Supervillains Anonymous Chapter 2

6/16/2015 11:00:00 AM Unknown 0 Comments





Missed chapter one? Read it here!

Hunger woke me.

Sometime during the nap, it had migrated from being a pressing concern to an outright distraction. The minute I opened my eyes, my stomach growled. My hands trembled. I could feel my vision blurring, which only made me feel sicker. Angélica had warned me about what would happen if I didn’t take care of my incredibly fast metabolism. My body required fuel to fight off leukemia, which was a side effect of the Mobium. I wasn’t allowed to ever let it get this bad. I needed to eat, or I would become incredibly ill.

But eating meant walking to the dining room that Perky Tabitha had pointed out. Beyond the door to my cell lay at least fifty sources of highly individualized terror.

“You’re strong now,” I told myself as I fumbled my way out of bed and to the door. It didn’t do a thing to stop my knees from shaking. “You can take them. You’re not Hostage Girl anymore.”

My hand hovered by the panel. I watched my fingertips quiver and bit my lip hard.

If Angélica were there, she would have made some mocking comment, or called me something insulting in Portuguese. I could practically hear her voice right then and there, so strong that I had to squeeze my eyes shut. I took a deep breath and pushed the button. The door slid open, inviting a gust of lavender-scented air.

The hallway beyond my room was empty, which made sense when I leaned back to check the schedule. Dinner had been going on for a solid twenty minutes, so I would be walking into a meal already well in session.

I’d survived high school. I knew what that meant. It couldn’t be helped, though. If I didn’t eat, the bruised ribs and throat wouldn’t heal, and my condition would only worsen.

At least the Mobium ensured I would be able to find the dining room again. After a lifetime of forever getting lost, being able to find a place as long as I’d been there already was a godsend. As I walked off to enjoy what could possibly be my last meal, I worried. Prison food was supposed to be the worst of the worst, wasn’t it?

I smelled lobster thermidor before I even reached the dining room.

“Good evening, mademoiselle.” A tuxedoed man stepped in my path and made a little bow. “If you would be so kind as to follow me, please?”

Well, he didn’t look like any supervillain I’d ever faced. Taking a deep breath, I followed him into the dining room, which was lit by candlelight. Placing open flame around the world’s most dangerous supervillains seemed like a prodigiously bad idea to me, but I did have to admit it was really pretty with the way it flickered and reflected off the snowy white tablecloths. Seated at the tables were several people I recognized and quite a few I didn’t. Their casual Detmer uniforms seemed out of place with the silver dishes and fancy centerpieces, but I couldn’t deny that the food was what drew my attention. Lobster thermidor, a beef dish that smelled positively delectable, and something done with cod that made me salivate. Waiters whisked about with dome-covered platters, bowing obsequiously.

I felt the atmosphere in the room change as I followed the maître d’. Villains at various tables turned their faces to follow me. The candlelight made their eyes seem beady and calculating.

Halfway across the room, the inevitable happened: one of them recognized me.

Venus von Trapp practically leapt out of her seat. It had been a couple years since she’d snatched me out of Union Station, and she no longer wore her lily-pad couture, but I recognized her right away. I flexed my wrists automatically. She’d once suspended me eighty feet in the air with the help of a few giant vines.

Hostage Girl?” she asked, her eyes so wide, I could see her unnatural red irises clearly even in the low light. “Dionaea muscipula, is that you?”

“I don’t go by that anymore,” I said, sneaking looks at the other diner at her table. My stomach sank farther when I saw the fangs of the pale woman sitting next to her abandoned seat.

“Don’t tell me you’ve joined the corps mal,” Venus said, shaking her head, so that the vines and leaves that made up her hair clattered against each other.

“With the trash they let in?” I said. “Not damn likely.”

It occurred to me that sassing the woman who’d once turned me green for two weeks was a bad plan. But Venus waved an impatient hand and turned to the maître d’. “She’ll sit with us, Pierre.”

“Very good, madam.” He whisked himself away, leaving me in the den of my enemies. Literally, it appeared.

“You were always the easiest way to get a good dime in here,” Venus said, and my jaw dropped open a little. “It was like the best-kept secret. But if you’re in here now, guess we’ll have to find some other way.”

“Hostage Girl’s been off-limits for nearly a year, Ven,” Lady Danger said. Without her Victorian dress, she seemed like an entirely different person. But she still had the beehive hairdo. Luckily, she did not have the genetically modified Great Danes on either side of her chair (I checked). “Hello, Girl. You’re looking well.”

I didn’t tell her to go to hell though it was a very near thing.

