Hello Peach Tree's, this is Ma-ma. Somewhere in this story, you might recognize it, it is Aftermath. Ma-ma had to take it down and do a little work and post it again. I want you to read it and review it. As for you my first time readers, enjoy this. Or not. Either way your reviewing it. Everyone else, stay the fuck out of our way until the shooting stops.
"The sentence is death." Choking noises filled my ears momentarily. He was going to kill Mama, and in turn, that little bracelet will kill us all. Like it even matters, you already failed so it's probably the better ending anyway. "How do you plead?"
"Defence noted." The tinkling of shattered glass cut off a scream- god, he did it. Perps? Dead. Civilians? Alive. But not for long if Ma-ma's telling the truth. Job? Done. Mission? Failed.
Get off the floor Rookie! The missions not over until your out of the building. Blinking rapidly, trying to get the floor to come back into focus, I began to rack my brain. Dredd is alive- or was a minute ago, he was standing next to me. There was a Ma-Ma and her mooks. Guns went off, he hit six, and I hit four. Then there was tearing and adrenaline, a painless wound.
Vomit began to fill my throat as the shock wore off; the gunshot hitting me like the concrete floor my head was suddenly pressed against. 'Put pressure on the wound,' screamed my training. 'Don't move your body,' begged my head. Training first. Training first. Training first. Rolling slightly I managed to press the exit wound to the ground, hoping it would be enough.
The fog was back, blurring the coppery smell of my blood with the smell of smoke and bodies. The neon graffiti was melting into the walls, until everything was a vortex of grey. I didn't even make a difference. I really wasn't cut out to be a Judge- I can't take it. Dredd got shot through the side and took out his own damn bullet. Me? I rolled around on the ground and puked. Kay was right-
"Yeah," the husky growl reverberated around the room, grounding me for a few fleeting seconds, "Rookie-" the same voice whispered but my racing pulse drowned out whatever he said next. The pain was back and I was flying, fog lifting me out of my head. My whole body seized, what was left of my breakfast making its way up to my mouth. Blackness overtook me.
"Rookie? Anderson… Anderson! Don't go to sleep on me! You close your eyes and you're dead." A part of me that wasn't trying not to cry rolled its eyes and wondered how if I would be the one in five rookies- potentially from the standard injuries, or he would probably just kill me. Then hands were on me, under my legs and torso lifting. His rolling gate made me want to cry out in agony, but I couldn't remember how to open my mouth. I can't take this. I can't take this. I can't take this.
Just when I thought I would break down and cry, Dredd gently laid me against a hard cold surface. Something stabbed me and the fog was gone. I was awake. Opening my eyes as wide as I could, light rushed in painfully, my heart flying. It was too much; sweat began to run rivulets down my body. Warm hands, big ones, and rough, pulling at my vest, opened it, and unzipped the jump suit.
Almost apprehensively or indecisively, they moved to the edge of the fabric before quickly jerking my suit open. A hiss that was not mine echoed through the small steel elevator. Must be bad, I thought, to get him to react. You impressed Judge Dredd, congratulations all you had to do was get shot. Hands were moving again, and pain. Lots of burning. And then nothing.
"Anderson. Look at me." His usual growl broke to a smooth deep voice I had only heard him use once. If I could see his eyes I'm sure they would be huge. I tried to obey him, but the brief moment of focus was fading into my blood-matted hair, the shot of adrenaline pounding its way out of my body. "Look at me." His voice was so different from the growl, but still a deep demanding rumble yet without the anger. It was fear and need guarded be hind false calmness and irritation. My eyes roved up to the visor on his mask, latching on to the cross of the x.
"Good Anderson, I'm here. Don't close your eyes, no matter what. This is going to hurt but I need you to focus." I felt burning metal reaching inside of the exit wound with a sickening popping sound. I gasped and my back arched against its will, choking on a scream.
