The Guard who’d escorted me to Wicked was still standing by the door, and he was now entirely soaked through with sweat, and his shaking was noticeable even in the dim light. But somehow I felt no sympathy for the man; I thought of him as a custodian to the world that I was slowly leaving behind, a world that couldn’t give a shit for my absence. I did not wish him well. And I knew I would be getting my wish, soon. Wicked would likely see to that.
When I was back on the road, beneath a familiar ceiling of storm, I started to wonder about the mechanics of the journey to come, and how things might shake out with my new traveling companions. Wicked hadn’t said anything as to how we would all “meet up,” only that we would all be getting together very soon. I saw myself again, with Wicked, his damn electric grin humming like a halogen light by my side, as we plunged through thickets and meadows, wild dogs in tow.
Baron, on the other hand, looked like a monster, and the only images I could conjure of him were ones that had him tearing me into itsy-bitsy pieces with his gigantic, bare hands. But, from what little I knew about the hulk, he’d more likely kill me with some clever trick that would have me sloughing off a wall, or trickling down from the ceiling. The guy didn’t even look like he could smile, and if he could, I’m guessing it would take one hell of a horror show to send those lips curling upwards. He scared the shit out of me, and I had no idea why Wicked invited him along.
The second the sunlight hit me I realized how crazy I’d become. I just fucking agreed, or at least didn’t refuse, to travel with two notorious serial killers…What was wrong with me!? The light continued to burn the dreamy glaze off what I had done—actions that could land me in prison for the rest of my life, or much, much worse.
I started to cry, a teeny bit. My stomach was doing barrel rolls. My mind was falling apart…or was it? I wondered if I was just traveling beyond a simpler, stupider world. Or, maybe, I was moving into the cosmic birth canal, preparing to plop out into a brand-new reality. I couldn’t say for sure, but I knew that I couldn’t go back. I didn’t want to, anyway. There was something lurking within, or possibly between, life I’d never known about before. I’d now, several times, come face to face with that fact. But whatever it was—beyond, between, below, whatever—I was desperate to make its acquaintance.
The witch. I still had no idea who she was…or what she was. But she was in me, now. I knew that much. How she got there was a total fucking mystery to me. I could feel her like a second pair of lungs, inhaling while I exhaled, pumping with stolen air—my air. She’d taken my quest for her straight between my own ears. How fucking Zen.
I don’t know how it happened, but at some point, my television had been turned on. News of the explosion at the prison (you can guess which one, I’m sure) was everywhere. An entire wing of the place had gone up in smoke and fire, and no one could even guess at the number of inmates that had escaped. I was counting on at least two having made it out.
I was asleep later that same day, when I suddenly awoke to Wicked, speaking to me from somewhere behind me. Like, really close behind me. “When did you know you were evil, Genevieve?” he asked, stretching out next to me on my own bed, his head sharing my pillow.
There was no beating around the bush, not with him. So, I answered him. My truth, if that is what it was, came out like puss squeezing through a rotten wound, warm and rancid sweet. It was a moment that should have been reserved for a grander, more dramatic moment. But that was Wicked’s style—to shit on the natural flow of things. “When I was a kid, probably 5 or 6, maybe. My Aunt had died, and I didn’t care. I was even embarrassed by the idea that I was supposed to care. But more than even that, I was interested to watch others suffer over her absence. I don’t know why, but my indifference to all of it made me feel powerful, above the herd, you know?”
“I certainly do. That ‘power,’ I wonder if that’s what evil is—an alternative energy source, one we’re not supposed to use because it weakens the market for standard fuels. Like poor Tucker and his electric car. The industry just wasn’t ready for him, I’m afraid. But, back to you. You must have realized that you could harness that power, not just accidently appreciate it, yes? That only you among those people could wield what the world denounced as wretched and wrong, to create power by creating death and sorrow.”
“I did. But I was too scared. That’s why I became a journalist, I think—so I could stand next to it without having to be responsible for it.” At a certain point in our discussion, I wasn’t sure if what I was saying was only to appease Wicked, or if it was all true. But if it wasn’t true, my skill at lying almost made the same case as the story I was telling.
Before we could continue our little philosophy class, Baron entered the room. His presence was far greater than even his size. The room almost seemed incapable of containing him. Before long, there was no bedroom, only Baron and the gravel of his voice, and his stare that could punch a hole through concrete.
“We should go. We’re priority escapees, so they’ll be considering everything. They may even find out that she visited you, twice. It’s not safe here.” Those were the first words I’d heard him speak. There was a brevity to him, as if his true nature was coiled around him, like a snake, to hide his true immensity. Even something as big as he was…. just the tip of the iceberg. A terrible, awful iceberg.
“Well then, we should camp here, I think.” Wicked declared, as I knew he would.
“You don’t know him very well, do you?” I said with a smile, hoping to make a joke. That’s when the temperature seemed to drop, and Baron sat down on the bed next to me, and the bedsprings crushed into a single mass. The giant’s hand was stroking my hair as if I were a doll. “No, Genevieve, I know him very, very well. There are few things I don’t know very well, you should realize. I merely wanted to ensure that we wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon. You see, while you’ve been sleeping, I’ve been busy. Very busy. I’ve made this bland little home of yours into a splendid going away gift. And I want to make sure that we’re all here to see it opened.” Then he opened his huge fist. He was holding my address book. It was open to a very specific page. The name circled on the paper read, “Detective Jeffrey Brewer.” The page was also sporting a few pictures of Jeff and I, hugging and whatnot. My blood froze when I realized what was happening. The giant smiled—I was right, it did take a horror show. Then he spoke softly into my ear, his voice like thunder trying to whisper.
“You didn’t think this was going to be easy, did you?”
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