The Gathering Storm, Part 36

Posted: 1st December 2013 by Jeff Bouley / Deacon Blue in The Gathering Storm series

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The thought of a conflict tonight had already filled Epitaph with mixed emotions, and even more so now that he was hearing the sounds of violence nearby. He was still mulling over what Query had asked of him this afternoon, unsure if he wanted to be the man’s eyes and ears in a new place, but suspecting it was probably for the best. The Guardian Corps would get along fine if he ratcheted down his patrol time with them, and Query would no doubt find someone else to report back to him on the happenings within that organization.

But it was still a lot to think about. He just wasn’t sure his head was in the game tonight.

Or maybe a conflict is just what I need to clear my mind, he thought, shifting gears and dashing toward the Epitaph-facesounds of trouble, the broken tombstone slapping slightly against the torso portion of his short-sleeved gray bodysuit—the top half over his chest and the bottom half over his back, attached by chains and forming a grotesque sort of vest. Yes, I think a good fight with a bad person will clear my mind nicely.

His thoughts were always clear like this, and never muddled by quotes of death or remembrance—at least not until he opened his mouth to voice those thoughts. He wondered if there would ever again be a day like when he was younger, when he could speak out loud without using lines from movies and novels, quotes from philosophers or some other person’s notable words.

At least Query almost always understands what I mean when I talk. If there was no other reason to be the man’s friend, that would be one that made it worth it.

The trouble turned out to be in a nearby parking lot. Mostly out of sight in an empty pair of spaces between a van and an SUV, one man was beating another with a baseball bat. A knife lay on the ground, as did a gun, and the victim—probably the owner of both—looked as much like a street tough as his attacker did.

Gang activity, most likely, or a fight over a woman, drugs or money, Epitaph guessed. Probably no innocent to save tonight, but there’s still no reason to let the guy on the ground get killed.

Epitaph cleared his throat loudly.

The man with the bat stopped, startled, and turned toward him. His eyes were almost glittering in their sharpness and intensity. A bit of spittle hovered at the corner of the man’s mouth. He seemed entirely undaunted by the sight of the transhuman mere yards away, even though it was pretty well known that Epitaph was about as close to bulletproof as a person could be, and even less vulnerable to something like a blunt weapon.

Damn. The guy’s probably hyped up on skeez, Epitaph realized as he took in his appearance and demeanor. He’s in full psychotic mode and isn’t going to have a rational thought in his head.

Apparently, though, the man still had enough clarity to know what he was up against and picked up the gun on the ground.

Probably thinks a point-blank shot at my head will do me in. It could—maybe—or possibly stun me, but we’re not going to get to that point, I hope.

Epitaph held up one hand, index finger extended upward, and shook it slowly back and forth, in rhythm with his shaking head, to dissuade the imminent attack.

“It’s going to make me so happy to be the guy who kills you,” the drug-addled man said in a voice that merged a manic whine with a growl, heedless to the warning. “I’m gonna be so happy to have the rep of being the guy who wasted Epitaph.”

“Nothing is more fatal to happiness than the remembrance of happiness,” Epitaph said.

The man said nothing in response, simply lunging forward, swinging the bat with one hand as the other gripped the pistol, waiting for an opportunity to use a bullet up close—or all of them.

The bat connected with the ubiquitous telekinetic field pushing out from all around Epitaph’s body, and the impact force vibrated down the attacker’s arm, causing the grip to loosen on the bat for a moment, though he didn’t drop it. Epitaph corrected that by grabbing it with his left hand and wresting it from the punk with his genetically enhanced strength. Even as the attacker’s other hand came around with the pistol, Epitaph quickly took hold of the man’s wrist and snapped it easily.

Too easily, in fact, Epitaph observed silently as the gun clattered to the pavement, seeing a wrist bone poking out of the man’s arm. Too much force. The downside of being a Brute is knowing your own strength but not always being able to moderate it well.

“Some men are alive simply because it is against the law to kill them,” Epitaph said, hoping once again to appeal to man’s common sense, if it could be reached beneath the skeez.

But the still-sharp effects of the drug made the man as heedless of his pain and injury—and the warning—as he had been to Epitaph’s earlier attempt to prevent the fight from starting. Depending on when he’d loaded up, he might be this way for just a few more minutes or another 15, Epitaph realized. That was the trap with skeez—they said the high you experienced inside your head was the best you could ever have with any drug, but it lasted only a half hour, give or take. And during that time, as your usual consciousness went deep inside to frolic, the rest of your brain turned sociopathic and took your body for a ride you’d barely remember or not at all, though the memory of the high would haunt and tempt you forever.

