Casualties of Pretty Things -- Finale

Upstairs in the kitchen Cybil walked in from the hallway, holding a cell in one hand and the gun in the other. She locked eyes on the passageway leading to the bomb shelter door. She brought the cell up and looked at it, pondering, breathing nervous. She continued walking toward the bomb shelter, slow, then stopped. She tapped the digits 9-1-1 into her cell and considered this action but had no idea why she needed to think it over. She hit the green icon and  brought the cell up to her ear and kept moving forward.

A voice on the other end responded. “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

Cybil pulled the cell away from her face and ended the call. “Shit.”

She sat the cell down on the countertop near the refrigerator and continued forward until she stood directly in front of the bomb shelter door. She pulled the gun up, bowed her head and closed her eyes. 

“Bertha.”

She put her hand on the door.


_____________________


Carl knew she bade him not to move, to assume the existence of a statue, and for a brief moment wondered why he had no sense of fear and only wanted to play. But demons have no fear. Demons eat fear and loathing. And this new face he had spied previously with Deloris in that parked car that later followed him. 

He greeted her: “Ah, there you are. My prisoner’s cohort.”

He lay the gun down at his feet then brought his hands up, mocking his surrender. 

On the bed Penny was moving, excited at the possibility of a rescue. or was it a warning? 

Deloris looked at Crystal. “Thank God. Where the hell have you been?” 

Carl wore a look of oh, shucks. He said, “Calm down, Penny. The one-armed pirate is only here to rescue Deloris. Gee, I’m a smart guy. Why didn’t I install a digital lock on that door?”

Crystal held up a set of keys that Carl left unattended somewhere. “Maybe you’re not as smart as you think.” She tossed the keys to Carl and said, “Release her.”

Carl took the keys and did as he was told, using the keys to unlock the chains and set Deloris free. “Looks like I’m in trouble.”

Crystal looked all around, her sidearm locked on Carl,  and took in the terror of the operating room. “What the hell’s going on here?”

Deloris threw the chains off and kicked Carl in the chest. He fell away and she ran, stepping over his gun, thinking she could pick it up later when he was chained like she was and Crystal was holding her gun on him. She ran to join Crystal at her side, and said,  “He’s been kidnapping girls. The ones he hasn’t killed he’s been raping. Likes to pretend they’re Cybil. His own daughter.”

Carl got to his feet with his arms raised, then lowered and crossed them. 

Deloris went over to Penny to help her out of the bed and comfort her.

Crystal stared Carl in his cold eyes and asked, “You’re using girls as sex dolls?”

“Oh, that?” he said.  “Well, yes. I’ve been told recently I’m rather sick. But, ya know? The two of you are trespassing. Not to mention breaking and entering. I’d be perfectly within my rights to defend myself.”

“Sit down,” Crystal ordered him, and he did so in the chair Deloris vacated. 

As Deloris was tending to Penny. Crystal had to think of how she was going to handle this. The first thing to do was to call the police. She knew that upstairs Cybil had done that, so all she needed to do was detain him. But Cybil now took her by surprise. 

“Please don’t hurt him.”

She took them all by surprise.

The room turned to see Cybil coming down the stairs, gun in hand. Her face was red with confusion and concern. 

With Crystal’s attention elsewhere Carl leapt forward, knocking the Makarov out of her hand. The gun went sliding across the floor. It collided with Carl’s gun--the one Deloris had neglected to pick up and take out of his reach when she had the chance. 

The Makarov continued across the floor until it stopped at Deloris’s feet. Thank God! She pushed Penny so that she stood in harm’s way in front of her. Then she knelt down and picked it up. Carl’s gun slid under Penny’s bed and rested there against the wall.

Deloris had zero experience with a gun on this end. She had experience with guns being pointed at her--loads of experience, but she was never the one pointing the gun. She watched as Crystal and Carl were locked together and didn’t know what to do with the Makarov. Crystal was the veteran, she should be able to handle him, but she was an amputee and the doctor knew where to
attack. 

