with conspiracies. She buried her face into a book, not wanting to hear any of the claims the students were coming up at the moment. Word spread fast in this school… too fast. As soon as the thought ran through her mind, she had the glamorous run-in with another student.

“Sorry…” she started, glancing up. However, she was met with an all-too-familiar face.

“You!”

His face held surprise, but soon, he held a cocky smile. “Did you enjoy my gift Ashley? I didn’t thank you yesterday for saving my dignity.”

“Look, I’m fine with you looking through the bar’s security cameras to review your pathetic mistake, but I’ll be damned if you’re going to stalk me like this.”

“Hey, I’m the student council’s president. Of course I’m meant to have this type of information.”

He didn’t get another word out before his saliva ended up on the wall beside him. “And as a violated person, as well as the captain of the girls’ martial arts team, I’m allowed to do that. Need a bandaid? Go to the nurse’s office.”

The day continued on, and so did classes. Finally, her last period came, and thankfully, it was martial arts. The punching bag allowed her to blow off steam, her anger fueled by the rumors that drifted through each class she was in. “Slut, whore, leech, playgirl…” The list continues. Even a few slaps came her way, though none of them were close to making contact.

“Hey Ashley!”

She paused in delivering rage-fueled blows, a break in the leather indicating how mad she was. Otherwise, her expression had remained stoic throughout the day.

“You okay?” Her coach had approached her, along with other members of the team, Alex included.

“Fine, just preparing for next week’s tournament in Japan.”

“We heard the rumors. If it helps, we all don’t believe it,” Ainsley whispered, an often optimistic person on the team, though she now looked at Ashley with pity.

“I’m fine guys. No need to worry. Words don’t hurt me… Anyway, girls, get to practicing. The event’s not far from now.”

She sauntered towards the locker room after that, the only objective in mind was spending a night with her own booze. After changing, she rushed to her car, where it seemed as if the day couldn’t end fast enough. However, she halted at the sight of Apollo standing casually beside her car. “Hey.”

“What do you want?” She crossed her arms, bringing up what she hoped looked like a convincing glare.

“You’ve been crying haven’t you?” He had made his way to her, and this time, her glare had fallen to the ground.

“Words cut, you know? I taught myself to stand strong, but even I can’t get through accusations.”

She felt his forefinger lift her chin up, so that her eyes could reach his. From there, it was her first time meeting such blue eyes, filled with such protectiveness and kindness. “Let me treat you to dinner?” he asked, as if he was scared she’d punch him again.

“Why not?” She almost laughed when his eyes lit up, but part of her despised him for creating this mess.

“I have a request though. The dinner takes place at my flat.” She prompted him to challenge her, but like someone trying to make things up, he had no choice, but to agree.

“Deal.”

“Ashley Vera, did you seriously just have dinner with THE Apollo Rin? Girl, even with all this happening, that’s been my dream since forever.”

“Relax Alex, it was a friendly dinner.”

“But you cooked for him!”

“Because I didn’t want to go to a fancy restaurant and risk running into more who hate my guts.”

“Hey Ashley…”

“Yea?”

“Did you tell him?” Alex’s voice had lowered, now ladened with sadness.

“No.”


The trip to Japan came shortly after. To be honest, she was glad to be getting away from the school. Being in a new environment with her closest friends would surely offer relaxation, away from the verbal abuse. Besides, it’ll be a chance for her to kick some more ass. Also, it’d get the pursuing Alex off her tail. Every day, it was always something new, be it a new necklace or a serenade. That guy is out of his mind. But, he deserves to know the truth soon.

“The match is close ladies! Ashley Vera delivered flawless hits, but Ming West has also struck back with equal intensity!” The ringleader stood on the side, clutching the mic in excitement.

Ashley’s head spun, with bruises already appearing all over her body. Ming was certainly one of her toughest opponents, her lean, yet sturdy structure, providing an advantage in delivering both fast and powerful strikes. However, she was faster.

“And we have a winner! Ashley Vera has claimed the platinum rank medal!”

Ashley had changed into a white, flowing dress, though her bruises were on full display. Never said I was going out tonight anyway. Alex had almost persuaded her once again, but she had the strength to refuse her begging this time. Must have been her throbbing head and nausea talking though.

“Ashley, wait up!”

She turned around, her eyes unfocused, but the voice could only have belonged to one person. “Apollo, what in the world are you doing here?”

“Supporting you, of course. Hey, you alright?”

“No. But I’ll survive.”

