Shock Treatment

By London

Disclaimer: I don't own BMFM.  Dell is my own character though.  Feel free to use her if you like her.

            Another windy night in Chicago.  Did it ever change?  I hauled my duffle bag through the bad side of town, or as some would call it, the poor side of town.  A local tycoon had bought up most of this part of town and had a lot of the buildings partially demolished.  Anyone who lived in this area was generally poor or couldn't afford to move to a different location.  Why was I here?  As a part time college student and an aspiring artist, I really couldn't afford much.

            I pulled the collar of my wool trench coat up to cut the wind from my neck.  I tried to ignore the ruffians who were surrounding the bar across the street.  They seemed to hoot and holler at anything female that passed by.  Three of the biker goons crossed the street and made calls at me.  Why do all the weirdos follow me?

            "C'mon baby" One of them said. "We'll take you out for a good time."

            I turned around and narrowed my eyes at them.  They were coming closer.  I rolled my eyes and turned to walk away.  More shouting came from behind me.  I sped my pace and rounded the block corner.

            I stumbled as my duffle bag was grabbed from behind me, jerking me to a stop.  I spun around, taking the bag out from the grabby hands.  The three bulky bikers stood there before me.  They looked like the typical bothersome bikers.  Leather clad, tattoos cluttered their arms, one wore chaps, and they smelled like alcohol and cigarettes.

            "You know we were talking to you" The bald one said.

            "Go away" I said.  The bald guy grabbed me by my coat.  Before he could get out a snappy comment, I kneed him hard in the groin.  He doubled over but held onto my coat.  The other two went to grab hold of me.  I kicked one in the gut while the other one grabbed me from behind.  The bald guy caught his breath and stood up.

            "Fuck" I said.  He delivered a full-blown punch right to my cheekbone.  My vision was blurred with black for a second or two.  I heard motorcycles in the distance.  Damned drunken bikers and their stupid bars.

            "Let's find a place to go, boys" The bald guy said.

            "No" I said.  The whole left side of my face hurt when I spoke.  The guy I kicked in the gut took my bag away and tossed it into the street.  My mind raced with the inevitable question 'what do I do now?' and possible situations.  If I screamed, I'd be surprised if anyone bothered to even close a window around here.  I mean, I had heard the stories that there were supposed motorcycle heroes here in Chicago, but with my luck they'd be on vacation.

            Maybe I should be the hero tonight.  I gave a small smile that had a small grimace to it due to the pain in my left side.

            "What are you smiling about?" The bald guy said.

            "Maybe she's excited about her coming future" The guy holding me said.  I could almost feel my eyes glaze over as I gave them icy glares.  The bald one came closer and grabbed my chin.

            "Are you a whore?" He asked with a laugh. "What do you say, girlie?  Want a go with us?"

            "I say" I started to say.  I pulled out of his grip.  I lowered my voice a little. "I'm Batman."

            I jumped and leaned back putting my weight on the one holding me.  I brought my foot up and kicked the bald guy in the face.  With only the small movements I could make with my arms, I was able to grab the left hand of the man who held me with my right hand.  I had caught him off guard and easily pulled him away from me.

            I kicked him in the chest by way of a sidekick.  Those kickboxing classes I used to take were worth it.  The other guy was smart enough to run off.  I went to the street and picked up my bag.  I took a deep breath and started walking towards my apartment.

            Batman.  I always wanted to be Batman, or Batgirl in my case – except for that whole wheel chair thing.  I imagined that at some point maybe I could be a superhero; wear a leotard, a cape, a mask.  I rounded the corner and pulled out my street key.  I came to the building where I lived and unlocked the outside door.  It would lock automatically behind me.

            My one and only neighbor was never home.  They were always out doing something, working maybe, but they were never home.  I never saw a light on from under the door or heard music or the television.  I had only seen him in the hallway getting his mail and locking his door.

            Tonight wasn't any different.  I went into my apartment, which was large for only being $350 a month, and locked the door behind me.

            I tossed the duffle bag against the wall and took off my coat.  I passed my phone and pressed the answering machine button.

            "No new messages" The robotic voice said.  Great.  I never had any phone calls except from work when they needed someone to come in early.  I turned on the radio.  Metallica flowed over the air waves.

            "What time is it?" I asked out loud.  I turned on the kitchen light.  The clock read 11:53pm.  "It's Friday.  Why can't I be out doing something?"

            I never classified being stopped by thugs to be a qualification of 'doing something'.  I moved across the room to look out my window.  Below, the video store claimed to still be open for another hour.  I sighed and thought about the lowlifes I left in the street.  The video store was right next door.  It wouldn't take long for me to go grab a movie or two.  I wasn't doing anything else tonight.

            I went through the comedy section finding nothing that sparked interest.  I had already found a vampire movie to watch, but I wanted something with a bit more humor to it.

            The video store was still pretty busy.  I noticed more biker guys trying to decide on action movies.  I looked away before they noticed me.  I grabbed 'Mystery Men' and went to check out.  The three bikers stood behind me in line.  They kept their helmets on.  'We all wear masks, Mr. Ibcus' The quote from 'The Mask' came to mind.  I smiled as I stepped up to the counter with my movies.  My face still ached and I touched my cheek.

            "Wow.  That looks like it hurt" The video clerk said.  I rented from here all the time if I had tips.  They checked out my movies and took my three dollars.

            "Yeah" I said. "Just happened a few minutes ago."

            "I know it's not my business, but those guys over there" He said pointing to the three bikers. "They could take care of whoever did that."

            "Thanks, but I took care of it" I said.  The video clerk took his time putting his finger down.  He didn't even bother to lower his voice.

            "You sure you're okay?" He said.

            "I'm fine"  I said sternly.  I hate it when people pry into my business.

            "Fine" He said. "They're due back by Wednesday at midnight."

            I took the movies and left.  I was back in my apartment within two minutes.  I looked out my window and watched the three bikers get onto their bikes.  The one on the black bike looked behind him and up towards my window.  He nodded towards me.  I stepped back from the window and went to get a cup of tea.

            I woke up the next morning on the couch.  The television was on and now at a station playing static.  I looked at my watch.  It was three in the morning.  I took a deep breath and turned the television off.  I'd have to re-watch half of the vampire movie later.

            I turned off the lamp and tv.  I heard gunshots outside.  I looked out the window.  The bikers from the video store stopped and did a 180 in the street.  They were amidst gunfire.  I watched until one of them got shot in the arm.  The other two had taken off before they knew he had gotten shot.  Now the biker, who had fallen to the ground with his bike half on him, was encircled by a group of thugs.

            "Well" I sighed. "God dammit.  Here I go."

            I pulled on a pair of boots and my coat.  I grabbed my keys and went down to see what was going on.  When I had gotten my door locked, I thought about the Browning I had in my dresser drawer.  It might be useful since everyone else has a gun.  I unlocked the door, grabbed the gun – always loaded, and locked the door in record time.

            I was on the street, in the alley that ran along side of the building.  Thank god I love wearing black, otherwise I'd be sticking out like a hommie-G at a goth convention.  I held my gun in my right hand and peered around the corner of the building.  The biker was only a dozen feet away.  I took a quick count of what was happening.

            Three vehicles surrounded biker A; each with two men, all with guns.  Bikers B and C were shooting bad guys 1 through 6 and visa versa.  I wonder how they all got into this situation.  Well, according to the video guy, the bikers are the good guys.  I watched the shooting for only a few seconds.  Either all of these guys were bad shots or they were really really tired.  I took aim on the bad guys and picked off three of them before they started to shoot in my direction.

            Two of the baddies pushed bikers B and C into a chase, leaving me with one baddie and biker A.  I leaned against the building with the gun pointing upwards.  My eyes seemed dusty with the feeling of oncoming sleep.

            I looked around the corner and only saw biker A.  He was pulling himself out from under his bike.  I moved to lean against the other wall of the alley, keeping my eye on the biker.  Where did that bastard with the gun go?

            I looked to my right and saw nothing but an empty street.  When I looked at the biker, he had his gun drawn and aimed in my direction.  His gun went off before I could even react.  I guarded my face with my arms and slid down the wall.  I heard a thump and saw the bad guy lying on the sidewalk next to me.

            I put the safety on my gun and looked at the biker.  His left arm was limp and bloody.  He holstered his gun and looked back at me.  I gestured for him to follow me.  He needed medical attention.

            He pulled his bike up and pushed it towards the alley.  I pulled out my door key and went to open the alley door.  I held it open.

            "You can put it in the hall here" I said. "No one will take it."

