Jesse once explained the physical mechanics of pain. Each impulse from a nerve in the body triggers the brain to produce a chemical called an endorphin. The amount of endorphins in the blood is controlled by the amount of pain stimulus experienced. In this way, she said, the human body can endure more pain that people realize, because as pain piles up, so do the endorphins. Pain, therefore, is relative.
As Shelby continued whipping me, I no longer cared about the mechanics or relativity of pain. I just wanted it to stop. Pain used in moderation to increase tension and sensation -- that I understood. Pain for the sake of pain --
She stopped and I gasped in relief. I ached everywhere, and my body was shaking. I couldn't tell if she'd broken the skin, but I didn't think so. My shirt was stuck to my back, but it smelled more like sweat than blood.
"Had enough, Trey?"
I should have said yes, or better yet, kept my mouth shut, but I couldn't.
"Enough of what? Did you start yet?"
I had a split second thought that Jesse would be proud of me, and then the cat landed across my stomach and I nearly screamed.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to sass your betters?"
"No. Oh, but she did tell me not to talk back to my elders, and I can tell you're just a hell of a lot older than me, so I'm s--" I stopped and hissed at the pain as she lashed my aching back several more times.
"Wanna keep going, Little T? I did have other plans for you, but making you scream is fun."
I rolled my eyes. "Glad I could give you a thrill."
She laughed as she set the flogger aside. "Maybe it's you who's getting a thrill, Trey. Should I see how wet you are?"
I swallowed hard, wondering if she had rape on her mind. As she approached, I tensed my legs, hoping I could get a kick in if I had to. Fortunately, Evan distracted her.
"Come on, Shelby. You've had your fun with Trey, now would you just leave it, before Jesse finds us and --"
She whirled on him. "Shut the fuck up! I'm tired of your whining, Evan. This is my scene, and if you interrupt it again, I'll put you up here next to her. Got it?"
Evan went silent, but he didn't go back to his place against the wall. Instead, he stood with his arms folded and glared at Shelby, who had turned back to me.
"So, Trey, where were we?" She tilted her head. "Oh, well, doesn't matter. I think it's time we get to the good stuff, hm?" Grabbing her bag, she moved closer and dropped it in front of me. Shelby knelt for a moment, then glanced at the chair several feet away. "Evan, bring me that."
He sighed, but did so, dropping the chair next to her with a bang. She glared at him, but this time he didn't back away.
Shelby pulled something out of her backpack and showed it to me. It was a little bag of whitish powder. She swung it back and forth in her hand.
"Know what this is?"
Deciding not to antagonize her any more, I simply shook my head.
"It's smack. Also known as horse, or crank. Heroin." Her smile chilled me. "And it's all for you."
She knelt down and pulled out a few utensils. I didn't see what all they were, since I was staring at Evan in horror. He met my eyes and I mouthed a please to him.
He looked away, then shifted his gaze to Shelby. "You give her all that, and she'll die."
She looked up at him. "I know that."
Evan's eyes went wide in shock. "You're gonna kill her? Jesus fuck-- what the hell are you playing at? You can't just --"
He broke off when the barrel of the gun hit his chest. Slowly, Shelby cocked it, the sound loud in the basement.
"You were saying?" Her voice had gone cold, but her smile was one of glee. "Say it again, asswipe. Tell me I can't do this."
Evan swallowed. "Shelby, you --" He stopped as her finger tightened on the trigger. "You can do whatever you want."
"Right." She stood, keeping the gun squarely in his chest. "Good boy. Now, go play with yourself over in the corner, and I'll call you when I want you."
"Or you can walk. Right now."
He took a deep breath. "Without the key."
"Without the fucking key." She grinned. "Or you can keep interfering and I can pull the trigger. It's up to you."
Evan nodded. He looked at me and gave me a tiny shrug. "I'll walk."
"Good choice." She motioned with the gun. "Get moving."
He turned slowly, keeping his hands at his sides. Not looking back, he went through the darkened stairway and I could hear his boots clicking on the cement stairs as he went up. There was the noise of the door opening at the top, and then it clanged shut.
Shelby turned back to me and smiled. "Now. Where were we? Oh, yes." She dropped the gun carelessly into her bag. "You were about to take a ride on some horse."
The search had been going badly. Jesse had spent quite a while glaring at different buildings and muttering to herself. She'd narrowed it down a little more, remembering the smell of the taco joint on the corner, but since the scent was noticeable at least a full block and a half away, it was still a lot of ground to cover.
They were waiting for Kruise and Tess in a parking lot near the taco stand. It was almost time for Jesse to make the call to Shelby.
Nix was gazing worriedly at her. "Jesse, are you sure you should do this? I mean, I know we need to find Trey, but --" She stopped suddenly, staring across the parking lot. "Is that who I think it is?"
