John Daye could have sworn he was dreaming. The wound in his shoulder wouldnt close, despite the pressure he was putting on it, using his jacket to absorb as much blood as it could. The caravan had somehow decreased in size; it felt so much more cramped now, what with a man moaning every other minute clutching his leg, with John himself unceremoniously propped up into a corner breathing more loudly than the rest combined, with a body lacking a face spread eagled on the now red floor, and with Rebecca pointing a gun at a child, whose face had gone catatonically expressionless. The girls eyes didnt register the gun kept so close to her head, or Rebeccas slightly shaking hand, but only the body of the only mother figure she had known.
Hey, Rebecca, John decided to speak at long last, dont point the gun at the kid, please. We have to call the cops.
Rebecca had either not heard him, or had chosen to ignore him altogether. She was looking at the girl on the floor before her, and the expression that was etched in her face made John wonder whether the gun could murder half as efficiently. Suddenly, Daye saw the nineteen-year old something in a new darker neon light; Daye realized the hand that was shaking before didnt budge an inch now, and the look in her eyes kept becoming steadily dangerous.
Rebecc , John began very cautiously.
I am not going to call the cops, Daye, and neither are you. Her eyes never left the girls.
This entire conversation was going unnoticed by Ana, who was still mesmerized by Ambers body, and the irritated redhead grabbed the collar of her kimono and made her face the gun. Dead eyes stared back.
You have no idea how long I have waited for this moment, John.
The man in question didnt understand. He looked from her, to the girl, to the injured man, looking for answers none of them gave. John tried getting to his feet, but his body wasnt responding properly. He had lost quite some blood from the knife wound, but even so, he felt he should be able to move. Trying again, he found his feet, albeit unsteadily, and taking support of the table, he looked at the brunette.
What are you doing, Rebecca?
She looked at John, some old hurt piercing her eyes. Then she looked back at the girl.
Lady, she made that sound like a taunt, do you remember my aunt? Do you remember Alicia Lamb?
Ana was scared. She shook her head ever so slightly. But the man clutching his leg, Jay, answered,
You are that nut jobs niece? Fuck, explains a lot! and he spat on the floor.
Oh so you do remember her? Rebecca asked almost evilly.
I didnt. I dont ask customers names. But I saw her on the news long time back. Burned her kid in a fire, didnt she?
Rebecca was silent. John, on the other end of the room, looked at everyone warily. He didnt understand this situation, and he needed to keep all the people in the room talking. He didnt know whether the girl or Jay had realized this, but Rebecca was holding that gun with intent.
Alicia Lamb got healed by this girl, he said.
Yeah, I was there that day, alright? What the fuck do you guys want? the crippled man shouted.
Tell me, Jay, Rebecca asked softly, What happened that day?
I dont know, man, the usual. Lady here did her thing, and she started crying. Said shit like the world was corrupted and evil and needed to be burnt. I could tell she was bat shit crazy, the way she was talking.
What she wanted, Rebecca said dangerously, was a baby. She was corrupted and evil, not the world. She was part of a cult that believed in sacrifices, and the sacrifice of their own blood is the strongest, isnt it? But my dear aunt couldnt give birth. So she came to this girl here, and she healed her.
And Rebecca laughed.
Healed her, Hahaha, tell me, Jay, do you actually believe she can do her thing? Are you that stupid? Or did you know she is a fraud, which makes you a fraudster too. Makes you worse, the number of lives you have ruined. So tell me, are you a zealot or a fake?
Jay looked at her grimly.
She was a zealot, looking at the dead body on the floor, I am what I am.
Another shot was fired, and Jay lay dead.
Jesus! What the hell are you doing, Rebecca! John screamed, What is this?
This is revenge.
Rebecca had killed two people, but when John looked at her, he saw nothing, not even a hint of remorse. What had he expected to see anyway? She was a twisted killer, that was the truth of it, and as she pointed the gun towards Ana, Daye felt a growing trepidation.
Revenge? Revenge for what, Rebecca? For what happened to your Aunt? She was a crazy mental person, and you know
REVENGE FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO ME! her scream shook the caravan, but maybe it was the additional footsteps running inside. Rebecca whipped her gun again, as Jeremy ran to shield Ana.
Jeremy, no! Ana screamed, hugging him close.
You cant touch her, Jeremy shouted, holding his branch firmly like a sword.
No. I dont know who you are, maam, but you are pointing that gun at my friend and I am not moving.
Jeremy Anas voice was a whisper.
Move, boy, or I am going to have to kill you too.
But Jeremy raised his head and stood his ground, even as Ana kept pulling at his shirt, trying to push him aside.
Rebecca! You are threatening innocent children. Just, keep the gun down. Just, calm yourself, goddamn it. No revenge is worth this.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW?
And the adamant Rebecca shoved Jeremy aside, who tripped over Jays body and fell, and her pistol was trained at Ana now, but before she could pull the trigger, Ana reached out and held the hands holding the handgun. Something happened in that moment, for the two girls looked into each others eyes and both found something in them. Rebecca lowered the gun and rested her head on Anas shoulder, as fresh tears fell from the brunettes eyes.
What do you know? She cried.
You dont have to take all the hurt alone, Ana said to her.