“Have a seat. They’ll bring out the first course for you. You’re a little behind, but no worries. Do be sure to try the beef.”

I sat only because it was growing too painful to stand. “Hold it,” I said as I reached for the bread basket and began tearing a roll to pieces. “You all wanted to come to Detmer? That’s why you were always kidnapping me?”

“Well, yes.” Lady Danger passed me the butter. “You were our favorite, too. You did make things so much easier for us, dear.”

Venus nodded enthusiastically. “And Blaze was never cruel about taking people down. I always thought you were rather cute together. How’s he doing?”

“You turned me green,” I said, the words finally exploding out of me.

Venus paused with her wineglass hovering from one of her hair-vines. “Yes,” she said, like she wasn’t sure why I would be upset. “And wasn’t the photosynthesis great? I keep trying to convince Lady D to give it a shot, but alas, no luck. Did you not like it? And I tried to get Blaze’s shade just right. I thought you would appreciate that supportive little touch.”

Photosynthesis had not, in fact, been all that great, and being able to understand plants had been even worse. I hadn’t been able to eat a salad for over a year without feeling like a cannibal. Even worse had been the fact that the Domino had gleefully turned their entire page green in my honor. Lady Danger gave me a sympathetic look as though she understood how I felt completely and did not actually find the idea of communing with plants all that interesting herself. The last thing I wanted was sympathy from a woman who’d attacked me with giant, terrifying dogs.

So I pushed my palm into my forehead as a waitress brought over another breadbasket, a menu, and a wineglass for me. “What the hell is going on? What is even happening?”

“Dinner,” Lady Danger said. “It happens every day. Today’s is actually exceptionally good. I really must send my compliments to the chef.”

“No—not dinner.” I picked up the menu and stared angrily at it, as though I could channel all of my frustration into it. If I could, it probably would have spontaneously combusted, and I would never have known that the fourth course was blackened fish tacos with tropical fruit salad and chipotle lime corn relish. Those sounded really good, actually. I focused past the hunger. “Not dinner,” I said again. “This whole place. Detmer. You guys are supervillains.”

“Well, I wouldn’t go that far,” Venus said. “I mean, it’s a compliment, but really we’re lower tier at best, and—”

“Super. Villains. Eating the nicest food I have ever seen in my life. I passed a massage parlor on the way here with a twenty-four-hour therapist on staff. There are candles.” I reached forward and flicked the long taper. “I don’t understand. Where are the bars? And the hideous orange jumpsuits, and, and …” My voice broke.

Lady Danger and Venus exchanged a look. “Girl,” Venus said. She cut into her filet mignon and waved a juicy bit of steak at the end of her fork. There was not a single vegetable on her plate. “You’re among several hundred of the most dangerous criminals the world has ever known. Within this room we have, collectively, the talents to blow the world up twenty-seven times over, rebuild it from the ashes, and blow that up four times. For fun.”

“If you ever wanted to keep one group content, this would be the one, I daresay,” Lady Danger said.

Venus swallowed her steak. “Life isn’t all oranges and lemons here, though. We can’t leave, and you can’t get fresh seafood that’s worthy of the talents of Mr. Kanezachi this far inland.”

“Though he tries, the dear,” Lady Danger said.

“Who is that?” I asked.

“Our sushi chef,” Lady Danger said, dabbing daintily at her fanged mouth with a napkin. “Do try not to escape before Thursday. We share him with the men’s side of the prison, and he won’t be back until then. You simply must try the Damselfish in Distress roll. I think it’s named after you. Isn’t that a gas?”

I cradled my face in my hands and seriously considered moaning. They had a sushi chef. They were the bad guys, and Davenport apparently paid for them to have a man come in on alternating days and prepare fresh sushi. Fresh sushi named after me. While I’d been languishing in and out of the hospital for years, sticking to a job I hated because the health care was just that good, the very people tormenting me had landed right in the lap of luxury.

“Have you decided, mademoiselle?” I heard a waitress at my elbow.

Without opening my eyes, I reached out and pointed at the menu. It didn’t matter. I’d hardly taste it on the way down. My body needed the fuel, and it wasn’t like it mattered. Nothing mattered anymore.

“I must say, we’re delighted to have you here, Girl,” Lady Danger asked. “You’ll be a good addition. Who’s your roommate, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Rita,” I said, raising my head.

Both women stopped midchew.

“I take it that’s bad,” I said.

“They put you in with Rita?” Lady Danger shook her head regretfully, as if to say It was nice to kidnap you, but you’re not long for this earth. “Oh dear. Rita can be a bit … tempestuous.”

