The Extraordinary Adventures of Brice Johnson, Bus Driver:
The Seventh Adventure
All characters are mine and mine alone. If they look like anybody you know or think you know, it's sheer coincidence. This story does contain some violence, foul language, and sexual content. If you don't like any of these, please try your call again.
Synopsis: No longer Brice Johnson, she has to learn to be someone else. However, changing her identity doesn't mean she will stay safe.
Note: This adventure is shorter than any of the others, but I promise to make it up to you.
My deepest thanks to Rosa and Michele for editing this story.
Questions? Comments? Rude remarks? email@example.com
"Want to grab something to eat after work?"
Linda looked up from her computer at the red head peering over their shared wall. Kate Black had started working at the office almost four months after Linda had started and Linda had been asked to show her around. Kate decided, since they were the newest kids on the block, that they should be friends. Linda hadn't been looking for a new friend, but remained friendly nevertheless. Slowly, Kate had worn her down. It was hard for Linda to resist someone with a sarcastic and witty humor.
"Sure," Linda replied. It wasn't the first time Kate had asked her to dinner, but it was the first time she accepted.
Kate blinked in surprise, "Seriously?"
Linda chuckled, "Seriously. Unless you were asking in jest."
The red head laughed as she shook her head, "No, I was being serious. So where do you want to go?"
Linda shrugged, "You asked me out so you decide. I'll eat pretty much anything."
"That's what she said," Kate quipped with a wink before she disappeared below her side of the cubicle.
A tiny smile appeared on Linda's face before it disappeared. She briefly wondered if Kate wanted more from their tentative friendship, but decided against that thought. Even if Kate did, Linda wasn't interested.
Linda Coleman's life was fairly normal. Linda was of average height with sandy blonde hair and brown eyes. She worked as a sales support associate for a large online retailer. She was one of many. Linda spent her days in her cubicle fielding calls, answering questions about products, warranties and credit cards, tracking shipments, and staring at her cubicle wall. Her nights were spent coming home to her one bed, one bath apartment where she cooked dinner for one, watched movies and shows on Netflix, and drank enough alcohol to put her to sleep.
If anyone asked Linda would tell them she was a thirty one years old, she was bisexual, lived in upper New York her whole life before moving to Virginia to work, and her parents had died in a car crash when she was twenty two.
Linda Coleman also carried secrets. The foremost being her name wasn't Linda Coleman. While she didn't know it, the real Linda Coleman had died with her parents in the crash and the government had taken her identity. She had been Linda for the past nine months, but before that her name had been Brice Johnson.
Nine months ago with the aid of her friend Noel, Brice had changed everything about herself from her name to the way she looked. She had left her friends, family and pets behind to avoid being captured by the supervillain called Virus. Brice didn't know why Virus had been after her, but his desire for her had escalated to the point where he openly attacked and chased her. This caused her to be fired from her job as a bus driver, the major source of pride in her life. At the same time she had been told if she stayed, it would likely lead to the death of her two housemates, Greer and John Watson.
Leaving had been the hardest thing she had ever done. The first months had been the worst. She jumped at the sight of a different person in the mirror. Now Brice hardly reacted to her new reflection. She didn't know what was worse: being scared of what she saw in the mirror or not noticing at all. Brice was slowly forgetting what she used to look like.
Becoming Linda Coleman hadn't been easy for Brice. She had studied the book of Linda's life for a week before destroying it. Not only did she have to memorize new facts, but she had to keep them all straight in her mind. Brice's favorite color was blue while Linda's was apparently green.
"Do you like Mexican?" Kate asked, peering over the wall again. Brice almost answered yes when she remembered Linda did not enjoy Mexican food. She made a little face, "No, not really. I mean I'll find something to eat if you want to go. It just gives me heartburn."
"No problem. I'll think of another place," Kate promised.
"Oh, how about that that Japanese place on 5th?"
Brice arched an eyebrow, "Is that the place with that waiter you drool about?"
Kate tapped her nose, "You're smarter than you look, lady."
Brice chuckled as she leaned forward to pick up her phone, "Thank you for calling customer service. This call may be recorded for evaluation purposes. My name is Linda, how may I help you?"
Dinner had been mildly entertaining. Kate was very talkative which suited Brice since she didn't have a lot to say. The less she talked, the less of a chance she would compromise her identity.
