Author: Hounskull PM
Our character find himself in a rather difficult situation here, caught between the very different worlds of street gangs and police officers, in his own search to belong.Rated: Fiction T - English - Crime/Family - Words: 3,505 - Published: 03-15-10 - id: 2785528
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Streetlight – Chapter One
I don't remember much about what happened to me that night.
I can't even remember how long ago it was.
Every time I think back to it, all I can hear is screeching tires, and then a pain so intense I feel like I'm not even a part of the world anymore.
All I know is that I was only in that part of town because the 'boss' told me to be there, and the left side of my face is still healing…
I think I was hit, and I slid across the footpath. For a moment, it felt so hot, like I was sliding through fire. Then cold, like ice.
Car doors slammed and blow after blow fell upon me. I remember I was so scared. Everything inside of me was this primeval blur of fear and instincts. I was suffocating…It felt like I was underwater, struggling to the surface, about to run out of air.
And then…I think…something inside of me broke. And I knew I was going to die. And I can't recall whether or not I was screaming. It was either a bat or a steel-capped boot, which struck me in the side of my head. I don't know.
Then I was screaming. I can definitely say that I was screaming after that. And then there were these noises from around me, people hitting each other. People yelling. A shot went off.
And then Reno was there, cradling me, talking to me. I don't know what he said but God he sounded worried. All the bad people had gone away then, and Louie said something about a hospital. He thought I was going to die. No, he thought I was already dead.
In fact, I should've already been dead. I should've been smashed right out of the living world the moment that car slammed into me and sent me flying across the street.
But I didn't die. It was a miracle. And I wasn't alone either.
In that same hour, a man was put to death by lethal injection, and a woman leapt from a building and fell forty-three stories. Neither of them died. Someone noticed the similarities in our cases. The injection clocks in at roughly the same time as when people starting ringing emergency services about a lady on the roof, and when Louie was calling an ambulance. They looked into it further, had people working on it - and what they discovered blew their minds.
Soldiers wounded overseas remained alive through fatal injuries.
A man held down underwater by the strong currents in a river surfaced after fifteen minutes, alive.
A young girl fell from her horse and was kicked in the neck. Her throat swelled and for half an hour she couldn't breath, yet she lived.
And there was more too, all over the world, the death toll ground to a halt.
It all happened within between five and six in the morning. It was a deathless hour, they decided, an hour of miracles.
And I was one of those miracles – apparently. How could I be a miracle? Not that I got famous, or even went anywhere within range of a camera. Tooga and Louie wouldn't let anyone near me. I asked them why not, they just said they were following orders. My story never got as far as the door to my ward.
Later last night, Coye and Reno came and picked us up from the hospital, at about eleven. We went back to headquarters, and for that night our shift was covered by another group and we were allowed to rest.
But I was angry, I was so angry, I needed some sort of revenge, I'd put my life on the line so many times now, and for what? A half rotten bunk and a clip round the ear? How did I get myself into this mess?
For now though, I think I should explain a few things…
My name is Collie. I would mention my last name if it weren't so hideous. I even struggle with just Collie alone.... Honestly, Collie, it isn't even a real name, let alone a boy's one.
My parents probably just put down the first thing they thought of, and then dumped me at the orphanage. I thought they were dead until a few years ago when I found out that no, they were just lazy.
I freaked out, and ran away.
It was probably a bad decision. I had nowhere to go. I found what I thought was just an ordinary gang of kids wandering our streets, and before I knew it they had me by the scruff of my shirt, dragging me back to 'headquarters'.
They offered me a family…I leapt at the chance.
Turns out that we're all just pawns in the well laid plans of those who use people like me to deal with all the dirty work they need done in preparation for their masterpieces. Gang leaders, drug dealers…
I'm not kidding either. I always feel stupid explaining this, but these people - the ones at the top that kick us around and have us marching any old place, carrying out all their dirty jobs – they're powerful beyond belief. They will annihilate anything or anyone who gets in their way. We don't know where they came from, and we're the only ones who seem to see them for what they really are – monsters.
