Archive for March, 2014


Note from the author:

Some of my friends and family have been bugging me to play with this character again, the girl who cannot die from “A Thousand Times Again.” The original short story was written back in October of 2013, so some of these people have been bugging me to pick up this character for a while now. After a person whose opinion I highly respect on this matter agreed I thought I’d give in. When I had some time this past week I went and “asked” the character if she had another story to tell. It turns out she did. And we will have to see if there are any others down the line she decides to “reveal” to me.  (Yes I am one of those writers whose creative process includes looking to the characters to reveal their story, so sue me).

Hope those of you who have been bugging me for this enjoy. Hope those of you who have just started reading my blog are also loving it.

 

The Sirens’ Roar:

She woke up to the sound of sirens.

Her head was pounding, her breath was shallow, her foot was resting on the ground behind her head.

The sirens where getting closer.

Her right arm seemed to be intact. With it she grabbed her left shoulder and popped it back into place.

Joint by joint, limb by limb she popped every body part back into place.

Crack, pop, crack.

The whole time the sirens drew nearer.

Her body throbbed as the bones started to net together and her skin closed in over the gashes the fall had created. She watched the pool of blood around her grow. Her heart was still beating and blood still flowing out of the hole in the back of her head.

Slowly the pool of blood stopped growing. She pushed herself up into a seated position.

The sirens were deafening now and the lights were visible just down the street.

She pushed herself up until she was standing.

Her spine popped back into place as she straightened herself up to walk away.

She took the first step forward and almost fell back to the ground. Her bones were still knitting together, her knees ready to give out on her.

She took another step forward. This time her step was more stable, her leg more ready to take the weight. She could feel the scabs peeling off the areas where her skin had meshed together. The bruises would be hitting their darkest blue now, but almost black.

Another step. This time stable but with the throbbing pain associated with stepping on a freshly sprained ankle. The pain radiated up her limbs.

Again a step and stab of pain.

Again…

Again…

A then it was gone. As the ambulance pulled up to the spot where she had fallen she was breaking into a run. She dodged down an alley and ran until the red tracks left behind faded and stopped entirely.

She dodged into a back alley. She took a second to listen and made sure that no one had followed her. The sirens could still be heard in the distance but she couldn’t hear any voices or footfalls. She was safe, for now.

Her breathing slowed and a dull ache returned to her body- that kind of ache you feel when you overwork a recent injury. She turned and walked gingerly down the alley. Checking the signs above the alley doors she searched for a clothing store.

The worst part of this whole thing what the way it made you appear. No one ever believed it was your own blood, after all there wouldn’t be so much as a scratch on her in a few moments, barely a bruise after a couple of hours. Near the end of the alley she came upon the kind of shop she was looking for and ducked in.

The store was closed and dark. She kept it that way. Turning on the lights would only draw unwanted attention. The clothes were the basic jeans and t-shirt, nothing flashy, nothing that would stand out.  This was exactly what she needed. She pulled down a grey tee, black hoodie, a pair of washed out jeans and some skate shoes.

She reached into the pocket of her blood-soaked jeans and pulled out her wallet and what was left of her cell phone. Leaving them on the front counter she headed to the back of the store with the new clothes to find the washroom. Closing the door to it she turned on the light and took a look at herself in the mirror.

Her hair was matted with blood.  Her forehead had a huge scratch across it which was slowly fading. Both of her eyes were black. But none of that is what drew her attention. It was her nose which she had noticed first. It was on crooked. She hated it when this happened.

She pulled out a wad of paper towel and stuffed it in her mouth, counted to three and… CRACK… her scream was muffled by the towels in her mouth.

Blood trickled out of her nose. She turned on the tap and started splashing water over her face and hair, rinsing off the blood while her nose re-healed, straight this time.

She took off her shirt and examined her upper body. Breaking and re-setting the bones which hadn’t healed properly the first time as she went, rinsing off her skin when she was done.