            He pushed the bike with much effort into the small hallway at the base of the stairs.  I let the door close gently behind us hoping that no one saw us come into the alleyway.

            "Thanks" The biker said.  His voice seemed full of pain.

            "C'mon upstairs, I have a first aid kit" I said.  He followed me upstairs quietly.  I locked my apartment door when we got in.  "Find a seat.  I'll go get some stuff for your shoulder."

            I pulled out my, rather large, first aid kit and brought it out to the main room.  The biker was sitting at my small dining table.  I set the kit on the table and opened it up.

            "You gonna wear that thing while I fix you?" I asked.  His helmet looked heavy.

            "It's probably better that I keep it on" He said.  I turned on the lamp.  When I turned back to the biker I let out a small gasp.  Was that fur?  I tried to focus on what I was seeing, but it seemed like fur. "I…maybe I should just go."

            "No" I said moving a chair so I could see his arm. "No, you can stay.  Take your helmet off though."  I couldn't see through the helmet, but I could tell he was trying to judge me.  I glared back at him with a sleepy gaze. "Look, you're obviously different.  But, if you want my help, I want to see what you're hiding under there."

            Hesitantly, the biker took off his helmet.  A giant mouse?  Figures.  The moment you think you're life is normal; something weird has to come along.  I just smiled at him.  I took out the gauze roll, antiseptic, and cotton balls laying them out so I could pick them easily.

            "You don't seem flipped out" He said with a small smile.  He moved to lean on the table, but winced as his shoulder brought him pain. "Ow!"

            "You shouldn't do that" I said.  I retrieved a damp rag from the kitchen and started to clean the fur around his wound.  "Damn.  It looks like a bullet went in, but didn't come out."

            "I know" The biker said. "I can feel it."

            "Keep this on the wound" I said.  I got up.  Must get him some alcohol or something.  "Do you drink?"

            "Sometimes" The biker said. "Why?"

            "I have a half bottle of rum" I said. "Do you like rootbeer?  I don't have any coke."

            "Yeah" The biker said. "I really don't feel like having a drink though."

            "You're going to need one" I said.  I made two rootbeer and rum drinks.  "Drink up, that bullet is going to have to come out or you'll get an infection."  The biker mouse took the drink and sipped it.  I looked at his shoulder.  It was already starting to swell to a huge size. "What's your name, mouse man?"

            "Throttle" The biker said.

            "I'm Dell" I said.  He watched as I drank half of my drink in one gulp.

            "You think that's a good idea?" Throttle asked.

            "I just shot four men, found out there are mice men in Chicago, and I'm about to remove a bullet from your shoulder" I said. "I'm fine."

            He nodded and sucked down the drink without another word.  I went to grab the rootbeer and rum bottles so we wouldn't have to get up each time we wanted a drink.  I went to the bathroom to get my long tweezers.  I came back to find Throttle pouring himself a new drink.

            "Let me get a bowl of water and we'll be all set to go" I said.  I moved to the kitchen. "So where are you from anyway?"

            "Mars" He said.

            "Mars?" I said. "I didn't think Mars could inhabit life."

            "Wonders never cease" Throttle said. "What about you?  You from Chicago?"

            "I'm from a lot of different places" I said.  He was looking at the left side of my face.  I tried not to notice.  I sat down with the water close to me. "I'm pretty sure all of this is going to hurt, so hang tough.  Okay?"

            "Yeah, don't worry about me babe" Throttle said.  I took the rag from his swelling shoulder.  He had been shot from the front.  I wiped at the blood and pulled out my flashlight, which was in my first aid kit.

            "Okay, take a sip of your drink there, cause this is going to hurt like a son of a bitch" I said.  Throttle took a sip and put his hands into fists.  I leaned forward and started in with the tweezers.

            Throttle jumped a little and made a sound from his throat.  I had the flashlight in my mouth, my left hand holding the wound open, and my right hand was trying to find the bullet with the tweezers.  The end of the tweezers hit the bullet.

            "I found it" I said. "Hold on.  This won't take too much longer."

            I tried to grab hold of the bullet, but Throttle's arm spasmed.  I pulled the tweezers out and cleaned up the blood that had spilled.  I pulled Throttle's vest off before a lot of blood stained it.

            "Finish your drink" I said.  He did but with shaking hands.  I put a hand on his leg. "I think I can get it this time.  Try to relax as much as you can.  I'm going to try to be quick about this."

            "Do it" Throttle said.  I went in and found the bullet.  The muscles around it were holding it in fairly tightly, but I managed to get it out in one try.  Throttle screamed.  Blood spilled down his arm.  I pressed a damp rag to his wound and tried to hold him down in the chair.

            "I got it, I got it" I said in his ear. "I think you're going to need stitches, but you should be fine."

            Can he hear me?  Throttle was shaking.  I could see tears staining his fur.  I kept the rag pressed to him and reached over for the tube of antiseptic.  I put a little of it on the edge of the wound.  I pulled out some heavy thread and a needle that I kept in the kit.

            "I think you'll only need three stitches" I said.  "Hold on.  This will only take me a second."

            I quickly stitched him up and rubbed more antiseptic ointment on the now closed wound.  I grabbed the gauze and tape.  I put a good sized patch on his shoulder.

            "We're done" I said.  He sat there shaking. "Throttle?  Hey, are you alright?"

            "Charley Davidson" He breathed before passing out.  I had to hold him in the chair to keep him from falling onto the floor.

            "Charley Davidson?" I repeated.  I tried to move Throttle, but I'm small and he' not.  I leaned him against the table and went to find the phone book.  D.  David, Davids, oh here we go Davidson.  I called the number.

            "Hello? Last Chance Garage" The tired, female voice said.

            "Hi" I said. "I'm looking for Charley."

            "That's me" The female said. "What can I help you with?"

            "I have someone here who said your name, maybe you know him" I said. "He said his name was Throttle."

            "Throttle?" She said.  He tone was laced with worry. "Can I speak with him?"

            "He passed out" I said. "I took a bullet out of his shoulder.  Should I be telling you this stuff?"

            "Yeah" Charley said. "Where is he?  What happened?"

            "There was a fight" I said.  I can't believe I'm just handing over this information. "Look, I can't be sure that I can trust you, so I'll call you after I get some sleep."

            "Wait" Charley said.  Her tone said that she wasn't so tired now and that she was worried. "Who are you?"

            "I'm Dell" I said. "Look, Ms. Davidson, he'll be fine.  I'm going to put him on the couch."  If I can lift him, I thought.  "He's safe here."

            "But—" She said.

            "Goodnight" I said.  My eyelids suddenly felt heavy.  I hung up the phone and looked over at Throttle.  So, the Martians aren't little green men, or grey men in reference to the Reticulan aliens.  I went over to him and sat him up in the chair, holding him in place.  "Throttle?"  I gave him a small shake. "Throttle?"

            Great.  Just great.  I gently smacked his cheek.

            "Throttle?  Wake up" I said.  He made a soft noise and moved his head a tiny bit. "Hey, I gotta move you to the couch.  It's only a dozen feet away."  I tried to lift him by his right arm. "C'mon, stand up."  I felt him trying to be coherent enough to stand.  He put most of his weight on me.  "Good.  Over to the couch."  I put my arm around his waist and slowly walked him over to the couch.  I tried to gently put him down on the couch, but he ended up plopping down despite my efforts.

            He let out a small groan.  I held him up with one hand and moved the couch pillows against one arm of the couch.  I moved him so he was lying down.  I removed his boots and put his feet up onto the couch.  I pulled the blanket from the back of the couch and covered him.

            I sure hope you wake up in the morning.  I wonder if there are more mice.  I wonder why he's here.  I yawned and felt an ache in my eyes.  Bedtime, Dell, I told myself.

            I woke up around 11am.  I heard the tv playing in the front room.  My Martian must be awake.  I pulled on my lounge pants and put a wool shirt on.  I went out to see how Throttle was doing.

            "Good morning" I said.  Throttle was leaning against the arm of the couch.  He smiled at me.

            "Hi" He said.  I went over to the couch and leaned against the back of it.

            "You feeling alright?" I asked.  There was a little blood that had soaked through the gauze.

            "As good as I can be feeling with a hole in my shoulder" He said. "How's your face feeling there?  That looks painful."

            I touched the left side of my face and winced.  It was painful. "It'll be fine in a few days."

            "Who did that to you?" Throttle asked.

            "I don't know" I said. "But, I kicked their butts."

            "When did it happen?" Throttle asked.  God, his voice is sexy.