“Yeah,” I said, thinking of her lightning punch to my injured side. “We’ve met.”

“I’m sure it won’t be too bad.” Lady Danger gave me an encouraging smile. It really was a shame she’d gone the way of evil. She would have made an excellent grandmother, provided you liked big, scary dogs.

“Wait,” Venus said. “We still don’t know what you did, do we? How did you end up in here? What sort of crime does a Hostage Girl commit?”

“Nothing.” I ripped a roll in half. “I did nothing.”

“Everybody in here’s done something, girl. You can tell us. We won’t judge. Remember: you’re among villains now.”

“Davenport thinks I helped somebody. I didn’t, and I have no idea why they think I would, and it sucks because the woman who actually did it is getting away, and I’m stuck here.”

“Who was it? That you helped, I mean,” Venus asked.

“Her name is Chelsea.”

“Chelsea what?”

“That’s it. Just Chelsea.”

Lady Danger frowned. “That’s not a very villainous name. Are you sure she’s actually a villain?”

“She killed my friend.” My voice was dull. I felt the hot threat of tears pricking against my eyelids, but I clenched my right fist so hard my nails nearly punctured the skin. “I didn’t have a damned thing to do with it. But hey, it’s not like they gave me a chance to say that during their creepy underground council meeting before they bundled me off to the Detmer Day Spa.”

“Oh, Detmer Day Spa. I like that one.”

“And their little underground council is creepy,” Venus said.

I opened my mouth to agree, and it occurred to me: they were supervillains. I did not want to agree with supervillains.

“Your first course,” the waiter said, putting a plate in front of me. I stared at the asparagus tips that had been wrapped in some kind of meat and drizzled with a dark sauce. It smelled like the first good thing to happen in over twenty-four hours.

“Ooh, good choice,” Lady Danger said. “Make sure you really savor that, and—”

I finished the course in three bites.

“Or not. I must say, it strikes me that you were a bit softer-looking the last time I saw you. More to chew on, as it were.”

The scar from her Great Danes twinged. I glared at her and returned to rummaging through the bread basket.

Apparently, that was all Lady Danger really needed to know that I was not going to join her Victorian circle of best friendship, for she turned back to Venus von Trapp with a little what can you do about it? shrug. They immediately launched back into the discussion I’d interrupted, which appeared to be about the sexual proclivities of a villain I’d never heard of.

While they speculated, I kept my head down. Anger brewed in my chest, but I was so tired that it felt like a feeble flame as opposed to the forest fire I knew it could become. I felt sick. Whether this was from the fact that my body was doing its best to repair itself or from finding out the truth about Detmer, I had no idea. I had so many questions and no idea whom to ask about them. Where had they taken Angélica’s body? My friends had to know by now what had happened, but were they being told the truth? About how she had stepped in the way of a hit meant for me? Or how she’d had a seizure and died, and it was my fault?

The waiters brought me one course after another. I slurped gazpacho, wolfed down a Caesar salad, and swallowed the meat course almost whole. It was, hands down, the finest food I’d ever had in my life.

It tasted like ash on my tongue.

It was during the fish tacos that I spotted the door. My table was near the edge of the room. About thirty feet away in my direct line of sight stood a door that I thought led to the kitchen, at first. Waiters disappeared in and out of it with covered dishes fairly often. Every time a blue light next to the door blinked. Since I never saw any of them flash an access badge at a scanner, I had to assume it worked by proximity.

Midbite, I saw the door open fully. Through it, I could see all the way down a long hallway, to a courtyard beyond. A delivery truck idled right there by the door.

I stared until the door closed. The food had already given me a little more energy and a little more response from my limbs. How many villains had I known that had escaped this very prison? It couldn’t be that difficult, really. Surely, they didn’t expect me to start causing trouble in the first day …

I scooted my chair back, and I didn’t think. I just took off, walking as fast as I could without attracting attention, making a beeline for that door—

Something hit me in the lower back, on the right side. Starbursts of pain exploded behind my eyes. I gasped and started to topple forward, only to have somebody grab me by the arm and yank me back upright. This, naturally, did not do any wonders for my already sore rib cage.

“Mademoiselle.” The woman who held me up now was a waitress with a starched white shirt and a square face. “Ms. Detmer sends her compliments and requests that you join her at her table.”

Like hell I would. I goggled at my attacker. “Did you just hit me?”

She gave me an affronted look. “I’m sure I have no idea what you mean. I have not touched you, save to spare you an unfortunate rendezvous with the floor.”