He’s going to come after me again, compound fracture in his wrist or not, Epitaph considered. Sometimes they have just enough reason to know when to give up out of self-preservation, even on skeez, but not this one.

So when the man lunged at Epitaph, the costumed hero tossed aside any pretense of finesse. He punch him fast and hard in the face and watched as the man went limp as a ragdoll.

Jesus, I hope I didn’t break his neck. Just like I feared, I’m a little off tonight. Maybe I should pack in the patrolling early.

Epitaph watched for a few moments, and when the unconscious man’s chest rose and fell in a more or less normal rhythm and his neck and one arm twitched a bit from the effects of the skeez, he sighed. Not dead. Not paralyzed. The nose was smashed, though. Maybe a concussion.

“Memory is the mother of all wisdom,” he said to the now-prone attacker, and hoped that was true. Hoped that some part of the skeez-huffer would remember the consequences of having taken the drug and who he’d tried to face off against tonight under its influence. If nothing else, the bone poking through his wrist might inform him of the folly of taking skeez.

Better to go for heroin or meth—at least the chances are lower you’ll kill someone or be killed while under the influence.

Epitaph sent a quick text message to a contact at the nearest police precinct about the unconscious criminal, then hefted the man’s injured victim over one shoulder to carry him to an emergency room just blocks away, leaving the skeez-huffer on the ground.

Remembrance would be good, Epitaph thought as he spared the thug one last glance. Remembrance of how close you might have been to death tonight.

“We all have our time machines. Some take us back—they’re called memories. Some take us forward—they’re called dreams,” Epitaph said out loud, and headed for the nearest hospital, hoping that one or both of these injured men tonight still had dreams left in them.

* * *

Janus calmly and silently surveyed the 23 transhumans standing or sitting before him and his entourage of five women—Crazy Jane, the Fates and Underworld. He smiled broadly, because the mask he wore today, crocodile skin on one side and mink fur on the other, revealed nothing but his mouth and chin. And he so wanted these people to feel welcome.

“If you are here in this warehouse, you are on my metaphorical ‘A-list’,” the crimelord said. “The first thing you need to realize is that we will never meet here again. We will never all meet in the same place again. And we will never have a single, consistent, central location at which to meet.”

“Isn’t the lack of a headquarters going to make us less able to work efficiently and stay in contact?” asked Red Alice, one of the nearly two-dozen assembled members of Janus and Underworld’s fledgling team.

“Oh, there is a headquarters,” Janus told her, his eyes scanning back and forth across the rest of the gathering to make sure he had the attention of all of them. “But none of you will need to know where it is, and Underworld and I will ensure there is always someplace safe for you to gather when you need to.”

Red Alice opened her mouth to speak again, and Janus lifted a finger to his lips in a shushing gesture.

“The second thing you all need to know,” Janus continued, “is that I have also hired—and will hire more in the future—other transhumans who would be decidedly B- or even C-list, metaphorically speaking. They don’t need to be here today because they aren’t as important to me. When you are teamed up with them, you are not to treat them in any way that suggests they are second-stringers. Part of this is for your own survival, as some of the people I have hired are specialists and are every bit your equals or superiors, and some of them may kill you at such an offense. The other reason is because I want even the most inept and expendable people to believe they matter, and if you take away their motivation by letting them know they aren’t every bit as important to me as you all are, I may kill you as both a punishment to you and a lesson to the others. If you think you might represent me in anything other than a professional manner, you would be better to never work for me at all and leave now.”

He paused to let that sink in, and looked from one set of eyes to another, satisfied that no one was yet dissuaded.

“The reason that all of you—my top, key people—are here today is so that you can see first-hand with whom you will be working. So that you can know now who your teammates are and which people you will most regularly be working with. You will all receive modest but significant stipends for being on-call as a member of our team,” he said, glancing toward Underworld to remind them they had two bosses.

“Does this team have a name?” Red Alice queried.