“You’re not going home alone in this state. Luckily, I rented a car here.”

It was his turn to tuck her into bed this time, where he carefully laid her into his bed. His lips brushed her forehead, as he murmured, “Sleep well princess.”

“Wait.” She held his hand in a vice grip, her eyes still shut because if she opened them, it would only make her urge to vomit stronger.

“I can’t be with you.”

“And why not?” She could tell he was hurting, his fake confidence clear.

“Because my story isn’t all that great. My parents were infamous drug-dealers back in the day. Nathan Vera, jailed a grand total of 30 times. Despite their occupation, they were loyal and loving parents, never once abandoned me. If one was in jail, the other would resist doing anything noticeable that would land them in prison. However, when I was just 6, my parents were murdered, but luckily, I wasn’t present, or else, they would have gotten me too. I inherited their fortune, however illegal the actions were that got them. An elderly couple later took me in, and raised me up until they were murdered, on the day I turned 10. I was at school that day, and the police took care of the murderers and protected me. From then on, I just hopped around from foster family to foster family until I was 18. Nobody wanted to care for a girl who had caused the deaths of 2 people…”

Silence filled the room for what seemed like hours after that. Sleep invading her thoughts, all Ashley could say was, “Get away while you still can. Use my room tonight instead.”

Ashley woke up in a cold sweat, her nightmares of haunted funerals still vivid in her memory. Suddenly, she realized that something heavy was draped across her stomach, and looking down, she realized it was an arm. There he laid, his messy hair draped across his closed eyes.

“Fool, you were meant to run away.” She murmured, stroking back tufts of hair.

“Well, you’ll be glad to know that a guy will do crazy things for a girl he wants to be with.” To her surprise, he rose up alongside with her, his eyes meeting hers.

“Now, you’re in danger because I’m not willing to let you go either.”


Day after day, he showered her with love, where their week of Japan was spent in bliss. After that, it was back to classes. I wonder if everyone got tired of of coming up with insults yet. It was a wishful thinking on her end, but she knew by now that it was better to remain pessimistic. Thankfully, Apollo was quick to stop them, all while showing them the PDA they wished wasn’t true. He was officially off the market, and he was hers. Perhaps all my suffering has been leading me up to this happiness.

It wasn’t long before winter break came along, and mostly all the students had taken off to visit their families or to travel. Ashley had expected to spend the time binge-watching Netflix, but she was proved wrong when Apollo presented her with two tickets to Japan. The surprise was meant to be romantic, but it turned quite amusing when he almost spilled wine on them at the restaurant. Fortunately, he directed the wine glass back towards him with such force, it ended up on his suit instead.

“So, how’d you like it?” he asked, kissing her gently on the top of her head.

“You know I loved it. That was literally the first I said when we got there, and the last when I left.
It was their first night in the city of Tokyo, and they were now strolling through the streets amidst the colorful lights and people. It was a time for exploration, having both crossed the famous intersection twice already, the second time having been for the thrill of it. Hand in hand, they were making their way across a row

Japan_(16042925878)

photo The Photographer 2015© (CC BY 2.0)

of shops and restaurants, with hundreds of others that had decided to do the same thing as them.

 

“It’s beautiful isn’t it?”

About to reply, she suddenly saw a sight that had haunted her dreams for 14 years. His now gray hair was swept to the side, a cross tattoo etched on the side of his cheek, and his eyes… When they met hers, recognition hit both of them. Richard White, one of the world’s most notorious drug dealers. More importantly, he was surrounded with a group of bodyguards.

“Run.” She started to back up, her hand grip tightening on Apollo’s hand. In the corner of her eye, he saw her glance in the direction she was staring at, eyes widening after seeing the man she described with such hate in front of them.

“NOW!” Her shout broke their staring and now, they found themselves running towards the opposite direction, dodging people that continuously made their way forward. Behind her, she could make out the scream, “ Get them!”

Soon, the lights previously admired started to morph together as Ashley led Apollo down a number of streets, where they finally ended up at a closed off alleyway.

“Do you think we lost them?” she asked, breathing sporadically.

“Yea, no way they managed to single us out through all those people.” Apollo had slumped to his knees, sweat dripping off of his chin onto the cement.

“Oh little girl, that’s what you would like to think…”

Apollo shot up, instinctively wrapping his arm around Ashley. White emerged from the shadows, at least 10 guards behind him. It wasn’t fear that got to Ashley anymore, it was rage. Every inch of her wanted to pummel him into the ground, but with his minions behind him, it would be unlikely. Even with her skills, it would be hard to take them all at once.