            "Last night, a few minutes before I went to the video store" I said softly.  He looked away from me.  "Before you passed out last night, you said a name.  You said Charley Davidson."  Throttle looked at me.  "I found her in the phone book and gave her a quick call."

            "Why didn't she come get me?" Throttle asked.

            "I didn't know if I could trust her" I said.

            "You can trust her" Throttle said quickly.  I nodded and started to look over him.  He was muscular, covered in a light brown fur, his hair was a darker shade of brown, and he had red antenna.  I finally met his gaze and blushed.

            "Sorry" I said.  He smiled. "Want some coffee?  Tea?  Breakfast?"

            "Cold water?" He asked.  I nodded and went to get him some cold water.  "Would you mind if I used your telephone?"

            "No, it should be over by the coffee table there" I said.  I brought his water to him as he dialed a number.

            "Thanks" He said.  He waited for the line to pick up.  "Hey, Charley-girl.  Yeah, I'm fine.  It's hurts, but I'll live. No, no, she's cool.  I don't know, hang on."  He covered the mouthpiece with his hand. "Would you mind if Charley came over to get me and my bike?"

            "No.  229 S. Devin, apartment B" I said.  He repeated the address into the phone.  I dragged myself back into the kitchen and started to clean up the floor and chair since they had a little blood on them.  Throttle hung up the phone and sat up on the couch.

            "I don't know if I said it last night, but thanks for patching me up" Throttle said. "You didn't have to do it."

            "Well, what comes around goes around, right?" I said. "Maybe you'll help me out when you don't have to."

            "Maybe" He said.  He was sipping his water. "So where did you learn to shoot like that?"

            "Trap shooting with my dad" I said.  I threw the bloody rag into the sink.  Did he even know what trap shooting was?  I got up from the floor and started to clean up the first aid kit.  I packed up most of the stuff, taking one fresh gauze square and tape over to Throttle. "I need to take a look at this, make sure it's healing alright."

            "How do you know so much about first aid?" Throttle asked.  I took the slightly bloody patch off. "Hey, watch the fur there."

            "Sorry" I said.  There was the sound of the neighbors door shutting.  I looked towards the door.

            "Who's that?" He asked.

            "Shh" I said in a whisper. "He's the neighbor.  He's really weird."

            I got up and moved over by the door.  I peered out the eyehole and saw my neighbor.  He always wore an ugly tan trench coat.  His strange haircut was practically just a circle of hair on the top of his head.  Scraggly orange-red hair.  I felt a hand on my lower back.  I moved aside and let Throttle look out the peephole.

            "His name is—" I started to say.

            "Carbunkle" Throttle nearly growled.

            "You know the guy?" I whispered.  His muscles tensed up and his shoulder started to bleed just a little. "What is he doing?"

            "He's leaving" Throttle said.  He stepped back from the door and went over to the couch. "You didn't tell me you lived next to that looney bin."

            "I didn't know it mattered" I said.  Throttle grabbed his vest and started to put it on.  I took the gauze and stopped him from pulling his vest on all the way. "I need to finish patching you up.  Hold still."  I put the square patch on his shoulder and pulled his vest onto his shoulders.

            "You need to be careful with him as your neighbor" Throttle said straightening up his vest.

            "He's hardly around" I said. "How do you know him?"

            "It's a long story" Throttle said.  I grabbed him by his vest as he tried to go towards the door.

            "Why don't you tell it to me then?" I said.  He looked at me as if I was crazy. "This is my home, you're not going to go play tag in the hall, Mighty Mouse.  Not with guns and motorcycles."

            "You don't know what he can do" Throttle said.  He took my hand in his. "He's a dangerous man."

            "I'm just saying that I don't want you causing a fuss in my hallway" I said.  I gave him a little push back towards the couch. "Now sit down and wait for your friend."

            He took a step back and sat down on the arm of the couch.  I went towards the door signaling for him to stay put.  I peered out the peephole to find a face staring back.  I gasped.

            I gestured to Throttle to stay put.  He had stood up.  Man, this guy has the superhero syndrome bad.  I opened the door slightly.

            "Mr. Carbunkle" I said. "I thought I heard someone out here."

            "Hello, my dear" He wheezed. "Are you aware of the motorcycle downstairs?"

            "Yeah" I said.  He was trying to look into my apartment.  I moved to block his view. "Yeah, I…I bought it."

            "You bought it?" He asked.  "From who?  It sure is a….erm, nice motorcycle."

            "Just saw an ad in the paper" I said. "What can I help you with?"

            "Just wanted to check on your safety.  Make sure you weren't being harmed by a motorcyclist" He wheezed on.  I tried to smile convincingly.

            "Thanks" I said. "I'm fine.  Really."

            "Are you?" He said. "You look rather bruised."

            "I'm fine, just a little accident" I said.  He nodded and said goodbye.  I shut the door and turned to see Throttle standing beside the couch.  His arms were crossed and his tail twitched. "He's a little creepy, isn't he?"

            "He's a worm" Throttle said. "I have to go see to my bike."

            "Why?" I asked. "Carbunkle probably doesn't know how to ride one."

            "He'll take it" Throttle said walk past me.

            "Why would he do that?" I asked.  He turned when he reached the door.

            "Classic mad scientist" He said before walking out of the room.  I went to my room and pulled on a tank top and pants.  I pulled on my boots as I ran out the door.  By the time I made it to the bottom of the stairs, Throttle was checking out his bike.

            "Is something the matter?" I asked.  I fastened my belt.  He was feeling along the metal of his bike.  The outside door buzzed. "I'll be right back."

            At the door, there was a brown-haired woman with two helmeted men standing behind her, near a truck.  I opened the door.

            "Are you Charley?" I asked.

            "Yeah" She said pushing her way in. "Is Throttle here?"

            "Charley?" Throttle asked from down the long hallway.  He hussled down the hallway and stopped when he saw her. "Hey Charley-girl."

            "Throttle" Charley said.  She saw the patch on his shoulder. "What happened?"

            "Not much" Throttle said. "Dell saved my life."

            I took a step back and leaned against the stairwell.  Throttle talked with Charley, telling her that he was fine.  Once he convinced her, he went to get his bike.  He pushed it back towards us.

            "Charley, could I get you to push this thing outside?" Throttle asked.  Charley smiled and took it outside.  I saw the two guys in helmets helping her load it into the truck. "I just want to say thanks, again."  He reached out and took my hand. "Maybe I'll see you around?"

            "Yeah" I said. "You might."

            He looked me once over and smiled. "I'm coming back for the doctor."

            "Why does he bother you so much?" I asked.  There was a tapping from behind us on the door.   Charley stood there.  "I guess you'd better go."

            "Yeah" Throttle said. "Come see a baseball game sometime.  I'm always near the scoreboard seats."

            "Bye" I said.  He smiled once again and left.  I watched him get into the truck.  As I watched the truck pull out of the parking space, I heard a metallic click.

            I turned to my right and saw a big guy and the doctor standing there with a gun pointed at me.  I raised my hands and looked towards the window on the door.  The truck was pulling away.

            "Looks like we's got ourselves another mousie likin' girl" The big guy said with a laugh.

            "If you were any more stupid, my greasy glob, you'd think every girl liked mice" The doctor said.

            "What do you want?" I asked.

            "Oh, just your body for science, maybe some information" Carbunkle said. "Very typical stuff.  Greasepit, please."

            "Sure thing" The big lug said.  He stepped forward.  I expected him to hit me, but he sprayed something from a small canister.  It smelled bitter, but I couldn't do anything about it.  My eyes shut and blackness invaded.

            I woke up in the dark.  I couldn't move my limbs.  There was a soft humming sound and a strong cold breeze that was coming from something close to me.

            I tried to speak, but nothing came out of my throat.  My lips felt numb.  A bright light flashed on a foot or so in front of me.  Jesus Christ!  What the hell is going on here?  The light moved aside and Carbunkle's face appeared from the dark.

            "Wakey, wakey" The doctor said.

            "Is she ready?" A deep voice asked from the dark.  I tried to see, but my eyes could barely focus.  Where am I? "How long will it take to extract the information?"

            "No more then minutes, unless she can withstand a few cruel tricks, you cheesy goodness" The doctor said as he peered into the dark.  The doctor looked back at me and pressed something on a block that he raised in his hands.

            There was a noise that echoed, making me think that the place I was in was huge.  Something touched my face, like droplets.  Then, suddenly, liquid was poured over my head.  It seemed thick, not like water.

            "I want some information about the mouse that was with you" Carbunkle said.  I screamed when I felt something tubular pierce my leg.