Tearing off her shoes and jeans she repeated the process again. Once the sticky feel of drying blood on her skin was gone she grabbed more paper towel and began drying off her skin and hair.

Why can’t I just stay dead for once? She thought to herself. When she had jumped it was out of the window of another lab. Another place looking to use her “gift” for the good of mankind.  Another cold, white, clinical, clean room where facts were all that mattered and she was nothing more or less than a puzzle to be solved. She was desperate to get out of there and not entirely sure if this lab had been one that her parents had agreed to give her to or one of the ones that the doctors had shipped her off to after the ambulance had gotten there before she came back. Right now she didn’t care.

She needed to get out of there, to get away from the needles and tissue samples. Away from the doctors, if they were even doctors. By the time she jumped she was hoping that it would be the last time she had to die. Failing that she was hoping that she would wake up before the ambulance got there. At least her later hope came true.

She stared putting the new clothes on. Tearing off the price tags as she went and stacking them on the edge of the sink. Ten dollars, thirty dollars, twenty dollars, forty dollars, money she wasn’t sure she had. But this was a necessary evil.

When she was dressed she rooted around in the cupboard over the sink. She found a hair elastic and tied her matted hair back. She took one last look at her face.

Her nose was straight. Her eyes we still bruised but better than before. It just looked like she need some sleep. She pulled up the hood up over her head, with the shadow of the hood the bruising was barely noticeable.   She grabbed the pile of clothes off the ground and pulled a kitchen sized trash bag out of the same cupboard she had found the elastic. Her clothes went inside it. The trash bag would come with her until she could find a better place to dump things.

She turned off the light and opened the bathroom door. Her eyes took a moment to adjust to the darkness of the store. When they did she made her way carefully to the front. She grabbed the shattered remains of her cell phone and threw it in the trash bag with her clothes. Then she picked up her wallet and opened it. Twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, a hundred, plus the handful of pre-paid credit cards her parents had given her.

The labs she was constantly sent to were similar to college dorms. They had the illusion of freedom, as long as you were willing and stayed inside their walls there was nothing you could want for. Then again, to her they had always been more like a prison in that sense.

At least she could pay for the clothing, she wouldn’t be stealing. Not really. She left the cash on the counter and headed back into the alley where she had come in.

This time she wasn’t going back to one of those labs. This time she wouldn’t make the same mistakes she had in the past. This time she would stay free.


WAKE UP! The thought screamed through Soph’s body lunging her into motion at 7am sharp. There was no sleeping through her internal clock. No need for a snooze button. There was no even thinking about going back to sleep. Soph rolled out of bed; Silver shook off and followed her out into the living area.

There was Sun flooding into the floor and ceiling windows, lighting her little piece of heaven amongst the hell. Her unit used to be two adjoining loft style suites. The half of the unit she was currently in acted as the master bedroom and office space.  It was as an L with the bed in one corner and the work space at the other. Anchored into every bare wall were floor to ceiling display cases which housed one of Soph’s only passions, her book collection. With media and your socially life being integrated into one’s brain there was “no need” for out-of-body media forms. However, it seemed everyone collected old media of one kind of another. Soph’s mother had a room filled with DVDs and a television on which she could watch all her old movies. Soph’s neighbour took great delight in blasting music on his CD player. Soph loved nothing more than to wrap herself in a blanket on her window seat and read. There was something about the musty smell of a good book that was simple more comforting than the words of the novel cycling through your brain, something enduring and powerful about the look of ink on paper. If she could have she would have curled up right then and picked up where she left off in one of her many collections of poetry. Silver seemed to have the same idea in mind – she was already curled up at the foot of the window seat napping in the warm sunlight. But alas, she needed to get ready for her day. She had errands to run and at some point she needed to link to her mother and discover the plan for tonight’s date.