All we know is that they give the orders, but the blood is on our hands.
Monday - Dusk.
It was coming into autumn. The leaves were going funny colours – I only noticed this because I happened to be storming through them. The trees were turning brittle. No young limbs were sprouting, soft and green - only dry twisting twigs, which snapped as I slashed madly at them with the bowie knife clutched in my palm.
I fumed for a while, pacing back and forward in the mess of broken branches.
This is driving me insane.
And then I turned and stalked off to where I could see the bridge up ahead. I needed to think. I needed to sort this all out in my head. I couldn't just rush into this without a plan…
Things were fairly dull around this part of town. Cracked pavement. Dead bushes. Sad old houses that seem to dip in the middle, as if they're stuck in a tiresome sigh.
I stopped at the edge of the bridge. It was frail and old, like too many souls weighed down with life have crossed its old wooden frame. I kicked the banister and it almost snapped.
Forcing a distressed groan, I rested my elbows on the rail and hung my head. My hair was unwashed, short scraps of greasy blonde slipped between my fingertips.
There's no way out.
Just do it.
I slammed my forearm into the wood - it hurt like nothing else. I almost regretted it.
I was still clutching the bowie knife in my fist. I risked my neck getting it out of the storeroom at Headquarters.
Indecision chewed away at me like as a monster. I'd put my life on the line for these people too many times now; I had to do this…
I nodded to myself. The creek below me was running dry. It was really just a muddy ditch though. A pretty ugly sight. There's not much down there but old cat food cans, plastic wrappers and stringy old grasses that once bowed to a stormy wind and have never quite managed to stand back upright again.
I kicked pebbles off the edge of the bridge; they made no sound as they land.
Tooga once told me, when I came to realize just exactly what I'd gotten myself into – 'You're stuck here now boy, they're like snare traps, they won't ever let you go…'
But he has this funny Jamaican sounding accent, which I've never in my life managed to imitate…
I shook my hair out and glanced up. A strange figure was standing stock-still about twenty meters down the creek. I turned away, but then my grip on the bowie knife tightened and I swerved back around.
A large feline was crouched ahead of me. His shaggy coat of silken black fur swayed as he then crept backward into the dry bushes, long tail curling around his strange, elongated body as he slunk through mud and gloomy puddles. Glowing orange eyes studied me, and then he was gone…
The blade clattered to the ground.
"Are you okay?" someone said.
Caught off guard, I whirled around to face the stranger.
"Shit!" I blurted, "Who the-"
In front of me, a fiery-red haired girl stood, feet spread apart from each other, her head cocked to the side. She was shorter than me by at least fifteen centimeters.
"You look scared?" she continued, tilting her head to the other side.
I was still breathing fast from the shock; this made her smile apparently, because her pale features suddenly split into a wide grin and her bright green eyes suddenly lit up like eerie lanterns. Memories kicked in now, flashbacks of photos and names and hours spent learning faces.
She was a police officer's daughter. Her name was-
"I'm Morgan," she beamed, interrupting my thoughts.
I edged my heel backward to feel the bowie knife scraping gently across the concrete.
I almost said 'I know' but managed to stammer through it and come out with -"I…hey…I'm Collie"
I half expected her to laugh, but instead she did nothing, so I turned quickly to stare back down the creek. The big cat had gone, I scowled.
"You dropped your knife," Morgan said, and she bent down to pick it up, "Where'd you get it from?"
"Give it back" I grunted, and pressed my hand forward.
She seemed taken aback.
"Here" she said quietly, and pressed the handle into my palm, her hands were cool – soft and smooth.
I almost felt bad for her. She seemed to withdraw right back into herself, her eyes suddenly not as inquisitive as before. She shuffled her feet as if to move off.
I sighed inwardly.
"I haven't answered your question yet…" I said, almost cringing.
The smile came back to her face so fast I was frightened. She swept a lock of wavy red hair out of her eyes and asked again, "Alright, I asked you – Are you okay?"
I regretted bringing it up.