Brice sighed as she got into her little Honda Civic. She desperately missed her bus. She had never realized what it was like having to always drive on the ground and how frustrating it was to get between places. In the time it took her to get through traffic some days, she could have flown around the world twice. Brice had never experienced road rage until she became a normal person.
The sandy blonde woman started flipping through the radio stations. It had been so hard getting used to only having local FM stations. In her bus, she could pick up any station or program in the world. She finally settled on a station that was playing a Vertical Horizon song. She listened along as she spotted a grocery store and realized she needed to stop and get food.
As she pulled into a parking spot, she paused in turning off the engine as the lyrics caught her attention.
I am everything you want
I am everything you need
I am everything inside of you
That you wish you could be
I say all the right things
At exactly the right time
But I mean nothing to you
And I don't know why
Unbidden, thoughts of Greer entered her mind. Having spent a lot of time by herself, Brice had had a lot of time to think. One of the greatest pleasures and miseries of her days was when she thought of Greer.
In the lonely rooms of her apartment, she had been able to accept she had feelings for Greer and knew Greer had returned them. Brice didn't know why the beautiful superhero had feelings for her, but she knew they were there. At least they used to be there. Now she could only wonder if Greer even wanted her anymore.
After all the things I shouted at her before I left, how could she still want me? I'd be surprised if she didn't hate me.
Brice had left a note for Greer but what's one note against angry, shouted words and her disappearance?
Turning the key silenced her car, but it didn't silence her mind. She glanced in the mirror and stared into eyes that were not her own. There was nothing her inner psychiatrist could say to help her through this turmoil.
Shaking her head violently, she got out of the car and went inside the store.
Brice placed her purse in the child's seat of the shopping cart and briefly frowned at it. She could count on one hand the number of times she had carried a purse before she became Linda. Linda was far more feminine than Brice. Linda wore skirts and Brice had made a promise to smack Noel for that when she got back to her old life.
Shaking off those feelings, she started walking around the store. She spent most of her time in the soup and frozen sections. Brice gave a quick glance down the pet aisle before heading towards the alcohol section. Picking out a few bottles of wine, she went to check out.
Walking into her empty apartment was the hardest part of her day. The living room was sparsely filled. There was a sofa, a coffee table, and a TV. There were no pictures of family since apparently all of Linda's possessions had been stolen when her storage facility had been broken into. The kitchen/dining area had a small wooden table with a few straight back chairs.
Brice put away her food and set the bottles of wine in the small rack she had. She stared at them for a moment before pulling one right back out and opening it. After uncorking it, she didn't even bother with a glass. She collapsed on the couch, bottle in hand, and turned on her TV. She wouldn't remember what show she watched the next day, just that she drank the whole bottle before it was over.
Peering her eye into the empty bottle, she tried to mimic Winnie-the-Pooh, "Oh bother. Empty again."
She laid the bottle down with a sigh and tried to stand.
"Whoa," She said, falling back down as the world started spinning. Brice took a deep breath and tried again. Able to stand, she decided to get a shower and collapse in bed.
Feeling slightly less drunk as she exited the warm shower, Brice looked at the foggy mirror. Pausing in toweling off, she reached over and poked two dots where her eyes would be. Next she drew a nose and finally a smile for a mouth.
While the eyes and mouth were off, she could see her nose in the cleared off place she had rubbed. A brief smile crossed her face as she just concentrated on her nose in the reflection. It was Noel's nose. The white-haired superhero had gone through with her threat of making Brice wear her nose once she transformed into a new person. Brice had been against it at first but it was nice to look at her face and see something familiar.
Leaving the wet towel on the floor, she went to climb in under the covers. As she stared up at her dark ceiling, she missed having sleeping pills and hangover cures. Instead of focusing on what she missed, she thought of her nose and Noel.
She remembered going to the Women's World Cup games with her best friend. They both shared a love for soccer, especially when women played the game.
"Marta is the greatest attacker across the boards," Noel persisted. Brice shook her head, "No way. Abby Wambach is the best. She'll get the Golden boot."
"What about Sawa from Japan. She's pretty good."
Brice shrugged, "Yeah, but she's not a header like Abby."
"You're just being stubborn."