“No, my dear, and I’m not sure it needs one,” Janus said. “But if it gets one, you’ll find out in the company newsletter. Now, you also all will receive additional fees and/or percentages of takes for the jobs that you undertake, which should line your pockets quite nicely and consistently. That said, you are welcome to continue your solo work when you aren’t on our clock if you have the energy or desire to, so long as you don’t interfere with our operations or embarrass us.”

“What would be something that would embarrass you, sir?” Red Alice blurted out.

“Oh, getting caught and saying you work for me. Horning in on someone’s territory for your own gain and saying that you’re doing so under our orders. Bragging to anyone that you’re on our payroll, even though people will figure that out eventually on their own. You get the idea, my dear, I am sure,” Janus said. “Now, all of that said, I have a rather large, special job right now for which I need 13 of you—Alabaster, Red Alice, Laugh Riot, Minotaur, Mindfuck…uh, Sister Penance, Fatal Natal, Lady Ronin, Medusa, Odium, Thanksgiving and, um, oh yes: Menthol and Urban Decay. Those individuals need to stay here; the rest of you go with Crazy Jane to a nearby building where she will finish up the orientation, get you some paperwork to fill out, as well as pay you your first stipend for your time here today. Thank you all.”

He waited as the 13 people he had indicated remained, those who were standing up until now finally sitting, with the exception of Odium, who had been as rigid as a statue the entire time and remained so—and watched as the other 10 filed out with Crazy Jane.

When they were gone, Janus pulled up a chair, sat on it and leaned forward toward the baker’s dozen of villains.

“Now, let’s get real and let’s get honest,” he said to them quietly but clearly. “The A-list isn’t metaphorical; it’s very real. All of you are my A-list. The others you just met are the B-list. They are important, let there be no doubt. But they aren’t the top picks. You are, as are a few others whom you will only meet occasionally or in some cases perhaps never at all: Muerta, Tooth Fairy, Caterwaul, Dr. Blood and Steampunk. Everyone else you work with, unless I tell you otherwise, is C-list. Cannon-fodder. Tools.”

Janus paused and took a deep breath. “However, if any of you tell any of the others they are B-list or C-list, I will kill you personally,” he said, brushing away a piece of lint from his taupe linen suit. “Of that have no doubt. You can revel privately in your privileged status. Which, by the way, will include access to our several safe-houses, which will serve as your homes for at least several days each week. They are very well-appointed, and each has a room specially furnished for you according to your needs and wants. These are where you will bunk when on duty for us. After today, you will never all be together at the same place at the same time.”

“Won’t that be disruptive and confusing to always be moving around like—” Red Alice began, her words cut off as Loveless, chief among The Fates, fired a bullet into her chest at a subtle signal from Janus. Loveless’ shiny black vinyl-clad arm lowered again to her side, the pistol resting against a thigh just as dark and glistening.

Red Alice stumbled backward in her costume that hinted at both Alice of the Wonderland stories and the image of a Goth party-girl. The blood was barely noticeable against the blood-red sheen of her PVC corset, though it became more noticeable as it ran down into her billowy skirt of red, green and white, before virtually disappearing again into her black stockings and heavy black boots.

She kept her footing at first, and her body shrunk to about three-quarters of her normal size as she activated her special Morph power, no doubt hoping the increased density of her body might protect her from further attack. She picked up a large metal pipe nearby with her Brute strength, clearly thinking there was a fight here she might still be able to win. Janus said nothing and did nothing. He knew that Loveless’ aim was true, and after several moments, Red Alice simply toppled to the ground, one of her lungs collapsing and filling with blood. Her breath coming in ragged gasps. The pipe continued to clatter loudly against the cement floor for several seconds.

When finally she was almost quiet and almost dead, Janus spoke again. “I don’t like to be interrupted, certainly not in the frequent fashion young Red Alice has been doing. I also don’t like to have my very basic orders and directives questioned. I appreciate trust, loyalty and discretion. If any of you cannot provide that, you can leave now before another one of you ends up with a bullet for a final souvenir.”

No one stood. No one left. Every single one of the dozen remaining simply turned away from Red Alice and tuned out her final gasps. Janus took note of the body language of Medusa and Alabaster, who seemed to most disturbed by what had happened, Medusa in particular.

No surprise there; they are the two I knew would be most averse to “senseless” violence, but there are plenty of jobs that won’t push their envelopes, Janus thought. At least not too much.

