The gang’s tinted SUV rolled towards the Witch’s Brew soon after it had opened, and Charlie felt like he was going to puke. Not out of nervousness, but because that Shortcircuit motherfucker had given him a good frying – again. He half expected a xenomorph to burst from his chest, the way his week was going.
At least the boss seemed grateful, as much as he could manage, that he’d ratted out the source of their latest headache. When he’d gone for a drink after escaping the hospital, he’d manage to overhear Mouse squealing to Higgins and receiving information about their operations in return, information she must have then passed on to Shortcircuit. Shortcircuit and his pig buddies had cleaned out the Scholz factory base, and Skinnyman was pissed. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars of equipment, data and weaponry had been seized. Worst of all, everything they had learned about replicating the aspects of enhanced strength anomalies had been set back. At least most of the staff had managed to flee.
The driver pulled into an alley and everyone climbed out. Skinnyman took point, strolling straight to the door before turning briefly back to the group.
“No one enters or leaves until we’re gone.”
With that he pushed the doors open, and the gang fanned out. Skinnyman looked up at a camera that hung in a ceiling corner, tearing it from its hinges. Most of the patrons froze like deer in headlights. One woman, however, simply lost it, screaming bloody murder. Skinnyman turned his gaze to her, and she began to gasp for air.
“Let’s not be dramatic,” he hissed before relenting. “I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience, ladies and gentlemen, but a particular patron of this establishment has been – very bothersome. As you all know I’m conducting very important research. It can’t be interrupted or delayed. Some of you must know who Mouse, also known as Nisa Verion, is, correct? Is she here?”
The crowd shook their heads almost in unison.
“Where could I find her?”
“Go to hell.”
Skinnyman looked up at the end of the bar. Some ginger chick was staring him down, fearless. Charlie had to admit, it was impressive. Skinnyman let slip a small laugh.
“Jessica? Yes, I remember you. It’s been – a while, hasn’t it?”
The bar stool crashed down, and Jessica looked to be suspended by her neck by an invisible hand. She managed to get her feet onto the bar, but it didn’t help any.
“I will take you apart if I must. Where is Mouse?”
Keeping one hand on her throat, Jessica gave him the finger. “Kiss… my ass…”
Before he could do anything further, the bartender popped out of his hiding spot, putting his hands up. “Okay, okay, stop! Go check her apartment. The address is 8051 Darlington Avenue, suite 207. Just let everyone go, okay?”
Jessica slammed to the ground. The bartender tried to help her up, but she pushed him away.
“Very well,” Skinnyman said. “But if that information is incorrect, I’ll be back.” Just like that the gang retreated, leaving behind a stunned crowd.
If it weren’t for the fact she’d taken a small dosage herself, backwashing a gallon jug of water into extra potent ketamine would have been boring as all get out. Fortunately, the ability to totally control her physiology let her ignore the age-old adage of not touching your own supply. No nasty side effects for her. Just tedium.
What was supposed to her room was really a makeshift drug lab, aside from her bed. In Blackburn, especially in the Cauldron, people didn’t ask too many questions or peek around your living space that much. Almost the day after escaping Skinnyman’s clutches she became the top drug producer and distributor in the Blackburn metro. It came naturally, after all. She didn’t even know what to do with all the money she raked in on a weekly basis. Most of it was blown on expensive booze and designer clothes.
Her cell phone blaring the Ramones snapped her out of her ruminations. She didn’t remember playing any music… oh wait that was her ringtone. She flipped it over. It was Jessica.
Jessica let out a haggard cough before speaking. “Skinnyman. It’s fucking Skinnyman. He came to the bar, started asking about you.”
“Shit!” Mouse staggered to her feet. “Shit! Oh, no…”
“You need to get out of there. I don’t know what you did but he’s fuming.”
She glanced over at her dilution table and frowned. Hopefully that pencil-necked motherfucker wouldn’t care enough about her drugs to destroy them. She snatched her jacket from the closet and ran out the door.
“I passed on some information Jeff gave me to Shortcircuit, but there’s no way he could know that!”
“Are you going to be okay? Do you need me to call my mom?”
Mouse scoffed and began down the stairs. “Please, no. I need to call Wilbur.”
“Hmph. Alright. Take care of yourself Nisa.”
“Yeah, you too.”
She opened a back door exit and was greeted by some punk kid who was just staring at her. “Move, dipshit.” She tried pushing him aside, but suddenly his arms flung around her in a bear hug. After swallowing her surprise, she launched her knee into his groin. He opened his mouth to yelp, allowing her spit something down his gullet. Honestly, she wasn’t even sure. He dropped her and began to spit on the ground, allowing her to begin sprinting.
A quick dose of PCP allowed her to run like an olympian, well into Downtown. Eventually though even her drug-assisted stamina wore out, and she stopped to pant in an alley. Someone flung a back door open and she jumped a mile. Some cook carrying a pot of grease just raised an eyebrow.
“Fuck…” She caught her breath before dialing Wilbur’s number. He took his sweet time answering.
“Nisa?” he groaned. “Please tell me you just want to hang out and not play informant…”
“Skinnyman’s after me,” she blurted out. “Oh geez. I don’t know how, but he knows I’ve fed you info. One of his goons tried grabbing me outside my apartment.”
“Argh, it just gets worse with this guy, doesn’t it?” A pause. “Come down to our headquarters building. Ask the receptionist for Fritz, I’ll tell him you’re coming. He’ll take care of you.”
“And what about you?”
“Heading to the lion’s den.” She heard him get out of his chair. “I’m going to see if I can’t head to your apartment in time to tail Skinnyman back to his lair.”
“Christ, you’re an idiot.” She coughed. “If you die-”
“Pffft. No offense, but I’m more scared of what Fritz will do to me than you.”