The bus driver started to laugh and didn't stop until she was crying. The fact that Noel had said she was stubborn was too much to hold in.
"See if I take you to any more games," Noel grumbled.
"We're here on my tickets," Brice reminded.
Brice smiled into her pillow as she remembered how she and Noel held hands for that last breathless game between Japan and USA. She was certain they broke each other's hands when it went into penalty shots. That had been the most nerve-racking event of her life.
Brice smiled into her pillow. She even laughed as she remembered the time her mother and Noel's mother had drug them to a spa.
Brice glanced at the nude woman who walked out of the sauna and tucked her towel around herself a little tighter. She said, wiping the sweat away from her brow, "I'm telling Alice."
"You're telling Alice what?" Noel snapped.
"That you were eyeing that woman."
Noel's jaw dropped, "I was not!"
Brice smirked, "Yes you were. You were looking at her breasts."
"They were huge!" Noel protested, "Did you see them? I thought they were basketballs."
The bus driver started laughing.
Noel frowned, "Keep up that laughing and I'll sign you up for a massage with a big Swiss man named Bruno."
Brice instantly sobered and narrowed her eyes at her best friend, "You do that and I'll make you take a clay bath with our mothers."
Noel made a show of shrugging. Brice also added threateningly, "And I'll tell my mom you had a crush on her growing up."
"You wouldn't," Noel gasped, "I told you that in a strictest, drunk inebriated confession."
"I wouldn't tell her," Brice folded.
"Good. I would have stabbed you in the heart with a rusty knife if you had," Noel said, straightening her towel. Brice feigned horror, "A rusty knife? I at least deserve a non-rusted blade."
Brice chuckled as she remembered that their mothers signed them up to be beaten with green leaves by giant Swiss women and Noel had threatened to freeze the whole place back to the Ice Age if they didn't stop. She and Noel ended up sneaking away from the spa and went to have fondue instead.
She fell asleep with a smile but her pillow was still wet with tears she hadn't even noticed she cried.
"Oh would you look at that?" Pamela gushed, "Linda! Kate! You've got to look at this."
Brice exchanged a look with Kate as they rolled their chairs across the hall to the assistant manager's cubicle. On the screen were pictures of tiny Labrador puppies sleeping all in a row.
"Aren't they adorable?"
"Precious," Kate said with a wink at Brice.
"Linda, what do you think?"
"Cute," Brice replied.
"Doesn't it make you want to go out and get a puppy?"
"Allergic," Kate volunteered. Pamela gave her a pitiful look and turned to Brice. Brice shook her head, "No puppies for me."
Because it hurts too much.
"Because I recently lost a pet," Brice answered. It wasn't a lie. She had just lost more than one.
A horrified look crossed Pamela's face, "Oh, Linda. I'm so sorry."
"Yeah, Linda. Sorry," Kate agreed, "What kind of pet if I may ask?"
She knew she couldn't talk about Monty and Python. The former bus driver had to think of another pet.
"A German Shepherd. Called him Fluffy," Brice answered, stunning herself. A sudden wave of images hit her mind of petting and playing with a large dog she knew was called Fluffy barraged her mind. The only trouble was she had never seen that dog before in her life.
"Sorry, Linda. It's tough losing a companion," Pamela said.
It's tougher than you'll ever know.
Brice went back to her desk. She was almost grateful for the mysterious images of a dog she had never seen before. It kept her from thinking about Monty and Python.
Looking at her calendar, she was just thankful the holidays were long gone. She had been certain she was going to break and call Noel as they drew closer and closer to Christmas. Somehow she made it through December.
At least she had been able to get a message to Greer around the holidays. It had started back in November, when Kate had only been working for a few weeks and Brice had been Linda for almost three months.
"What are you doing?" Brice asked, stopping by Kate's cubicle as she went to retrieve papers she had printed out.
Kate glanced at her before focusing on her computer, "Just keeping up with the superheroes."
Unable to resist, Brice moved closer, "I didn't picture you to be one of those tabloid readers."
The red head laughed, "I'm not. This is Twitter and these are their official pages. A lot of superheroes just recently signed up because of some charity function I think. They post a few status updates and occasionally answer questions."
"What's Twitter?" Brice asked.
"Really Linda, you would think you've been living in another world," Kate laughed, "Here, I'll show you around."
