Author’s note: warning this chapter is emotional and also has violence in it. If you don’t want to read that part stop reading after the third * break.
I woke up feeling tired but good. I had stayed up fairly late finishing laundry and cleaning the bathroom while Goose finished the dishes. So when the alarm went off at 6:30am I did not want to get up, but get up I did. I fixed Goose breakfast while he got a shower, then got Reeny while he ate. We sat at the table chatting and playing with Reeny who, of course, adored the attention we gave her.
Finally Goose grabbed his hat. I carried Reeny into the front room. “I was thinking of having Pa start a slow cooker with some noodles and veggies–like maybe peppers–with some mushroom sauce. What do you think?”
“Sounds delicious, and easy,” Goose said, kissing Reeny’s forehead and then planting a deep kiss on my lips. “Much like your lips.” He kissed me again with a chuckle.
I grinned. “Your lips are much nicer. Great, I’ll mention it to Pa.”
“Ga’pa,” Reeny said, kicking.
“See ya tonight, babe, love you.” Another kiss and he yanked his hat on to leave. I spun Reeny around and zoomed her back into the dining room making airplane noises.
I played with her a bit, tickling her and such until depositing her onto the floor while I cleaned up. She clung to my pant leg, crying to be picked up. “Da’e Zay!” she cried, tugging at my jeans. “Da’e Zayyy!”
“In a minute,” I sighed, precariously carrying the dishes into the kitchen and managing to get everything in the sink. Then I picked Reeny up and she calmed down. “You can be such a handful, girlie!” I said, tickling her again. “Let’s go play.”
Our morning was spent at a million miles an hour. Before she had been born I usually had a lot of energy but now I barely had any. Reeny just absorbed it all. I knelt on the floor as she toddled around, babbling happily and bringing toys over. We played with some educational toys then she rocked on her rocking horse while I did a bit of cleaning. After that we played with the dollhouse Grams had given her.
“Ommm,” she said, stuffing one of the dolls in her mouth. She looked up at me, grinning on either side of the doll. I couldn’t help but laugh. “Euuuahahaha!” she squealed, clapping happily before spitting the doll out. She smacked her lips, wrinkling her forehead at the taste. “Uew,” she said, sticking her tongue out and wiping it off on her hand.
“Yeah, it tastes pretty yucky,” I said, setting the doll back in the house as my cellphone rang. It gave the first few notes that indicated Goose was calling.
“Da’e Zoo!” Reeny exclaimed, recognizing the music.
I got up and went to the coffee table, picking my phone up. The song had already died down and all that remained on the screen was the missed call message. “He probably butt-dialed,” I said and Reeny tilted her head, not understanding–not that I figured she would. Maybe ‘butt’ wasn’t something I should be saying around her. “Let’s try calling him back in case.” I hit call back and waited, listening to it ring until I got voicemail.
“Da’e Zoo?” Reeny asked, coming over to tug at my jeans.
“Nope, Daddy Goose is working. Daddy Zaid needs to work soon too and Grandpop will be here to take care of you,” I said and she smiled happily. “Wanna go for a quick walk?”
“YES!” she shrieked, bouncing so much she fell over.
I got her a pacifier and put her in her stroller that my dad had bought for us. Then out we went, enjoying the warmth of the June sun. I figured we’d be able to take a mid-paced walk for a block and a half before having to turn back.
Reeny babbled as we went, talking around her paccy. I replied to the best of my abilities, interpreting her nonsensical words. Goose could translate a bit better than me but I did pretty well. We talked as we went, commenting about birds and flowers and butterflies and passing cars. Or whatever really caught her attention including a pile of dog poop which she pointed at excitedly.
“Po’i?” she asked as we heard sirens in the distance.
“Maybe, or an ambulance or a firetruck.” I listened carefully. “It sounds like a police car though, you’re right.”
“FIWE’TWUH!” she screeched, arms flailing. “Wahn.”
“You can play with your firetruck when we get back,” I promised, turning at a corner and heading back. More sirens joined the first and then even more. Whatever happened, it sounded pretty bad. A tiny knot formed in my stomach as I worried about something involving the supernatural community. Hopefully nothing like that, I thought as I subconsciously quickened my pace. We got back to the house and I plopped Reeny on the floor. She made a beeline for her toy box, pulling her firetruck out.
I went to my room, making sure my duffel had a clean sim fu outfit inside and some food. I added a reusable bottle of water and took the duffel out just as Pa and Dad got there. They knocked a couple times and came in without my answer as he usually did. “Hey babies,” Pa said, kissing my cheek and then flopping to the ground to snuggle Reeny, kissing her all over her face. She obliged for a moment then began whining, wanting to get back to her toys. But Dad needed his grandpa time so she had to spend another minute in his arms, getting his hugs and kisses.