            I woke up some time later.  My face was in pain again, my leg hurt, and I felt bruised all over the place.  I was lying on the floor, a metal floor.  My hands and feet were tied together.  I tried to find a wall or a door, but I felt too bruised to move.

            How long have I been in here?  My stomach was rumbling.  I felt like I hadn't eaten in days.  I couldn't remember much of what had happened to me.  I just remember pain, darkness, and questions that I had no real answers for.

            I couldn't hold the tears back.  I felt them streaming down my face.  I curled up into a fetal position as much as I could.  What was going on?  I could feel the floor rumble as if three engines had been turned on.  I cried harder.  Probably more weird torture stuff.  Throttle had been right.  Carbunkle was a dangerous mad scientist.

            I could hear the rumbling getting closer.  I screamed when I heard the rumbling as close as a dozen feet away.  I tried to move around, but the aches and pains all in my body kept me from doing much.  Besides, I was handcuffed.

            There was a loud boom and I could see a tiny bit of smoke flow into the room.  I buried my head against the floor and cried even harder.  I felt something cut through the cuffs, splitting the feet and hands.  I felt myself being lifted up by a rope or something, then sitting against a body with the rope still wrapped around me.

            I cried.

            I don't know what happened.  One minute I was bruised, scared, and exhausted.  The next, I was feeling bruised, safer, and still exhausted.  I woke up on a couch.  There was a silence that was only hindered by a radio playing hard rock music.  I started to cry again.  What's this supposed to be?  Another testing thing?  Another one of Carbunkle's fucking tests?!

            I tried to curl in a ball, but the couch wasn't really wide enough.  I fell asleep, not a deep sleep, but it was enough.  I woke up when I felt a hand on my shoulder.  I had the immediate image of Greasepit or one of those goons coming to bring me back to Carbunkle's lab.  I started to shake, not wanting to go back to the lab.

            "Whoa" I heard a slighty husky voice say. "Hey, you can wake up.  Dell?"

            I felt the person kneel down next to me.  He was pushing my hair from my face.  I opened my eyes as much as they'd open with the bruises.  My eyes wouldn't focus.  All I saw was a light brown blur with a black blur and a hint of green.

            "You'll be fine" The voice said. "It's Throttle."  I felt his hand wrap around mine.  Was he a part of this too?  I could still feel tears falling down my face.  I hear the heavy steps of a man come into the room.

            "She awake bro?" A deep voice asked.

            "Yeah" Throttle said.  I squeezed his hand and closed my eyes. "She's pretty hurt."

            "Taking a beating from all the goons and Carbunkle" The other man said. "I'd say she looks alright.  At least she isn't missing anything."

            I felt a hand touch my face.  It felt rough even though I could tell he was trying to keep it gentle.

            "Modo, that creep lives right across the hall from her" Throttle said.  Hs hand left mine and I could feel him standing up. "We should go get that snake for this."

            I drifted back to sleep at some point.  Their voices had turned to an anonymous tone of low hums and rhythms. 

            At some point later on, I was woken up by a television.  There was a cool rag on my forehead.  I tried again to open my eyes.  I found myself peering up at an off-white ceiling.  I reached up to remove the rag from my head.  I groaned as my shoulder felt like it had been scraped raw.

            "Hey, you're up" A younger male voice said.  My head was hurting.  I tried to speak, but I couldn't make any words right away. "Hey, bros, she's trying to say something."  The guy came over to me and tried to coax words from me. "Come on, sweetheart.  Take your time."

            "Water" I said in a soft whisper.  I felt him leave my side.  I tried to sit up, but only managed to fall off the couch.  There was someone helping me stand up. "I can do it."

            "Just like you rolled off the couch?" Throttle asked.  I looked at him.  He was wearing a blue t-shirt instead of the vest I had last seen him in.

            "I don't feel much like myself" I said.  Throttle helped me sit back down on the couch.

            "You don't look that great either" The voice from before said.

            "Vincent" Throttle said in an annoyed tone.

            "Here's your water" He said handing it to me.  I turned to look at him.  He was a mouse too.  Only this one was white, a little shorter then Throttle, and had a metal half mask.  A door opened and another mouse came in.  Mouse central, I thought.  The mouse that came in, came in with Charley.  He was a tower.  He was grey and had an eye patch over his left eye.

            I sipped the water from the glass.  I waited for an introduction.

            "Dell, this is Vinnie, over there is Modo, and you've met Charley" Throttle said.  He leaned against the arm of the couch. "Guys, this is Dell."

            "Hi" I said.  I felt uneasy under their gaze. "Maybe I should just go home."

            "Not with Carbunkle for a neighbor" Modo said.

            "You can't go back there" Charley said. "You're welcome to stay here for a few days.  Maybe then Carbunkle will be back at Limburger's and we can see if your place is safe."

            "Can I use the bathroom?" I asked.  My bladder was starting to feel like it was about to explode.  Charley told me where it was.  I was able to make it there with the help of the wall

            As I sat on the toilet, I tried to remember what had happened.  I tried to grasp time and how much had passed, but I didn't know.  My watch wasn't on my wrist.  I finished and washed my hands.  My reflection in the mirror was awful.  My whole face appeared to be one large bruise.  My neck looked like someone had been sucking on it and had punctured my jugular.  My arms were covered in bruises and needle marks.  I dried my hands and made my way out to the living room.

            "Guess I do look pretty bad" I said as I walked over to the couch.  My stomach growled.

            "Hungry?" Throttle asked.  Two lamps were turned on and a football game was playing on tv.

            "Yeah, I think so" I said.  The others weren't around.  He must have seen me looking around.

            "They went over to our bachelor pad" Throttle said.  He had gotten up from the couch.  "Come sit down at the table, I'll fix you something."

            The night went by fairly slow and unexciting.  Throttle made me a sandwich.  For some reason, it was the best sandwich I had tasted.  We talked and Throttle supplied me with cup after cup of tea.  By ten pm, Throttle had told me his whole story.

            "So Limburger is the one who did this to me and is out to kill you guys?" I asked.

            "Yeah" Throttle said. "You're probably getting tired, huh?"

            "I feel like I got hit by a bus" I said. "I could sleep for a long time."

            "Well, if you need to use the phone or anything, go right ahead" Throttle said. "You probably have an employer or a boyfriend or someone you need to call."

            "Work was looking to fire me" I said. "No boyfriend, no family.  Guess I'm looking for a job now."

            "I thought you were an artist or something" Throttle said. "I remember seeing a lot of art supplies at your place."

            "I do a lot of art in my spare time" I said. "I don't know if I could make it into my own job."

            Throttle smiled and came around the table.  He held a hand out and I took it.  He pulled me up. "C'mon, you can sleep in the back bedroom."

            "Wait" I said. "Before, you said that it's been a while since you last saw me.  How long?"

            He held my hand and walked with me towards the back bedroom.

            "It's been a week and a half" Throttle said.  He opened the door and turned the light on.   Two bunk beds were in the room.  There was a Motorcycle Babe calendar with this months 'babe' being a busty blonde in nothing but underwear and a motocross chest plate.  "Modo's calendar."  Throttle leaned against one of the bedframes. "Go ahead and choose a bed."

            "Will you be sleeping in here?" I asked.  I sat on the bottom bunk of the right hand bed.  My stomach clenched at the thought of being left alone in a dark room.

            "Yeah, this bottom bunk here is mine.  I'll be in a little while though" Throttle said. "I'm not that tired."

            "You know" I said stand up. "Neither am I.  I'll just watch some tv, if that's okay."

            "Are you sure?" Throttle asked.  He crossed his arms.  Don't make me stay in this room alone, I thought. Please, please, please.  He looked me over and went to the dresser.  He pulled out a pair of sweatpants and tossed them over to me. "You might want to get out of those pants.  Sorry about the tail hole."

            "Thanks" I said.

            "Would you do me a favor?" Throttle asked taking the few steps between us.  I looked up into his eyes.  "Did Carbunkle do anything?  I've told you about my eyes, Modo's arm, and Vinnie's mask.  Did he do anything?"  He held my face in his hands. "Anything?"

            "I don't know" I said. "I told you that I don't remember."

            "Babe, I'll get that freaky son of a bitch for you" Throttle said.  He took a step back after he noticed how close he was to me.  I took a deep breath.  I could smell Throttle.  He smelled musky, but not overly so.

            "I should change" I said.  He nodded and left the room.  Oh man, I can't believe it.  Am I attracted to Throttle?  No, he's like a manimal or something and I'm….not.  Damn.  I pulled on the sweats and looked behind me at the hole.  You could see my red thong underneath.  Oh well, better then my smelly, bloody pants.  I pulled off my socks and put them next to my boots.