With a sigh Soph headed to the bathroom; the tile floor was cool on her feet. Walking over to the sink she examined her face in the mirror. How she wished she had taken the time to clean her make-up off last night- it was smeared across her face, raccoon eyes and all. Her hair was a knotted mess and the bobby pins left in from the night before were going to be hell to pull out.

Link, Soph though as she pulled out the first pin, she figured if her morning was going to have an unpleasant start her mother’s instructions for tonight might as well be a part of it.

How’d you sleep?” Soph was utterly unsurprised when her mother’s voice chirped through her head almost instantaneously. If anything she was surprised by the fact that her mom hadn’t kicked down her door when she hadn’t linked by 7:01.

Fine, mom, and you?

Wonderfully darling! It’s so lovely out today, your father and I are in the sun room with our coffees. It’s wonderful!” Overly chipper, even for her mom. This undoubtedly meant that they were happy with the plans for the evening.

I’m glad you’re enjoying your morning mom.” Soph replied as she yanked another bobby pin from her hair. Shaking her head back and forth to ensure that pin was the last one Soph headed to the shower which was tucked into the left-most corner of the sizable washroom. The golden-beige tiles which covered the floor continued over the lip of the shower entrance and up the walls of the shower to the ceiling. Mounted in the ceiling was a rainfall shower head. Soph reached in and turned the knob and pulled the curtain closed, allowing the water to warm up while she undressed. “So what’s the game plan for tonight mom?

Your father and I have arranged for you to be a part of a purave tonight with the MacArthur, Jansen, Sweeney, Liebrant, Archer, Blake, Luther and Smith families. A nice mix, all around your age, you and the other girls will have a lovely selection to choose from. The Archers, your Father and I are really hoping that you hit things off with their son, Jace.

Here they go again was all Soph could think as she finished peeling off her sweat drenched clothes and stepped into the shower, the hot water working wonders on her skin, but instead she reply to her mom “Oh? Why’s that?

One gentle prompt was all it took to launch her mom into a long-winded and clearly rehearsed list of all the Archer family, and Jace, had to offer. To Soph’s surprise even her Father’s voice joined in at times to add a detail her mom had missed. Mom must have included him in her link concerning this to make sure she wasn’t missing anything.

The warm water felt amazing on her skin and was a pleasant distraction from Soph’s parents nagging about how she needs to behave herself and about all of Jace’s interests that she should study up on. There was something about an interest in astronomy. A good job in the office of one of the Neopuritans and so on. Nothing with particularly peaked Sophia’s interest. Even if there was something of interest Soph refused to get her hopes up again until after she actually went into the pods. She needed to know what type of person he truly was. Something that couldn’t be found out without see his subconscious sexual desires.

Sounds Great mom” she chirped when there was a pause.

I’m sure you will love him Soph

Frankly, if you don’t you might not be given a choice” Her father added. Great just what she needed. Her father willing to make her life decisions for her.

Father, I will make my own decisions. Mom promised that you would let me decide my own fate, not take matters into your own hands. Tell him mom

Yes dear, I did tell her that. Her decisions are her own and she will deal with the consequences no matter how had it may be for us to watch her go through those consequences.

Stepping out of the shower and wrapping a towel around herself Soph braced herself for her father’s retort but it didn’t claim. She moved to the sink and took another look at her face in the mirror. The make-up was mostly gone, although now the bags under her eyes were clearly visible. She reached for a face clothed and wiped away all that remained with a “Anything else I need to know” directed back to both of her parents.

Nothing dear, just wear something nice; maybe go out and get something new or I could send a few outfits over for you to try on, you could send what you don’t like back.” Her mother replied.

Whatever you see fit mom” with that thought the buzzer for the unit rung, an alert in a different corner of her brain letting her know someone wanted to gain access. Apparently her mother had already taken the liberty of having said items sent over.

Let me know if you like them dear. I shall check in later” And with that she felt the connection to her mom severed for the moment.