“Ashley, you take five and I’ll take five.” She gazed up to see Apollo’s darkening eyes, his arm tightening around her waist another time, before letting go.

“Are you crazy? You can’t fight!”

“About that… father wanted me to be versed in self-defense… So I may or may not be a black-belt.”

“Gee, and you didn’t think of mentioning that before?”

“SHUT UP, both of you!” White’s voice rose above their conversation. “Now, I don’t know who the boy is, but I’m here for you little girl. Ashley Vera wasn’t it?”

Chills ran through her spine as he drawled her name, as if he was testing how the name of someone he had been hunting for years tasted on his tongue because now, he finally had her within his grasp.

Not wanting to risk anything over his victory, he snapped his fingers and announced to his men, “Get them.”

They sprang into action, with Ashley and Apollo mimicking them. The fight was intense, the guards proving to be more difficult to take down than Ashley thought. Though she got a few down, more charged after her, already giving her a bloody lip and a cut just above her eye. The blood was distracting, but it only drove her to finally get back at the man that had caused her only misery. Just as soon as she took down the third one, a kick toward her ribs sent her flying back. The ground in front of her either had spots of blood or ketchup then, but Ashley couldn’t be sure herself. Her ribs ached from the blow, and she was sure some of them must have been cracked by now. Noticing a blurred shadow approaching her, she immediately slid forward and swept the 4th off his feet, rendering him unconscious with another kick. She heard a scream behind her, looking back to see the three guards remaining surrounding Apollo. With her best battle cry, she leapt forward and immediately took another down with a series of roundhouse kicks.

“Ashley watch out!”

She felt a hard shove, only to land next to the other alley wall and witness Apollo being rammed into the wall opposite of her.

“Apollo!”

She rushed towards him, giving the guard a taste of his own medicine as she pounded his head into the wall multiple times, until he crumpled like a wet paper towel. She approached Apollo, a dark purple bruise indicating where he struck the wall. She cradled him for a brief moment, before laying him down, where he deserved the rest he surely needed. Redirecting her focus, she caught White looking almost cowardly without his bodyguards.

“Not so tough without your toys are you?” She steadily approached him, caution still in mind, though it was the last thing she was considering at this point.

“I still have one last trick.”

Pulling out a knife, he lunged forward, aiming for her heart. However, while dodging towards the left, the blade buried into her right shoulder instead, though the pain was instantly agonizing. White spots dotted her darkening vision. In the distance, she heard a scream, but she didn’t know if it was hers, or from another person who had walked in on the scene.

“Now, my dear, how about we make your pain go away? Permanently.”

He started to extract the knife, but Ashley kicked up, striking the spot she needed to, as the old man groaned and fell off her. Clutching that area, he couldn’t defend himself quick enough, before her foot landed on his face. Ashley stumbled, her head pounding, blood coating her hand, as she let the blade stay embedded deep beneath her skin. Pulling it out would only do more damage. However, the sound of sirens intruded her ears, faint at first, but grew louder as the seconds ticked by. Soon, she could make out a group of people approaching her.

“Police! Freeze!”

A series of grunts followed. Perhaps they’re from the guards. Ashley wasn’t all too sure until a rough pair of hands grabbed her.

“Miss, are you okay? Can you please tell me what happened?”

The rest of his words were jumbled from there, and Ashley could see a bright white light enveloping the starry night sky above her.


“Ugh, my head.” Ashley opened her eyes, and almost instantly regretted it. For once, I just want to open my damn eyes without feeling like I’m going to go blind. Another try ensued, her vision adjusting to reveal a vast meadow stretching out from all directions. Slowly, she rose up, the grass soft beneath her feet.

“Where am I?”

“Honestly, I’m as confused as you are.” She turned around to face Apollo, dressed in all white. His face looked strangely healed, and he was grinning from ear to ear. “But I’m glad it’s with you,” he continued.

dawn-nature-sunset-trees

photo Unsplash (unknown date)© (CC0)

Smiling herself, Ashley walked up to him, receiving and giving loving kisses. Questions were still to be asked, but all she really wanted at that time, was to walk across this field, hand in hand with the person she loved.


“This is Lilia Grant, reporting for the Bourdain Times. I’m here with Doctor Walker who operated on the couple who single-handedly took down drug king Richard White and 10 of his bodyguards at Kyoto, Tokyo. Tell me doctor, how are the conditions of these two heroes of the streets?”

