** Continuation of October 22nd, 2010 post. Please click here for Chapter 4.
It took me six years and ten months to plan my escape from my captors after that day in the park. Two thousand four hundred and ninety two days from Saturday, September 21st, 1996 when I was forced to watch while Shadekar blew an entire park full of innocent children, parents and grandparents to bits. The echoes of screams, theirs and mine, stayed with me for what felt like an eternity until I learned to block them out and turned my focus toward other, more important tasks; like getting myself out of the hell I was living in and free from the men who ruled my every movement.
As the years progressed and my body developed more into that of a woman, the frilly dresses gave way to barely there miniskirts, low cut tops which accentuated a chest most porn stars paid for and high heels that made me look less like the teenager I was and more like the woman I wasn’t. Despite having the body of woman abundantly blessed by Mother Nature, my eyes were pools of innocence until Shade took over.
I gladly retreated to the sanctuary I’d built myself while he killed, maimed and destroyed. The walls of my shelter were covered with childhood memories of Brody, spells and any bit of information I could recall that would eventually help me break free and take back control from Shadekar.
Learning how to keep my memories and thoughts separate and blocked from Shade had been my first priority after the park incident. The second one had been planning how to permanently get away from Wesley and Boyd and stay away.
Shade took advantage of every moment I hid behind my shields to watch or study every manner of martial arts he could find and then force my tiny five foot four inch body to attempt each and every move. The martial arts caught my attention after the first few attempts and I began actively participating in our exercise sessions.
A steady diet of Pop Tarts, pizza and greasy fast food was eventually going to catch up with me no matter how supernaturally strong I was, and since I wasn’t allowed out on my own I relished the hours of exercise Shade’s obsession provided for me. On the upside, I got the exercise I needed to keep my body fit but the downside to it was as I got older Shade began using my body to satisfy other needs I was too innocent to know about or acknowledge. He would watch porn while I slept which meant the images were entrenched in my memory whether I wanted them or not.
Regardless of how hard I shielded, everything he learned, saw or did was burned into my brain until I figured out how to compartmentalize even those things and block them out. By then most of the damage had been done. I was physically innocent but the knowledge of what men and women did to each other behind closed doors was forever lodged in my head.
My chance to escape came on the afternoon of July 19th, 2003.
As with every mission day, my wakeup call came before the crack of dawn and was very, very rude. I was thrust into the usual short shorts and camisole and hauled out to be turned into the pretty doll everyone expected me to be when our targets looked at me. Hours of having my waist length hair pulled until it looked just right and then just a touch of makeup to accentuate the periwinkle blue of my eyes, the fullness of my lips.
My outfit for the day, a short dress the color of poppies that would show off my toned legs and the deep swell of my cleavage, hung on the back of the bathroom door. At five foot four, with a petite frame, my clothes tended to be on the smaller side and this dress was no exception. The scrap of Lycra looked more like something a Barbie doll would wear than an actual person but, I would wear it and hate every moment I had it on.
The manicurist they’d brought in tsk’d at the tattered state of my bitten to the quick finger nails when she picked up my left hand to start applying the acrylic tips I always managed to pry off immediately after the mission was completed. “What have you done to your fingers, sweetie? Your nail beds are so damaged that I don’t know if I can put these on.”
I gave her a bland look and blinked at her with the typical bored sarcasm of most teenagers. “I ripped off the last four sets they put on me. Pried ’em off with my teeth.” The shocked look on her face earned her a grin and a flash of my pearly whites. “Put another set on and they’ll meet the same fate – sweetie.”
“Shade.” Wesley yelled from the kitchen where he was pulling strawberry Pop Tarts from the toaster. The smell of burnt pastry tickled my nose and told me it was going to be yet another morning where I would have to force down scorched strawberry junk. “Shut the bitch up before she says something she shouldn’t.”
The sunglasses atop my slightly upturned nose weren’t just because I thought I was cool or even because I needed them. They were there so when Shade took over as suddenly as he was about to my eyes would be covered and no one would notice the total blackness of them. When the demon was in control, unless he made the effort to make my eyes look like their normal blue selves, they were entirely black. No white, no iris. Nothing and looking into the black, bottomless pits my eyes became tended to freak the humans out just a bit.
