The night is cold. The wind feels like it’s going right through my skin down to my bones. I wouldn’t be out here if I didn’t need the money. Isn’t that the way it always is? Any sane person would stay inside. Not that I’ve ever been accused of being sane.
I run my hand through my hair, disgusted by how greasy it is. When was the last time I showered? I wasn’t quite sure if my memory problems were because of my powers or because of how many drugs I’d done in my life. Slowly my body was coming back to me. I thought I was getting better, but some days…some days were frustrating. I’d have the memory of a goldfish and forget little things. Eating, sleeping, bathing.
Not as though my clients give a shit. They’re more tweaked out and disheveled than I am. I am going to look like the queen of sanity with my windbreaker on this night while all the rest are wearing tank-tops, shorts and hoodies with holes too big in them. The clothes they absolutely need, the stuff they couldn’t pawn because it was worthless.
I think about where I’m going to set up shop for the night. I consider all the places I’ve used in the last week. It’s hard keeping all the facts straight. It does work out alright. Since I can’t remember where I’ve been I choose randomly and hope that I haven’t been there the last few nights. I don’t want to be known for one specific place. That makes it easier for me to be tracked down. The junkies would love that, but it would mean the cops would know where to look too. They’re not the biggest problem in the world. I can outrun them if I need to. I just don’t want to break the rules.
I don’t want to be the one to attract attention around the bar. That was rule number one. No matter how much I forget I remember that. Hell, they even made Viking Devil understand he shouldn’t rob and steal too close to the bar and he’s almost too dumb to remember to breathe.
Attention brings cops, gangs or, worst of all, capes. None of us want them snooping around. I sure as hell wasn’t going to be blamed for them appearing. We have a nice thing going for us.
I stop staring at my feet and notice that the neighborhood had changed. Not much. The buildings look the same, similar architecture, same narrow streets. But there is a palpable difference in atmosphere. I find it amazing that only three blocks away I felt safe and secure. Crossing the street I was aware of predatory eyes staring at me from between closed blinds and alleyways. I look the part of the victim. A skinny little white girl walking downtown more concerned about keeping warm than keeping her guard up. I’m slightly safe because it looks like I don’t have any money. But there was still stuff they could do to me even if they didn’t want my money. Not true. There was still stuff they THOUGHT they could do to me. Any man, woman or creature even tried touching me without permission would soon discover I wasn’t to be fucked with.
Finally I catch the eye of my target. His name is Reggie, a regular of mine. Used to be an honor student and now he lived on the street looking for his next high. He is a favorite of mine. While being homeless for three years had definitely hardened him there was a certain softness under his shell. I could still see the sensitive college student come out once he got his fix.
He sees me and smiles weakly. It’s clear that he needs a fix pretty bad. I nod then head into an alley. I check to make sure that the coast is clear. I lucked out and it is completely empty. This almost never happens. I lean against the concrete wall and wait for Reggie to follow after me. Despite his need he still hesitates every time. The innocent kid working up the courage to approach the girl.
He walks down the alley constantly looking over his shoulder, his eyes darting all around to make sure that there is no one else around. His arms were crossed tightly across his chest. He pops out his hand and waves at me real quick then replaces it back under his arm and continues his surveillance of the alley.
“How’s it going, Amy?”
“Pretty cold out, right?”
“You got that right.”
“So, you’re working tonight, right? Tell me ‘yes’ please.”
“Only if you’ve got the money.”
Reggie looks around once again than shoves his hand into his pants pocket so hard I’m sure he’s going to rip them. He pulls out a crumpled bill and holds it out. I pull it from his grip and spread it out to make sure it’s intact. The last thing I need is for a junkie to pay me with half a twenty. I shove the bill into my pants pocket then pull up the sleeve of my windbreaker.
“One lick, no more than twenty seconds. Any longer and I will break what teeth you have left.”
Reggie nods eagerly. His tongue is warm and rough on my arm. He goes slowly, only making it from my wrist to my elbow in his allotted time. His entire body shudders like he’s having the best orgasm in his life. He has his eyes closed the entire time. When I tap him on the forehead to let him know his time is up his eyes slowly open, revealing a glassy stare that replaced his nervous, darting look. I take a paper napkin from my purse and wipe his drool off my arm while he staggers off. He drifts too close to the alley wall and falls down onto a bag of garbage.