“Well, they are both still in critical condition, both having a multitude of internal injuries. For now, we’ve identified them as Ashley Vera and Apollo Pin, both exceptional university students. We have also discovered Apollo to have been carrying a diamond ring, but other than that, there was nothing else. We just have to hope that they wake up soon, their survival chances… uncertain.”


Featured Image – image geralt/ 14415 images 2014© (CC0 1.0) 

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Revenge And Love = Aella

Everyone has an ability in our world. In every state, every city, every district, every street corner, every house. Nobody lacked an ability, there were only those who were weak. Then there were the strong, those that had more deadly skills than others. However, people don’t have their abilities the minute they’re born. Instead, they come at the right moment, the right time. It may be due to a special celebration, or if they feel threatened. Nonetheless, they’ll come. That was the concept that I never understood. If God allowed us these abilities, why couldn’t we have them immediately? It was idiotic, offensive, all out stupid. No offense Great One. Still, I wish some people didn’t have to feel pain before they could be allowed a skill, and after they were granted one, including me.


“Hey Aella! It’s time to go to school!”

“Coming mom!”

Another day, another start. That’s what I would like to think, albeit with positivity. It was a new start yes, but another one with pain. I tilted the curling iron in front of my face and allowed the last part of hair to fall to the side, covering up the healing gash. If you would like to know, it was done by Regina George.

Regina_George

Regina George

No I’m joking… well not really… Her name is Siena Maise, which is actually a really nice name now that I think about it. However, her attitude was 10x worse, the mean girl of the school whose favorite toy was me. She even played a little threatening game.

Taking a good look at myself in the mirror, I made sure my appearance was flawless. If anything was off, my mother or my friends would be suspicious, where their overprotective attitudes would lead them to go against Siena. Of course, she and her goons would only harm them. After all, they had the money and power to become superheroes later on in their lifetime. You needed at least a 10 for the government to consider you to be powerful, and right now, those girls were at 8 or 9 each.

“Aella, come on honey! I’m going to be late for work.”


*ring ring ring*

Ah that iconic bell. To be honest, I can’t believe I still remember it, but it was definitely the only school that I had been to so far that had one sounding like windchimes. Math, Social SciencePsychologyEnglish Composition, and Spanish. Each class swept by like a blur, some excitement in each of them, but not enough for me to like school. The bell had signaled the ending of the day, where I still had soccer practice. Funny story: I was captain of the team until I requested to drop down. Why? Siena. Honestly, who’d you think I say? Trump?

30 minutes into the practice, the wind was blowing through my hair as the sweat dripped down both sides of my face.

“Aella pass the ball to Chrys! Move towards the center after,” Ariana called.

Coach had split up the team into two separate sides, where we were against our own members. The purpose was to get us prepared for the next game, where it was against Green Heights University, and they were on the top of the leaderboard with us.

“Hey Aella!”

The voice stopped me in my tracks, and my eyes only assured that my enemy was strutting towards me. Her entourage was right beside her, slight colored wisps at their hands and glints in their eyes indicated they were ready to give me a beating. Was I nervous? Most definitely, but I wasn’t going to show the others on the field anything.

“Did you have an appointment Aella? You should’ve told me if you did.” Coach stared at me with disapproval in his eyes, as he hoped for more from his best player.

“Sorry Coach, it must have slipped my mind. May I be excused?”

He turned back towards the remaining players, a flick of his hand indicating that I was free to go. Taking a deep breath, I grabbed my bag, and followed the girls out of the field and continued to follow them until they reached one of the campus’ gardens, a place where students hung out during their free time. However, this one was empty, except for my torturers and myself.

“What do you want Siena?”

“This,” she responded, her lips tilting up to reveal a cruel smile.

Before I knew it, my body had frozen in place, even as I struggled while one of the girls fired an ice beam at me. Another threw a poison orb, bringing an immediate bout of nausea. Even so, I couldn’t fight back, Siena’s vice grip on my body restraining my every movement. The girls all took a turn at me, until I was left gasping in pain, blood staining my nose and chin. Luckily, I had once again brought enough money to buy a tonic from Madam’s Medical Help. It always cleared up most of the injuries. I had expected for the attacks to cease by now, but I was caught off guard, another wave racking my body until I turned into a sniffling sob.

“Siena, let’s just kill her. Nobody will know anyway. After all, it’s her fault Derreck broke up with you. Everybody knows you’re much prettier than this slut.”

I stared up at Siena, having then realized she was abnormally quiet today. Her face was calm, but her eyes held a turmoil within them. “Before we do so, I’d like to present her with something first. Bring her out Clause!”

