The Problem With Being Dead – Charity Nocturna


“God fucking damn asshole frat boys!” Samantha yelled, pulling her coat over her bloodstained shirt.  The drunk boys popped her stitches, as they grabbed at everything. Enraged she kicked one in the throat and locked herself in the bathroom.  If she never played Samantha again it would be too soon.

I’d love to put on my dance clothes and lose myself she thought.  Of course she couldn’t. Em was dead. Enora was dead. Until she dealt with Masterson all her normal identities were suspect.  She needed a new disguise, food and a hot shower.

The YMCA near the college was a regular visit.  Places to clean up were few and far between on the streets.   In her Samantha disguise, none of the regulars recognized her. She had rented a locker there for years. Whenever she got some new clothes she stashed them here. The locker also had a little money, a couple of wigs and makeup.

She took off her sweaty, bloodstained clothing and threw it in the trash.  Looking in a mirror she inspected her wound and found it was red and angry.  At least the bleeding had stopped. She would need antibiotics or it would go septic.  There was a clinic at the other end of town where no one knew her. They would give her the meds she needs.

Shrugging, she stepped into the communal shower and was relieved to find it empty.  Enora turned started the spray of hot water and stepped in. She spent several minutes enjoying the fingers of heat digging into her aching muscles.  For a moment her knees quaked as sleep threatened. Slapping her face, Enora steadied herself and thought over her situation.

She had to stop Masterson, definitely.  Oh God, it’s Sunday!  The rich bastards are having their meeting in two days! She punched the wall.  Masterson had to wait. She had two days to get to her lair and recover her equipment.  She couldn’t miss this opportunity to get into her enemy’s mind. She couldn’t go the normal route.  Even in disguise people knew her there. She would have Masterson’s goons on her in a matter of hours.

How can I get there? She hung her head for a long time, thinking.   The lair was in an abandoned subway line. The old line must connect to the new somewhere.  The records for that are long buried but should be on microfiche at the library. That had to be her next move.

She nodded to herself and headed to her locker.  Within were dozens of random pieces of clothing. She dug out a pink t-shirt that she slipped on with no bra.  She pulled on a random pair of panties and some skin tight jeans. A pair of sneakers completed the outfit.

She pulled a small pile of cash out and slammed the locker shut.  She elected to go with her natural hair but put on some foundation that darkened her skin.  The makeup gave her pale skin a tanned look. Checking herself out she decided she looked with an average millennial.  Minus the phone of course.

As she headed out she took a phone from a phone share drop off.  Enora held the dead phone up and pretended to text with a bored expression.  Her eyes quested around, watching for anyone suspicious. Masterson would have spies watching out for new threats to his political ambitions.  

An hour later she stepped into the library.  Enora took a deep breath, the smell of musty books making her smile.  The library was a second home, she had earned her GED here through hard work and study.  She strode into the reference section like she lived there. It took her a few hours of research to find where the subway plans were.  She walked to the desk and slapped the records book on the desk. “Yeah, my prof wants me to learn about the city or something. Can I get this micro-whatever?”

The librarian didn’t recognize Enora.  She fixed a dark glare on the young girl. “Tell your teacher to teach you manners.  Which one did you need?”

Enora faked not being sure for a moment. “E…F…425.  Yeah, that one.” The librarian went to the drawers, pulled a folder out of a large file cabinet.  Enora was staring at her phone when she returned. “Here is your document. The machine is over there if you can understand how to use it.  This document is to be returned before you leave, got it?”

Enora gave her an annoyed glance and walked away, feeling a little guilty.  Ms. Wright was having difficulty at home and didn’t need some snotty kid messing with her.  She slipped the thin film on the machine and began studying maps for the next two hours. As she worked she felt Ms. Wright’s eyes boring into her.  There were only 2 films left when she found what she was looking for.

The subway on 5th had a connection to her track.  It would be a 5 mile hike through a pitch black tunnel.  There were a lot of ravenous vermin there of both the human and animal variety.  She needed to get some supplies to make the trip. she slid the precious films back in the folder with great care.  She tossed the file on the counter with a ten spot underneath. A small tip might make up for Enora’s nasty attitude.

Two blocks from the library was ‘Survivors Shop Here’.  Most of her gear was purchased there. Enora ran in and jogged through the aisles. She grabbed a headlight, a taser – illegal of civilians but the owner had friends on the force.  she also grabbed a fighting cane and a thick vest. She would rather have gotten a flak vest or kevlar but she lacked the cash. It must be nice to be a billionaire and get whatever you need whenever you want it.

She left the store and headed to the station.  The platform was packed, which would make it difficult.  She didn’t want to make a scene, but there was no way to avoid it.  She walked to the corner of the track and waited. Soon a train came and people filed on and off, bored people making the same boring trip. It ceased to be boring when the train left and she leapt onto the tracks.