He pulled at the prosthetic arm and held on. Crystal forced him backwards to crash into the operating table. As she flipped his body over the table he let go of her prosthetic and his legs smashed into the bright overhead light, shattering it and sending shards of debris everywhere, cutting the flesh of everyone it flew across. Electrical sparks ignited and ozone filled the air. 

Cybil was crying. 

Deloris kept Penny close and wrestled with where to point the Makarov and how to make a threat with it that would put an end to the fight. But, really, she wanted to see Crystal whup this guy’s ass.  

Carl rebounded but Crystal countered, throwing him away from her with one very good special forces arm. But she had neglected to protect the other arm. She cried out as the artificial limb was yanked away with Carl, who now tumbled and crashed into Deloris, knocking Penny out of the way back onto the opposite side of the bed. 

Penny could see Carl’s gun against the wall.

Carl moved on Deloris to take the Makarov away from her. He either did not care about the threat she made to kill him or was calling her bluff. Regardless, she did not shoot him. She meant to keep her promise. She meant to see him dead. But Cybil stood just a few feet away.

No time to think.  

Carl smacked her. Deloris tore into him, screaming, punching and kicking. She may not kill him but she’d be damned if he was going to kill her.  

Carl knew he had seconds before Crystal intervened to overcome him. He punched Deloris in the face. She fell away from him with a bloodied face for not the first time in her life. He caught her by the hair and turned her to face the oncoming threat of Crystal. Instead of pointing her own gun at her he used it to smack Deloris in the face. She fell limp, almost unconscious, blood coming from her mouth and from a gash above her eye.  

Crystal stopped in her tracks.

His daughter stood frozen at the bottom of the stairs, the gun at her side. Thanks to her he had the upper hand again. 

He said, “Now this is better.”

Cybil looked at the body of the macabre Cybil-doll lying dead. She looked at Penny, lying helpless, crying. She looked at her father gripping onto Deloris like a shield. 

She said, “Dad, what are you doing?”

“Oh, Cybil,” Carl said. “Baby girl, I am so sorry you had to see this. But I did try to warn you.”

She felt out of breath, like she would pass out. “Warn me? About... this?”

Crystal wasn’t moving. Deloris was still limp. 

“Yeah, it’s pretty bad. How do you warn someone their dad is a psychotic pervert? But if you think about it, I’m doing this for you.”

Deloris squirmed in his arms. She was back. Or she hadn’t been out at all and heard everything. 

“Doing this for her? Cybil, listen to me.”

Carl told her to “Shut up” and you never tell Deloris to shut up. He pressed the Makarov against her head but she went on. 

“This is going to be alright, I promise.”

Again this annoying whore made him laugh. “You’re promising her now? You couldn’t keep your promise to your god to kill me. How the hell can you promise anything?”

Crystal stepped backwards, putting herself in front of Cybil, wanting to diffuse the situation. 

“Let’s just all take a breath. There’s been enough killing. I’m sure we can agree about that.”

“Sweetie,” Deloris said to Cybil. “I know this looks hopeless. But remember what your mom used to say? She was so smart. She taught me a lot. She used to say, ‘Where there’s life there’s hope.’”

Carl saw something on his daughter’s face. Maybe it was hope. 

“You can’t seem to follow instructions, Deloris. Keep on talking and there’s going to be a price.”

Crystal got closer to Cybil.

Deloris said, “Now I need you to do something very hard for me.”

On the bed, and unobserved, Penny was trying to reach for the gun in front of her.

Carl said, “Keep talking” and she did. 

“I need you to raise that gun and aim it at your father.”

Cybil looked down at the gun. Maybe she had been holding onto it so long she forgot it was there. And it was there. Still. She looked at Crystal, who nodded at her in encouragement to lift her arm and point at her father. 

Crystal said, “Do it.”

“Aim a gun at her father?” Carl asked Deloris. “You know I’m going to kill you, right?”

