Freaks and Geeks Club: With Extreme Prejudice pt4

Viscura_smallBonitas

With Extreme Prejudice, pt4
by Lee Hulme

First, read part 1!
And part 2!
And then part 3!

For more of the Freaks & Geeks Club, click here!
For more short stories, click here!

Viscura stood in zir cell as the sound of raised voices grew near. Ze tapped on the bars, “Hey! That doesn’t sound good!”

The Sheriff stuck her head around the corner, “We’re covered, don’t worry. Your friends are here.”

Viscura nodded, “I know. I’d ask to be let out to help, but…”

“But you know I can’t do that.”

Viscura nodded again and sat down. Ze was beginning to regret zir snap decision to surrender. It sounded like more people would get hurt, or worse, because of it. But with Bonitas and Millie helping, maybe there was some hope of quelling the fire. And if not, then there was surely something ze could do. Anything besides sit on this concrete-hard mattress and listen to other people fight over zir.

Viscura stood, turning to examine the back wall. The bars were easy, but would take zir into the centre. To lead the group that wanted to kill zir away, ze needed to come from behind; but to get there, ze needed to get through that wall without anyone knowing. With any luck, Millie would come through with something that would cause enough noisy chaos.

Up in the first floor window, Millie was preparing to do just that. The traps placed around the front of the building weren’t well hidden, but they were remotely activated, and Millie was willing to bet the approaching mob was too drunk and worked up to see them anyway. She flexed her fingers over the holographic map on her comms device and waited.

Down below in the sheriff’s station, the Sheriff and her deputies had organised a small group into something resembling order. Each held a striking weapon of some sort. The only guns in sight were the Sheriff’s and the deputies, and these were in their holsters, though their straps were unsnapped. Just in case.

Hearing the mob approach, the Sheriff turned to the room, “I’m gonna say this one last time. Stay inside unless I say otherwise. One of you makes a violent move without my word, I’ll knock you myself. Clear?”

The assembled defence squad nodded.

The Sheriff turned next to Bonitas who held her hands up in surrender, “I’m here to help, you’re in charge.”

“And your friend up there?”

“I know, I know!” Millie’s voice squawked from Bonitas’ wrist.

The Sheriff grinned and shook her head, “I dunno. You two – three. I dunno. Come on, you can stand with me.”

“Sure thing, Sh-. Uh, you have a name other than Sheriff?”
She gave Bonitas a strained smile, “Some days I wonder. You can call me Lily.”
Bonitas followed Lily outside and stood a pace behind her right shoulder. The deputies stood on the left.

Lily raised her arms as the mob approached, slowing at the foot of the steps. When they were as quiet as she judged they were likely to get, she spoke, “My friends – please. You know me. I know you. We both want what’s best for ourselves, for each other, for our town. The person in my cell surrendered -uh-” Lily turned to Bonitas who quickly stepped forward and supplied the words. Lily continued, stumbling only slightly, “-zirself to me. It is my duty to hand zir over for trial, and this is what I plan to do. I know you’re angry. So am I. But I won’t let my anger stop me from doing what’s right. Ze is my responsibility, and I will protect zir as I would any of you.”

Her piece said, Lily waited, harbouring the tiniest of hopes that the tide could still be turned away.

A mob elects its own leaders. This one had chosen one of the outspoken women from the bar and she stepped forwards, red-faced, brandishing a tire iron in one hand and a gun in the other. “We don’t wanna hurt you or any o’ yours. Just the Thing in there. Take a walk, nobody has to know.”

Lily shook her head, “I can’t do that.”

“You’d risk yerself to protect that killin’ Thing?”

“I’d risk myself to protect anyone or anything placed under my protection.”

Bonitas frowned as the woman spoke. The words were there, and the fire, but something was off. She reached out with her senses and felt something push back, as if by instinct, trying to keep her away. Bonitas probed gently, studying the mob, willing Lily to keep the woman talking a little while longer. Then she locked eyes with a man in a fleece jacket, who returned her gaze intently, a smile spreading across his face. She heard his words as if they had been planted right into her brain.

“You shouldn’t have interfered.”

Bonitas shook her head, projecting a single thought back, “Who are you?”

“No-one you want to fight. Trust me.”

A shout drew Bonitas’ attention back to the mob.

“Kill it! Now!”

The movement began somewhere in the middle. Before Lily had chance to pinpoint exactly where, there was a series of small explosions and puffs of smoke expanded to envelop the crowd.

Coughing, eyes stinging, the people affected backed into those behind them, sending the whole mob into a tumbling pile.
Amid the noise, Viscura pulled back zir foot and drove it through the wall. A few more hits and there was a hole big enough to crawl through.
Bonitas concentrated, projecting her powers on to as many people as she could. Slowly, sections of the mob grew calmer, but she couldn’t control them all.
As the smoke cleared, there was a forward surge, and Lily and deputies fired rubber bullets at the aggressors, causing enough pain to make them stop and rethink.
At the back of the group, though, there were raised voices, and people began to peel off in another direction. As Bonitas squinted to see what was happening, Millie’s voice cae through the comms device.
“Viscura! Ze’s out and they’re after zir!”
“Fuck!” Bonitas took a deep breath. “Millie, stay here.”
Lily caught Bonitas’ arm, “I’m coming with you.”
Bonitas hesitated for a second then groaned, “Fine, just stay behind me.”
Lily nodded and motioned to her deputies who nodded and stood guard at the door.
Bonitas, with Lily close behind, focused on the women and men that were still standing in their way. With all the force she could muster, she pushed out a wave of empathy. It was weak, spread so thin, but it was enough to let her strongarm a path through. Once out the other side, they both set after the second group at a run.
***
Viscura kept looking back, making sure ze wasn’t outdistancing the people following. Ze led them outside of town and stopped at a crossroads, surrounded by ploughed fields. Here ze stopped and turned to look at them, waiting for the stragglers to catch up. When ze saw Bonitas and Lily, ze groaned.
“I’m outside of town, Sheriff,” ze shouted. “Let this be. My choice.”
“Your choice to let my people become killers? Live with that guilt? My choice to turn my back on another living being? Live that? No,” Lily pushed through the group and stood in front of Viscura, facing them. Bonitas stayed at the back, unseen, casting out an aura to try and calm the group enough to listen to Lily.
“I’m going to try this one more time,” Lily said sternly. “You are not killers. You do not want to be killers.”
“That thing’s a killer!” came a shout back.
“Hold up!” another voice came from behind Bonitas. An older man with dark, wavy hair walked around the side. “I was there. I ran, but I was there.”
Viscura bowed zir head, “Then it should be you. I-I’m not sure how to destroy me, but-“
“Not here to hurt you,” the man shook his head and turned to the crowd. “What I saw scared me enough that I ran away, but looking at-” he turned back, “You have a name?”
“Viscura.”
“Looking at Viscura, I can see what happened. The man I was with called Viscura here a freak, a monster that ate people. I don’t know the story but I’d take a guess it’s got lots in the way of cruelty, trauma. What Viscura did was wrong, but this is just as wrong. Please, stop, go home.”
The words hung in the air as everyone waited for someone else to make the next move, or back down.
***
In a distant room, two women watched on a large screen set into the wall, camera moving slightly as their plant shifted weight from one foot to the other.
The women exchanged a glance and a nod, and the older reached out and pushed a button on her laptop. “Kill him too.”