Maddest of Minds

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Chapter Five - The Murder.

TW: Violence, character death, vulgar language.

Mila strode in armed with a plate of fruit and a handgun. The gun, she tossed to Freyja. The plate, she continued eating from.

Dressed in tight leather pants and a dark tank top, her eyepatch black, hair twisted in a braid, Mila looked every bit of the fighter she was.

Freyja weighed the gun in her hand as she scrutinized Mila. “Nice patch,”

A shark grin crossed the scarred face, showing Freyja hints of kiwi between white teeth. “Custom-made,” Mila informed her, pleased.

Freyja glared. “So is my carpet, so chew with your mouth closed.”

Mila rolled her eyes but closed her mouth. Freyja turned away and stashed away the gun in her holster. She bent to tie her boots when someone else shuffled into her room. Craning her neck, she inspected Evangeline as she walked into her office with small, measured steps.

The three days of good food and pretty clothes had done the girl well. Her cheeks were fuller, eyes brighter. Clothed in a pink dress, red hair flowing down her back in waves, she looked every bit the princess she thought she was.

Freyja only watched as Mila exclaimed in delight at Evangeline’s presence and pulled the grinning the girl in for a hug.

“Glad to see you’re both getting along,” drawled Freyja. But she was glad. She didn’t know the first thing to do with anyone under the age of sixteen.

Mila grinned openly while Evangeline hid behind her. “We’re best friends. Tell her, Evie.”

Evangeline chewed and swallowed the fruit Mila had fed her before answering. “Besties,” she confirmed.

Mila beamed down at her.

“Evie?” Freyja muttered, amused.

“Evie, the red-haired princess,” Mila repeated, winking.

Evangeline pointed at Mila. “Battle-scarred princess,” she whispered quietly.

Mila’s face melted. “Shit, Freyja. This girl is so sweet.”

Freyja laughed, eyeing the girl. Her accent was improved, and the credit could only be given to Mila, who had a special gift with kids and was an excellent teacher. Freyja immediately knew she had made the right decision.

Evangeline looked up at Mila, open admiration on her face. Something shifted in Freyja’s chest that she refused to acknowledge. “Lesson?” she asked.

“Cancelled,” Mila informed her cheerfully. “You get a day off today.”

Evangeline brightened. “Can I play with Hasan and Mariah?”

“You sure can,”

Evangeline scuttled out of the room like her dress was on fire.

Mila stared after her before looking at Freyja. “I’m serious. She really is sweet.”

Freyja’s expression was dry. “I’m sure she is, but we can discuss that later. We have a murder to commit.”

Mila wiggled her free hand. “So exciting,”

Freyja ignored her as she sat at the edge of desk and contemplated her boots in thoughtful silence. It was to be a full moon night. She’d finally fulfil one part of her goal tonight. And yet she felt nothing, just like she had told Yael. It bothered her too much. Along with going a little insane, she had emotionally shut down after what had happened, but this was something she’d always wanted.

Freyja couldn’t help but think something was broken in her. What else could explain the lack of reaction to what she was going to do? She should be smiling with glee, relieved, ecstatic, triumphed, celebrating, and yet she felt… nothing. It was so goddamned frustrating.

Her head snapped up as Blake strolled in with a scowl on his face. “Why did the tiny she-devil call me Flynn?”

A smirk pulled at her mouth. “Isn’t that your name?”

Blake scowled.

Mila sucked juice off her fingers, eye curious. “What’s the story?”

“I might have made a Rapunzel analogy and she might’ve considered Blake her Flynn Ryder.”

Mila cackled at her disgruntled brother. “Oh, that’s brilliant!”

Blake looked disgusted. “I don’t even know what to say,”

Freyja shook her head in amusement as she went past the twins and led the way down. The lighthearted mood turned somber as they settled into the shuttle and shot off into the direction of the warehouse she had visited for the past year regularly.

The warehouse still stood where it always did. It was a hub of sin, a room for torture, and filled with memories of only murders and killers.

It was a charred corpse now. It had been the first building Freyja burned to the ground, but some parts survived, and the army was too occupied to pay attention to the warehouse or get rid of it.

Freyja was glad. What had started here four years ago had to end here.

The doors opened for them, and the first thing she smelled as they entered the place was the stench of urine and blood. The air promised crime and death, just like that night so long ago.

