This was a stupid idea.
The air had grown cold and windy while I hid away in the Cage. I didn’t have my parka to protect me from the elements—that had been left at the diner. The chill sank into my bones and caused me to shiver. It took longer than I wanted for someone to accept my Uber request. The address was to a house in Englewood, a notoriously dangerous neighborhood—Popularly regarded as one of the premier place to be robbed or murdered in Chicago, I had spent my life avoiding it like a plague district. I had never thought I would ever consider stealing someone’s bike to get there as fast as I could.
I waited for my ride behind a dumpster in the alleyway where I’d first met Cunt. I tried to convince myself that it felt comforting, but it didn’t. It hurt to think of her, but I needed the pain to stay angry. Each moment I spent alone with my thoughts was a moment I tried to convince myself to be a coward, and I couldn’t afford that. Amelia was a problem that needed to be solved. She was hurting people I cared about, and she had wormed her way into the support structure that should have prevented that harm.
Cunt would have done this if it were anybody else. She deserved to have someone have her back.
I rushed into the back seat of the car as soon as it showed up. The air inside was still chilly, but the wind wasn’t clawing at my skin any longer. The driver made a comment about my lack of a coat, but I couldn’t muster myself to answer it. I muttered a thanks for the lift before settling in for the ride.
I kept a firm grip on the knife up my sleeve as thoughts filled my head. The blade rubbed against my skin, but it wasn’t cutting into my skin. It served as a reminder of what I needed to do. Amelia could worm her way out of any situation if given a chance. She would break her way into a mind and change the situation to go how she wanted. She was able to make me do things I didn’t want to, she had turned the very mechanics of disgust and fear on its head to make me take those first drugs.
I counted myself lucky that I really didn’t want to do this.
Imagining the feeling of metal ripping into Amelia’s flesh made my body want to curl in on itself. I focused on more distant concerns instead—How I was going to avoid going to jail. There was no way I could spin this as self-defense, so I would need to hide the body. Or perhaps just not being seen might suffice.
Three-fourths of murders in Chicago go unsolved every year, and the majority of those happen in neighborhoods like Englewood. I checked the statistics on my phone to make sure I was correct before I realized that would be used as evidence against me if I got caught. I was correct on the statistics—Though the news articles were quick to let me know that two-thirds of white murder victims had arrests associated with their cases.
This was a really stupid idea.
The car stopped outside of an abandoned storefront. Street lights dotted the road, but the one outside of my destination was disabled. It was difficult to believe that was coincidental. Barred windows lined the old brick buildings across the street like they were some kind of housing association mandate. My haze of thoughts cleared as I took in the surroundings I was going to walk in to.
“You sure this is the place?” My driver asked. He looked back at me, questioning. His face, his body language, and whatever-it-was I could sense radiated familiarity, suspicion, and concern. Not enough to do more than ask a question.
“I’m sure. Thank you.” I tipped him and opened the door.
“Stay safe.” Concern tinged his voice, I could feel that meant those words. I nodded and stepped into the cold dark autumn night. The wind had picked up and stripped me of any warmth that the car’s heat brought me. My ride lingered long enough for me to take stock of my destination.
The building had large display windows along its street-facing side, though the view inside was obstructed by translucent plastic sheeting. ‘Appliance Center’ was emblazoned across the street-facing side of the store, above the windows. The font was blocky and faded. ‘Credit Terms Available. We Finance!’ were displayed over what had once been an entry point to the building, but was now blocked by shelving units on the inside. The rest of the building had tall aluminum fencing blocking access to employee entrances, or any other kind of entryway.
I spotted a gate in the fence as the driver left, leaving me in darkness. I stepped towards it quickly, not taking any time to steel myself. I was not convinced I could hide my intentions from Amelia in the way she could hide them from me. She would read nervousness and excitement all over me no matter how hard I tried, so my only hope was to let my feelings fly and pray that she had too much information to know my true intentions. I tried to forget about the knife up my sleeve.
The gate was locked with an electronic keypad, though I barely had time to investigate before it gave out a loud buzz. I nearly jumped out of my own skin from shock, my arms tensed and closed across my chest. My already-racing heart felt like it was trying to crack its way through my ribcage.
“You should have told me you were here, dummy!” Amelia’s voice rang from the keypad. The sound quality was horrible and garbled, but it was clear enough to be recognizably her. “You know these streets aren’t safe for a girl to walk alone at night. Come on in.” She sounded far too pleased with herself.
