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Month: July 2017

Chapter 39 – This Is Beyond Ridiculous

Six Months Before Impact Day

“You really think this is gonna stop us?” I asked, spitting out blood.

“Us?” the man in the suit inquired, wiping blood off his knuckles.

“What, you really thought I was working alone?” I laugh in his face. “Dude, you have no idea what you’re dealing with.”

“I will, soon enough,” he said, pulling out a pair of bolt cutters.

“Very threatening,” I said dryly. “Do you ever get tired of being a walking cliché?”

“At least I can walk,” he shot back. “If you don’t answer my questions, you may never walk again.”

That probably would have been threatening if there was any actual risk. Still, I wasn’t ready to reveal my immortality to them just yet. That came at a later stage of the plan.

“Walking is overrated,” I said. “Are you always so easily goaded? Maybe you should find someone with more chill to handle the interrogation.”

“You think you’re funny, don’t you?”

“I always wanted to be that guy who sassed his interrogators,” I told him. “You know, so he seems cool and in control? And the villains get nervous ‘cause they think he has something up his sleeve, so they slip up and that’s what lets him escape.”

“I’ll be sure not to take anything you say seriously, then.”

“There’s one thing you should take seriously,” I said. “There’s a tracking chip embedded in my collarbone. My backup is already on the way.”

“You’re stalling,” he said.

“Well, I’m not exactly in a hurry to have my fingers and toes snipped off, I’ll admit,” I said. “But I wasn’t lying.”

“Well, now we’ll be ready for them.”

“Oh, I doubt that,” I said. “But anyway, you haven’t even asked me any questions yet, so if I am stalling, it must be working.”

“Are you trying to coach me through this interrogation?” he asked, incredulous.

“Well, you’re not doing a very good job,” I told him. “And we’re kind of on a timer here.”

“This is beyond ridiculous,” he muttered.

“You’re telling me. Now, come on. Chop chop.” I laughed at my own joke. “I’ll never tell you the location of the rebel base.”

Without warning, he hit me again, a vicious backhand across the face. It split my lip, and I was grateful for the dried blood coating my mouth. It would cover the healing wounds.

“Who are you working with?” he demanded.

“Really? That’s your first question?”

He hit me again, this time with the side of the bolt cutters.

“Who are you working with?”

“Private organisation,” I said. “Try not to hit me in the mouth. If you break my jaw, I won’t be able to talk.”

He responded by thrusting the bolt cutters into my chest, knocking the wind out of me.

“I want a name,” he said.

“We don’t have a name,” I wheezed. “But you can call us the Rebel Alliance.”

“What do you want?”

“Equal rights and a socialist democracy?”

He hit me again, and I felt a rib crack. Arsehole.

“What do you want?”

“I want you and the rest of your shitty gang out of my fucking city,” I said. “Like that wasn’t obvious.”

“Too bad for you,” he snarled. “How many of you are there?”

I winced, pretending to be in more pain than I was actually feeling.

“I work alone.”

This time, he slammed my hand down on the table, holding a finger between the bolt cutters.

“You think I won’t do this?”

“Less than fifty,” I said, faking a waver in my voice. “Mostly cops and army reserves.”

“That’s better,” he said. “And a little pathetic. Where do you meet?”

“At the butcher,” I said, and he just stared, blankly.


“It was a joke,” I said. “You know, meet, meat…”

The bolt cutters pressed against my finger, drawing blood.

“I won’t ask again.”

“There’s a warehouse,” I lied. “Down by the docks. Red roof, grey walls. Can’t miss it.”

“Now you’re getting it,” he said.

“And you’re out of time,” I told him. “Backup’s here.”


Liz dropped down from the ceiling, catching him with a blow to the throat before he could do anything. His fingers clamped up, and so did the bolt cutters, severing my finger.


“Language,” Liz muttered, through the balaclava that covered her face. “Let’s go.”

