Chapter Seven

Saturday, December, 12th, 2015

Sasha put the memory of the little girl out of her mind. Her captive’s cries were growing loud and would soon garner the attention of the others around the motel. She would need to face him again eventually, anyway.

She shoved her cell phone into the waistband of her pants and made a note to change soon. Her clothes were still stained with his blood. There was no wonder why the little girl stared at her.

Garrett’s screaming only got louder as the door opened.

“Quiet!” Sasha snapped.

“Let me out. Please,” he moaned.

Her axe lay on the floor of the bedroom. She took it with her on her way to the bathroom, turning off lights as she went. If he was not going to give her anything of value tonight, she would ask again in the morning. For now, she just wanted the quiet.

“I won’t leave. Just please, let me out.”

“Shut up.”

He had not moved, but the water was still climbing up and over the edge of the tub, spilling over the floor and the photo she had left there. Sasha did not know why, but she picked it up and hid it away with her cell phone. If anything, she would need it to show her father if he ever answered her calls. She turned off the faucet, glad for once that she lived on the first floor. No one would notice the puddle seeping through the floor.

“Please, Poppy, please—”

Sasha. You will call me, Sasha, or I will drown you,” she muttered, bored. She propped up the axe against the wall and sat amongst the flood, leaning heavily beside her newest favorite toy. Her whole body still felt the force of her fatigue and the break in her ribs.

“I’m sorry for hurting you, but I just want to talk—”

“I want to sleep. You do not have to sleep, but you need to keep your mouth shut.”

She should not sleep while housing a captive, but she knew her battered body would never allow her staying up again. And, as far as she was concerned, he looked pretty helpless to her.

“Don’t leave me here.”

Sasha rolled her eyes, crawling back to her feet. There was duct tape in the nightstand. She had not made much use of it recently, she would not bring anyone back to this place, but it seemed like her best bet. She ripped off a piece and stuck it over his mouth, then followed it up with another for good measure. He did not protest. She assumed the memory of his face in the water was too fresh.

Garrett was clearly not human, but his flesh was still turning blue from the cold. The water had climbed to his shoulders, submerging most of his body and the rod sheathed in it.  “Goodnight, Mr. Daniels.”

She left the lights on, keeping a good view of him. One of her hands absentmindedly curled around the handle of her axe. He watched her, silently pleading with her. Sasha did not care. She let her eyes slide shut.

A knock at the door jarred her back to reality.

Garrett jumped, splashing the floor with another wave of bathwater. “Who…?” she whispered. It had to be five in the morning, who could possibly be at the door? Sasha debated leaving whoever it was out there, but that risked the authorities being called if someone had heard Garrett screaming and wanted to be a hero. She needed to diffuse the situation, if that was the case.

She needed to get up.

Sasha dragged the axe with her toward the door, ignoring the muffled protests erupting from Garrett. “Shh,” she whispered. “Be a good boy.” As she passed it, she lifted her scarf off the nightstand and wrapped it around her head, masking her face.

People did not often question her about the red scarf she wore to reveal only her eyes. In this disguise, she made people uncomfortable. They assumed her head wrap was meant to stand as a religious symbol.

She kept low, despite the curtains covering the windows. Her steps were silent. The only sound in the room was the metallic ring from the axe dragging against the carpet. She straightened up to look through the peephole in the door. The whole wall seemed to shake as the visitor pounded his fist against the outside.

Sasha’s eye met the brim of a blue cap first. A stern face followed and a golden, embroidered badge. His eyes were masked by a pair of sunglasses. Crap. It seemed avoiding the authorities would be impossible. “How can I help you?” she asked.

“Ma’am, open the door,” the officer ordered, knocking again.

Great. That was just great. Sasha hid the axe behind the door before she opened it. “Of course, officer. What can I do for you?”

His body was rigid as he looked her up, then down, then up again. She smiled politely, stifling her desire to kick him into the parking lot.

“How can I help you?” she demanded.

“We’ve been getting calls about screaming coming from this room. Mind if I look around?”

It was no skin off her back if she had to kill the cop and bury him outside of town. It would not be the first time. Her exhaustion just made it increasingly inconvenient. As of his last remark, it would be necessary. She plastered a fake smile on her face and nodded.

“Of course. Please, come in.” She stepped aside for him and he strode in, hand poised over his gun. “I am sure violence would be unnecessary.”

“I’ll be the judge of that, ma’am,” he said. His head bobbed in each direction before it finally landed on the edge of the carpet where the bathroom’s flood had soaked in. “Problems with the plumbing?”

“Yes, it is rather terrible that they do not keep this place up to code. Perhaps, you could get in touch with them for me,” she said, flashing him a bright smile.

