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22. A Rebellion Named Harley

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I walked until morning came, the gun heavy in my hand. I tried tucking it into a pocket, but it was out of place everywhere I put it.

After my scene at the bar, I went home. I left the gun next to the bed; there was no point in trying to hide it now. Besides, all that remained was a chamber of blanks. They bore the appearance of security. Comparable to the family. Our family.

I was barely asleep when strong hands tore me from my bed. I was being dragged out, fighting and kicking in the night. I expected this. Well, not exactly in this form but one way or another. I was brought to Doyle. And he brought me to the roof.

“Pandora sleeps,” he whispered. That was his explanation to me. I knew better. He didn’t want interference. I’d screwed with the works. I’d pay the price. He looked at me wearily. His lackeys left, I was permitted to stand free of assistance. He paced around me.

“Feeling okay?” He was playing the part of caring adult, just enough to get the truth.

I nodded. “Fine.”

He pulled out a smoke and lit up, looking me up and down. “Funny word, but I’ll take it. So…I think you owe me an explanation.”

“You? Nobody else?”

He laughed. “For right now? If you make it through me, you’re mostly in the clear. I’m your biggest threat. I’m responsible for this group – the cops are going to ask questions with bodies turning up at random. If you had a problem, you should have come to me. Never take matters into your own hands that can be placed in hands already stained with blood.”

“So am I explaining myself because I killed him wrong or because I killed him?”

He smiled wide. “Clever girl. Sometimes. There’s still much to resolve. Fortunately, Sylum found him.”

“Sylum?”

“Officer. Don’t you remember?”

I blanked out. No. I didn’t remember. I wanted to rant and rave and tell him this. I wanted to explain to him in my irrational tones that nobody clued me in. I merely shook my head, a confused look on my face. It conveyed everything in one solid motion.

“Officer Bishop. He found the body. He’s running the investigation. But you’ll deal with him over this.”

“I don’t understand. No harsh reprimand? No sort of punishment?”

And he smiled sinisterly at me. “I never said all of that. You screwed with my command. Nobody dies around here without my say so. No guns are fired without my knowing it.” He was behind me at the moment, he reached out and dug into my shoulder, as Serkis had done. But his hand was larger, the fingers digging deeper. He kept at it until my knees buckled under me. “This is for your own good. So we know the incident doesn’t repeat.”

“And the good Officer Bishop is going to help you cover this up without a qualm?” I coughed out. I was in pain; I wanted to crawl away. He wouldn’t free me.

“I didn’t say that either.” And he let go. I collapsed onto my hands, heaving from the pain. He circled around – I could see his feet moving. And another set of steps, even and calm, approaching. I looked up from the pain.

“Meet Mr. Bishop, kid.” Doyle’s voice was sinister and full of loathing. I had screwed with his authority. I made him look bad. And now the tables turned. He was going to prove to me that in the long run, we were all his. Every last one of us. Doyle dragged me to my feet and threw me into the man’s waiting arms. He held onto me loosely at first, but tighter when I tried to pull away. Rapid steps and two more figures burst into the scene.

Serkis. Pandora.

“Get the hell off her!” Serkis screamed. They were closing in when Doyle produced a gun and leveled it at them. I felt the cop move and a weapon put to my head. Everyone froze.

“Don’t do anything foolish,” Doyle whispered. He was aiming at Serkis mostly. Her body was frozen, tensed up, still lurching forward without her. She glared at him from afar. Pandora was calmer, more collected, biding her time. She was slowly shifting herself closer, escaping his notice. She’d had practice with such maneuvers.

“She made a mistake, leave it alone.” Pandora’s voice was even, urging. She was trying. Doyle glanced at her lightly.

“Someone’s got to pay the cost of this. There’s blood lost here. Something must be taken to balance the cycle.”

Serkis stepped forward. “And what are you going to take? You won’t take blood for it. What else? What would make up for the scumbag that Gothik was?”

He shifted his attention directly at her, trying to see through her, past her. He couldn’t make it work. I closed my eyes and tried to pretend this wasn’t real. I didn’t belong here. The negotiations went on for a while longer, the voices rising and falling in turn in my mind. I couldn’t stand it any longer and I screamed out for release. All eyes turned to me. Sylum let me go and I hit the ground. Serkis tried to come over but Doyle cocked the gun.

“Stay,” he whispered.

“I’ll pay the cost,” I muttered. The other two just looked on, dumbfounded. I got up shakily. “This’ my crime, I’ll pay the cost.”

Doyle smiled, a triumphant grin. “Good girl.”

“She’s the child! You’ll ruin her!” Serkis was beyond annoyed.

“Will I? I don’t ruin anyone, darling. They ruin themselves. You would know that, wouldn’t you? Or should we ask your dear sister?”