The two of us made our way towards the exit, but a booming sound stopped us in our tracks. Liz stumbled, and I whirled to see the interrogator holding a gun. I glanced down at Liz.

Just her leg. No stress. It’ll heal.

I raced across the room, taking a glancing bullet to the shoulder. Painful, but nothing I couldn’t deal with. I crashed into the bastard, slamming his head against the wall and wrenching the gun from his hands.

Giving him a kick to the groin for good measure, I rushed over to Liz.

“You okay?”

“I’ll live,” she grunted. “Help me up.”

Carefully, I slung her arm over my shoulder, and together, we hobbled out, disappearing into the night.

That honestly couldn’t have gone better.


Next Week: Fate Can Suck My Dick

Chapter 38 – You Think I Don’t Know What You’re Up To?

Six Months Before Impact Day

“I think we’re just about ready,” I announced.

“Are you absolutely sure you want to go ahead with this?” Liz asked, a worried expression on her face.

“I’m not saying I’m looking forward to it,” I said. “But it’s the only way we’re ever gonna make any progress.”

“So long as everyone does their job, she’ll be perfectly safe,” Rachel said, with a pointed glance in Liz’s direction. Perfect timing.

“That’s easy for you to say,” Liz snapped. “Your job is already done, and you’re not exactly putting yourself on the line.”

“Oh that’s right,” Rachel said, taking the bait, “I forgot the only meaningful contributions come from an actual murderer.”

“I am not a murderer,” Liz said through gritted teeth. “I have never killed a single person in my life.”

“Right, right, sorry,” Rachel said dryly. “You haven’t actually killed anyone, you’ve only profited from murder. But I’m sure you never enjoyed the mansion your parents bought with their blood money, or the fancy clothes, or the five-star restaurants. And hey, they probably killed someone to pay for this apartment too, but I guess we can just ignore that, since they were kind enough to let us use it.”

“There’s a difference between an assassin and a murderer,” Liz said, clearly trying not to shout. “My parents don’t choose who lives and dies. They’re weapons, and if they don’t do it, someone else will.”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night,” Rachel said dismissively. “They’re still contributing to a system where those with money control the lives of those that don’t. Oh, but I’m sure they only kill bad people, right?”


“They don’t choose, you just said so. So who does? Crime lords with more money than my family’s made in eight generations? Businessmen who profit of the labour of the working class? Politicians who represent people who make less than a tenth of what they do?”

Aidan put a hand on Liz’s arm. I could feel the tension from across the room, but didn’t say anything. Rachel was pressing all of Liz’s buttons perfectly.

Just like I’d told her to.

“Let’s not punish Liz for the actions of her parents,” Aidan said carefully. “Regardless of whether or not you agree with them, Liz is her own person, who makes her own choices, and she’s helping us.”

“Oh, she just has you wrapped around her little finger, doesn’t she?” Rachel said, a vicious glint in her eye. She might be enjoying this too much…

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Aidan demanded.

“Dude, she’s not into you,” Rachel said. “She’s leading you on, because she’s in love with Charlie, and she hates me because Charlie chose me.”

“How dare you,” Liz snapped, going very, very still.

Please don’t try to kill Rachel, I begged silently.

“Am I wrong?” Rachel goaded.

“It doesn’t matter,” Aidan insisted. “We’re here because we all want to help Charlie.”

“Right, like you don’t have anything to gain from this,” Rachel said threateningly.

“I don’t follow,” Aidan said, but there was a shift in him. He was cautious now, wary.

“You think I don’t know what you’re up to?” she asked. “You think I don’t know about your Stars?”

“It’s just an information network—”

“Sure, sure. And the half-million dollars you’ve made in the past month, that’s all to help Charlie?”

Liz looked at him, stunned. I followed suit, even though I already knew about it.

“Aidan, is that true?” I asked, hoping it didn’t sound too rehearsed.