"Anderson. We need to remain quiet - unless you are hoping to leave in body bags. " His words were harsh, but the way he froze- staring at me intently with his invisible eyes- made me feel like he almost cared. Don't make me laugh (seriously I might puke again)-a Judge, Judge Dredd caring about something other then the Mega City. "The capillaries are closed, that should stop some bleeding. Your going to be okay, you have enough blood to sustain yourself. The bullet exited by itself. You're going to be okay, you're lucky I won't need to remove it manually. You're going to be okay. Look at me Anderson- this part- this won't be- I'm- just- you're going to be okay," his hands moved fast.
I heard the rapid clicking from deep inside my side before I felt it…. the pain, the ache, the burn, the nausea…. My vision saw the red X and then nothing.
Am I dead? It's so black. So big. No sooner had it occurred to be then did flickering lights fill the room. An armchair, a lazy boy if the label was to be trusted sat solitarily in the cavernous space. A little plastic doll sat alone on the couch, one arm missing and the face nearly rubbed off from excessive love.
"Mommy!" a shrill voice screamed, words unpractised and slippery. "Daddy!" she sobbed into the clammy air. Unidentified female, in between ages of five and eight in distress- possible kidnaping or assault.
But something was different. I knew this place. I knew this room. Sweat began to gather at my temples and my upper lip itch. Unconsciously I had already positioned my self to shoot if necessary- but my command hand reached to hold the doll. My leather-clad fingers caressed the worn surface looking for a memory I had tried to forget.
I know this doll…. Before I could begin to figure out where from the light began to swing, shadows began to morph into new shapes, the chair dissolve into the ground, and the doll to melt in my hand. The flowers on the newly visible wallpaper fell to the ground wilting and bleaching the walls until all that was left was a long white hallway.
"Anderson," a mans voice called. A white jacket. Saline and stainless steal. "Anderson..." Sporadic beeping and rushing feet. "Anderson..." A high pitch ring and running. "Anderson?" Electricity fizzling and gargling breaths. "Anderson!" Sad faces and a woman in a suit. Small room with grey walls.
"Anderson!" a hand was on me pressing and shaking, "wake up, I don't have enough adrenaline shots, I need you to look at me."
Memories bounced around my head, trying to place the doll and snippets of that girl's life. I knew I know her, I know that place I've been there before. I couldn't think, the sick smell of burnt flesh and fresh vomit intermingled with blood made me wish I could just black out again. But then again, the hard glint of florescent lighting reflecting off of the bloodied bullets on the floor made a compelling case for fighting the fog.
The pain was a dull ache with the occasional twinge, but improving by the second with the medication under the bandages, leaving my mind free to wander to the target sign on my pale and clammy skin.
The bandages wrapping around my stomach and lower torso were saturated in blood and yellow goo. On basic assessment it looked worse then it was. I could still feel the self tightening staples gripping into my skin looking to seal as soon as possible, but it wasn't that bad. The internal pain was fine, the burning pretty much killed every nerve ending in there. Pro's and cons to that development, I silently scoffed.
"Rookie- assessment is still in progress. If you can move you should- dress and prepare. We might have engaged all of the known perps- but until we're out of the crime scene we are not relieved of duty." I swear there was a hint of nervousness the flickered across his mind, but it was fleeting to the point that with the medicine coursing through my blood I couldn't be sure.
"Oh- right. Yes sir." I tried to sound unaffected. But the blood rushing to my face at the realization of my positioning and state of undress was giving my acting a run for its money in hiding my shock. Being stared at by this legend while lying in a pool of my own blood and puke with my breasts almost entirely exposed? Maintains to be one of the more humiliating experiences of my existence. Nice job Anderson, way to make an impression.
With unsteady arms and legs I rolled into a kneeling position, both my hands pulling at the zipper, moving fast as I could trying to hide the raging blush. My shining action girl moment on the two hundredth floor seemed to be evaporating leaving my painfully aware of my own idiocy.