He was on thin ice and he knew it. But she didn’t attack him. He wanted an excuse to hurt her; he was pushing buttons to see if she’d fight. She took a few slow steps to him, walking in her careful little line. She crept up as close as she could. He was still smoking. He blew it in her face. She just smiled at him.

“This is a family, right? Be careful where you step. You’d be surprised how unsteady things are these days. Things aren’t always as they seem.” She stopped to look at me. “Looks like we breed killers. I wonder where she got it from. Must be your influence. Your father was a murderer too, wasn’t he?”

And Doyle bit his lip and took a step back. They’d each come from families that had stories of their own. Doyle’s father was the worst of all and he knew it. Pandora’s father was insane, but Doyle’s was about a thousand times worse. He knew when he was beat. She played the game better than he did – she’d learned from the best. He clicked the gun to safety and dropped his arm to his side.

“Go. Now. You’re beginning to bother me.”

And she smiled and walked out. She shot me a glance before she left.

“I’ll be seeing you kid; I promise.”

And she was gone. Pandora shook her head and retreated shortly after. Doyle looked around, rolled his neck around to crack everything into place, and nodded to Officer Bishop. I was dragged off haphazardly.

“We’ll be seeing you in awhile, kid.” Doyle patted me on the back. “And be nice to the good man. He keeps you out of the jailhouse. You’re much too young and pretty for that.” He smiled again, kissed me on the cheek, and walked off, trailing smoke. I wanted to kill him.

And I was carted away. Not…carted, per say. But I was kindly escorted off the roof, down countless stairs, led out to the street and into the patrol car. I sat up front. Nothing was said. The drive continued in silence. I just sat there and stared into space. I couldn’t feel. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to feel. When he stopped, he got out and opened the door for me, edging me out. I got out and walked without assistance next to him. A hand was planted on my lower back anyway, just in case. Silence continued.

The good officer lived a few floors up in a decent little place. He lived by himself, the apartment shared only with what surrounded him. He waved his arm around the place as we stepped in, dropping the keys on a small table and removing his coat.

“Make yourself at home,” he whispered. His voice was soft, as if it scared him. I turned to face him with my left hand cradled my right elbow. I looked down at his feet, following up to his face. I couldn’t hold my eyes there long.

“Home? This isn’t my home.”

“It will be.”

“For how long?”

“Excuse me?”

I took a step closer to him. “How long? How much time is it worth to make up for Gothik’s wasted life? How long am I your prisoner? For what span of time did Doyle rent me out? What length of time ensures my freedom?”

He took a step back and folded his arms. “You’re nobody’s fool, are you?”

“No. How long?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t? And who does?”

The man shrugged his shoulders. “I was told to keep you here until this is all settled out.” “Right. That’s cute. And if I leave?”

He smiled halfheartedly. “Either you can stay here with me, or with Doyle. And he’ll keep a much closer watch on you. And you know it. I don’t give a damn what you do as long as I have an apartment to come back to. This wasn’t my choice of options, but it keeps you out of the way for now.”

“Fuck.” I walked away from him to pace around, digging through my pockets. I had no smokes. I couldn’t deal with this without smokes. He watched me pace around – I could feel his eyes in my back. I wheeled around. “Can I help you?”

He was closer to me than I thought. I hadn’t heard him move closer. He had a hand close to me, almost touching me, a pack of cigarettes outreached. I took one and used the lighter tucked inside, breathing the smoke out slowly. He smiled.

“Feel better?”

I exhaled again, the shakes calming down. “Yeah. Thanks Officer.”

“Sylum.”

“Huh?”

“My name is Sylum. You can call me Sylum. If you want.” He was speaking in a tone that was laced with…irony. I didn’t have to bend if I didn’t want to. I had choices and options. He wasn’t like the others. I took a step back to look him up and down. He was a cop – an officer of the law playing for both sides. He was probably a demon in his time. But right now, he was my captor. But looking at him, and the way he treated me, you’d never know it. He pointed over my shoulder. I kept my eyes locked on him.

“Your room is there. This was set up kind of quick, but they had clothes and stuff brought over from your place. It should be all right. If you don’t mind, I’m going to sleep.”

I watched him edge past me and proceed deeper into the apartment. I looked around. We’d been standing in the doorway the entire time. I was afraid that if I stepped in too deep, there would be no salvation. Maybe I was just being foolish.

I finished my smoke and looked around…it wasn’t all that bad. Things definitely could have been worse. I’d have to stay here until things blew over. That was the nice story. The padded truth. I looked around like a child in a bright room. It was…cozy. It was habitable. A guy lived here, obviously. I couldn’t begin to attempt to understand what kind of guy I was dealing with. So screw it. When you have the opportunity to sleep, never pass it up. You never know when it’ll come again. Sleep is a luxury. A very rare and precious commodity.

