Rhapsody Chapter 3

(Note:  The text that appears below is a pre-release preview which is taken from a version of the manuscript prior to final proof reading and formatting.  As such, it may contain minor errors or typos which will be corrected in the final version of the novel.)

Chapter 3

“You sure you don’t want me to walk you back to the shop?” Sasha asked as they stepped out the door of Dalloway’s.

Megan shook her head. “It’s four blocks. I’ll be fine. Besides, your cab will be here any minute.”

“We could share the cab.”

“I’d rather walk.”

“Ouch! That’s cold, Boss.”

Megan laughed and gave Sasha’s shoulder a shove. “I didn’t mean it that way, and you know it. I just want to clear my head a bit.”

“Fine. Just be careful.”

“Girl, I was wandering these streets by myself when you were still in kindergarten.”

“You know you’re only four years older than me, right?”

Megan shrugged. “What can I say. I was an independent 9-year-old. And there’s your cab.”

Sasha looked over at the cab that had pulled up to the curb, then turned back to Megan.

“Be careful. Your dad would never forgive me if anything happened to you.”

“I’ll be fine. Now go. You know he’s already running the meter.”

Sasha gave her the same two-fingered salute she’d given then walked over to the cab and climbing in. Megan watched, making sure Sasha made it to the cab, and waited for it to pull away before she turned and started walking in the direction of the shop.

It was a nice night out. A cool breeze was blowing in off the Atlantic, and the sky was clear enough that she could even make out some of the brighter stars. Not very many, given that she was in the middle of the city, but a few, here and there. It should have been a pleasant walk, but her mind was stuck on what had happened at the club, and the question she hadn’t answered. Why didn’t she think anyone would want her before Traci came along?

It was an easy enough question to answer. Trans kids didn’t really do well in high school in the early and mid-2000’s. They didn’t do much better outside of high school, either, but she’d been lucky enough to have parents that were mostly onboard with it. Well, her dad was better than her mom at first, but her mom did come around before too long. But despite how good her parents had been about it, she’d grown up in a world that told her she was dirty, disgusting and unlovable. By the time she was old enough to want to date, she’d taken all that hatred and disgust society directed her way and turned it in on herself.

After a few disastrous attempts at dating in her early twenties, she’d just given up. Settled for hookups here and there. She and Chloe got along well enough because they were alike. Chloe had been burned often enough that she’d just given up on relationships entirely, and that had suited Megan just fine. They hooked up when they wanted, got what they needed, and went their separate ways. There were a few other women over the years. Chloe had just been the most consistent, and longest lasting of her various hookup friends.

Then one day Traci had walked into the shop. She’d been there to pick up a repair for one of Megan’s clients, and they’d hit it off, and Megan had agreed to drinks at Girl Bar. When things had started taking a serious turn during their first date, Megan had shyly pushed the sleeve of her t-shirt up, letting Traci see the blue, pink and white Trans symbol tattooed on her right arm. She’d half expected the date to end right there, but Traci had just smiled, and Megan had been so stunned that it had been months before she started noticing the fact that she wasn’t really a person to Traci so much as a toy.

When the relationship had finally, and rather spectacularly, exploded she’d honestly been glad to see the backside of Traci. She probably would have broken things off a lot sooner, but honestly, she didn’t have any more idea of how to get out of a relationship than she did how to get into one. After it was over, she’d thought things would go back to how they were before. Hookups when she got an itch, and being happily single the rest of the time, but as much of a disaster as her entire relationship was, it had taught her that she didn’t want to be alone. Traci might not have been the relationship she wanted, but she did want a relationship.

That was kind of why the whole thing with the news had gotten under her skin that afternoon. British Chick, whose name was apparently Eurion, had been kind of a daydream of hers for a while. It was stupid, really. She didn’t even know if the woman was queer, and she sure as hell shouldn’t be feeling sorry for herself when Eurion had just disappeared and probably met a bad end if the news was anything to go by.

It felt selfish and self-absorbed on a level that would have put Traci to shame, but she couldn’t help it. She’d been trying to work up the guts to talk to her for months, and now she was just gone, and Megan would probably never see her again. It was another thing she’d missed because she was afraid and because she had let other people make her ashamed of who and what she was. And it made her hate herself that much more for being a coward.