Fourteen years. Fourteen years of fifteen-hour days working solely on being a judge and this is my skill level. All my classes. All my training. Here I am, kneeling in my own fluids struggling to get dressed. Fourteen years. Done. Fin. Kaput. Just like that. I couldn't even be adequate on my second try. I studied harder for my tests, I trained longer, I pushed myself further, yet somehow I end up loosing my gun to a perp and freeing a potential felon. I failed. I failed on a retake I exclusivley got to do. Not thinking, my hand grasping the zipper jerked it as hard as I could- as if covering my body would hide my own blunders and shortcomings.
My knees had supported most of my weight until then- the pain was dizzying causing me to stumble against the wall. Choking back tears, falling over my legs I froze. Stay in control, I chanted in my mind. A new wave of nausea started in the pit of my stomach right at the staples, the pain growing worse with every moment I stayed standing. My hands instinctively went to apply pressure, hoping my organs would stay put. Do not let Dredd see you fall apart, you must stay strong.
As if sensing my loosing battle- both with my body and mind Dredd turned away from my hunched (but still relatively standing) form. Treating me like a goddamn civilian. His long shadowy figure pivoted to the corner, kicking my vest to my feet, with hands clasped in front of his groin and head proudly angled- he gave the wall the full brunt of his death stare.
He can't even stomach looking at me- he has to aim it at a wall instead. Way to go Anderson. Not only have you wasted the first twenty one years of your life you've also managed to piss off the most feared judge in Mega City One and Two. Fantastic.
Well- at the rate this elevator is moving we've got another two minutes till we hit the atrium. This isn't awkward, nope, just two fully armed adults standing in a pile of my bodily fluids. Quickly pulling on the vest and carefully zipping it up, I wondered what I was supposed to do. Do I thank him? Do I apologize?
'Hey Dredd, just want to say thanks for letting my fallow you today and generally messing up your mojo then saving my life and stuff, oh yeah and real sorry about that potential felon you think I set loose! Have a nice day!' that would go well. Maybe I could just look inside his head… you know see what he thinks I should say… for science and all.
Just as my mind began to relax enough to hear the vortex of words scintillating under the helmet, the lanky shadow moved. Plink. Plink. Step by step he closed the distance until he was standing close enough for me to see the trademark Dredd snarl.
Armed adult, no exit, get space and defensive stance. But there was nowhere to go- my back was pressed to the metal elevator wall. This is how I'm going to die. He will tell me my charge is letting a felon leave the scene, ask me how I plead (not that it will matter) and then he will tell me the sentence is death and kill me.
"Anderson-" he paused, licking his lips and wavering on his words, "stay out of my head. It's enough for one person." His grimace then did something I'm not sure I knew existed. It curled into a (unpractised and half hearted) sneer. "Even for you-Judge Anderson."
"Yes sir-" I choked trying to sound neutral in the way that only judges could. But really, my thoughts were a mess. Did he just- did Dredd smile? At me? Dredd, as in the Dredd, judge Dredd. Mr Look-at-me-all-dedicated-to-the-law-emotionless-with- the-ever-present-scowl. He called you Judge Anderson.
But-but he said even for you. Meaning he thinks I can take it, he has expectations of me. Does that mean he respects me? Is that even possible? He thinks I can handle things? Maybe he'll ignore my two violations….
Another twinge of pain from the staples derailed my thoughts. My left hand slapped the wall while I grunted in pain. Do not loose your shit in front of him. I bit down on my lip, drawing blood, trying not to let the tears burning behind my eyes out.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Dredd's face contort momentarily before rigidly pushing its way back to a grimace. Fantastic, he gives you a sliver of respect and I look like I can handle a little pain. Go me.
So much for 'even for you Judge.'
Judge?… but I'm not a Judge. I was Rookie, a Cadet, Miss Hotdog respects the system; he would never use the term Judge that loosely… He knows I'm not a Judge and never will be. But, he said even for you and he smiled… he sneered. Proxy, he complimented me and then called me a Judge. What makes you think he was being serious?
You are not a Judge. You would be a terrible Judge, you were a terrible Cadet, and now you're a buff civilian with a good understanding of guns.
Sure you pulled yourself together for a few minutes there. You shot first and asked questions later but you failed none the less. Your done, Dredd can't respect someone who can't pass a simple test. Why should he?