Her eyes demanded that I use my arms to hoist my body up, but what appeared in front of my sight made me freeze in my spot. Was I to run? Was I supposed to spin around at that moment and rush at the little ***** with all I had at that moment? Was I supposed to do something when she had my mother? Her eyes were widened, shock evident as she realized her daughter had undergone this treatment without her having noticed.

“Siena, I swear to God. If you harm her, I’ll kill you. Mark my words.”

She let out a cackle, first high pitched, then toned down. “I don’t think you’re in a position to do that Aella.”

She strolled up to me, caressing my face as her nails purposely dug into my skin. Behind her back, she presented a small, thin dagger, its blade shiny and sharp. “You know, I wondered what would hurt you like how Derreck hurt me when he said he would rather date you instead. You know what he said?! That you were prettier, smarter, kinder, and twice the woman I would ever be! So I thought, why not harm one of your loved ones.”

She brought the knife down to my hand, and pressed it against my flesh. “Think about it, daughter stabs her mother. Now that would devastate you wouldn’t it?”

“But I’m nice,” she whispered in my ear, snapping her fingers to urge Clause to drag my mother closer. Without a word, she stabbed her right in the stomach.

A scream echoed throughout the air, as my ears rung. My whole body felt as though it was fire, almost as if I had gotten stabbed myself, as I watched my mother crumble to the ground, clutching her stomach. Siena, gripping the dagger, smiled triumphantly before she suddenly backed away. My eyes felt alive, even as blood dripped from them, and my hands felt as though they could last a round of boxing.

“YOU WITCH! YOU’RE DEAD!”

From out of the blue, black spirits encircled her, all shrieking with ghostly faces painted on them. Her shrieks combined with the other girls as more spirits surrounded them too filled the air.

“My shadow! It’s gone,” I heard Clause scream, but I had no intention of diverting my attention from the priority.

I focused on the screams, the echoing and horrid shrieks from the shadows. A mass had surrounded the girls, yet I directed them to condense and condense. I could almost feel the pain as the shadows clawed, beat, and even bit them, but it was satisfying. I didn’t want it to stop.

“MS. AELLA LAERNE! STOP RIGHT THERE!”

An unknown voice disrupted my focus, the shadows flying off to their owners as I whipped around. Stern-looking officials directed their guns toward hers, with an unarmed woman leading the pack. Slipping her glasses off, she directed bright crimson eyes towards me, and they remained so as she directed the paramedics towards my mother. I couldn’t bring myself to look at her, where it was my fault she got stabbed in the first place. If only I had gotten my abilities sooner, whatever they were. Maybe then I would be able to protect her.

“You’re coming with us Ms. Laerne.”

“No please. Just let me go home.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that Miss. Now cooperate or we’ll do this the hard way.”

Suddenly, the burning sensation returned, where a few of the guards’ own shadows took down their owners that allowed them to exist in the first place. However, I didn’t get far until an overwhelming urge to pass out washed over me. Still, I couldn’t let them take me. A few more grunts assured that more people fell to their own shadows, but the urge and the exhaustion I had gained from Siena’s attacks dragged me into darkness. I remember thinking, Would I ever see the light of day again, or would my own darkness consume me?


“Let’s try again Aella. Physically take down the first and last mannequins while using both of our shadows to take down the others on the side.”

I sighed and stretched out my legs, already having practiced this a dozen other times. Elasta-man stood off to the side, spinning a timer, where he knew that I needed a bit of a break before going into it. Would you like to know how I met Elasta-man too? Yea? Okay fine…


I had opened my eyes to a room with a white ceiling, an antiseptic scent filling my nose when I took a deep breath in. It was only when I tried to move my arms that I realized they were handcuffed and the curtains were completely drawn shut over the windows. My hand graced over a small controller with a button in the middle, a note attached reading: Press when awake.

It took only a few minutes for the mysterious woman from earlier to enter the room, her crimson eyes once again captivating me.

“My name is Flora Lunae. I am the general of the SSI, Superheroes and Sidekicks Initiative. How are you feeling Aella?” Her voice had taken on softer tone, a loss of formality noticed.

“Where’s my mother,” I was surprised at my own voice, cracked and rough. A glass of water sat on the small table beside her, but with her chained hands, it might as well not exist in the first place. Diverting my eyes back to Flora, I could sense something was off. Her confident demeanor had faded and instead, she seemed nervous.

