One Hundred Thirteen

‘Lack of originality, everywhere, all over the world, from time immemorial, has always been considered the foremost quality and the recommendation of the active, efficient and practical man.’
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot 

The girl has been with us over a month, closer to two. 
‘Has she decided to stay, go? I need a name if she’s going to become someone besides Angela.’
Zero, ‘Angela decided on Infinity, first name, surname One.’
‘Infinity One, nobody is named Infinity One, she says we should use Fin, or Finity.’
CC, ‘With a ‘y’ or an ‘e’?
‘Y, e would be confusing since an e would make it finite, although Finite One is interesting.’
Angela, ‘What do you think?’
Zoe, ‘Infinity is cool, Zero is Zero, now we have Infinity. CC is Irrational Number.’
We laugh, CC hardest, ‘Rationality is not only overrated, it’s impossible for humans to keep it up.’
‘So do we go with Fin, or Finity?’
Angela, now Infinity, ‘Either one, both, up to you, I’m happy to reset my entire life.’
Zero, ‘Speaking of, how would you like to live forever, never grow old.’
‘What? Like I could be me as I am always?’
‘None of us ages. CC and I quit at twelve, but she’s sixteen, going on seventeen in years alive. I’m fifteen, the twins are eighteen but quit aging at sixteen. Zoe hasn’t decided yet, she’s twelve.’
Zoe, ‘I’m skinny, I want to fill out a bit, so I’m shooting for fifteen.’
Finn, ‘And Commandant?’
‘He’s twenty nine forever, unless a meteor hits him, or he stands in the wrong spot at the javelin throw. We’re semi-immortal, if we get blown up, we die.’
Fin, ‘Are you messing with me?’
‘Nope, and Zero is primarily responsible, she’s over two hundred, but in a series if places and circumstances.’
‘I feel like I dropped into a sci-fi, one of those Netflix Originals. Okay, I’m game, I want to stop right here, sixteen.’
Zero, ‘You have to do one thing for the next few weeks.’
‘The catch?’
‘Hardly, you have to intend to quit aging, not anything else, wake up and tell yourself I intend to quit aging, then repeat a few times a day and before you go to sleep. Your body will do the rest.’
‘And that’s it? I’m me like I am.’
‘You will learn and mature by experiences, your brain will change, but your body won’t.’
‘Do I get to be obnoxious and act out, you know, like a teenager?’
Nikita, ‘Only eef you want to get shot.’
Fin’s eyes widen, then she figures out Nikita is having her on…probably.
CC, ‘You can, we won’t shoot you, we’ll ignore you, but you have a problem.’
‘Nobody here, especially Commandant as the adult, will give you anything to act out against. You want to get drunk every day, take drugs, chase boys, we don’t care. If you’re stupid enough to punish yourself, we don’t throw in more punishment.’
Natasha, ‘I have monitored the news, there is activity that sounds like a Shadow.’
‘What’s going on?’
‘Children missing for a day or two, then show up with injuries, child has no idea what happened, where they were taken or by whom.’
‘Nature of injuries.’
‘Sexual and other physical injuries, cuts and bruises.’
‘How many kids?’
‘Six, no obvious connection, some from wealthy families, others less so. They do not know each other, different schools, parents do not know each other. It is a metro area of a half million, not a major city, not a small one either.’
‘Other side of the country, southeast, there could be others, some people would not want to report for obvious reason.’
‘They think they will be suspected, life becomes a nightmare. Instead, they tread water for a day, maybe a call from a kidnapper, worried about what they see on TV shows, the kidnapper always says no police.’
‘Da, people who reported did it soon as the child went missing, then child shows up on one or another street alone.’
‘Five to seven, one girl was eight, but she is small.’
Fin, ‘What is a Shadow?’
Zero explains.
Fin, ‘Grab a mind, just like that,’ snaps her fingers.
‘Just like that. Zero, Zoe and the twins can spot them. Everyone has an aura, an energy field unique to themselves, they radiate in color to those who can see auras. Shadow auras are black, they even leave a smoky residue for a while, nasty people.’