Kay was right, Judge Drill is right, and Dredd will be. You're just not good enough for this, simple. You're not calm enough, not strong enough.
Was he mocking me? He knows I'm not a Judge, he said it to hurt me. He can't arrest me or kill me but that doesn't mean he can emotionally hurt me. Well Mission Success. I hope you are happy.
It was like I was in a trance, like it wasn't real. I could see the numbers sliding down, I could feel the tension in the elevator, I knew it was happening. But I couldn't believe it. Its over, I will never be a Judge. It's over.
I could feel the tears building behind my eyes, but I would not let them pass. I will not embarrass myself again. My whole face scrunched, eyes closed so tight no self-pity would escape.
"Judge Anderson- stand ready. Get ready to clear the atrium." I didn't move, I couldn't. If I moved I would either start crying or hit him. Neither would end well for either of us. "Anderson, now! Move, or do I need to carry you again?"
That cinched it, without looking back at him I walked as fast as I could without looking desperate. I knew he was fallowing me, I could tell he was near- but I refused to look back. I will not glorify his actions by giving him the gratification of seeing it hurt me.
Kid stop feeling sorry for your self and suck it up. Pity? Sadness? Regret? They are useless emotions. Anger? We can do something with. We need that now. Just make it last for now.
Clenching my jaw and fists I increased my pace hoping for him to fall back. Of course he didn't. We both stood in front of the door waiting for it to open. I could feel his thoughts trying to enter my mind- but I don't want them. I don't need more.
I could tell he wanted to say something. I knew he was searching for words. But I don't want them. I don't want to hear more passive aggressive insults. I don't want this. I wanted to be- I wanted to grow up- wanted protect- make a difference- anything. Not this. Anything else.
The steel wall began to rise and I knew the world would leak through. I knew the chief would be on the other side and ask what happened. I knew reporters would want to know everything. I knew EMT's and the SJS's would want to poke and prod me.
I can't do this.
"Anderson." Dredd whispered. I tried to steal my self. I tried to be numb. I tried to be mature. So I turned to him. But in that moment my eyes met with his visor, the moment my hand reached for my badge- I was empty. I could see conflicted thoughts in his mind; I could see a mixture of regret and unsure trepidation. I knew he was trying to say something-
But I would not, no, could not hear it. When I took out my badge I knew it was over. I could feel parts of me dying. The world began to blur- I knew I was walking and I knew people were reaching for me. But it didn't matter.
I knew I was shoving people away. But I didn't care. I just wouldn't- couldn't- let Dredd see me break down. I found my self on my government issued motor cycle- for the last time. But it didn't matter.
I just rode. And rode.
I didn't know where I was going. I saw the blocks progressively more and more dangerous and the sun begin to set; I saw my gas gauge steadily drop. But it didn't matter. I knew I had stopped. I knew I was not alone anymore. I could feel eyes tracing my body, appraising it and questioning my presence. But I didn't care.
I ran. Not because I was afraid, but because I knew I couldn't keep myself together much longer. I ran until my lungs hurt, feet slapping the pavement- eyes shut not looking, not caring. I ran until my legs ached and my heart pounded painfully. I ran until I could feel myself swaying from the miles that had blurred past me. I ran until exhausted, I fell to the ground, crumbling against a metallic wall in an alley between to mega-towers.
"What the hell wrong with me!" I screamed into my blodied hands. I wasn't crying over the people I killed. I wasn't crying over the baby who will now never know her father. "I should be dead. I don't deserve this!" I was not even crying because I'm in pain. I'm crying over me.
My inability to detach.
It was obvious, even to me, that I was hysterical. It wasn't the first time I lost control, but not in years, and never like this. Never deservingly. I clutched my legs and let the tears fall. I don't deserve to be alive. I should have died before I let my gun be taken. I should have died when Mama did. I should have died when the doctors discovered my abnormality. I should have died when I was exposed to that much radiation. I should have died. But instead someone decided to save me. Over and over again.
