** Continuation of October 23rd, 2010 post. Please click here for Chapter 5.
Shade battered at the cage I had pinned him in and screamed incessantly as I walked further and further away from the hotel and the life I refused to live anymore. The obscenities he hurled at me would have made even the most seasoned trucker blush a deep scarlet; but they didn’t faze me one bit, I’d heard them all before and most of them on a daily basis.
I was not a stranger to crude language before Shade was forced upon me but the level to which he took it was a new one that had shocked and stunned me with its ferocity.
The ululating of sirens sounded in the distance and caused me to speed up my pace in order to put the maximum amount of distance possible between me and the dead man lying in the hotel room I’d just vacated minutes earlier. My demon was freaking out and throwing everything he had at the shield barrier I’d erected around him. If an ambulance was headed toward the hotel, chances were that my handlers had gone to the room to retrieve me and found the man I’d killed lying on the floor with me nowhere in sight.
“Ardeur, get your ass turned around and back to that hotel. NOW. Turn around you stupid bitch or you’ll pay the price when I get loose.”
A short bark of laughter burst from my lips and I began to walk even faster as police sirens joined those of the ambulance. “Um, no. There is absolutely no frickin’ way you are going to get me to go back to that hotel or shit ass life. As for you getting loose? Never gonna happen. Your ass is locked inside the strongest shields I could throw up. There’s no getting out of there.” Shade threw himself against my shields with renewed vigor and the force of his attack gave me an instant headache. I winced at the pain but my feet kept going in the opposite direction of the emergency vehicles.
Pedestrian traffic grew heavier the further I walked and I let it carry me along until it came to a set of stairs leading below the sidewalk. A sign with a symbol displaying two t’s and a c stood next to the staircase and I recognized what the stairway led to. I’d found the Toronto Subway System and certain escape.
I waded into the sea of people making their way underground and stopped at the bottom of the stairs to marvel at everything. Billboards, posters and flyers lined the walls on each side of the platforms. The smell of cinnamon, burnt coffee and hot grease from various food vendors permeated the hot air. People from all walks of life played music; others meandered about or sat and watched the flow of traffic. A queue was formed by what appeared to be a ticket booth and, after a moment of watching to see what the lineup was for, I added myself to the end of it.
The money I’d taken from the senator’s wallet was put to good use as I paid my way through the turnstile and found myself faced with another set of stairs leading to a loud rushing sound. People bustled up and down the stairs which led me to surmise the trains must be down at the bottom. A loud grinding squeal of metal on metal and a sudden whoosh of air that blew back the few loose strands of my hair confirmed my assumption.
My eyes found a map posted further down the way and I walked over to inspect it. I realized that I would need to figure out where I was going if I was truly going to make my escape a successful one. An arrow pointed to my current location which proved to be St George Station and showed me I could go in any direction I chose. The decision to head south wasn’t hard to make since I knew I wanted to get as far away as possible from Boyd and Wesley. Far away meant out of the country, and for that I was going to need money.
I withdrew the one other thing I’d taken from the senator’s pocket and gazed down at the small plastic rectangle of his credit card. The Visa symbol was one I recognized from commercials Shade had watched over the years. Those same commercials had also taught me I could use an ATM to withdraw money from the card and in that moment I was glad that the memories of any soul I shredded stayed with me for several hours before fading away. I flipped through each memory carefully while I walked until I found the one with the information I needed and inserted the card in the machine.
Minutes later my white nurse’s shoes were shushing down the stairs, my pockets – the four on my pants and the one of my shirt, were filled with crisp bills. The credit card was neatly discarded in a nearby trash can. I thanked my lucky stars for the genetic anomaly that accounted for my lack of fingerprints and made me untraceable should anyone find the card and try to identify me. There were no records of my existence after the age of twelve when my parents had sold me off like cattle to the highest bidder.
I hadn’t realized how important having proper identification would be until half an hour later when I tried to buy a bus ticket and cross the border. The clerk glared at me from the other side of the glass and tapped her nails on the Formica countertop. “You need a driver’s license and birth certificate or a passport to cross the border, honey. Everybody knows that.”
Everybody might, I thought, unless you’ve been living in captivity for seven years. “Right. Thanks.”
My original plan to take a bus into the United States was clearly not going to pan out and my mind began to ponder new possibilities while I wandered through the streets.