“It’s not as bad as she makes it sound,” he said quickly. “I’ve been buying and selling information between high-profile gang members. It’s not like that’s a profit, I’m using it for you.”


“How do you think I’ve gotten all the names and locations I have?” he asked, with just an edge of desperation.

“So you’re not planning on just taking over with a gang of your own?” Rachel asked, and Aidan visibly flinched. It was a perfect hit, not just because of the tension, but because the guilt would delay him doing exactly that.

He’s so clever, and yet so easily to manipulate. He’ll be a lot harder to manage when I can’t keep a close eye on him.

“Why would I want that?” he asked.

“Why are you looking for a fight?” Liz demanded. Finally.

“Because unlike you, I actually care about Charlie,” Rachel said. “And I don’t trust either of you.”

“Can you stop acting like you’re better than us?” Liz snapped, inching closer and closer to her breaking point.

“Can you stop believing you’re better than me?” Rachel said. “I get it, you’re rich, you go to a private school, you could kill someone with a single touch but you’re too good to do it. Take your moral superiority and shove it up your arse, Liz.”

“You’re such a petty bitch,” Liz growled. “You wanna be jealous, fine. Be jealous. But take your issues somewhere else, because we have a job to do, and if you have a problem with me, you can just… fuck off!”

I think that was the first time I ever heard Liz swear. It was a little scary, but mostly funny, and I had to try really hard not to laugh.

I kept a straight face as Rachel slammed her fists down on the table, rising with a furious energy.

“Fine. You win.”

“Wait, what?” I asked, right on cue.

“I’m leaving,” Rachel said. “I’m sorry.”

“You can’t!” I pleaded, glancing back at Liz and Aidan.

“It’s like Liz said, my job is done,” Rachel said. “You don’t need me anymore, and I’m clearly not wanted here. So I’m gonna go.”

“Rachel, I can’t do this without you!” I cried, grabbing her arm.

“Yes, you can,” she said. “Just try not to let these idiots talk you into something stupid.”

Before I could stop her, she stormed out of the building, leaving Aidan and Liz flabbergasted. After several minutes of silence, I glared at them.

“Are you happy now?”

“That was her fault,” Liz said.

“Do you guys not get how important she is to me?” I asked. “Could you not have even made an effort?”

“Charlie, we’ve been making an effort,” Aidan said. “For months now.”

“She was the one who had a problem with us,” Liz added. “We know you love her, but surely you have to see that.”

“Fine,” I said. “It’s done now, anyway.”

“You’re not gonna go after her?” Aidan asked.

“No. She clearly doesn’t want me to, and like she said, we have work to do.”

“Let’s get to work, then,” Liz said.


Next Week: This Is Beyond Ridiculous

Chapter 37 – I’m Not Okay

Seven Months Before Impact Day

“Can I talk to you?” Sadie asked, fidgeting nervously.

“Of course you can,” I said, putting my book down.

It was nearly four in the morning, and I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d slept. My body seemed to have given up on it entirely.

“I… wanted to apologise,” Sadie said. “For everything I’ve said.”

“What brought this on?”

“I don’t know,” she confessed. “A bad feeling, I guess. If something happened to you…”

“Nothing’s gonna happen to me,” I said. “You know I’ll be fine.”

“So you keep saying. Just humour me, okay?”

“Alright, I’m listening. I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry I gave you a hard time about Rachel,” she said. “That was really douchey of me. I think I was just jealous, because you had someone else to, you know.”

She looked so forlorn. I reached out, placing a hand on hers.

“You know you’re always gonna be important to me, don’t you? You’re the only family I have.”

“That’s why I’m so worried about all this vigilante stuff,” she said. “I know I keep saying this, but I can’t get the idea out of my head. What if they take you and lock you up somewhere?”

“Then at least I’ll have you,” I told her. “And besides, whatever they do to me, Rachel will find me.”

“Why can’t you take anything seriously?”

I sighed, closing my eyes and leaning back.

