Updated: Feb 24
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Chapter 7: Sabrina came back to her senses when her body hit a very cushy mattress. Disoriented, she opened her eyes only to immediately regret that curiosity.
The room spun enough for her to retreat again behind her lids, but not before she saw the HPAC thug standing above her, his arms still stretched outward. Just thinking about him holding her the way he must have been left her feeling violated.
“Sabrina! Sabrina, are you okay?”
She recognized Deanda’s panicked voice and tried to pull herself together. Fortunately, it appeared she still had her towel wrapped around her, and she could feel her wet two-piece underneath as well.
“I’m alive,” she assured in a groggy voice, hoping fervently that she could say that for a while more to come.
Difficult though it was, Sabrina managed to focus her eyes on Deanda, whose arms were pinned behind her back by another of the men. With drying blood down the one side of her face, and brush burns along her right leg and hip, she didn’t look good at all. Concerned for her, Sabrina tried to sit up but immediately sagged back against the bed, holding her face in her hands.
“What did you do to her?” The voice floated around her. “Let me go!”
They must have released her friend because the next thing Sabrina knew, Deanda was at her side, pulling her head onto her lap and stroking her hair.
“She’ll be fine.” The smug, obnoxious thug’s words echoed all around the room.
Sabrina knew it was him precisely because his voice was so smug and obnoxious, the very sound prompting her to curl into a protective ball, though she didn’t move her head away from Deanda.
Really, she thought through her daze, it should be the other way around since her friend was obviously hurt. She could have a concussion for all they knew. But Sabrina couldn’t make her muscles cooperate with her thoughts.
“We don’t want her dead,” he continued. “You, on the other hand, can come along one way or the other. I’d prefer to keep you alive, but I won’t lose much sleep if I have to kill you.”
“Good to know. Now what are you planning on doing with us?”
Sabrina was very glad Deanda seemed willing to take on the big bad wolf. For her part, she didn’t want to look his way, much less confront him. She shuddered again.
“You’re not in the best place to ask anything,” he informed Deanda nastily, then switched his focus. “And you, Princess. Get up and get changed. We’re leaving.”
Sabrina didn’t want to acknowledge that he was speaking to her, but she opened her eyes and sat up anyway. Better to do so on her own than have him force her to comply. The room shifted slightly, but not with the dizzying speed it had moved at before.
“Are you going to give me some privacy?”
“No,” he told her, his arms crossed menacingly over his chest. “And you’re going to get changed anyway.”
“If you think I’m going to do that with you in the room,” she protested, her voice getting very shrill.
“Then put on something over top. I don’t care, but you’re going to leave here in normal clothing, and you’re going to do that in the next five minutes or I will dress you myself.”
Sabrina could tell he wasn’t kidding. “Can I at least go into the bathroom?” Her volume decreased, and her tone diminished too.
“No,” he snapped before she’d even completed her last syllable. The clipped word held what could have been taken as a desperate edge if anyone else had said it. “Don’t think I don’t know your faerie tricks.”
If he hadn’t added that last warning, Sabrina would have gone on believing he was just being terrifyingly lecherous. She never would have guessed on her own that he might be just as scared of her as she was of him, even though he’d already proven several times over how superior he was in both the physical strength and ruthlessness departments.
The realization didn’t make any sense whatsoever. But right then, she didn’t care about trying to rationalize it. Crazy as it was, the knowledge gave her reason to wrack her mind for a plan. Any plan. Two against four weren’t the best odds to play with, but it was either fight back or what? Be turned into faerie lab rats?
In a show of obedience, Sabrina slid off the bed, making sure to keep her towel tucked securely around her. Her mind raced with questions concerning what she had in her bags that could be used as a weapon, and which suitcase she should open. It wasn’t as if she or Deanda had a knife or a gun in either of them, but they had to have something that could be turned into a makeshift defense system in a pinch.
The closest objects she had to a weapon were the hair chopsticks she’d seen in her accessory bag. She figured they could inflict some damage with the right amount of force behind them. But she was Tinker Bell, not Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And Tinker Bell – even with as much moxie as the pixie had – just couldn’t compare in a physical fight.
Sabrina had already proved herself ineffectual against the men all by herself, but since the chopsticks were the best plan she could think of, she determined to give them a try. Kneeling in front of her suitcase, she kept her body between it and the HPAC.
Her imagination was shivering with something five million times more intense than dread.
“You’re not going to a ball, Princess,” her very own personal villain growled. She could feel his suspicious glare burning a hole in her head. “Just grab something and put it on.”
