Posts Tagged ‘K’
Robin stumbled out onto the pavement and punched the alley wall. She felt so helpless but so grateful to be out in the open air of the city again. Her world had never been normal but it had been normal for her. Now she was learning how strange things had been while she had turned a blind eye to it. She had no idea which way was up anymore.
She walked along the alley and there was R, leaning against the wall. He looked a little like a puppet with cut strings. When she got near him, he looked up and for some reason, she thought he would bark. He did not do that. Instead, he pushed himself to his feet.
“Robin! I looked everywhere for you. Something told me that here would be where I should wait,” R said. He brushed himself off but it looked he still had some dusting of broken glass on his coat.
“I’m tired of all this Nightmare on Charles Street bullshit!” She yelled at everybody and nobody.
“Are you alright?” R asked and something in his eyes made Robin calm down a little.
“No. I’ll never be alright again,” Robin said.
“What happened?” He asked. He reached out to her but she stepped even further out of reach.
“Let’s just say I think I know where the tattoos come from and I want to throw up. Where’s my car? The damage is bad, huh?” Robin asked with no small amount of sarcasm. She wanted to change the subject but there was no cheerier subject.
“It’s completely gone.” R said.
“Well, it was being crushed when I ran. I guessed it would be totaled. Crap!” She said and kicked a loose piece of concrete.
“Well, yeah that’s probably right but it’s just vanished too,” He said. He was looking at her like he was afraid she might explode again. “There’s not even broken glass on the street.”
Robin just stared at him for a few moments. “What? Oh great. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The weird stuff keeps happening.” She walked toward the front of the building and R followed. The street was absolutely empty and the street lights were working again. It was as if the attack had never happened. She had half expected the car to be pristine and waiting for them there but it was indeed gone.
“When you ran, I tried to follow. Before I could reach the building, something huge swatted me. I flew through that window,” R said. He pointed toward a window that looked clean and untouched.
Robin looked up at that. “Jeez, are you alright?”
“The coat stopped the broken glass and I’m just bruised a lot. But thanks for asking,” R said.
“I’m a little too self-centered sometimes. I forget this horrible crap isn’t just hitting me, it’s happening to people like you too. What happened then?” She asked.
“The building kind of coughed me back out onto the pavement. I tried the door and it was locked and then that thing swatted me again, this time into the alley.”
“You didn’t want to be in that building trust me.”
“Well, it wasn’t a picnic out here either. I woke up in the alley and started investigating the situation. Unfortunately, there was not much worth investigating. So I waited for you.” R said.
“Well. I’ve had enough of the forces of darkness for tonight. I don’t know if I can sleep but I’m so tired,” She said with a yawn and a scowl.
“Where do you want to go? Back to check in on the, um, ladies?” R asked.
“Oh hell no. I can’t deal with that anymore today.”
“Well then, where do we go instead?” R asked.
“My place should be relatively safe now.”
“Are you asking me over to your place?” R asked with a bit of a smirk.
“Don’t get any ideas,” Robin said but she did grin just a litle bit.
“Alright. How do we get there without a car?” R asked.
“I’ll call an uber. A few people have tipped me free rides, actually.” Robin said and pulled her phone out. The battery was completely dead.
“Damn it! That stupid spider trap took so long that my cell is dead. I guess we’re walking until we see a taxi,” Robin said without explanation.
They started to walk down the deserted street. As they approached a parked car, Robin was struck with a sudden wave of nausea. She stumbled and leaned on the car and she felt a sharp pain behind her ear. The car made a loud ker-chunk sound as all four doors unlocked. Robin stared dumbly at the car. The nausea had passed. R watched from a few steps away.
“It was the key,” Robin said before R could ask.
“The what?” R asked.
Robin brushed her hair aside and showed the tiny key tattoo behind her ear. “I’ve had it since I was a baby. Bad parenting.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” R said. “Are we meant to take the car?”
“Meant to? I don’t know if I believe in ‘meant to’ but we’re taking it because I’m tired,” Robin said.
They got into the car and, after a moment, Robin held her hand over the ignition. There was a sharp pain again and the car started up.
Robin and the Beetleman found a little privacy on Carly’s balcony. Inside the apartment Kim fussed over a wounded Puppet Girl who was laid out carefully on the sofa. She was still breathing so it wasn’t time to panic and call a doctor yet. The girl hadn’t woken up yet though and that worried Robin but Kim looked like a capable caregiver. Maybe having kids unlocked that sort of behavior in human beings.