Jesse followed her friend's outstretched arm. She grinned at the sight of Evan kicking at the tires on his Pontiac. "Yeah, that's him. Feel like scaring the shit out of someone?"
The vampire smiled. "Oh, yeah."
Evan was too involved in his anger to see them or realize his own danger. Nix and Jesse had grabbed him and hauled him into an alley before he could do anything. They slammed him against a wall and held him there. Jesse stepped in front of him.
"Jesse. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm almost glad to see you."
The punch she delivered to his stomach doubled him over for a moment before he was pulled upright again.
"Where are they, Evan?"
"The play pen."
"I know that. Where?"
He shook his head to clear it, but held up his hands when Jess pulled her fist back to punch him again. "Don't. I'll show you."
"You better not be playing with me, boy."
"No playing." He swallowed. "Jess, I just wanted the money. We were supposed to split it and leave town, the two of us. But she's insane, and she's -- "
"What money? What are you talking about?"
"The money I got from dealing. It was supposed to be my way out, it was gonna pay for the gas to get the fuck out of this place! Shelby took it -- it's in a locker at La Guardia, and Shelby hid the fucking key."
"That's why you helped her take Trey?"
"Yeah. Jesse, she's --" Evan licked his lips. "She's got some shit with her and she's gonna give it to Trey. I told her it's too much, it'll kill her, but she's --"
Jesse grabbed his collar and pulled, growling into the man's face. "Where the fuck are they?"
He licked his lips and swallowed again. "I'll take you there."
"Like it?" Shelby held up the needle for me to see. The point on it must have been close to three inches. "Evan swiped it for me from the clinic. It's used in those kits for when someone goes into cardiac arrest -- it injects adrenaline straight into the heart." She grinned at me. "Well, it normally is used with adrenaline. But I figured, hey -- why not for something more fun?"
The barrel of the syringe was at least an inch and a half around, and it was a little more than half full. Even so, I knew from what Evan had said that if that actually went into me, I was going to have a very short high before dying.
"Oh, don't look so worried, Trey. It's not like you'll feel any pain, you know." She tsked at me. "For shame. I thought you were braver than that."
I took a deep breath. "Shelby, don't do this. The whipping Jesse will forgive, and I'm sure Nix will forget it as well. But you use that and --"
From the look in her eyes, I should never have used Nix's name.
"Shut the fuck up!" She slapped me, then grabbed the collar of my shirt and pulled. It ripped down the front, tearing away to show the front of my bra and my chest.
"I said, shut UP!"
With that she jabbed the syringe into the area just above my left breast. Somehow she got it to slip between my ribs. I gasped at the pain and bit my lip.
She smiled. "Does it hurt, Trey?"
I clenched my teeth till I could hear them grinding together. Shelby hadn't pushed the plunger down, and I would have said anything to keep her from doing so.
"Yeah, it hurts."
"Good." She smiled and her hand reached up. I tried to jerk away and kick her, but she was too close. Winding an arm around my waist she pulled me closer to her and touched a finger to the end of the syringe.
I gasped, waiting for her to push it in all the way. She didn't.
A tiny thread of burning heat started in my chest, right near where the needle was. My heart was racing and I could feel myself sweating.
"Any minute now you'll start to feel the effects."
"Head rush. Dizziness. Then you'll feel sick to your stomach."
The head rush hit and I felt my eyes close as they rolled up in my head. There was heat all through my chest now, and I could hear my heart beating, pounding through my eardrums till I thought they'd burst.
"How you feeling, Trey?"
"Fuck you, Shelby." But it wasn't a really bad feeling. In fact it was really good. The head rush was intense, and the room seemed to be spinning a little.
"Don't worry, Little T. We're just getting started."
And that, more than anything else, scared the hell out of me.
Jesse closed the phone, having filled Kruise and Tess in on where they were and what was happening. "Tess agrees, we should go as soon as possible. They'll be here in a few, but we shouldn't wait for them." She slid the phone in her pocket and looked at the door Evan had pointed out to them. "Is that the only entrance?"
"That's the front door there." Evan pointed towards the corner. "There's a back door in the alley, but I don't know if it leads directly down to the basement or not. I think so, cause there's another door down there, but it's locked."
Nix nodded. "Okay, Jesse, it's your play. How do you want to handle it?"
Jesse looked uncertain. "Damned if I know. If I go in alone, she might talk. If anyone else is with me, she might just -- " She broke off and looked at the door again. "Got any ideas?"
Nix took a deep breath. "Nothing better than what you've already come up with. All right, you head in the front and try to stall Shelby. Evan is going to guide me to the back door, and then wait for Tess and Kruise to show up." The vampire let her fangs extend. "You try to run, Evan, and I'll take your throat out."
Evan winced and nodded.
