She hadn’t given me very good directions where we were supposed to meet in Portage Woods but when I got there I followed the sounds of yelling. You forget how far voices carry at night. Maybe it seems that way because everything is quieter at night.
I walked on a paved trail for a while and then followed a dirt trail to a spot where people had worn their own path into the trees. It was weird to be in a forest but to know that city streets were a couple hundred feet away.
They were in spot with a bunch of empty beer cans and some condoms on the ground. The kid I saw riding his bike was there. He has bleach blonde hair. The kind where they leave the roots dark on purpose. He has an ugly pouty face. He’s skinny but in an athletic way. Wiry I guess they call that. Another kid was there who looked a lot like him, even had the same hair, must be brothers.
She looked like she was dressed to go clubbing later. She was wearing a short skirt and a shiny top and heels. Must have been hard to walk there in those shoes. She was arguing with a kid who was probably 6’4 and had a lot of size on him. I imagine he was a football player. I only got to listen to them for a moment, but it sounded like he was mad because he thought they were just going to play a joke and she was taking things “too far”.
The two blondes were between me and them and on the other side of them was what they were arguing about. Two other football looking types were kneeling down holding a girl who they had on a leash like a dog. They had a ball gag in her mouth and her face was streaked with blood from a wound on her head. She looked like that girl who played Molly in Booksmart. Her eyes were rolling like a frightened animal.
There’s an image stuck in my head that I think is going to be there forever. One of the guys holding her down was wearing a WWJD bracelet. Not one of the rubber ones. One of the metal engraved ones. His hand was on her neck so tight next to this terrified girl’s face, streaming with blood, that little glint of metal in the darkeness. WWJD.
I gathered that one of the boys had lured her there and then the rest ambushed her. Sounds like they weren’t all in on the entire plan. Or maybe they just didn’t want to believe it. Once she saw me, she turned all her attention to screaming at me. She asked why I talked to her mom as she was cursing at me.
I told her that whatever she was doing was over. I told her to let the girl go and everyone would go home. The next thing I knew I was down on the ground with a mouthful of dirt and leaves. I felt like I had been hit in the chest with a bowling ball. I couldn’t get my breath.
I heard her telling her followers to “get her clothes off”. I don’t know if she was talking about me or the girl on the leash. I heard her screaming at them because they weren’t following her instructions. I heard the one she was arguing with telling her that the magic and the “sex stuff” had been fun but this was too much. I suddenly felt a painful sensation like being too close to a fire. Just for a second. I don’t know what that was.
As I was trying to get to my feet one of the blonde kids came over and starting punching me. I was in so much pain already I didn’t really feel it. There was some yelling back and forth and I was dragged to my feet. The kid she had been arguing with was down on the ground. Looked like someone had hit him with a beer bottle. One of the other football players was just standing there looking lost. I didn’t see the other one anymore. The brothers had taken control of the girl with the ball gag, holding her by the arms and yanking on the leash around her neck.
No one was holding me up. I could feel hands on me. They were strong like iron. But nothing was there. She was standing in the middle of this chaos looking so angry it was almost comical. Like a cartoon character. Only it wasn’t funny.
My toes were barely touching the ground as I was dragged to her by an invisible force. Once I was in front of her, she made an impatient gesture like someone swiping a phone and I was slammed into the ground so hard my vision went black for a minute. I could see her lips moving but I couldn’t hear what she was saying, my ears were ringing so bad.
I pushed myself up with my hands and she aimed a kick at my face. I turned my face away and she hit me in the shoulder. There was barely any force behind it at all. She stumbled and almost fell, the scared-looking football kid catching her by reflex. I could see her screaming at him for touching her and him flinching away like an abused animal.
When she turned back to me I grabbed her by the fingers on both hands and snapped them back. She was far more powerful than me when it comes to magic. But I doubt she had felt much real pain in her life. She wasn’t prepared for anything like that. There’s no way she could concentrate to do any more magic like that. She screamed so loudly I could hear it. She reeled away clutching her hands to her chest and crying.
I wanted to jump on her and knock her down and start punching her. I wanted to beat her face until there was nothing left. Because I was angry. Because I was afraid. Because I was disgusted. And a little part because I was jealous. Why should she have power if this is what she was going to do? Why does she deserve to have a home and money and whatever she wants if this is what she’s going to do? Part of me wanted to kill her.
But I didn’t. One of the brothers threw a beer bottle that hit me in the ribs. It hurt more than I thought it would. The other one had a knife out. One of those locking ones that douchebag high school kids get. He didn’t look like he knew what he wanted to do with it. I walked over to the girl with the ball gag and the bottle thrower came forward like he was going to do something. I shoved him out of the way and helped the girl to her feet.
I told the one with the knife to stab me if he was going to fucking stab me. He spit at me. His brother came back to grab at the leash about the girl’s neck and I slammed my forehead into his face. I was aiming for the nose but I hit him in the mouth. His teeth ripped the skin away in a line from my brow to my left eyelid. I felt some of his teeth snapping against my head. I don’t think I’ll forget that sensation.
We got lost three times trying to get back to my car. I tried to get the leash off her neck and the gag out of her mouth but I couldn’t do either. My fingers were clumsy and numb. It felt like I was trying to undo a padlock with my bare hands. She still had them on when we finally got to my car but she was able to get them off herself then.
The blood on her face was starting to get tacky and thick. She asked me if I was okay. She asked me. I asked her where the police station was.