The gate opened inward under its own power, and I hurried inside. A light flicked on towards the back of the building, beside what looked to be a truck-loading dock. Amelia’s unmistakable figure cast a shadow against the door. My pulse raised higher. Nerves and fear and adrenaline made my arms shake and my legs tremble. My skin burned from the wind and the cold in the air, and a part of me was looking forward to being inside for the shelter alone. Part of me considered stabbing her right then, outside, but I decided against it. I didn’t know Cunt was at this location, and my first priority was her safety.
There was also the possibility of witnesses, or cameras.
Amelia was wearing a black jumpsuit with long sleeves, gloves, and boots. Her eyes twinkled as she watched me approach. “Took you long enough.” Her voice bit. My thoughts raced. Should I let her lead me inside, or should I take the initiative? Was she going to let me touch her? I might be able to possess her and be done with it.
Amelia smiled wickedly as my thoughts raced. My heart pounded harder. Did she catch on already? It was too late to run, there was no way I was going to be able to jump the fence, and the gate could probably close itself. Her smile widened, and she bit her bottom lip, tugged it into her mouth and sucked on it.
“You’re worse off than I expected.” Her voice was filled with delight. An aura of triumph radiated from her and washed over all of my senses. Emotional tendrils of accomplishment and pride, with a solid through-line of lust destroyed any speculation as to what she was feeling. She wasn’t hiding it.
Anger flared inside me, and Amelia moaned with delight in response. It took all of my self-control to not strike her, to end this right now. I needed to find Cunt, I needed to make sure she was okay. “I didn’t think it would hurt you that bad. Are you going to be okay, Oriole?” Amelia stepped away from the door and stepped slowly around me.
“I’m here. Let her go.” My voice was barely a whisper. My lungs shook, and my body cursed me for letting even that little bit of warmth leave me. I stood still, shivering, letting her leave my sight. She wasn’t going to attack me, and I didn’t want to have her in my sight. I could feel her gloat without needing to see it.
“In time, in time.” Amelia’s voice chided. “I’m enjoying this.” She circled into view and smiled a toothy grin. Anticipation filled her, a prelude to a verbal jab or taunt. I didn’t react. It was difficult to feel more than my baseline of anger and fear tinged with newly resurgent chemical want of whatever-the-fuck she’d drugged me with. Everything else felt numb. Amelia clicked her tongue. “Are you sure you want this? I’ll let you go right now, if you just turn away.” She grinned wider.
“I can’t do that.” I was telling truth. I didn’t know if Amelia could tell if I was lying, but it was a sure enough bet. I could glean an idea of it from her, and we worked in similar ways. It was best to be careful with anything that could change my mood. I wasn’t good at deception without my target being an empath.
“Then kneel down, Oriole.” Amelia smiled. “Tell me you want to be mine, and I’ll take you in.” Her voice purred in delight.
I didn’t hesitate falling to my knees. The action was meaningless, and she would feel that. I would not have dared to speak back to her or insult her carelessly, but a meaningless gesture was good enough. “I want to be yours.” My voice wasn’t much stronger than moments before, but I said the words as flatly as I could.
“We’ll get you saying that with more fervor and desperation soon enough.” Amelia sneered. A moment later her hand was in my hair, yanking my head back painfully. I shrieked and grasped for her arm, to pull it away, before realizing my opportunity. I didn’t know if I could enter her through her clothing, I hadn’t paid close enough attention before, but I had no time for hesitation. I reached.
I felt her gloved hand hand connect with my cheek, but didn’t feel the radiating pain afterwards. Instead, I saw myself recoil. I felt Amelia’s leg muscles contract and extend, felt the pressure of her foot press against leather that was pressed against flesh. She was kicking me, the me that was still in my body. Her boots were steel-toed. Her body thrummed with sexual pleasure when my body hit the ground. She pressed her heel against my body’s throat, pressing down . I was crying out in pain, much louder than the whisper I was mustering moments before.
melia was wet.
“Try saying that again, Oriole. I want to fucking feel it.” She ran her tongue along the inside of her teeth after she finished speaking. Her heart pulsed, her body was hot and brimming with anticipation and euphoria. I could feel her pulse through her nipples, her fingers, and her clit. Her fingers tingled with electric euphoria.
“I want to be yours!” My voice screamed from below Amelia’s boot. I, or my body, was sobbing. I couldn’t feel exactly what my body was feeling, but I was glad I wasn’t still inside it. I was the lucky one inside Amelia. That thought filled me with a sense of guilt, tinged with philosophical unease, but I didn’t have time to ponder if whatever was left in my body was still me. I needed to stop the assault.