Jesse put a hand on Nix's shoulder. She'd seen the way her partner was flexing her hands and clenching her jaw. She had also seen the extended fangs that Nix didn't seem able to hold back. "Are you okay?"
The vampire's voice was clipped and controlled. "Fine. You ready?"
Jess nodded. "Yeah. Let's go end this."
She headed across the street, glancing back to see Evan leading an angry vampire towards the alley.
The rush had passed, and while I was still feeling a little of the euphoria from the drug, I'd noticed a few other things as well.
Nausea had set in, along with a cold feeling in my arms and legs. I was shaking a little, and even though sweat was still pouring from me, it was a cold sweat now. The burning in my chest was still there, but it didn't touch the cold.
My heart had stopped its racing. The pounding was gone from my ears, and my breathing had slowed. It was hard to really think about anything.
There was about a quarter of the syringe still to go, which meant Shelby had only given me half of the dose. That made me think that my death would be agonizingly slow.
The noise of footsteps on the stairs made her turn, and she reached out to pick up the gun.
I had never been so glad to see Jesse before.
"Nice to see you, baby. So glad you could come an' play."
Jesse stopped at the sight of the gun. I could tell she didn't want to by the way her hands were flexing. "Shelby. Let Trey go. I'll stay if you want."
Shelby laughed. "So noble. So cool, calm, collected." She tilted her head. "You'll stay. And so will Trey."
"Shelby, no, let --" Jesse stopped as Shelby stepped aside and put her hand on the syringe that was still poking out of my chest.
"Did you say something, baby?" She tapped the plunger. I winced as more heat poured into my chest. She tapped it harder and I had to bite my lip to keep from groaning.
"What is that, Shelby?" There was a strange tone in Jesse's voice, one that I'd never heard before. It took me a moment to realize she was truly frightened and trying not to show it.
"Horse." The bitch smiled again. "Trey's enjoying herself, aren't you, Little T?"
"Fuck -- you." Even I could hear the strain in my voice.
"Shelby, don't do this. Let her go, it's not too --"
"Shut up!" She tapped the plunger, harder, and I gasped as the head rush resumed along with the nausea. "Just shut the fuck up, or I'll just push this all the way in and we can watch the little bitch die." She turned slightly away from Jesse and stroked the length of my face. She slapped me, hard, and I let my head fall to the side and stay there. It was easier than holding it up.
Shelby turned back to Jesse. "Where's your bitch, Jesse?"
"Your blonde bitch. The vampire. Oh, don't act like you don't know who I'm talking about. I know she's a vamp, and I'm gonna kill her." She picked up the bottle of holy water. "You don't have the balls to come alone, so where the fuck is she?"
Jesse smiled. "Don't know exactly. But when she gets here, you'd better be armed with something a little stronger than water."
"Oh, I am." She stuck the gun in her waist band, then leaned over and put the water down. Picking up a cross and a stake, she stood quickly and placed the cross against the syringe. "Ah, ah, ah."
Jesse, who had been moving forward, froze again.
I groaned, feeling bile building up in my throat. Part of me wished she'd just finish the goddamn torture, whether it would kill me or not. Another part of my brain was idly wondering where the hell Nix was.
That's when the back door exploded open.
Shelby got one more whack in on the plunger, which forced most of the rest of the drug into me. Then she was hitting the wall and sliding down it unconscious.
For me, what happened after that is mostly a blur, but Jesse told me the story.
Pulling out her knife, Jess cut me down and I dropped. My stomach was starting to heave, and after ripping out the needle, Jess turned me over to let me vomit into Shelby's bag.
All I had in my stomach was alcohol, which had mostly soaked into my system. What was left came up quickly, and then I was left with the dry heaves. When that finally stopped, Jess turned me onto my back. I was shaking and sweating. There didn't seem to be enough air in my lungs and I couldn't get any more in. Jesse had her arms wrapped around me.
"Hang on, Trey." She looked up at Nix who was staring down at Shelby with blood lust on her face. "Nix? Nix!" The vampire looked up at her, blinking hard. "I need your help -- Trey's in trouble."
I was so cold. The euphoria was still there, but the sick feeling in my gut, along with the shaking and the inability to catch my breath were overwhelming any good feeling. I wondered if this was what it was like to freeze to death, but then I thought that was a stupid idea cause it couldn't be that cold in here. After all, Jesse was pulling off her jacket and wrapping me in it.
"The bastard took off after he showed me the door. I was gonna go after him, but I thought I better just come on down."
"Good choice." Jesse slapped my cheek. "Trey? Come on, Trey, stay with me here."
Nix looked up at her. "She gonna be okay?"
"I don't know. We might wanna call an ambulance, though."
"That's going to bring in the police --"
The sound of feet clattering down the stairs drew their attention. Kruise and Tess came in the door.