"Why did you save me?" my voice was choked and gargled in the back of my throat. "Why did you bother to try and have them train me?" I failed every Judge aptitude test. Every checkpoint. Every physical and emotional final. "Why did you try to make me a Judge? We both know I'm worthless."
I didn't say anything more; I had no more 'sorrys' left, no breath for questions I had no hope of getting answers for, no idea who I was talking to. My whole body was trembling, violently shaking in time with my poisonous thoughts.
Why. How. Who. Why? Why. How? Who? Who!
My mental masturbation was chasing its tail in a pointless round, all consuming questions brainwashed me until I didn't know where I was. I didn't care.
I should have heard heavy footsteps from the mouth of the alley, or the whistles and catcalls. I should have known their dirty thoughts and illegal intents. But I didn't care.
Out of seemingly no where- an arm wrapped around my neck and another over my mouth silencing my screams. Someone grabbed my ankles and lifted me off the ground. Somehow my mind didn't make the connection... didn't understand what these men were going to do. I didn't care.
What are you doing? Fight back!
"Well, well, well who do we gat' here?" Sneered a rumbling voice from the end of the alley.
"A lill' girl on the wron'side-o the track," a man close to my feet singsonged before roughly pulling my further towards the first voice.
"Not' just a girl- a Judge." A new man bragged, walking beside me, lowering his dirty face to my ear, "wanna play baby?" he whispered, slapping my bottom and squeezing to the point of pain.
"Some judge she is getting' caught like this." Yet another voice mused, sounding like he was by the mouth of the alley.
"Fuck! That means she's a…" The voice from my left called.
"Dibs on her first!" feet man yelled victoriously.
"I grabbed her, I get first!" The man that was keeping me in a chokehold whined.
"Yo! Sharing is carring."
"You two fags' can share her- there's more then enough to go around!" Two large hands moved forward roughly seizing my breasts pulling at my vest. I knew it would bruise but I couldn't care less.
Going from numbness to calculating is not a far leap; emotions do not play a role in Judgement. Only logic and a harsh grip with reality will keep you alive, everything else must be taught to be irrelevant. You cannot kill a perp with sadness. You cannot protect a city with disappointment. You cannot save your own life with fear. So you forget it and think.
Six men, late teens mid twenties- identities unknown. At least two armed, four with fighting experience, three under the influence unidentified substances. Easy.
Violence is second nature to a judge. Or a failed judge. Twist to the left so my ankles and wrists drop. Roll to the ground and knock the legs out from under feet-man. Rise to knees and elbow slam into trachea while wrist-man tries to grab me.
Put full body weight into a backward fall, wrap arms around wrist-mans neck, pull him over and under me. Stand above him, feet on either side of his chest, and eye gouge just to be sure he's dead. Roundhouse kick to Lefty before he can use the knife he held, latch hand into hair and slam head to the bricks.
Three down; fifteen seconds. Not bad kiddo. The other men were still in a daze, unsure of how their little play toy had gone from submissive to murderous that quickly.
Or at least I had assumes- all of a sudden I was flying- crashing into a dumpster. Boob-grabber was on me, pulling me down the metallic wall. All the while tugging at my jump suit, pressing me to the dirty concrete, keeping me pinned down. Then there were more feet from other men kicking at my ribs and cracking noises.
The heavy weight of the Boob-Grabber spread my legs and forced me to allow him closer. But not so close my free hand couldn't snake down to where boob grabber was thrusting against me.
I knew genitals are sensitive. There is a reason steal cups are mandatory back in school and are built into male judges suits. But I'd never touched any. I wasn't sure how much pressure to apply to make sure it was only pain no pleasure so I went ahead for as hard as I can- satisfied with the popping sound it created.
I guess it was enough because the man was on the ground screaming- he never saw my next move coming. Holding his head I slipped out from under him away from the feet. A simple jump on to his spine and his cries faded into gurgling.
The two remaining men were scared- but fear of dying is good motivation to win. I was against the wall before Butt-grabber's thoughts could betray him. End-of-the-alley-man swaggered up to the perp pressing against me and pressed something cold against my neck.
