Baby, what have I told you about lashing out when you’re angry?
Why is it now, the remnants of my mother’s voice plague me? Destruction is right beyond my fingertips, just waiting to be set free. It would be as simple as flicking a lighter, igniting a small flame that would lead to obliteration.
“Zade?” Jay’s voice cuts through my mother’s whispers, fading like wisps of cigarette smoke.
Speaking of, I shove my hand in my hoodie pocket, snatch one out of the packet, and light up.
Jay’s mouth opens, poised over words I honestly don’t want to hear right now.
“Don’t tell me not to smoke, and don’t ask me if I’m okay,” I cut in, voice hoarse with rage.
His mouth clicks shut, and he nods, looking back at the video of Addie fighting for her life, time-stamped seven days ago. The cameras don’t have audio, so while I’m unaware of the reasoning for the doctor trying to kidnap her, it doesn’t change the fact that he tried. Made clear by him quickly urging her out of bed, and her resistance the entire way.
She ambushed him with a scalpel of some sort, and he attacked her in retaliation. Only for the back of his head to be blown off while on top of her.
And while that is incredibly traumatizing, that’s not the part that has me boiling with rage. It’s the asshole that killed the doctor, then followed her up the stairs and watched her fucking shower.
Daya has done her research, and while there was plenty to find on Rick Boreman—there’s almost nothing on Rio, outside of being born and raised in Puerto Rico, his school records, then migrating to the United States when he was eighteen. From there, she could find almost nothing on him. Only his visa, the apartment he rents, and two speeding tickets.
I call bullshit on that.
“Kind of weird this guy has cameras in his room only facing his shower and bed,” Jay mumbles, more to himself. I’m too busy inhaling a cigarette like it’s giving me life rather than taking it. If I watch that video again, I’ll be liable to whip out my gun and shoot the monitor until it’s nothing but shards of plastic and metal.
Jay’s fingers fly across the keyboard so quickly, I think I see flakes of his purple nail polish flying off. The video feed from when Addie was here disappears, and in its place are archived recordings that span back several years.
Whoever this guy is, he’s been illegally practicing for decades. Several times a month, injured people are brought to him—people that look like they’re up to no good.
I flick my cigarette to the ground and crush it beneath my boot, blowing out smoke as I watch Jay skip through several recordings. Just as I lift my boot to kick away the butt, I freeze and clench my jaw, hearing Addie’s smart mouth even now.
This place will be ashes by the time I’m done, but I said I would stop, so I will.
I pick up the butt, stuff it in my pocket, and force myself to refocus on the screen.
Several clips of women showering display on the screen, and with each passing video, my teeth clench harder and harder until every bone in my face threatens to crack.
They are all dressed in hospital gowns before and after their shower, and plenty are covered in bandages or have casts. They were patients, and they were unknowingly being recorded for the doctor’s viewing pleasure.
Jay’s face is tightened into a scowl, hundreds of videos on the screen.
But then he pauses, hesitation permeating the air.
“What?” I ask, scanning my eyes over the screen to find what he’s seeing. It takes two seconds, and my heart stops. “Play the videos.”
Jay shakes his head and croaks, “You know what happens in them, Z. You don’t have—”
“Dammit, Jay, I do have to watch them. You know I fucking do.”
He sighs, acquiescing with a slump of his shoulders, and clicks the video. It’s just like the rituals—I wasn’t there to save them at the moment, but I’ll be damned if I turn my head away from their pain now.
On the screen, the doctor is carrying an unconscious woman to his bed, having just come from the second floor where she was probably treated for wounds.
He lays her down, removes her hospital gown, and then his own clothes. And for the next several minutes, he defiles her unconscious body. Disgust swirls in my stomach, growing stronger alongside a whirlpool of anger and the deepening desire to resurrect him so I can kill him myself.
As Jay continues to flip through videos, we realize that woman was one of probably hundreds of patients that were taken advantage of while they were unconscious.