“Because everything about this is ridiculous,” I told her. “I’m living in a goddamned comic book, Sadie. My sister’s a ghost, I’m immortal, our city is more full of gang crime than Gotham. My best friends are an assassin and… I don’t even know what Aidan is. My girlfriend is a genius, and everywhere I look, I see cracks.”


I couldn’t help but to laugh.

“I don’t know what’s going on, Sadie. Everywhere I look, it’s like the world is falling apart. There are cracks everywhere, cracks in impossible places, and I’d swear I was losing my mind if not for everything else that was going on.”

I’d never actually said that out loud before. It felt surprisingly cathartic.

“I don’t understand you,” Sadie said. “You act like all of this is so unbelievable, so extraordinary, but this is the world we live in. You’re the only one who finds it strange.”

She had a point, though I hated to admit it. People were surprised, sure, but nobody seemed to be filled with the same sense of the impossible as me. Nobody else acted like there was something wrong with the world.

“I don’t understand why everyone else just rolls with it,” I said. “It just seems so obviously… Well, whatever.”

“This is what I’m talking about,” Sadie complained. “You can’t take anything seriously.”

“You think I’m not taking this all seriously? Sadie, half a year ago, I tried to kill myself. You think I’ve forgotten that?”

“You think I have?”

“I’m so terrified I’ll end up back in that place, Sadie. I feel like I can’t ever stop, because if I do, I’ll fall apart.”


“I’m not okay, Sadie. I’m not suddenly over every negative thought that’s been poisoning my brain. I just have enough distractions that I can push them away, at least for now.” I laughed darkly. “Besides, it’s a little hard to be suicidal when you can’t die.”

“That’s not funny,” Sadie scolded me.

“Who cares? My whole goddamned life is a joke, and it isn’t worth shit. Don’t you get it?”

“I think you’re actually losing your mind, Charlie. You need help.”

“And who’s gonna help me, Sadie?” I asked, suddenly annoyed. “You think this is the kind of shit a psychiatrist is equipped to handle?”

“Yes!” she cried.

“Well, thanks for your professional opinion,” I snipped. “And thanks for the heart-to-heart. Really.”

“Charlie, I…”

“Let me put things this way,” I said, trying to control my temper. “If I’m right, and there’s something wrong with the world, I’m doing the only thing it’s possible for me to do.”

“And if you’re wrong?”

“Then I’m already doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” I said with a sigh. “And I don’t know which of those options is worse.”


Next Week: You Think I Don’t Know What You’re Up To?

Chapter 36 – I’m Going To Break You

One Month Before Impact Day

“You’re being frustratingly vague with some very key details,” he said, clearly running low on patience.

“The pieces are all there,” I told him smugly. “You could figure it out if you were clever enough.”

“Don’t push me, girl.”

“Do you not understand how a good story works? I’m trying to make this interesting for you, y’know. Weave a narrative, establish compelling characters, spice it up with a little mystery—”

He slammed his fist on the table, startling me. He was starting to look a little unhinged, and it worried me a little. What was getting to him so much?

“I don’t want a story,” he practically snarled. “I want answers. I want to know what you are, and why you tried to destroy me. I want to know how to find your friends, so I can shut them down. I want to know who and what Wendy is.”

I leaned back in the uncomfortable metal chair, forcing myself to breathe slowly.

“Fine,” I said. “I can’t tell you what I am, because I don’t know. I tried to destroy you because you’re poisoning my city, and I have a sense of justice. You don’t need to find my friends, because sooner or later, they’ll find you. And Wendy, well…” Another deep breath. “I’m getting there, okay?”

“Your story doesn’t even make sense,” he said, calming down. “You said you got an anonymous email with video footage of her being a superhuman, confronted her, and she wouldn’t help you. How? Why?”

“It wasn’t anonymous,” I reminded him. “I just don’t know who Alice Mason is.”

“It sounds like a red herring to me,” he said. “Even you didn’t see any evidence of her superpowers. Someone could have sent you edited footage.”