            I went out to the front room.  The door to the garage was open.  I stretched my neck and made my way out there.  Throttle was working on his bike.  He had something pulled out of the bike.  I couldn't tell what it was, just something cylindrical.  He looked up when I came into the room.

            "Did you find anything wrong with your bike?" I asked.

            "Just a few pulled wires" Throttle said. "Charley fixed it."

            "Oh" I said.  I walked around the garage, just looking at everything.

            Throttle was cleaning the cylinder with a white rag.  It left black marks on the rag.  He watched me as I wandered around the shop.

            "Are you sure you're not tired?" Throttle asked. "You look about ready to collapse."

            "I'm good to go" I said.  The floor was cool.  I'm not sure if I appreciated it or not.  I walked over to a workbench and pulled a chair over to where Throttle was.  He was putting the piece back into place.

            "I know this isn't the coolest" Throttle said. "You know, watching me do this, but since you've been up, I haven't had a chance to put it back in place."

            "That's alright" I said.  I moved my feet and fell into a more comfortable position.

            Throttle screwed the piece back into place and re-hooked the wires.  He cleaned up his mess.  He paused for a second.  I could see his muscles tense up just a little.  He turned towards me and cleaned off his hands.  He lifted my left foot and looked at it.

            "You're bleeding" Throttle said.  He touched the bottom of my foot with the rag. "Couldn't you feel it?"

            "No" I said.  He was looking at it. "Is it bad?"

            "Looks like you had a tube in your foot or something" Throttle said.  He made to look at my other foot. "Let me check out the other foot."  He took hold of the other foot. "The same type of hole is in this foot.  Maybe I should take you to the hospital, see what's been done."

            "No.  No, I don't want to go anywhere" I said.  I moved my foot from him and leaned closer to him. "I don't want to go anywhere where they might find me.  Besides, I don't like hospitals."  I stood up, as did Throttle.

            "You shouldn't be walking around out here.  There's dirt and grime" Throttle said.  He put his tools on the workbench and the chair next to it. "C'mon, we'll get your feet bandaged up."

            He came over and picked me up.  I clung to his neck, as if he'd drop me or something. "What are you doing?!"

            "Relax" Throttle said.  He carried me inside and put me on the couch.  He went to the bathroom and came back with a rather large medical kit. "Don't like being picked up, huh?"

            "I'm just not used to it" I said. "I don't exactly have a lot of friends."

            "Hehe.  Babe, you need to relax" Throttle said.  He opened up the kit and started to wrap up my feet.

            "Oh no" I said.  The light grey sweats were starting to turn red in places.  Throttle noticed too.  I touched my upper leg and more blood seeped out. "What's going on?"

            "I don't know" Throttle said.  "Were you bleeding before?"

            "I don't think so" I said.  I felt something shock me along my spine.  I gasped and arched my back.  The pain, the electric pain, moved through my whole body.  I could feel it in strange places, my feet, a few places along each arm, my spine, and in my neck.  I gasped for air.

            "Dell?" Throttle said.  The shocking stopped as quickly as it had come.  I slumped forward.  The pain had made everything hurt increasingly more.  Throttle held me by the shoulders.  "You okay, babe?"

            "I don't think so" I said.  I brushed my black hair out of my face.

            "That shock made your wounds fresh again" Throttle said.  He took out a pair of scissors and cut the sweats into shorts.  He started to bandage up all the bleeding areas.  "They know you're with us.  I wonder if this means you have a tracing device on you somewhere."

            "I don't care about that.  I just want to get them back" I said.  Throttle finished up.

            "Wait" I said. "My spine was being shocked too.  Maybe you could check that out for me."

            "No problem.  How about we go use the bedroom?  I think you should go to bed" Throttle said.  I didn't argue.  He picked me up once again and carried me to the bedroom.  "Turn on your stomach.  I'll look at your back."

            I turned on my stomach and waited for Throttle to start administering the first aid.  He pushed my tank top up my back.  He put on some cool liquid that burned.

            "Sorry" Throttle said. "I wonder what Carbunkle did to you."  He taped some gauze over my wounds. "At least your bruises look like their going away."  He shifted and pushed my tank top up a little higher.  Again with the cool painful liquid.

            "Hang on" I said.  The tank top was starting to feel uncomfortable pushed up so high.  Without moving too much, I peeled the tank top off. "Okay, that feels better."

            "Whoa" Throttle said.  He sounded a little nervous.

            "Something wrong?" I asked.  I could almost feel him smirk.  He started to apply more of the painful liquid. "Ow."

            "Sorry" Throttle said.  Was his voice more husky?  I felt him run his hand over a bruise.  He bandaged up the small hole that was along my spine.  He let his hand drag down my spine, then he clicked the med kit shut.  "Nothing else right?"

            "One thing" I said as I felt him get up from the bed.  He came into view. "Don't leave me alone in here."  My mind flashed to Carbunkle's laugh coming from the darkness.  Throttle must have seen it in my eyes.  He shut the door and turned the light off.  The light from the streetlight outside cast strange shadows over him.  I could tell he took off his shirt and boots.

            "I'll be right here" Throttle said.  I heard his weight on the other bed.  In the partial darkness, I could see him get under the covers and take off his pants.  Then, I heard his pants clink to the floor.

            "Thanks" I whispered.

            "You're welcome" Throttle said.  Knowing he was there made it easy to fall asleep.

            Have you ever been woken up by an electrical shock to your whole body?  It hurts.  I woke up screaming.  I could feel my muscles tensed up and my back arched.  I could almost hear a sizzle coming from inside me.  I felt someone holding my arms down.

            It stopped.  I could taste a little bit of blood in my mouth.  Throttle let go of my arms and checked my eyes.

            "You alright?" He asked.  I pulled him into a hug and just started to cry.  The bedroom door burst open.

            "Everything alright?" Vinnie asked. "We just pulled in and heard scream—Oh, uh, sorry there bro."

            "Vinnie, something's wrong" Throttle said.  He pulled me to sit up on his lap since I had started to shake. "Carbunkle did something to her.  This is the second time she's been shocked."

            "Shocked?!" Vinnie said. "Why that no good, son of a ---"

            "Whoa, there bro" Throttle said. "We can't do anything right now.  Talk to Charley and see if she has anything that could detect anything electrical.  Dell, may have a tracking device in her.  She definitely has something electrical in her."

            "Right" Vinnie said. "I'll go see what Charley has."

            Vinnie left.  Throttle held me and started to rock back and forth.

            "Shh" He cooed. "Hey, it's alright."

            His fur felt comforting.  I didn't feel so scared with his arms around me.  I felt him lean me back onto the bed.

            "Hey, try to go back to sleep" He said.  He wrapped me in the sheets before pulling away from me.  I kept my hands on the back of his neck.  "Let me go see what Charley has."  He removed my hands and bent down to kiss my forehead. "You're going to be alright."  He lingered for a split second and then sat up.  He made sure I was covered then left the room.  "I'll be right back."

            I dozed into deep thoughts.  I was staring at a phrase that was written on the underside of the bunk above me.  It read: 'As we think, we become'.  I tried to remember what happened in Carbunkle's lab, but nothing came to mind.  Only darkness and pain.  If what Throttle told me was the straight truth about Carbunkle, then the guys had undergone experimentation for a short while.

            Throttle came into the room.  He was in boxers only.  I kicked myself for thinking lustful thoughts while feeling so crappy.

            "Charley doesn't have anything, but she knows someone who might have what we're looking for" Throttle said.  He touched my hand. "Are you okay?"

            "Yeah.  I'm fine" I said.

            "You're lying to me" Throttle said. "Move over some."  I scooted towards the wall.  He lay down next to me.  "I'm sorry you had to go through all of this.  I can't promise the shocks will stop, that this was the last time.  I never meant for anyone else to get involved."

            "I got myself involved" I said.  There were various magazine pictures between the mattress and the wire mesh holding the mattress.  I reached up and touched a picture of batman.  "I love Batman."

            "Batman's pretty cool" He said. "For a comic book character."

            "Sometimes, I wish I could find my own Batman" I said. "I don't know if I'd be his ally or enemy, but…sounds silly, doesn't it?"

            "Not really" Throttle said. He rolled onto his side and watched me. "What would you do if you were Batman or woman?"

            "Kill Carbunkle" I said. "I'd probably do exactly what Batman does."

