42561 was about to ask what the plan was when Grace knocked on the door. 42561 grabbed Grace by the arm, intent on dragging her away when the door swung open . 42561 snatched her hand back like a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Does that expression even make sense anymore? Who still has a cookie jar? Let’s say instead that 42561 snatched her hand back like a kid caught getting into their parent’s edibles.
The woman standing before them in the doorway was very striking, sort of attractive in a Barbie /sex doll/mannequin kind of way. I suppose when you’re a woman that runs a cosmetic surgery clinic, you’re required to look a certain way. After all, what woman is going to want to put their trust in someone with crow’s feet or laugh lines or some other disgusting sign of them having time spent on this earth? She had a mass of dark curls that made Grace and 42561 both think to themselves “Whoa, that’s a lot of hair.”
Grace held her hand out for a shake that was not accepted “Not a hand shaker eh? Okay, no problem. I suppose you’re worried about germs, since you’re a doctor. Probably . . . pretty worried about germs. Fastidious . . . . uh, that’s the word. So, uh, anyway . . . nice to meet you. My friend and I were, uh . . . just spying on you and we saw that you were kidnapping someone . . .”
42561’s jaw dropped and she went white as a ghost, one of those Korean water ghosts from the movies not like an old sheet ghost. Do kids now even know that’s what people used to think a ghost looked like? This is the cookie jar all over again!
Grace chuckled unconvincingly “Here’s what’s funny, you’re gonna laugh when you hear this, we were thinking about kidnapping you! And then we saw that you’re actually a kidnapper too, and boy were our faces red as a slapped ass, I tell you what. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I mean what are the odds of a kidnapper accidentally thinking about kidnapping a fellow kidnapper? Anyway, we felt bad so we thought we’d come down here and see if you needed any help with your kidnapping. We thought maybe we could team up and kidnap some people together. There aren’t a lot of female kidnappers out there, besides those ones that cut the babies out of pregnant women, and that’s just murder really, so it’s nice to see another woman kidnapper . . . out here . . . getting it done. Women supporting women, as they say. Anyway . . . so, uh . . . yeah, that’s . . . uh . . . what we’re doing. Yeah. How . . . . how are you?
The entire time Grace was talking the woman didn’t react in any way, stood there still as a statue – which made her seem even more mannequin like. Combined with her uncanny valley sex robot appearance, it made for a pretty creepy sight. When Grace finished talking, she stood there awkwardly for a moment until the women stepped to the side – revealing behind her the other man they had seen helping James carrying the body bag.
He looked enough like Jason Mraz that he could have made some money as a Jason Mraz impersonator. If there was anyone who wanted to pay money to have Jason Mraz at their birthday party. He was wearing board shorts, flip-flops, and a cowgirl/reverse cowgirl t-shirt, which is plausibly something that you might see Jason Mraz wearing at his avocado farm. This man though was pointing a double barrel shotgun at Grace and 42561 which is decidedly very un-Mraz-like.
Grace bricked the shotgun with her malfunction spell and knocked the man down with a low kick almost simultaneous to 42561 using her magically enhanced strength to grab the gun out of the man’s grip. It’s a good thing the gun was inert because 42561, not being familiar with guns at all, had just terrible trigger discipline and could very well have blown Grace’s head off as she swiveled the gun to point at the good doctor had it been functional.
42561 demanded of the doctor “Where are they?”
Grace saw James coming out of the sleek modern kitchen (granite countertops!) with a Wüsthof Classic 7-Inch Fillet Knife in his fist. Despite having been stabbed a time or two, Grace was scared out of her wits, largely because James wasn’t coming at her screaming or shouting or seeming like a human, he was coming towards her like he didn’t know or care what was happening.
The doctor waved her hand and a blue stream of energy surged forth. For a brief moment her arm was ringed with blue, well rings, that looked suspiciously like the ones from the Marvel movies about Dr. Strange. Only blue. Grace managed to duck underneath it. 42561 jumped to the side, but the blue pulse still hit her on the shoulder and knocked her down like she had been hit by a car. The shotgun went flying out of her grip and she let out an agonized grunt. And this is a woman that finished a match with a broken ankle without a peep.
Grace was shocked. She had never seen anyone do magic so obviously and catastrophically. She found it downright vulgar. For half a second all she could think was how wrong what she had just seen was. Grace definitely didn’t want to get hit with that beam, seemed like it really hurt, so she kept an eye on the doctor – which is not a good idea when there’s a man with a knife behind you.
James stabbed Grace in the back but her armor spell held up well enough that it was more like a hard punch, the blade glancing off her and slicing across the skin rather than penetrating and killing her. Being accustomed to hard blows from behind (not in a dirty way) Grace reacted with what fancy people would call a Harai goshi but she just thought of as a hip throw – disarming her attacker in the process.
Grace found that her vision was obscured, like there was a bag over her head. For a second she thought someone actually had put a bag over her head but she realized that wasn’t the case. There’s a kind of primeval terror that comes from realizing that it’s not dark, you just can’t see. The good news is that you don’t really need to see in a grapple anyway. She got a hold of a leg and applied an ankle lock (or Ashi-Hishigi if you’re fancy) and could feel her opponent, clearly not an experienced grappler, move exactly like you do when you’re in an ankle lock and don’t want to be and don’t know what to do – allowing her to get him in a choke.
Grace and 42561 were the only ones make any noise, the doctor and her two minions were operating in eerie silence. Grace could hear 42561 grunting and making the other little nonsensical sounds you make when you’re exerting yourself and then suddenly the thunderous sound of a gunshot.
Grace called out desperately as she continued to squeeze James’ lights out “Talk to me, what’s happening?!”
42561’s voice sounded strained “Little busy right now!”
“Are you shot?!”
Grace heard a grunt and a curse before a “no!” Once James stopped moving, Grace started crawling towards the commotion as best she could – whacking her head on something hard in the process. You can hurt yourself more than she expected by fast-crawling into something solid. Someone stepped on/fell onto Grace and she grabbed whatever she could get a hold of, hoping that it wasn’t 42561.
Grace’s vision came flooding back and she found herself rolling around on the ground with the man who no longer looked like Jason Mraz – he looked like what would happen if Jason Mraz starred in a remake of the Fly. A third man with a big Al Cisneros beard and praying mantis mandibles was lying motionless on the floor and the doctor was down in the corner – defenseless as 42561 hammered her in the face with heavy punches.
“Jesus Christ, don’t fucking kill her!”
With obvious effort, 42561 stopped herself from pummeling the helpless woman and came over to help Grace choke out Fly-Mraz. She helped Grace to her feet and they surveyed the scene. Grace was gasping for breath, fighting for your life takes a lot of cardio, but 42561 was barely even breathing hard.
Grace managed to spit out “Well this is a deal.”