“Flora, where’s my mother? Tell me now.”

“Your mother… passed away. There was too much blood lost. I’m so sorry. I know how close you two were.”

I didn’t hear anything after pass “away,” but it did enough damage. My mother was gone, the woman I had called “mom” ever since I could remember. She was the one that had supported me every time I sunk to the bottom, and now, what was I going to do without her this time? A tear slid down from the corner of my eye, yet there was a dull throb behind them. It wasn’t as intense as before, but I felt the burning up of my body.

“If you can hear me mom, I hope you can save me.”

Suddenly, the room shook, the members probably attempting to make sense of everything. All I could do was stare up at the ceiling, wondering whether she was happy up above. Beneath all the mourning though, rage shook me to the core. I remember the vow I took: to take Senia and her group to hell, even if it took me the rest of my lifetime.

“Doctor! Get in here! She has to be contained!”

The windows had shattered, and the stoic guards that fiercely stood by had started to burst out in hystericals. However, I didn’t cast them a glance even as their shrieks reminded me of the time my mother was taken away. Not even when the blindfold was draped over my eyes, or even as a syringe entered my upper arm. Soon, I was left in darkness yet again.


Back to where I was earlier, I was now under the command of Elasta-man, having been assigned as his sidekick by Flora because we had similarities. It wasn’t until later that I discovered he had lost his father to his own mother, who wanted to get rid of him so she could run away with a different lover. I accepted him as a master then, once he promised me he would train me to my strongest and allow me to take my revenge. After all, I had the potential to be a superhero, with my ability having been listed as simply: darkness manipulation.

Drifting back to the present, I opened my eyes and readied myself and at the sound of go, I dashed towards the mannequins. All I had now was the darkness in my heart and in revenge, and I was going to make my ability stronger.

“Good job Aella. You’re getting stronger and faster,” Elasta-man said, his eyes portraying pride, and of course something else that was hidden beneath.

“Thank you master. Shall we go to the gym now? I believe our reservation starts soon”

“We will, but first, I have a surprise for you.” From behind his back, he presented a letter that was sealed with the SSI’s insignia.

“What is this?” I fingered with the seal, amazed at what could be underneath.

“Open it and see.”

The first word I saw when the seal was cracked was: congratulations. The rest of the letter would reveal the time, date, and location of the ceremony where I would get to be a superhero. My eyes weren’t brimmed with tears, but I was slightly quivering with excitement.

“Master, are you saying that I can now be a… a…”

“A superhero? Yes. You were the by far, the best student I had and crime has drastically decreased with the pair of us working together.”

“I don’t know what to say master. Thank you.”

“You deserve it. Now let’s go, our reservation wouldn’t be much of use if we didn’t at least try to there on time.”

Let’s just say that that workout was the best one so far. After that, it only took two more weeks until the ceremony came. A black pantsuit, a cape to fly and enhance my ability, a hairclip to change appearances, and a medal later, the after party commenced. No, don’t ask me what Flora said or what happened during the party because I was drunk as hell. Well actually, I should probably mention that I was given the name of Shadow Girl. Yea… the SIS wasn’t exactly creative when coming up with names.

However, what happened after the celebration would change my life. Elasta-man had informed me that he received a call regarding a gang robbery in the poorer district of the city. We got there as fast as we could, but I should have been more wary when we arrived in a dark alley

photo Alfred Leone 2011© (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

with a group of villains (part of the SHF – Superheroes and Humans to Fall) relaxing. Before I had time to question master, he approached them.“Master! What are you doing?” I tensely said, shifting my weight to prepare for a fight.

“Aella, Aella, Aella,” he murmured, as he spun around, with menacing eyes and a crude sneer. “Did I ever tell you that you look like my mother, the one I killed myself? Heh, her lover followed closely behind.”

“Master, please don’t do this. I beg of you.”

“Begging is beneath you and me both. You of all should know what revenge feels like, so understand when I do this.”

The villains all leaped forward, their attacks used to pin me down. Before I could activate my ability, a metal choker was slapped onto my neck. Immediately, I felt weak, something that hasn’t shown itself ever since my mother passed away.

“Don’t fight pretty one. This choker is designed to block your powers. Have no worries though, once he’s had his time with you, you can destroy it yourself.”