"Jesse, what -- oh, no -- Trey?" Kruise dropped to her knees and Jesse moved me over so my head was in her lap. I looked up at her and blinked.
"Kruise -- I'm so c-cold." I still couldn't catch my breath and it was getting harder just to make my lungs work.
Jesse tapped my cheek. "Stay with me, Trey. Don't you close those eyes on me."
Tess looked at Nix. "What happened?"
"Shelby gave her some kind of drug."
"Heroin." Jesse turned a serious gaze on Tess. "She gave her a large dose of heroin. I think we should --"
"Jess, she stopped breathing." Kruise sounded panicky.
I had passed out.
"No, don't you do this, Trey!" Jesse slapped me a few times. Tess reached for her cell phone and was about to dial 911 when one more set of boots came stomping down the stairs.
Evan had barely reached the open door when Nix flew at him, knocking him onto his back.
"You son of a bitch! I told you I'd rip your throat out if you --"
"Wait!" Evan managed to croak out the words while Nix was wrapping a hand in his collar. "Jesse! Narcan!"
"Nix, let him go!"
Tess pulled the other vampire off of Evan, who tossed a wrapped package to Jesse. She opened the cloth to find a clean syringe and a vial with a clear liquid in it. Within moments she had drawn what was left into the needle and was injecting it into my arm.
"Is this all you have?"
Evan nodded, still trying to catch his breath. "Yeah, that's the last of it. I didn't even think about it till Nix had opened the door." He looked up at the vampire. "I figured it would be better if I just took off and got it, rather than try to explain."
Nix merely nodded, her attention focused on me.
The first indication of an improvement, Kruise later told me, was that I started breathing again. Then I stopped shaking, and a little color came back into my face. Within a couple moments, I was blinking at them.
"How you feelin', Trey?"
My eyes weren't quite focusing right yet, but I turned my head toward Jesse. "A little cold and sick. What the hell just happened?"
Jesse sighed. "Evan just saved your life, that's what." She looked up at Evan. "Thanks. If you hadn't gotten here when you did, I don't think she'd have made it."
He shrugged. "Glad I could help."
Tess was still holding her phone. "Jess? Do we still need to call an ambulance?"
"No, but it might be a good idea to call Kelsey and see if she can get us at least a little more Narcan. Trey might need it in a little while."
"Right." She started to dial, but stopped. "What the hell is Narcan?"
Evan answered. "It's a drug that counteracts most narcotics. It makes it as if you never took anything. But it doesn't last as long as a normal heroin dose, so most people need to have a second dose within an hour of the first."
"And you just happened to carry some of this?"
He shrugged and looked up at Tess. "You never know when you might accidentally OD, and it's better to have the shit at hand to stop it if you do."
She stared at him, then shook her head and went up the steps to call Kelsey.
I started shivering a little again. It was cold, even wrapped partly in Jesse's leather jacket. "Jess? Can I get off the floor now?"
They helped me up and I swayed for a minute in Kruise's arms before Jesse got the chair moved a little closer. I half sat, half fell into it.
Jesse moved over and put a hand on Nix's shoulder. There was barely any response, just a shudder. Nix had her eyes closed and her mouth slightly open. I could see her fangs protruding.
"Nix? We should get going, huh? We need to get Trey out of here." Nix opened her eyes at Jesse's words, but it didn't look like she'd actually understood them.
Kruise watched them carefully, her arms around me. I was still pretty fuzzy and not much was registering in my brain.
Jesse shook the vampire a little and tried again. "Come on, babe, we need --"
A groan from Shelby made everyone turn towards the wall. She opened her eyes and shook her head. When she could focus she looked up and saw Nix standing next to Jesse. The bitch had the nerve to smile.
She raised her cross as she stood, then felt for the pistol that she'd stuck in her pants.
It had fallen out when Nix hit her and was now lying on the floor near Evan. He made no move to pick it up.
Nix was staring at Shelby, who slowly reached down and grabbed the stake she'd dropped.
"I'm gonna kill your vampire, Jesse. What d'you think about that?"
Nix slipped her jacket off and handed it to her lover. "Get Trey and the others and get out of here. I'll meet you in the parking lot."
Jesse shook her head, but took the jacket. "I think you're a fucking fool, Shelby, and a dead one at that."
Kruise helped me stand, and then Jesse slipped an arm under me. Evan stood up and moved to the door, holding it open for us.
I glanced back. "Nix?"
"Go on, Trey. I'll see you outside in a few." There was no emotion to her voice.
Jesse had Kruise help me through the door, then she looked back at her partner. "I love you, Nix."
With a sigh, Jesse closed the door tightly behind her.
We'd gotten to the top of the stairs when the first scream broke the
End Part Twenty
Return to the Academy