“Ugh, what is the point of following a story if you’re going to pick apart every little detail?” I complained. “Just enjoy the ride and hope it gets to the point eventually.”

“What do you think this is?” he asked, glaring at me from across the table. “Story time with Charlotte Farrow? You think I’m here because I care about your story?”

“You’re telling me you’re not even a little interested?”

“I’m telling you I’ve wasted five months on you, and you’ve given me nothing useful. My patience has officially run out.”

“Alright, alright, I get it,” I said, shaking my head. “I’ll admit, I’ve been dragging things out longer than necessary. I really wasn’t expecting to be here this long.”

“You’re going to be here for the rest of your life, bitch.”

“Whoa, whoa, alright, alright. No need to get nasty.”

“I’m going to break you,” he said, his voice low. “I’m going to shatter your tiny world, scrape up the pieces, and shatter them again.”

“I guess it wouldn’t be a story about immortality without the obligatory endless torture.”

“Keep joking. See where it gets you.”

“You’re losing it,” I said, meeting his eye, daring him to challenge me. “You’re unravelling because it’s taken you five months and you still haven’t managed to figure out what’s really going on. You have no idea what my plan is, but you know I have one, and even if you won’t admit it, you’re scared. You’re scared because I’m not, because I’m exactly where I want to be, and you know that whatever comes next, I’m going to come out on top. And it’s all going to be worth it.”

“What could be worth this?” he asked, gesturing around him. “What could possibly be worth everything I’ve done to you? What are you hiding from me?”

“That’s the question, isn’t it?” I asked. “That’s why you keep coming back, why you keep listening to me talk about high school romance and tussles with street thugs.”

“I underestimated you,” he conceded, pressing his fists into his temples. “I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. I’ve been treating you like a scared teenage girl, feigning bravery, assuming you’d give up eventually.”

“I did tell you that’s not who I am.”

“No, you’re not,” he said. “You’re as cold and hard as any of us. You’re a soldier, a fighter, a survivor.”


He grinned at me, and for the first time in a long time, I felt a chill run down my spine.

“I think it’s time I stopped taking it easy on you,” he said.


Next Week: I’m Not Okay

Chapter 35 – Everything’s Gonna Work Out Just Fine

Seven Months Before Impact Day

“You know, I’m happy to have some alone time with you, but this isn’t really how I imagined spending it,” I said, glancing nervously at the array of tools Rachel had assembled.

“I dunno, I’m kind of looking forward to it,” she said, grinning.

“What if something actually works?” I asked, realising I hadn’t even considered the concept of my own mortality for months. “What if you actually manage to kill me?”

“Charlie,” she said, holding my hand and staring into my eyes. “I absolutely guarantee nothing I do will kill you.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I dunno,” she said, grinning. “But I am.”

For some reason, that was enough for me. If Rachel was sure about something, that basically made it a fact.

“Alright,” I said, sighing. “Let’s find out just how much I can survive.”

For two days, Rachel set about testing the limits of my immortality. She cut me open, shot me, electrocuted me, crushed me, blew me up…

Every second of it was excruciating. No matter how many times I died, it never got any less painful. My body healed, but the pain stuck with me.

Incredibly, it seemed like not even complete obliteration kept me out. There was always something left, always enough for the rest of me to piece itself together from. Rachel noted everything down, keeping detailed logs, all while piecing together a mental picture that seemed unfathomable even to me.

“So, doc, what’s the diagnosis?” I joked, stretching out after being blown up from the inside. Rachel raised her eyebrows.

“You really wanna know?”

“Wait, you actually have an answer?”

“Kind of,” she said. “Imagine it like this. For most people, the body is like a… a container, for the soul. You break the container too much, the soul escapes, and the person is dead. After that, I have no idea what happens.”

“So we’re just like, straight-up confirming that people have souls, then?”

“Yep. Every last one of us.”