The buzzer to her unit rung again. “Who is it?

Delivery for a Miss. Sophia Shelly

Come on up” Soph removed her towel and threw on a dress robe and headed through the door in the far corner of the door through her living area and kitchen to the main doors of the unit. Opening the front door she was greeted by an all-to-chipper courier who placed the items on the kitchen island and took their leave. With the way they bounced out the door Soph could tell her mom must have left them with one hell of a tip in case she had been less than receptive.

Soph went over to the island and began to peer through all of the bags and boxes. Mom had shipped over 4 dresses for her to choose from each had shoes and accessories to match. Damn, mom must really want things to work out with this Archer kid. Soph thought as she looked at the plunging neck lines and caught sight of a couple of the price tags. All of them were more than a little too extravagant for someone who spent most of their time in jeans and a t-shirt. Unfortunately when one attends a purave there is no choice but to put on something a little more than extravagant.

Soph took the bags holding the two most tolerable options and headed into her bedroom to try them on. Silver greeted her at the bedroom door and sniffed curiously at the bags. Soph could all but hear her mother’s voice nagging her about not getting dog hair on her clothes. How it made her look undesirable. Soph shooed Silver aside and put the bags on the bed. Pulling out one of the dresses and throwing it over the door of the bathroom she slipped out of her robe, letting it fall to the floor. With a sigh Soph then grabbed the dress and stepped into it.

It was a silk, black navy and silver treads woven in together in such a way that it gave the illusion of the stars twinkling in the deep night sky. It was strapless with a sweetheart neck line and lack up back. It seems to imply an air of mystery, something about the way the colours were spun together created an illusion that the sky was moving, as though the moon would rise across the dress any minute now.

Soph looked in the bag the dress had come out of in it were black gloves with sliver edging, a navy blue and black feathered mask and silver shoes. Much more lavish than she would have purchased for herself, but she knew her mom and had a feeling this might be her best option.

Soph grabbed the second bag and reached inside, pulling out a bright red number with an open back and even lower cut neck line than the one she was currently wearing. The last bag had a white dress that was more lavish than most of the ones women actually wore on their wedding days. Apparently her options were woman of mystery, devil slut or bridal. Given the options, woman of mystery won.

Soph had no desire to marry, nor was she about to give the men the impression that they could use her for whatever they wanted, both inside and outside of the pods. If she was going to be forced to attend this mascaraed she was at least going to be somewhat comfortable doing it… or at very least not look as though she was willing to settle for anything just to make quota; even if that was the impression that her mother would have her give off at any cost.

Wrapping up the other dresses, she vibed the courier and let them know there would be a couple bags to pick up and return outside of her apartment when they had the chance. She also took off the dress she was wearing, hung it back over the bathroom door and grabbed a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.  She called for Silver as she approached the door to put out the bag. Grabbing the dog leash, she headed out for a walk. Silver needed to go out and Soph needed the time to think. Figure out how she was going to handle tonight. Unfortunately being the girl her mother wanted her to be just wasn’t going to happen.


Laying beside him I closed my eyes. I opened them to discover that he had undressed me. Nervously I look over to him. I watched him open his eyes, eyes that scanned over my naked body. I resist the urge to cover back up and hide my head under the blankets. The first time is always the most nerve-wracking with any new partner. The idea that at any moment, the other could become disappointed in what they saw and opt out, disappear with no reason or explanation. This is the make or break moment for any relationship. Sometimes hiding was easier than disappointing the other, or being disappointed yourself.

            Slowly liking what he sees, he pulls me in and gingerly kisses me. First on the lips, a slow gentle peck that taste faintly of the beer he had just consumed, than trailing up and down my neck. For some reason I feel a great distance between my body and his. Perhaps my nerves are ruining the experience, my body deciding that should it come to it flight is the best option. The feeling of his lips on my body isn’t as intense as it usually was, not a good sign. Taking a deep breath I try to put the distance out of my mind.

