Updated: Aug 31
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Chapter 30: Sabrina opened her mouth to scream but found that no sounds came out as Michael steered clear of the accident and kept right on going.
Appalled at his complete commitment to duty, Sabrina simultaneously clung to the overwhelming desire to get away from the HPAC by whatever means possible. Her selfless and selfish sides warred furiously inside her, adding to the Molotov cocktail of emotions turning her insides into a torture chamber of anxiety.
Both the first and second HPAC vehicles were still on their tail, and Michael pressed harder on the gas until they were going at some reckless speed that still wasn’t fast enough. It didn’t deter their pursuers one bit, with one of them staying directly behind their target and the other creeping up inch by inch in the wrong lane.
As soon as they were nearly neck and neck with that second car, it swerved hard, smashing into them to the sound of crunching metal and shattering glass. Sabrina should have been expecting it, but it took her by surprise nonetheless. And while her seatbelt did a good job of keeping her where she sat, it still hurt.
Beside her, Deanda’s head dashed into the window. Up front, the men fared the same, just against exploding airbags. Which was more than enough to send Michael veering off the road. They spun about several times in dizzying circles, then tipped onto the driver’s side and lay still.
Sabrina remained conscious for the whole thing, but Deanda did not. Sprawled motionless, there was blood spreading onto the cracked glass her cheek rested on.
“Deanda!” Sabrina screamed. “Deanda! Wake up!”
Her vision hadn’t shown a thing about her best friend being injured. Then again, she realized frantically, she hadn’t seen Deanda at all.
Someone wrenched the door open above her to reach in with grasping fingers. She shrieked in primal panic and clawed furiously at the hands extending forward. It was gratifying to hear him howl when her fingernails dug deep into his arm. It was less so when she suffered the consequences with a harsh slap across her face that had her slumping helplessly like the victim they wanted her to be.
The dizziness passed after just a few deep breaths. The pain, however, increased with every passing second.
When they dumped her on the ground, she looked up, panting from fear and adrenaline and fury. That’s when she noticed other HPAC men hustling a small group of seeming tourists back into their cars with threatening gestures. Sabrina knew that, even if the onlookers did try to intervene, they were no match for the men in black suits.
Seeing two more of the evil wretches reaching into the car again, she struggled to her feet. “Don’t touch her,” she ordered. “Don’t you dare touch her! She might be hurt!”
And then where would such a prized specimen be? At that moment, she was willing to bargain with whatever she could if it would save Deanda’s life.
They surprisingly listened to her, though to her own detriment, since her shouts brought solid attention back around. Someone behind her hauled her the rest of the way up, and Sabrina recoiled immediately. She knew who it was well before he spoke.
“You’re not hurt much though, are you, Princess?” Mr. Smiley sneered.
She twisted in his grip and went right for his eyes. The attempt would have paid off if he wasn’t already in action himself. His hands clenched around her wrists and he kicked her right leg out from beneath her so that she fell heavily on both knees. Her head spun queasily at the thought of blood spilling out beneath her skin with the promise of a nasty bruise to come.
If she survived this newest ordeal at all.
Too cocky for his own good in that moment, Mr. Smiley shifted his grasp on her so that he was holding on with just one hand. That way, he could reach at his side to grab the cuffs he had attached there.
Sabrina took the opportunity and ran with it. Bending both of her wrists down and outward, she broke his grip and finished up the movement by swinging her right fist at his nose. There was the horrible sound of cartilage snapping, and then bright red liquid flowed freely down his chin.
He cried out in surprise and anger as much as from pain, his hands flying to his face. She followed up with a punch at another vulnerable area, and he dropped to the ground, unable to do more than gape.
Sabrina hobbled to her feet, careful not to put too much pressure on her throbbing leg. If it hadn’t hurt so badly, she would have kicked him back out of sheer rage.
Up ahead, two of the other HPAC members were busy hauling Dallas’ limp but still cumbersome form out of the car. They must have assumed in the back of their single-minded brains that Mr. Smiley had control of her. But there was a third man standing off to the side in generally useless fashion. Shifting his attention between his colleagues in front of him and Sabrina behind, he chose that moment to turn back around toward her.
His mouth formed a particularly stupid circle, and he reached into his jacket instead of doing the intelligent thing and alerting his friends. It didn’t take much for her to slap one wing against the side of his head with enough force to send him crashing into the other suits.