That looks like a really good trip to be on. Every time I see one of customers stagger off like that I wished I could feel something like that. One time I listened to one of my customers wax eloquently for an hour about how I was the best high he had ever had in his life and that each time was the same. I want to feel like that, a tenth of that. Ever since the accident that gave me my powers I haven’t been able to get high at all. No matter what I shoot, snort, smoke or drink I feel nothing. To get anything resembling a buzz I have to do enough drugs to kill five men which is not easy or affordable.
I was pretty angry until I found out that my body produced drugs. Any kind. It was all on the person who touched me. A super-scientist once took a few blood and skin samples and found that it was all inert. There was nothing in my cells that should’ve reacted with anything. Then he gave it to a guy who then proceeded to have a pretty extreme acid trip.
It didn’t take me long to put it to work. I was a junkie, occasional whore with two priors. I had to go straight, but there was no way I was going to make it anywhere in the real world. Slowly I was building a wad that would take me out of Paradiso. I didn’t know what I would do once I left, but there was no way I’d get a clean break if I stayed in the city.
Sometimes I thought that instead of using the money to escape the town I would use it to have one of the super-scientists cure me. Healing normally wasn’t in their repertoire, but maybe I could convince them to use me as a guinea pig on a weapon to de-power the heroes. After that I’d be able to get high again and drift away. That was the same as leaving the city.
“Hey, girl, you workin’?” someone asks, snapping me out of my reminiscing.
“You looking to get high?”
“Nah, I’m lookin’ for some action, you get me?”
“I do, but I’m not the girl for you. Try two blocks down.”
He is a big man, must outweigh me by 200 pounds at least. It all looks like muscle. I’m not afraid of him. Nothing he wanted to try hadn’t been done before. But not since I got my powers. Only one man tried to force me to do anything I didn’t want since the accident and things didn’t end to well for him. I heard a day he doesn’t piss himself is a good day. Word got around about that and I encouraged it. I didn’t want to scare off my clients, but I didn’t want them to think I was the weak little girl I once was.
“No, I think you’re the girl I want.”
I turn to leave when he grabs my arm. Lucky for him I still have my windbreaker down. My bones grind together under his grip. I try to wrench myself free. The more I pull the tighter he holds on. I spin around and grab my left arm with my right hand. I use all my strength, but I still can’t get free. He grabs my right arm and pulls me closer to him.
His face is right next to mine. When he tells me about how much fun we’re going to have I can smell garlic on his breath from his last meal. He puckers his lips in preparation to kiss me.
By this point I can’t think of a single reason not to let him have it. I gave him every chance to get away. He moves his face closer. I stick my tongue out and lick him all the way from his cheek, over his eyeball to his forehead. I could’ve just let him kiss me, but that garlic smell made me nauseous.
“Damn, girl, you are a freak I knew it.” He laughs, and continues on a bit longer until it becomes coughing, then choking. He releases me and sticks his finger in his mouth down his throat like he’s trying to make himself puke. I back away from him, almost tripping over Reggie. He mumbles something when I kick him. He’s still too high to be of any use.
The man is O.D.ing on something bad. He claws at his face, tearing deep jagged lines into his flesh and drawing blood. He falls to his knees then slumps face first onto the ground. I hear a high-pitched whistling that takes me a moment to realize it’s my own breath as I exhale it through my teeth. It’s not like I never killed anyone before. This is just one of the few times I’d done it on impulse. Every other time I’d planned it out as part of a job. All of us, the powered, knew that we don’t go to normal prison. We disappear , never to be found again. I’d only ever heard of one guy who escaped from one of the ultra-max powers prisons. His lover broke him out only to find that he’d been lobotomized. If you get pinched you either have to escape while you were still in normal jail or hope you had good enough friends to do it for you.
I don’t have many of those.