            "We'll get Carbunkle for you" Throttle said.  He touched my face. "Don't worry about that."

            "If you don't" I said. "Be assured that I will."

            He leaned over and kissed me.  He door gave a little creek and he looked at who was there.

            "Yeow!  Go, Throttle-baby!" Vinnie said.

            "Vincent" Throttle said.

            "I gotcha" Vinnie said. "I'll just be watching tv or something."

            Once the door shut, Throttle said "Sorry about that.  I thought I had the door shut."

            I reached out and touched his face.  I felt his muzzle and his ears and his fur.  I pulled him towards me and gently kissed him again.  We fell asleep that way.

            The next morning, Throttle and I woke up to a knock on the door.  Throttle gave me a t-shirt to wear.  While my stuff was in the wash, Throttle brought me out to the others.

            "What happened?" Charley asked. "You look like a mummy."

            "Carbunkle's electric shocks" Throttle said. "I had to patch her up."

            "I got the equipment we need" Charley said. "Basically, we just scan your body and see if there detectable emf readings."

            "Okay" I said. "Get me scanned.  If there's something in me I want it out."

            It was a quick procedure.  Charley ran the scanner over my neck and got a high reading.  She pressed her fingers in the area and reported that she felt a small rectangle under the skin.

            "How are we supposed to get it out?" Vinnie asked."

            "Got a pocket knife?" I asked.

            "Wait just a second" Throttle said. "We can't just go digging for something like that.  What if something happens?"

            "Get. It. Out. Of. Me" I said. "Just be quick about it."

            "Babe, this will hurt" Throttle said.

            "Throttle, do me a favor and remove this thing" I said. "I took that bullet out of your shoulder, please, do this for me."

            "I'll do it" Charley said.  Charley did it.  Both mice watched.  Vinnie got up when Modo showed up.  It hurt.  It felt like the wound was from shoulder to shoulder, instead of being only a centimeter long.  Charley pulled the small chip from a piece of metal that was fused to my bone. "Got it.  That's funny, it's magnetic.  Just need to stitch you up."

            Throttle broke it and tossed it into the garbage can.  He held my hand while Charley stitched up the small cut.

            "You know, you have metal in your back" Charley said. "It looks like it's fused to your bone or something."

            "Metal?" I said. "Must be Carbunkle's doing."

            She finished and cleaned up the blood with a rag.  Throttle got me a cup of coffee.  He was looking at my bruises.  I was shaking from the pain.

            "The redness has gone down a lot" Throttle said.  Modo sat down next to Throttle.

            "Yeah.  You look better today" Modo said.

            "Thanks" I said. "Other then the fact that I just had my skin sliced open, I'm feeling a lot better."

            "How about some food?" Charley said.  The unanimous male cheer simply stated how we all felt.  I shifted and tried to relax my shoulders.  I needed to go to the gym.  Actually, I needed to go home and get my toothbrush.  Okay, okay, toothbrush first, then clean clothes, the gym, and finally back to where ever to kick that wiry doctors ass.  Sounded like a good plan to me.

            "I need to go to my apartment" I said.  The looks I got from the three mice around me were of shock.

            "That could be real dangerous" Throttle said.

            "Yeah" Vinnie piped in. "We'll go get whatever you need.  That way we can stop Carbunkle or whatever goon is sent our way."

            "We'll all go then" I said. "There's places I put things that I need and I don't want to really share that info."

            "Are you, like, talking about….you know….girl stuff?" Vinnie asked with almost a look of disgust.  I leaned over and jabbed him in the arm.  Men. "Ow!  Hey, watch the merchandise!  Talk about PMS!"

            This guy was going to need a beating if he didn't shut up.  "I'm talking about my gun, airhead."

            "Oh, that's rich" Vinnie said. "You don't own a gun."

            He started to laugh his head off.  I went to say something else, but Throttle held up his hand.

            "Watch yourself Vincent, your true colors may start to show through" Throttle said.

            "Yeow" Vinnie said. "Brawling words!"

            "Any day, Vin-man" Throttle said.  They both stood up.

            "Oh mamma" Modo said in anticipation.

            "Showing off for your girlfriend, Throttle baby?" Vinnie teased.  He looked about ready to pounce.

            "At least I'm not fooling myself bro" Throttle replied with a smile.  Vinnie's smile went to a frown.  He seemed to bounce off his chair, flip over the table, and land right on Throttle.

            Modo and I moved away from the two.  They were rolling around.  Charley came over with a spoon in hand.

            "Guys!" She yelled.  They weren't even fazed.  "Modo, could you pry them apart please?"

            Modo smiled and pulled Vinnie off Throttle by his bandoliers.  Vinnie didn't seem to realize what was going on.  He turned around and punched Modo square in the jaw.  I wish I was feeling better so I could join in.

            "Bro" Modo growl.  He joined them in an instant.  The three of them became one rumbling mass.  Of course there was the usual war cries from each of them.

            "Vin, I'm going to flatten you like a big—" Throttle said.

            "Pancakes!" Charley yelled.  She managed to get around them with a huge plate of pancakes.  The guys paused in mid-motion, then fumbled to get back to their seats.

            "Wow" I said moving back to my chair. "That worked."

            "Food works wonders" Charley said.  She took the seat next to Vinnie.

            "Did you see me Charley?" Vinnie asked dousing his pancakes with syrup. "I kicked Throttle's ass."

            "You did not" Throttle said.  The tension was building up once again.

            "I did so" Vinnie said.

            "Hey, what's that?" I asked pointing to a spot on Vinnie's chest.

            "What?" Vinnie asked looking down and suddenly worried.  I flicked him in the nose.

            "That" I said.  The others laughed.  Vinnie lifted his chin.

            "Not funny" He said.  Breakfast went on in that manner for the next hour.  After we finished eating, Charley opened her shop, my clothes were finished in the drier, and we – Throttle, Vinnie, Modo, and myself – went to my apartment to get some of my things.

            I had promised not to leave the group while in my building.  I wonder if they treat Charley like this.  I unlocked my door when we made it to my door.  We piled into the apartment.  I went to my bedroom and started to put things into a small bag.  I removed a panel that was in my closet and retrieved my Browning.  Some of the time I'd keep it in other places, but this was its home.  I pulled out a box of extra ammo and shoved it into the bag.  I dug around the closet for a few minutes before I was able to find my shoulder holster.

            I've gone through a lot of phases and a lot of jobs.  Having to carry around a small firearm was just something I did for one of my old jobs.  I put the holster and the gun on.  I pulled a hooded sweatshirt out of my closet and put that on over the gun.

            I looked around and decided to check the bathroom for some other things.

            I grabbed what I desperately needed from the bathroom; toothbrush, comb, make-up, deodorant, and a razor.  I was going start to looking like the mice if I didn't get my legs shaved soon.

            I went out to the main room and set my stuff down.  Modo was looking at my drawing table and the pictures around it.

            "Dell-girl, these are awesome" Modo said.  I hate it when people compliment me.  Suck it up, I told myself.

            "Thanks Modo" I said. "I wanted to be a comic book artist."

            "You could be" He said.  I smiled and went over to the large duffle bag in the hallway.  This was my gym bag.  I started digging through it.

            "This isn't a bad place" Vinnie said.  Throttle was sitting on the arm of the couch.

            "Thanks" I said. "I actually rent it for cheap.  I don't know who owns it, but the insurance on this place covers science experiments.  I think Carbunkle has been my neighbor for longer then I'd like to think."

            I pulled out my gym shoes, tape for my hands, and light cloth gloves that I wore under sparring gloves.

            "Think he's here now?" Throttle asked.

            "I didn't see the light on under his door" I said. "For some reason, whenever he's home, he always has a blue light coming out from under his door.  He's a real odd ball.  I think he does it just to be weird."

            "Probably" Vinnie said.  I shoved my gym stuff into my small bag and zipped it closed.

            "Alright. I'm ready" I said.

            "Where's your gun?" Vinnie asked.

            "It's in a safe place" I said.  He seemed fine with that.  We all headed back to the Last Chance Garage.  I desperately needed a bath and unfortunately the guys had been too eager to agree with me.

            Why is it that baths are so relaxing?  After the holes in my feet getting used to the heat of the water, the rest of my body had just relaxed in the water.  I took my time shaving and washing my hair.  I slipped under the water so only my head was out of it.  My short black hair plastered to my head.

            I had my gun in the holster right next to the foot of the tub.  I didn't suffer much from paranoia; I was actually doing just fine with it.  I emerged from the water when it started to cool off too much.  I dried off, dressed, put on the holster, put on the hooded sweatshirt, and tried to clean up my appearance a little.