            I wrap my arms around him and kissing him, slowly moving my hands down his body reaching towards his member. But he grabs my hands and ties them to the bed post with ropes that seem to appear out of nowhere. With that I decide this isn’t the man for me.

With nothing more than that thought Sophia opened her eyes and debated the options on the screen of her pod. To let… what was his name again… Ben?… down gently or to let him have his fun and discover later that this was too much for her. That somewhere along the line his subconscious sexual desires were too extreme for her. She opted for the later programing her avatar to allow Ben, or whatever his name was, to enjoy this moment while it lasted. So much for her first, first date in months.

Breathing a heavy sigh Sophia pushed open the door to the pod and stepped out into the music of the club. The smells of booze, vomit and body odour hit her hard. The smells where only the tip of the iceberg worth of reason she hated these places. The ear piecing music was another.

Around her singles were eying each other across the bar, people who thought they might have a little chemistry, or simply had consumed enough to be willing to dive in, to head into pods to “test the waters” so to speak. After all, for the handful of times in your life you would actually do the deed, sexual compatibility is key in order to ensure children come out of it. What other gain could possibly be created by having sex? The fact that society has not yet come past the carnal necessity is considered to be utterly disgusting by most. A necessity that was almost overcome by their ancestors, or so it was rumoured, with the idea of a “test tube” baby. Unfortunately in later years it was discovered that embryos created outside the womb where subject the higher levels of natural radiation in development increasing rates of cancer and decreasing the average life span. Unfortunately there were some things that the miracles of modern science can’t cure.

Soph, why are you back online so soon” Her mother’s voice drifted through her head the second she left the walls of the club. Damn, not even enough time to unlink.

Directing her thoughts to her mom Soph silently replied “Another dud mom, sicko was into the kinky stuff. You know that’s not for me.” While replying Soph makes her way carefully doing the street, jumping over a puddle of vomit, at least this one made it outside the club, and dodging the people and cars that whizzed by her. Right this second she wanted nothing more than to be home. Soph hated the process of dating and the pressures that came with it.

All men are my dear” her mom’s voice drifted back to her. “If you’re lucky their carnal desires won’t match up with their practices in the real world. But even if they do, you only have to put up with the reality once or twice to have your children, after that your avatar can deal with any desires.” Before Soph could reply she was jerked out of the conversation as she dodged a teen on a hover board who had nearly ran her down. Of course the boy was blaming her for getting in his way and cursing as he whizzed by. Taking a deep breath and reminding herself she only had to more blocks of dodging people on the overcrowded sidewalk to go Soph returned passively to her conversation with her mom.

Mom, I know you’re worried about the results of me not making quota, but you need to understand that I would rather deal with that then settle for someone who’s below me.” Soph paused briefly waiting for her mom to jump in over her about how she wouldn’t see her Baby Girl sent to the camps but for once her mother held her tongue. “Even if I could put up with the reality of his sexual desires I couldn’t stand his presents for long enough to rear our young. You know partner abandonment is treated even more harshly than missing quota.

Sophia!” There it was… the inevitable mental shriek which came up any time the options concerning punishment were made. Later than usual, perhaps mom had been distracted earlier. “I wish you wouldn’t think like that!” Soph hated it when mom got angry at her via the link. Strong and conflicting emotions caused headaches.

Mom, I’ll be fine, relax.” Soph replied as she came to the corner of King and Younge. Soph just had to make it across the street and she would be in the safety of her apartment.”I’m all most home. I’m going to unlink and get some sleep

I love you Sophia. I’ll have another date set up for you by morning. Try not to be so judgmental this time

Night mom.” Before any other messages could come through Soph brought the word “Block” to mind and enjoyed the peace that came with knowing no one else should step into her brain.

