Roughly 4 years ago: Exact date unknown
I continue to twist and pull at the chains holding my wrists in place, my arms outstretched on either side of me. The long chains bolted into the walls on my left and on my right keep me in the center of the concrete room. And keep me from doing anything more than kneeling. The chains aren’t long enough to allow me to stand, and they’re not long enough to allow me to lay down or even sit. So I stay kneeled on this hard floor, my legs numb, my wrists bruised and bloodied from my desperate attempts to get out of the chains.
I feel the chains cut into my wrists and reopen the wounds as I continue to twist and pull at them. I finally stop struggling and hang my head, my whole body sore and exhausted. I get a good glimpse of my blood-spattered clothes and grimace. I run my tongue over my dry, cracked lips and taste blood. I squeeze my eyes shut as if willing this entire nightmare to just go away, and to be nothing more than just that, a nightmare.
Soon I’ll wake up in my bed, mostly safe and sound, and everything will be back to the way it was. I’ll be with my parents, with my brothers and we’ll all be sitting at the table having breakfast. The occasional argument will break out over who gets the last pancake or strip of bacon, and hell, that might even end up erupting into a fist fight, but I’d so rather be there than here.
I open my eyes again and stare at the stained and filthy concrete floor below me. I’d rather be back home before all this mess started, but I know that’ll never happen. I’ve learned from my mistakes, but it’s way too late in the game to fix them. Had I known then what I know now, I’d have never joined up. I’d have walked away. True, it might have gotten me killed for it, but at least my family would have been safe. Now it’s just too late. I’m as good as dead here, and they’ll forever continue to hunt my family.
All because I was too blinded by trying to fit in, trying to be like them. Trying to truly be a part of the gang.
Granted there was a time – really not that long ago – that I would have done anything for them, and I did so much for them willingly. I was proud to be a part of the gang until they targeted my family, all because my dad saw something he shouldn’t have.
Suddenly it didn’t matter that I was the best at what I did for them. Suddenly it didn’t matter that I was a well-respected member of their ranks. Nothing mattered, except that my family suddenly needed to die, all because my father saw me doing something he didn’t even understand on a computer.
It didn’t matter that I told them he wouldn’t say anything. It didn’t matter that I told them that he didn’t even know what it was he saw. It didn’t matter that he was my father. It didn’t even matter that he was the only one who saw it, suddenly they all had to die. They didn’t listen to me when I pleaded for the lives of my family. They didn’t listen to me when I said I could take care of it. They just shoved me to the side and said that I was too soft. That this was for my own good. That I was too young. That I didn’t understand.
Well, the joke is on them. I understood well enough how to completely drain the gang accounts and transfer all of it into one of my accounts. I understood well enough how to hack myself into their security and lock them out of their own computers. I understood well enough how to make my family disappear. And I understood well enough how to run and disappear as well . . . I just didn’t run fast enough. Though the one thing they taught me, that I understood best of all . . .
Was how to keep my mouth shut.
Which is also the unfortunate reason that I’ve been stuck in here for more days than I can count, and the only reason I’m still alive.
Apparently all that money that just went, POOF! well, they want it back. Who knew?
I lift my head when I hear the to door to the room open and in he strolls. I glare at him and he keeps a look of disappointment scrawled across his face. He lets out a sigh as he crouches down in front of me, his arms resting on his thighs.
“Nicky, Nicky, Nicky,” He tsks. He sticks a hand under my chin and lifts my head up until my gaze is level with his. He lets out another over exaggerated sigh. “Why must you make this so difficult?”
I spit in his face for good measure.
He lets out another sigh as if this whole exchange is boring him and wipes his face with the sleeve of his jacket.
Once upon a time, I would have called him my friend. He would have been there for me and he would’ve had my back. And I would have done the same for him. Now, I’d just be content to stab him in the back or throw him in front of a moving bus.
I’m not usually a violent person. I swear.
He shrugs out of his jacket and tosses it into the corner of the room and immediately fear begins to spread through me. He gives me a look and I make sure to continue on with my death glare, making sure the fear doesn’t show on my face.
I’m pretty sure I’m at least mildly successful in this, as he visibly flinches under my harsh gaze.
Of course, next thing I know my head is snapping to the side and there’s a sharp stinging across my cheek. I suck in a breath and take a second to school my face back into the glare it was before as I turn back to him. He doesn’t waste a second though, and his fist makes contact with the side of my head and for a second my vision goes black and my glasses are knocked off my face.