            I didn't totally look like a walking, talking bruise now.  My cheekbone and eye was still purple.  My neck had a few red areas, but they were fading fast.  My arms didn't look that bad either.  With a little care, I was able to put on some mascara and eye shadow.  The one eye didn't really look better, but the other one looked more presentable.

            "Good enough for me" I said to my reflection.  I hung up my towel and went out to see if I could help Charley or possibly get a ride over to the gym.

            Charley had two bikes parked in the garage.  She was working on one of them getting grease all over her hands.

            "I feel so much better now" I said.  She looked over at me.

            "You look it too" She said. "Will you go over to the table and get me a 5/8" crescent wrench?"

            I found the wrench and handed it to her.

            "Need any help?" I asked.

            "Know much about motorcycles?" Charley asked.

            "Not really" I said.  She tightened a bolt.

            "These aren't big jobs" Charley said. "I'll be fine."

            "Okay" I replied.  I felt bad receiving her hospitality and not being able to help her out. "If you need me to do anything, just let me know okay?  I feel like I'm intruding here."

            "Just don't get my guys killed" Charley said.

            "I promise I won't" I said.  I never break my promises, only bones. "Where are the guys?"

            "Oh, they'll be back" Charley said. "They like to check out Limburger's project areas.  They keep tabs on what he's mining and building."

            "Where are we located?" I asked. "I think my gym is around here."

            "You're talking about Jim's Gym?" Charley asked.

            "Yeah" I said. "We're really close to it, aren't we?"

            "One block over, one block down" Charley said. "Want me to drive you there?  I mean it's not really a safe neighborhood."

            "I think I'll be fine" I said. "But, thanks."

            I grabbed my bag from inside and left to go to the gym.  I needed to see how damaged I really was.

            When I got to the gym, I put on my gym clothes and made sure I had my tape and gloves with me.  I started out by stretching and doing some tumbling.  No one really talked to me at the gym.  After getting into a half dozen fights, winning, and not having Jim, the owner, kick me out; no one seemed to want to talk anymore.

            Once I was loosened up, I went over to the punching bags and started to get ready.  Tape and gloves, borrowed sparring gloves, I seemed good to go.  Two regulars came over when they saw me taping up my left hand.

            "Hey, Dell" The shorter one said.

            "Roger" I said.  Roger was a jerk, but he kept his distance.

            "Where have you been?" He asked.

            "Maui" I said.

            "Those Hawaiians must really be brutal" He said. "You look like you had your ass kicked by a block of cement."  He made the 'hang loose' gesture with his hand. "Tubular."

            "I can still beat you" I said.  He walked away laughing with his friend.  I tried to ignore him.  I started in on the bag.  It felt good to get out some anger, though having a real person in front of me would have felt better.  I was really hoping to just tear into Carbunkle.  Maybe, this Limburger guy I kept hearing about.

            An hour had passed.  I had finished with my stretching, using the punching bag, and doing some yoga.

            "Hey Dell, you want to teach my girlfriend how to do that?" One of the guys said from a weight machine.  I had my leg stretched up, so I was on my left leg, holding my right knee to my ear.

            I flipped the guy off.  This was how going to the gym always was.  The guys made fun of me.  Yoga?  Couldn't get any of them to do it.  Friends?  Nope.  They just liked to tease me and not in that funny ha ha way.

            I finished my workout and went to take a quick shower.  I was sore from what had been done to me, but I was still all right.  I felt relieved.  At least that quack hadn't done anything really damaging to me.

            I left after buying a liter of water.  I opened it and drank a fourth of it before walking back to the garage.  Roger and his friend came outside.  I guess they were done too.

            "Dell" He said before I walked away. "Who did that to you?"

            "A guy named Carbunkle" I said. "Why?"

            "What did you do to piss him off?" He asked.

            "Helped someone he didn't like" I said.  He put his bag over his shoulder.  He actually looked like he was a little upset.

            "He beat you up?" He asked.  What the hell?  I didn't think he cared enough to even ask about it.

            "More like he had a few big brutes do it for him" I said. "He's a real wacko."

            "Have you told the cops?" He asked.

            "Nope" I said. "Some how I don't think they'd do much about it.  His boss has his hands in everything."

            The guys had told me how Limburger had once been mayor and now had his hands in everything from chemical plants to politics.

            "Well, let us know if you need some help" He said.  Was this really Roger?  I nodded and left.  Maybe I did have more friends then I thought.

            The guys were back at the garage helping Charley fix the bikes.  Throttle gave me a sour look as I walked in.

            "Where have you been?" He asked.

            "I went to the gym" I said.  He crossed his arms. "Don't worry.  I'm fine."

            "What if Carbunkle had been there waiting?" He asked.

            "Then he'd be dead" I said nonchalantly.

            "Hey bro" Modo said. "You can't be there all the time."

            Throttle looked at Modo, then at me.  His jaw tightened and he went back to working on the bike.

            "Don't you have a job or something, Sweetheart?" Vinnie asked.  He had a root beer in his hand.

            "I did" I said. "But not now."

            "What did you do?" He asked.

            "I was a barista" I said.        

            "A what-a?" He looked confused.

            "A coffee bartender" I said.  He still looked confused.

            "A coffee bartender" He repeated. "Why does a barista need a gun?"

            "I used to be a private investigator" I said.  They looked at me as if I said I used to be a secret agent or something.

            "Why'd you stop doing crime work?" Modo asked.

            "I just did" I said. "I was starting to get a lot of stupid jobs.  Cheating husbands, runaways, things that I didn't want to do."

            "What did you want to do?" Modo asked.  He was actually shining his own bike, not really helping Charley out.

            "I wouldn't mind being James Bond or that guy from 'Mission Impossible'" I said.  He smiled. I put my bag down on the workbench. "Look guys, I need to get to Limburger Tower or whatever you said it was called.  I need to find Carbunkle."

            "To dangerous for a girl" Vinnie said.  I crossed my arms now.

            "I think you're majorly underestimating me" I said.  Vinnie tossed his empty bottle away.

            "Not" He said. "I think you're underestimating the danger at Limburger's."

            "If you can go there, then so can I" I said. "I can do anything you can and probably better."

            "What?!" He said with a small smile. "Not. Vinnie Van Wham, the velocity atrocity doesn't get beaten by a girl."

            "Want to test that theory, hot shot?" I asked.  I smiled back.

            "Oh man" Throttle said with a chuckle.  His voice had that husky tone to it. "I'd pay to see that show."

            "Fine" Vinnie said. "You win, you can go with us."

            "If I lose?" I asked.  I could have easily guessed what he was going to say.

            "You stay here with Charley" Vinnie said.

            "Hey wait a second" Charley said. "If all it takes is to be better then Vinnie, then I want a shot too."

            "Charley-girl" Vinnie said.  She gave him a glare that could have burnt him alive. "Okay, fine.  We'll all compete, just don't get a fussy when I win."

            "Give me a half hour to finish with these bikes" Charley said.

            "What are we going to do?" I asked. "Shooting competition?  What?"

            "Throttle and I will decide" Modo said with a smile.  Throttle smiled at me.  I felt better knowing that he wasn't really upset with me for having been at the gym.  If it had really been a threat, I don't think Charley would have let me go anyway.

            Forty-five minutes later, we were outside.  Modo had set up nine root beer bottles on three different sized crates.  Goal?  To hit one bottle on each level in three shots.

            "No problem-o" Vinnie said.  He whipped out his gun and hit two of the three bottles.

            "Ha" Modo said. "Missed one, bro."

            "Practice round?" He asked.

            "Nope" Throttle said. "Charley, your turn."

            Charley used Vinnie's gun.  She took a proper stance and hit the three bottles.

            "Just beginner's luck" Vinnie said crossing his arms.

            "Girls always do better" Charley said giving Vinnie his gun back.  I stepped up, undid the safety and used my left hand to shoot.  I hit every bottle.

            "Oh mama" Modo said with a booming laugh.

            "I'm right handed" I said holstering my gun. "Not left handed."

            "Show off" Vinnie said. "Okay, what's next?"

            "Bottles N' Brodies" Throttle said.  He bumped his fist with Modo.

            "Alright" Vinnie said. "I'll totally win."

            Charley and I looked at each other and smiled.

            Charley and Vinnie wheeled out their bikes.  Throttle let me use his bike.  Vinnie, of course, went first.  He stopped four inches from the bottle.

            "Yeow!" Vinnie said. "I'd like to see you two beat that!"