"Twitter is a place where you can post messages up to 140 characters. It's like a place where you can post statuses; tell people what you're doing, and such. See, here's Majesta's page."
Kate clicked a tiny icon and opened a new tab. Brice's heart skipped a beat as the picture of her mother as Majesta pulled up. Kate pointed out, "She just posted that she and Cobalt Thrust went to Oregon to stop Dr. Mantrap from burning Portland. The 'at' symbol means she tagged Cobalt Thrust, who has her own page."
"Neat," Brice forced herself to say. She wanted nothing more than to go to her own computer and read everything her mother and Greer had posted, but she remained calm. Instead she said, "Well, don't let that waste all your time. You know how Pamela can get when you use the internet for something other than work or cute pets."
"Roger that," Kate droned as she exited the page.
As she sat at her desk, Brice couldn't stop her heart from pounding. She tried to concentrate on work but she only wanted to know what Greer was posting.
Brice held out for thirty minutes before she gave in. She typed in Cobalt Thrust and Twitter into the search engine and clicked on the official page. She spent the next fifteen minutes looking over everything.
It seemed Greer hadn't been on Twitter long. She had posted twenty messages in the week since she signed up. According to the page she already had six thousand followers and was following twenty people. Out of curiosity Brice clicked to see who Greer was following. All were superheroes or actors. She frowned at the sight of her brother's picture, Nightjet, and clicked on her mother's avatar instead.
It would seem her mother had turned into a twitter fanatic in her absence. From the posts, it looked like Majesta had started sitting back in fights to watch Cobalt Thrust do all the work. She would post play-by-play movements.
"I would duck @Cobalt_Thrust."
"@Cobalt_Thrust just ripped Dr. Mantrap's gun out of his hands with her powers and broke it in half. He's pitching a fit."
"Well, that's that. Mantrap is in custody and I think it's time for @Cobalt_Thrust and me to go home."
"@MajestaLover124: No, we're not stopping off for slow-gin fizz. I don't drink any more. I don't drink any less, but I don't drink any more ;)"
Brice had to bit her hand to keep from laughing out loud. Her mother was such a light-weight; it was comical to think of her drinking slow-gin fizz.
A thought crossed Brice's mind and she quickly exited the page. If Virus found a way to monitor who went to those pages, he might be able to track her. Still she wasn't ready to give up the link she had to her past life. She created an account and followed every superhero and sidekick she could find on Twitter. If someone looked at her account, they would think she was just another superhero groupie. At least that's what she had hoped.
So every day she limited herself to thirty minutes of checking up on her mother and Greer. She almost broke into tears when she saw their Christmas messages.
Majesta wrote, "Spending Christmas with the family and desperately missing the ones not with us. I love you all. #happyholidays"
Cobalt Thrust posted, "This time of year makes me think of those I've lost and reminds me to treasure those I still have. Be safe everyone. #happyholidays"
At that moment, she wanted nothing more than to call Noel and make it home for Christmas. She had never spent Christmas alone in her life and she didn't know if she could handle it.
Instead of breaking on Christmas Eve, she decided to send her family a message. She knew it wasn't practical, but she couldn't stop herself. She spent hours planning what she would do before she acted.
That night Brice got into her car and drove two hours away where she purchased a prepaid cell capable of internet access with cash at a Wal-Mart. It took an hour to get through checkout; the lines were full of last minute shoppers. She then drove an hour in a different direction to buy minutes for it. When she stopped to fill up gas, she was three hours away south of her home and she activated the phone. The former bus driver got back into her car and started driving south.
Brice kept driving through North Carolina and stopped when she was in South Carolina. It was midnight and most of the roads were empty. She drove to the only place she knew would be open, a Waffle House. Sitting inside, she ordered hash browns and pulled up the internet on her phone. She made a new email address and new twitter account.
She went to Cobalt Thrust's page and looked again at the last message she had posted. Brice didn't know why she had chosen to send the message to Greer. Her mother would be more likely to see the message, but she didn't concentrate on that.
Taking a deep breath, she clicked reply and started typing. She hesitated over sending it, but finally pressed the button.
RedMnMGiver posted, "@Cobalt_Thrust Merry Christmas to you and yours."