Sophia arrived at the entry way of her apartment, fumbling for her ID chip. Just goes to show where societies priorities lie when one has to make the same effort to disconnect from the world that one puts into enter their apartment. Solitude is not accepted in today’s world. Pressing the chip to the rusty door pad Soph was thankful when she heard the click and was able to pull open the door.  Soph proceeded down a set of steps into the main lobby. She was greeted by the familiar musty, smell of a building that had fallen to the way side. The marble floors were chipped and in desperate need of a waxing. The chandeliers were coated in a century’s worth of dust and cob webs and shook whenever the subway came by. Faded photos and paintings hung from the walls, leftovers from the building’s glory days when it had been a popular hotel for the up-and-coming with a bar in the lobby – one of the “places to be” in the city. These days the bar had been renovated into a games room and communal kitchen which one didn’t use if one valued their life. It had a separate entrance from the main street that did not seal well and was a popular location for drug riddled squatters.

Hurrying towards the Soph reached out and pressed the call button. The button lit up and the sound of the gears grinding while the elevator made its way to the lobby filled the room. Finally it arrived, Sophia entered. Pressing the button for the 8th floor, the doors screeched close and Soph let her mind drift and fill with thoughts of the amount of time she had left to meet quota.

At 22 she was expected to find a mate. She had a job and was done school, so she couldn’t use any of the “forwarding society in other ways” loop holes that were worked into the law. Being a female, not much would get her out of it anyways. Not having a job is only helpful to delaying it if you are male and the women have to stay at home to rear the children until they are school age. Sometimes saying you’re still in studies as a female doesn’t cut it either. After all, most courses can be programmed into The Link and taken from home anyways. Baby can’t sleep? Great time to study some algebra.

Work camps weren’t the top of my list of places to be. No one quite knew what the work consisted of so people’s imaginations went wild. When you went to the work camps your link was disconnected. Part of the punishment, a permanent serving of all worldly connections. For some this alone was enough to ensure quota was met or exceeded. For the others, the rumours that flew about what the camps consisted of was enough. Everything from rebuilding the world’s wonders “true to the era in which they were originally constructed.” So if you’re put to work on the pyramids its logs, ropes and man power for the remainder of your days; To man-servant to the Neopuritans. Yet others imagined that the work camps didn’t involve work at all, that it was simply life imprisonment in a 2 by 4 cell, in the dark, never to be seen or heard from again.

Sophia’s shuddered at the thought as the elevator shuttered to a stop. The doors creaked open and Soph stepped out. She turned left and made her way down the dimly light hall way, the light flicking seemingly to the beat of her steps. When she made it to room 401 she pressed her id card to the reader, waited for the sharp click and opened the door. Soph was greeted by her puppy Silver, a Siberian husky who was half her company, half her protection. She pat Silver on the head and, leaving the lights in her apartment off, she kicked off her shoes and stumped to the bed. She flopped down and was sounds asleep before her head hit the pillow.

 


She stood looking out at the people, wondering what made her better than any of them. What gave her the right? Why was she the only one who acted as judge, jury and executioner? Why was this role not only allowed but celebrated by the society around her?

The sun set on the day as she reflected on her sins. The blood under her fingernails started to dry as the lights in the city started to flicker on. The bruise under her ribs began to throb along with the beat of her heart-another reminder that her heart was beating while their heart was not. Or if it was, it would be assisted by machines and tubes by now. She hadn’t stuck around to hear the verdict. As always she had left to cheers when the sirens sounded in the distance. Someone else would finish cleaning up her mess. She swept the scum into tidy little piles. Someone else threw what was left of it into the trash for her. This was the way it always was; this was the way it always would be.

She could vaguely remember the day on which this had all started. Her mother sat in the arm chair by her hospital bed crying again, another treatment had failed them. Another doctor told her mother in a hushed voice that there was no hope, at this point whatever happened was the will of God, the universe or whatever higher power or fate you believed in. There was nothing else modern medicine could do. She remembered watching the tears stream down her mother’s face and being too weak to even so much as lift a hand towards her to offer her a hug. Her hair matted to her head with sweat the same way the blood now matted it.