‘How come I never heard of them?’
‘Because only a few people know they exist, we don’t know any, but we can’t be the only ones.’
‘But you find them.’
Natasha, ‘Da, we can find.’
‘What happens when you do?’
‘We kill.’
‘Oh. Is it always children, that they mess with I mean?’
‘Nyet, sometimes they make people give money, other times they make people do things out of character, have sex with their children, or brother and sister have sex. We have no problem with incest, if both parties are willing.’
Fin, ‘Really? So you see nothing wrong with me having sex with my father?’
‘When you wanted to, fine, we do not subscribe to the too young to decide theory. Not little kids, older ones.’
‘I was ten…in the beginning.’
‘That is perhaps too young, if you were fourteen or older maybe. But we didn’t live your life. We do not make a judgment, only if there is rape.’
‘Haying lived incest, I see what you’re saying, I just never met anyone who thought it was okay.’
‘One problem is babies, incest should never result in children, they are often brain damaged, slow, other problems. Incest is more common than people think, not common like half the population, but people do not admit to having sex with mommy or brother. Actual incest is hard to quantify and does not include children exploring.’
‘Do you know people who…you know…I mean besides me.’
Nikita, ‘Sisters haf sexy time wiz each other, but we are different, you see two girls who look exactly alike, we are two girls and one girl.’
Fin, ‘What does that mean, or am I out of bounds?’
Zero, ‘Not at all. Nikita and Natasha think the same thing at the same time, they frequently move together, in exactly the same way. They don’t read each other’s minds, they are each other’s minds, actually, there’s only one mind.’
‘I’ve seen them on the trampoline, around the house, move as one, I thought it was the twin thing.’
‘Part of it is, the rest is a mystery. We don’t try and explain, more fun to let it happen as it will.’

One Hundred Fourteen

‘Do you know what punishments I've endured for my crimes, my sins? None. I am proof of the absurdity of men's most treasured abstractions. A just universe wouldn't tolerate my existence.’
― Brent Weeks, The Way of Shadows

CC completes Fin’s makeover, long blonde cut to chin, bangs, Fin has the oval facial structure to support a shorter cut. If she had a round face, it wouldn’t work, it would make the round, rounder. Blonde becomes dark brown with highlights, and a little surprise.
Fin, formerly Angela the cheerleader, goes from all American girl to Goth, maybe Goth lite. Her hair isn’t black, for instance. Neither does she smoke her eyes as dark as some, but they’re dark. Her eyes are sapphire blue, not so striking as to require color contacts, we always wear sunglasses when we’re out anyway.
Red tips over black fingernails, platinum jewelry, never gold, a black opal necklace alternates with a studded dog collar. 
That’s for outside. At home she likes the simplicity of a t-shirt, hers are all black bamboo fiber, black knee socks. 
She sleeps with the twins, the Goth Gods smile.
I decide to add a bedroom downstairs and free up the open space in the main room. It will be for me, an additional bathroom as well, the new room will connect to it with a sliding door like the other doors. That is, they slide into the wall and disappear. While the work is being done, I move the girls to a four bedroom furnished home that’s due to be sold when the inheritance wars are adjudicated. The lawyer that set it up told me the family was happy for the income while the courts decide which version of the will is valid.
I hired an independent inspector to poke around and make certain the materials and construction quality are as specified in the architect’s design. In other words, does the contractor use the top grade materials, not cut corners with crap. No leaks, no cracks, no unconnected electrical outlets. Like the rest of downstairs, the floor will be the slab, painted ivory. I don’t do carpet, it’s impossible to clean properly.
Meanwhile, we avoid cooking much in the temp house, breakfast, coffee, tea, the rest is sandwiches or take out.
Zero, ‘More reports of Shadow activity, Shadow-suspect since we haven’t visually verified. Arranged a plane for tomorrow, everyone wants to get Shadow experience.’
‘Fin okay with it?’