I turned my thoughts inwards, away from the physicality of Amelia’s body. Loudly wishing for her nerves to fall under my command hadn’t worked before. Every time I’d done this before, it was on accident—Or at least I came across the mechanism on accident while trying something more direct. Except with Cunt. When I’d taken control of Cunt, I visualized myself growing into the box of her mind, of filling that space between us. Cunt was a willing target at the time, but being unwilling never stopped anybody else from working themselves in. Amelia’s mind wasn’t exactly the placid, unfeeling void that Brandy had told me to be.
It took only moments of visualizing Amelia’s mind as a room, and extending my mental presence into that room, for her body to stop pressing that boot to my body’s neck. I felt her skin more clearly and closely, like an ill-fitting glove cinching and stretching to fit perfectly. This was scarily easy.
If controlling people came this easily to everyone else, I had to applaud their self-control.
I took stock of Amelia’s belongings—The gloves on my hands were tight and difficult to move in. The fingers felt reinforced and heavy, but flexible. A pat-down of her pockets yielded a set of keys and a stun gun. I looked down at my body.
“It’s me, uh… you. Oriole.” I sounded stupid, but my message was clear enough. Amelia never seemed to misspeak, so maybe the me-in-my-body would be more likely to believe me.
“Prove it.” The Oriole on the ground began to sit up, but looked defensive, ready to duck. She closed her arms around her sides, as if to protect her rib, but I could see her trying to keep the knife at the ready. I could feel her nervousness, her fear. There was a trickle of anger, but it only served to feed her fear more.
“There’s a knife up your sleeve. Brandy was acting really oddly. You hid your teddy bear under an overpass you lived by when your mom said you were too old for it.” I tried to think of anything that Amelia couldn’t know through Cunt or Robin, but my body’s eyes lit up. I’d said enough. “We won.”
Her fear diminished as the realization came over her. A giddy warmth spread to my cheeks. “Oh fuck I didn’t know how much more I could last.” She wiped her tears with a sleeve. Relief radiated through her, and it was infectious. I wanted to reach out to help her stand, to hug her, but I resisted. I didn’t want to risk accidentally moving back to my own body and having Amelia come back. She stood on her own, with painful-looking slowness. I opened the door to the store and moved inside.
This side of the store had no resemblance to any loading dock I’d ever seen. The ramp to the truck door had been removed completely. The inside of most of the store appeared to be gutted, with white plaster walls erected to make the place look like the outside of an apartment unit . A concrete hallway lead to the front of the store, which looked to be untouched. It managed to maintain a façade of being an abandoned building.
It took two steps into the apartment for everything to come crashing down.
The fridge-sized man who acted as the Cage’s doorman stood in the center of Amelia’s entry hall. He wore the same black suit-and-tie as the day I’d met him. He held some sort of rifle or shotgun—I could never tell unless I’d seen it in a movie—pointed casually at a shiny black-and-red latex-clad figure on the ground before him. The figure squirmed and writhed, some kind of harness binding her hands and feet in bent and awkward angles, and but her face was pointed towards me, mouth stuffed with a gag.
It was Robin.
“What’s the password?” The fridge-man’s voice was deep and resonant. My heart started pounding in my chest. The me-inside-my-body froze next to me, but stayed silent. Fear leapt into my throat. Was he going to shoot her? I needed to pretend to be Amelia.
“I forgot!” I spoke in Amelia’s childish sing-song pitch, elongating the ‘I’. The voice came easily to my throat. If I ever decided I wanted to impersonate somebody from within their own body, it wouldn’t be hard to copy their mannerisms.
“That’s a shame.” He shifted and pointed his gun more firmly at Robin’s midsection. Robin screamed in sheer terror through her gag, tears pouring from her eyes. She looked like she’d only just managed to dry before I came in. “You’ve got three seconds before you pay my clean-up fee. Three.”
I am such a fuckup.
Amelia had anticipated this. I felt like an idiot. Why wouldn’t she anticipate this. I had one trick and she’d seen it in action before. My body began to sob. I had no time to feel like a failure. I grabbed my body’s arm and relinquished control.
Pain was most of what I felt. My ribcage felt sore and bruised, but it didn’t feel broken at least. I stumbled in disorientation, leaning against the wall. Amelia grinned, wide.
“Two.” The man kept counting. Amelia bit her lower lip, the triumph she felt before redoubled on itself. She was letting him count. She was going to get him to kill Robin, and it was all my fault.
“Say it!” I screamed, desperate sobs choking my throat. Fridge-man’s mouth began to move, his finger tightening over the trigger, before Amelia reached into her pocket and jabbed something hard between my ribs. Electric convulsions took my breath away as I fell to the ground. The man’s aim lowered.