Patients that were also children.
“I think we’ve seen enough. I don’t want to keep looking at this shit anymore,” Jay says, voice tight and uneven.
Clenching my fists, I nod, “Look up who this guy is real quick.”
He does as I ask, and I turn away, fiending for another cigarette already. “Dr. Jim Garrison,” he announces fifteen minutes later. “Previously
married to Wilma Garrison. She died of a heart attack in 2004. There are reports from her two daughters from a previous marriage citing foul play, but he had Wilma cremated before an autopsy could be done, and nothing ever came of it. In 2000, he was fired from a hospital for malpractice, and he bought this building only a few months later. There were a few lawsuits against him, but he must’ve had a good lawyer because he got away with those due to lack of evidence. Seems to have been operating here since.”
Sounds like he is a sick fuck who was doing something evil to his patients, got fired for it, and created his own business to carry out all his dark desires. Most likely killed his wife—maybe she found out about what he was doing or perhaps he simply got tired of her.
“Go back to the videos when the patients are brought in. I want to see if I recognize anyone.”
He gratefully flips back to the camera on the second floor, hundreds of different faces bringing in injured people of different ages. Most of the time, they’re women and children, but a few men are mixed in there, too. My guess is from shoot-outs gone wrong.
He comes across a clip of the doctor treating what looks like a five-year-old girl with a bullet wound in her thigh. A mammoth of a man with light brown hair tied up in a bun and tattoos crawling up his arms and neck stands at the foot of the bed, watching the doctor work with an intense look on his face.
Jay poises his finger over a key, ready to flip to the next video, but I put a hand on his shoulder, stopping him. “Wait, I want to watch this one.”
Swirling in my gut is an inexplicable feeling that I need to see this.
I lean closer to the screen, zoning in on the tattooed man and the little girl he brought in. He could be a trafficker in this area, and if little girls are getting shot, I can only imagine the situations the children are being put in.
The doctor is frantic as he works to stabilize the child, administers what I assume is anesthesia, and then quickly performs surgery, blood spilling from the girl’s leg as he extracts the bullet. It seems as if the doctor is shouting, but after fast-forwarding, we watch him finish up with the girl and then leave the room. The entire time, the man stood as still as a statue, hardly moving an inch.
I frown, focusing on the screen as the man rounds the bed, lifts his hand, and gently swipes the girl’s hair from her face. She’s still knocked out from the anesthesia, so it’s impossible to tell how she feels toward him.
Setting my jaw, I stare hard, trying to interpret his tenderness. Is it coming from a man who is fetishizing her or from someone who saved her? And how the fuck did the little girl end up with a bullet in her leg?
I’m not entirely sure what it is, but something about this video feels… important.
“Send all of these files to me, and then let’s get into the security cameras and see if we can get a view on the vehicle that they left in.”
I slap Jay’s back before turning back to the grimy windows, a silent thank you.
He’s been handling my attitude like a champ, and even in the throes of grief and fury, I can still recognize that I’m being an intolerable shithead.
“Shit,” Jay mutters, the sound of his fingers clacking on the keyboard growing louder and more intense. I grind my teeth, already suspecting the answer before it comes out of his mouth.
“No cameras back there. No cameras angled toward the parking lot from other buildings, either. I’m sorry, man. I got nothing.”
I tip my head back, breathing in deeply through my nose as black fire licks at my nerves. Addie left here only a week ago, but that’s an incredible amount of time in the human trafficking world.
“You sent the files?” I ask. I don’t even recognize my own voice.
“Yes,” Jay confirms. I hear rustling as he packs up his belongings, sensing the obliteration on the horizon.
“Get out of here, Jay.”
“Yep, consider me gone.” “And Jay?”
He pauses. “Yeah?”
“Set up cameras that point toward these windows. Just wait until after I break through it,” I order.
He hesitates but ultimately agrees and shuffles out.
