*Slap* The sound reverberated through the house a I reached the bottom of the stairs and ran straight into my lowlife good for nothing, piebald, alcoholic stepfather. Things had changed since my mother passed away mysteriously. After that my "Daddy Dearest" took abject interest in a sick new hobby, me. It started with an occasional beating when I got a bad grade or spilled something, but it rapidly became daily beatings and nightly rape. For some sick, twisted reason even ater it all I pitied him, well that was what I thought then.
"Ava, I told you an hour ago to get down here, you haven't done any of the shit you're supposed to, and now you're going to be late for work you lazy, dirty, cheap slut." The years of beatings had tempered my anger and made me heartless. I stared at him with utter contempt and dropped my bag next to me.
"You know you pompas ass, it is about time you figured out that if you ever hit me again, touch me again, or rape me again, I will kill your drink sodden ass. I don't pity you anymore, I am not afraid of you and I most definitely will kill you. I advise you to get this through your head, I am done with you and all of this shit you put me through. Since I am paying all of the bills now, I advise you to shape up or get the fuck out."
His face became red, his eyes bulged out of his head and he lunged for me. I gasped and tried to scramble back as I dialed for help on my cell. As I hit send he grabbed my ankle. I screamed as he pulled me down the stairs. I flailed and tried to hit him, but I felt the panic and couldn't calm down to think rationally enough. He grabbed the sides of my head and bashed the back of my skull into the stairs. I felt dizzy but clear headed. I worked my leg in between us and launched him off me. I quickly got to my feet and rushed him. I sat astride him and connected my fist with his face repeatedly. I don't remember how long I hit him, but I felt arms lift me off and restrain me as I lunged again.
"Miss stop, you need to stop." The voice was calm in the red haze that was my brain. I screamed once before I broke free and walked out the front door. I moved slowly and carefully as I was watched by five sets of eyes all cold and calculating as I sat on the porch. I stuck my head in my hands and proceeded to make my rapidly beating heart slow. I could still feel the urge deep within to grab the kitchen knife and tear his throat out, cut open every artery and watch him bleed out. Years and years of pain moved to the surface of my brain and I slammed my hands down.
"You know, you can damage yourself that way." It was the calm voice again. I looked up and actually saw the face for the first time. He wasn't smiling but he didn't look pissed off either. I took in a deep breath and let it out with a big sigh.
"Right now I don't care about the damage I do, but the damage that has been done to me, over an over again." I gripped my hands to the back of my head and winced at the pain I hadn't felt in my head. I brought my hands down and saw them covered in blood.
"Wow miss, we need to get you checked out, that looks particularly nasty." He helped me up and steadied me as I almost toppled over. I caught myself as I grabbed his shoulder.
"I am fine, a cloth and some rest and I will be fine again. Don't trouble yourself over me. I am not worth any of your well paid time." I looked at him for a moment I started to walk away. I looked back for a moment and sucked in a breath. "Am I under arrest for anything, or am I free to go?"
He looked at me with a raised eyebrow. "No not under arrest, just need you to answer some questions for me."
I nodded. "I can do that, but it will have to wait until after I am done with work. I am already late and need every hour I can get."
His look told me he was distressed by my decision. "You mean you actually want to go to work after all this?"
I nodded my head and sighed. "This is the story of my life, you don't get it do you? This has been my life since my mother died. Until I weas eighteen I put up with more than I do now. I never had the extra money I needed to leave, so I turned my room into a type of fortress he couldn't get into, the only safe haven I have from him. Work and school are the only other escapes I have. So do I want to go to work, yes and if I an not there in the next ten minutes, my boss will be in a panic wondering if I am alive. She is great to work with me when he puts me in the hospital."
He looked at me in shock. "You are telling me that this isn't the first time he has done this?"
I shook my head and let out a hysterical giggle. "New to the force are ya? We I guess you did something bad to be stuck babysitting me. Don't worry they will put him in lockdown for twenty four hours then tell me the same thing, never enough evidence to keep him locked up. He will be home tomorrow and telling me he won't do it again. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go, Boss is about to call."
He nodded. "Well then how about I take you to work after I check our your head?"
I shot him a look and nodded as my phone rang. He moved behind me as I answered.
Boss* Thank goodness Ava I have been worried sick.
Me* Don't worry Joy, just another on of those days. I called this time though. Listen, I will be there in about fifteen minutes, getting my head check out.
Joy* That bad huh? Well I will clock you in and get your stuff set up for the day. Get here as soon as you can.
Me* Will do boss lady, see you soon.
I hung up the phone and put it on the porch next to me. As I felt the stranger's hands on my scalp I winced at the pull of the string as stitches were put in my head.
"Hurt any miss?" His tone was sincere but curious.
"A bit, but not as much as it should. My name is Ava by the way, not miss or ma'am. Just Ava."
I felt him chuckle as the string jerked a bit. "Ava then, well my name is Thomas, Thomas Schultz. You know, I have never met anyone like you, definitely a change. Now let's get you to work and give me the chance to talk to you."
I looked at him a moment and noticed that he wasn't in a uniform, but he still wore a badge. I shook loose the cobweb feeling that was assulting my brain and felt a revalation hit me. "You aren't a cop are you?"
He shook his head and opened the passengers door for me. I moved to get into the vehicle then gasped. I ran into the house, grabbed my bag then rushed to the porch to grab my phone before I moved back towards the SUV. I smiled at Thomas as I got in, a bit of a blush on my cheeks embarrassed I almost forgot my things from looking into his beautiful eyes. He closed the door and moved to the driver's side and got in. As he started the SUV he looked at me.
"No I am not a cop, nor detective. I have other things to speak to you about. We have been watching you since high school and my superiors are impressed with how quick your mind is. It is like you can see it once and memorize everything in front of you. We have a name for that of course. You can also learn something after you are shown once."
I was a bit creeped out by what he was telling me, that I had been watched. After the creepy feeling, the dread hit me. I had been sneaking onto the nearby army base to learn how to protect myself. I looked over at Thomas and knew I was in so much trouble. I had a paniced look on my face and he laughed.
"Yes, we know about you sneaking on base and no we aren't mad about it. You are going to need everything you have learned so far. I have a proposition for you if you could spare some time after you're done at work."
I looked at him confused as we pulled up in front of my customer service job. "What proposition could you possibly have for me? I am nothing special."
He raised his eyebrow at me. "Ava Dean you have special talents that a friend of mine could truly nurture and turn into a weapon. All of that anger you hide under the surface is an asset that we could use. I know you are off tomorrow and I would be grateful if you would give me time to explain. Tomorrow, nine AM in the diner, then we will move on from there. How does that sound?"
I shurgged my shoulders and looked at him one last time as I grabbed my bag and slung it over my shoulder. "We'll see." I opened the door and walked out into the humid air and my same old job.
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