“Dumb password.” He muttered. “She could have gotten rid of it.”
Amelia was on top of me before I recovered from the electric shock. Hands clawed and grabbed at my clothes, and then my arms as I flailed at her. A pressure under my ribcage pushed the last of my will to fight out of me. She’d maneuvered so that her knee pressed into my diaphragm, making it a painful struggle to draw the shallowest of breaths.
My mind filled with self-admonishing hatred as Amelia tore my shirt open, down my sleeve. Her face had an expression like a wild animal’s. Her eyes were wide with a mix of glee and fear and something wretched stirring inside her. If she were an actress, I would accuse her of overacting. Her knee pulled away from my ribcage as she grabbed my knife, holding it to my throat. I wanted to scream and thrash, but a cold intensity filled my body.
“I’m impressed, birdie. I honestly didn’t expect this.” Amelia pressed the point of the knife into the flesh under my chin and twisted. I felt a dribble of warmth trail along my neck, but it didn’t flow freely. “But if you were going to fucking stab me, you should have done it when you had your chance.” Her voice was filled with mockery.
“I-I’m sorry!” I wasn’t, but my mind was reeling. I had a knife pointed at my neck, I would have said anything to get her to remove it.
“No you’re not. You’re just sorry it failed.” Amelia adjusted herself so that she was straddling me, but kept the knife in place. She was familiar-enough with this situation to maintain a steady pressure throughout the movement. My mind raced for a solution, a way out, and found none. “Word to the wise: Don’t try that again.”
The cold steel point dragged from my neck, down my collarbone, between and then under my left breast. It found its way between two ribs and lingered. “If I even think you’re planning another stunt, Robin gets it right here while you watch.” Amelia twisted the knife for emphasis. I tried not to breathe too sharply.
“Am I done here?” The suited man stood behind Amelia, gun out of sight. Amelia waved him off. “Good working with you.” He moved out of sight without a second glance.
“Please don’t hurt Robin.” I gasped.
“Well, technically, aren’t you too late? You saw her eye.” Amelia’s expression shifted to a cruel, much less crazed smile. “But if you’re a good girl from here on out, I won’t puncture any of her internal organs.” Her voice lowered to a spine-tingling purr. I shook under her, numb and cold. Amelia licked her lips. “You gonna be a good girl?”
“Robin.” Amelia snapped her fingers and said my sister’s name more like a command than a name. I looked over to my sister. Her hair was tied back into a painfully tight ponytail. The harness she wore bound her legs so that her ankles touched the backs of her thighs, and her wrists to her shoulders. This forced her to hobble around on the ends of her knees and elbows as she moved to Amelia’s side. She made pained whimpers through her gag as she waddled across the hard ground. There was nothing I could do to help her.
Amelia turned away from me and grabbed Robin’s chin, pulling her forward. She held the knife under my sister’s throat and purred. “You want little Oriole to be a good girl for me, don’t you?” Robin nodded frantically. My stomach turned, and Amelia’s thighs clenched around my waist. “Yes you do! Yes you do!” Amelia’s hand went from Robin’s chin to her hair and started stroking her like she would a dog, scratching her behind her ears. A queasy mix of disgust, misery, and lust rushed through my sister, strong enough for me to feel.
“You’re into some really messed-up things, huh?” Cunt’s voice came from down the hall. I tensed and looked, happy to merely hear her voice. She stood tall, clean and glistening wet. A white towel contrasted her skin, and a second towel wrapped around her head. She had bruises along her legs and arms, but looked otherwise unharmed.
Unharmed, unrestrained, and way too casual considering the situation.
“Cunt!” I cried out for her. I didn’t know what I wanted from it, I knew she couldn’t help. If she could, she would. It still felt nice to make my presence, my relief, known.
“Whore.” Her voice bit, disgusted and biting. She scowled and walked towards the three of us. My mind reeled, confusion
“Language.” Amelia dropped the knife to the ground. Cunt squatted between her and Robin.
“She started it.” Cunt’s hand joined Amelia’s, petting Robin’s back as she spoke. Her voice had the wrong inflections, like Cunt was imitating a slight valley-girl lilt, but was nailing the imitation. Fear and confusion grew inside me. My chest tightened, fearful. Something was wrong, something had been done to her. She didn’t even sound like she recognized me.
“She’s just a piece of meat. You’re my girl.” Amelia’s voice was soft, but strict, like a mother chiding her child. “I hold you to a higher standard.”