The Beetleman cleared his throat. He was leaning against the railing of the balcony. He had draped his trenchcoat over the railing and he had rolled up the sleeves of his button-up shirt. Even without the mass of the coat the balcony felt smaller with him on it. He was so big and tall and there was a force to his presence. He had the gravity of an action hero and it was hard not to look at him. She found herself staring at his caramel face, dark chocolate eyes and pitch black hair. He must not have gotten time to shave but he looked good. He looked really good actually.
“Earth to Robin. You wanted to talk?” He asked, cocking his head to the side ever so slightly.
“Oh. Yeah. Yeah I did. I just don’t know exactly where to start.” Robin said while trying not to blush.
“It’s all kind of terrifyingly complicated. I don’t blame you.” He nodded slowly, turning to look out over the surrounding wholesome neighborhood. The sirens in the square had died down by then.
“Can we maybe start with your name? I still don’t know it.” Robin said, tense with how awkward that question felt. It seemed that they had been so intimate in the bar and he had saved her life. It was ridiculous that she hadn’t asked yet, right?
“That’s weird. You used it last night.” He said, a curious look scrunching his face up. He didn’t quite trust her just as much as she didn’t trust him.
“Long story but that wasn’t me.”
“That wasn’t you? You look like the same tattooed, semi-goth bar waitress from before. Are you sure you didn’t get a concussion in the square?” He asked. It was Robin’s turn to look out over the neighborhood. She could feel him studying her and this time she couldn’t stop herself from blushing.
“I don’t reawlly know how it works but there is another Robin in my head. She knew your name, I guess. I don’t. I’m not crazy or at least I wasn’t before yesterday.”
“I guess that would explain the strange accent from last night.”
“Just kidding.” He said with a chuckle. “You really are clueless about what’s going on, aren’t you?”
Robin grinned but tried very hard to frown instead. “I know that they’re bad and I’m good or at least I’m trying to be. I know that there’s another me that goes around and getting tattoos and apparently talking to strange men. Could you just tell me your name, already?”
“I guess I owe you at least that much but there’s a problem with that.” He frowned and paused long enough for someone to drive a truck between his words. “I don’t remember my name. I don’t remember much of anything and that includes my name. I know it’s R… something. It starts with an R.”
Robin felt bad for the guy but that lasted only a moment before the fear response hit. What was she up against that could do this? Why did she have to be up against it or anything else? She thought she might just have another panic attack right there on the balcony. She gripped the rail tight and felt her stomach do barrel rolls inside of her. She made small, involuntary sounds that were clearly not words and showed just how vulnerable she felt. The word “Why” rang through her head like a pealing church bell.
“Are you ok?” R asked which was a nominee for dumbest but most thoughtful question of the year.
“I’m sorry it did that to you.” Robin managed to croak out. It was inadequate but the best she could muster.
“It’s ok now. I have a feeling that you’ll help me get it all back.” R said. He said it so matter-of-factly that Robin started to believe it herself. “Maybe if we solve your mystery it will help solve mine.”
Robin sighed. “I’ve tried to solve it already.”
“Really? Ok. What have you tried?”
“I’ve…” The words died in Robin’s throat. “I can’t remember.”
“So she gave you tattoos. When was the first tattoo?”
“Fifteen. Well, the first one, the key, was when I was a baby but the rest didn’t start until I was fifteen.”
“Your parents didn’t complain about the tattoos? Ground you?”
“I… no I guess they didn’t.”
“I..” Robin began but simply shrugged. Why hadn’t her foster parents ever said anything?
“What did the doctors say about your blackouts? About the tattoos?” R continued, the interrogation was starting to get unsettling.
“What doctors?” Robin all but squeaked. There had been doctors, hadn’t there?
“Any doctor. Any pediatrician or school nurse or anybody.”
“There… wasn’t one. Jesus Christ, there wasn’t one. Why didn’t anyone ever do anything? Why didn’t I?”
“Either you already had the answer or something didn’t want you looking for it. It didn’t want anything looking for it.”
Robin was hyperventalating now. She was leaning hard on the railing and nearly retching over the side. R reached out to steady her but she jerked away hard and landed in the corner of the balcony. The bars rang after her shoulder blades collided. The world spun around several times before she shut her eyes.
“What am I?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know, Robin. Let’s figure it out together. Ok?”
“How do I know I can trust you when I can’t trust myself?”
There was a long near silence which was filled only with the sounds of Robin trying to get her breathing back to normal. After what seemed like hours she gripped the railing and hoisted herself to her feet in the gathering twilight.
“Let’s go see if we can talk to the girl. I’m sick of not knowing.” Robin said and pushed past R and into the apartment.