Friday, 5 September 2008

The Helix Assignment [Part 7]

Caroline Victor walked out of the cafe warily. Sniffing the air surreptitiously, her feral nose detected two men who was following right behind her. At this point, Caroline was ready to let out a good roar of frustration. Those two men had been shadowing her for the past week, and she'd been ignoring them for the most part. But now, it was going way too out of line.

She'd have to teach them a lesson they'd never forget.

Quickening her pace, Caroline stepped jauntily onto the street. Thanks to her feral senses, she could hear the two men falling into step right behind her. Hiding a smile behind her hand, she started jogging, forcing the two men who were following her to hurry up as well.

Oh, it was just too good. How gullible.

She led them around 4 blocks of buildings and past a deserted park, finally managing to loose them at a dark alley just walking distance from the cafe they started. She figured they'd find their way back soon enough. Grinning, she skipped down the road to her house when someone blocked the road in front of her. Looking up, Caroline watched as the taller of the two men neared, his palm outstretched, his mouth open.

No one heard her scream.

Elsa sat up in the middle of the night again, unable to fall asleep. They were crashing in Jen Lophat's house, which was far bigger and much more private considering Jen's parents had migrated over to Canada six months back. The only reason Jen was staying was because she wanted to finish high school before going to college in Toronto.

Shaking her head, Elsa threw the covers back and got up. She walked to the door and let herself out carefully, trying not to wake Aqua, who was snoring from exhaustion.

Making her way to the kitchen, Elsa poured herself a glass of water before a dull thunk caught her attention. It sounded like leather on leather, a noise that was out of the ordinary on this silent night. Everyone else was sleeping. How could it possibly be?

Bracing herself, Elsa crept as silently as she could along the corridor, unknowingly levitating herself as she tried to be unnoticeable. Turning around a door, she found herself looking at a room that was filled with various exercising equipment. There was a state-of-the-art treadmill and weights, and the floor was padded with some sort of material. One of the walls had various weapons and swords attached to it.

There. There it was again, the dull thunk, followed by several soft, barely audible grunts. Dropping lightly to her feet, Elsa watched quietly as Pierce hit the punchbag, dealing it with a roundhouse kick before throwing another punch. Her breaths coming in pants, she steadied the punchbag before speaking. 'I told you I don't appreciate trespassers.' She sounded stern, like a teacher who had repeated herself one time too many to an overly curious student.

Elsa snorted. 'Don't flatter yourself. Don't you sleep at night?' No answer from Pierce. Well, she'd expected that. 'Wow. Would you believe the Lophats actually have a gym here?' She neared the punchbag and eyed Pierce warily, who was removing the boxing gloves from her hands. 'Where did you learn how to fight like that?'

Pierce looked up, with a glance that reminded Elsa of Pierce's earlier sentence, but she answered anyway. 'I grew up in the worst place you could ever imagine. There, you get two options: fight or flight.' She gave a dry laugh. 'Which wasn't much of an option after all. At first, I chose to run. All I earned were broken fingers and a dislocated shoulder. They kept on pushing, just pushing,' her eyes darkened. 'One day, I snapped. I fought back.'

'And?' Elsa asked. Pierce shrugged. 'I learnt how to defend myself. And you? What's your sob story? Oh, wait, let me guess. Rich family, loving parents, with dreams of going to Harvard or Oxford or whatever, getting a job in Daddy's company and whatnot until something happened to change your life forever?'

Elsa raised an eyebrow. 'I don't supposed you'll tell me how you got that?' Pierce's look of scorn was all the answer she needed. 'Well, you hit it right on the head. Yeah, I have loving parents and all that, and it was going to happen exactly as you said. Ivy League Colleges. A degree in business.' Her voice softened. 'Then Mom and Dad died in a car crash. And that's when I found out I was adopted. Been trying to figure out who my real parents are. I'm living off on my allowance from my inheritance, so I get by. But I've always wondered if they'd ever...' her voice trailed off.

Pierce sighed, and leaned forward, one hand on Elsa's arm. 'I bet they have,' she said quietly, finishing the sentence as she sent waves of comfort to Elsa, who visibly relaxed after a while. When she figured time enough had passed, she got up and headed for the door. Elsa's voice held her back with a question. 'How were your parents like?'

Pierce turned away. 'They don't deserve to be mentioned.' She gave a dry laugh as she looked back. 'Sounded bitter, didn't it?'

Elsa shrugged. 'I guess. What did they do to you that made you hate them so much?'

There was silence for a while, before Pierce spoke again. 'You know what your problem is, Elsa? You're too trusting. You're apt to like people in general, but sometimes they just turn around and betray you in a split second.'

Elsa's eyebrows raised. 'Is that why you're so cynical? You were betrayed once, weren't you? As for me, I'm a nice person. I don't like hating other people because of something wrong they did to me. I'm not spiteful. All I can do is erase the memory of whatever they did and let bygones be bygones.'

'Really?' An amused smirk played at Pierce's lips as she turned around and glanced at Elsa. It was the first time she'd noticed that Pierce's eyes were blue. 'Even to those low-life scum who made your life miserable?'

'Yes,' Elsa replied firmly. 'Even to them. I know, you're thinking that there is no true justice in the world right now, and I agree. I'm just not that vindictive.'

'Well, I am,' Pierce countered back coolly. 'I get even. I get my revenge. And if it were up to me, I'd make sure that each and everyone of them die a painful death. But that's just me. Little word of advice. Don't let anyone in too easily. It's a good way to get yourself killed.'

Elsa swung around. 'Not even friends?'

'Especially not friends,' Pierce said. 'Your most dangerous enemies are the friends you've double-crossed. They'll always come back to bite you in the behind.'

She left the gym without another word, leaving Elsa behind, wrapped in her thoughts.

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