“Good,” Janus said. “Now, as I said, you will have access to many of our facilities in a way that no B-list person will unless he or she rises through the ranks, and which one on the C-list will likely never access. However, as much as I trust you all and have faith in you, none of you will ever know where our central headquarters is located, and if you try to locate it, you will only find your final resting place.”

* * *

When Isabella entered the apartment she shared with her stepsister, Michele was staring at a wall across the room as if in shock.

It was such an unusual look for the Goth woman who dressed as Solstice to fight crime that Isabella was actually a little frightened. Not of her roommate but for her, though she didn’t think she’d ever say such a thing out loud for fear of ruining her bitchy reputation.

She did ease cautiously into the living room, though, and said, slowly and softly, “Michele? You OK? Did I finally push you over the edge stealing another pack of your cigs?” she joked, and knew it came out lamely. That embarrassed her, if only because it might give Michele a hint of how much her stepsister truly cared about her and her well-being.

“Oh,” Michele said absently, brushing her short black hair away from the light golden-toned skin of her face. “Sorry. Didn’t hear you come in.”

“Are…you…OK?” Isabella repeated.

“Yeah. I guess,” Michele answered. “I got a message from Fortunato. Y’know…the billionaire former superhero? He wants to meet with me—as Solstice. Says he has an offer I probably shouldn’t refuse. Seemed very nice about it. But it’s weird.”

“I guess. Sounds different. Don’t freak, Michele.”

“I’m trying not to, Izzie; I really am,” Michele said, and a little tear trickled from one eye. That weirded out Isabella more than anything else so far—she couldn’t remember the last time Michele had cried in front of her to any extent. “But he called our home phone number. I have a secret identity, Izzie. How the fuck does Fortunato even know who I am? And why does he care? So much happening lately; too much. Such heavy-duty shit.”

Isabella decided this probably wasn’t a good time to tell her that Query had been in their apartment recently and probably knew more about her than she thought he did—probably more than Fortunato. That he and Isabella had chatted in detail about Michele. Even pulled a little prank of sorts on her.

In fact, maybe never would be about soon enough to tell her all that.

* * *

“So, I hope you all enjoyed the tour of this safe-house-slash-satellite-facility,” Underworld said to the members of the A-list as they came to a halt near the doors where they had first entered 40 minutes earlier. “This is just one such building, but all of them are very similar. Very nice accommodations and amenities, complete with a chef to make sure you eat well. Of course,” she added, “Janus would have me conducting this part of your orientation, because it’s too ‘girly’ for him, I guess. Rest assured, though, that while I’m not as murder-prone as he is, I won’t hesitate to fuck one of you up if you break our trust or ignore the rules of being on this team.”

“I do hope you appreciate the effort we’ve put into outfitting your rooms and facilities,” Janus interjected. “And, while none of you will ever see the inside of the HQ where Underworld, myself and our closest associates work, you will from time to time be able to access the skills of our staff there, who are mostly norm humans, for things like data gathering, sometimes even for your solo, free-time endeavors.”

“That pretty much brings us to the end of things,” Underworld said, taking charge again. “We’ll be in touch with your schedules, as well as locations of two safe-houses that you will all alternate between at first—this one is more of a backup and model site. We have other safe-houses as well, but they will only be brought into play if one of you is captured. If you are, do not even think of revealing the location of any safe-house. Yes, we will be paranoid enough to put the ones you know about on the ‘don’t use’ list for quite some time and move everyone to other locations for further missions, but if you are captured and one of our safe-houses you knew about is raided, rest assured you will die in custody or in whatever facility you are serving your reduced prison term for revealing our secrets.”

“I certainly don’t want to end up shot like Red Alice, so I don’t want to seem impertinent, but may I ask a couple questions?” Odium said respectfully, though the tone of his voice suggested he did so with great effort.

“Certainly,” Underworld said. “Red Alice was focusing on minutiae and asking questions at the wrong time. She was being disruptive and headstrong rather than smart and assertive. That’s why she’s dead. This is the time for questions.”

“First, while I would like to think I won’t get captured, and while I would like to hope the authorities who might won’t have access to any really good transhuman interrogators, what if we are confronted with someone who has Primal or Psi abilities to soften up our ability to lie or withhold information? I’d certainly hate to die in custody for something I fought hard not to give up.”