"You feel this judge? This is how you die. This is what is going to happen to all you pathetic judges. But it isn't going to be so easy for you. Get on the ground on your hands and knees. Try anything funny and you'll wish you were dead." With a shove I was on the down.
Before I had time to consider whether to comply or fight, I was lying flat with the knife trailing up my thighs and another over my throat. Shit. I can't move in any direction with out getting stabbed. Anderson wait for an opportunity, you move now your dead, wait until you have a way out.
The lower knife changed angles and in three long swipes the crotch of my jump suit fell to the ground. I could tell I was bleeding, I could tell I my knuckles and back were bruised, I could feel several broken ribs, I could feel myself being pinned down and hardness on my inner thighs pressing closer. Anderson! You will not take this from me! I will fight! You can't move. You can't fight. Not yet- there is no opening for attack.
"You have ten seconds to release the Judge or I will use lethal force," someone announced. Boob grabber stood sharply and poised him self to fight, but a blur of black leather fists made him fall to the ground grunting in pain before receiving a sharp kick to the neck. The unidentified man was cursing, his masked face contorting with rage. He lifted End-of –the-alley-man off of me, throwing him against the wall. "You are charged with attempted rape and attempted murder of a Judge. The sentence is death. How do you plead?"
"Fuck you Judge," he spat, blood leaking from the corners of his mouth. A gun shot rang out and the end-of-the-alley-man collapsed. I could hear someone running to my crumpled from. Stand and prepare to defend yourself kid. Unidentified man, seemingly friendly but proven to be hostel and trained. But I couldn't move, my staples had not fully sealed and my torn flesh was screaming for stillness.
"Control I've neutralized the situation we have six bodies for recycle at my GPS. Victim identified as Judge C. Anderson I'm taking her to base for medical treatment now." Silence "Yes I can speak to him now." Pause.
"Director… Yes sir… that can be arranged… Sir-…. With me? -Why? But-…. Yes sir…. Are you sure? … I understand sir…. The councils involved? Fantastic… Yes sir. If you think it best… It's my duty sir." A deep voice whispered into a phone angry, but trying to hide it. Who is that? I don't recognise it, it was like silk and gravel rolling around inside of my ears.
The voice was lulling me into an aching sleep, it had a hypnotic quality to it I couldn't place. But at the same time it was dangerous, like you don't want to cross it. His arms wrapped under me, lifting my body just like Dredd had just hours ago. Before long he was putting me down, resting me against himself, and we were flying.
Snapping my eyes open only furthered my confusion. I'm on a standard government issued motorcycle driven by a man in a Judges uniform. He has no way of knowing everything... Just as long as it isn't Dredd. Please don't be Dredd. Please don't be Dredd. Please don't be Dredd.
"Anderson." Aw fuck. It's Dredd. "I understand I will have more explanation later but you need immediate medical care. Director of Council Relations wants us to avoid the hospitals until the events in the wake of Peach Tree's settles down." I could feel the unease and gravity of what he was trying to say, radiating off of him.
I knew he was talking to me. I knew it was important. I was curious- Dredd nervous? But I couldn't hear. Everything hurt. I just needed to close my eyes and breath. Don't feel. Don't feel. You're okay. Breath kid. Just breath. Try to focus. Try-
Cold darkness surrounded me- lifting me. I was flying. Up and up- my body was gone. I was dreaming or dying, I wasn't sure but I didn't care. I'm flying. My numb fingers caressed the rough stubble my head was resting on. I was flying. My cold body was against something warm. Away and away higher and higher, I knew I was going somewhere wonderful.
Looking down from my perch in the sky I saw an ant- a man- a speck calling my name. Funny the speck looks worried- looks angry. Why should he be sad? I'm flying-. His mouth was angry but I couldn't see his face- who are you speck man? My name slipped from the invisible face, the angry sad man.
"You can't sleep yet. Open your eyes Judge Anderson." Ant Man? Don't remind me about that- I don't want to think about that- I just want to fly right now. I suppose I said it out loud, I suppose the low rumble was a growled chuckle, but its hard to tell when your miles away.
