Chapter 1: Thelma and Louise
Halloween is my least favorite holiday.
For sixty years, I fasten my doors to prevent young trick-or-treaters from entering my domain.
Unhealthy treats, filling pumpkin-shaped bags; people dressing up in distasteful Halloween outfits.
The sickening aroma of pumpkin spice lattes reminding me of my late husband. Time wanes as crows flock near the sight of my study.
They scream, fluff their black wings, and rub their beaks against the cold windowpane. But like many repulsed girls, Brooke Amethyst King shooed them away by anxiously tapping on the glass.
Dark purple drenched her fingernails. Her drab yellow waitress uniform looked like something you would find in a trash can.
Smoothing her untamed Afro, Brooke sighs as she walks back to her station.
Staring at the orange pumpkin decorations, Vanessa María Phoenix didn't look too keen to be in a crappy diner-let alone smile in front of rude customers.
Her brown hair is tied up in a messy ponytail, but Nessa allows her bangs to cover half of her forehead.
She looks down at her dreary yellow outfit and wanted to vomit into a trash can.
"How do people work like this?" she wonders.
Nessa would rather get ambushed by a vile demon than serve black coffee. Speaking of coffee, her crude boss Mr. Wakeman tells Nessa that her break ended two hours ago.
"Ugh!" Nessa groaned. "Brooke and I have been working here for four months! Can't you give us a paycheck?"
Mr. Wakeman puts his fists on his thick hips.
"Well, I am sorry," he says in a patronizing tone. "But you know I can't do that."
"Because you never shut up and do your job."
Clutching the steamy pot of coffee in her hand, Nessa was about to smash it on Mr. Wakeman's head when Brooke restrains her.
"Do you want to get yourself thrown behind bars?" hissed Brooke.
Nessa pouts as she positions the coffee pot on the machine.
"Oh please," she grunts. "No one gives a damn about that guy."
Brooke closes her eyes for a moment and reopens them.
"I hate Mr. Wakeman as much as you do," she whispers. "But we need this job to buy food and other things."
Nessa blinked at her. "I know, but I am sick of waitressing in crappy diners. Why can't we get a high-paying job like the other kids?"
"Because we're not like other kids." Brooke leans closely so a waitress wouldn't hear them. "We're freaks.
In every Marvel or DC comic book, you would read stories about superheroes saving the world from intergalactic monsters.
However, in the real world, Brooke and Nessa do not belong in society because their kind is considered to be lower than a homeless dog on the street.
Brooke has the ability to anticipate events before they happen. But Vanessa, on the contrary, did not inherit a supernatural gift.
The only reason Nessa is an outcast is she comes from a long line of teleporters. Her father can super jump whereas her older brother Johnny can teleport and phase through walls.
Being a super-powered individual or living in a family with supernatural abilities made the public feel terrified of them.
So, the government signed a bill that urges mutants like Brooke in their place. It became legal to carry passports for both work and entertainment.
If mutants do not have their passports with them, then they will receive maximum prison sentences.
Before the girls worked in the diner, they showed Mr. Wakeman their passports first then fill out their application.
At first, their boss seems like a nice man. He gave the girls were breaks, good paychecks, and a tour around the desolate diner. But over time, the diner was starting to lose money.
Fearing that the restaurant will shut down, the docile Mr. Wakeman transformed himself into a stubborn, selfish, and has a genuine dislike for hardworking female employees.
First of all, male workers receive a higher salary than female staff. Secondly, Mr. Wakeman barely acknowledges Nessa and Brooke for their hard work. And lastly, there weren't any females on the Employee of the Month Awards.
He prowls across the diner, wearing a toupee on his bald head. His beady blue eyes can stare into one's soul.
Perspire puddles from underneath his long, white sleeves.
Mr. Wakeman's white-collared shirt, long khaki pants, and black suede shoes are caked in salt, bacon grease, and brown stains Nessa doesn't want to look at.
Speaking of Nessa, she thanks Brooke for the advice, grasped the steamy coffee pot, and motions towards a solitude man with glasses.
Pouring him a cup of coffee, a concerned Nessa peer at his sullen face, then asks if he needs anything.
The man shakes his head, barely looking in her direction.
"Are you sure?" Nessa pressed, feeling a little sorry for the guy.