He did not seem to be moved by her tricks. The corner of his lip quirked upward. “Yeah. Sure.”

The cop dropped to his knees to look under the bed. There was nothing there. “Is there something in particular that you are looking for?”

He said nothing. Sasha did not allow her eyes to stray towards the bathroom. Garrett was being perfectly quiet, but she did not understand why. Anyone with sense, and no knowledge of her, should have been screaming their head off since ‘help’ stood no further than twelve feet away. Sasha was not going to complain about it, but she wondered if she might have covered him a little too well with that tape. Had he suffocated?

“If that is all, officer, I would like to get back to sleep.”

“It isn’t,” he snapped.

Sasha’s eyes narrowed. As the cop looked toward the bathroom and approached it with measured steps, she began to appraise him further. Why would anyone, even a cop, wear a pair of sunglasses at five a.m.? She placed a hand on his shoulder, halting him. “It is not a pretty sight, officer.”

He shrugged her off. “Stay back, ma’am.”

He strode through the open door, drawing his weapon, and stopped short at the sight in the bathtub. Sasha smiled, counting down the seconds before the cop would turn the gun on her. She stepped toward him. “Is something the matter, officer?”

The officer turned on her, gun outstretched. She braced herself against the doorframe and lifted herself off the floor, kicking the gun out of his hand. The weapon, and his sunglasses, flew across the room and fell into the tub, startling Garrett, who spouted muffled pleas to be released. The cop’s head snapped in the opposite direction when she struck it with her foot. When he finally looked back, she was immediately stunned by his glowing amber eyes.

He did not appear to be as surprised by her assault as she expected. Without a word, he struck her throat with the curled hook that was his fingers. Sasha fell momentarily to her knees, clutching her neck with both hands. Garrett floundered in the tub, splashing more water onto the floor. As the officer gripped her arm, forcing her into the wall, she watched him lift himself out of the tub and grab for the rod impaling his abdomen. She coughed for breath and reared her head back into her captor’s nose.

The officer crumpled. Sasha turned, struggling to retrieve her breath around the break in her ribs, and battered him with the toe of her shoe. He grabbed at her ankle, yanking her down onto the hard tiles. Sasha’s mouth struck the floor and she immediately tasted blood. Her head spun.

“Sasha!” Garrett cried.

Sasha managed to roll her eyes. He had remembered her name, what a shock. It took a moment for the thought to strike her: where was the tape?

The cop landed a hard kick to her side, but that was all she felt. There was a cry and the loud thump of a body hitting the wall. Sasha sat up. “What have you done?”

Garrett held the cop up against the wall by his throat. The shower rod and the tape were long gone. He looked back at her with confusion etched across his face. “I saved you. What does it look like I’m doing?”

Sasha could feel her face flame red. She did not need saving. She was not some damsel in distress.

She threw herself to her feet. “How did you get out?”

The cop kicked at Garrett, but his strikes were useless. “Does it really matter? I needed to help!”

She reached for the man in his grasp, but Garrett held her back with one hand. Through her teeth, she spat, “I would have had it in a moment.”

Garrett acted as though she had not spoken. He thrust the intruder’s body into the wall once, twice, a third time. The man’s head shook and his eyes squeezed shut. “Release me!”

Sasha hesitated. The words had clearly come from the officer but the voice was distinctly feminine. Garrett seemed to notice as well, because his assault against the officer abruptly ended. He dropped the body to the floor.

As the cop hit the ground, a glow lit the dark room like a bulb, though it emanated from within the man before them. Sasha looked away, trying to regain her sight. She flipped on the light switch.

As quickly as the light came, it ebbed. As it dissolved into the nothing, the officer’s face melted away to reveal something Sasha could not have put words to. The monster’s eyes were a fearsome yellow, its claws covered its face to ward off another attack, and it was looking straight at her as it crawled to its feet.

It was brown, at least she thought it was, and covered in overlapping scales that masked its entire frame, even its bald head. The eyes were slanted and glowing amber, but were set in a pinched face. It looked somewhat human in the way that it stood like a human, on two legs, and it had arms, but its teeth were sharp like a starved dog and its nose was sunken into its face, leaving only nostrils. Holes occupied each side of its head instead of ears, and the hands shielding her were tipped with four long, sharp claws.

The creature she assumed was a she, though her naked body gave nothing away as far as genitalia, kept her head down, obstructing her view of her face and bolted from the room. Garrett ran after her, throwing the room’s door out of the way and off its hinges. Sasha threw herself into motion, taking off after the freaks in her custody as quickly as she could.

Apparently, it was not fast enough, because when she escaped the room, she found an empty parking lot. Garrett and the lizard creature were gone.


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