6: I'll Kill You

The taut, rusty chain pressed my neck against the side of the ladder. I needed air, but that wasn’t in my foreseeable future. I could feel blood rushing to my head. I thought if it didn’t stop, the back of my skull was going to blow off.

The chain ran from around the ladder, up through the surface of the water, to a blurred image of the black cloaked Brad. He stood on the deck. From what I could make out, he had the chain wrapped around his forearm, tugging to keep it tight around my neck.

It was one of those thick chains that you see Rottweilers and Doberman pinchers tied up with, so breaking it wasn’t an option. I had an idea, but the odds of it working against someone Brad’s size seemed slim.

The tight chain hung just over my head. I braced my legs against the wall, grabbed onto the chain with both hands, and yanked at it with everything I had (which by this point, wasn’t much). The black cloaked asshole held strong. My neck was still locked against the side of the ladder, but the yank had given me a little slack.

I pulled even harder. My biceps tensed, pulsated. I dug my legs into the wall. My thighs tightened. Every muscle in my body was either stiff or twitching. It reminded me of a few weeks in P.E. back at St. Luke when we’d done weight training. Everyone had to lift a certain amount and do X number of reps for their weight class, and then we were graded for it. It had been three weeks of moaning and making odd grunting sounds as we struggled to contort our muscles to get those barbells just a little higher. I remembered how tense and stiff my muscles had been mid-lifting, and it felt the same now. Though the real familiarity was my throbbing skull and clenched jaw. The only difference was that, in P.E. if I couldn’t lift the weight, I got a C. If I couldn’t this time, I was dead.

I inched Brad closer and closer to the edge of the pool. It was a tug-o-war for my life, and I wasn’t going to lose. I felt the chain around my neck loosen, but I kept pulling at it and pressing my legs harder into the wall, knowing that I may only have one shot.

The chain loosened some more. I kept one hand firmly on the chain and used the other to try and maneuver the chain up my neck and head. It was a tight squeeze. The rusty links scraped across my cheeks and tore at my ears and scalp, but I was in so much pain by this point that the sting didn’t feel nearly as bad as I thought it should. I pulled the last bit over my head.

I was free!

I kicked off the wall and went shooting out of the water, taking an enormous, well-deserved breath. It still felt like the chain was around my neck, restricting my breathing. But I had enough air to keep me from passing out.

I reveled in my victory. It was amazing to be above water again—something that for a little while I thought might never happen again.

A tug on my ankle reminded me that the other part of the chain was still tied to it. Back under I went. I was ripped back to the edge of the pool. I wasn’t worried anymore, though. Just mad as hell. Brad had had the upper hand before because he had caught me off guard. Now it was his rage vs. mine. And I knew that mine was going to win.

He reached his hand down to grab me by the hair. I caught hold of his arm and kicked off the wall. He fell in.

While he flailed about, I swam to the edge of the pool and pulled myself out. I scrambled on my belly across the cement and took some quick, frenzied breaths. My body was doing its best to compensate for the lost oxygen. My muscles and nerves were either stinging or throbbing or both, but I was so happy to be outta that pool that I didn’t care.

I was facing the wall. Loud splashing sounds were the only thing letting me know that Brad was still struggling in the water. Heat rushed to my face. Not the loss-of-oxygen heat that I was dealing with before. More like uninhibited rage coming over me.

I’m gonna kill him.

I was about to get up and prepare for the fight of my life, when a loud, roaring—

“ROW! ROW!”

—filled the air. It sounded like an animal. Not something like a rabbit or a squirrel. More like a lion. On second thought, it was probably more like a t-rex.

I turned back to the pool.

A mangled, skeleton-thin hand reached out of the water. It was covered in wrinkled, grey flesh and had yellow fingernails nearly the size of the finger. And on the flesh—if that’s what you could call it—were these brown and green blisters that made the hand look like it was covered in colored golf balls.

What the hell?

The hand sprung forward, grabbed hold of my jeans, and pulled. My eyes widened in horror as I realized this wasn’t Brad—it wasn’t even human.

It pulled at my jeans again. The strength of the pull was so strong it yanked me back towards the pool.