“Yeah, it sounds like something bad happened,” Pa said, looking up from his spot on the floor. “It sounded kinda downtown so be careful.”
“Mmm. I might need to leave now, if traffic is backed up.” I looked at Dad as he set Reeny back down.
“Not sure if it is,” he said. “I need to get going too. Bye.” He bent way down to put a kiss on the top of Pa’s head and then headed out, me following after giving Reeny a kiss goodbye. I might end up at the spa early but better early than late.
My phone rang as I got to my car. I debated answering or ignoring it but figured it might be important so after I tossed my duffel in the car and waved at my dad I pulled the phone from my pocket. Unknown number. “Hello? Zaid Danevbie speaking.”
“Mr. Danevbie?” An unfamiliar female voice. Uncontrollable fear consumed my entire body as she went on to say, “There’s been an accident…”
“I d-don’t understand. I–I don’t get it. Wh-what do you mean?”
I sat in my living room, tugging continually at loose threads in my couch as one of the officers sat on the loveseat across from me and the other one wandered around, looking at things. Pa sat next to me, holding my other hand tightly.
“We’re not sure exactly what happened,” the female officer said carefully. “It appears that David Baroque and Fahima Karim were driving to the SimSubStop to get lunch for themselves and a few other co-workers. Fahima says they turned the corner off Whisper Avenue and Market Street at the stoplight. Fahima and other witness report that David had a green light but as he pulled out a truck careened down Market Street and slammed into them.”
I swallowed, my stomach churning so violently I wanted to throw up.
“David’s vehicle had already mostly turned so the rear end got the brunt of the collision. They were thrown forward and Fahima says it got hazy at that point when her head slammed back against her headrest. She says David was talking and trying to keep her calm as he unbuckled her. Then a white van pulled out of Whisper Avenue from where it had, it seems, been following them–it pulled up right alongside the driver’s side. Fahima thought that it was someone trying to help. David got her unbuckled and then apparently began screaming as someone from the white van grabbed him and began pulling him into the van. The truck driver jumped out and into the van with them and the van took off.”
“He was kidnapped, Mr. Danevbie.”
Bile rose in my throat and I fought to keep it down. My hands were shaking hard and it felt like I had been in the car wreck as well. I couldn’t think, couldn’t focus on what she had just said. The sirens–the sirens from earlier were for him, were for my Goose, he was in a wreck and he was kidnapped–and the police called me–and Dad took Reeny back to his house–and–they showed up–and–Goose–Goose…?
“Do you know of anyone who might want to hurt him?” the male officer asked, finally speaking up. “Or you?”
He wasn’t asking out of curiosity, he just wanted confirmation for what he already knew. “There’s a lot of people out there that want to hurt me,” I said bitterly. “The government for one, the P.A.S.”
“Supernaturals?” the woman asked.
Pa’s hand tightened around mine. “A few rogue ones, yeah,” I mumbled. It didn’t sound like the government. They’d just come into our house in the middle of the night or something. This sounded like the works of someone who couldn’t get to our house. The supernaturals who had been after me all this time.
They wrecked his car, endangering– “Is Fahima doing okay?” I asked, forcing the words out. I liked Goose’s coworker a lot but my mind wanted to focus on Goose, so it took some effort to inquire about her.
“She’s in the ER right now to make sure but it seems like she’ll be fine. Just some heavy bruising and burns from the seatbelt,” the woman answered. “You think it is either the P.A.S. or supernaturals?”
“I–I don’t know who else it would be. Nobody hates Goose, as far as I am aware.” I pulled my hand from Pa’s so I could wring my hands together. “He’s so sweet and loving and nice and-and–and it’s my fault this has happened…”
“Zaid–” Pa tried but I just got up, going over to the window.
Why couldn’t they do this to me? >Unless they thought it was you.< Lumie’s voice broke into my mind. >Since you got the smaller car and the van you two don’t have any particular car you take, do you?< No. >They see that green car out and about and they go with their plan, not noticing who is in there.<
I covered my ears, trying to get the barrier up, not wanting to hear this. >EITHER WAY IT’S MY FAULT!< I shouted back at her, thankfully in our heads and not out loud.
The officers were talking but I didn’t listen to them. They have him, even if it wasn’t on purpose they have him. They knew who he was when they pulled him from the car and into the van, they’re holding him somewhere, probably the warehouse in the woods, they have him there, he’s there, he’s gotta be there–and I’m going to get him.