Human wasn’t a term that exactly fit me as we’d learned over the years. The men who gave Wes and Boyd their orders had them put me through a plethora of tests and exercises to see just what I was really capable of under all of the cute blondness. They had been surprised at what they found and would find themselves surprised yet again when I put my escape plan into action.
I yanked my shields down and stepped back seconds before Shade rushed forwarded, took the proverbial steering wheel and commandeered my body. My shields fell back into place and I set to work pulling down all of the mental sticky notes and memories I had pinned up over the last seven years. I chanted through all of the spells I’d found that would reverse the effect of my shields and keep Shadekar trapped behind them when the time came. The bastard riding shotgun in my head wouldn’t know what hit him when I kicked his ass inside the cage I was building and slammed the door shut. Stupid ass wouldn’t see it coming and I couldn’t wait to see his reaction.
Several hours later I was dressed to kill and hustled in to the backseat of a car looking nothing like the nineteen year old I was underneath all the window dressing. The red dress hugged every inch of me like it was a second skin. My breasts were thrust upward and on display for all to see thanks to the unnecessary push-up bra my captors forced me to wear in order to achieve the effect of even more cleavage – as if I didn’t have enough already. Strappy black stilettos that scarcely covered my bare feet and a small clutch purse completed the outfit. Boyd and Wesley had told Shade no weapons were needed on this job, all he needed was my pretty face and the strength that lay hidden below the deceptive surface. Could I lift a car? No, but I could kill the biggest of men with my bare hands and not break a sweat doing it. I could also yank a soul straight out of someone’s body and according to the mission plan; this is what we were doing today.
I sat behind my shields and waited, watching for the moment when I could put my plan into action and run for my life.
The target on this mission was a Politian visiting from the United States whose wife had caught him cheating, numerous times, with an intern on his staff. The Missus had contacted the powers that be and here I was, half an hour after being dropped off, with the wayward husband in the bar of his hotel. Dressed as I was, there was no way the philandering bastard would fail to make a move.
Reeling the victims in was the part Shade enjoyed the most about our missions. The flirting, teasing and sexual tension created by the mannerisms he used all perfected via his hours upon hours of porn. A hair toss over the bare skin of a shoulder, a coy smile or even running my hand down the man’s arm; all of it designed to lure the target in and make him feel safe, wanted.
Within minutes of having sat down the bartender had placed a glass of white wine in front of me and directed my attention to a tall, well-dressed man approaching from the left side of the bar. Graying light brown hair feathered back from his temples and he wore a cocky, self-assured grin as he approached to introduce himself as Senator So-and-so. I wasn’t paying attention to the name and Shade didn’t care. He was a target and we had a mission to complete.
Shadekar took his time chatting with the Senator, luring him in with the occasional sweep of my tongue across the fullness of my lower lip and frequent touches to his arm while laughter, husky and feminine, slipped from my lips. I watched as lust and calculating greed crept into the Senator’s gray-blue eyes and listened while Shade crowed with success when the older man asked if I’d like to come up to his room for another drink in a more private setting.
Sir Cheatsalot leaned in to whisper in my ear and I caught the woodsy scent of his expensive cologne when his lips brushed my ear and he inhaled my own citrusy perfume. “You smell delicious. Are you ripe for plucking sweetheart?” The clock on the wall in the lobby told me we’d been in the bar no more than half an hour and were well ahead of schedule as we waited for the ding of the elevator arriving to take us up to the suite that would spell out freedom for me and death for the man standing next to me in the expensive dark blue suit.
Finally, the elevator arrived and we rode up to the fourteenth floor while the cheesy instrumental music played quietly in the background. I felt sorry for the man who stood next to me, an unwitting victim walking straight in to his very own death scene. The soft ping indicating we’d reached our floor had me jumping on the inside but with Shade in the driver’s seat the rest of me was cool as a cucumber. We exited and walked passed a series of non-descript white doors until we reached the one bearing number fourteen eleven in elegant lettering on a shiny gold plaque.
I stepped inside once the door was unlocked and held open in invitation. My shoes sunk in to the plush tan colored carpet and the fuzz of the fibers was a pleasant tickle against the tips of my toes. I walked across the room and pulled aside the heavy velvet drapes to gaze out the window. A large hand reached out and pulled my hand away from the burnished gold fabric and it swung closed, re-establishing the shadows in the corners of the room where the lamps couldn’t reach them. “Come sit with me, take your shoes off and relax a bit.”