She remembered thinking that her next breath would be her last.

She remembered dying.

But then, suddenly she was not dead, suddenly she was alive, more alive than ever before. Suddenly she could lift her hands, her head, stand, and walk for the first time in her life. Suddenly the pain was gone, not a gradual recession, just gone. She died and came back to life healthier than she had ever been since birth. She was healthier than any human on the planet ever had been.

Her mom called it a miracle and started going to church.

Her father, who had not shown his face since she was two, came back into their lives and never left her side again.

Her doctors spent well into her teenage years trying to explain it. All they could tell was that at some point her cancer mutated. Instead of her body rejecting the cells it started to accept them, incorporating them into her very being, and at some point that incorporation had made her stronger than she was before. At some point cancer won.

It killed her, or so she thought, then brought her back to live out the rest of what she came to know as a cursed life.

At first it was small things. She was able to climb a tree that a neighbourhood kid couldn’t and saved a cat. Cliché as it may be, that cat in the tree was when it had all started. She had slipped and fallen the better part of two stories on the way back down and walked away with little more than a scraped knee which healed inside a day.

Later she was at a sleepover; the kids decided to tell ghost stories by candle light, someone got scared and knocked over the candle. Before they knew what happened the family and friends had all been dragged out of the burning house by this little girl, covered in third degree burns that seemed to be healing while you watched her walk. By the time the paramedics arrived they were all but gone.

Another round of tests…

Another round of second opinions…

No one knew how, but this all seemed to be related to her childhood illness.

Then things started to get scary.

She had been run over by a car and walked away from it. Rapidly healing was one thing but surviving when she should have died, that was on a whole new level of weird. She got labeled a freak and was an outcast in her teenage years. The scariest part was that no one but her knew that she actually had died that day for a second time. She died; she just never seemed to stay dead.

A few years passed.

She moved a lot. Always to another city, another school, another second opinion.

She found her way into university and that’s when the mask came into her life.

She was walking home from a campus dance late one night and heard a scream. A girl was being mugged on the path ahead of her. She was still wearing the feathered mask her date had given her though she had changed out of the dress to walk home. She ran to help. She had shielded the girl from a stab with her body, pulled the knife out when the bandit let go and returned the favour. The other girl had pressed one of the campus panic buttons. Sirens blared and she ran, suddenly thankful for the mask.

Her description had been all over the papers the next day, some called her a hero; others labeled her a freak. The bandit had survived, though he was suffering from wounds which would have long since healed on her. Between the mask, the make-up and the darkness no one seems to recognize her from the description the other girl had given.

She decided this was a good thing.

She went to a costume store and bought a different mask, one that her date would not recognize. She bought paint at another store to change its appearance further so even the store clerk wouldn’t know it to be her.

She became the guardian of the path.

She put other bandits in hospital.

Sometimes she died, but she never stayed dead.

This was her blessing, as much as it was her curse.

As she snapped back to the present she felt the pain in her ribs start to subside and the throbbing had all but ceased. She was still standing on the roof top looking out at the city as it went to sleep.

The lights were starting to flick off in the buildings surrounding her. The windows went black, just like the eyes of all those she had killed, sometimes in the defense of the innocent, sometimes the innocent themselves. It wasn’t fair, it should never have been her call. It wasn’t right that she had ended those lives. It wasn’t right that she lived on when she should be dead one thousand times over.

She stood looking out at the people, wondering what made her better than any of them. She looked down. Watching the cars on the street go by, she couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this time would be the last time. Maybe tomorrow night she wouldn’t have to relive this nightmare.

She felt her heart begin to race and focused on her breathing to slow it down.

Maybe this time things would be different.

She took one last deep breath.

Maybe this time things would be…

She jumped…

She fell…

And died again.