“Our eyes and ears are far-reaching, Odium,” Underworld said, though her gaze travelled around the entire group before she spoke again to him directly. “We’ll likely know if they cheat. Such things have actually been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, but you never know. We’ll also try to head off such things happening as well as give you a few tips and tricks to fend off such powers a bit. Now, you saying ‘first’ suggests there’s a part two…”

Odium cleared his throat. “Well, I don’t argue that your safe-houses are way classier than the term would suggest. But I’m willing to bet your main headquarters is even way more plush and well-appointed. Mind telling us why a bunch of norms get access to it but not your A-list? Not that I’m prejudiced or anything, but they aren’t in the same class as we are. We’re the future. Humanity 2.0.”

In an almost perfect mimicry of Odium, Janus cleared his own throat and stepped forward to stand next to Underworld. “I’ll take that one, Underworld,” he said. “The norms I employ, many of them talented tech geeks and high-end scientific specialists, hardly ever get to leave the headquarters unless in small, heavily supervised groups. They are each fitted with several tracking devices, at least one of them buried deep in the body. As this all happens while they’re sedated and we poke them in several places just because, they don’t even know where the devices are, and by the time a medical professional were able to X-ray them to find them, we’d know where to find the wayward employee.”

“Not to mention,” Underworld added, “that some of them have micro-ordinances implanted in their skulls so we can detonate their brains via remote control. They can’t raise families or have outside relationships for the dozen years they are in our service. They barely get outside, and while they have a lot of free dining and entertainment luxuries, they sleep in cramped dorms. If you want to undergo the indignities that go with the perks, you are welcome to bunk at the central headquarters.”

“I’ll pass, thanks,” Odium said. “I got nothing else to ask.”

Several others had minor questions, and Underworld fielded them all, finally sending the transhumans their separate ways some 20 minutes later. Once she and Janus were alone—or as alone as they could be, with The Fates doing their silent, imposing bodyguard routine behind him, she said, “So, Red Alice…”


“You did say I’d understand why you placed her on the A-list soon enough,” Underworld noted.

“I did indeed.”

“For no other reason than to serve as an example of what you’re capable of when you’re displeased. You wasted a human life—a transhuman life that might have been good B-list material if nothing else—to grandstand in front of the new recruits.”

“So what?” Janus challenged her.

“Aside from my usual solidarity with women, at least at a casual level until they prove they don’t deserve it, I think it was excessive and unnecessary. I don’t like murder just for effect, Janus. I’ve made a point of keeping my crimes as death-free as possible and as high-brow as I can.”

“Well, you didn’t kill her,” Janus noted. “I ordered it, and Loveless carried out the act. Your hands are still clean.”

“Not insofar as I am your more-or-less equal associate,” she retorted. “No matter how sociopathic you are, I won’t condone or accept constant slaughter. You were already pushing it with that IT guy you made such a public and fatal example of in the HQ not that long ago. And you killed a couple of your higher-up norm supervisors over the failure to snatch Zoe and the resulting coup of Query finding your team in the woods and the safe-houses there—also questionable. This murder, though, was way over the line.”

“I consider it special circumstances. I assure you this isn’t some casual habit I’m going to indulge often.”

“See that you don’t,” she said flatly, unconcerned whether he would consider it a threat or how he might respond—though with the blind loyalty and protective nature of The Fates, she fully admitted to herself that it made her stomach clench coldly to turn her back on those three usually silent and sometimes deadly women.

Especially Loveless.

* * *

Sarah was nervous as Peter entered her penthouse lair—what had once been the home of Mister Master. The place in which she had been imprisoned and violated over and over. Now the place she called her own home and which Peter had come to share with her roughly half the nights of the week.

She smiled nervously as they chatted about their respective evenings. They had patrolled separately tonight, as she had been too long out of her Ladykiller mode. She had put on that persona tonight, seeking the vengeance on abusive men that she could not mete out to the abuser she had killed to free herself.

I got free of him, but then again I didn’t, she realized. I wanted to hurt him over and over, not just kill him. But I had to go for the kill or I’d still be a prisoner. And now other men who hurt women pay the price for his crimes. He still has a hold on me because of that. I haven’t purged him from my system and I don’t know that I ever fully will. Dressing as Honey Badger and patrolling with Mad Dash is nice, but it cannot sustain me.

Peter told him that his night—much like hers—had been a wash, though his exact words were, “It was a real washing machine for me tonight; I texted a few hero duderinos and it seems like only Epitaph had much to showboat for putting on the tighty-nighties and making justice.”