"Judge- we made and exception. Your talents combined with dedication make up for loosing your weapon, which you recovered by yourself," the voice paused- the voice sounding strained. "-besides I think that little show in the alley proves you can handle yourself if necessary."
The alley…. I came crashing down from where I had been flying. Those men… did they? Oh God. They didn't, right? They were shot before they could. I would know if I wasn't a… Right? Oh God. What does he mean I could handle it? I engaged four of the men but Dredd only saw the bodies.
"I let them attack me. I would be terminated or worse if you hadn't found me…" I said in dreamy dead voice. I knew my actions were in excusable. "If I were still in school I would be kicked out." It doesn't matter if he maked me a Judge I don't deserve it. I'm not good enough.
"No you wouldn't. Anderson- if I had intervened two minutes later there wouldn't have been much for me to do. Now listen because I will say this once and only once; you are different," I opened my mouth to say that's just a huge hit of mutantingenites but the look he sent me over his shoulder shut me up. "Not just because you are a mind-reader."
'How!' I wanted to scream but I could tell by his erect posture and the newly authoritative tone the conversation was over. But I don't suppose it mattered if he wanted to talk more- it wasn't if I could talk.
Bodies have a natural response to pain- to let you know its happening so you can fix it or to ignore it when you are panicked. The adrenaline from fighting had spared me the worst of my injuries, but now lying against the back of the most dangerous man in Mega City One my body decided it was safe. Not good assessment jackass.
Pain management was never my forte, but the sharp turns Dredd made every few moments were only increasing my need to hurl. My open wounds on the exposed skin along my inner thighs roughly scraped against the leather, my abdomen trembling with the effort of staying up straight.
It was a matter of pride really, trying to look like I didn't need anyone. I didn't want to lean against him. I didn't want to be the damsel in distress. I didn't want Dredd to save me. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction.
Yet somehow the last thing I felt before everything went black was my chest pressed against a warm leather jacket.
I was warm. So soft, so nice. It smells like spice, leather, and lived in rooms. Not like the academy at all. My body hurt, but not the worst it's been. 'Judge Drill' must have kicked our asses again. She's good at that. Glad were not on watch tonight' huh kid? Rolling on my side I smiled content, falling back asleep.
There was a dark room with nothing in it, except a chair. On that chair sat a doll with no face- it had been rubbed off from excessive love. There was a shrieks from a little girl looking for her parents. Rubbing alcohol. Saline. Steal. Beepers going wild. Flat lining. Running. The little girl sitting by herself in the waiting room. Sad faced doctors. The doctor's mouth was moving but the words didn't make sense. A voice that might have been my own screamed
"Anderson!" hands were shaking me. "Wake up- your dreaming, you're okay." My eyes flew open; I was sitting up right- unsure of where I was.
Looking down I was dressed in a large mans T-shirt and sweat pants far to large for me. Wow, my hands are miles away but, like, my face is, all right, like, at my fingertips. Okay no more anaesthetic for you Kiddo, you're a few bullets short of a round right now.
"Are you alright Anderson? You're shaking." Dredd's voice echoed around the little room sounding a mixture between board and uncomfortable.
"Yes sir, I'm fine Sir." My voice sounded dazed from sleep and drugs. "Just a side effect of pain killers- It makes me cold." I chattered, not realizing how true that was until I said it.
"I see," the gravel sounded truly uneasy now. The vortex was pulling me back-his thoughts. Don't. Anderson….
It wasn't like I was trying to hear him; in fact I was actively trying not to. But it was like he was screaming the world through his eyes at me. His thoughts were moving to fast for me to read but his vision slipped into mine.
His eyes were on me, predictably. My face was in the peripheral, my hair a mess with some blood still in it. We need a shower. My face was undamaged except for a long arching cut along my eyebrow, but he wasn't focusing on my injuries like I expected. His eyes kept trailing to a bandage, or stich, or some bruise but would wander back up against his will. I could feel him fighting it- and loosing.
