The city knew me as ‘that homeless girl.’ I was the skinny little gymnast with hair like fire, who performed tumbling passes along the boardwalk. I’d been doing it for years, making just enough money to buy a candy bar. (While I shoplifted a fifty-cent package of oatmeal and a banana.)
“Goodbye Mrs. Jenkins,” I said as I slipped out the door, letting the cheap bell ding behind me.
“A little girl like you should not be on the streets,” said the old Indian woman. At least I assumed she was Indian. And we all know ‘to assume is to make an ass of you and me.’ A great example of this is how everyone adult I meet seems to assume I’m a minor, just because of my height. (I’m not.)
Long story short, I ran away from home older than I should have been. I was never a brave kid, and (by the account of all bystanders, teachers, local police, etc) my life was absolutely fucking perfect. I was a star gymnast, a natural talent. I never did enjoy competing; all my life I wanted to perform, I wanted to dance. But you hardly ever get what you want, in this messed up world.
For example, I would have loved to have a place to sleep indoors, instead of leaning against a dumpster. Or maybe a mother who would have chosen me over a town full of rumors and victim-shaming. But that’s a story for another day.
“Fuck it’s cold.” I fished through my jacket pockets as I pulled my knees to my chest. Turns out, after a long day of screwing around, I had a solid sixteen dollars to my name.
I wanted something warm and at the late hour of the night, the easiest place would be a nearby gas station. Standing up, I could see the lights of the pricing sign, no more than a few blocks away. Hopefully, they kept their coffee machine on. I made the short walk, making sure to flash a wad of dollars as I entered. “I’m just here to get a coffee.”
I’d gotten the cops called on me before, just for the fact that I was a homeless person wandering around so late at night. But it turns out my distraction was unnecessary.
As I filled my paper cup I could hear the sound of a man shouting, in what sounded like Russian. He appeared to be yelling at a female companion. Moving closer I could see she was a thin, frail, girl, nervously counting out change.
She was a good foot shorter than him but with similar ash-blonde hair and pale complexions. He looked like he could be her father. But that idea made me feel sick, anyone with half a brain could tell he was her pimp.
“Yo, pops!” the young Hispanic cashier said to the older man (with a truly moronic lack of situational awareness.) “How about you float your girl a couple of bucks so we can keep the line moving?” There was no line.
I was mentally preparing for gunshots. But instead, the man grabbed the girl’s arm, jerking her backward with an aggressive tug. He whispered something in Russian that sounded like a threat, before turning to leave.
A part of me hoped that he was going to abandon her, forcing the cashier to call the police and have them haul her away. It would’ve made sense, the perfect way to get rid of a girl you no longer wanted.
Instead, he waited by the front door smoking a cigarette from a brand new pack.
The girl pushed her items away. “I apologize,” she said in a soft European accent as she turned to follow her male friend.
“Wait!” I whispered quickly, close enough for her to hear. “How much do you need?”
The cashier replied. “To be able to buy the food she needs 12.44, to get out of here without me calling the cops, she needs 7.99.”
“Because her friend just walked out with the cigarettes,” I sighed. The man clearly sent her in, to pay for his smokes by any means necessary. “How much are you short?”
“I only have six dollars.”
“Oh, ok,” I said as I discreetly laid out all my money. “I got this.”
The cashier counted out the money, it was enough for my coffee, her snacks, and her friend’s smokes.
“Thank you.” She grabbed her items and turned to leave. But paused with a noticeable uncertainty.
“Are you afraid of him?”
She nodded. “I’m Anya.”
“You can call me Lena,” I said sweetly. Not my real name.
“You think you can help me?” Anya glanced at the cashier who quickly put on headphones. He seemed to know what was going down.
“I can try. If nothing else I can pose as a diversion.”
“You would do that for me?”
“I would have wanted someone to do it for me.” This wasn’t the first time I had the opportunity to play superhero. I carried a knife and was quite skilled. (At least in my head.) “What’s his name?”
“He goes by Alexi or Pasha.”
“Pasha?” I asked, biting my lower lip. I knew that word as a Russian nick-name But in my head, it seemed like a kinky pet name. “Let’s do this.”
I walked out with Anya, hand in hand like old friends.
Alexi raised his chin and smirked. “Hello there.”
“I thought you and your wife might have some use for a girl like me.”
“My wife?” he asked, his voice deep, menacing.
“Your wife, or your friend.” I lifted his hand kissing his knuckles. I could feel thick scars, but he tasted clean, like cedar scented soap with a hint of menthol. I licked him down the shaft of his ring finger, aiming for an engraved gold band. It was a trick I had used in the past to steal jewelry from sex-deprived men. Soon I was sucking his finger, while looking into his blue eyes.