His next strike connects with my jaw and I taste blood in my mouth as I accidentally bite down on my tongue. He strikes again and this time my lip is split open and I begin to gag on the blood in my mouth. I spit it out on the floor just moments before his boot comes in contact with my side. I begin to feel like I can’t breathe and begin wheezing, trying to catch my breath.
His hand is under my chin again as he lifts my gaze up to his. He’s bent over at the waist, and he’s got one hand under my chin and the other on his knee, holding himself up. He then reaches down and picks up my glasses, sliding them back over my eyes.
Good thing, because I’m practically blind without them, and I’d like to at least try and see his swings before they hit me. Or you know, at the very least I'd like to make sure I can see his face clearly so I don’t miss when I spit in it again.
“I hate to ruin such a pretty face,” He turns my head from side to side as he talks and I don’t have the energy to do anything about it. “but you’re not giving me any choice. I don’t want to hurt you, Nicky,” I scoff. “but I won’t have a choice unless you give them what they want.”
“Don’t pretend like you don’t have a choice,” I manage to wheeze out. I then bring myself up as much as I can, holding my head up high. “And I’ll take that information to the grave.”
He lets out another sigh and stands back up. He walks over to table on the far side of the room and begins shuffling through the equipment spread out. I’ve seen him use those on other people, I’ve seen what he’s capable of, and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine being on the receiving end of any of it.
Funny how things change.
I feel myself begin to shake, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop it. Sheer terror is pulsing through my body and I can’t hide it from him. Not this time.
He turns his attention back to me, holding who knows what in his hands. “Well,” He starts as he takes his time walking across the room to back to me. “you’ve left me with no choice then. You’re going to wish you’d given up the information when you had the chance.”
He takes another step so that he’s mere inches from me and I feel my heart stop and my eyes widen. The door to the room is suddenly thrown open and another guy who I barely recognize runs in and whispers something to him. He nods and moves quickly, putting the tools back on the table and starting towards the door. Relief floods through me that I’ll be able to be spared from this torture even if for only a few moments more.
He turns to the guy who entered the room with the most timely interruption ever. “Watch her . . . and feel free to see if you can, persuade, her to talk but don’t touch my tools.” He tells the guy before quickly moving out of the room and shutting the door behind him.
I get a sickly feeling in my stomach as the guy moves towards me with a horrible smile spread across his face. His eyes go directly south of my face, and I’m starting to believe he’s entirely worse in his own way. I struggle to try and back away from him as he comes closer and crouches down in front of me.
His hand reaches out and grasps my hair at the back of my head, pulling my head back so he has access to my neck as he moves in closer. I let out a whimper as I try to pull away from him.
Suddenly, the door to the room is thrown open with a crash and he whirls around to face whoever just barged in.
“Stupefy!” Some shouts before there’s the sound of something whizzing through the air and he drops to the floor in front of me.
I look up from him to the girl standing in the doorway, crossbow propped up against her shoulder, lollipop in her mouth, and hair that’s the brightest shades of pink, purple, and red all mixed together in streaks. She’s young, how young I can’t tell. She’s wearing all black with the exception of the sparkly gold extremely high heeled ankle boots on her feet with several spikes sharpened to various different sizes on the toe. Something tells me those aren’t for decoration.
She turns and looks over her shoulder back down into the hallway. “Or would it be Avada Kedavra?” She asks someone.
A boy suddenly appears in the doorway next to her and looks at the guy on the floor with an arrow sticking out of his head. He’s wearing the same get-up as her, with the exception of the hair, the lollipop, and the heeled shoes.
“Well considering you killed him I’m going to have to go with Avada Kedavra,” He says blankly and makes a face at the dead guy on the floor.
“Yeah but that takes too long to say. And Stupefy is just so much more fun to say."
“Reducto?” He suggests.
She shakes her head. “That’s for the exploding arrows.”
“Of course it is,” He mutters with a shake of his head. “Petrificus Totalus?”
She thinks about it for a moment. “Well, he’s going to awfully stiff soon anyway . . . I like it. We’ll go with that next time,” She says as she moves further into the room and I unconsciously try to move back. She notices and gives me a friendly smile. She leans her crossbow up against the wall and holds up her hands in the form of surrender. “Not here to hurt you,” She says.
"Nope, you're just here to bore her with your vast knowledge of Harry Potter."
"Hey! Which one of us was the one actually suggesting which spells to say?"
He grumbles under his breath and brushes past her to me, fidgeting with the chains locked onto my wrists. He turns back to the girl who’s now twirling her lollipop around in her hand. “You got any lockpicks on you?” He asks her.
She raises an eyebrow. “Someone didn’t come prepared.”
“Just give me the damn lockpicks Lily.”
“I didn’t bring any.”