Now they were not Mad Dash and Ladykiller, though; they were only Sarah and Peter. Neither wanted shop-talk to rule the night.

So she brought out some vegetables and meat to cook with, and they shared the sous chef duties, slicing, dicing and chopping so that she could cook up a chili with some Asian hot peppers as a special treat for the sweet-tempered dork she found herself dating now. They talked about news and gossip they’d seen on Twitter, books they were reading, shows they were following when they weren’t together. They shared tales of fellow costumed crimefighters and vigilantes they’d run into lately, and discussed Sarah’s plan to get a part-time gig helping out with transhuman security—in her Honey Badger mode—for the clinic run by a Regenerator named White Cross.

The calm, pleasant domesticity of it all seemed good for them both. It put Peter at ease, even knowing the long-rotted corpse of Mister Master was sealed up and stored away in a nearby room. It took the edge off her frustration at not having bloodied her metal claws tonight.

When the cooking was done, and the chili devoured—mostly by Peter, who’d burned plenty of calories with high-speed running tonight—she suggested they get to sleep before dawn came.

In her bedroom, she hesitated at what she was about to do, then steeled her resolve.

“Pete?” she began with a tremor in her voice. “Take off your clothes and get into bed. Um, just don’t get your hopes up too much—or anything else if possible.”

When he was under the covers, she turned off the lights and stripped down to her bare skin in the dark.

“Are you all righty-oh?” he asked.

“Yeah. But the lights stay off. No peeking, Pete. Please.”

She slid beneath the covers with him, and pressed her body up against his back, wrapping her arms around his chest. She almost balked—almost jumped out of the bed, but fought down the clenching in her stomach.

If I don’t do this, she thought, if I don’t move forward, Mister Master really will have won. He’ll define my whole life. He’ll be the last man who felt my naked body. And that is intolerable.

She thought Peter would freak. In fact, his nervous shivering renewed her urge to flee. The burn-scarred flesh of her left breast and both her legs had to feel alien to him, with the rest of her skin being smooth. He must be disgusted, she fretted, and then reminded herself he wasn’t pulling away. That he wasn’t tensing up. Reminded herself he was a 23-year-old virgin—and probably a nervous virgin at that.

“This is nice,” he said softly, and she finally sighed, realizing she’d been holding her breath in fear all this time.

“Are you sure?” she asked hesitantly. “I can put—”

“No,” he said. “It’s good. I like being held. Do I get to be the head spoon at some tip?”

The word tip made her clench again, and then she realized it was just his often-muddled wording, meaning point, and not some reference to his penis.

“Maybe,” she said. “Can we just stay like this, though? It’s nice to be the one—the one who’s doing whatever we’re doing. Or not. In charge, I guess.”

He chuckled softly. “Sure.”

She couldn’t bear for him to see her yet—to see her burn scars and shrapnel scars. But his growing comfort and ease emboldened her. She reached her unmarred right hand down and felt for him. He was hard, but he hadn’t tried to do anything with his tool. He wouldn’t. His restraint made her almost weep, and it made her want to give herself to him.

But it’s too soon for—too soon for that.

She stroked him slowly. “Pete, would it be OK if I played with you? I mean, I can—”

“A handwork?” he asked nervously.

She laughed. “Handjob, you silly boy. Well, at least you’re way easier to understand than Epitaph. Yeah. That. I may have another kind of ‘job’ in me tonight for you, too, later. Maybe we won’t be asleep by sunrise. But the lights stay off, Peter Nguyen.”


“And I want to get back the same that I give you,” she added, her lips gently kissing behind one of his ears, his unruly hair smelling of sweat just a little—a hint of apple-scented shampoo there as well. Smelling nice. “Mouth and fingers only, though.”

“Way OK,” he said, moaning as her stroking became quicker and more firm. “I think I can handle that. I’m no casserole, but I made it to second base-camp and partway onto third a few times in high-up school.”

Take that, Mister Master, Sarah thought savagely, even as she felt warm feelings toward the man in her bed, her rage never far away but backed into a corner for now. You don’t own me anymore.

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Image of Epitaph’s face adapted from a photo by David Goehring (original image at Flickr here) under Creative Commons license to “share” and/or “remix” the work as long as credit is given to artist and it is acknowledged that the artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my own work nor has any direct involvement in its use here.