“You looking to party?” he asked, shifting his stance.
“I’m looking to sleep on a nice warm bed.”
“You have a pimp?”
“Nah,” I said, releasing his hand. My next answer was important, it would be the lynch-pin to the character I was trying to portray. ‘I’m just a kid.’ No, that would be too obvious. “I got into town, right now I’m a free agent.”
“I think we can work something out.” he placed his hand to my lower back, groping the shape of my hips.
I figured he was checking if I was armed.
Lucky for me, where most girls wore their hearts on their sleeves, I wore my knife on my ankle. I invited his rough fingers to explore lower, to my six-pack stomach. My coach always liked my abs, he had a thing for thin, athletic girls.
Anya looked shy and a little horrified. But she bowed her head as she spoke with a slow, heavy accent. “Her name is Lena, I kind of owe her for her assistance. That, and she is very beautiful.”
“You did well, Anya,” he replied, still looking at me. “My friend and I, we’re staying at the Hotel St Regent just up the road.”
“I’ve heard of it.” I pulled myself closer, leaning into his warm embrace. My main goal was to prove my self to be a suitable replacement for Anya.
We walked in silence, with Anya staying a few feet behind. The hotel approached, casting a hellish shadow as if it had risen from the night itself. “Wow.”
The front doors seemed to blend in with the darkness. I actually didn’t even notice the presence of a doorman until a tall dark figure opened the stain-glass Gothic panel door.
Alexi held me close, covering my face with his tan suede jacket as we made our way to the elevator. “Have you been here before?”
“Not beyond the lobby,” I replied. I’d once spent an afternoon pick-pocketing, slipping through the sea of wealthy guests. But it never looked this sinister.
After a few minutes, the doors opened and Alexi led the way to their room.
Room 405 was nothing special; a single king bed with a high backed office chair, a desk, and a TV. There was also a mini-fridge and quite a nice bathroom but it wasn’t a quite the suite I was expecting. “Got anything to drink? or should I just make myself comfortable?”
Alexi sat on a chair, pulling me on to his lap. He leaned back, as he punched in the code to a safe (which appeared to be nothing more than a desk drawer.) He pulled out a dark, unlabeled bottle. “You drink?
“Vodka?” I asked innocently, maintaining character. Clearly, it was not vodka.
“Let’s say it is.” The color was a strange shade of blue and it smelled like a mix of lemonade and cough syrup.
I glanced at Anya who was shaking her head with a nervous tick. That seemed to be my cue to not actually swallow it.
“I’ll take a drink, ” I said, taking the bottle to my lips. Despite how it smelled, the actual liquid tasted like motor oil. I held it in my mouth for only a few seconds before kissing Alexi’s lips. “But I also want to get a little more comfortable.”
I hoped to God that I could distract him, forcing the majority of the liquid into his mouth. But I could still taste it and it wasn’t long before my brain felt like putty. ‘Oh, shit…”
The sudden rush of sleepiness took all of my strength, threatening to knock me out. I had to get naked. I knew that once I felt his touch on my skin, my mind would be shocked back to high-alert.
I quickly took off my sweatshirt, revealing my small, perky breasts. It also revealed the fact that I hadn’t shaved my armpits in a while. hopefully, that wasn’t a deal-breaker. “I think I want to go to bed.”
I was bracing for a slap in the face, or worse. But much to my surprise, he held the kiss, all while coaxing my legs around his waist as he carried me to the bed.
I could feel his erection against my leg, and it made me want to vomit. It was the same as when my coach used to help me ‘stretch,’ for better flexibility. In a matter of seconds, he would be on top of me.
I couldn’t let that happen. Alexi was much too strong, I needed to present an alternative where I had the power. I kissed his neck, tracing my tongue along a black lined tattoo of a church.
This was enough to get him to pause. I reached between his legs, feeling for his raw heat. “It’s not going to suck itself,” I said in a whisper, taking a long breath, “Pasha.” It didn’t take much to get Alexi on his back, opening his shirt to reveal a slender, muscular chest covered in mafia tattoos; nautical stars, angels and saints.
I cupped his face with a tender kiss. His breath smelled like cigarettes, and it was really testing my gag reflex. I switched to sucking his lower lip, alternating between soft kisses and love bites. I watched him close his eyes as I worked my way down his chin. I sucked on his rough facial hair, looking every bit like a sex-crazed little slut. The trick worked so well, Alexi didn’t even notice Anya securing his arms, and wrists to the bed.