“Even me?”

“Even you,” she said. “Only with you, it’s kind of the other way around.”

“My soul contains my body?”

“No, but your body isn’t there to contain it. Your soul is like… a permanent fixture, y’know. Even without a container, it’s not going anywhere. For whatever reason, it likes where it is. But it also likes having a meatsack, because it needs that to interact with the world. Otherwise, you’d be like Sadie.”


“Nothing in this world can touch your soul,” Rachel continued. “And it seems to have access to a limitless supply of energy, so it just keeps putting your body back together whenever it gets damaged. And that’s why no amount of damage will ever be able to kill you.”

“And what makes my soul so special?”

“Haven’t the foggiest,” she said cheerfully. “But there’ll be plenty of time to figure that out later. What’s important is that I have what I need. The plan’s gonna work.”

“But what if—”

“Trust me,” she said, kissing me. “Everything’s gonna work out just fine.”

“I do trust you,” I told her. “I just hate not being involved.”

We returned to the apartment Sunday evening, finding Aidan and Liz sitting at the table, playing chess, of all things.

“How was your romantic getaway?” Aidan asked, smirking. Did he suspect anything? Surely not.

“None of your business,” I said, rolling my eyes. Liz looked away. “Chess? Really?”

“It’s fun,” Aidan said defensively.

“It’s clichéd,” I retorted.

“Is everything ready?” Rachel asked, cutting through the awkwardness.

“Why wouldn’t it be?” Liz asked. The tension between her and Rachel was… difficult.

“Just answer the question,” Rachel snapped.

“We’re all good,” Aidan said. “I’ve got eyes on the target as we speak, every movement planned, and every possibility covered.”

“Wait, since when do you have ‘eyes’ to put on targets?” I asked, pretending to know less than I really did.

“I hired some help,” Aidan said casually. “Anonymously, don’t worry. When you know how to play the game, people are just like chess pieces.”

“And you know how to play the game?”

“I’m a fast learner,” he said. “Your girlfriend helped, anyway.”

I raised an eyebrow at Rachel, as if she hadn’t already filled me in on all of it.

“I wrote some software,” she said, shaking her head as if it was nothing. “Just some handy tools for things like hacking, staying anonymous and keeping contacts… organised.”

“I didn’t even know you could program,” I lied.

“Neither did I,” she said. “Turns out it’s not so different to building things. You just have to know how all the pieces work.”

“What would we do without you?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she teased.

“We’d manage,” Liz said irritably.

Aidan and I exchanged uncomfortable glances. “We should probably get home,” he said. “Dad’s gonna start worrying.”

“I should get home too,” Liz said.

“Works for me,” Rachel said. “I’ll stay here and keep an eye on things. I have more ideas I wanna work on, anyway.”

We said our goodbyes, and Aidan and I once again took the bus home together. In what was starting to become tradition, he waited until we were alone to talk.

“Did something happen with you and Liz?” he asked.

“She didn’t tell you?”

“I didn’t want to pry,” he said.

“I probably shouldn’t talk about it,” I told him.

“Is it that bad?”

“No, it’s just…” I sighed. “What’s going on with you two?”

“What? What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I…” He bit his lip, and looked out the window, away from me. “I don’t know. Even after all these years, she’s impossible to read.”

“But you like her, don’t you?”

“I wouldn’t say that. Not that I don’t like her, but, like, how can you like someone when you’re not even sure if they like you?”

“Do you want her to like you?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“Well, then.”


“I’m not sure you’re her type,” I said carefully.

“I’m not anyone’s type,” he replied despondently.

“Since when?”

“Since always?”

“Dude, I just mean, I think she’s gay,” I said.

“Oh,” he said, before the other piece fell into place. “Oh. So that’s what—”

“You need some straight girls in your life,” I said.

“I’m beginning to doubt there are any in this damn city,” he said, and we both laughed.


Next Week: I’m Going To Break You