Maxim knelt tied up in the middle of the room, in the same spot he had restrained her, against the same lamppost. His right ear was gone, both eyebrows singed off, and he missed an arm. All Freyja’s doing, slowly over the last year.

The front of his pants was wet as it always was because he didn’t have the luxury to piss in peace. A pungent smell surrounded him. Freyja came to a stop a few feet away from him.

Maxim raised his head and gave her a bloody smile. “You’re here.”

When Freyja ignored him, he looked at Mila. “Pretty,” he muttered dreamily, a teethless smile because Freyja had decided he had no need for them. His words came haltingly and muffled with a lisp, but they came regardless.

Mila rolled her eyes.

Blake kicked Maxim in the face and crushed it with his boot. “Shut your mouth.”

“Do you know what night it is today, Maxim?” Freyja questioned idly as she ran her hands over her collection of torture tools, feigning interest.

She saw Maxim stiffen with the corner of her eye. He swallowed. “Full moon?” his voice shook.

“Bingo,” Mila said gleefully. “One point to the asshole with the leaking dick.”

Freyja turned and leaned on her hands, tilting her head as she examined Maxim.

The first thing Freyja had done after being protected was secure eight different sources of income, some of them illegal, which was why she had sufficient money to hire staff and run a business. The next thing she did was locate Maxim.

Maximus Callington had had a family that he used to abuse. Freyja offered them a life elsewhere in exchange for information about Maxim. Then she bid her time until Maxim got promoted to a higher position, got impossibly rich, and became more powerful. He became happier and happier, and Freyja kept waiting. She kept waiting until the time was right, until he had everything he wanted.

Then she snatched all of it away from him. She exposed his bad dealings to his superiors and humiliated him, robbed him of his money and donated it to an orphanage, and officially sent a message to all his friends that he would be away for a while. To grieve in peace, when in truth she abducted him and would now make sure he’d pay.

People like Maxim did not deserve to be judged by the law. The law was corrupted, the law was a slave to the ones with power, and the law had no appropriate punishment for people like him. Simple death would never suffice.

So, naturally, she had taken matters into her own hands.

“Please.” The plea was a muffled word, covered with Blake’s boots.

Please, what? Please spare me, after I tortured your best friend and made you watch it? Please, what? Please spare me because I may be of use to you. Why?

Have mercy.

What was mercy? Had he shown her any? Had he shown Luna any?

“I suppose you would beg,” Freyja conceded. “It’s worth a chance, yes?”

Blake stepped back then. Freyja straddled the stool a few steps away from Maxim and stared at him without emotion.

“I remember begging, too,” she continued tonelessly, watching as his face broke into a miserable expression, eyes filled with despair and hatred and fear. So much fear. Freyja wondered how it felt to be so chockfull of emotion. “I also remember you turning a deaf ear to my begging,”

“I was under orders,” sobbed Maxim, his whole body trembling violently. “It wasn’t personal… please.

“You said that, too,” Freyja leaned forward, elbows resting on thighs. “You know what else you said? You said it was our dirty little secret. The funny thing is, at the time I was so full of anger I couldn’t see the humour in it. But you meant it as a joke, right? You knew I’d lose my mind, that I’d be framed, and nobody would believe me. Hell, you even counted on my being accused of Luna’s death.”

Maxim shook his head, tears sliding down his cheeks, nose dripping. “I didn’t mean anything by it,”

Freyja talked over him. “Trouble is, I found it so clever I couldn’t help but utilize your idea. This should be our secret, Maxim, yours, and mine. You’ll die, and no one will miss you because no one misses fools.” Freyja grinned. “Doesn’t it sound delightful?”

“Sounds wonderful to me,” Mila said with an entertained grin.

Maxim didn’t think so. The shake of his head and the puddle around him confirmed it. Freyja’s nose wrinkled at the pungent stench.

“Probably should’ve considered how dispensable you were to him before doing his bidding,” grunted Blake, glaring at Maxim.

Maxim’s mouth trembled as he stared at the gun Freyja was armed with. “Bullet?” he whispered.

A slow smile spread across Freyja’s face.

Maxim’s eyes widened in realisation.

Freyja kept her eyes locked with the man who had supervised Luna’s murder as Blake handed her an axe.

She raised a finger in the air. “What’s that expression?”

“Tit for tat?” offered Mila.

“An eye for an eye?” suggested Blake.

“And a tooth for a tooth,” confirmed Freyja, nodding.