Using his shirt as a thick dense rope, she made a series of knots, pinning his arms above his head. I have to admit I was impressed. Alexi’s hands were bound so well he couldn’t break free even if he wanted to. Not that men like him ever want to.
I tapped Anya on the shoulder, motioning for her to switch positions.
She smiled and snickered, like a true femme fatale. No words were necessary to express what we needed to do. (And likely she had done it before.) Sitting on his chest, she went after his pants opening his belt, then his zipper.
Anya made sure to lock eyes with me as she took him in her mouth.
I licked two fingers, being sure to make loud drooling sounds. (In case Alexi was even paying attention.) With my saliva drenched hand, I lubed up the handle of my knife, spitting a massive wad for good measure. I was actually pretty good at fucking men with my knife, bringing them to the edge, while not cutting my fingers on the slippery blade. Unfortunately, this ultimately resulted in my favorite knife getting caked with feces. (Thank God for hand sanitizer.)
I couldn’t see if Anya was fully naked (in a 69 position) or just administering oral sex while choking him with her legs. Either way, she had his full attention.
By the size and shape of Alexi’s balls, I could tell when he was close to orgasm. I tapped Anya on the shoulder, as a word of warning before the next stage of my plan.
Anya nodded and sat up. She was still positioned on his chest, with his head between her ankles. She mimed a silent stabbing motion. (So technically this was her idea.)
In one swift motion, I removed the hilt of the blade from his ass, turned it around, and sank the knife into his thigh, making sure to cut nice and deep into his femoral artery.
This caused a sudden geyser of blood to hit Anya in the face and chest. She giggled, and without missing a beat she switched up her technique. Instead of oral sex, she was aggressively jerking him off, as if milking a cow.
I forced my knife hilt deeper and deeper, moving in and out as if I was using my fingers. Alexi was moaning in Russian, but he wasn’t begging for his life. He was begging for a release. He had to know he was going to bleed to death in a pool of his own semen. Or perhaps he didn’t feel it?
It was actually kinda fun. This was everything I wanted to do to my father, my coach, and everyone else who hurt me. This was for all the men. I stabbed him again, severing off a large chunk of flesh from his thigh.
That was when he finally cried out in pain. I wouldn’t call it a scream, more like the roar of a lion.
Anya turned and punched him in the mouth with an unexpected amount of force. Over and over she busted up his face, breaking his nose, eye sockets, and jaw
After what felt like a long time she gripped her wrist. “Ouch.”
“You ok, Anya?”
“No just a little sore. I always knew he had a hard head.” Her work done, Anya got off the bed and went to the bathroom to wash her hands.
“So, thumbs up or thumbs down?” I asked, reinserting the handle of my knife into his ass. His muscles were tense, throbbing, that was when I realized he was yet to ejaculate. With all the blood rushing to Alexi’s hips, he would bleed out quite easily if his genitals were to be forcibly removed.
Anya sighed, as she emerged from the bathroom. “Alexi was not the man who killed my father, but he was the bastard who purchased me off the dark web.”
“I saved your life,” Alexi cried through blood-covered lips. “They were going to sell you off in pieces.”
“I would rather have died,” she replied as she rifled through his jacket. “But then again, that is why I feel death is too good for you.” When she had a good collection of cash, credit cards, and his cell phone, she approached Alexi. “Maybe we should ask our new friend to determine your final fate.”
I smiled proudly at the sight of Anya’s newfound confidence. “I think you should buy a ticket back home, or to wherever you want to call home.”
“Maybe he’ll bleed out, maybe he won’t. But I won’t take his life until I know you’re safe.
Anya nodded. “Since I already took the time to wash my hands.” She handed me her smartphone and pocketed (What I assumed was) Alexi’s flip phone.
I wanted to keep my promise and wait until she called, before fully deciding Alexi’s fate.
Turns out that would not be up to me.
Anya left, and I turned to Alexi who had gone silent. I dragged my blood coated fingers along his jawline. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
The man shook his head. “There is nothing to say.” The look in his eyes was not one of anger, but rather of sadness. “I will not beg a little girl.”
“But you’ll fuck one.” My words made me sound braver than I really was. I wanted him to beg, to tell me he was a human being. “so, what’s your deal? Did your daddy beat you? Maybe he sold your ass on the streets.”
Alexi smiled, revealing a mouth full of bloody teeth. “My childhood was quite lovely.”
“Do you have a wife and kids?” I asked as I attempted to remove my knife from his ass.
Alexi was clenching, his body threatening to swallow my blade whole. “Do you truly believe all men are like your father?”