She would have taken some bitter pride in the action if she hadn’t miscalculated her own strength. Her hasty attack sent Dallas, who was still suspended haphazardly between the two goons, down into the heap as well. Sabrina limped over to help her fellow faerie, but Dallas made his own move while his captors were still in the process of regaining their footing.
Swinging his fists into the one man’s knee, the bone broke with a nauseating sound. A split-second later, the aggressor turned into the victim, collapsing with high-pitched screams.
Sabrina put her hands over her ears to stop the sound, her gaze darting to Dallas’ face.
He looked somewhat sick himself.
But she had no time to even consider helping him out. Behind her, Mr. Smiley had taken the time afforded him to recover as best as he could. He grabbed at her, and she felt his hands slide down her arm in an attempt to secure her.
That was it for Sabrina.
It was a pathetic, limping run, but she had to get out of there when memories of electric shock and psychotic shrinks and complete powerlessness were assaulting her mind. Mr. Smiley gave pursuit, and she batted her wings to take to the air. Her feet left the ground but not quickly enough for him to grab onto her injured leg, sending sharp pains racing up it.
Eyes bloodshot, nose still dripping dark red onto his rumpled and now severely stained suit, he might as well have had devil horns for all the horror he inspired in her. She fought him with enough desperation to break his grip. But already shaky on her wings and off-balance from his movements, the struggle sent her tumbling in the air several times before plummeting the few feet to the ground and rolling right off what she thought for a panicked second was a cliff.
It wasn’t though, just a sharp indentation in the hill: a manmade one if the stones still standing against the steep slope were any indication. If it had been an actual cliff, she might have had time to compose herself, flap her wings a few times and make a gentle landing. Instead, she came close to knocking herself unconscious.
Dazed but knowing that she had to get back up, she bleakly wondered how much pain the typical female faerie body could take.
Hearing Mr. Smiley breathing behind her, Sabrina reached above her head to grab onto the stone wall. She had just enough time to pull herself up and turn around with raised fists. But he pulled back from her shaky swing and let her tumble, still off balance, right into him. It wasn’t that difficult then for him to whirl her around and slam her forward into the very support she’d used an instant ago.
Salty blood seeped into her mouth from a split lip; and she could barely move, try as she did. Sabrina knew he was determined to hurt her, but she was equally certain he wanted to keep her alive. Which meant being brought back to the lab, a place that might possibly be worse than death in her book.
His closeness as he continued to push into her was nauseating. And when he spoke, it tickled her ear so obscenely that she had to clench her teeth together. She knew if she started screaming, she wouldn’t stop.
“Give it up, Princess.”
She could barely think past him being so close, yet she knew she had to get it together. She had to calm down enough to formulate a plan.
For the life of her, Sabrina could come up with just three possible plays. She could keep fighting the way she was, wasting all her energy until she really was rendered hopeless. She could surrender, thus saving the pain and torture for another day. Or she could pretend to surrender and see if she could catch him by surprise.
The first shouldn’t be an option, and the second couldn’t be. So she chose the third, begging God above for mercy.
While she waited for a divine answer, she tamped down on every natural inclination she had in order to decrease her efforts to break free.
“You want a reason to give up?” He asked against her skin. “What about this: You’re mine and you’re going to stay that way.”
Sabrina forced her body to go still despite how her nerves shrieked their desire to fight back. It didn’t matter that his hands weren’t anywhere inappropriate or that he hadn’t made any real sexual threat. She still felt an overwhelming urge to bathe in bleach.
A shudder ran through her. And then another one at his reactive laugh.
“You’ve been mine, Sabrina,” he asserted viciously. “You were never not mine. So be a good little princess and accept it.”
It was her one chance, pinned as she was, and she’d damn well better make it a good one. She closed her eyes, her whole entire body trembling with the effort of staying rational.
Then she took a deep breath and croaked out. “Okay. Okay. You win. Just please stop talking.”
She really meant that last part.
Mr. Smiley thought it was funny, the laugh he emitted sounding vile in small part thanks to his broken nose. He eased back just a little, letting go of one of her wrists presumably to reach for the handcuffs again.
Sabrina waited until his face was completely off of hers to make her move. She didn’t have much room to gather up momentum, but she put all her will into jerking her head backward to slam into his already disfigured nose.
He was still howling when she brought her heel up against his leg and pressed backward and downward in one swift motion. Finishing off the move by stepping down hard on his foot, she heard him curse her and then yell again when she brought her elbow up into his eye socket.
Twisting around, a flash of metal caught her eye, and she realized her nemesis had sent the handcuffs flying when she surprised him. It was a potential weapon, and she used her remaining faerie strength to sprint toward it, ignoring the pain in her leg as best as she could.