Maxim squeezed his eyes shut and let out a resigned whimper. He was still shaking, still terrified. Good. Let him be scared.

Freyja leaned closer so only he could hear her. “You killed someone very important to me. You should’ve left it to Ten. You wouldn’t have to die, and we’d never have to meet.”

“I know,” he whispered.

“But you didn’t, Maxim. You panted for his attention like a stray dog, and now you’re at my mercy with no escape. How does it make you feel?”

“You are no better than him,” he told her.

“Maybe not, but I’m nothing like him. I do my dirty work myself. I told you I’d come for you, and I did. It isn’t my fault you decided to underestimate me. Maybe it was because I was a girl, or maybe it was because you thought yourself invincible because of the man you worked for. But nothing worked out for you. At the end, I kept my word, and you and your owner were all talk. Have you learned your lesson?”

Maxim’s eyes snapped open, and a sudden fire blazed in them. He spat at her face. “I regret meeting you,” he rasped.

Freyja slowly wiped her face with her sleeve as a little bit of satisfaction settled into her chest. She had told him he’d regret meeting her, and he did. One part of a puzzle fit into place. There was that little emotion that was missing before.

Freyja grinned at him jauntily. “I know.”

“I want his tongue,” Mila announced out of nowhere.

Freyja leaned back and eyed the terrified Maxim before shrugging. “Be my guest,”

Mila strolled to Maxim with a leisurely pace, a little side grin on her mouth. She crouched before him and grabbed his face, squeezing it until he was red.

“Hi, Maxim,” Mila said chirpily. “I’m Mila, and I don’t have an eye. Losing it made me want to make other people lose things, too. Especially horrible people. And you seem dreadful.” She pulled out her pocketknife and flicked it open, revealing a sharp blade. It glinted in the dimly lit room.

“Mila,” Blake gritted out, shoulders tensed. “Be done with it.” It was clear he didn’t want his sister anywhere near scum like Maxim. Freyja found it understandable.

Mila huffed. “That over there is my brother Blake. He’s obviously a killjoy. But don’t you worry about a thing. I’ll make this worth your while.”

Mila ignored the way Maxim struggled as she yanked out his tongue and held it in a gloved hand. She then promptly sliced it with an insane grin. Blood gushed out of Maxim’s mouth, and he started to choke on it, mindlessly babbling and rendered speechless now that his tongue was gone. Freyja felt bile rise up in her throat, but she swallowed it down. She was about to do much worse than Mila had – she’d already done much worse. But being human held her back from being completely indifferent. However, she refused to look away and look weak.

Mila stood and brushed dirt off her pants. “Awesome,” she beamed.

Suddenly tired and wanting Maxim gone out of this world, Freyja approached him with brisk footsteps. She gripped the axe tightly in her hand and kicked his face up, ignoring how he was still gurgling blood, eyes mindlessly shifting around, pain evident in every inch of his body.

She reminded herself of how much worse Luna had looked, how much she had screamed as indecision tore through her, threatening to destroy her defenses. She remembered how Maxim had laughed, how she had screamed and begged and cried for Luna, and how no one had listened. She recalled how badly she had wished for mercy, for someone to rescue them, and she then remembered how no one had cared. Maxim had had the power to stop the torture, but he had encouraged it. Her resolve hardened and she took a deep breath, keeping her eyes fixed on his thick neck.

She reminded herself that she had made a promise, and it didn’t matter if Maxim deserved a proper punishment. It didn’t matter what was right or wrong. What had happened was unfair to her and had been complete injustice to Luna, and Freyja had promised herself to give Maxim and all the others who had been part of Ten’s scheme the same treatment.

Decision made, stone-faced, Freyja raised the axe and slashed his head off.

The thud of a head as it rolled on the floor, a slump of the lifeless body before Freyja, and then a loud silence that made it hard to breathe.

It had been done. She had kept her word. A roaring entered her ears and she blinked in confusion, in torment. She had killed Maxim, just like she had killed all the men who had tortured Luna. And she refused to feel bad about it. All she felt was impatience to set the next plan in action.

She glanced at the twins. Mila grinned back at her. Blake looked bored.

A laugh climbed up Freyja’s throat. They were all crazy. She had just sliced off a man’s head, and none of them had had the appropriate reaction.

Freyja supposed that defined her life.

It had been done, it could not be undone, and remorse was a thing she’d let die the night Luna was taken away from her.

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