The gun at the end of her arm was heavy but Cybil lifted it up and out in front of her. It was so heavy and dangerous. But words can be as dangerous. Some words can kill. 

“You were in my room that night. Told me how pretty I was. You touched me... there. Said no one was ever supposed to touch me there.” 

Cybil walked forward, gun ahead of her, each step a killing-word. 

Crystal matched the pace. 

“You held me down, spread my legs. You said I was special... You fucking raped me and said I was special!”

Deloris had ministered to many girls, heard numerous accounts of rape. This was so close to home. “Oh, sweetie.”

The demon-doctor was cracking. “Cybil, baby girl, I—”

She yelled. “I said don’t call me that!”

“Look,” Carl said. “I know I said you could keep the gun, but it’s making me nervous now. I’m going to need you to sit it down.”

Both Cybil and Crystal were now standing directly in front of Carl and Deloris. On the bed, her shoulder wedged against the wall, Penny reached the gun and tried to pull it up.

“You killed mom,” Cybil said, and added, “You killed my mother!”

“I did not kill your mother, I told you that.”

If her father kept on using her as an excuse how many more would he kill?  

“You killed Bertha. I was right there, and I didn’t do anything. Oh, god. Why didn’t I do anything?”

“You were in shock,” he said.  “It’s very common.”

Crystal damned herself for going in blind. There was no way this was going to end without someone… 

But she could minimize the cost. She said, “You can do something now, Cybil.”

Deloris said, “Sweetie, I don’t want you to have to bear the burden. Give the gun to Crystal.”

“You girls really are something,” Carl said. “You want to see someone get shot?”

Carl was in motion. Crystal had to act. She pulled the gun away from Cybil and turned. Before she could fire Carl had pulled the Makarov away from Deloris’s face. He pulled the trigger. 

The bullet entered Crystal’s neck, blood spattering profusely across the room and onto Cybil. Crystal fell to the floor, clutching at her throat.

“Crystal!” Deloris cried, still pinned in Carl’s arms. 

“There,” Carl said. “Someone’s been shot.” He leaned into Deloris’s ear. “I did tell you there would be a price.”

Cybil was shaking, looking down at the blood covering her. On the floor, where Crystal lay gasping, the light in her eyes dimming, a pool of blood surrounded her. It would not stop. 

He would never stop. 

Deloris reached out for Crystal, struggling against Carl. She broke free or was let go. It didn’t matter. By his laughter she figured he let her go, maybe just to shoot her in the back. She reached Crystal and tried to remain calm. She took off her blouse and wadded it up to apply it to the wound. 

“Tell me what to do,” she said. 

The veteran’s mouth moved but nothing came out. 

“Crystal, stay with me. You have to tell me what to do.”   

“All these people,” Cybil said. “You won’t stop. Will you?”

“How else did you think this was going to turn out?” he asked her. “You didn’t think I was going to let these people leave here alive?”

People were dying because of her. “This isn’t right. The world’s not supposed to be this way.” She reached out to her father, grabbed him with her free hand. She pulled the hand holding the gun at him back to herself, into her abdomen. “You can’t just kill people because of me. I won’t let you.”

Her face was pale white. He knew she was serious. He had twisted her that way. Without letting the Makarov go he took hold of the gun in her hand. He said, “Stop it.”

“I won’t let you!”

Deloris had to leave Crystal. She was up without Cybil knowing she was pulling her away from her father. 

“Come on, sweetie. Let him go.”

They were entwined. He was stronger. He could overpower her, but if Carl made the wrong move his daughter could--

BANG!

Carl’s body spun away from Deloris and Cybil. He looked down to see he had been shot in the shoulder. 

All three in the struggle looked back at the bed to see Penny holding the gun, shaking, and preparing to fire again.

Carl was relieved Cybil had not shot herself in the gut. There wouldn’t be much he could do for her, not even as a surgeon, and it was a painful way to die. But he was surprised at who had shot him. 

“Penny?”