“What the fuck did you d—“ Amelia’s hand pressed over my mouth, and her fingers squeezed around my nose. The leather palms of her gloves created a seal over my lips, cutting off my ability to breathe. I twisted under her, but she had leverage over me. I tried to bite her, but only connected with leather and the metal beads reinforcing her fingers.
“Sorry, boo. I’ll try better for you.” Cunt glanced down, submissive and demure. Her cheeks reddened, ashamed. I tried to scream, but Amelia only pushed her hand harder against me.
“Thank you.” Amelia managed to sound gentle to Cunt.
“So this one’s a dog, and that one’s a piece of meat?” Cunt’s face shifted to an amused smile as she glanced over me. She didn’t recognize me at all. My chest tightened more, but I couldn’t even sob. My lungs began to burn. “What does that mean, exactly?” She ran her hands over Robin’s back again. Robin wiggled, disgust and delight rising together.
“It means she’s still being tenderized. Until I find a better use for her.” Amelia spoke so casually.
“Are there any more I should be aware of?” Cunt emanated curiosity as much as jealousy. My head started to feel lighter. I stopped struggling, falling purposely limp, in the hopes of tricking Amelia into thinking I’d passed out. If she was going to kill me, it would have already happened.
“None that you’ll need to know the names of. Maybe in the future. Not now.” The deception didn’t work. My body ached, my lungs screamed. Amelia’s thighs clenched around me again. “This one’s Oriole. You probably won’t be seeing much of her.” Amelia spoke as casually as if she were introducing coworkers. “Go get dressed. I’ll be ready soon, we’ll go out to dinner.” Amelia leaned forward and kissed Cunt’s cheek. Cunt smiled and left without even looking at me.
Breath was automatic when Amelia’s hand left my mouth. Deep, ragged, sobbing breaths. Tears flowed. “W-what did you do to her?” I pleaded. My throat burned, my nose was clogged. Everything hurt.
“Nothing she didn’t deserve.” Amelia’s voice purred. She ran fingers across my cheek, wiping away tears. “Nothing she didn’t do to someone else a dozen times over.” Amelia pressed her body against mine. She rubbed herself over me, clenched her thighs, and licked my cheek before whispering in my ear. “Cunt is dead. That’s Candy.”
I wanted to wail, but I felt nothing. A distant numbness hazed over me. My arms and legs felt a thousand miles long, rubbery noodles with no strength. Pain, sadness, fear, I stopped feeling all of it. I was keenly aware of what I should have been feeling, all of the ways I should have been acting, but instead, I felt like an observer. A haze of unreality slipped over everything.
It was better than breaking, I supposed.
Amelia rubbed and moved and said something in my ear, and before I realized what was happening, I was standing and moving behind her. The rest of the ‘apartment’ was well furnished, plush furniture. Amelia was speaking to me. Her voice had that mocking tone it took. I didn’t care anymore. I followed her down into a cellar door in her kitchen.
The basement beneath the shop had been turned into some sort of dungeon, or torture chamber. Spotless white-and-blue linoleum dipped towards a drain in the center of the room. She led me to a hard metal table, like a surgery bed, and said something else. Probably an instruction to lay down.
I had nothing to lose.
A few moments later, I was restrained. My bare back—I think she took my bra—pressed against cold metal. The sensation brought me a little closer to reality. Amelia left my sight for a second, and returned with a filled IV bag and needle. I tensed.
“Please don’t.” My plea was ignored. She expertly slid the needle into my right arm and applied pressure to it with a cotton swab. It took only half a moment for pure euphoria to rush through my veins. Everything felt softer and richer and better. All of my problems felt so manageable. Relief helped me loosen my muscles. I rubbed my lips together and moaned.
“Now, Oriole, you’re going to get a bit of rest for me.” Her voice was soft, but mocking. “You’re going to need it for tomorrow.” She purred deep and chuckled. “Do try to enjoy yourself.”
“Wait.” I groaned. I tried to reach for her arm, but I couldn’t move an inch. I rubbed the back of my head against the metal behind me, feeling my hair rub against my scalp. “W-why not just… b-break me. From inside my head. Like them.” I trembled, trying to keep some semblance of coherent, to get an answer.
Amelia turned to me and pursed her lips. She ran a finger along my cheek and leaned in close, lips brushing against my ear. “Because I need you to be functional, birdie. I can’t have all my fun just yet.” She laughed in my ear. “You have to fall the hard way.”
She stepped away from me, towards the exit. My mind and body thrummed with warmth and the pleasure I was desperately craving. “Nighty night.”
I didn’t stay awake long enough to hear the door close.