Reaching down, her fingers closed around the metal, which was still warm from his touch.
Mr. Smiley was fast, but she was faster this time and thrust the open cuff out to meet him. He stopped himself short on the tip of the makeshift blade.
Wasting no time, Sabrina dragged it upward to hook against the side of his neck. His upper body tensed like he was going to try a countermove, but she twisted her wrist so that a small pool of blood appeared around the edge. After that, she didn’t shift it any more than to match his own moves when he tried turning his head away.
“Stop fighting and you won’t make me kill you,” she informed him.
Some evil part of her urged her to do it anyway. It wouldn’t take much more effort than she was exerting already. Plus, she already knew she had a future filled with at least antidepressants, maybe even restraints, leaving little reason not to go for it.
But a new voice shouted out behind her, interrupting her inner monologue and eliminating all but her least desirable choices.
Sabrina didn’t want to turn around. She didn’t want to acknowledge that her control could be made invalid, especially when it dawned on her exactly where she was and exactly what was happening.
There were walls around her. They had bits of grass sticking out between the stones, but they were walls nonetheless.
How she hadn’t realized the meaning of those blatant details before, she didn’t know.
“Let him go, or we’ll kill your friend.” The man who said it sounded calm. Even confident.
She closed her eyes like a coward so that she didn’t have to see the look of triumph she knew Mr. Smiley would be wearing. That way, she also didn’t have to face Dallas. Sabrina didn’t want to know the meaningless differences between her flash-forward and reality, when the outcome was going to be the same.
“Now!” The man commanded.
Her body numb, her imagination and emotions the very opposite, she obeyed, still not opening her eyes and still not turning around. But that wasn’t how Mr. Smiley wanted it. He grabbed her and spun her so that she was facing the way his colleague had demanded.
Since she wasn’t expecting that particular movement, she gasped, her lashes sweeping up against her wishes to see a picture she already knew. There actually wasn’t a single detail missing from her premonition, from the four men restraining Dallas on his knees to the gun pointed at his head.
He looked afraid. Terrified even. But he made a visible effort to control his voice.
“Sabrina,” he said carefully. “Remember what I told you.”
It took her a ridiculous minute to figure out what he meant. And then she did realize, choking back more than one sob. “I’m sorry, Dallas. I’m so sorry!”
“It’s not your fault.”
That was the last thing he had a chance to say.
They didn’t fire the gun. He was too valuable to shoot, she realized. So instead, one of the men pulled out a prepared syringe from his jacket pocket. Ripping off the protective cap with his teeth, he jabbed the exposed metal into the captive’s neck.
Dallas winced for only a second. The next instant, he was slumping forward, unconscious or well on his way there.
“More people are coming,” someone shouted from the direction of the car wreck. “Let’s go!”
Mr. Smiley didn’t waste any time terrorizing her. He merely slammed the bloody manacles on her wrists and shoved her forward. Sabrina was in too much of a daze to put up any kind of a fight while he prodded her up the hill.
“What are you doing with that girl?” An indignant Welsh voice demanded.
“Get out of our way,” Mr. Smiley ordered. “She’s a dangerous criminal.”
“Yeah, a dangerous criminal you just had a go at for the fun of,” the man protested. “I’ve already called the authorities to sort you lot out. So you might as well leave her here and clear off.”
Sabrina glanced up with the smallest smidgen of hope. The speaker was standing in such a way as to block the HPAC from their vehicles, and he wasn’t alone. About eight other people had gathered behind him, looking overwhelmingly deficient. Mainly because they were. The only thing that saved them from getting beaten into bloody pulps was the sound of sirens in the not-so-far-off distance. And even then, Mr. Smiley hesitated.
“Leave her, one of his fellow suits insisted. “We can collect her later.”
It took several second’s hesitation for her captor to release his grip.
“Do you hear that, Princess?” He asserted with savage certainty. “I’m going to collect you later. Don’t think that I won’t.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” she muttered, knowing she was going to collapse any minute.
She had been buoyed before by adrenaline rushes and panic attacks and the will to survive. But she was now completely drained to the point where she didn’t have the energy to catch herself when he shoved her away. Sabrina fell to the ground on her side, her arms still restrained behind her back and her wings spreading out uselessly against the ground.
She closed her eyes, the nausea turning everything into a blur until just two coherent thoughts remained inside her head.
The first was that she was getting tired of passing out. The second was how she was just tired all around.
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