I wanted to scream, anything to alert the attention of anyone nearby. However, with arms pinned down and a gag over my mouth, it was unlikely help would be coming soon. By now, rage and fear had built up to the point where my eyes throbbed with the intent of releasing my ability. I struggled with all I had, every ounce of strength I could muster, even as Elasta-man unbuckled his belt in front of me. His slimy lips on me, I only found myself fighting harder. Slapping me and gripping my throat, he hurriedly slipped off his pants down to his ankles, his ability causing certain areas to grow longer. The straps of my pantsuit came next. By this time, every part of my body ached, begging for me to free the power within.

With the straps at my wrists and his exposed teeth inches from my breast, time stood still. The burning remained, only growing stronger as I grappled with the frozen figures around me. Kicking them all off, I stood up, gasping. My breath had caught in my throat and everything that was spinning beforehand settled down. In front of me, Elasta-man and the villains laid on the floor in the exact positions they were earlier. Purple eyes popped out from broken glass shards, a definite difference from the usual navy ones when my ability activated. No, this wasn’t manipulating darkness. There, I decided it as body immobilization, and after removing the choker, I immediately summoned as many creatures from the shadows as I could. Their white eyes glared at me with thankfulness once they had their fulfilling feast of Elasta-man. Unfortunately, the rest of the villains escaped, my fury only directed against the ringleader that night, From then on, I wasn’t Shadow Girl anymore (it barely lasted a day honestly). I was the Scorpio of the Night, or Scorpio for short, and revenge was my game.


“Scorpio freeze!”

Their weapons didn’t even graze the sky when I had already made my escape. Landing on top of an apartment building, I viewed the flashing red and blue lights from a distance. “Ungrateful drama queens. I made their job easier, and still, they’re trying to put me in prison.” Still, it must have been because I killed the man for abusing his wife and child instead of apprehending him. Not to mention, the death of Elasta-man remained unexplained and they wanted to bring me into questioning.

Rolling my eyes, I turned to fly towards home, but a thundering crash pierced the silent night sky. I couldn’t resist curiosity, and by the time I convinced myself that I shouldn’t check it out, I found myself already at the scene of it all.

“Give it up Electricity Boy! You don’t have a chance against us!”

Through the darkness, I could make out colorful wisps of the 4 villains surrounding a hero, whose cape crackled with electricity. My eyes widened when I realized it was BlueSpark, the greatest superhero among them all. His level reached 17, one above mine the last time I asked a contact to measure it.

“Don’t cross me,” BlueSpark spoke through gritted teeth. His fists now sent small sparks of electricity flying.

“Ha ha ha, oh you can’t tell us what to do now. It’s 4 against 1 and I bet Madame Ravenna will be extremely proud if we were to say that we took down BlueSpark.” By now the 4 had stepped into the light of the blinking street lamps, and their faces sent chills down my bones. Their faces all sparked a similar memory, bringing me back to the time when I had left any form of happiness behind. I instantly hopped down, landing beside BlueSpark, who seemed surprised to say the least. Despite him recognizing me and thinking that I was there to help, I could care less about him and whether he were die or not. I was here for my revenge.

“Scorpio! What are you doing here?!” Their advancing steps faltered, stopping about 5 feet from the two heroes. “Heh, no matter. We can take care of you too.”

“Say that when your guts are eaten.”

Their shadows began to morph in front of them, rising up from the ground, along with others that came from countless other people. Surprisingly, one managed to croak out, “GO,” before he succumbed with his allies to the snarling creatures.

“Scorpio, stop!” I recognized the voice of BlueSpark, but I had no means of stopping.

Out of nowhere, I felt a power beam strike my back, but instead of sending me flying, it sucked my strength out, sending me crumpling to the ground. The shadows disappeared,

shadows

photo Thomas Leuthard 2011© (CC BY 2.0)

but the 4 villains had already been reduced to a pile of bloody bones. The rest of that fight flew by, with a dozen other individuals appearing from hidden places, taking me down. I could see blurs of blue sparks of electricity as I fought my way out beneath the horde of villains. I couldn’t stop them in their places, my other ability having been taken away as well. I shouldn’t have let those damn bastards run free last time.

Just as I managed to take care of the ones that surrounded me, someone leaped in front, just as several black spikes hurdled towards me.

“Crap! BlueSpark!”

He fell, gasping as he coughed up redness, though the wounds on his stomach dripped black.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Scorpio and BlueSpark, though I’m pretty sure Electricity Boy will die anytime soon.”

