I used to have two heroes I could look up to, two men who would do anything to save me from the bogeyman. They both turned into righteous bastards. I guess that's why I'm out on the streets, fighting to survive and to help our kind survive. Someone has to uphold the heroes code of ethics; they sure as fuck won't.
At least I haven't seen either for a few years. I could find them. That comes easy to me, but I won't look. It's hard enough seeing what they've helped turn this world into, living in it day after fucking day, without looking at their faces and seeing both sets of people: the ones I used to admire and the ones I despise.
The music is pumping from the club downstairs, while I sit out on the roof, sitting on the ledge of the building in my leather pants and halter top. I'm watching over my city, my people. They don't know it, but I'm their protector. I'd like to be their hero, but these days our kind isn't really looked up to. We're hunted, tossed in cells and locked away. It shouldn't be this way. A lot of things aren't how they should be these days.
I take another drag of my cigarette, wondering why I let the past get to me so much. It was just a failed experiment, an experience in setting up castles in the air and watching them crumble around me. Everything crumbles. First my parents, at the hands of a serial killer. Then my heroes, at their own pride and ignorance.
My red hair's blowing in the wind, whipping around my face. I hate when I get like this. Nostalgic to the last, I'm the one who can find anyone except someone to believe in, to really fucking believe in who won't let me down or go away or leave me.
I let it go and focus on the present, the picture in my hand as my many bracelets and bangles clank against each other. This girl is no older than me when I first came into my own. Her parents came begging for my services. Of course I obliged their request, that's what heroes do. What we should do at any rate.
This little girl's lost.
She won't be for long.
The night is calling me into action.
My atlas, the one thing from my past I carry with me always, has led me to this warehouse. Figures. It's always a warehouse. Sometimes I think the bad guys have all seen the same cheesy b-rated crime movies. I stub out my sixth cigarette of the day with my boot.
I'm quiet as I search the building, looking for the girl who's brought me here. I've learned the hard way that I don't have much muscle to back up my other skills. I have to be a little sneaky, but I'm good at it. And when I can't be sneaky, I simply play up my sex appeal. And boy, do I have that in spades!
I've found the girl, she's crying and alone. I know the feeling, though I haven't cried since I was much, much younger. There's too much crap these days to waste tears crying for every little thing that goes wrong.
I place a finger to my lipsticked mouth, signaling for her to be quiet. She nods. Hopefully, she'll keep her side of our pact. It's so much easier when they play along.
Creeping up, I start untying her. What kind of sick fucks would keep a little girl here? What the fuck is wrong with this city these days, hell, this whole fucking country? As soon as she's free, she clings to my waist, grabbing onto my belt for survival. It's the first hug I've had in years. It feels strange, reminds me almost of Mohind-- of someone I'd rather not mention.
"Please don't let the bad man hurt me," she pleads, still clinging to my legs as I try to hurry her to the exit, towards the moonlight streaming through the broken door. She's me from a few years ago, and I, in an ironic twist, am the ghost of the man I now hate. I promise myself I won't fuck up as badly as he did.
"No one's going to hurt you." I hope I sound reassuring, like a hero. "I promise. Anyone comes to get you, they're going to have to go through me. 'kay?"
"But he said they would always come after me because I was special and they couldn't have special people walking around out there."
Fuck! That sounds like Homeland Security to me. We need to hurry, faster now than before. I know how that organization works and I know I don't have the big guns to go against them. We're almost out when a voice stops us.
"Freeze! You're under arrest for attempting to aid a prisoner."
I start laughing; the day can't get any shittier than this. I know that voice. It's the one I hear in my nightmares, the man who betrayed me years ago. I turn around, raising my hands in the air at the sight of his gun pointed at me. "Officer Parkman?"
He doesn't recognize me at first. He doesn't lower the gun either, which is directly pointed at my head. Then I get a little signal, a slight turn up of the mouth before it is drawn tight, expressing no emotion. We're past the point of emotion these days. "Molly.. what-- what happened to you?"
I look down at myself. He hasn't seen me since I was just a little girl, all prim and proper. Today, I am wearing my leather and lace look, all black mascara and dark lipstick with my bangles jingling around my arms. My tattoo, a helix symbol, is displayed proudly on my arm. "The same thing that happens to everyone when their heroes fail them. I grew up. Guess I'm not your little princess anymore, huh?"
He reacts to that, shooting at the space in between me and the little girl. I'm not sure whether he meant to miss or not. I'm about to kick him in the family jewels when the girl nods her head, a determined look on her face.
"What the hell?" I say as everything goes into slow motion and then all movement ceases completely. The only two things not frozen in place in this hellhole are me and her, the two heroes left in this fallen city. "Did you do that?"
She giggles. "I told you I'm special."
"You sure are, kid." I scoop her up in my arms, holding her like Matt used to cradle me. I give him one last look, starring at the gun that had been pointed at me, the angry grimace on his face and that gray hair that's creeping up around his temples.
And then, breaking the moment, I spit into his face. How the mighty have fallen.
I get the girl to safety. Back with her parents, wishing mine were still around.
They'll be leaving the city, going off somewhere better.
I want to tell them that there is no better place, that this is a battle raging all over the world, but I hold my tongue. Smile and nod. They'll find out soon enough.
I dreamt about Officer Parkman last night.
It was the first day after moving in to our old apartment, the one where the three of us used to live. We were like the three fucking musketeers, with the boys continually at each other's throats. A happy little family. In my dream, we were smiling, laughing about Matt's need to find the best pizza joint in the whole city.
I woke up grinning and hating myself for doing so.
Tonight, I'm standing sentinel in my usual place on the roof of Club Drive. It's been nicknamed Club Dive by people in the know who have gotten tired of this joint but refuse to move on. People get into these habits, old ideas that suffocate the life out of them. The past dies hard and sometimes no matter how much you may want to relocate to a sunny patch of grass on the other side of the fence, your feet stay rooted in the past, refusing to let you go.
I know I'll run into him again. Someday. Maybe then one of us will have the guts to finish this fight without walking away. For now, I wait and try not to think of the past.