“What?” My mind went blank. I remember taking a single breath. The world around me went in slow motion, before fading into darkness.
Next thing I knew, a woman grabbed me by the neck. “What’s your name kid?” she asked with a strong, Latina accent.
“Go to hell,” I replied with a gasp. She appeared to be the leader of the team that was securing the room.
“Hell?” she said with a laugh. “That’s kind of cute.”
“What?” I had been distracted with finding Alexi. The bed was covered in blood but there were no remains to be seen.
“That’s what I’m going to call you, Hellion.” The woman pointed me towards the fire escape.
“What can I call you?”
“You can call me Maverick.”
“Like the Tom Cruise character?”
“Exactly,” she said as she cuffed my wrists. “If you’d said anything about that cowboy-shit, I wouldn’t have hesitated to punch you in your pretty little face.”
The woman’s humor seemed odd for a cop. “Am I under arrest?”
“No, I think you’re going to make a great addition to my team.”
“Ok, sure.” And yet the cuff stayed on. I took my last look at the city before being led to the roof and shoved into a waiting helicopter. This was either really good or really bad. But at least Anya was safe. Enemy of my enemy is my friend, that’s the way the saying goes, right? “Where’s Alexi?”
That caused Maverick to laugh. “He’s alive and able to answer our questions about the human trafficking ring.” She pulled out a black cloth bag. “Head forward if you please.”
Before I could respond, she forced the bag on my head.
“Sorry, sweetie, it’s just protocol.”
I nodded under the hood. “Is Anya safe?”
“Yeah,” she said patting my shoulder. “Anya’s safe.”
I felt the helicopter taking off. After a while, we seemed to have reached cruising altitude. That was when I heard footsteps coming from the pilot’s seat.
“I told you she was great.” The approaching voice was Russian, female, but not Anya. She sounded older, like someone in their thirties who’d smoked since the age of ten.
“I’m here,” the voice replied. “You did great.”
“What did I do?”
“You sharpened your magic blade on his vile manhood,” Anya’s voice noticeably cringed as she spoke. “You actually looked like you might consider mercy but that pervert had to go and run his mouth.”
“Yes, really. You have the skills of a warrior, an assassin.”
“Thanks, I guess.” I felt myself starting to cry. I had never done anything so horrific to another human being. And Alexi, no matter what he had done in his past, was a human being. At that moment I was grateful to be under the hood.
“But if it makes you feel any better, he’s still alive.”
Maverick chuckled. “Not by much.”
“The whole point was to lure him,” Anya explained. “Regardless if I had met you tonight or not, this was a pickup time to reunite with my team and turn Pasha over to the proper authorities.” When happiness filled her voice, she started to sound like the teenage girl I’d befriended.
“What are you?”
“We work for an international organization known as Valkyrie,” Anya explained, holding my hand as the helicopter set down for a landing. “We’re an international organization, taking down predators for womankind.”
“Womankind?” Maverick said with a laugh. “We’re more than a gender swap.” She pulled the hood off my sweat covered face. “I’ll show you to your sleeping quarters.”
I walked with Maverick, taking notice of her hover boots. Everyone seemed to have some sort of modern armor and or weaponry.
“Can I see Alexi?” I asked.
Maverick shot me a look of disappointment. “You can’t be serious.”
“Never mind, then,” I replied in a meek little girl voice.
Maverick led me to a large hallway filled with a wall of tubes lining the wall like a honeycomb. It looked like the Japanese capsule hotels I’d seen in pictures. “Your bed is number 6534. Anya will be back to give you a tour of the facility.”
“Thanks.” I located my tube in the row closest to the ground. The low ceiling made me feel slightly claustrophobic as if I was in a coffin. But turning over, I caught sight of sunlight. We were flying. “What the fuck?”
“Hellion!” Anya’s voice shouted from outside my tube. I scooted out to greet her, thankful for a familiar face. Anya was wearing a plain t-shirt and sweatpants, looking like your average college co-ed.
I greeted her with a hug. “I’m so glad to see you. Are we on a plane?”
“This is our mobile base,” she explained. But we’re currently heading to Northern Russia to turn Alexi over to UN authorities. “Come on, I’ll show you to the cafeteria.”
We went one level down, to a mess hall that seemed to consist only of vending machines. “Everything’s free but don’t be greedy,” she said as she helped herself to a coffee. “We only get supplies at bi-weekly pick-up stops.”
“Where’s Alexi?” I asked while picking out a generic power bar.
“In the basement, cargo hold,” she replied, taking a sip of her drink. “After he was stabilized.”
