Requital (Chapter 1) by Tess Rosenthal
Disclaimer: I based the protagonist, Mona Bishop, off of a character named Rose Wilson from DC Comics. I also derived some of these plot points from a Teen Titans comic book. Those ideas, a small number of quotations, and Rose Wilson all belong to DC Comics. Everything else is my original work. This is the first chapter of a longer work.
Shards of glass that glittered like diamonds, holding the reflection of the winter moon, were scattered across the drug store floor. The raided snack aisle was sure to give her away if they didn’t notice the craggy edges of what was left of the front window first. A teen girl, her loose dark hair silvery in the moonlight, slowly held up an inhaler to her mouth. She breathed in deeply and the intoxication rolled through her blood.
Sometimes all one really needed to keep going was direction.
The girl shook her head to clear it and abruptly turned to the shelves, stacked with tiny containers of epinephrine. Her arm swept towards her torso, maneuvering the bottles into her open backpack, most of them getting in but many of them clattering to the floor in her haste.
“Quite a mess you’ve made here, Mona,” a clipped voice stated. The girl fumbled with the zipper of her bag and whirled around to face…Stephanie.
“I see you’ve gone and reduced yourself to a sad little thief, debasing yourself for your next high.”
“Judging me, Blue Jay?” the teen responded with a grunt. “How original.” She felt entitled to speak liberally now that Stephanie was no longer her superior.
“Come on now, little Raven.” The figure of the older woman stepped through the shattered glass of the window and crossed her suited arms, seemingly unfazed by the unceremonious use of her codename. “Just because you left the agency doesn’t mean we don’t care about what happens to you.”
Mona Bishop snorted and hefted her full-to-bursting backpack onto her shoulders. “Wow. Even when you try to say something vaguely nice to me it comes out as condescending. I left ’cause of this–’cause of W.I.N.G.’s runaway train of moral superiority. You know that right?” Lying came so naturally to her, but one could only lie so well to someone who was a higher-up in a company of lies.
“Of course,” Stephanie replied. She stepped closer to Mona until she was practically an inch away, walking closer and closer until her body took on a transparent hue, and the thieving teen heard the words from behind her, slowly fading. “…Just like I know I’m a drug-induced hallucination…”
For the second time that night, Mona shook her head to constrain her rattled thoughts. “Perfect,” she muttered to herself as she strode towards the broken entrance and stepped outside into the moonlit parking lot. “Only a head as universally fucked up as mine would choose her as the personification of my conscience.”
Hallucinations, huh? That was a new one.
Just as the leather-clad girl wrapped one leg over the seat of her idling motorbike, a siren pierced the silent night and flashes indicated that the cops were on their way. She revved off, zooming through the quiet town, zipping onto the mountainside highway. She wasn’t all that worried, she knew she could stay ahead of them if she didn’t slip up.
When Mona speculated that she had put enough distance between her and the boys in blue, she stopped her bike behind a blind turn, underneath an overhang of a rocky face. She removed a syringe from the pocket of her backpack, filled with the clear liquid of adrenaline. Without a pause, she shoved the needle into her arm and inhaled sharply as her blood began to boil and licking flames began to linger under her skin. Wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the stuff her father’d had her on, but after years of withdrawal and then making do with what she could from W.I.N.G’s medical supply, she was fairly used to it by now.
She tossed the vial away, hopped back onto her motorbike, and sped off, head pounding.
The young girl trembled pathetically on the living room sofa, one hand clasped in her lap, the other clutched over her left eye.
“Daddy, what did I do?”
Her longish black locks rested limply over the shoulders of her junior-sized black catsuit. A knife protruded from the adjacent white-washed wall from where the barely adolescent girl had thrown it in a fit of chemically-induced rage. It dribbled crimson onto the sandy carpet. More crimson seeped from underneath the girl’s left hand, making her lips taste metallic.
“You stabbed yourself, Mona.” The brooding tactician’s speech was calm and deadly as a gorge. He walked away from her, towards the dimly lit kitchen.
“I what…? Why?” Her mind was foggy, opaque. Desperately trying to grasp onto a coherent thought. Deep, protruding pain was all she could register.
Her father paused in his raid of the kitchen cabinet and turned to her. His own single eye roamed over her distraught face. His visage was utterly stoic when he replied, “Because you said you wanted to be like me.”
“What? No way, I couldn’t’ve!” Her tone was insistent and desperate, taking gasping breaths of fury and denial. “You’re lying, manipulating me again. I would never say that!” she shrieked, shaking her head vigorously.
Meanwhile, the man prepped a needle filled with an eerie blue liquid, his scarred, rough hands handling the delicate instrument with the ease and comfort of much practice.
“I’ll never be you! I hate you!” The girl stood and backed up into the wall, still covering her eye with a scraped hand as her father approached her. She knew what was to come. The youngling was quivering with rage and fear.
“Serum’s wearing off, honey. Time for a refill.” His voice wasn’t soothing or comforting. It was bathed in cruel, harsh reality.
He grabbed his daughter’s upper arm with one tight fist, brandishing the syringe in the other. “Hold still,” he growled. “And relax. It’ll all be over soon.” The needle hovered closer. And closer. It’s tip aimed at her left eye.
Chilling wetness consumed her. As the lid of her eye fluttered open, Mona Bishop found herself ungracefully scrambling around in a bank of snow. Gasping, she jackknifed to her feet and turned and turned, trying to comprehend her surroundings. But her weakened legs crumpled and she fell back down into the snow on her knees, holding her throbbing head in her hands.
“What the fuck…?”
Great. Now she could add sleepwalking to her list of deadly side-effects.
Holding her arms to her chest, too damn stubborn to complain about the cold even when there was no one around to hear, Mona trudged over to her bike, gripped the handles, and started walking. And walking. And walking. Hell, she’d be lucky if she found civilization in the next few hours.
The one-eyed girl reached into her pack and brought out a container of epinephrine. Oh, how she could use some.
She shook it. Glared at it. Nothing.
She whirled around to come face-to-handsome face with none other than Sparrow. Immediately, a plethora of emotions welled up inside her chest like a balloon. Joy, relief, longing. Regret.
“Luke,” she breathed, gaping, reaching…only to retract swiftly as a quick afterthought. “I–”
“You left.” His voice was terse and the azure of his eyes that usually only sparked for her were now as cold as the snow the two of them stood on. “I thought you were maybe on some long assignment that Kingfisher had given you. Not getting stranded in the middle of fucking Siberia.”
“I need to…” She paused, not entirely sure how to finish that sentence. “…figure things out. Namely, my life.”
“You had a life! With the agency.” Luke stepped closer and she thought she could smell the musk of his leather jacket, the familiar scent of the cologne he always wore because he knew it drove her crazy. “With me.”
Her gut clenched wonderfully at his words, yet her subconscious knew that they were probably the offspring of her own conflicted thoughts. She hardened her heart.
“I can’t, Luke.” Mona let out a breath and turned away, gripping her bike and continuing her trek through the freezing tundra.
After a few steps, she glanced back to see that he’d vanished.