Everyone tried talking me out of it. Pa pleaded, Dad threatened, Grams begged, Gladdy shook me by the shoulders. But I didn’t care. I just demanded potions from Grams, and that Lumie stay behind. She was the only one not being vocally against me going though mentally she sent out pulsing waves of disapproval.
“I’m going,” I said, examining Max’s sword. I still had it in the house–locked in a trunk in the storage room. I had continually meant to give it back to Grams but kept forgetting. Now I had it. Sword and dagger seemed better for indoors than archery. “Without you, Lumie, I am not having them take you too–do not even try to to argue with me.”
Lumie pressed her lips tight together. “You can’t go alone.”
We all turned as Simba came into the house. I knew he pretty much lived in the nearby woods and kept watch over the house but I had barely seen him since he left years ago. I smiled, glad at the sight of him. “I’m going with him,” Simba said.
“I’m going to call Akua and Emilian,” Grams added, in the same tone I used for Lumie.
Lumie threw her hands up. “Everyone is going but me–“
“I am,” I said, feeling bad as his eyes went huge and watery. “Pa. I’m getting Goose back, he’s there. We all know it.”
“Tell the police, why didn’t you tell them?!” Gladdy demanded.
I snorted. “If they even believed me and went there, who knows what could happen. They might k–they might hurt him and flee. I’m going and make it seem like I’m alone. Simba, there’s a side entrance to the west it leads directly into the main room. I’ll go to the front doors by myself. Simba, we can talk about the plan in the car. Grams if you do call Akua and Emilian ask them to meet me about a mile down the road from where we first met–we can formulate a plan. I’m going, come on.”
I walked out of the house without another word, without another minute wasted. I had bad feelings about doing this but I was not going to sit around and wait. I was going to get him even if it meant putting my own life in danger. Pa and Dad would take Reeny for the night, and Grams was going to put extra protection spells around them in case of the enemy trying to do anything to them.
Simba and I drove for half an hour in almost complete silence, figuring we’d make out the plan with the vampires if they showed up. I was going to give them five minutes. But as it turned out, I didn’t need to give them anything as I spotted them off the side of the road exactly one mile from the bar where they had rescued me.
I shrugged. “You don’t need to help.”
“If we did not wish to help, we would not be here,” Emilian pointed out. “We will do what we can to help save the elf. But we will not risk our lives for him. If things get bad, Akua and I will leave.”
I didn’t expect anything less from them really, and figured Simba would say something similar but to my surprise he gave me a big smile and said, “I’m in it till the end, Zaid. I don’t break my promises.”
I approached the warehouse with the sword attached to my belt but my hands in the air. “Hey,” I said to the guards who pointed guns to me demanding that I turn back. “Hey, is that any way to treat the guest of honor? Don’t recognize my face? Maybe you should give your boss my name. Zaid Danevbie.”
They kept their guns pointed at me and for a split second I wondered if they’d just shoot me. But then one pulled out a radio and began speaking into it, asking to talk to someone in charge… informing them of my name. I couldn’t hear the response over the radio but the guards certainly reacted. They told me to march ahead and no funny business. I went into the building, my throat tight in fear. I couldn’t believe I was doing this.
I went through a dark hall and then out into a large, empty room. Several people stood around with their eyes on me. Most were faeries but a few looked like humans. Perhaps they were magic-users. Two of the faeries were the yellow and grey ones that attacked me so long ago.
“Leave us.” One faerie stepped forward, exuding authority. I stared at her as the human guards left. This–was she the woman who had been causing me all this hell? The one sending golems after me? The one wanting to use me for–for whatever? “Bring him,” she said with a smirk.
I expected some of the people to grab me but instead two of them went to a door, opening it so they could drag a bound Goose out. He gave muffled protests at the sight of me. I started forward but stopped when the faerie held up one hand. They dragged Goose to the center of the room, very close to where I stood. He knelt between them, hands tied behind his back, a gag over his mouth, tears streaming down his face.
“Are you all right?” I asked.
“Let him speak,” the faerie said and Goose’s gag was removed.
“Are you okay?”
“Y–yes, I th-think so but you shouldn’t have–mmmph!” One of them tied the gag back around, preventing him from speaking.
“I admit… I am verrry surprised to see you,” the faerie purred, sauntering towards me. “I expected to have you send pictures of him… or maybe his ear.”
I twitched at that, resisting the urge to yank my sword free to stab her. “Let him go. You have me now, you have no use for him.”
The faerie looked back towards Goose who continued to make angry sounds. “You’re right, we don’t. But first–your sword. I am not going to let him go while you stand here armed.”