‘Fin wants to be allowed to kill him, or her. I explained Shadows come in both genders, haven’t crossed paths with any trans in Shadow world, not yet anyway.’
‘There was an entirely different girl underneath blonde cheerleader.’
‘This girl is her, the other was to milk daddy for baubles and cash.’
‘She carries the look well.’
‘She’s sexy as hell is what. The twins love it, they don’t say so, their aura does. Even sexier, Fin is diving into witchcraft.’
‘Get out, that’s interesting.’
‘You believe in witches?’
‘Of course, you’re one.’
Zero smiles, ‘Keep it to yourself.’
We need to upsize the plane, six girls now, one me, one giant dog. A four and a half hour flight, we arrive in the land of mosquitoes and humidity. It’s early spring, not so bad as the dead of summer and daily afternoon showers.
Fin, ‘I flew first class in my former, never private. This is better, not just, waaay better.’
CC, ‘Girls with our capabilities are unsuited to commercial.’
Zero, ‘Capabilities, you mean looks.’
‘That’s what I said, there’s our cars, ready as usual, good job Blue Sky.’
We have a Dodge Druid in honor of Fin, plays Gothic chants while she drives, and a Nissan Nebulous, it defies description, exterior color is Vague, the interior is Opaque.
Twins are with Fin, the rest in the Nebulous with me. After grocery shopping, we check in to the Arms of Morpheus, two bedroom two bath suite, full kitchen, one connecting bedroom and bath. If Zero keeps adding bodies, we’ll have to take an entire floor.
Over cocktails and wine, we talk approaches.
‘Zero, Zoe and the twins can spot Shadows and the residue they leave. It only lingers fifteen or twenty, then, like any mist, it spreads and thins.’
Zero, ‘We’re stuck with doing this the slow way, stop where the children were taken, or left when the Shadow was done with them. Seven children that they know of. We don’t have access to the kids or their clothes, so Morshchiny can’t help. She is good for protection but if the Shadow is capable of telekinesis, she could get hurt like any of the rest of us. The point is, if a Shadow is spotted, somebody shoot him, her, it.’
‘And stay attentive, our bullets are designed to hit, penetrate but not exit. Still, make sure you’re aware of bystanders, collateral damage won’t fly. The military can blow off murdering civilians as collateral, we don’t have that luxury. And remember, Fin isn’t armed, she needs training first, we’ve had no time to take her to the range.’
Zero, ‘She will have two knives, one ankle, the other sheathed at her waist. Knows how to hold them, sharp edge up and facing the opponent.’
‘And bear in mind, Fin, he gets in your head, you could feel compelled to kill us, or yourself. If you feel your brain twitch, back off, get away from the Shadow, ten yards is minimal, farther away is best.’
Nikita, ‘What ees plan?’
Zero, ‘We have seven kids, and all seven drop off locations, we only know three capture locations, kid could have had their mind snatched, then walked several blocks before getting in a car. The Shadow had only to lead or trail the child close enough to keep them in control.’
‘Another thing, mind control burns a lot of energy, as does telekinesis, capability varies by Shadow. If we find one but can’t shoot for whatever reason, we keep them busy trying to control us. Stay focused, a Qi shot can be powerful, if the Shadow is talented, it can cause serious damage. Wear your vest, it’s for bullets but vests spread the energy from Qi shots like they do with bullets. A vest is no good with blades, they can be pierced. Shadows tend to overconfidence, they seldom carry weapons, but they can lift a knife off a table and send it at you, send it hard.’
Nikita, ‘Cheeken ees ready.’
KFC crispy and coleslaw. On the road we tend to keep it simple, it’s nice to have a suite with a full kitchen, we don’t use it for any elaborate cooking. I don’t trust the cleaning and I don’t want to wash everything before I use it. We do use the oven, toaster oven, microwave, and full size refrigerator that common hotel rooms don’t have.