Brice didn't know if Greer would even see her message amongst hundreds, but hoped she would. She also hoped Greer would recognize her name.
Greer and John loved red M&M's. Ever since she found that out, whenever Brice would eat M&M's, she would save the red ones for Greer. It didn't happen often, but it's something that only she and Greer would know.
After she sent the message, she deactivated her account and pulled the battery out of the phone. She ate the hash browns as her Christmas dinner and left a large tip for the tired waitress.
Brice threw the battery away before leaving and drove an hour to the west where she threw away the phone after she crushed it. She drove the four hours back home, hoping Greer would see her message and know she was safe.
After sending the message, Brice found she had a renewed energy to keep being Linda. Looking at her calendar, she wondered how much longer she would have to be Linda. She wondered why Noel hadn't found and captured Virus yet. More than that, she wondered why Virus was after her.
"When was the last time you masturbated?"
Brice started choking on her water at Kate's question. Coughing, she asked, "Where in the hell did that question come from?"
Brice was beginning to question her decision to have lunch with Kate in a public place.
Kate held up the magazine she had been flipping through, "There's an article about how often women need to have orgasms either by masturbating or with a partner. Since you aren't dating anyone, I was just curious at the last time you had the big O."
Over ten months ago now.
Brice shook her head, "I'm not answering that."
"Oh why not?" Kate pouted, "We're all girls here."
"Because it's private."
Kate looked her friend up and down, "Which means it's been awhile. What do you have against masturbating?"
Brice looked around at the close by tables and whispered furiously, "Keep it down with you."
The red head laughed, "You need to relax, Linda. Everyone does it. If you haven't felt like doing it in awhile, perhaps there's something wrong or you're a priest. Are you a priest?"
Brice countered, "No but I gave it up for Lent. Now can we change the subject?"
"Are you Catholic?" Kate asked, tilting her head.
Brice could only give her an incredulous look, "You are so weird."
Kate tapped her nose with a wink, "Correct, you are."
The former bus driver tried to remember the last time she had talked about masturbation with someone else. She felt a bubble of laughter expand in her chest as she remembered.
"What's masturbation?" John asked as they sat around the dinner table.
Brice almost swallowed her fork and Greer had coughed up her peas.
Greer gave Brice a pleading look and Brice muttered, "He's your brother. I already had this kind of talk with my brother."
The other woman wrinkled her nose at the thought of Brice giving her boyfriend the talk, and turned to her own brother, "Why do you ask?"
John shrugged, "Heard it around."
Greer looked pleadingly at the ceiling, "Well, sometimes people get these…"
"Urges," Brice offered.
"Urges," Greer accepted, "And they act on them."
"Urges?" John asked, an innocent look on his face.
"Urges," His sister repeated, "Sexual urges. It's when a person…well…you know, how about I get you a nice book?"
John broke into an evil grin, "I don't need a book. I already know what masturbation is."
Brice watched, jaw slack, as the boy hopped up from the table and went to put up his plate. She then bit her lip to keep from laughing.
Blue eyes met laughing hazel ones, "This isn't funny, Brice."
"You're right. It's freaking hilarious," Brice said, unable to keep from laughing any longer.
Greer had retaliated by throwing a pea at her which bounced off her head. Brice didn't worry about cleanup, Monty and Grail were right under their feet.
"Why are you smiling?" Kate asked, interrupting Brice's memory.
"Nothing," Brice replied with a soft smile.
"It's so nice of you to invite me over," Kate said as she sat down on one side of the couch with her bottle of wine.
"Well, you've been trying too hard to get me out of my shell, the least I could do was let you come over and see the rock I live under as you so put it."
Kate looked around, "It's rather bare."
"My landlord doesn't let me put holes in the wall, so no pictures," Brice easily lied.
The red head nodded, "That sucks."
As Brice sat down next to Kate, she remembered all the times she shared her living room couch with Greer. Brice had been flipping through the stations while Greer sat curled up on the other end with her Kindle.
Brice watched out of the corner of her eye as a socked foot slowly slide its way across the space between them. It quickly poked her before shooting back to its own side.
The brunette turned to give the foot's owner a squinted look, "Did you just poke me?"
Greer feigned innocence, "I would never."
Brice turned her head to look back at the TV and the moment she did, the foot slid out to poke her again.