The mast of a tall ship caught my eye as I scanned the horizon. An idea began to form that made my feet pick up the pace and turn toward the ship. Where there were ships, there was water and, possibly, a means of escape.
“Ardy, no. You know I can’t go out on the open water.” The slight edge of panic in Shade’s voice as he tried to coerce me to not get on a boat and sail out brought a smile to my lips. The closer my feet got to the edge of the dock, the more he pleaded with me to turn around. “Tell you what – turn around and I’ll tell you where to find Brody. I know how to find him and I’ll give you that information if you just promise me you won’t get on a boat.”
The words were another false promise in a long line of them that Shade had made in our time together. Whenever the demon wanted me to do something I found repugnant he would use the Brody lure to get me to do his bidding.
“Not falling for it, Shade so just zip it and be a good boy while I see if I can find someone to take me with them.”
Laughter echoed through the halls of my mind and caused me to wince with the realization that what I’d just said was highly unlikely to happen. With everything that had happened in my life, trusting people was not easy for me. Trusting complete strangers to not only allow me onboard their boat but to then take me across the lake and smuggle me in to another country was more than a stretch of the imagination. This nugget of truth left me with the only other option available if I wanted to get across the lake. I was going to have to get myself onboard one of those boats and stay hidden until it docked on the opposite shore. Finding the right target was next on the plan of action I’d decided on and I scanned the people getting off the variety of boats along the dock.
Strands of pink, yellow and gold stretched across the sky above the dark blue waves of the water. Dusk had fallen while I’d been busy devising my escape and the shade of early evening stretched the shadows of the buildings across the waterfront. The ghost of a smile played over my lips as I stepped into the shadows and wrapped myself in them. If this was going to work I would need to be able to slip through the crowd, and on to the boat unseen.
Death, its scent heavy, cloying, and oh so familiar tickled my senses. It drew my attention to a couple who were stepping on to the planks of the wharf. They were leaving a large craft with the name Persephone emblazoned on the bow in elegant blue and gold lettering.
I focused on the couple, my senses and power flaring. My eyes swept over the young blonde – not much younger than myself – and the middle aged man whose aura was dimmed by the death waiting to claim him. A snatch of conversation floated on the warm summer breeze to my ears as they passed me by in my shadowed hideaway.
“Thank you for taking me over, Daddy. Toronto is the only place I can get…” They continued on down the street, their words becoming muffled by the noises of a busy waterfront, and my eyes turned toward the boat and my salvation – provided I could get aboard and find a spot to hide in. Judging by the bit of conversation I’d overheard, the father and daughter were headed for a bit of shopping and would be gone for an indeterminate amount of time.
Another five minutes of quiet observation and it was time to put my feet in motion. Shadows wrapped tight around me like a second skin as I made my way down the dock toward the ladder up to the deck of the boat. I clamored up the rungs like a spider making its way over the sticky threads of its web and swung my legs over the rail, wincing when the rubber soles of my shoes squeaked on the polished wood of the deck.
Minutes passed and no one came running to investigate the noise which told me it was safe to get up and search out my hiding spot. I took my time getting up anyway on the off chance someone was looking. No point in getting caught now that I was mere feet away from the open hatch to the living quarters which promised fresh clothes, food and escape.
I took the nurses shoes off and picked them up. I walked barefoot across the deck and bolted down the stairs into the galley kitchen at the bottom. The hallway that stretched out ahead ended in what appeared to be the girl’s bedroom. A pair of black leather boots lay haphazardly at the foot of the bed that was strewn with several pairs of jeans and other articles of brightly colored clothes that drew me like a magnet.
As comfortable as the nurse’s uniform was I knew that a change of clothes would eventually be needed and that was the deciding factor that had me stripping it off and reaching for the nearest pair of jeans. Soft denim slid up my legs and over my hips, faded blue against pale cream. The button fastened loosely just below the concave dip of my belly. It wasn’t a perfect fit but it was close enough and I turned to search through the pile of clothes on the bed for a shirt. What I found was a collection of camisoles that were so low cut I’d be lucky if my chest didn’t tumble out with the slightest of movements.
“Throwing out that bra wasn’t the smartest move you’ve ever made Ardy. Check her dresser.”
Help? From the demon? What the – ? “Fuck that noise. I’m never wearing one of those again.” I slipped three camisoles, blue, green and red, over my torso and reached for the boots – black leather, rubber sole and laces up the front. My right foot slid inside the first boot and brought a smile to my face. If I could find a pair of socks in the drawers the boots would fit perfectly.