Sighing very loudly, Nessa browses across the empty restaurant looking for a customer craving for a taste of caffeine.
Nessa's sunflower choker bounced on her neck; her hazel-colored eyes grew tired of studying the yellow calico wallpaper.
She continued serving the customers until the coffee pot ran out.
In the meantime, Brooke picked up two plates from the disgruntled culinarian and carried them over to a kind, elderly couple.
"Here you go, guys." she beamed. "Two large steaks with potatoes. Anything else?"
The couple politely said no then thanked Brooke for her sweet personality.
"Aw, you're welcome." the girl replied, moving down to the next table.
Uncapping her black pen, she begins to write down the list of orders when Brooke received a strange vision.
She saw two scrawny men-in torn, dark gray clothes-entering the diner clasping two .44 Magnum pistols in their bony hands.
"Oh, God." Brooke turns away from a crude businessman sitting uncomfortably on his vibrant red couch. "Not this shit again."
Fingers played the loose strands of her hair; she often does it when she gets nervous.
"Hey, sweetheart." the customer snarled. "I have been sitting in this shitty diner for thirty minutes!"
"I'm sorry." Brooke apologized, encountering his hostile green eyes. "How may I take your order?"
As the customer looks at the plastic menu, he orders a cheeseburger with steak fries and a Diet Pepsi.
As she put down the man's order, Brooke couldn't help but think about the future larceny that is about to take place.
It wasn't the first time Brooke suspected a robbery taking place. She and Nessa worked in areas where swindlers rob them of their cash and jewelry.
At first, the girls followed protocol: take the money out of the register, give the money to the robbers, and keep their mouths shut.
But nowadays, all these girls want to do is bang their heads on a wall.
After she is finished recording the customer's order on her notebook, an unenthusiastic Brooke motion towards Nessa.
The sixteen-year-old girl bobs her head to the beat of Alanis Morrissette's Ironic, playing in the diner while pushing a wet rag over the pool of sticky maple syrup with her Doc Martens.
"Hey." Brooke taps her fragile index finger on Nessa's stiff right shoulder. "I need to tell you something."
Nessa's face hardens. "Please don't tell me someone clogged the toilet again."
"What?" Brooke made a disgusted face. "No, it's not that. I just had a vision that two men are going to rob this place."
That's when Nessa stopped mopping the floors. "Aw, come on! Again?"
Walking around the pool of soapy water, a stunned Nessa whisper: "No offense, but Mr. Wakeman's Diner is worth less than a penny."
Brooke glances at Mr. Wakeman yelling at a waitress for dropping a burning plate on the floor.
Tears rushed down the woman's chin as she sweeps up the broken glass shards with a wooden broom.
"Nessa does have a point." the young oracle thinks to herself. "This place looks like a fucking dump."
Water oozed down from white ceilings; the windows were coated in dust and thick grime.
The diner was overstaffed that some of the customers begin to leave. Then, on the spur of the moment, anorexic thieves infiltrated the struggling restaurant.
Everyone jumped; including Mr. Wakeman, who languidly backs away from the cash register.
"All of you! Give me your money, watches, and wallets!" one of the thieves saunter all over the place. He directs their pistols at the customers, who reluctantly handed the thief their prized belongings.
As the chaos ensued, Brooke and Nessa were hassled to open the cash register.
"One of you," the angry thief waves his gun at the ladies. "Give me the cash, now!"
The girls exchange bored looks. Did it ever bother him that they never wanted to be in this situation?
They're not superheroes or vigilantes with a heart of gold; all the girls wanted to do is get their paychecks, buy supplies, and watch movies with their friends.
But since this fool is wasting their time, the girls didn't have a choice.
Eyeing the gun pointing at her face, an impassive Nessa asks: "Of all the diners in California, why do you want to rob this place?"
The anorexic thief crumpled his face.
Pale blond hair sticks out of his black beanie, covering his ears. Black, discarded street clothes appear to baggy on the robber as he advances towards the girls.
"Are you going to give us the money or not?" he bellows.
A stern Brooke opens the cash register and showed the anxious robber that all the money they had earned was gone.
The thief begins to fidget. "What? There is no money in the register!"
"Yeah, no shit." Nessa retorts. "Now, can you leave us alone?"
As soon as his friend collected the stolen items, the paranoid burglar begins to smile.