"You're poking me," Brice accused.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
The bus driver gave her a pretend glare and turned her head back around. When Greer stuck her foot out again, Brice grabbed it with both hands, "Caught you!"
"It was acting on its own accord. I wasn't involved," Greer protested.
"Well, then it shall have to be punished. Are you ticklish?"
Greer went still, "No."
Brice arched a brow, "I think we're about to find out."
She ran her finger up the insole of Greer's foot and watched as Greer arched and tried to jerk away. She laughed, "I think you are."
"Stop! I surrender," Greer called out as Brice kept tickling her foot.
When Brice didn't release her fast enough, Greer dove forward on the couch to tackle Brice against her side.
"Are you ticklish?" Greer asked with a fiendish grin.
"Nope," Brice denied.
The following tickle battle left them trying to find air to laugh and breath. Greer had straddled Brice, their faces inches away from each other. Brice would have kissed her, and she thought Greer would have let her, if Grail hadn't come up to pant right in their faces at that exact moment.
"You've disappeared in your head again," Kate stated.
Brice sheepishly grinned, "It's just something I do. Sorry."
"Don't worry, Linda. As long as I'm not boring you, it's fine."
"You're not," Brice promised, sipping her own glass of wine.
Kate put in a movie and as it played on, Brice felt herself start to get sleepy. She felt like she was back in grade school, unable to keep her eyes open during Mr. Douglas's history lesson. Her head felt heavy and she wanted nothing more than to close her eyes, "I'm sorry, Kate. I must be really tired. Can't seem to keep my eyes open."
"It's fine, Brice. It's just the drug I put in your drink working its way through your system," Kate replied with a smile.
Brice. She said Brice.
A wave of fear and ice washed over Brice as she heard her name spoken for the first time since she disappeared.
She swallowed heavily and tried to cover, "Here I was thinking we were friends and you can't even remember my name."
The red haired woman laughed, "Nice try, Brice. Don't worry. We'll talk as soon as you wake up again. I got to finish some preparations."
Brice meant to stand up and make a run for it. She meant to scream. She meant to fight. But she couldn't do anything she meant to. Her body felt too heavy and she lost the battle to keep her eyes open.
When she opened her eyes next, she knew she was no longer on the couch. It took a moment to get her bearings, but she realized she was still in her living room. She also realized she was tied to one of her chairs. Brice jerked, trying to get loose, but the rope was too tight.
"You can't escape."
Brice jerked her head up to see the woman she had come to consider a friend leaning against the wall, holding a tuning fork.
What in the hell is she going to do with that?
"I'm not really into this kind of stuff, Kate," Brice said, twisting her wrists in their bonds. The rope burned against her skin.
Kate smirked, "What a pity. I guess we should get this party started, Brice. Time's a wasting."
"You've got the wrong person," Brice denied.
In a swift motion, Kate had crossed the room and she slapped Brice across the face. The hit wasn't hard enough to leave a mark, but it showed the red head's displeasure.
"Stop lying. Our entire relationship's been based on a lie already. Now let's just be ourselves," Kate snapped. She grabbed Brice's hair and gently tugged, "I actually like the way you looked before better than this old mask. And Brice is so much more interesting than Linda. Let's see the original Brice, shall we?"
Brice looked at the other woman in disbelief. Noel had said only the man who changed her could change her back.
Kate leaned over to rap the tuning fork she had against the table and pressed the handle end into Brice's left temple. The former bus driver could feel the vibrations tingling her skin as the clear sound of C sharp rang through the air.
"There," Kate smiled, "Much better. And don't ask how I knew how to do this. It's a long story full of experimenting on several people."
Kate placed the tuning fork down on the table and picked up a mirror, holding it up to Brice. Brice was shocked to see herself, her real self, staring back at her. Those were her hazel eyes and that was her mousy brown hair. If she hadn't been tied to a chair and scared for her life, Brice would have wept in happiness to see herself back.
"So are you going to take me to Virus now?" Brice asked. There was no use in denying who she was anymore. Virus had won. He had found her and now he was going to take her.
Kate laughed as she squatted down near Brice, "Don't be absurd. I don't work for him."
Uncertainty and a new fear crossed over Brice, "Who do you work for?"
"Technically I work for no one. I'm a free-lancer," Kate said and shrug, "I go wherever the money is and I'm not at liberty to discuss who my client is."
