To my surprise, I woke up. And believe me, when you get suffocated into unconsciousness, waking up is a BIG surprise.
I knew I should have killed that bulldog-looking jackhole when I had the chance.
Chains dangling from a ceiling wrapped my wrists, holding me off the ground. I only had my pants on as I hung there. A single bulb cast shadows along the windowless walls of some type of dungeon. My gear lay in a corner. How cliche. Whatever happened to originality in villains. I half-expected a car battery and some jumper cables to be sitting on a stool.
I cleared my throat. “I’m awake,” I yelled. “You can reveal your nefarious plans anytime now.” I’m not a very good kidnappee.
The door behind me creaked open. I didn’t hear anyone come in. Not only that, I didn’t see or smell anything either. Not even a shadow.
Nothing until a face popped right in front of mine. It was young and looked more seductive than her picture. The braces were gone and the hair straight and lustrous.
But there was no doubt it was Lisa Brannigan. And she hung from the ceiling upside down.
She smiled and her incisors, elongated into fangs, flashed. “Ooooh,” she cooed. “You’re my hero.” She cackled in my face.
“I’m sorry this happened to you,” I told her. “I can try to help you, if you…”
She laughed again and dropped from the ceiling to the floor. She ran her hand along my face, then down my torso. I didn’t bother to hide the shudder. She leaned in and whispered, “Like you helped Torrie?”
I could feel my face burning. She kept going. “And why would I want help? Look at me.” She stepped away, stood on her tiptoes, and did a little pirouette.
“I’m so sorry,” I said again.
“You keep saying that!” she screamed. “Stop it!”
The door creaked open again and this time I heard footsteps and smelled perfume. I realized I had been played from the word go.
Mrs. Brannigan stepped in front of me, whatever spell she had used to hide her necromantic energies from me expired. I could see death hanging around her. The same death that fueled the spell on Torrie.
“How nice to see you again, Mr. Douzeper,” she said. She practically oozed false cheer. “You’re probably wondering why you right about now, hmmm?”
My jaw clenched so hard it hurt. I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction.
She grinned at my intransigence. Only once have I ever wanted to punch someone so badly. “You see, my baby had a serious genetic condition, inherited from her father’s side, of course. I had to change her to save her life.”
“So you changed her into a monster?” I spat out.
She slapped me. “She is NOT a monster. She is better. She is everything humanity should aspire to.” She stroked her daughter’s hair in a mockery of motherly affection.
I wanted to puke. Instead, I ground out, “And what did Torrie ever do to you?”
The false cheer fell from her face and twisted into a mask of hate. “Don’t mention that little whore’s name to me,” she hissed. “Her and her mother got exactly what they deserved.”
She waved her hand and several different footsteps came through the door. Ice Diamond and Aeromancer shoved a hooded Mr. Brannigan into the room, while Aeromancer’s goons, RapidFire, Umber, and Tek-Knight followed. Mrs. Brannigan went over to where her husband knelt and ripped off the hood.
Mr. Brannigan blinked at the sudden light. “T-T-Tara, what’s going on?” he asked.
She cupped his chin and squeezed. “What’s happening, Bill, is that your sins are coming back to haunt you.”
She shoved him away and went back to her daughter. “Tell Lisa who Torrie was. Go ahead. I want her to hear it from your lips.”
“I don’t know what you’re talk…” Ice Diamond’s fist crashed into Mr. Brannigan’s mouth. I didn’t react when blood flew from his mouth. I had figured where she was going with this, and found my pity in short supply.
“Don’t lie!” Mrs. Brannigan screamed. “You slept with that whore and Torrie was your daughter! Then you had the nerve to rub it in my face by allowing that harlot’s child to be Lisa’s friend!” Flecks of spittle flew from her mouth and whitened the corners of her lips.
Figures. I decided to interrupt. “Excuse me.” Every eye turned toward me. “Why am I here?”
Mrs. Brannigan inhaled and blew out a deep breath to collect herself. “Isn’t it obvious?”
“Well, yes, but I want to hear it anyway,” I said.
That Cheshire smile came back. “Very well. I need a fall guy. It will be horrible. You will have found out that Bill molested his darling daughter, and, in a rage, you murdered him. Aeromancer,” she gestured to her bulldog, who grinned, “and his team will defeat you. Unfortunately, you won’t survive your apprehension.”
She actually seemed to do a little dance. “After a suitable period, I will take control of my husband’s business. With the help of my new associates, I will soon rule the city from behind the scenes.”
I shook my head. “There’s just one problem.”
She cocked an eyebrow at me. “If you are talking about your little friend or Boost, rest assured they will be taken care of.”
It was my turn to Cheshire grin. “Nah. Not worried about them. The problem is you left my gear in here. It’s activated by the sound of my voice. The comm links directly to my blog, so every word you just said has been posted online.”
Mrs. Brannigan paled. I kept going. “Further, while the lone hero that relies on no one but himself makes good copy, reality is a little different.” I nodded toward my pile of gear. “My Diavel has been homing in on my bracer’s signal since I woke up. Lady Aether, Boost, and the Keepers of the Gateway should be following right behind.”
I love great timing. A boom resounded above us. The building shook and dust fell from the dungeon ceiling.
In the interest of keeping the length down, I’ll let you know what happened next time.