            Throttle and Modo laughed from the sidelines.  Was Vinnie always like this?  He was going to drive me crazy.  Charley went next and fell a half-inch from Vinnie's mark.

            "Damn" Charley said.

            "Woo" Vinnie yelled.  I revved the engine on Throttle's bike and took off.  I skidded to a stop at the same place Vinnie did.

            "Just as good" I yelled.

            "Hmph.  This isn't fair" Vinnie said.

            "Hey bro, don't be upset" Modo said. "Maybe it's an off day or something.  But, a bet's a bet."

            "Maybe.  But, I don't have off days" Vinnie said. "What's next on our list?"

            "Yeah" Charley said. "What's next?  We're gonna kick Vinnie's butt."

            "Babe, you wish you could" Vinnie said.

            "Score?" Charley asked Throttle and Modo.

            "So far the winner is Dell, then Charley" Modo said. "Vin, bro, you're way losing."

            "I don't lose" Vinnie said. "Charley and I should be tied."

            Throttle nodded. "Yeah, Modo.  They are tied."

            "Let's set up a race" Vinnie said.  Throttle and Modo talked between themselves.  The three of us sat there, on the motorcycles, waiting to see what they had decided on.

            The sound of a half dozen engines became clear.  Modo got his bike and Throttle came over to take back his bike.

            "Here, take mine" Charley said. "I have to stay open right now."

            "You sure?" I asked.  Guess the engine sounds weren't a good thing.

            "Yeah" She said. "Be careful."

            The guys took off saying 'Let's rock and ride!'.  I sped off to catch up with them.  We rounded the block and passed right by the six buggies.  They were the same buggies that had been after the guys when Throttle had gotten shot.

            "Is this a usual thing for you guys?" I asked.

            "Not quite everyday, but close enough" Modo yelled back to me.  Vinnie and Throttle were taking shots behind them.  The buggies chased us towards Limburger Tower.

            I unholstered my gun and used my left hand to shoot behind me.  It's harder then it seems.  I was hoping I didn't hit a pothole.  We fell into a more busy part of Chicago and the shooting more or less stopped.

            Getting caught in traffic was a problem too.  I had made it into traffic before the others.  Limburger Tower was only a hundred feet away.  I looked back at the guys and back at the tower.  I had to go find Carbunkle.

            I slid through traffic and parked in the public parking lot at Limburger Tower.  The guys said they had been here several times.  I just couldn't picture them parking and walking inside though.

            I holstered my gun and went inside.

            The receptionist looked fairly young and stupid in her pink suit.  I used a trick that always worked.

            "Hi" I said. "I was told that my uncle works here.  Dr. Carbunkle?"

            "Oh" She said. "He's your uncle?"

            "Yeah" I said. "Under this my hair is the same color as his."

            "He's on floor 13, room 6" She said.  I could see her pity for me since she thought I was that demento's niece. "Want me to call him and tell him you're coming up?"

            "I'd like to surprise him.  I haven't seen him in a few years.  Thanks though." I said. "He'll be so surprised to see me."

            Of that I was sure of.  I got on the elevator and went up.

            Floor thirteen.  Most places excluded that floor due to superstitions.  The elevator opened and I went out into the hallway.  No one was walking around.  I couldn't even hear people moving around or anything.  Just silence and a slight whirring noise.

            I found room 6 and pulled out my gun.  Security on this place was bad.  I opened the door and went inside.

            Room 6 was the laboratory.  It was lit up.  A shiver ran up my spine and I tried to push it aside.

            "Hello?" A wheezy voce called out. "Fred, if that's you I'll skin you alive!"

            Good thing he wasn't expecting me.  I walked towards his voice.  I turned the corner so I was in the main area of his lab.  He turned around.

            "What?" He yelled. "What do you think you're doing here?"

            "Coming to pay my respects" I said.  He was just staring at me.  He looked creepy with that bird nose and long thin chin.  If this were a dream, I'd imagine he'd try to eat me.

            "Paying your respects?" He asked in a lower tone.  He fumbled with something behind him.

            "Yeah" I said. "The moment you touched me, you signed your death warrant."

            "No my dear, I think you signed yours" He brought a remote around and pressed the button.  Nothing happened.  He pressed it again. "What's the matter with this thing?"

            "That's the remote for the electrical shocks isn't it?" I said.  I pointed the gun at his head.

            "Uh…." He said looking down the barrel of the gun. "What electric shocks?"

            "I removed the chip you planted you demented dimwit" I said.  I hear the lab door open and close.  There were heavy footsteps.   Shit.  This wasn't good.  I took my chances and pulled the trigger.  Carbunkle was dead on the floor.  Brain matter was spilling out.

            I turned around.  A heavy man in a purple suit stood there aghast.

            "Do you know how hard it is to find one of those?" He asked.

            "A day?" I asked.

            "Who are you?" He asked.  I stood there with my gun pointing up.  He narrowed his eyes. "Oh.  Oh yes, I know who you are.  You're that girl the doctor was doing something with."

            "Who are you?" I asked.

            "Limburger" He said. "Lawrence Limburger."

            "Limburger" I said. "Why don't you take a seat?"

            He didn't move.  He only reached over and hit a red button.  He gave a wicked smile. "Do you really think you're going to be able to shoot me?"

            "Yes" I said.  Two doors opened and shut.  There were several footsteps. "I didn't know you wanted a crowd to see you die."

            "I'm not going to die" Limburger said.  The men that had come in pulled out their guns.  Great.

            "Drop your gun" One of the men said.  They weren't in uniforms, but they all seemed to have their heads shaved except for a long ponytail.  I put my weapon on the ground.  "Kick it away from you."

            I kicked it away from me.  One of the men picked it up.

            "C'mon boys" I said. "Lets all put our weapons up and have a fair fight."

            "Take care of her" Limburger said. "I have work to do upstairs.  When you're done with her, take care of the body."

            Limburger left.  Hopefully the guys would pound his ass to the ground.  He seemed evil, he was mean, and he smelled.

            "Okay boys, put up your guns" One of the guys said.  Just bought myself some time. "We'll have to teach her a lesson before killing her."

            "You guys don't scare me at all" I said. "Besides, I'm walking out of here."

            Two of the men were signaled to.  They charged.  I did a roundhouse kick to the left one's head.  They fell into each other.  The others all decided to charge at once.  I backed up until Carbunkle's computer chair was in between us.

            I pushed it towards the guys and ran towards the biggest guy.  I jumped and hit him in the chest.  We hit the floor at the same time only he was in pain.  The others jumped on me.  I felt the floor shake from something like an engine.

            I screamed as loud as I could.  Then, I stood up.  It's funny how in a fight people are ready for people to run away or roll or kick, but never to just stand up.  The guys looked up at me.  It was like taking out chickens.  I gave them all a swift kick to their heads.  There was an explosion from a door and the mice were there.

            "We missed all the fun?!" Vinnie exclaimed. "I hate traffic!  I hate it!"

            "Are you alright?" Throttle asked.

            "Yeah" I said.  I got on Throttle's bike. "I took care of everything."

            "Let's get out of here" Modo said.  We left.  No one stopped us.  No one seemed to notice.  They stopped by Charley's bike and I got off.

            "Go back to the garage" Throttle said.  I didn't ask any questions.  I just took off.

            I pulled into the garage just as someone pulled away with their bike.  Charley came out of the office.

            "Where are the guys?" She asked.

            "They just told me to come back here" I said. "They stayed behind at Limburger's."

            "They're always doing that" Charley said. "C'mon, lets get some lunch made."

            "I don't think I can eat right now" I said.  I felt another shiver run down my spine.

            "Are you okay?" Charley asked.

            "Yeah" I said. "Carbunkle's dead.  I'm fine now."

            "You killed him?" Charley said.

            "Dead as a doornail" I said.  Her face was blank.

            "Well, I'm going to go fix some lunch" Charley said.  I guess only evil feels the loss of other evil.  I went inside to keep company with Charley.

            Lunch was ready when the guys showed up.  Their spirits seemed high.  I stood up as they came in.  Throttle came over and put an arm around my waist.

            "Hey babe" Throttle said.

            "Where have you guys been?" I asked.  He just smiled and gave me a quick kiss.  Modo and Vinnie howled and hooted.  Throttle blushed and I smiled.

            "Lunch is ready guys" Charley called from the kitchen.  Lunch was hot dogs and root beer.  Best damned hot dogs I've ever had.  Maybe it was the fact that I had just gotten rid of a greater evil.  Maybe it was the fact that I hadn't had a hot dog in a while.  But it was good.

The End.