"An assassin?" Brice guessed, hoping she was wrong.
Kate smiled as she tapped her nose, "Correct. You see Brice, Virus isn't the only supervillain in the world. There are others and they know he wants you. They don't know why and neither do I, but it's not my job to know why. Virus wants you and I've been paid to kill you so he can never have you."
"I don't suppose I can pay you more not to kill me?" Brice asked. She didn't have that much money but she knew her parents would. She was not above asking for a loan.
Kate laughed, "It's not about the money. Well…not all about the money. It's about reputation. There's sort of an assassin's creed if you will. Honor amongst the immoral. Sounds oxymoronic I know, but it's what we got. And anyway if I fail to complete my mission, someone will kill me instead."
Brice didn't like the thought of there being an assassin's creed. She didn't like the thought that Kate was going to kill her even more.
"I was about to say you could ask your friend Alice for more information, but then I realized you're going to be dead soon," The red head chuckled.
The brunette didn't think that was funny, but she tried to keep Kate talking. Brice knew there was little to no hope. No one knew where she was except the person trying to kill her. She didn't know where her phone was, not that she could get to it anyway. There didn't seem to be any other option than dying, but if she was going to die, she was going to die with some answers.
"What about Alice?"
Kate eased back on her heels and let out a low whistle, "So you don't know about Alice, huh? Well, it won't hurt anything to tell you. You see, your friend was one of the best assassins the world has ever known. She worked for the UN of course, like all the best killers. Unmentionables, I think they're called. They are not someone you want after you."
"Most superheroes have that silly 'live and let live' motto. Not the Unmentionables. I've seen the aftermath of some of the things they've done," Kate gave a little shiver; "You don't want to know. Alice was one of the best from what I heard. Until she went soft after one mission with your friend Noel."
Kate scratched her head, "That's one thing I never understood. The Alice I heard about didn't really care or feel anything. She just completed her mission and went on to the next. I mean this woman is who makes criminals and other assassins shake in their boots. Intel said she slept with people occasionally, but no one could ever get to her. She has over a thousand known kills. Cold and impenetrable. One trip with a hot-headed ice hero later and she retires and starts teaching. Teaching? She was the best in her field and she gave it up to be with Noel?"
"No offense to your friend," Kate added as an afterthought.
"None taken," Brice absentmindedly muttered. Could the Alice she knew really be the same person Kate was talking about? If it weren't for the fact she didn't really know anything about the South African who was engaged to her best friend, she wouldn't have believed Kate for a second. Now she had her thinking.
Kate stood up to stretch, "So any last words? Not that anyone will know them but me."
Brice didn't want to die. She really didn't. She wanted to go home to see everyone she loved. She wanted to see Greer. She desperately wanted to see Greer. She had made a promise in the note she had written for Greer and she truly wanted to keep that promise.
"Tell them I'm dead," Brice said, making her finally request.
"Excuse me?" Kate asked, scratching her head, "Who?"
"Everyone. Don't let them go around wondering what happened to me. Tell my family. Just leave them a note or something. And tell Virus too. If I'm dead, he no longer has to go after my friends and family. He'll leave them alone if he knows that I'm dead. So please, let them know if you have to kill me."
"Oh I have to kill you, but that's not an unreasonable request," Kate sighed, "Shame. You were such a nice mark. I rather enjoyed your company when you weren't staring off in space, ignoring me. Oh well. It was nice knowing you, Brice."
Kate kneeled on the floor where Brice's legs were bound together. She pulled a syringe out of her pocket and uncapped it with her teeth. She lifted the bottom of Brice's jeans and lowered it.
"Wait!" Brice called out, desperate for more time, "How did you find me?"
Kate rolled her eyes as she spat out the cap in her mouth, "I followed the money trail. The UN uses a special account to fund for people going into protection like yourself. It was more difficult then it seemed. You could have been five possible people I was following. I didn't know for sure Linda was you until you sent Greer that message at Christmas."
Damn. I knew that would come back to haunt me.
"You won't feel anything," Kate reassured as she stuck the needle into Brice's ankle, "I mixed it with a sedative. You'll go right to sleep."
Brice started struggling desperately against the ropes that held her. Her heart felt like it was going to be out of her chest. She was sure rapid pulse was a sign of poisoning.