This must've showed in my eyes or something, because she spoke again saying, "Oh wait, don't worry about that one then…" she laughed awkwardly, and then explained, "I'm here taking photographs…"
"In this dump?" I asked bemusedly.
"It's for an art project," she nodded.
"Oh right, but…I thought photographs were supposed to be of all nice places, like…I dunno…mountains and….sunsets…not crappy old neighborhoods like this one"
She smiled, "actually, I've found some really nice stuff around here"
"You've got a funny perception of nice then…" I scoffed, and she laughed aloud.
I shoved my hands in my jean pockets and looked around.
All stupid houses and half-dumb teenagers sitting on front porches.
Morgan stuck out like a sore thumb. Nice clothes, expensive camera hanging around her neck, clean hair, happy, no rips in her shoes and a gold link bracelet.
"You must live around the North part of town?" I muttered.
"Yeah," she said, surprised, "How'd you guess?"
I shook my head, smiling. Where else could she come from? The northern neighborhoods, the rich ones, and in particular – Bryndale North.
She moved on, "So…knives…" she prompted.
I took a long, deep stare into her eyes like I was judging the distance down from a diving board. She was probably just pampered daughter who didn't understand anything other than fashion, but what the hell - I thought.
"I just have to teach a few people a lesson," I said quietly.
At once, her eyes widened with a spark of understanding that I never would've expected from the likes of her.
"But…" she said, "With a knife?"
I nodded slowly, "with a knife" I echoed.
"You know…" she started, hesitantly at first, "There are better ways to go about things than with knives…"
My shoulders jumped up in a dismissive shrug, "Like?..." I asked.
She smirked, "you really haven't thought this out, have you?"
I shook my head sharply, eyes downcast, "It has to be this way"
She sounded unsure – "I don't think so…"
"I have to do it this way!" I snapped, "They have to know how much they're really fucked me over this time!"
Morgan flinched and took a step back. I grasped the bowie knife in my palm and stabbed it down hard into the wood of the bridge rail, then turned my gaze back around to focus on Morgan. She looked like she'd like nothing more than to leave, but at the same time, she seemed understanding enough to stay.
She started hoarsely, "I still think…"
"Think what?" I interrupted, "think that you have any idea what the hell it's like living here?"
I was lucky that she didn't walk away from me right then and there. She brushed off my snappishness and continued at a level pace and tone.
"There're better ways…," she said quietly as a strange light came into her eyes, "funnier ways…"
I would've done a double take had there been anywhere else for me to have been looking.
"Funnier…?" I said, giving her a sideways look.
"Ahah" She nodded.
She seemed to take my silence as a prompt to continue, "Imagine it, these people, they're walking out the front door, they step out onto the lawn, they're moving towards their car…and then…WHAM! Before they can blink they're hit and they're covered in a sticky, syrupy mess, all down their shirt!"
I blink, almost not believing what I'm hearing. She goes on - "They look around, confused and angry, and then – WHAM, WHAM, WHAM!!! Three more balloons hit them, they're bowled over by the force of it, and by the time they get up and start finding their feet, there's no one there at all, their eyelids are syruped shut, their clothes are ruined at it takes a week to get the sticky out of their hair…!"
I was almost laughing now… "Maple syrup balloons?" I asked, "Are you out of your mind?"
"Yes" she confirmed, "Now. We're going to need a lot of syrup…"
'We?' I questioned inwardly, then, "Syrup" I stated blankly.
"Yes!" she squealed, "Maple Syrup!"
I chuckled doubtfully and dragged my hands down my face, "you can't be serious"
But the look in her eye was more than enough to assure me that I was wrong about this. The fiery haired girl stood beneath me as determined and bright as if she were towering fifty stories above me.
"I think that it's the best way, and I think that you know it, and I think that we should start right now" she grinned, speaking so fast I could barely keep up with her.
"It's getting dark…" I replied, still unconvinced.
She didn't seem to care much though, and rolled between her heels and the balls of her feet.
Night time…Tooga and Louie…
"Oh," I said aloud, "Crap…"
I checked my watch, "9.13pm" I muttered.