I went to where I was directed, looking the room around. It was…quaint. It looked like a reformed storage space. I didn’t care. There was something soft to collapse onto. That’s all that really mattered. I laid back and stared at the ceiling for a while. This was my prison. There were no bars. No guard outside the door. The only thing keeping me here were words. Myself.

I was asleep before I realized how tired I was. I never dreamt, so such interruptions played no part in my slumber. I was simply unconscious, everything was dark and black and nothing mattered. That’s all it was. And when the first rays of day crept in through the small window I was allotted, it wasn’t a big ceremony either. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes hard, trying to shake the days’ events. It had been a long branch of time. At least I had a good night’s rest under my belt to attack it with. I moved to investigate what was brought to me from home. I found my guitar case leaning against a chair carefully. A piece of paper was attached.

“There’s food in the fridge, coffee in the pot. Will be back later. Smokes on the table. And this…to keep you company.”

It was signed simply as “Sylum”. Not Officer. Not Mr. Bishop. Just…him. I wandered outside to explore the apartment with eyes more aware. Sure, a guy lived here, but it was tidy. It wasn’t the picture of meticulous perfection, but it was better than most guys. I would be entrusted to stay here alone for the day. He barely knew me and he was going around trusting me. If I took off, he’d be screwed. So would I, but at least I wouldn’t go down alone. I paced around and checked everything.

I had assumed foolishly. His room was locked. The door was locked from the outside. Any windows I could reach were either shut permanently or had nothing outside them to help me. He trusted me just enough for me to almost trust him. Almost. I helped myself to coffee and a smoke, laughing to myself along the way. At least he’s not quite the fool I made him out to be. And he knows I’m not the child they make me out to be either. Clever boy.

I showered, changed and paced around some more. There’s only so much to see. When my new surroundings bored me, I decided to practice guitar. I had been slacking with my lessons, but I could still strum a few things here and there. He would be back later. He purposely withheld the time, so I wouldn’t be waiting for him. He was smart after all. Or at least…attentive. Smart might be giving him too much credit.

Besides guitar, there was nothing to do here. Nothing but stare at the clocks and count the ticking until your mind explodes from the infernal noise. What was left now, what more was there to be done? I had dug my own grave though it’s useless complaining about it now. I tried to make myself comfortable, tried to make sense of this awkward situation. This was house arrest…in someone else’s house. Kidnapping? Perhaps. I’d have to check the law, find out the penalties for this, if there were any. I gave the place another sweep. No communications. No way to call for help. No phones within reach. No computer. Nothing. All wires led to his room. This was set up. No apartment can be rewired like this at the drop of a hat. There was something more to this than met the eye. I’d have to talk to dear Mr. Bishop.

He came home late in the night; I was still awake, pacing around idly for something to do. He locked the door behind him, hanging his coat up as he went. The keys landed with the same clink that they had the day before. He watched me for a moment. I stopped to look at him.

“This place is like a domestic fort.”

He nodded, smiling at my observation. He was pleased. I raised an eyebrow.

“This couldn’t have been set up overnight. How does it work out that you just so happen to live in a security cell? What have you been hiding up here?”

He shook his head for a minute, his hands in his pockets. “What would I be hiding?”

“You tell me. There are reasons that the locks are so meticulously arranged. There’s no way out but down.”

“Don’t I know it,” he muttered.

“Excuse me?”

“Nothing.” He looked at the ground, around the room, avoiding my eyes. He shook his head, as if he were convinced. “Nothing.” He moved to go past me to his room. I grabbed hold of him.

“You kept someone here, didn’t you? Not something. Someone. You want me to cooperate, you want me to trust you and be a good little girl until this all blows over? Then I want the truth. I’m sick of stories and games. I’m sick of the show and the act. I want what happened. You have an advantage on me; my entire life on display.”

“And I’m supposed to let you have an advantage over me?” he questioned. He shoved my arm away from him, taking a few steps before stopping. I glared at his back, at that spot between his shoulders, the top center of his back. I watched his shoulders rise and fall in a heavy sigh as he turned to face me.

“You have impeccable timing. Did you know that?”

“No. Well? What happened?”

He dug for a smoke and lit up, offering me another one, which I lit from the one that was going out as we talked. Time flies when you’re having fun. If fun is what you could call it. One way or another, there we were. I sat myself down across from him, out of reach. Always stay just out of reach. Even if it is by a little bit. It’s still out of reach.

“I lost someone close to me awhile back. Today’s their birthday.”

“How old?”

He smiled. “Not enough.”

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