Part 2 – Vigilante
Eleven Months Before Impact Day
On my next night out ‘on patrol’, as I liked to think of it, I was a little better prepared. I’d strapped my old karate padding on underneath my clothes, and left Sadie at home. I hadn’t figured out a way to improve my visibility without revealing my face, so I still had the ski mask, but I had brought along some rope. All I needed to do was figure out how to tie a person up without first breaking any of their limbs.
Alright, so it wasn’t exactly a drastic improvement, but I didn’t really have a lot of resources at my disposal. Oh, to be a billionaire playboy, or whatever the feminine equivalent of that was. A slutty heiress? Yay for gender equality. Feminism truly is over.
I decided to go in a different direction to the previous night, mostly because I felt like a change of scenery. I told myself it was also to avoid becoming predictable, but I hadn’t been out enough for it to make a difference. Nobody was paying any attention to what I did. Yet.
It was nice just being out in the fresh air, alone and free to think in relative peace. It was a lot harder to be introspective around other people, especially when you didn’t want them to think there was anything bothering you. Liz and Aidan lately seemed to notice every minor facial expression I made, which was more than a little aggravating.
Funnily enough, I hadn’t really given a lot more thought to my newly discovered immortality. I mean, it wasn’t that I didn’t have questions, like why I was like this, or how it happened, or what I even was. It was more that I didn’t have any way of answering those questions, and there didn’t seem to be much point in keeping myself up worrying about it.
I had tried to go back through my medical history, but all I managed to figure out was that my family was perfectly normal, and I’d never been sick a day in my life. So I could probably assume that whatever was different about me, it had always been that way, and it probably wasn’t genetic. Then again, that last part probably should have been obvious, given that the entirety of my immediate family was deceased.
Day to day, I didn’t feel any different to anyone else. At least, I didn’t think I did. I couldn’t know for sure what a normal, mortal person felt like, but nothing I’d ever read or watched led me to believe there was anything different about my human experience. It seemed entirely possible that, were it not for the accident, or my attempted suicide, I would never have found out that I couldn’t die. Though, that did raise some other questions. Like, if I couldn’t die, did that mean I wouldn’t die from old age? Did that mean that I wouldn’t age, or that I’d just keep ageing without dying? Would I end up as a giant head in a jar?
If I was going to stop ageing, when would that happen? At eighteen? Thirty? Fifty? What were the rules for this sort of thing?
So, yeah, a whole lot of questions I had no way of answering, and plenty of other things to keep me distracted. Mostly, I spent a lot of time thinking about Rachel.
The fact that Rachel was a girl barely registered in my mind. It didn’t feel like a relevant factor, or rather, I didn’t think I would feel any differently about it one way or another. What that said about me, I wasn’t sure. To be honest, I didn’t really care.
What I was struggling with was whether my feelings for her were romantic, or just strong friendship. I’d never really pictured myself as the dating type, and I didn’t know if my reservations were coming from that, or if it was just that I wasn’t interested in her in that way. Truth be told, I didn’t even really know what dating her would be like.
The relationship we’d had for five years had been great for both of us. We both seemed to get exactly what we wanted, and we didn’t have to worry about anything changing. Dating, though… Dating definitely meant changes, and I didn’t like not knowing what to expect.
Relationships, at least the romantic kind, end. That’s just the way the world works. Friendships don’t end nearly as often. By that line of thinking, I was a lot more likely to lose her as a partner than if we just stayed friends. On the other hand, now that our feelings were out in the open, maybe staying as just friends would actually be more of a strain on the relationship.
I tried to picture myself dating somebody else, but it didn’t really mean anything to me. I just inserted a blank slate into my imagination, and it didn’t tell me anything. Then I tried to picture her dating someone else, and I didn’t really mind that, either. I thought about her keeping secrets from me, or brushing me off to spend time with someone else, and I didn’t like that, but that wasn’t the same thing.
My head just kept going around in circles, asking myself the same questions and not having any solid answers. All I knew was that I didn’t know what I wanted, and I really wished that I did. There wasn’t even anyone I could talk to about it, because I knew there was no way Aidan or Liz would be able to help. It was just a little outside of their wheelhouses. Sadie already didn’t like Rachel, and I doubted telling her about any of the recent developments would change that. Mark was, well, not exactly a good listener, not unless he thought he could get a story out of it. I didn’t really have a lot of other people in my life. Not that I trusted to that extent, anyway.