She really wished he would stop calling her that. In fact, she wished he would stop speaking altogether. Grabbing what she needed, Sabrina wrapped one hand around the chopsticks and the other around her bottle of body spray. She didn’t have to crouch there doing nothing for long. Just as expected, the main man in black came over to stand right behind her.
“What are you doing?”
Sabrina didn’t respond in words. Channeling every single bit of the anger, terror and disgust roiling through her nervous system, she plunged the chopsticks into his calf.
He yowled in pain and surprise, but it was Sabrina who thought she was going to be sick at the feeling of his flesh giving way to her makeshift weapon. Her stomach churned and bile leapt into her throat, but she swallowed it back and used her free hand to spray him in the face while he bent over in pain.
One final punch to the throat took him out of the equation. That meant one down: three to go.
Her knuckles hurt like crazy. So did her wrist.
She ignored both pains.
They might not be able to talk for all she knew, but the other men could definitely move. Taking action almost instantly, one of them made a grab for her arm. But even as her body acknowledged the sensation of his fingers on her skin, she threw the chopsticks at Deanda, her towel falling off as she twisted.
She felt the spray ripped out of her hand when the henchman wrenched her other wrist behind her. Seeing a single recourse, Sabrina sunk her teeth into his arm as hard as she could. The coppery taste of human blood penetrated her senses a split second before he let go with a cry. Without giving him room to recover, she lunged for the nearest heavy object she could find.
The coffee pot, set up in perfect aesthetic fashion on the nearby desk, worked perfectly. She smashed it into jagged pieces over her attacker’s face with a resounding crack. He slumped on the floor, either unconscious or severely dazed.
Sabrina dropped the coffeemaker over his head too, just to ensure further cooperation.
She whirled around to do battle with the next foe but found nobody to contest. Deanda had apparently not only caught the chopsticks, but wielded them well. Her hair was disheveled, and with the makeshift weapons still clutched in her hands, she looked much less the faerie goddess and much more like an Amazon. One man lay on the ground gasping and holding his throat, while the other didn’t look like he was moving at all.
“We need to get them trussed up with something. Now.” Her friend coolly walked over to the main thug, who was still gasping for air, and stepped on him with vicious satisfaction.
He doubled over, his hands leaving his reddened eyes to protect his stomach from any further attacks.
For her part, Sabrina tried hard not to focus on the incapacitated bodies, her arms shaking as the adrenaline wore off and realization set in about what could have happened and what actually had. “What do we have that can work as rope?”
“I don’t have anything, but how much you wanna bet they do? Where’d that briefcase go?” Deanda looked around, brushing at a lock of hair that had fallen across her face. “Oh, there it is. Now we just need a key.”
Favoring her hand, which was still smarting, Sabrina helped Deanda search through the men’s jacket pockets until they found the required item. Opening up the briefcase proved to be equally rewarding, since one entire side was covered with plastic hooks from which multiple handcuffs dangled. And on the other side were little pockets filled with syringes and vials.
Convenient as the former was, neither assortment did anything to alleviate the horror lodged in her chest.
With possibly a bit too much relish, Deanda finished knocking out the two men who were still somewhat conscience. It took some effort on both of their parts, but she and Sabrina managed to drag the four bodies together, slumping them back to back and side to side in a clumsy mess. By the time they were done, both women were panting from the exertion. Yet they still had to handcuff all eight of their captives’ wrists together. And they also stripped the beds, using the sheets to bind the men’s legs as well.
Exhausted on every possible level, Sabrina grabbed up her discarded towel. She wrapped it around herself gratefully, then dropped onto the bed closest to the door. Even then, she remained in a sitting position to keep an eye on their captives.
They had already discussed using the syringes on the four men, but they had no idea how much of a dosage to prescribe. Too much and they could be left with four dead bodies, which would be problematic for reasons that had nothing to do with ethics.
The men were starting to come around anyway.
The leader of the rat pack was the first to stir, groaning his displeasure as he came to. It shouldn’t have been a dire sound considering that he was very well restrained, but she still sat up ramrod straight to watch him even more carefully.
Deanda kept her attention on the captives too while she backed into the bathroom. Sabrina could see her friend’s reflection from the nearby mirror while she wet one of the pristine white washcloths and set it to her forehead. Pulling it back again to inspect the damage, Deanda grimaced and trotted back into the bedroom area.
That was when the main big bad guy chose to speak, looking even more sinister than before with his eyes rimmed red from the body spray. “You know you can’t run away from us forever.”