Park around the suite, watch a movie, Winter’s Bone with Jennifer Lawrence, her breakout role. It’s entertaining enough, a little drab I think, her father is The Perfect Asshole, something to which the girls can relate.
‘Up early, we don’t want to move in here, we track the Shadow, do what we do and go home. Zoe, let’s take Morshchiny for a walk.’
Outside, while the mastiff sniffs around for a good spot to relieve herself, I ask, ‘How do you think Fin is adapting?’
‘We all came from similar situations. Once we’re here, surrounded by strong girls, accepted as we are, it’s so much better. We don’t do sympathy, or even empathy, certainly not guilt, there’s no point is getting attitude. We accept, don’t judge. She found her inner psychopath when daddy got too whiny and demanding. Zero’s read her no doubt, she say anything?’
‘About the same as you, Zero said her aura is without duplicity, she’s not trying to get anything from us.’
Morshchiny is done, we follow her to the suite, she flops down, fed, watered and finished necessities, she’s only waiting for Zoe to pick a bed. The dog will sleep at the foot, one ear open for zombies, aliens, or Bible thumpers.

One Hundred Fifteen

Only the mediocre want to die of old age….
Morality can only make life a long series of missed opportunities.
E.M. Cioran, One the Heights of Despair

We split up this morning, Fin takes the twins to several spots, I take the rest. Morshchiny can’t help for now, we don’t have any scent for her to follow. A mastiff is only average for tracking, but she’s the dog we have and she’s done well so far. Zoe is endlessly patient with her, and Morshchiny is endlessly loyal, she will give any assignment her best.
By noon we’ve hit the spots we know about. I collect lunch from a fastie, we meet up in a park and talk over what we found.
Zero, ‘Our spots yielded nothing. The capture appears to happen in low traffic areas, neighborhoods, not malls. They children were dropped at busier spots, including a mall. If the police got anything from cams, it hasn’t made the news.’
Fin, ‘Same for us, although one capture was near a playground, the rest were quieter locations, like you said, neighborhoods. No kids were from poor areas, one upscale development, the rest were typical middle class’
‘This may be an exercise in futility, stumbling on a Shadow is a bit much to hope for, it isn’t a small town.’
We eat, let the wheel of the subconscious grind away at the problem.
Nikita, ‘We haf to assume Shadow ees not going to grab child in a location he haf already used. What ees time of day when he gets them?’
Zero, ‘Good question, we know about when they went missing, at least what the parents reported, let me review the news.’
She flips through her tablet, kept the stories bookmarked for just this reason.
‘Okay, afternoons, when school is out, although one was taken on a Saturday. He’s not, as far as we know, collecting his victims on the way to school. Drop-offs vary, but always daytime, none at night.’
‘I’d love to talk to the kids, even one or two, but I see no way to insert ourselves, parents don’t know us, we aren’t social workers or cops.’
CC, ‘And they aren’t going to be back in school for a while, a long while. This was pure sadism, I wonder if he made videos, like child rape and torture on the dark web. The stories coming out are horrid, torture, screams, even snuff.’
‘People habituate, watching a kid suck a dick, or a woman licking a kid’s puss, or a hairy ass screwing a five year old, eventually becomes mundane if they watch enough of it. Some perv posts a video of a kid chained to a wall and cut up, or various crap pushed into one orifice or another, raises the bar, lowers it might be more accurate. Before long, nothing is off limits. Like a rookie cop who barfs at his first murder scene eventually can look at mutilated corpses and not get so much as a flutter.’
Zero, ‘You saw things in the army.’
‘I did, but nothing like that. When I did see dead kids, they had been blown up, caught a stray bullet. It was almost worse to see the mutilated living, arm and a leg gone, face mangled, blinded. I didn’t mind killing, I did it. But not kids. What I saw still had an impact, didn’t just dial down my empathy meter, it turned it off.’
Zero, ‘We’re all products of what was done to us, turns out you can create a psychopath, we’re proof.’
‘The military does it every day. Back to the problem at hand, how do we find the Shadow?’