We sat together on the smaller of the two couches and before I knew it, my feet were in the Senator’s lap and my sandals were being cast to the floor. It took every ounce of will power I could muster to stop myself from running victory laps around my shelter as my plan fell into place bit by bit. I needed to focus because my turn was coming and shredding the soul out of a living body was never an easy task even when I was calm. My life, my escape depended on getting this right and I couldn’t afford to screw this up.
Shadekar’s voice snapped me back into focus just at the same time as the Senator’s greedy hands found themselves full of a breast in the one and the top of my thigh high stocking in the other.
“Ardy, baby, any time you wanna kill the idiot is fine with me. You know I’m not in to men.”
My shields dropped and I stepped out, ready for action and the freedom it would bring. The Senator’s mouth was coming down toward my own when I placed a hand against the soft cotton of his shirt, just above his heart and opened my eyes to look up at him with the black, empty voids they’d become. I flexed my metaphysical fingers against his chest and reached in to grasp his soul and pull it free. The soul quivered like jelly in my hand, terror the emotion at the forefront of everything as I squeezed and began to separate it from its owner.
I watched dispassionately while the face hovering inches from mine convulsed and registered the pain that came with having your soul shredded. What he was feeling in that moment was the most excruciating pain a human body could experience. The heart beating beneath my fingers sped up as the adrenaline brought on by the fear of what was happening coursed through his veins. His mouth was working to form words, call out for help but none came out and I smirked at him.
“You didn’t really think you could have me, did you?” I tsk’d at him and laughed. “Come on, you cheating bastard, give up the ghost.”
Never before had I needed to use both hands to rip out a soul but it was becoming clear, I was going to have to do it now. I brought my other hand up, pressed it to the Senator’s chest and thrust my energy inside to wrap around his dark soul and pulled with everything I had until the whole shrieking mess came screaming out of the body.
I murmured binding and banishing spells as fast as I could to get rid of the soul before the body hit the floor. Shadekar was cackling with glee at the success of our mission and the extra show of force I’d displayed and I took advantage of his gloating to start putting the shields up around him while I picked up anything that could be traced back and identify me. Shoes, clutch, even the two long strands of my golden hair that had gotten caught in the dark, chocolate brown upholstery of the couch. I emptied the cash from the dead man’s wallet and put the leather rectangle neatly back inside his pocket. No need to wipe it down for finger prints, I didn’t have any.
By the time my hand pulled open the suite door, I had erected my shields and Shade was unknowingly trapped in the back of my mind. I called the shadows of the hallway to me and cloaked myself in them as I walked down the hall in my stocking feet and headed for the stairwell. It was then Shade realized something not on the plan was going down and tried to take over, put me back on track for the elevator and the lobby where the driver would be waiting for me.
“Ardeur. Where in the hell do you think you’re going girl?” He hit the wall of shielding and bounced back screaming as he tried to break free. “What is this? What the hell is this, Ardeur?”
My shoulders shook with suppressed laughter and I flew down the stairs as fast as my feet could take me. “I’m taking my life back. No more killing, or missions, no more Wes and Boyd. By the time they realize I’m gone it’ll be too late.” I started reciting the last, and strongest shielding spell as I rounded the corner of the final set of stairs before flying out the back door of the hotel and finding myself in an alley filled with dumpsters and startled hotel employees. A few of them gaped for a moment but returned to work with a shrug. To them I looked like any other high paid prostitute in my short dress and tousled hair.
I tossed my shoes inside a nearby dumpster and continued down the street until I cleared the hotel and found myself behind another and then another as I worked my way down the alley.
A uniform company truck was parked, its rear door wide open and inviting, behind one of the hotels toward the end of the street. I ducked inside after checking to make sure the coast was clear. Luck proved to be on my side when I found not only a pair of dark blue scrubs but a pair of white nurse’s shoes in my size. I slipped them on and jumped out, dress and brassiere in hand to find the nearest trash can and toss them inside. It felt good to finally be covered and comfortable.
Quickly pulling the pins from my hair and twisting it into a bun as I walked transformed me from hooker look-alike to young nurse in a hurry to get to work. Never once did I look back to see if anyone was following. I would have lost any of the courage I’d mustered to see my plan through and I was determined to get myself free no matter the cost.
Come back on October 24th, 2010 for a look at Chapter 6 of Possession is Nine Tenths – Ardeur.
Copyright © 2010 Danielle Gavan
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.