Maybe punching someone would help, I told myself, as I rounded the corner to see a couple of well-dressed thugs stepping out of a fancy car, and walking up to the front door of a nearby house. They definitely looked like they were up to no good. I crouched in the bushes, watching them.
“This the place?” one of them asked, looking around suspiciously.
“The address is right,” the other confirmed. “But remember, we ain’t supposed to hurt nobody. Just break a few things, get the fear going, alright?”
“Fuckin’, I know, right?” the first one retorted, clearly annoyed.
They rung the doorbell and waited. Nearly a minute later, a bleary-eyed, middle-aged man opened the door. He stopped in his tracks when he saw the two thugs, and tried to shut the door again, but they muscled their way past him, then slammed the door shut behind them.
I thought about sneaking in and helping the guy, but reminded myself it would probably cause more harm than good. They seemed like some kind of gang enforcers, and if they didn’t finish the job they were sent for, it would only make it worse in the long run. Waiting outside was hard, though.
While I waited, I amused myself by letting the air out of one of their tyres. There was actually a method to my madness, but it was also just surprisingly satisfying. I snuck back into the bushes, and went back to waiting.
The two men didn’t come out again for more than half an hour, and when the front door finally opened, my legs were starting to feel cramped. They got into their car and started to drive off, but didn’t get far before they realised one of their tyres was flat.
I followed in the shadows until they pulled over, just around the next corner. One of them got out, locating the flat tyre and cursing. Time for me to see what I could do.
I snuck up on the guy as he stood in front of the tyre with his back to me, and kicked him in the back of the knee, causing him to drop down. As soon as his knees hit the ground, I grabbed the back of his head, slamming it into the side of the car, stunning him long enough to thread one of his wrists through the loop I’d already prepared in the rope I’d brought with me. I yanked his arm sideways, towards the other one, and grabbed the free wrist. He twitched and tried to pull away, but I was just fast enough to get the other wrist through the loop. All I had to do was pull the loop tight, effectively handcuffing him, which would hopefully give me enough time to-
My ears were filled with the loudest, most terrifying bang I had ever heard in my life. In the same moment, an incredibly brutal wave of force crashed into me knocking me over sideways. My head collided with the pavement, and my body was too stunned to react.
As the shock wore off and the pain began to spread, I realised that I’d been shot. My entire chest ached like it never had before, and I could barely breathe. Where did this fucker get a gun?
I saw the hulking figure of the other man looming over me, gun pointed down at my face.
“Stupid little shit,” he said, and I winced, bracing for another bullet.
“Idiot, just untie me, would you? Half the bloody neighbourhood hear that. We need to get out of here.”
And then the silhouette above me was gone. Not long after that, I heard the car race off. I coughed, and blood splattered out in front of me. I lay there for what felt like forever, shivering and dry-heaving until eventually, I heard a voice.
“Somebody’s been shot!” they cried, and I panicked. “Call an ambulance!”
With a desperate effort, I pulled myself up to my feet, staggering sideways. There were cracks everywhere, the impossible cracks, and I could barely see what was happening around me, but I needed to get away. I couldn’t let myself be found there, not by paramedics or police or anyone else.
“Whoa, take it easy, kid,” someone said. I couldn’t tell if it was the same person or not. It didn’t matter. I started running, ignoring the burning pain in my chest, and the way my limbs all felt like they weight one hundred times more than usual. I wan until I was sure nobody was following me, and then I collapsed.
I don’t know how long I laid there for, barely able to move. After a while, the pain had faded to a manageable amount, and I realised I could probably get up, if I needed to. It was a while longer after that before I actually did.
Sadie was waiting up for me when I crawled back in through the window, though thankfully she was the only one. She took one look at the bloody mess that was my clothing, and just ran up to me and hugged me.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” I told her, irrationally worried she would get blood on her.
“What happened?” she asked, looking mortified.
“I got shot.”
“What?” she cried out, practically shouting.
“C’mon, I’m fine. Now, at least. Hurt like Hell, though. I do not want to do that again.”
“Does that mean you’re going to stop doing this?” she asked hopefully.
“It means I need a bulletproof vest or something,” I told her.
She pushed away from me with a huffing sound, and I laughed. Despite the way things had gone, I felt good about the night. Somehow, it felt like I was a little closer to figuring it out.
Next Week: You Know Me So Well