She turned the last corner before her shop and frowned as she saw a car in the parking lot beside hers, Sasha’s and Robyn’s. She would have wondered if she was getting robbed, but the hood of the car was up, and a woman was standing there looking at the engine with a flashlight, while another woman was digging in the trunk for something. If it was any other part of town, a cop might have stopped to check on them, but cops didn’t come down to the gayborhood unless they were called, and honestly, the gayborhood liked it that way.

Megan walked over towards the car and the two women.

“Engine trouble?” she asked, making the woman looking under the hood jump a little, and point the flashlight at her. Megan squinted, trying to get the bright light out of her eyes, but the woman lowered the flashlight.

“Sorry, you startled me,” the woman said.

“It’s okay. I understand. You need a tow truck or something?”

“I don’t know,” the woman said. “My girlfriend says it’s not getting fuel, but we just filled the tank half an hour ago.”

Megan glanced back at the woman standing at the back of the car, who was watching her like a hawk.

“You can relax. I’m not a creepy stalker lady or anything. I own the store.”

“Ah,” the girlfriend said.

“You have tools back there?” Megan asked.

“Somewhere, but someone thinks her trunk is a storage locker.”

Megan smiled and glanced over at the woman with the flashlight, who was glaring at girlfriend.

“Here,” she said. “Let me have a look.”

“You know about cars?”

“Yeah. My mom’s a mechanic.” She held her hand out for the flashlight, and the woman handed it to her. She leaned over the car, sniffing to see if she smelled any fuel as she started looking for the fuel pump. She didn’t smell gasoline, so whatever was wrong, it probably wasn’t a loose or torn fuel line.

She heard footsteps and glanced over to see girlfriend approaching from the back of the car, before she turned and looked under the hood again. She had just spotted the fuel pump when girlfriend shoved something into her side. Before she could reach, there was a loud buzzing sound as pain shot through her. Her head smacked the hood of the car as her whole body jerked upright, and the last thing she remembered was seeing the streetlight above her blotting out the stars as she fell onto her back.

“Why the hell did you bring her here,” someone said. Megan didn’t recognize the voice, but that didn’t mean much. Her head was pounding so hard she could she doubted she would have recognized her dad’s voice.

“You said you need more test subjects.”

Megan opened her eyes and saw the woman who’d been holding the flashlight arguing with a man she didn’t recognize.

“I do, but the augment has killed a dozen strong, healthy men. Bringing me some drugged up whore with a skull fracture is just going to get you another body to dispose of. Not results.”

“She’s not some whore we picked up off the street. She’s someone who pissed off the Boss. I was told to make an example out of her. I figured what your little monster does to people would be a perfect way to do that. You get to experiment, then we dump what’s left some place nice and public, and the Boss gets her example.”

The man turned toward her, and stopped, tilting his head slightly. Megan tried to look and memorize his face, but a wave of pain hit, and the whole room went blurry.

“Looks like our guest is awake.”

“Well, that’s just unfortunate for her,” the woman said. “Run your experiments. Let me know when you’re done so I can dump the body.”

“Fine. Just get out of here so I can work.”

Megan watched a blob she thought was flashlight lady slowly disappear, as a blob she thought was the man approach further.

“I don’t know what you did, Lady, but you must be a special kind of stupid to piss off the Boss.”

A moment later, she felt a pinch in her arm, and slowly, a warm feeling carried her off into darkness.

The next time she woke up, there was a lot less pain, and a lot more fear. She came to in a brightly lit room that looked like some kind of mad scientist’s lab. The room itself was painfully white. The walls and the floor both shiny, reflective white tiles, while the ceiling was a white acoustical tile drop ceiling. The furniture was all stainless steel. There were tables, chairs, a wall covered in cages with various animals in them, trays of surgical instruments, needles, syringes, bags of IV fluid and vials of drugs in a glass fronted refrigerator, and several of those monitoring machines they hooked you up to in a hospital.

There were also large cylindrical tanks off to one side of the room, with a body floating in each one. She didn’t look at those for more than a couple of seconds before she looked away, not wanting to take in the details. What she did see was horrible. Limbs twisted and bent in odd places, burns and cuts all over. Strange growths and open wounds.