"What is it?" Morgan asked.
I glanced up at her, "I have to meet some people soon…"
"Can I walk you there?" Morgan chirped.
My shoulders sunk slightly. The last thing I needed was some North-end kid hanging around me all the time. I was about to say no when she spoke up again.
"Shit," she gasped, "Did you say nine thirteen?"
I nodded. She made a frustrated noise and said, "Ugh…I missed my bus…"
I grimaced, "When does the next one come?"
"Nine forty-five, I think…"
Now caught between my strange desire to escape from her and my knowledge that a girl like her would never be safe here, I decided I'd better let her walk me back to my bunks, then make her push off just before her bus pulled in.
"Come on then" I sighed, and we left the bridge and started off in the general southward direction of my makeshift home. There wasn't much to talk about, and Morgan seemed almost oblivious to being unwelcome. She rambled on about some giant old barn burning down up on the hill to the west of the city.
This was news to me, and I found myself wanting to know more. I listened eagerly as she explained that four bodies had been found all charred and blackened, holding hands like some sick ritual.
"That crazy band used to play up there, right?" I asked, becoming quite interested in the subject.
"Yeah," she scoffed, "total wackos though, I had this ex-boyfriend who was completely obsessed with them, he went to every show they ever played"
I laughed, "What do they even play?"
"Some metal shit," Morgan scoffed, "I don't mind it, but…come on…"
We both grinned, and continued walking.
She was actually quite a nice girl, I decided, not only in the way she looked, but in her way in general. Most girls I'd ran into before never exactly had photography projects and maple syrup bombs on their mind when they stopped me on the street…
Morgan was a very strange girl to me, yet in the brief time I had spent with her she'd managed to evaporate any trace of anger I had felt inside.
It almost made me sad to know that as soon as she left I would probably never see her again; I doubted she would make any effort to return with her hundreds of bottles of maple syrup…
I could see the bunks at the end of the street now. A squat, square, run down building provided by the leaders as housing for us underling-types. Most of the other groups, including the rest of mine, stayed further down the street, closer to headquarters.
I stopped outside of the gate. The bunk was a faded old crème colour. The white paint on the windowsills had mostly peeled off, and the roof was patched. Across the lawn, dozens of miscellaneous items were scattered, and as we appeared, a stray cat crawled timidly back into the shadows of a car body.
"In there?" Morgan gaped, staring down the bunk as if it were a landfill.
"Yeah" I nodded.
"…Really?" she asked again.
She stepped over the gate, which was hanging on one hinge off a waist-height chain link fence, and made her way up to the door, which lay ajar. A black gloom hung in the interior of the bunks.
Morgan's eyebrows furrowed, she stepped back to stand in front of me.
"No one's home?" she asked.
She really didn't understand.
I cracked a sad smile, "It's like that all the time"
A moment passed, and then it dawned on her and she nodded sadly. I honestly thought by looking at her, that she when she got home she would have me abducted and put in some boys home. I shuddered at the thought.
Morgan gave me a strange look, so I checked my watch.
"It's dark now," I said, "Your bus gets here in ten minutes…"
She took the hint well, and nodded, stepping around me. I watched her go, her hips swung smoothly as she went carefully through the dark.
Then I started after her, "Morgan?" I called, and she turned around.
I pulled the bowie knife out from where it'd been hidden and offered it to her, handle first. Hesitantly, her hand closed around the cold grip.
She probably had no idea how to use it, at all, but at least if she ran into trouble around here, she'd have some hope of protecting herself.
I don't know why, but I couldn't have stood being myself if I hadn't of at least tried to help her out of here in some way.
Maybe she felt the same way about me and my bunks. Either way, it hardly mattered, I had to meet the group in about twenty minutes - she had to go now.
"Goodnight," she said, and I nodded in return, "I'll be here tomorrow, for the prank, Collie"
And then she turned and walked away, holding awkwardly in her palm the razor bowie knife, and leaving me cringing – 'Oh god…she remembered my name…'