“Brave talk from a man who just got beat up by two little girls,” Deanda snapped, returning the red-stained washcloth to her temple. Her voice was filled with sheer loathing.
“You’re faeries,” he sneered, like that explained everything somehow.
To him, it seemed to.
Deanda looked like she wanted to argue, but Sabrina was more than happy to let the subject drop if only so she didn’t have to hear his voice again.
In order to keep an eye on their unwanted companions while still maintaining some secrecy, the girls used their phones to write messages back and forth. It was in that slow fashion that they decided to wait where they were until it was time to go through security. It wasn’t the most pleasant way to handle the situation, but it seemed to be the smartest. That way, they could monitor their prisoners more effectively instead of wondering if they’d managed to escape. They’d have to let them go at some point; it was just that the later they did, the better.
With that decided, Sabrina moved on to the next necessary topic. Who were you talking to on the phone before? Can they help?
Deanda shook her head, her fingers already dancing across her touchscreen in reply. They were supposed to meet us here, but they got waylaid. Stupid HPAC. I didn’t get all the details. Thought it would be best to get the hell out of there instead. Plan worked beautifully, as you can tell.
She waited expectantly.
Looking at her roommate, Sabrina decided to add a little humor into the situation, even if she didn’t feel at all like laughing. Deanda looked too chagrined, clearly blaming herself for their predicament.
No idea what you’re talking ‘bout. I thought the way you smashed your head into the floor was brilliant.
That elicited the smallest of smiles, which detracted from the angry, red skin along her cheek but drew attention to the gash on her forehead. “Thanks. I’ve been practicing,” she spoke the words out loud with wry inflections.
Sabrina smiled back.
“By the way,” Deanda went on pointedly in the same fashion, “nice work. And that was you without your full faerie powers. Just think what you could do with a little charm added.” The comments were obviously meant for the trussed-up men more than Sabrina.
Sabrina grimaced, flexing her still-smarting hand. She hoped that was the last time she ever sank a pair of chopsticks into someone’s leg. But she kept the thought to herself so as not to appear weak in front of their captive audience. Captive and injured: They deserved a lot worse, but she felt a twinge of guilt looking at them again.
The leader’s leg was still bleeding, after all, which probably wasn’t the best. And while she didn’t care for the fact that he was alive, she also didn’t want to have anyone’s death on her conscience. Not that she thought he would lose that much blood, but better safe than sorry.
Speaking out loud again, she nodded at the man in question. “What should we do about him? The one who actually does speak.”
Deanda glowered. “Let’s call him Worthless Trash.”
“No,” Sabrina mused back. “Mr. Smiley seems a little more apropos.”
“I think that’s suitably derogatory,” Deanda agreed, then strode into the bathroom to grab a plush white towel.
Coming back, she knelt down in front of Mr. Smiley and wrapped it tightly around his leg after telling him not to try anything. Then she grabbed a pillow case and tied it around the makeshift bandage. Since his legs were bound, the task was more than a little awkward.
“Seems like an absolute waste of good material,” she remarked when she stood up again. “But he’ll live. It isn’t like you pierced high enough to hit an artery.”
The other men seemed none-the-worse for wear, despite angry red scratch marks down one’s face and an assortment of bruises and cuts on all of them. And the stab mark in another’s neck, of course. But he seemed to be breathing just fine despite a little wheezing. Deanda obviously hadn’t hit his jugular; he would have bled out by then if she had.
Sabrina ripped another pillowcase off to wrap around his wound anyway. It was a poor excuse for a bandage, but it would have to do.
That task done, Sabrina found herself saddled with yet another dilemma. She texted the issue to Deanda, but didn’t at all get the response she expected.
Her best friend didn’t bother writing back. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”
But Sabrina was worrying. After all, the maids were going to walk in at some point to find four restrained men. Wouldn’t they call the police immediately? And even if the hotel staff didn’t contact the authorities, Mr. Smiley and the Men in Black doubtlessly would.
One way or the other, by the time they reached Heathrow Airport in London, the girls would be greeted by armed security, she was sure. From there, they’d probably be held in custody until federal marshals could arrive to escort them in handcuffs back to the U.S.
It was not her idea of a worthwhile visit.
Not wanting to advertise the fact that she was going to be naked shortly, she sidled over to Deanda to whisper in her ear. “Is it okay if I went and changed?”
“Just make it quick so I can too.”
