Last Week’s SS – Intruders
Indecision overwhelmed my senses, and I could do nothing more then sneak another look into the room. The man across from Victoria had his back to her and the guards. He was inspecting our mantel. Without turning, he spoke. His voice was deep, but he spoke with a smooth, even tone.
“Did you find the girl?” he asked.
“She wasn’t in her room,” one of his men replied.
“Where is she?” he asked.
“I don’t know, sir.”
“I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to the Hierophant, if that is your real card. Where is the child?”
“I don’t know about any child,” she said.
He picked something up from the mantle and turned around. As he did, I could see that the item in his hand was evidence of my existence. It was a framed drawing that I had made many years ago. It was sloppy, disproportionate, and hardly more than a scribble. I don’t know why Victoria kept it, though at the time I made it, I was elated that it had gone on the mantel. But it was clear enough to show a woman, with the most basic of features that resembled Victoria, teaching a young girl with a loving smile.
“Then what is this?” he asked.
“I’m a teacher. Or was one. One of my students gave me that many years ago. Is it a crime to keep gifts?” she asked.
“Funny thing about dystropolsy. That muscular disease that caused you to leave the Emperor’s employ. It’s terminal, growing ever more crippling until the time of death. Which should have been years ago. But, well, just look at you now. Picture of health. Well, if you lost a few pounds, anyway.”
“I got better.”
“No one gets better when they have dystropolsy.”
“Must have been misdiagnosed, then.”
“Or you lied. But what reason would you have? Perhaps it was because you had a new baby to raise?” he asked.
“That’s absurd. I could never care for a child.”
“Stop the charade. We know that you bought the girl. Tell us where you’re keeping her.”
Victoria stayed silent.
“Fine,” the man said.
He walked over, grabbed her hair, and threw her to the ground. She tried her best to not react. He removed a knife from his belt. He pulled her onto her knees, and placed his blade to her throat. Still, she kept silent.
“I don’t want to butcher you like a hog, but I will if you don’t answer me. Where is she?” he asked.
He pulled on her hair harder, exposing her neck and turning her head. Her body leaned next to end table. Her eyes were forced to redirect, and they locked onto mine.
“There is no escaping this. We have three more men outside. If she is here, we will find her. If she isn’t, we will find her eventually. Where is she?” he asked.
At hearing this, my lion looked at me, conflicted. He had his pre-programmed instructions. But sometimes, I swear that he had his feelings. I nodded to him that he could go and do a perimeter sweep.
“You want to know where she is?” she asked.
He eased his grip, but didn’t let go. Her hand was shyly searching the leg of the table.
“I can take you to her. She isn’t far,” she said.
He released her hair.
“Where is she?” he asked again.
“She’s right here, in this house,” Victoria said. “In fact, she’s just around that corner.”
The three guards looked in my direction, and spotted me. They took one step in my direction, but before they could get any farther, Victoria tore a knife from it’s hiding spot and thrust it into the lead guard’s gut.
“I have no problem gutting you like a pig,” she said.
She shoved his still body off of her blade as one of the other guards rushed her. The remaining guard came at me.
I scurried backwards as he entered the hallway. He came at me and yanked me from the ground by my arm. My instincts kicked in, my training. I used the momentum to get the upper hand. I kept going, past him, and reasserted his own force to knock him off balance. He fell backwards to the ground. My arm came free of his hand. I kicked him in the head. Then again and again until he quit moving. His face was bloodied, but his chest still rose. He’d be hurt, but he’d live. That is, if Victoria let him.
I returned to the room where her fight was still raging. She thrust her knife at the guard, but he blocked, knocking it from her hand. With closed fists, she pounded at him, but he stepped back, perpetually out of her reach. He landed a blow to her stomach. She doubled over and got a knee to the face.
I rushed him, but he batted me to the ground. Victoria’s face was swollen, and she was out of breath.
“Get to the forest. Find the Hermet,” she said.
“What?” I asked.
“Just go!” she yelled.
Before I could consider what she was saying, the guard removed his own knife from his belt. He kneeled atop of her. She hit, and kicked, and fought with all her might. I came at him again. I jumped on his back, tore at his eyes, tried to choke him, anything that would help. He elbowed me in the side, knocking me halfway off. He continued fighting with Victoria. I pressed my fingers harder into his eye socket. He grimaced in pain, and shook his back, trying to push me the rest of the way off. My fingers were wet and my grip slipped.
He plunged the knife into Victoria.
She let out a soft gasp of pain. The last sound she’d ever make.
The guard stood, and turned his attention to me. I could see now that his eye was destroyed from my attack. Insanity, and a lust for revenge filled his remaining eye. He held the knife out as he approached me. It was still dripping with Victoria’s blood.
As he crossed the distance, the front door flew open. My lion stood there with crimson covered teeth. His red eyes fixed on the guard, and he launched himself at him. His metal fangs bit deep into the guard’s torso. The guard fought back, driving his knife between the lion’s shoulder blade. The lucky strike severed the make-shift nervous structure of the lion’s right, front paw. It went limp, throwing him off balance. But as he couldn’t hold himself up, all of his weight pressed on the guard, pinning him to the ground.
My lion roared at me. I think he was telling me to run. I looked at Victoria’s un-moving body. I didn’t want to leave either of them. But, I couldn’t stay here any longer.