Deloris pulled Cybil into herself, protecting her, as Penny fired again. Carl spiraled into the embalming tank. Penny kept on firing into Carl’s body, unloading the gun and filling him with bullets. 

The tank was ripped open and fluid spilled out. Carl fell to the floor against the tank, embalming fluid flowing over him. 

He reached outward with the Makarov, breathed in heavy, trying to speak. The words were labored. 

“Penny…, I shall have to… teach you…” 

It hung there. It stretched out for Penny. 

Cybil, Deloris and Penny watched it fall to the floor and his body slump. His eyes stared out, contemptuous, his face unrepentant. 

Penny fell back. She brought her hands to her stomach, then rocked back and forth, an empty cradle for her child. She wept with loud sobs. And then she opened her mouth and--

Before Deloris could get to her Penny’s traumatized doll-face was relieved. She looked at her with silent pity. She didn’t know the girl, couldn’t know what her life was like before; had no idea Carl killed the mother she wanted to be when he killed her child. She would never know if taking her own life would be judged a sin in the After Life, but she did know the poor girl preferred it. And she respected her choice. 

Crystal’s need for help pulled Deloris away. She bent down to Crystal, who was just holding on. Deloris’s blouse was soaked and the blood had not stopped. Crystal was a sheet of white. 

Deloris said, “We have to call for help.”

Cybil was a statue. She was still very much in shock. 

Deloris searched her body to find her cell. She was moving too slow. Everything was too slow. She found it. There was no signal. 

Crystal reached out and took Deloris’s hand. Both knew it was too late. She was trying to speak. Deloris leaned in. Her words burned in her ear. 

“You’re her mother now…”

Above the operating table a spark from the damaged light leapt out to connect with the embalming fluid that was pouring over Carl’s body and across the floor. It ignited and a fire spread. They had to get out. 

Deloris shook Cybil. “Sweetie, come back to me. We’re getting out of here.”

Cybil mumbbled. All of her words were incoherent, except for “fire”. 

“Let’s go,” Deloris said, and took Cybil by the waist. 

She negotiated their way through the fire. They had to step over Denise, whose doll clothing was already burning. They avoided Crystal’s altogether, but at the stairs Deloris looked back. 

“I am so, so sorry.”   

Cybil was coming back to her. She said, “We shouldn’t leave them.”

Deloris pulled forward up the stairs. “We can’t stay. Come on.”

“We can’t leave,” Cybil said. “They died--they all died because of me.”  

The fire, a chemical fire, grew fast. The girls started to cough. 

Deloris said, “No one died for you, sweetie.” 

“No,” she said. “They didn’t die for me, Deloris. They died because of me. And all I had to do was--” 

“Goddamnit!” Deloris cried. “I am not gonna let you blame yourself because you were raped and groomed by an evil sonofabitch!” 

Cybil knew she was right. But looking at Crystal’s body gave her the need to at least try and make it right. It wouldn’t be enough to pull her body out of the fire but she had to do something. 

She said, “We can come back. We have to. Her family--”

“Cybil,” Deloris coughed. “Crystal is gone… and we’re not gonna waste her sacrifice.” She coughed more, thinking they were breathing in toxins. “Now get your ass in gear, because I am not gonna lose you too.” 

It was work but they were out. Behind them the operating room was consumed. Carl’s face relished his end, while the flames burned away his condescension.

Outside the house a police vehicle had already arrived, responding to the 9-1-1 call Cybil hung up on. The officer was speaking to dispatch when the girls came out. He jumped out of the car, put his hand on his sidearm, and ran to their assistance. Fire was blazing behind them and he pulled them to a safe distance. Then he got on the radio to dispatch and requested emergency services.   

Deloris held Cybil, watching the house disappear, eaten alive by flames. 

Cybil broke away and dropped to her knees. She moaned. Moaning became weeping; weeping became gut-wrenching, angry, horrified screaming.

“I hate you. I hate you! I fucking hate you!”

Deloris let her scream. 


...


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