Before I knew it I was fully dressed, had a bag full of clothes stowed in the closet I’d found beneath the stairs and was helping myself to an apple from the fridge while I rooted around for sandwich fixings and anything that wouldn’t go bad to take with me when I jumped ship later. The sound of feet up on deck drew my attention and caused me to almost drop the canister of chips in my hand.
“Busted. Girl, your ass is about to get caught and hauled off to jail.”
My grip on the chips tightened convulsively. The footsteps approached the top of the stairs and then, just as quickly, turned away in the opposing direction. I breathed a silent sigh of relief and decided that being discovered was not worth the risk of taking a couple more minutes to find anything else to eat. The closet door closed with me behind it seconds before the boat’s two occupants came down into the kitchen. One set of footfalls continued on and soon the sound of engines rumbling to life told me that we were heading out.
Even had I not heard the churning of the engines, the grumbling and cursing from inside my head would have tipped me off to the fact that we were heading out to open water. My co-pilot had an aversion to freshwater and we were about to speed out into the middle of a huge lake full of his worst nightmare.
The whirring of the engines and the satisfied fullness of my stomach must have worked together to lull me to sleep. One minute I was listening to the sounds of the ship and the next I was waking up in a panic, legs gone numb from sitting cross legged on the floor too long. No other sounds reached my ears but that of my own breathing in the small, closed in space where I sat. I closed my eyes once again and listened.
“I know you won’t believe me but we docked about half an hour ago.”
Okay, so apparently the ride over hadn’t quieted the bastard or done any lasting harm since he was yapping in my head again. I sighed and rose to my feet, the pins and needles nearly toppling me over as the blood rushed back down and circulation reasserted itself.
I gave myself a minute to make sure the feeling had fully returned to my feet before pushing the door open a fraction to poke my nose out and see if what Shade had said was true. The lack of engine sounds told me that we were, at the very least, stopped. Whether we were docked or at anchor somewhere on the lake for the night remained unclear.
The hall and doorways that stemmed from it were all dark, no sound of shallow breathing or snoring came from the bedrooms. I smiled and bent to pick up the bag, heavy and filled with things that would make the start of my journey an easier one than I had expected. There were a few items I’d need to pick up on shore but those could wait until I was away from the waterfront and a couple of cities over.
I treaded lightly, the soles of my pilfered boots soundless against the wood of the floor and stairs. Panic, overwhelming and cold, ran through my veins when I looked up and realized that the hatch had been closed. My palms flattened against the wood panels, pushed and kept moving as the hatch opened to show that I was inside a building of some sort. “Oh thank god.”
Shade grumbled as I climbed the stairs and exited the boat, the sound of my boots hitting the dock echoing through what I realized was a very large boat shed. Freedom was within sight, so close that I could smell the sweet fragrance of it on the air.
“Lookie here, Shade. I’m free.” I adjusted the straps of the backpack to fit the bag snuggly against my back and strode for the door. “You said I’d never make it yet here I am – free and out of their grasp. Hell, I even managed to cage your stupid ass without you realizing what I was doing.”
“Yeah, you laugh now, Blondie but you won’t be doing any when Boyd and Wes are sent after you. If you think your life was hard before…”, he chuckled darkly and let the sentence hang. I knew just what kind of pain and torture the men who had held me could mete out and I had no desire to go back for more of the same or worse.
My hand found the handle for the door that would release me out into the world and twisted.
“Oh, hello karma. Locked. Surprise. Now whatcha going to do Ardeur?” I laid my forehead against the cool metal of the door and fought, hard, to keep the tears that threatened to spill in check. There was no way that I would let myself get this far, this close to freedom and let a locked door be my undoing.
“Shut up, you stupid shit. Remember who you’re talking to here, hm?”
I took a deep breath, gripped the handle tightly and twisted with everything I had; sheering it clean off and swinging the door open into the night. The light above the door shone down on me and spurred me to action. If anyone had been drawn by the sound of the door crashing open, standing in the doorway with the light pointing accusing rays down on me was not a good place to be when they arrived.
Several steps to the right had me covered in shadows again, affording me a few minutes to figure out which direction to head in and to see if anyone would come to investigate the noise that my exit from the boat shed had occasioned.
Ten minutes later I walked up the dock, cut through the marina parking lot and disappeared into the night. I was safe, for now.
Come back on November 5th, 2010 for a look at Chapter 7 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.