This story is by William Marcus and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Jen couldn’t contain her excitement, she had just explained her latest scheme, and all the pieces were in place. She and Scooter and Peggy, each one as mean as she was, were going after what they all lusted after, a warehouse full of designer clothes and jewelry. Scooter had figured out the simple security system before getting fired after three days on the job. A violent altercation with her boss, a typical misogynist pig according to Scooter. It would be hard to determine which of the trio was the meanest, but Scooter had to be at least runner-up, all four feet eleven inches and ninety-seven pounds of her. They went over their plan one more time, except for something none of them knew about. Rebecca. Tonight would be her first night on the job as the new night watchman. At two o’clock AM they eased the van down the narrow alley and picked the lock on the door. Inside they appreciated Scooter’s computer skills with disarming the alarm system. Peggy raised the overhead door and they backed the van inside. Most of the boxes were marked with their contents, so they started loading the van in a few minutes. Jen in her excited feeding frenzy state yelled out “hurry up you sluts, we don’t have all night.” That’s when she saw Rebecca. “Hey girls we got company.” What took place next was no Hollywood girls fight. They struck with closed fists, stomach, face, head. Rebecca was losing this fight, already unsteady on her feet, when, Jen, flying through the air in a classic position that would have made Bruce Lee envious, slammed into Rebecca’s already bloodied face. She collapsed. “Let’s get the van loaded, don’t worry about that bitch, she almost ruined our plan” was Peggy’s only response. Jen closed the doors on the van; they got what they loved and lusted after: material things, most of it knock-off merchandise. Rebecca,? collateral damage according to Jen. They each kicked her on the way to the van.” Don’t kick her too hard” said Scooter laughing “she is a sister.” “If that was a man I’d kill “im” huffed Jen. Rebecca lying in a pool of her own blood, groaned with each kick to her back, stomach and face. What these three cretins didn’t know Rebecca had a photographic memory, an eye for detail, and she would eventually recover.
Thrilled with their successful op they ran toward the waiting van. Except for Jen. She turned round and looked at the “collateral damage,” a few minutes ago that was all that it was, but now looking at the bloodied body of a young girl it started to seem different. Why? They had pulled off this sort of thing before, but this was the most violent. Usually Jen could land her fist in the victims face, and they would run away, if she didn’t land the first punch, one of the other girls would. No problem. Now her accomplices were screaming, “What are you doing, Jen? Let’s go. Now! Would you like to wait round and have a meaningful conversation with the constable? There’s coppers all over this area, come on girl, now!” Jen looked at their victim, then at her cohorts, then calmly told them, “You go, I’ll catch you up later.” Gob smacked, they retreated to the van, swearing and slamming the doors as they got into the van. Bloody ‘ell was the last phrase Jen heard as they turned their beater towards the motorway.
Jen stared at the bloody lump on the filthy concrete floor. She was paralyzed with uncertainty. She could abandon her now, who would ever know she was involved. Someone would find her in the morning. No, she might be dead by then. She could call for an ambulance and leave, that would be the humane thing to do, but they could trace the call to her phone couldn’t they? Still in her paralytic state, questions starting filling her mind. Who was this girl? Peggy had called her a bitch, certainly she was much more than that. Did she have parents? A boyfriend, brother, sister? Then from inside her mind, she heard it. “She’s a human being!” Jen wasn’t used to thinking of people as human beings, they were either a pain in the arse or someone she could use to get what she wanted. She was uneasy now about feelings swelling up inside of her. Sympathy?, guilt,? She knew she had to help this girl. Running to the washroom, she grabbed a handful of kitchen towels, wet them, in her other hand she grabbed a handful of dry towels. As she knelt beside the girl, she started to wipe the blood from her face and hair. She put her battered head on her lap, and tried to talk to her. “I’m so sorry, ” surprised at what she had just said. She had eliminated those words from her vocabulary years ago. Feelings that had been dormant for so many years started to surface, she was scared, but committed to helping. Pulling the phone from her pocket she dialed 999 and vaguely reported the emergency, just the address and her request, “Please come quickly,” and hung up. Putting the cold wet towels on Rebecca’s forehead, she took her hand and told her “everything will be alright. “Rebecca moaned and Jen thought she saw a slight smile form on the corner of her mouth. She remembered what her neighbor, Canon Weatherly had told her when she was told her father had been murdered by some nameless street gang. She didn’t like church types, and stopped going years ago, after the loss of her father, but Canon’s calm, reassuring manner, had been subtly buried in her brain. She remembered every gentle word. “Young one, you are feeling anger, that’s to be expected, but don’t let your anger lead you into sin.” Perhaps he was right, now it was time to put her anger away. One thing she was certain of as she comforted Rebecca. “I am going with you to hospital and stay with you until you have recovered, praps we could work together so this sort of thing doesn’t happen to others. There is an Anti-Violence group organization in Cheapside maybe we could join and share our experience. Agreed sister?” A faint nod of approval came from Rebecca. As the flashing lights of the ambulance approached, Jen knew Rebecca would recover. As they sped towards hospital, and traffic slowed Jen noticed more flashings lights and the aftermath of a horrific, accident and she froze momentarily as she recognized the remains of the white van she decided not to enter just a short time ago.
Jen helped guide the trolley down the corridor where a team of doctors were waiting. Two hours later she was sitting beside her new sister in silence while she waited for the doctor to give his prognosis. It was better than she anticipated, maybe her prayers had been heard.
Two days later she saw Scooter in a wheelchair, being wheeled into the room next to Rebecca’s. When she saw Jen she starting crying hysterically. “Oh Jen, Jen what happened, what did we do? Peggy’s dead, and they say I’ll never walk again. Why are you here? A look of realization came over Scooter’s battered face. You brought that girl in here didn’t you?” She knew from Jen’s expression the answer. “Is she alright”, Scooter asked with genuine concern. “See for yourself.” When Scooter entered the room, Rebecca recognized her immediately, they stared at each other and Scooter became hysterical. “I’m sorry, so sorry, I don’t know what, I’m sorry, I‘m sorry was all she repeated until the nurse took her to her room. “You need to get some rest young lady.” Jen and Rebecca retired in silence for a long while, each having a different recollection of what had taken place. For Jen, the violence of that night was past and she knew her chrysalis was complete. She felt the freedom she had been granted and knew she would use it wisely. She watched Rebecca peacefully sleeping, and said to herself, “thank-you, Lord”, as she fell asleep in the chair next to her sister.