He pauses for a beat. “You’re joking.”
“Nope. Just use Alohomora."
He grumbles something unintelligible under his breath.
“We could always ask your sister. It’s one-hundred percent guaranteed she brought some.” The girl, Lily, says.
“Do you see her here?”
“At the moment no, but I’m sure if you give it a couple minutes she’ll show up.”
He gets to his feet and pulls a gun from the holster strapped to his side. “Not in the mood to wait.” He fires two shots, one right after the other and the padlocks holding the chains to my wrists fall to the floor in pieces with a clang, followed closely by the chains now that there’s nothing to hold them in place.
I fall forward, bracing my fall with my hands before sitting back on my legs and rubbing at my wrists. Grateful to be free of the chains.
“Your violent tendencies are beginning to show,” Lily tells the boy who flips her off. She sticks her tongue back out at him.
She turns to me and I struggle to try and get to my feet. She puts a hand on my shoulder and forces me back down. “Just take your time and relax,” She says. “We’re in absolutely no hurry.” She takes a seat on the floor across from me and holds out her hand. “I’m Agent 57 by the way, but you can call me Lily and that big lump of coal over there-”
“-is Agent 13, but you can call him JD.” I take her hand and flick a glance at JD. He offers me a friendly smile and a wave of his hand.
“I’m Nicky,” I reply, my voice hoarse and cracked.
Lily immediately turns to JD. “Where are your manners? Give her some water! Goodness, some gentleman you are.” She shakes her head mockingly.
He gives her a deadpanned look before pulling a water out of a backpack he was carrying and passing it to me. I take it gratefully and start drinking it. “Thank you,” I tell him. He just nods his head and starts staring out the open door.
“Don’t mind him,” Lily goes on chattering. “His social skills are lacking, but I more than make up for it. Once you get to know him though, you realize he just a big softy,” She coos the last part at him.
He glares at her and she smiles widely, after a moment his glare breaks off and his eyes soften, a smile spreading across his face as he shakes his head.
I watch them for a beat longer. “I’m sorry but, who are you people?” I ask, looking between the two of them. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be rescued but . . . ”
Lily waves me off. “No thanks are necessary,” She says. “And we’re here to get you the hell out of here and off to a new life.”
JD clears his throat and gives Lily a pointed look. She grumbles curses at him.
“Ok, so that last part is technically a lie.” She shifts uncomfortably. “We’re actually supposed to be arresting you.”
I nod my head. It doesn’t surprise me. “I suppose then you’ll be taking me to jail,” I mutter as I sip on the water. Lily shuffles around some more and JD avoids looking at me.
“Not necessarily,” Another voice speaks up and immediately JD seems to straighten up some and Lily jumps to her feet, holding her hand up to her head in a mock salute. The girl that spoke comes walking into the room and gives Lily a droll look. Lily smiles widely.
The girl comes walking further into the room with two more girls behind her and two more boys, all dressed in black, all loaded down with various weapons. But the girl looks more dangerous than anyone else. Her hair’s pulled back in a ponytail on top of her head, she stands with an air of confidence and the look on her face is downright deadly. I start to scoot back and her attention turns to me.
She walks over to me, grabs me by my arm and hoists me to my feet, I stumble and JD comes over and helps me steady myself. She pushes around him and studies me curiously. “I know you’re not really a bad person,” she says. “And because I know what Zero’s going to try to use you for once we bring you back to the agency, I’m letting you go.”
I look at her in surprise and then notice that no one else seems surprised by her statement, as if they knew this was coming to begin with.
The girl then turns to one of the other two boys behind her. “I want the van ready to leave in the next five minutes,” She tells him. He nods and jogs out the door. She then turns to the two girls. “I want a flight booked for all of us on the down-low. Take us someplace safe,” She says to one of them and that girl immediately pulls out her phone and begins to dial. She turns back to the second girl. “I need all manner of documents printed for Miss Moore here waiting for us before we get on that flight.” The girl nods and pulls out her phone, moving off into the hallway.
She then turns to everyone left in the room. She points at me. “Did we find her?” She asks them.
JD shakes his head. “Nothing but a big concrete building full of bad guys.” He smiles as he says this.
Lily chimes in next. “Nope, nada. Zero, zip, zilch.” She rocks back on her heels, hands shoved in her pockets.
The last guy shakes his head, a smile spreading across his face. “Only girls I saw in this place were you guys . . . or the dead ones.”
“Well there you have it,” The girl says. “No one saw Nicolette Moore.” She looks at me and shrugs. “Shame.”
“Wait,” I call out when she starts to leave. “Who are you?”
She smiles. “You can call me Forty-five.”