Oh no. Not again!

I kicked the contorted hand off my foot. Goosebumps crawled up my back. It was like that feeling I got walking into spiderwebs—like I had to rub my hands all over my body to make sure I got it all off.

I scooted back till I was against the wall. My hands tried to keep sliding back.

In the pool, the black cloak floated to the surface of the water. Another hand, just as disgusting as the first, reached out and grabbed onto the side of the pool. My mind went berserks. First Brad and Seth had superpowers, and now there was this…this monster. A part of my mind told me this was impossible. It was the same part of my mind that had tried to convince me that the idea of Seth and Brad having superpowers was ridiculous. Another part of my mind told me to get the hell out of there. I knew which one I was going to listen to.

I hopped to my feet and raced to the gym doors. As I pushed them open, I turned back and saw the black cloaked creature halfway out of the pool, clawing at the cement floor as it pulled the rest of its body out.

I was outta there.

My mind raced in a million directions, but there was only one thing I could think to do. I didn’t know what this creature wanted, or what it was capable of. But whatever it was, it had something to do with Brad and Seth. And Carrie Morgan was going to help me whether she liked it or not.

I hid behind the Leyland cypresses in the courtyard, waiting for Carrie to leave the clinic. I’d had a hard time getting there. I was still in nothing but jeans, which was practically nude at a uniform-regulated private school. I’d crept through halls, hid in stairways, restrooms, corners, and empty classrooms till I made it. The school was pretty dead, but it was early enough that there was still the occasional teacher or student running an errand. I blushed at the idea of someone finding me. That’d give me a great rep. Though, to be honest, the only thing that really worried me at this point was that that black cloaked creature would come back after me…and next time, it’d be real pissed.

I’d thought about going back to the boy’s dormitory for clothes, but that was a joke. First off, this time of day, it was going to be packed with guys going in and out, and as much as I wanted to be humiliated by every guy in my class, I decided to pass. Second off, if Seth and Brad had been responsible for that creature attacking me (which I was sure they were), then I wasn’t just going to walk into our room armed with nothing more than a wink and “Howdy.”

My teeth chattered. It was just as cold out there as it had been in the locker room, and being drenched in pool water didn’t help. It made me mad, cause every other day I’d followed Carrie had been fine.

This sucks, I thought for so many reasons other than the chill.

Three guys headed through the courtyard, laughing their asses off and giving each other knuckle-knocks and high-fives. They were oblivious to the fact that there was an 8ft monster recovering in the gym, probably still hungry since it hadn’t managed to feed on me.

I waited in the cold for thirty minutes. The only thing I could think about was that monster—how sure I’d been that it’d been Brad, its hideous wrinkled hands, and that deep, roar-of-a-sound.

The door swung open and out walked Carrie with her hair in that cute little ponytail. She was taking small, relaxed steps as she went about her normal routine. I was sure that she knew what Brad and Seth had done to me, so it pissed me off watching her be all la-dee-da.

She wasn’t looking over papers like usual. Instead, she was looking straight ahead, without a care in the world. She was as oblivious of me as I had been to the creature in the locker room.

I gave a quick check to make sure no one was coming, then sprang from my hiding place. I hadn’t realized how far away she was, but it felt like I was running toward her for a while before I got to her. I went up behind her, wrapped my arm around, and covered her mouth with my hand. I used my other arm to restrain her. She tried to scream, but didn’t manage much more than a muffled whimper out of that mousy mouth of hers. She struggled as much as she could, but it was like fighting an eight-year-old. I picked her up and carted her over to my little corner, checking around frantically to make sure no one had caught me in the act. Not a soul in sight.

Damn, is it this easy to be a rapist? I wondered.

I sat on the cement bench behind the cypresses and forced her down beside me. I pressed my mouth against her ear and whispered in my most guttural voice “Okay, bitch. You better tell me what the fuck is going on.”

Her hand reached up for her gold coin necklace. I don’t know why, but my instincts kicked in, and I ripped it right off. I threw it in the bushes. She tried to scream through her nose, but it was just as mousy as the first one she’d attempted.