Dredd losing at something- alert the media and declare it a state of emergency due to the upcoming apocalypse. His focus was on my chest, my broken ribs? Or was he…
What the hell? Dredd was staring at me… there? But why? I'm cold- so it's more apparent but- he's a Judge, a damn good one at that, why would he care. I know some Judges struggle with that aspect of our life but certainly not Dredd. I must be misinterpreting it. Yeah… that would make sense. I probably took a punch to the sternum or something… I mean it was all so fast it wouldn't surprise me if I had more injuries that I hadn't noticed. Definitely that.
God, its good you don't do any drugs- some mild painkillers and here you are thinking the best and most disciplined Judge on the face of the planet is looking at my breasts. I need to get the med's out of the system.
"I suppose I have some explaining to do as to where and why you're here." Right. Yeah, in strange building -that might be a good thing to be thinking about. Wow.
Remind me how we survived the academy?
"Please do," trying to control my voice to sound as calm and level headed as Dredd was difficult- but I don't think he heard my embarrassed cluelessness.
"The council heard about what happened at Peach Trees. They were impressed that both of us got out alive and disposed of that many perps. After some debate it was decided to be for the best for your career to continue despite loosing your primary weapon. Due to the injuries we both sustained yesterday they thought it best to give us both a brief leave of absence. I was on my way to my residence when I received a call that a unknown female judge in distress was being engaged by several unknown perps."
Only then did I realize he had retreated to the corner of the room, into the shadows. I could see his outline but everything else was a dark blur. Why is he hiding?
"When I saw it was you- I hesitated, my apologies Judge, but it seemed favourable to allow you to gain control of the situation." He was letting them kick the shit out of me just to see if I could win. Gee, thanks.
His disembodied voice grew dark and shallow like he wasn't talking to me. "But I saw you wouldn't gain control before they would-" he paused clearing his throat. "Anyway I stepped in."
"I was taking you to the Chief Fargo Memorial Hospital- but the council had other ideas. You see- part of the exception is-" He trailed off as if mulling over how to phrase what is happening. "They were impressed by how you conducted your self at Peach Tree's- so impressed they decided to put us both on indefinite tandem enforcement. This is a classified situation-"
"What?" Me and him. As in the best Judge in Mega City One and Two is being put with me. I must of misunderstood- they would never take such a respected man and put him with a rookie like me. Tandem enforcement is rare and generally ends really badly kid- either they want him dead or you two kick ass. Why would they want him dead? He's valuable.
"This a classified situation." He repeated patiently in a more conversational tone. Well as conversational as Dredd got. I moved on to my knees, wide-awake
"No- before that." Why would they put me with you? ME- a rookie who failed twice.
"They were impressed?" Impressed? I was just doing my job… what makes us special enough to risk Dredd's life?
"No! Indefinite tandem enforcement? As in now we work together. Indefinitely. Why?"
"Anderson- you should be thankful. They just saved your career." He was chastising me but he sounded different- unsure. Like his thoughts were wavering. "I know it must take some adjustment- but they seem to think one of the higher ranked Judge and a remarkably powerful psychic who can use a gun could be… effective." I was taken aback. He thought I didn't want to work with him? Well you ran away crying and nearly got killed hours after last time you worked with him. So… not that far of an intellectual leap.
"No-its not that- I'm. Thank you, sir. But I don't understand- I thought. Well tandem assignments don't normally… end well, sir. And your loss would be dangerous to the western Mega Cities."
"Don't call me Sir. We are going to have to be cohabiting- we will be on a semi-formal basis. Besides, Anderson, what makes you think this will end badly?"
With that he turned on his heal and walked out of the room.
Well my Peach Tree's, what do you think? What will Dredd do with his hands full of Anderson? What on earth will they be up to working together like that? Thats for me to know and for you to find out. I hope you like what you've read, because there is more to come. Much much more.
Give me time my darlings. Give me time.
I know many of you, if you are anything like my old readers, are clamoring for sex now. But thats just not how it works. Be patient. Give the lemons time to ripen.
Until then review, read, review, review, and most importantly review.