Zoe, ‘For now there’s nothing to do but drive the places he didn’t pick up kids, with an eye on the time school is out until dark.’
‘Any other ideas?’
Nobody has a better one.
‘Okay, we have four Shadow spotters, Zero, Zoe, and the twins. We need a third car, spread our spotters to cover more ground. Fin, take one of the twins with you, I’ll be with Zero, CC can drive the third car with a twin. Zoe and Morshchiny with Zero and me. While we collect the third car, Zero can figure out what neighborhoods we cruise. It’s a long shot, but it’s the shot we got.’
We get the car, a Subaru Masticator, chews up the miles in style, the grill like a politician’s smarmy smile. 
‘The Shadow will get control, he doesn’t need to physically do anything, it will appear that the kid is getting in the car voluntarily. And don’t let my use of he rule out a she.’
It gets dark, I text the others, tell them I’m going to pick up Chinese, our travel simplicity food, meet them at the hotel.
Half an hour later we’re carting boxes of our favorites, shrimp with garlic sauce, Szechuan vegetables, egg rolls and two soups, hot and sour, won ton.
Fin, ‘Smells good, can I have an egg roll now?’
‘You can have whatever you want when you’re ready. I’m taking a shower first, then an icy vodka. We have red and white in the refrigerator, open whichever or both.’
A mention of shower has girls, going to theirs, I don’t know who scrubbed who’s back, but we’re all in the main room twenty minutes later. Fin catches me admiring her curvy athletic legs, her time cheerleading gave her muscle, proprioceptive sense, flexibility, and strength.
When I look up, she’s grinning, ‘Good thing my legs are nice, the girls here range from gorgeous to gorgeous.’
CC slaps her on the butt, ‘Don’t be coy, you have hot everything.’
Fin, ‘Thank you, I suppose fake humility is a waste in this company. Where do the plain psychopaths live?’
‘Under the stairs where they belong.’
Zero, ‘I stumbled on what looks like an interesting movie, The Taking of Pelham 123. Denzel Washington, John Travolta, the guy from The Sopranos. Travolta hijacks a subway car of all things.’
‘Never heard of it, is it old or new?’
‘Both, well, this is the 2009 version, not new but the latest. It was made three times, first in 1974, then again in 1998. I haven’t seen any of them but it must have something to merit three versions.’
We leave only empty boxes, which I haul to the dumpster. Another round of wine and we settle in to watch an almost believable action flick. It’s better to watch and enjoy than pick apart incongruities, like cops racing through the streets when everyone knows New York City is in perpetual gridlock.
Fin goes off with the twins, CC and Zoe disappear. I get lucky, Zero has demands to make of me, her demands are exquisitely sensual. When she’s had her fill of orgasms, we curl together and drift into the black unknown.
I’m awakened by a known black snout, Zoe must still be crashed, Morshchiny comes to me rather than wake up her bestie.
I roll out, I’m nude with a morning erection, Fin is leaning against the door jamb, ‘I’ll take her, Zero keep you up last night?’
‘In a manner of speaking.’
She grins, ‘I’ll bet, no wonder she’s serene all the time, you got a lot of up. Come on Morshchiny, Commandant has more pressing duties.’
They go out, I finish up in the bathroom, Zero is up, she pees, brushes her teeth, grabs my now half hard cock, then it’s full hard, then she’s got it in her mouth. I don’t make her wait, I know what she wants and my body supplies it.
Zero swallows, licks the bit of remainder, ‘My energy drink, now get me coffee Studley, I need to freshen.’
While we coffee, Natasha checks the news, ‘No more missing kids reported, what do we do until this afternoon, or shall we ride around anyway?’
‘I suggest a sit down breakfast, the hotel restaurant seems adequate, it’s a real restaurant, not just a buffet.’
We dress, Morshchiny will stay in the room, I open the sliding door to the balcony, the sky is clear, it’s maybe seventy. 
We go down, find a table, waiter comes over with menus. The girls go with omelets, cheese or vegetable, I get steak and eggs. A basket of pastry and biscuits appears, the stuff is actually warm, the butter soft, coffee rich and hot.
