This week’s guest blog is by Billy Higgins Peery, author of the web-serial A Bad Idea.
“Your Honor, in my defense,” Anne muttered to herself, using a laser blade to saw the corpse’s leg off, “the victim surprised me while I was working on science. If you’d been working on a plasma blaster, and someone had surprised you, isn’t it possible you would have shot them in the face? You know, accidentally?”
The work was slow-going, since the corpse was some dumb-ass vigilante with super-tough skin. His name was ‘The Exxterminator,’ and he was about as dumb as the name made him sound. Really, Anne should have gotten an award for shooting him in the face.
She continued muttering to an imaginary judge because it amused her, or perhaps because she was crazy. “You wouldn’t have been working on a plasma blaster? That’s a good argument, but I think it speaks less to your innocence and more to a lack of the intelligence which is required to work with plasma.”
The laser began grinding through The Exxterminator’s bone. If it’d been normal human bone this wouldn’t take so long. But he was an alien — Renflaxxxian, to be precise — whose bones were tougher than normal, because the gravity was three times as strong on Renflaxxx as it was on Earth.
Unfortunately, she’d been working on her plasma blaster in the bedroom, which meant that she was now sawing up a corpse in her bedroom. As if she didn’t have enough trouble falling asleep.
The laser saw sputtered a bit, when it got past the bone. Anne held her arms steady.
Why would this dilettante come after me? Anne asked herself.
A million thoughts exploded in her head. She could’ve inadvertently pissed him off during one of her many attempts to take over Boca Raton. Or maybe he was after a piece of her technology. Someone could’ve sent him here, or he could’ve just been patrolling the area, looking for some bad guy to beat up.
Did someone send him here to kill me? Anne asked herself.
She wiped some sweat off her forehead, trying to think of who could possibly want her dead.
She shrugged, shaking her head. “Why would anyone want to kill me?”
The leg had been severed, so she moved towards an arm.
After several slow, agonizing minutes spent sawing through The Exxterminator’s flesh, Anne realized she needed help.
She dug her hand into her jeans, then whipped out her cell phone.
She called a friend. “I need your help.”
“What sort of help?” the friend asked.
“The sort I don’t want to talk about on the phone.”
That was the nice thing about having a friend who could teleport — she didn’t need to give a verbal response to what Anne had just said. Instead, the friend teleported through shadows.
Her hand appeared from under Anne’s bed. The friend crawled out of the shadow of the bed and into the light. She had long, straight black hair, which contrasted with her pale skin.
“Holy motherfuckin’ shit,” she said. “You done fucked up.”
“It was in self defense, kinda,” Anne explained. “I thought you dealt with murders all the time.”
“I do,” she said. “I do. I just don’t usually see the body hacked up like this. He really piss you off or something?”
“I thought it’d be easier to transport him if he was broken into pieces.”
“I’m a transporter,” Shade said. “Transportation isn’t going to be a problem, here. Blood — blood’s gonna be the problem. Are there any sensors in this school? X-ray vision, heightened sense of smell, fifth sense?”
“No. Most of the supers who go to FAU are fighters.”
Shade didn’t know what Florida Atlantic University’s population looked like, since she didn’t go to college here. Or anywhere, for that matter. She was in her late twenties: Anne had met her in jail, back when Anne was in high school.
“That’s good. Sensors are bad news for people like us. Pack a bowl while I try and figure this out.”
“Alright,” Anne said, taking a book off her bookshelf. There was a little bag of weed there, which sat next to the pipe. She wasn’t much of a smoker, but Shade was, and she figured Shade would be more likely to hang out here if there was weed around.
To tell you the truth, Shade was pretty nice-looking. She was good to have around when Anne needed advice for being a super criminal, but Anne probably wouldn’t have been so nice to her if she didn’t like the view.
After Anne had packed the pipe, she took out her lighter and handed it to Shade.
Shade took a hit off the pipe, her chest rising as she sucked the smoke in. She blew it out, then looked back at the corpse.
“We need to bag the corpse,” she said. “You got a trash bag?”
“Yeah, I’ve got boobs,” Anne said, the Freudian slip probably indicating how much she was thinking about Shade’s boobs. “Uh, bags. Bags. Yeah, I’ve got trash bags.”
--- --- ---
Shade said that Anne didn’t need to know where the body was buried. The less she knew, the better things were for everybody. So Shade transported the chopped up bits to whatever hiding spot she’d come up with, while Anne just had to figure out how to clean all the blood up.
First Anne took a nice, long shower. Scrubbed all the blood off her body. Then she went on a walk down Spanish River Boulevard, towards the closest Walgreens.
The walk to the store was hotter than balls. Not that she knew how hot balls were. She was just guessing that the weather was hotter, because it was so damn hot out.
The Walgreens depressed her. She wondered if the fact that she’d murdered someone was depressing her, and the whole ‘getting depressed by Walgreens’ thing was just her projecting.
But she didn’t think it was. Honest to god, the Walgreens depressed her. They’d just changed the layout of the place. Before, the white linoleum floor and overly bright lights had felt like home. But now?
It just didn’t feel right.
The bloodstained carpet back at her dorm was white, which made things a little easier. She grabbed some bleach, then made her way towards the checkout. Figured she’d console herself with a candy bar, and maybe even one of those cheap bottles of wine they were always selling.
She went and grabbed one of those cheap bottles of wine. Gave herself an imaginary pat on the back for forging a fake ID. Though really, compared to building a giant death mech, forging an ID wasn’t very hard.