Everything in the room would have been enough to scare the life out of her, but it only got worse as she took in her own situation. She was naked. Cold and shivering in a room that could have done double duty as a refrigerator. She was upright, but she wasn’t standing. She was locked into some sort of frame. There were leather straps wrapped around her wrists, biceps, ankles, upper thighs, waist, chest, and forehead. Her arms were held straight out at her sides, her legs were held apart, she could only turn her head a few degrees in either direction, and there were electrodes stuck all over her body. On her chest, on her legs, on her arms, a bunch on her face. She could feel a bunch that were in places she couldn’t see. The backs of her legs, her neck, behind her ears. The only place she couldn’t feel them was on her back.

She wanted to scream. To yell for someone to help her, but she was too afraid. If she started screaming, it might just catch the attention of whoever had done this to her. Instead, she pulled at the restraints, trying to free her arm.

At first, she thought she might do it. Whoever had tied her down had left a little slack in the wrist straps so they could get electrodes under them. She thought that might let her pull her hand through since her hands were a bit small compared to her wrists, but no matter how much she pulled, it didn’t do any good. Her own muscles were working against her. She wasn’t exactly a gym rat, but she spent a lot of her time hauling around heavy slabs of wood, moving big, heavy amplifiers, using draw knifes and sanding blocks and other tools that required muscle, and that worked against her, because she couldn’t pull her bicep through the tightly cinched leather strap, and since she couldn’t move her upper arm, she couldn’t get the leverage she needed to pull her hand through the strap around her wrist.

The door to the room opened, and a man came in, dressed in scrubs and a white disposable lab coat. She watched as he walked over to one of the tables and pulled on a pair of purple nitrile gloves.

“I know you’re awake,” he said as he pulled a mask out of a box. He lifted it to his face and looped the elastic around his ears.

“What is all of this?” Megan asked. She didn’t really care, but it felt like something she should ask.

“It’s a lab,” the man said. “Please don’t be tedious and start begging. It won’t do you any good.”

“What are you going to do to me?” she asked.

“I’m going to use you in an experiment,” he said. “I don’t expect you’ll live through it. Stronger people than you have died rather quickly. I wouldn’t even bother with you, honestly, except you’re already here, and I need more data on why the host is rejecting the augment.”

He walked over to a large, heavy looking door that looked like it came off a meat locker, and opened it. He disappeared inside, then came back carrying a glass cylinder about the size of a cake box. Inside was a lump of what looked like some kind of black bread dough, right up until it moved. It slammed into the side of the cylinder closest too him, like it was trying to get to him.

“Patience, little one,” he said. He walked over and sat it on a table next to the frame Megan was strapped into, then looked up at her.

“I would say this isn’t going to hurt, but that would be a lie. This is going to hurt quite a lot.” He picked up something off the table and held it up, and Megan realized it was a bite guide. The kind boxes and MMA fighters used. “You’ll want this. The first test subject shattered all of his teeth.”

Megan stared at him for a moment, the terror already filling her only getting worse as he held the bite guard out to her with a questioning look. She nodded and didn’t fight when he pushed it into her mouth.

“There you go,” he said. Then he reached up and pulled a lever, and the frame she was tied to pitched forward slightly. He grabbed it and pulled, tilting the frame 90 degrees so Megan found herself staring down at the floor before he locked the frame again.

“I would give you something for the pain, but that might interfere with the test results, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to endure it. Feel free to scream though. The room is soundproofed, so it won’t bother me at all.”

As Megan watched, the man did something, she couldn’t see what, just his legs moving back and forth as he turned towards the table, then back to her. Once he was done but, he turned around again, and she could see his legs moving towards the door. The door opened, and he disappeared through it. A couple of minutes later, she heard a sound from behind her, like something opening, and felt something soft and warm land on her back and began to spread. For a moment that was all she felt but then, all at once, it was like someone drove a thousand needles right into her spine.

She started screaming, and she didn’t stop until she passed out.

Rhapsody: Hearts of Heroes 4
Coming 7/15/24 from Desert Palm Press
Preorders Now At:
Amazon:  eBook
Barnes & Noble: eBook
Desert Palm Press:  eBook (Get a 10% discount with code 10DPP)
iBooks (Apple): eBook
Kobo: eBook
Smashwords: eBook

Return to Chapter 2