Sabrina hesitated a few seconds more, then grabbed her suitcase, dragging it into the bathroom. She dried her hair with one of the remaining fluffy towels, shuddering again at the reason why it was damp, then slipped into her jeans and t-shirt to reemerge again in record time. When she came out, Deanda was pouring some kind of liquid on the four men, who were glaring at her with a mixture of fear and hatred.
The negative emotions were doubtlessly in no small part due to the socks stuffed into their mouths and the fact that each had one foot bare.
Curious, Sabrina watched while her friend capped the bottle and threw it on the bed. Even before it landed, the men grew hazy before her eyes and then disappeared from view altogether.
Her nerves already shot, Sabrina let out a short scream of shock. The rest of the room hadn’t changed. The coffeepot still lay in shards on the floor by the foot of her bed, and Deanda’s bloody washcloth was lying folded next to her pillows. But as for the men, they just weren’t there.
“Where did they go?”
“Nowhere,” Deanda answered with the kind of calm born out of familiarity. “They’re still there. You just can’t see them.”
“Can they see us?”
“Yeah. Come here.”
Sabrina stepped forward slowly.
Deanda reached for another container, this time filled with some oily looking liquid that she proceeded to dab on her fingers. “I’m going to put some on your eyes. You can close them, just not too tightly. Okay?”
Nodding, Sabrina obeyed, deciding that she might as well trust her friend. She had in the past when reality made sense, so why not now?
The ointment went on in a rush of intense heat that somehow didn’t hurt. Though her eyes were closed, she could suddenly and literally see a multitude of colors on her retinas. They were the most vibrant shades she’d ever come in contact with, not because they were bright but because they were so real. It was like she could reach out and touch the magentas, emeralds, sapphires, rich purples, bright yellows, fiery oranges and seductive reds.
But those were just the beginning. There were pastels, neons, earth tones, darks and lights; and each one was so beautiful that she gasped. They melted into each other while somehow managing to stand out in stark contrast at the same time, each one just as intriguing as the next.
“Open your eyes,” Deanda instructed.
Sabrina did, blinking several times even though she would have much preferred to hold onto the amazing experience a little while longer. The colors lessened significantly, but to her surprise, didn’t completely fade. While they no longer danced before her eyes, they continued to exist in the back of her mind, a preferable memory to the HPAC men she could once again see.
They still sat in the same positions with the same glowers etched on their faces, but Sabrina found herself feeling something beyond her fear and loathing when she looked their way this time around. The ointment was intriguing in more than one way, like a magic trick she knew had some logical explanation but couldn’t quite figure out.
When she tried to ask Deanda though, her friend shook her head and looked pointedly at the men. So Sabrina was left to try to figure it out all by herself.
Trying to rationalize the experience provided a useful distraction, but only for so long. The novelty of the beautiful colors and the ability to see the unseen frayed over the next several hours. And with their ability to speak hampered the way it was, the two girls sat on the bed in overall tense silence, the TV providing a poor excuse of a diversion.
By the time they were ready to go, she felt as if an entire week had passed: an extremely intense week in which she would have chewed her nails off if she thought it would do even an ounce of good. The more time that passed, the more tempting the idea became until the one thing stopping her from biting them down to bloody nibs was how the loathsome men would be able to watch her do it.
Deanda appeared to handle the unpleasant interval better than Sabrina did. She didn’t look thrilled, but she still kept herself together well enough, addressing her wounds further and applying makeup to cover up what she could.
Sabrina thought she should see a doctor, which she made known by way of smartphone. Deanda disagreed, however, claiming that she was just going to have to rely on significant amounts of concealer for a little while.
Finally, it was time to leave. Since they couldn’t have the hotel maids stumbling onto four trussed-up men, they had to let the HPAC team loose first. Somewhat, anyway.
It turned out that, as Deanda explained in another text, the liquid she had poured on them would only last so long. And even if that wasn’t true, they would still physically be in the way of anyone who walked into the room. Yet the girls also needed to ensure they had plenty of time to board the plane and the plane to take off without any additional attacks.
That’s why Deanda threw the key to the handcuffs under the furthest bed. Trussed up the way they were, the men wouldn’t have an easy time of reaching it, but they should be able to before any hotel staff came by. She also collected their cell phones and the contents of the briefcase to dump into a trashcan somewhere along the way out of the hotel.
Grabbing their carry-on luggage and purses, the two women set off out of the hotel. Sabrina felt just the smallest bit better while they made their way to the appropriate terminal. And even that relief was overwhelmed by her fear of flying.
It would just be her luck to avoid fates worse than death at the hands of the HPAC, only to actually die in a plane crash.
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