It wasn’t until she had the bottle in her hand that she noticed the superhero standing next to her: David, her arch nemesis.
“Hey Anne,” David the arch nemesis said, holding a card and envelope in his hand.
“Hey?” Anne said, standing in the Walgreens, holding bleach and a bottle of wine.
“Don’t switch the labels,” he said, pleased with himself for being so funny. “Haha.”
“Sorry, bad joke. Bleach humor.” Though he said it was a bad joke, in truth he thought he was god’s gift to comedy.
“Right. Well, this has been a good talk, but–”
“You’re smart,” he blurted.
“Can’t take the credit,” she said. “Genetics was–”
He interrupted Anne. Again. She began wondering if acid would burn through his pretty boy flesh. If not, she figured she’d just have to come up with something stronger.
“I know we’ve had a lot of differences in the past, but–”
This time she interrupted him. It felt good: “You punched me in the face and had me arrested.”
“You built a giant death robot.”
“Death mech,” she said. “Robots don’t have pilots, mechs do.”
“Right,” he said. “Either way, you caused a lot of property damage.”
“True,” she said, “but it was cool.”
“Well, I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry that I punched you in the face, and that you got thrown in jail. Back in high school, things seemed a little–”
“Simpler?” she asked.
“Right,” he said, looking at her like this was the first thought he’d ever had in his life. “Simpler. I should’ve tried to help you, after everything you–”
“It’s fine. This was nice and all, but I’ve got some laundry that I want to do. So I’m going to go buy this stuff now and be on my way.”
“It’s Ricky’s birthday today.”
Ricky AKA The Exxterminator, AKA the guy she’d just killed.
“What’s that got to do with me?” she snapped.
He looked a little taken aback, but it’s not like Anne gave a shit. What did The Exxterminator’s birthday have to do with her?
“The Owls are throwing a party for him,” David said, the Owls being the superhero team that he led. “I was hoping you’d come.”
“Oh,” she said. That really came as a surprise.
God, his birthday, she thought. I killed the asshole on his birthday.
She decided not to give a shit. After all, he shouldn’t have been snooping around on his birthday. He shouldn’t have been doing the vigilante shit on his birthday. That was his fault, not hers. What he did was dangerous business — could’ve died any day, at the hands of anybody.
Shit, vigilantes got killed by cops as often as they got killed by bad guys. Killing a vigilante didn’t say shit about who she was. Didn’t mean she was good or bad. She just was.
“What’s the time and place?” she asked. She figured that saying no would have been admitting to herself that she was afraid, or guilty. But she wasn’t afraid, or guilty.
So she’d killed a guy. He had it coming.
“Tonight at five,” he said. “At the base. Please don’t bring a gift. We’d worry about it being a camera, or a bomb, or a camera bomb, or a robot that takes pictures of us in our sleep, or a–”
“Fair,” she said. “Five at the base. I’ll see you, then.”
“Yeah,” he said, walking off. He wore a bit of a smile. “I’m glad you said yes.”
Asshole, with his fancy smile and fancy base and powerful friends.
He was worried her surprise was going to be wrapped in some box? Nah, she had the greatest surprise in the world: she’d killed the guest of honor.
She tried opening the wine bottle, to take a swig from it. But then she remembered the cork. She probably looked awkward, just standing there.
Walking towards the checkout, she realized he hadn’t given her any shit about trying to buy wine underage.
She wondered what that meant.
The Owls’s superhero hangout looked out of place. It was a couple blocks from campus, surrounded by smaller houses across the street and a church right next door. There were a bunch of cars parked by the church — some sort of wedding, probably.
The house itself stood three stories high. Looked like a mansion.
Anne stood outside, holding her present. A bronze statue of an owl hung above the front door. The sun was setting, which gave the owl a more ominous look.
David opened the door. For a brief moment, he had a wide smile. Then he saw the box in her hands, and the smile soured.
“You weren’t supposed to bring anything,” he said.
“It’s a small gift.”
“Tiny death robot?”
“No,” she said.
“Something that has a camera in it, that you’ll use to track our every move?” he asked.
Anne sighed. “That’d be cliche.”
“You’re sure it’s not a tiny death robot?”
She almost got frustrated, but then she caught the smirk on his face. He was fucking with her.
“You motherf–” she began.
But David yelled inside the house, “Marja, can you come here for a minute? I need you to look at something.”
He turned back to Anne. “I’m trying to be nice, you know. Let bygones be bygones. The least you could do is try not to kill us.”
“That’s the least I can do,” Anne said, “but I like to think of myself as an overachiever.”
He stood there, wearing a stupid grin. Truth be told, he was being nice. Anne almost appreciated that. But it made her more comfortable to make them a little uncomfortable. She figured he knew it, too.
Jeanine came to the front door. Her short blond hair was slicked back. She wore a suit. “Marja’s sleeping.”
“Right,” David said. The way he said it made Anne feel like there was something she didn’t know about Marja. She filed the information away for later.
This was great. Their act of kindness was giving her a whole new insight into the team.
It was stupid being here — when they could find out about The Exxterminator’s death at any moment. Yet being here brought with it a sense of comfort. She could keep tabs on the team, gather information about them, be ready to deal with them if need be.
She made sure to keep a smile plastered on her face, but inside she was reeling.
If they find out what I did, I might have to kill them all.
For more work by Billy Higgins Peery, be sure to check out the web-serial A Bad Idea.