"Shh," Kate soothed, stroking Brice's hair, "Sleep. It will take an hour before the venom kills you. I'll be long gone by then."
"No," Brice cried out before blackness fell over her eyes.
Kate watched as Brice fell limp. She dusted off her hands, "Well, I got some cleaning up to do."
With a gasp, Brice jerked awake. Her eyes focused on the blue skies peeking through the gaps of pine trees.
Is this heaven? Am I dead?
Brice felt her chest and found her heart pumping against it. Her other hand curled up on the solidness beneath her and she felt dirt and grass between her fingers.
Slowly sitting up, she could see she was in a forest of sorts. She moved to stand and quickly sat back down as a lance of pain shot up her leg. Brice pulled up her pants leg and eased down her sock.
"Damn," Brice cursed, looking down at her ankle. There were two circular wounds an inch from each other on her ankle and it was swollen, red and tender.
Is that a snake bite?
Brice looked around, not knowing where she was. She quickly slammed a lid on the panic rising inside of her. She also had to cut off the overwhelming sense of giddy relief.
I'm not dead!
The brunette quickly started to check herself. If she had any type of phone, she could call for help. There was nothing on her except a receipt for a nature park pass and a bottle of water with the name Brice Johnson on the receipt.
"Who pays four dollars for a bottle of water?" Brice questioned aloud.
Brice's head snapped up as she heard crunching sounds. Terror ran through her heart as she saw someone coming towards her. She knew she should get up and run, but her ankle throbbed at the thought.
"Hey! Are you okay there?" The person called out. Brice saw it was a man as he walked closer. Brice now realized she was on a trail. Apparently Kate had poisoned her with snake venom, making it look like a snake had bit her, and left her where someone would find the body. Except she hadn't died.
"Did you fall or something?" The man asked, quickly closing the distance between them.
"Umm," Brice tried think of a story.
"Is that a snake bite? Oh my god, we have to call for help," The man said, reaching into his pocket. Brice quickly stopped him, "Wait!"
He looked up, puzzled. She said, "It wasn't a poisonous snake, I promise. I just scared one and it reacted. I was about to call one of my friend's to come get me when I realized I forgot my phone. If you don't mind, could I use your phone?"
"Sure, I guess. I still think we should call for help? It's never wrong to be extra safe when it comes to snake bites."
"Trust me, if I was supposed to be dead, I wouldn't be here now."
Brice took the phone offered to her and dialed the number she had memorized in case of an emergency. Tears came unbidden to her eyes and she heard a long, missed voice.
"Hello?" The voice was steady but Brice could detect a hint of fear and hope.
"Noel, long story but you need to come and get me."
Brice could barely listen as Noel started talking on the other end. All she could think was that she was going home. She would get to see her family, her friends, and Greer. She'd get to see Greer.
Be on the lookout for The Mildly Exciting Adventure of Greer Watson, a parallel of this adventure. You'll get to read Brice's note to Greer in this adventure.
And in the final adventure of Brice Johnson:
Brice has been home only a week before she finds herself in Virus's company. Will she join him after he tells her everything she wanted to know? Will she get to keep her promise to Greer?
Brice's reaction to learning her adventures have been placed in the Academy of Bards' Hall of Fame.
"What do you mean you've been writing down my adventures and have been posting them online?" Brice gasped, "I told you those in strictest confidence."
"Never mind that. Did you not hear what I said? Your adventures have been placed in the Academy of Bards' 2011 Hall of Fame!"
"What? My adventures? The Academy of Bards?" Brice repeated, stunned, "We're talking about the website I love and visit often? We're talking about the home of such great writers like Zee, Windstar, Kim Pritekel, Geonn Cannon, Ann McMan, and countless others that I can't even think of all of them? We're talking about my adventures being placed along side such other great works? They are talking about my adventures right?"
"Yes, Brice. They inducted your adventures. See, look at the website."
"Oh my God," Brice exclaims, looking at the webpage, "I can't believe so many readers like me. I'm just a bus driver and a baron."
"So what do you have to say?"
Finally getting over her shock, Brice smiled, "All I can say is thank you so much for reading and enjoying my adventures. I hope you like my final adventure and I hear even Greer has one."
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