A dark-haired woman stood on rooftop overlooking the alleyway, gripping a gun with blue and purple matter swirling inside, another person standing beside her with an outstretched arm. A nametag on the lapel of her jumpsuit read Vice Siena. Before I could even utter a word, a zap of electricity sent the gun flying to the ground, its containments freed as a NO resonated from Siena. Spikes upon spikes materialized, sent directly towards the two fallen heroes, but by that time, hundreds of shadow ghouls had swallowed them up. I’ll save you from the gory parts, but let’s just say I knocked Siena’s head into the sky, my conscious filled with satisfaction when I gave that two-timing ****** what she deserved. Truth to be told, she’s extremely slow in manipulation, even with her probable practice.

Everything was done, death filled the air, and my thirst for revenge somewhat fulfilled, I prepared to take off once more. “Scorpio… please help.”

I glanced back to the withering BlueSpark, his eyes glazed with weariness from fighting the poison from acquiring his life. An inner debate ignited, the two main points being “I don’t exactly love superheroes” and “but he did save my life.” Long story short, I ended up helping him, giving him one of the miracle tonics I had hidden in the heel of my boot. Resolving the fact that I couldn’t simply leave him to recover in an alleyway, I took him to my home, a simple penthouse in the tallest skyscraper on the planet.

“So, what’s your name?” he had asked when he awoke from his deep sleep. If only he was still passed out, maybe he wouldn’t be asking me these questions. “Mine is Aleksander.”

“Great Aleksander, and you can keep calling me Scorpio.”

“Come on, why won’t you tell me? I believe you’re on the same side as us judging from last night.”

“Listen pretty boy, I’m on no one’s side. Especially ‘superheroes’.” Though I didn’t want to admit, he was painfully handsome, his piercing sky-blue eyes pairing well with his dirty blonde hair. Even his face was chiseled into perfection.

Walking over to him, I placed the back of my hand on his forehead. His temperature had dropped, but it was slightly higher than what was considered normal. “You need another dose of the tonic, but I ran out. I’ll be back later. Try not to trash everything.”

I swiftly spun around, heading towards the door with a different appearance thanks to the clip. It served to hide my identity quite well. My nail had graced the door, but a hand held me in place.

“Thank you.” His blue eyes looked sincere and it was the only observation I could make before it his lips brushed against my forehead.


The following days were one of the happiest and most annoying I’ve experienced since the “incident.” Aleksander ended up coming to my apartment every night, persistent in getting to know me better, and that included my past. For the first time again though, I found myself wondering, Do I trust this superhero?

Finally, it wasn’t a matter of trust anymore due to BlueSpark still having kept the secret of my location, I told him my name and what happened on the night Elasta-man was killed.

“Wow,” was all he said for a while. Then, “I believe you. Truth be told, I was thinking of leaving the SIS as well. Flora doesn’t seem to notice some of the heroes taking advantage of their sidekicks.”

With that, he gave me a kiss that took my breath away, one that I could have only dreamed of as a lonely teenager. Don’t judge. Anyway, Aleksander brought truth to what he said and quit the SIS, joining my now two-people club of vigilantes. Together, we managed to keep crime rates low year after year. We even managed to expose many heroes of the SIS. However, the obstacle that was constantly in the way of me reaching my peak of happiness, was my constant yearn for revenge. It was hard to get rid of, hard not to ruthlessly kill those that deserved to descend into the pits of flame.

Aleksander served well in eradicating the desire though, his kindness showing me that there was more to ruthlessly murdering people for their wrong deeds. He showed me forgiveness, a different perspective to the world, where people got second chances to repent for what their mistakes. Sometimes, they didn’t even mean to do so. My bonds to revenge broke free later on, and as a gift to me, he presented a beautiful diamond ring. We couldn’t exactly hold an official ceremony with the police and SIS after both of us, so elopement was just fine.


Now, it was a different story. One where abilities couldn’t solve anything. The moment an overproduction of cells occurred in the area of the lungs, our happy story fell short. How would I battle against cancer? How would I kill the thing that belittled my husband to a hospital bed?

“I love you honey. Don’t worry about me. Keep living your life to the fullest.”

I remember those words like they were spoken yesterday, just hours before he finally lost the raging battle.


grave

photo bp6316 2009© (CC BY 2.0)

Just a few more words and then I promise that it’ll be over and you can go back to resting. As you may know, today marks the third year of your passing honey. Adrianne is now 6 and she still misses you, and frankly, so do I. However, I kept what you told me in mine. A better way to look at revenge would be that it hinders our happiness. Adrianne deserves a happy life, free from getting to know what it feels like to want to hurt someone in return. Instead, she’ll learn how to forgive.


Featured Image – image durly0505 2015© (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)