‘Somebody knows how to run a restaurant, for breakfast anyway.’
Natasha, ‘A man and a woman just came in, both Shadows.’
Zero glances their way, ‘I’ll be damned.’
‘We can’t shoot them here. Let’s finish, then we’ll get the cars and wait. Three cars, we ought to be able to track without getting spotted.’
Zero, ‘I brought trackers, but we don’t what car is theirs.’
‘They’ll stop someplace, or go home. We can look for a chance to tag them …what’s this?’
‘A woman comes in, looks around, spots the Shadows, they wave her over.’
‘Another Shadow?’
Natasha, ‘Nyet, she’s going to be a victim.’
Fin, ‘How do you know?’
‘Hotel restaurant, not a cheap place, she’s casual, but designer casual, CC would know better than I. The point is money, she has it, Shadows want it.’
‘What now?’
‘Nothing now, if she gives them money it’s too bad, for the moment we want to know if these are the Shadows mutilating children. If by some miracle they aren’t, we kill them anyway.’

One Hundred Sixteen

Each of these momentary happenings is brought about by manifold causes and multiple conditions acting together. Here one should not think that the event is distinct from these causes and conditions. It is these which, together, constitute the event. Apart from them there is no event.
The Secret Oral Teachings of Tibetan Buddhist Sects, Alexandra David-Neel

Put another way, everything that happens is both the effect of everything that went before and the cause of everything that comes after. You cannot say this is the sole cause of that.
I leave cash for the check, as we stand I see the woman take an envelope out of her bag, not a flat envelope, it’s the size of a common house brick. We make our way outside.
While we wait, Zoe asks, ‘If a Shadow needs someone inside fifteen or twenty feet to control them, how do they get the woman to show up for a meeting?’
‘Couple of ways I think. First, they approach her at some point appearing legitimate, like a financial planner or insurance agent. The second way is to plant an idea in her mind, the idea that she has an appointment at such and such place at such and such time. Once they have her close, she will do what she’s told to do, like ride with them to a bank and have her withdraw cash then hand it over. Which I suspect is what happened here.
Zero, ‘The envelop.’
CC, ‘What envelop?’
‘She handed the man an envelope about the size of a brick. Dollars are pretty thin, a hundred hundreds is less than half an inch in new bills. The brick was at least two inches. If it was hundreds it was forty or fifty thousand.’
Zero, ‘I’m a little surprised there are two of them, Shadows don’t hang around with other Shadows in our admittedly limited experience. We learn a little more with each encounter.’
The woman appears, gets to her car and leaves. A few minutes later, the Shadows come out, go to a ten year old Ford something. They don’t leave right off, having a conversation first.
‘They aren’t big on flashy wheels, our sense of Shadows is the less attention the better.’
I tell CC to follow first, then Fin, then us, not in a parade, hang back at least two cars. If the drive is long we’ll swap positions until they get where they’re going.
We cross town, then into a lower end neighborhood of tract homes, not new, forty or fifty years old I’d guess.
Zero, ‘Appears these two are like the other Shadows, old car, cheap housing, they do have a garage, not just a carport. If they’re the ones we’re looking for, they can get the child inside without anyone knowing.’
‘Got the listening device?’
‘Yep, Zoe, it’s in the case in back, pass it up please.’
I text the others…find quiet place to park we are going to listen.
One ok, a second got it. I see the cars turn at the corner, it’s just us parked on the street at a diagonal to the house. It’s the kind of hood where people park on the street. When the houses were built, people had one, maybe two cars. Now everyone over eighteen has a vehicle, some places have three cars in the drive and one on the street. We won’t be noticeable, I rent plain nothing cars for that reason.
Man, ‘Damn, fifty thousand, just as ordered.’
‘Don’t banks report that kind of withdrawal?’
‘Yes, but the report is about her account, we get a stack of cash, blank her brain and walk. If the Feds want to chase around an old lady who doesn’t remember jack, so what?’