I give him two minutes to leave. Two minutes of warfare raging in my head, bubbling to the surface, and bleeding out onto the floor where I stand, just like the bloated dead man below.
My body moves on autopilot. I head down to the hospital room and rifle through a cabinet, collecting drapes, clothing, and anything else that’s flammable, then scatter them throughout the entire building. Next, I grab alcohol-based liquids, and saturate the littered floor with them. Fires are more common in hospitals than most realize, and it’s fucking perfect for the destruction I’m intent on causing.
After that, I take every bedsheet I can find in his studio and tie them together into an extensive rope, then set it aside.
Breathing heavily, I aim for a heavy cabinet in his kitchen and empty out the contents. Dragging it to the massive window, I lean it snugly against it and then take a step back.
I inhale deeply, gather every ounce of wrath, use it as fuel, and kick out my leg with all my strength. The cabinet splinters the glass, spiderwebs fissuring across the entire window. Growling, I kick out once more, and with a loud crack, the cabinet goes flying through it.
Tiny shards cut into my skin, but I hardly notice, just as the deafening crash from the cabinet barreling into the ground doesn’t register, either.
I’m already making my way back down to the second floor, where the doctor lies dead, donning gloves and a mask from his supplies. The smell stabs at my nostrils and eyes; the N95 doing nothing to filter out the smell.
Snapping on two layers of gloves, I grab the corpse by the collar of his shirt and drag him back up to his studio, where the sick fuck used to take patients and rape them while unconscious.
Regardless of his extracurricular activities, the doctor was clearly involved in the skin trade, which means this won’t only send a message to the Society, but it will also send a message to every trafficker who has had the misfortune of stepping foot inside this place.
They will know that Z knows.
Vomit swirls in my stomach from the pungent odor, threatening to rise up my throat as I drag the dead body to the window. I grab the last bottle of alcohol and dump the entire contents all over him.
Holding my breath, I grab the rope made out of bed sheets, tie one end around his torso beneath his arms, and the other end to his bed frame.
Then, I throw him out of the fucking window. The legs of the frame scream against the cement floor as it drags a few feet before holding tight.
Satisfied, I tear off the gloves and mask, pull out another cigarette and light it up, inhaling deeply as I sit on the edge of the bed. I hold the lighter to one of the drapes on the floor, the material bursting into flames and quickly spreading.
And then I enjoy my cigarette while my wrath comes to life before my eyes.
It’s both loud and silent in my brain, filled with white noise that drowns out any coherent thoughts. I feel everything and nothing at all, and I’ve never been more dangerous.
Never been more lethal.
I laugh and enjoy watching this place fucking burn. So many awful things happened here. So many victims—so many women and children were brought through for a temporary fix just to be taken somewhere and broken all over again.
Slowly, I stand and make my way out of the room. My body physically registers the heat, sweat beading on my forehead and down the back of my neck. Smoke fills my lungs and the flames singe at my skin.
Yet, I can’t feel a goddamn thing.
Right as I exit the building, I inhale fresh air and meet a frantic Jay. I cough a few times, clearing my lungs as best I can before I take another puff on my cigarette.
“Seriously, dude? You’re smoking while burning down a building? You literally just inhaled a shit ton from the fire.”
Ignoring him, I walk around to the back where the corpse hangs from the rope. Smoke licks at the edges of the window, and while the bedsheets are beginning to burn, I had purposely left them dry.
I bring the cigarette to my lips and inhale one last time before flicking it onto the doctor, his body instantly igniting.
I smile, smoke curling out from between my bared teeth. That’s better.
A beacon to let every motherfucker in my path know what is coming for them next—a beast that has made a home within the fire.
These flames will die, but the ones in Hell are eternal.
I’ll see you there, fucker.
Satisfied, I turn my back to the inferno I’ve breathed to life and walk away.
I told my mouse I would stop littering, but something tells me she wouldn’t mind just this once.