Maybe she had a point. It hadn’t felt like a fist striking my back. It had felt smaller, like a pebble, but the pain was a sharp, biting one. My brain caught up with the rest of me. “Oh, no,” I said. “No way. I’m not going near that lunatic unless I absolutely have to, and I don’t have to do that now.”

“Girl.” Lady Danger looked rather pale, even for a woman who willingly modeled herself after a vampire. “Girl, if Rita’s asking for you, you need to go.”

“We’re just looking out for you here,” Venus added.

“Why? You never have before.”

“Mademoiselle?” the waitress asked, her voice a silky-smooth command over steel. “The table is right this way, if you please.”

It appeared I didn’t have a choice. I shot a glare over my shoulder at the door, as though it had somehow caused all of this. When I looked back to push myself to my feet, I saw something small and white on the ground. Frowning, I picked it up and followed the waitress to the new table, where Rita sat like a queen on her throne.

“Thank you, Carlotta,” she said to the waitress, holding out a hand. The denomination on the bill she passed over made me gape.

Apparently, this prison came equipped with ATMs. It figured.

“Sit,” Rita said.

I lifted my chin and stayed standing, my hands on the back of the empty chair. Rita shrugged. She held out her hand. “Tic tac?” she asked.

I eyed the little pill-shaped white mints. How had she done that? I’d heard of pinpoint accuracy, but this was ridiculous. I tossed the one she’d pelted me with on the table between us. “I think I’ve had enough of those today, thanks.”

“Suit yourself.” She tucked the mints back in her pocket.

Since my torso was actively throbbing again, I finally took a seat and reached for the bread basket. “I could’ve made it, you know.”

“You go out through that door, the implant in your neck delivers the largest dose of Reusabital you’ve ever tasted, and trust me, even your body won’t like that.” She caught my look of surprise. “You think I don’t know every last detail about you, Girlie? I know everything. I know about your mother, I know your father—“

“Then you’re ahead of me there,” I said.

She gave me the most regal look I had ever seen. “If you’re done interrupting me.”

“For the moment, or permanently?”

“If you’re so determined to escape, at least learn the lay of the land before you blindly run into something that kills you.” Rita expertly used one mussel shell to pluck the meat from a second, and popped that between her lips. “You lack foresight. Nobody escapes Detmer Prison.”

“Tell that to the twenty or so villains that kidnapped me right after getting out of here.”

“Girlie, look around. Do you really think people want to leave? Gourmet dining, free alcohol, an Olympic swimming pool. Free cable.” Rita snorted and pulled out a cigarette. The waitress who had fetched me discreetly showed up with a light, and Rita sucked in a puff of nicotine. “Prisoners don’t escape. They get kicked out. And I can see that look in your eye. Don’t even bother. According to the idiots in charge, you’re not a small-time career supervillain, you’re potentially a mastermind—though I’ve seen no evidence of that myself. You’re in here for the long haul.”

My jaw tightened. “I didn’t do what they said I did. Somebody else did.”

“Doesn’t matter. They think you did, and they’re the ones that make the rules.” Rita took a long drag and blew a smoke ring. “Welcome to life with the Davenports.”

“You’d know about that,” I said.

She smiled. “So you do know who I am. I was a bit worried that whatever they did to you in that mall, it killed a few brain cells. Good thing to know there is a brain in there.”

“Why do you care?” I asked. “I’m nothing to you. I’m not a hero, I’m not a villain. At the most, all I’ve ever been is a hostage. So why do you even care? It’s less effort to just ignore me and let me go about my business. If I break my own neck escaping, that means nothing to you.”

“Or does it?” Rita tapped ash off of the cigarette and sucked in a long drag. “I told you earlier, Girlie. Inside this prison, you represent me, and you’ll act accordingly.”

Why?” I asked.

Rita gave me a look that made my blood run cold. It wasn’t a threatening look or even a sneer, but it was an expression I’d seen before. HypoThermos had worn the same expression when he’d tried to dose an entire wing of the hospital with small pox. To save them from their own immune systems, he’d claimed. King Killer’s face had positively overflowed with the same look when he’d tried to turn Chicago’s rail system to rubble. After all, he’d told me, people complained about it so much, he was just doing them a favor.

I remembered, on my very first day at Davenport, my mentor Vicki explaining Villain Syndrome to me. The desire to save the day at all costs, no matter the body count. It usually involved a lot of rubble and an unhealthy fixation. With everything that had happened to me, it hadn’t really occurred to me that things could get even worse, but in that moment, I understood. Rita’s Villain Syndrome had fixated on something.

And I had a horrible feeling that something was me.

Chapter 3

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Please keep it PG. My mom reads this blog.