I nodded. “Do you think I could visit him?”
“Yeah, sure,” she replied calmly. “We can probably head there now if you want.”
We took our snacks and exited out the fire escape. The path was dark, and clearly not meant for travel but Anya seemed to know the way. “I’m really sorry for dragging you into this. I really thought you were more bloodthirsty, or apathetic.”
“I’m plenty bloodthirsty,” I squeaked.
“Well, Alexi is not worthy of your sympathy.”
We stopped at a metal door. “This is where we part ways, I have a feeling if he saw me bad things would happen. I want you to have a chance to see him for who he really is.”
“I understand.” I opened the door and took a step into a dark corridor. My eyes took a moment to adjust to the darkness when suddenly I was blasted with an intense flashlight.
“Nice uniform.” I looked down at my chest. For the first time, I noticed the Valkyrie long-sleeve shirt I was wearing with my torn denim jeans. I had to assume Maverick or maybe Anya had given it to me at the hotel.
I wanted to ask why he had a flashlight. But the sound of his voice caused me to freeze. “Alexi?” When my night vision returned I saw that Alexi’s cell was illuminated by a glowing blue bug zapper. The device expelled just enough light to allow me to see the state of his body.
His left leg has been amputated. But he appeared to be resting comfortably on a long plan of wood that served at the room’s only bed. “Hello, little one.”
“Do you even recall what you did?” he asked, facing away.
I shook my head, and forced myself to squeak out a whispered, “No.”
“Well, let me show you.” In one swift motion, Alexi teleported to the front of the cell, slamming his head against the bars.
I screamed, falling backward. For less than a second, I saw what could only be described as a man in a robotic mask. But a few blinks caused the image to return to normal. Alexi’s face was bruised, swollen. But he wasn’t wearing a mask.
“Wow, you are just a kid, aren’t you?” Alexi was laughing, leaning into the bars like some kind of prison inmate stereotype. “What did you see, little girl?”
“So, you didn’t see a robotic shark?”
“No.” The image flashed again, superimposed over Alexi’s face. And yes, the mask resembled a robotic hammerhead shark, with a visor that seemed to stretch the wearer’s field of vision.
“My boss is no fool,” his voice crackled, becoming more distorted. “Faust is no fool.” The blue light of the bug zapper flickered, plunging the corridor into darkness. “I. Am. No. Fool.”
I needed to run, but without light, I had no idea which way. I picked a direction and found myself tripping on a long tube. ‘A flashlight?’ I picked it up, smacking it a few times to get it to light. “Oh thank God.” I felt a brief moment of calm, and then I turned around.
What appeared before me, was a fusion of Alexi and whatever the hell Faust was. He had Alexi’s body; skin, muscles, long blond hair, but with robotic pieces. His leg had been replaced with a black, metallic prosthetic.
The creature rolled his head back, moaning sexually. “I can still feel what you did to him.”
“Him?” So, this was not Alexi.
“Don’t act like you didn’t enjoy it,” he said with a laugh. “Deep down you’re a sadist like your old man.”
I finally started to hear alarms going off. I knew it would be in the best interest of of the Valkyries to keep him in one place. “What do you know about my father?
“Nothing, it was just a logical guess. Girls like you always have daddy issues.”
“Issues?” I could feel the rage boiling in my throat. “You don’t know me.”
the voice crackled with radio-like static. “Do you recall what Alexi said to you, the words that pushed you over the edge?”
“Harder, deeper,” he said in Alexi’s voice. “Oh, that’s so good.”
The memories started to flow back, little by little as my mind was being broken. Alexi had enjoyed being sodomized by the hilt of my blade. He was begging me to ride his dick, or at least suck him off. “You know you want to, my sweet baby girl.”
“Freeze fucker!” shouted a handful of female officers.
From the corner of my eye, I could see they were all heavily armed with rifles and high tech body armor.
They seemed confident, or at least not as ill-prepared as an unarmed girl holding a dying flashlight.
“Hello, ladies,” the creature said in a robotic Russian accent. “So nice of you to join us.”
There was an explosion. I remember that much.
I awoke in bed, with horrible pain in my…legs? Despite the discomfort in my arms, and chest I forced myself to sit up. I could clearly see that my legs had been amputated below the knee. But yet they felt like they were on fire; burning, bleeding, blistering, but unlike actual burns, these would never go numb.
If I had to assume what was happening I would go with phantom limb syndrome. Yeah, that had to be it.
And it would be this way for all eternity.
Has Faust blown up the prison? Were the Valkyries dead? Where even was I?
For some people, this would be the end. but for me, this was just the beginning.