The faces dance in front of Enora. They were weary, beaten and beatific all at once. The man was unshaven, his sunken eyes alight with love. The woman smiled, pain etched on her face. Enora screamed as the faces faded into the darkness.
She sat bolt upright, looking around. She was in a cot of some sort, surrounded by shelves of cleaners. Her armor and equipment were gone, and she wore only a hospital gown. Her chest burned as if dipped in fire. She felt the wound in her chest. It was stitched again, and the smallest touch sent her head into a spin. She lunged her head over the edge just as the bile came up from her stomach.
She heaved a long time before sliding back on the bed. This was not a hospital, but she was treated. Someone had found her, and they could be a threat. Enora sat up again and tried to turn to stand, but the world began swirling and she fell back against the bed with a thud.
“Be safe. I love you,” the familiar voice said. The face warped in and out, fading and shining in random swirls.
“You’re the one, aren’t you? The criminal the news is talking about,” the strange voice piercing Enora’s wild vision. Her eyes burst open and she tried to sit, and the world spun again and she collapsed back down.
“You’ve got a massive infection from the wound in your chest. You barely survived. Your ribs are cracked and from the bruises on your stomach, I’d say you just missed some internal bleeding. How did you get so injured?” the voice was soft and gentle, with a slight tremor.
“The stab is from me, the rest from a couple of guys who decided I was in the wrong place,” Enora muttered. “Who are you and where am I?”
“Why would you stab yourself?” the voice sounded confused.
“I had to look dead, simple as that,” she answered flatly. “Where the hell am I?”
“Answer me first,” the girl responded. “Are you the criminal?”
“Some call me that, I suppose,” Enora grinned. “I think those rich bastards are the real criminals.”
“Why would you think that?”
“Ever look at a corporation? I mean really look,” Enora managed to raise her head. The strange girl was thin, with long red hair. She wore scrubs and was biting her full lips. “They answer only to money. They step on anyone in their way good or bad. I know hundreds of people who have had their lives destroyed to give a company a 1% increase in stocks.”
“I guess I never thought about it that way,” the girl’s brow was furrowed over her deep umber eyes. “Why do you hate them so much?”
“Why don’t you?”
“I don’t hate anyone or anything.”
Enora snorted “Then you are living in a bubble my dear,” her voice dropped into a growl. “I answered your questions, now answer mine. Where the hell am I and who are you?”
The girl was silent for a very long time. “You are at a clinic for the homeless in a small closet. I’ve been trying to decide what to do about you.”
“South Side Mission? You’re some of the good ones,” Enora leaned her head back, dizziness overwhelming her again. “Trying to decide if you should give me to the police? That seems like it would be a no-brainer for you.”
“I want to understand,” she said simply.
“Understand a criminal?” Enora laughed.
“I know lots of criminals. The homeless often steal for booze or survival.”
Enora shot up, eyes blazing “What the hell do you know about the homeless? You give them methadone or antibiotics and send them back in the cold. What would you do?”
Another long silence. “You seem to know a lot about the homeless,” the girl’s eyes were wet, and her cheeks flushed.
“Of course I do. I’ve been homeless since I was a kid.”
The girl was about to speak when a scratchy voice came over a speaker. “Wendy, we have a code 5 in room 302.”
“Better run Wendy,” Enora snapped.
The girl looked side to side. “I didn’t… Nevermind,” she sighed. “Try to keep quiet, no one knows you’re here.”
“Why are you risking so much for me?”
“I don’t know,” Wendy shook her head and ran out the door. Enora heard a click after the door closed.
Enora leaned back, letting the swirling world come back into focus. I have to get out of here. She started to sit up and immediately dropped down again. Swallowing, she tried again. Her body went upright and her head went wild. Her vision swirled and her pulse pounded in her ears.
With a push of will, she managed to get to her feet. For a short time she stood, then crumpled in a heap on the floor.
“We love you so much…”
The couple turns away and disappears.
“No!” Enora awoke and shot up, only to be pulled down with a thud. A sharp pain burned her wrists. She looked down and saw she was handcuffed to the bed, and an IV had been inserted. A steady beep filled the room, which she assumed was her heartbeat.
“What the hell?” she exclaimed.
“I need to keep you in bed. I’m sorry if it hurts but if you leave you are going to die,” Wendy’s voice was pleading and apologetic all at once.
“This is a violation of so many hospital rules” growled Enora “you going rogue now?”
“It is NOT against the rules to bind someone to keep them from harming themselves,” Wendy countered.
“If you say so. So am I going to jail?” Enora glanced up, pleased to find the spinning had lessened. Wendy sat by the door in a small folding chair, curled into herself.
“No.. yes.. I don’t know..” the girl shook her head.
“Well that is encouraging,” Enora snorted.
“I’m sorry, I just don’t understand. Why do you hurt people? Why do you steal from the rich corporations-”
“I don’t steal!” Enora shouted “I don’t need handouts from anyone or anything. I share their information, sure, but I am not interested in their filthy cash.”
“But your equipment looks so expensive. You said you are homeless, how can you-”
“Afford it? I save my pennies. “
“Then why are you on the street?” she cocked her head, brows drooped.
“I could find a home, a soft bed, Get a regular job, I have a degree you know. Work all day then crawl into my nice warm bed and forget the world,” Enora spat on the floor. “Then there would be no one to stop these bastards, or to help the millions of other people on the street,” Enora frowned. “And I don’t deserve it. I couldn’t save them,” the last was said in a whisper.
“Who couldn’t you save?” Wendy rose a bit from her chair.
“Doesn’t matter. So what’s your story? Why are you helping a violent criminal?”
Wendy was silent for a long time. “My brother…. He was extremely sick. He was on a medication that would have had him well in a month or two,” the girl’s voice became deep and angry “then the new CEO raised the price to over $1000 a pill. Insurance wouldn’t cover it so….” her eyes grew misty and she went silent.
“Who?” Enora’s voice burned the air.
“Wilkinson Pharmaceuticals,” Wendy’s voice was heavy and shaking.
“Bastards. I owe them a visit.”
“No! Don’t hurt people…” her voice was shaky and uncertain.
“You don’t mean that, I can tell.”
“I don’t believe in harming others,” her voice was firm.
“You don’t have to. That’s the beauty of it.”
Their conversation was cut off by a scream. The sound of gunfire filled the air.
“Oh my god! What’s going on?” Wendy ran to the door. Seconds later she jumped as a hand rested on her shoulder.
Enora was unsteady on her feet and the handcuffs dangled from her wrists. “Time to work,” she muttered and ran staggering down the hall.
“Wait!” Wendy yelled and followed.
Wendy found Enora crouched by the door to the lobby, peering into the room through a small opening.
“Give me all the drugs! Money too!” the man was thin with a pockmarked face. One woman lay groaning on the ground, holding an arm.
Enora smiled at Wendy, stood, and kicked the door open. She dove into a handspring as the man’s bullets went wide. Snapping to her feet she drove an elbow into his throat and a knee into his groin. The man gagged, gun falling limply from his hand as he reached for his groin, moaning. Enora grabbed the man’s hair and slammed her palm into his forehead. They both dropped to the ground.
“Are you all right?” Wendy ran into the room and began to pick Enora up.
Enora shoved her hands away and stood shaking. “Can’t stay.. Too dangerous…”
Wendy tried to grab her, but Enora was far too quick, despite the injuries. Wendy bit her lip then yelled, “Wait!” Enora turned her head. “The alley behind Bowling Palace. Look there in 3 days.” Enora nodded and loped away before anyone could stop her.