Miko (yume_kokoro) wrote in blue_sun_story,

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Bird of Paradise

On the heels of  laerfan  's terrifically chilling Heartbroken, here's my most recently written short -story:  Bird of Paradise.

Bird of Paradise

Midnight was always Gabe's favorite hour. There's a pulse that flows in the air, making everything – even inanimate objects seem to move like predators. Trees sway with attitude in the spring breeze. If you peer intently enough through the soft glow of street lamps, you can see the streets are littered with dreams. On this particular night, she could smell something deep, dark and exotic in the air. A vague hint of cardamom, perhaps. She glanced at her wavy reflection in the glass of a storefront as they passed. Dark, ferocious eyes stared back at her. Dark clothes. Flamboyant rainbow scarf. She and her companion rounded a corner. The woman was waiting, as promised in the cryptic message she received in her mailbox.

She was an angel, a bird-of-paradise winged angel that must have fallen from heaven. Unthinkingly, Gabe looked to the night sky. "... or from somewhere else up there."
She didn't realize that she had spoken out loud until she noticed LaSalle staring at her in consternation. LaSalle, of the golden hair and catty eyes. Her famously beautiful and intrepid assistant, who had at some point made keeping Gabe tethered to reality, her life's mission. Gabe shrugged and bent over the lovely corpse, tugging on a pair of those latex gloves that she hated so much.
“Careful not to touch the ground,” LaSalle hissed as her knees brushed the ground.
Gabe tossed her a slightly bruised scowl. “This isn't my first crime scene, you know.”
The not so gentle reprimand sailed right over LaSalle's head. “Hurry up!” she snapped. “We don't have much time remember?”

Terry's latest victim was a pretty girl. Like some mythical angel-bird, she had classic Romanesque features, strong cheekbones and pouty lips. The eyelids were heavily kohled. Even in death, her skin seemed so warm and inviting, dewy even. Gabe's eyes drifted down, closing and skipping away from the neck area. She couldn't look at that – not just yet. The body had been meticulously and perfectly dressed in a dark purple ball gown of silk and some kind of sea-foam delicate fabric. The dainty slippers on her feet must have been stolen from some sort of fairy princess. The one on the left foot hung slightly askew. Strapped to her back, by delicate spaghetti straps over the shoulders; her velvety wings fanned outward, crimson and black tips fluttering flirtatiously in the mid-spring breeze. She finally swung her eyes back to the cruel ligature marks on the neck. The woman had been garroted. Savagely. Carefully. Gabe squeezed her eyes shut. Something dark bubbled forth into the back of her throat. It might have been rage but she could never tell anymore these days. It was too hard to differentiate with all the turmoil inside.

With a resigned sigh, she examined the nameless girl's left hand. The nails were torn and raw. She had fought, Gabe realized with some satisfaction. The body had been cleaned, dressed and so elegantly made up. Afterwards, she had been posed every so carefully on the wrought iron park bench. Still the bastard hadn't been able to completely eradicate the fact that mere hours before those ragged nails had bled, and this odd little angel had fought for every inch of her life. Lips pursed, Gabe looked up to LaSalle - unaware until she saw her assistant's teary grimace, that her eyes were wet too.
LaSalle's throat was thick when she spoke. “Did he leave you anything?”
Gabe cleared her throat and turned back to the body. The note was in her right hand. She carefully removed it and stuck it into her pocket.
“You're not going to read it?”
She shook my head, “not yet.”
“All right, then move,” LaSalle ordered.
Gabe stood and moved out of her way, as she went to work with her neat little digital camera.