"Well, forget the cash register." he snorts. "My friend and I have been looking for you ladies for a long time."
Reaching into his withered pockets, the criminal showed them two wanted posters of two girls: one is African-American and the other is a half-Portuguese, half-British.
The police wanted the public to capture the girls for stealing a vehicle from a privileged socialite, killing a Kraken, and leaving unconscious criminals for them to pick up.
Squinting his eyes at the wanted posters, a disgusted Mr. Wakeman cried: "Wait, you girls are criminals? How can you-"
The thief fires two rounds at the ceiling, scaring Mr. Wakeman and the rest of the hostages.
"Everyone, shut up!" he yelled.
Once the civilians quieted down, the thief focuses his gun back on the girls.
"The police aren't coming!" he snarled. "My friend and I disabled all the alarms-" the thief waves his gun at the scared hostages-"and if I see any of you grabbing a phone, I'll put a bullet between your eyes."
"Now, we are not interested in killing you," he growled. "We need money to survive this shitty neighborhood! Now, I used to work in those stupid SOB companies where they satisfy the rich and ignore the poor."
Brooke did an eye roll.
In America, there are two types of killers: a hard worker and a preacher. Hard workers get the job done while preachers would go on an epidermal rant about societal norms.
This so-called preacher was starting to get on the girls' nerves that they decided to take matters into their own hands.
While the robber is busy, sermonizing his hostages about the American government, Nessa quietly opens the drawer underneath the register.
In the compartment were two Berettas waiting for them. Handing one to a composed Nessa, Brooke calmly takes a packet of ammo from the box and reloads the gun.
As soon as Nessa stocks her firearm, the girls cocked their guns so loudly that the thieves can hear them.
"Wait a second, how did the girls get guns?" one yelled. "That's not fair!"
"We're sorry," Brooke says sweetly. "But we were too busy ignoring your speech."
Taking her safety off, Nessa lifts her loaded firearm and shoots the robber in the legs.
"Holy shit!" Mr. Wakeman screamed as the thieves crumpled to the floor.
Red liquid dribbled down his abdomen. Light green eyes widen. Trembling hands pressed against his bleeding legs.
"What the fuck?" his friend hustled to aid his dying comrade when Brooke stops him.
Her index finger wavered on the trigger. She looks down at the frightened mugger and said, "You are going to give the customers their money back."
The appalled criminal drops his jaw. His hands bathed in his friend's blood.
"What?" he sputtered.
Brooke cocks her gun. "Don't make me ask again."
Terrified, the second robber abandoned his friend and returned the belongings to the hostages.
"Good." Nessa grinned coldly.
Dead silence and shocked faces. The sight of blood splatter and golden casings disrupted their appetites.
A horrified Mr. Wakeman backed away from the puddle of blood, covering his trembling mouth.
Lowering her gun, Brooke walks over to their boss and says: "We would like to pick up our checks, please."
Immediately, their boss fumbled inside his pockets, brought out his checkbook and pen, and scribbled the dollar amount.
"Here." Mr. Wakeman stutters, putting the checks on the white counter and slide them towards the girls.
Brooke smiles as she and Nessa received a huge bonus of five hundred dollars.
"Thanks," Nessa says, still pointing her gun at the criminals. "Now, find a phone to call the police."
Their boss blinked at her. "Who the hell are you girls?"
"Right now, we're Thelma and Louise," Nessa explains stiffly. "Now, are you going to call the police or not?"
Nodding his head in silence, Mr. Wakeman disappears into his office and returns holding a white phone landline.
Meanwhile, one of the robbers attempts to kill Nessa when Brooke shoots him in his shoulder blades.
The second robber howled in pain. He tries to reach for his gun, but it was out of his reach.
After calling the police, Mr. Wakeman puts the phone back to its receiver and watches the girls discard their name badges.
"Hey!" he exclaimed. "What are you girls doing?"
"We're leaving," Brooke told him.
"But why?" the old man spoke up. "You saved our lives."
A timid Brooke was about to answer when Nessa picks up the wanted poster and crumbles it into a ball.
"Thank you, sir." Nessa began. "But we're not heroes. Never have been. Never will be."
Swiveling their backs to the hostages, the girls head over to the locker rooms, collected their belongings, and left the diner through the back door.