I removed the belt and handed my sword over without a thought. Praying that Simba, Akua, and Emilian were in the building. “Now let him go.”
“Your daggers, too,” she said and my eyebrows raised. “I am not stupid. Your daggers.”
I bent down, pulling the daggers from my boots and handing them over as well. She threw them all behind her and the clattering of metal against stone barely registered past the blood pumping through me, filling me, sounding louder than anything else other than Goose’s noises. “Let. Him. Go.”
“Hands out,” she cooed and I put my hands out, letting her wrap cords around my wrists She pulled it so tight that I knew it would start hurting soon. “There. Well. This was easier than I ever expected. All those little toys of mine you destroyed and the only thing I needed to do was exert a little…” She leaned in close, her breath in my ear. “…pressure.”
“LET HIM GO!” I screamed and she reeled back, eyes widening.
“Touchy!” She shook her head and smiled. “Untie the filthy elf.”
One of the faeries next to Goose bent down with a knife. For a split second I worried she’d stab him but the blade went down to slice through the ropes holding his arms together. He snatched the gag off his head and stood up, rubbing his wrists.
“Zaid–” he started.
“No, I don’t think so,” the boss faerie interrupted and jerked one arm forward. Bright yellow light formed around her hand and shot forward.
It slammed into Goose’s chest, causing him to stumble back. A scream tore from his mouth for a split-second, just a split second, hardly any time at all, not even a full second of the pained scream.
He didn’t move.
I couldn’t breathe.
My heart stood still in my chest, my breath caught in my throat.
Then it felt like someone stabbed me. Red poured into my vision. Something cold filled my veins. With a loud, inhuman scream I charged forward, slamming into the laughing bitch. We fell to the floor and I grabbed her head, still screaming, still seeing red. I slammed her head back into the concrete without any hesitation. I lifted her head and slammed it back again, and again, and again, and again. It sounded to me as if she continued to laugh so I just bashed her head in until the laughter stopped.
A lion’s roar broke the stunned cohorts of the bitch and pandemonium filled the room–or so I assumed. I could hear screaming and running and sounds of claws ripping into flesh, the sound of heads being snapped, the sound of an alarm tripped and blaring.
The sound of her laughter. I lifted her head and slammed it once more into the soaking concrete, ending the laughter finally. Someone grabbed me and I tried to bite them but they expertly avoided my teeth while cutting the cords around my wrist. A sword was placed into my hand and I stopped thinking.
By the time I could think again I had killed four people besides the faerie. Corpses lay everywhere, felled by Simba or Akua or Emilian. Two people remained alive. I went towards the nearest and pointed my sword at his face.
“Why me?” I hissed.
The man whimpered, trying to push himself away. His legs had been mauled by Simba so he couldn’t walk. “I d-d-d-don’t know, the b-b-boss never s-s-said–please–d-d-don’t k-kill me I–I didn’t–I wasn’t–“
“You just followed her orders?!” I pointed the bloody sword towards the bitch.
The man shook his head. “N-no, not h-her she’s n-n-not the boss she w-w-was just–she’s j-just second-in-c-c-command! I’ve never m-met the b-boss, I never… n…e…” He slumped back; not dead but passed out from pain.
She wasn’t the boss. I thrust the sword into his chest then turned to look at the remaining living one. One of the faeries that had dragged Goose out. I walked towards her and she ran to some doors. I just followed her into a hall, watching with cold fury as she slipped into an elevator. I saw the symbol that indicated ‘down’ flash.
I looked around and spotted a sign for stairs. Pushing open the door, I stumbled into a stairwell. I went down one flight and looked out at the elevator. Finding no signs of her I continued down the next, final flight. I pushed open the door.
“–oh Watcher!” the faerie cried out. “No, no!” she gasped as I slammed the stairwell door shut. Then she opened her mouth, appearing as though she were screaming but instead I heard the bitch’s laughter. I took heavy strides towards her and drove the sword through her chest. She fell to the ground, another corpse.
I panted heavily, staring at the closed door she had been pressed against. Light under the crack and I thought someone moved. I grabbed the handle and the door swung open. A woman stood there, a wooden club raised. She spoke but all I could hear was the laughter of the bitch. This woman was just another one of Goose’s murderers, however involved.
I raised my sword to kill her and at the last second a hand grabbed my wrist. Instead of the blade piercing the woman’s neck, the flat end of the blade struck her temple. Down she went. Another corpse.
No, she still breathed.
“She’s innocent,” Akua said, pulling my hand down. “She’s a prisoner here, as is the man in the room beyond. All the guilty ones are dead.”
I stared at her face as her words sunk in. We had killed them all.