Nobody seemed to notice. Not a lot of foot traffic tonight. I still have to get away as fast as possible which shouldn’t be a problem. If there’s one thing I’m good at it’s being fast. I start walking away before I get a stupid, greedy thought in my head. I’m fast, I can do this. The dead man on the ground is, well, dead, and his money isn’t any use to him anymore. No point in leaving it for some cop or mortician to nab. Or Reggie would wake up and take it. Then pay me anyway. The way I see it the money is mine anyway.
Ignoring all good thoughts to the contrary I kneel down next to the body and start running his pockets. I can sell his credit cards, his watch looks real so I take that, too. I finally hit the jackpot. A fat wad of bills. This would be a nice little addition to my nest egg. It is enough that I won’t even have to stay out tonight anymore.
No point in double checking. I stand up and walk to the mouth of the alley. I think of Reggie, but he is still out of it. His fault if he gets caught next to a body. That’s his problem.
I think I’m free and clear when two more men enter the alley. I stop in my tracks, which is the stupidest thing I can do. If I just kept walking I could be free and clear while they went to search the body. As it is now it is very obvious that I am escaping the scene.
I try to walk past them, but one of them grabs my bicep. He’s not as big as the man I killed, but seemingly just as strong.
“Hey, where you going? What did you do to T?”
“Don’t even try that. Matt, go over and check to see if T’s alright.”
The other one walks over to their friend’s body. The man holding me feels me tense up so he tightens his grip. As Matt shakes T’s body I debate whether to kill them both. I already did it once this night, two more won’t be that big of deal. I think I’m far away enough from the bar so as not to arouse suspicion. I don’t want to push it. The cops will think it’s weird that three men died of unexplained overdoses in the same alley. Stranger things happen in this city, but the last thing I need in my life is a trail leading to me as I try to escape.
The decision is taken out of my hands as Matt stands up and pulls out a gun. I will have to use the other power my accident gave me. The man holding me also draws his gun. It’s a big, shiny automatic. Before he can aim it at me I snatch it out of his hands. He manages a gasp of surprise by how fast I move before I pistol whip him hard across the face with his own gun. His head rolls loosely to one side and he falls to the ground. I hit him so hard and fast that the gun is bent at a weird angle, making it unusable.
Matt’s gun is pointed right at me. He fires a shot which misses me by a big margin. This is probably the first time he’s ever gone up against a power. He fires again just as I sprint towards him. I watch the bullet spin in slow motion past my head. As I run past him I grab his arm and force it up over his head and behind him. The speed tears his arm clean out of the socket. The gun goes off again as his hand twitches.
My heart is racing so fast I feel like it is going to explode out of my chest any second. The colors of the world are all mushed together making it impossible to see. My muscles convulse uncontrollably for a few moments, but I manage to stand. I start coughing and when I pull my hand away I see it is covered in blood. Happens every time I use my super-speed.
By the time I recover, Matt has already gone into deep shock. I don’t have to do anything further to him. He could possibly pull through if he got to a hospital fast enough except we’re in Shorewood where the ambulances aren’t too eager to get to the injured.
The neighborhood went silent after the first gunshot. All I can hear is my ragged breathing. Time is short. I look around trying figure out my next move and that’s when I notice Reggie still laying in the garbage. I think he is going to be a problem until I see the dark, expanding stain on his hoodie. He caught the bullet from when I ripped off my attacker’s arm. For just the briefest moment I let myself feel guilty. If I hadn’t chosen this alley then he might still be alive. He was destined for a bad end anyway. I just sped that up a little.
I laugh at my accidental joke and start coughing on the blood I snort into the back of my throat.
I pick up the ruined gun and wipe it down with a napkin from my pocket. I put the gun into Reggie’s hand. I take the napkin and clean my face with it then shove it up my nostril to stop the bleeding. I go and run the pockets of the two new dead men. I smile as I think of the detective who is going to have to figure out this one.
The money from the dead men is substantial. Nowhere near enough I need for my plans, but a pretty good start. Hell, I can even take a week off. After tonight I may need to. Staying off the street would be a good idea.
I calmly walk out of the alley, on my way back to the bar. The guys there will get a laugh out of this.