“Shut up!” My tone was severe, but my voice was low. I couldn’t have someone hear my anger and come running to Carrie’s aid.

She whimpered and made a whiny sound. By the way she was fussing, you would have thought I was actually going to rape her. Then again, she didn’t know any better.

I had her, but I didn’t know what the hell I was going to do now. I needed to get her to tell me what the fuck was going on, but it wasn’t like I could just release her mouth and let her scream to the whole school. There wasn’t anyone in sight, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t some overworked faculty member moseying around, hunting for trouble. That woulda been real good. I wondered how much time you did for assault and attempted rape.

She breathed uneasily through her mousy nose. I hadn’t figured what I was going to do when I actually got her. I had to get her somewhere we could talk. A quick solution sprang to mind.

“Hey!” I said, commanding her attention. “Is there anyone in the clinic right now?”She tilted her head back to see me. Her big green eyes were red and teary. It made me feel bad for a moment, but I tried to shut out my emotions just as I had shut out my logic.

She shook her head “no”.

“Do you have keys?”

She hesitated, like she was running through her women’s self defense class to figure out what she was supposed to say. She was a shitty liar because she hadn’t given an answer, but I knew she had them.

Sweat dripped from my nose onto her forehead. I hadn’t realized, but keeping her still was a little bit of a workout. Either that, or I was just really overworked.

“Okay,” I whispered. “You are going to fucking take me in there right now. And if you do anything to get anyone’s attention, or to get away, I swear to fucking God I’ll kill you. I swear to God. Understand?”

She didn’t think this time, just nodded. A tear ran down her cheek. Though it might have been another drop of my sweat. I couldn’t tell and wasn’t paying that much attention.

“Where are the keys?”

She bobbed her head back. I hadn’t noticed till then, but her backpack was crammed against my stomach.

I clutched her face tight against my chest while I used my other hand to ransack the side and front pockets. I found a keychain with about seven or eight keys. Dangling off the end of it was a little metal square with a sticker of cartoon kittens on it. It made me feel a little bad about how aggressive I was being. But I didn’t have time to be nice.

I peered through the cypresses. The courtyard was empty.

I forced Carrie back on her feet and through the cypresses. She wasn’t struggling anymore. I figured she’d given up, and that was a smart move. I wasn’t kidding about killing her. If she got me in trouble, I was going to snap that mousy neck of hers in a second.

The school door was locked, but it wasn’t a problem. Evidently Carrie had a key to it too. I made her show me which one it was, and we went in. Carrie’s luck must have been worse than mine, because there was no one around to protect her from me, and we were inside the clinic in no time.

I flipped a switch and the fluorescent lights popped on. They were bright, and flooded every corner of the peroxide scented room.

I closed and locked the door. Carrie panted under my hand.

There was a desk covered with paperwork. I grabbed a pen out of a cup filled with them. I clenched it like a knife and put the end against her neck.

“I’m gonna take my hand off your mouth,” I said, talking a little louder now that we were in a more private place. “If you make a sound—I am not shitting you—I’ll stab this pen into your throat. Got it?”
She nodded.

I lowered my hand slowly, giving her a big enough gap that she could scream if she wanted, but keeping my hand close enough that I could easily put it back over if I needed to. She didn’t utter a sound.

I pushed her against the wall, flipped her over so that she was facing me, and pressed the pen against her throat. I pushed it in close. I wanted her to know that if she did anything, I wasn’t afraid to cut her open.

She took my not making a sound rule seriously, because she was even breathing quietly.

Her face was pale white, expect for a big, severely red hand-mark that stretched across her mouth. I felt kinda bad about it. She looked into my eyes, like she was trying to figure out what I was going to do to her. It wasn’t the same as the look Claire used to give me in sessions. Claire always had that look like she was trying to dissect what I was thinking. I didn’t like it. But there was something very frightened in Carrie’s eyes. I never saw that in Claire’s. Carrie was fragile. She was so small, and she looked so scared. I couldn’t help but pull the pen back a bit.

I took a few breaths to calm myself. “Carrie,” I said. “You ready to tell me what the fuck is going on around here?”