‘Check on the kid, let’s have a little fun, I bet I can make this one scream even louder than the last one.’
Zoe, ‘They have a child in there? Natasha didn’t find any new missing kid reports.’
Zero, ‘We need to get busy Commandant. Calling the cops won’t help, the Shadows will mind fuck them and they’ll just go away believing there’s no kid.’
I drive to the others, better not to have three cars stacked up in front of the house.
‘Everyone got gloves?’
They do, I snap on mine. Twins split up and take the front and back door, Zero goes with one, CC with the other. Fin, you can follow them in, but keep your distance and observe. And, girls, get in, terminate and get out. Don’t give them time to Qi-up, we don’t want a fair fight, we want dead Shadows.’
Nikita, ‘Ees no a problem, sisters will kill them cemetery dead.’
‘Zoe, stay with Morshchiny, if anyone comes around, have the dog discourage them.’
We can’t screw around, if they get to the child, it will be used as a hostage.
My big foot opens the front door, Natasha has a smaller foot, but a lot of juice, back door bangs open, the twins are in first, on purpose.
Man, ‘Fuck shit is this? He’s halfway between the twins, but to one side. His head is rotating, trying to grasp two identical creatures with guns. That’s all the consciousness he’s allowed, Nikita puts a nine in the right temple at the exact moment Natasha puts one in the left.
Zero and CC are down the hall, ‘She’s got the child in the basement. I don’t think she even knows we’re here.’
Good to have quality suppressors on the Glocks, also a clue as to how they torture children without attracting the neighbors’ curiosity when they scream.
There’s a door, not locked, the woman is expecting the man to show up. Zero goes down the steps followed by CC.
Shadow has a boy, maybe six, she’s holding him by the neck while she fiddles with a chain attached to the wall. 
Zero, ‘Step away from the boy,’ she’s reluctant to kill the woman with the kid standing there.
Shadow turns, smiles, ‘Fuck off, what are doing in my house, where’s Teddy?’
CC, ‘Teddy deady, double deady in fact.’
Strange to hear a guttural growl from a female, snatches up the child, using the boy as a shield while she tries to control two girls. Unfortunately for her, two girl psychos .
CC, ‘I hear you knocking, but you can’t come in.’
‘I’ll crush this kid, get out of the way,’ she’s doing something to the boy’s mind, he wails, squirms, but she’s got him tight.
CC and Zero step out of the way, the Shadow backs to the stairs and starts climbing backward, holding the boy in front of her.
Shadow makes a mistake, she sees two girls with guns, assumes they’re the sole obstacle. She makes the top landing, then I grab a handful of hair, I’ve got big hands, a lot of hair, yank her into the wall. The surprise makes her loosen her grip on the boy, I circle an arm around him and pull him away. 
Fin’s blade slits her throat, then stabs her in the heart, just as she’d been taught.
She grins, ‘Fucking awesome,’ wipes the blade on Shadow’s blouse.
The boy is hyperventilating, trembling, his eyes are closed and I have him shielded from the Shadow sliding down the wall
‘Take off, and get the other two out, the fewer of us he sees the better.’
Zero and CC come up, Zero says, ‘I’ll have a car outside, the two of us will take him someplace safe.’
I give her a minute, go to the front room, she’s doused the lights including the one over the door, it’s too dark for him to see the body. I’d like to search the place, see if they have video of past mutilations, but we need to evaporate. If they exist, maybe the cops will find them.
In the car, Zero, ‘There was a video cam on a tripod downstairs, and she’d logged on to the computer, if they have video, it will be there.’
‘Okay, it’s a no win deal. If I take the stuff, the only proof is the set-up in the basement, the camera and the instruments they used on the kids.’
‘I doubt the parents of the other kids would ever get to see any of it. No cop or anyone from the DA’s office will want to be blamed for leaking child torture videos.’
‘Twins collect the casings?’
‘You know they did, they don’t make mistakes.’

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