The gun lay pointed next to Anas heart now, but her hands shook in time with her sobs. Ana, on the other hand, seemed to be completely calm, even expressionless. Jeremys clothes had Jays blood on them now, as he looked at the two girls in horror and John had a similar expression on his face.
But Rebeccas eyes were full of tears and her vision was blurred, as if looking at the world through a crystal.
You destroyed me, Lady of the Lake. You, and my aunt, and her fire cult. Rebecca looked back at John through her tear laden red eyes, as if willing him to understand what she had been forced to go through,
I was very close to my aunt. I trusted her with everything, I loved her more than my mother. She was about the only person who was nice to me, and she treated me like a friend not some weird kid, which was a first for me. If I realized at one point that she was off in the head, I chose to ignore it and all the people who warned me about her. She used to never get out of the house, no wonder people didnt like her. I started hating the world the same way my aunt used to.
I never knew she was part of a cult, I never knew her infatuation with Japanese folktales. I never understood her, not completely. But I trusted her.
She looked at Ana, pointing at her with the gun angrily.
Then that day came. She healed my aunt. Thats what Alicia believed. She wanted a baby, and she got one through her evil powers. Thats what Alicia believed.
But it wasnt Alicia who got pregnant. It was me. See, when I was fifteen I was a depressed kid, and I hung around with the wrong people. I fell in love with a guy, old story. When I got pregnant, he bailed, and I did not know what to do. I had nowhere to go. But then it hit the fifteen year old naïve me. Alicia would help me.
Rebecca started laughing now. John could practically feel her hurt radiating through to him. He was horrified for he knew what had happened now.
I was there waiting for my Aunt to come back home. My aunt was driving home from right here, this caravan. It just happened to be a coincidence, that I chose to tell my aunt I was pregnant the same night she had decided to meet the Lady of the Lake. Just a bloody darn coincidence.
She convinced me not to get an abortion. Hahaha, honestly, I didnt need much convincing. I was cursed with love. I was so young and stupid, god, I actually loved the guy who bailed on me so much, I was actually ready to bear his child. So for the next nine months, the cult took me in, because my mother sure as hell wouldnt. My aunt took care of me.
Until finally, the day came when I was on the bed and my child tasted fresh air. I couldnt have been happier, I really couldnt have been. I remember fainting right after. Next thing I know, someone from the cult had taken me across the street, but I could see the fire even from there, huge, so fucking huge. My clothes still had blood on them, and my nameless child was taken from me. To burn. To burn in that fucking fire, when my aunt survived, when this Lady of the Lake survived.
So maybe you are right, John, maybe revenge isnt worth it. Maybe it wont make me feel any better. Maybe all of this is meaningless. But wasnt my daughters death meaningless too?
She found herself crying hard, and any further words she meant to say were lost, as Ana hugged her. But Rebecca pushed the nose of her gun into Anas gut, as she took a step back.
Nothing can take my pain away. You cant heal me, no one can. She cried.
You are right, Ana said calmly. Nothing can take your pain away. You will die feeling this way.
Rebeccas eyes cringed up together, and she made an ugly face, even as Jeremy screamed NO! and John tried to move fast to stop her pulling the trigger, but has ever a wounded man been faster than the speed of a bullet? And so it was, as Anas kimono turned a beautiful satin red and unraveled upon impact, she fell, as if slowly.
For John, he had witnessed yet another tragedy in his world, and all the years forgetting the fire had been to naught for he would have to spend greater time forgetting this incident.
For Jeremy, he had been broken, he had been healed, and now he lay broken again, holding her dead body and crying with grief.
For Rebecca, she realized, even with her falling tears, that the now dead girl had been right and nothing, after all, could take her pain away.
Police sirens were ringing around them, John realized, but neither Rebecca nor Jeremy seemed to care. So John stayed put, even as officers entered the caravan and handcuffed him and Rebecca. Many of the officers had disbelief in their eyes, surveying the scene before them, and one of them had to step outside and empty his lunch.
With them entered a fat boy.
Jesus, Tom whispered. Beyond that he said nothing.
Jeremy lay there with Ana on his lap, tears that he did nothing to stop falling on her face, feeling more dead than her cold body.
A few weeks later, two boys pedaled their cycles silently through a forest, trees lined perfectly around them. No one talked, not even the fat boy, which was odd considering his foul mouth usually tended to talk needlessly. On his right, Jeremy was silent too, which wasn’t odd at all considering everything that had happened. And it so happened that the ride was silent until they reached a particular stream dividing the forest in two. Both boys looked at the other side, but no silver caravan greeted them any longer.
Hey, Jeremy?, Tom began finally.
Did you love her?
Jeremy stopped his bicycle and so did the fat boy.
Let it be, fat boy.
Im just asking.
And Im telling you. Let it be.
Dude, Im just saying. If she could heal people, maybe she could heal herself. Like, you knowmaybe she survived?
Jeremy could understand Tom was trying to make him feel better. He was a good friend, Tom.
Did she actually have powers? He asked, and Jeremy could feel how genuine that question was.
Jeremy was silent. He looked at the flowing stream. Everything was much colder now, and the water looked blue. The sky was a dismal grey where it met the fading green canopy. Jeremy wondered about it for some time.
I dont know. Probably not.
Lets go back, man Jeremy said.
And the two boys were going home now, their bicycles going over branches and twigs, breaking them irrevocably.