Moments later, a dark SUV pulled up behind them. Jamie, a dark eyed college grad and latest addition to Gabe's staff poked his head out the window. “Let's move it, you two! The cavalry arrives.”
They hopped in, and as Jamie slid the car out into the anonymity of the night, Gabe saw the flashing lights of a patrol car in the distance behind them. Her breath blew out of nervous whisper, “Wow, that one was really close this time.”
“Well?” Jamie's eyes shifted to the two women in the rear view mirror. “How did it go?”
“Did you get what you needed?” Gabe asked LaSalle instead, of answering him.
She nodded quickly. “I think we can really use these pics. We might even be able to identify her. Find out where she came from.”
Gabe's brow furrowed doubtfully, “I don't know. You know how he operates.”
“He might have taken her from Timbuktu for all we know and by now, he probably a thousand miles away,” LaSalle added. “I know, I know. Still, it might give us something to work with this time.”
“Don't mock me. It's an analogy.”
Gabe raised a brow, “An analogy?”
“Yes!” Her eyes glittered in annoyance.
Jamie groaned. “Don't start with the nervous bickering again. I'm not in a mood to play referee. Was there a note or not?”
“Yeah.” Gabe answered at length, albeit a tad huffily. He didn't understand. How could he? He hadn't been right there staring down into dead eyes. How could he even begin to understand why they were trying desperately to be so cavalier about it. They couldn't let it matter. They couldn't let it, not yet. They had done that before and lost. Not this time. LaSalle and Gabe had made a pact. This time, they would keep their cool. She dug around in her pockets, fished out the note and read the killer's message out loud.
“Liberate this, bitch.” Nothing more. It was signed “T” for Terry. Terry for Terror. No one knew his real name. Somehow he had figured out her little nickname for him.

“Very clever, Terry the Terrible,” Gabe muttered to no one in particular. “Dumb fuck.”
She sighed heavily and stared sullenly out the window. The messages were getting more and more personal with every kill. All directed at her – the one who got away.
“I don't like this,” Jamie grumbled. “I keep saying we should go to the police.”
“And what?” Gabe demanded. “Get arrested for interfering with multiple crime scenes? Stealing evidence?” She waved the offending note at him. “At worst we would be accused of being accomplices to a fucking serial killer. At best...” She trailed off tiredly. She didn't have to finish that sentence. The police protection that had been foisted upon Nan, Terry's sixth victim had propelled her directly into the grave ten month's earlier. It hadn't been the cops' fault, really. No Sleepy-Town-Anywhere's police force was staffed or equipped to deal with the likes of Terry. The trio were much better off handling him on their own terms.

“I know,” Jamie capitulated after a few moments of driving in silence. “I knew that; when I decided to join your rag-tag little team of supposed crime-fighters. I don't intend to back out or anything, you know. I just think we're getting in a little over our heads.”
“Oh we are, Jamie. We're way in over our heads. Plus,” Her lips curved into a slight smile. “I don't think we can actually be a crime fighting team if we we're only looking for one guy.”
“What then?”
There was a soft whirring sound when LaSalle turned the digital camera back on. She squinted at the tiny screen as she flipped from one image to the next. “Vigilantes, darling.” she murmured absently answering Jamie's question. “It would make us vigilantes.”

Gabe's fingers stirred, skimming the lines of her own scarred neck. How long had it been? Two years? Two hundred? It might as well have been yesterday. It might as well have been her sprawled on the damn park bench just now. In her never ending nightmares, she relived every moment of those days that Terry had kept her. The way her skin crawled when he touched her and called her Gabriella. The way she burned with wrath she never knew she possessed when he showed her his pictures all those dead girls. The way he smiled when she wept for them. The way it stuck in her craw that a limp haired, rheumy eyed pissant was doing that to her. She remembered how he gloated when he thought that she was finally broken. But she also remembered weeping for gratitude when she realized that he was injecting less and less of that poison in her veins. He wanted her lucid when the time came but she was the first that he had taken for so many days. He made mistakes. He'd untied her. He'd been too confident that she was too weak and terrified of him to move. Her entire life before the moment she had woken up in a strange room, bound, gagged and terrified out of her mind, had vanished into the distance. After he had tortured and almost strangled her so many times, nothing she had ever been or done before those five awful days mattered anymore. That was an inescapable and ugly truth. She had barely escaped alive. Alive she was, but he had indeed, taken her life from her. She was going to make him pay for that, if nothing else.

“Liberate te ex inferis.”
Save yourself from hell.

“What?” LaSalle head swung toward her. She blinked owlishly. “What did you say?”
“He told me, that no one would hear me screaming. When he cut into my flesh. He told me that no one would come to save me,” even now, Gabe could still hear it, the shakiness in her voice from remembering. She had used that same knife that he cut her with to stab him in the belly. “I told him, 'Liberate te ex inferis' – right before I smashed a chair over his head. How perfect is that?” She giggled a bit. “The words just popped into my head right then and there.”
“Wow.” Jamie whistled. “Then the note...”
“Yeah. I guess he's still pissed.”
LaSalle raised a sarcastic brow. “You don't say.”

I hope you'll like it - and if you do (to echo laerfan  ) - do post a story too! XD
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