There were screams and clicking camera phones behind her as she ran at a dead sprint.  She had only 10 minutes to make the trip from the main track to the side path. Her body felt leaden, she still hadn’t recovered completely.  Still, she pushed far beyond her limits. She was still 100 yards from the junction when the lights of the 6:15 shone on her.

Legs shaking, she let out a scream and ran.  The sound of the rattling train filled her ears.  The train was so close she swore she could see the horrified eyes of the engineer.   Enora’s vision started to tunnel as she counted down to her death 5..4…3.. The side opening loomed in front of her and she dove for it.  2..1… She landed with a thud as the wind of the train blew her against the wall. Enora laughed hysterically as she gasped for breath.

Enora rose on shaking legs and slipped the headlamp on. She left it off, not wanting to attract attention from the locals.  Instead, she placed a hand on the damp stone wall and placed one foot in front of questing foot. It would add hours to her walk, but it was necessary.

Time meant nothing in the darkness.  The tunnel rumbled often with the echo of passing trains.  The sound of dripping water came and went. Several times she heard the squeal of rats.  Each time she tensed, but nothing came. Enora guessed she had traveled for 2 hours when she saw the light and heard the laughter.  It was the high hysterical cackle of someone too long removed from their fellow man.

Enora slowed her already slow pace to a crawl. She stepped over broken bottles and jagged chunks of metal, quiet as the grave.  She forced herself to breathe shallowly as she came close to the fire. A thin man was silhouetted in the flames. He was downing a bottle of gin.  The man was doomed, he was going to drink himself to death in a land of darkness and solitude. She felt bad for him.

The flames were behind her when she kicked a stone, sending it skittering into the darkness.  The man spun, and Enora gasped. The man’s eyes glowed a burning red, locking onto in the dark.  “You. You invaded my domain. Took the light room for yourself. That place is mine!” he squealed.  She was sure she saw spittle fly despite the dark.

In almost a blur the man held a pipe and loped towards her.  Enora flicked on the light and spun away, charging past a pile of blood drenched rat corpses.  The man hissed as the light hit him, but he stormed after her. Enora leapt and dodged broken boxes and metal rebar without slowing.  She took a quick glance and swallowed hard. The man was white as milk, his thin form corded with scarred muscle. Worst were the glowing eyes. They held a predatory glare that chilled her to the bone.  She ran faster.

The man was faster.  He moved through the rubbish-strewn tunnels like a wraith. The human beast was gaining ground by the moment as Enora gulped air and forced her burning legs to keep moving.  Wounded and exhausted, Enora knew she couldn’t escape. She spun gracefully around, shining her light in the man’s face. The taser jumped into her hand and she waited.

The man stopped and let out a wild laugh.  “Enora…Charity…Em. What do you prefer I call you while I squeeze that pretty neck?”

“How do you know me? Who are you?” Enora dropped into a ready stance, waiting.

“Who am I?  I am the Lord of the Dark!  I know because you chose to come to my world,” his burning eyes narrowed.  “You STOLE my land. You owe me tribute, and I will take it from you as I watch those dark eyes fade.” He raised his pipe and stepped forward, grinning viciously.

Enora didn’t bother to respond to the “Lord of the Dark’s’ tirade.  She studied him, looking for an opening to strike. As the man came close she fired the taser, striking him in the chest.  He quivered for a moment as the air sparked. Rather than fall, the dark man laughed. “Try again pretty bird.”

Tossing aside the taser she pulled out her cane, a 2 foot rod of oak ended in a bronze tip.  She held it low and waited. The dark man grinned and swung his pipe in a wide arc at her head.  She dropped to a knee, slamming her cane against his gut. There was no rush of air, no gasp, no give.  She might have been hitting iron. Enora jumped back and the pipe slammed hard into the ground with a clunk.  

Enora backed away as he approached.  He was stronger than any human had a right to be.  Worse he was quick. Her taxed muscles already shook, her head spinning as she tried to focus.

“I thought you were a warrior.   You are just a scared little girl.  I may let you live after all. I have always wanted a pet. I would find a lot of use for a pet like you.” His tongue lolled and he lunged at her.  Enora responded with the last of her strength, diving into a roll. She slammed the pole upwards into his groin with all her remaining strength.

As she passed between his legs she flipped to her feet, legs shaking.  The dark man had dropped to his knees, his weapon dropping to the dirt.  He was screeching at an inhuman pitch, hands clutching his manhood. Enora didn’t gloat, watch or wait.  She ran.

She covered the remaining tunnel in a shaky jog.  She tripped over and over, getting up a little slower each time.  Her vision was going double as she saw the hidden entrance of her lair.  She huffed a slight laugh and shoved the heavy door open. Enora crawled inside, rising shakily to close the cement seal.  She shoved a piece of rebar through the rings to lock it. She took 2 steps and collapsed inches from her bed. Enora’s eyes rolled back as darkness enveloped her.

 

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