Justifiable Homicide

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The man cried out and put his hand against his face, clutching it. One of his eyes was swelling. The blood from his face was soaking into the balaclava. He stood up slowly, exhaling forcefully like an angry bull, and let his hand fall. He put his face six inches from hers and said, “You bitch. You fucking no-good cunt. I'm going to show you what we do with bitches like you.”

Selena sincerely hoped there wasn't a we, that there weren't more monsters like him out in the world. His eyes were dark with rage, and the word for Selena's favorite storm cloud came back to her: cumulonimbus.That's what she was dealing with here.

He pulled off the mask with both hands and the mask smeared the blood across his cheek and down his jaw. She saw the outward signs of damage from her kick, his crooked nose and the swelling of his eye and the blood that was steadily flowing down his upper lip and into his mouth.

The man looked at her and then spat blood into her face in a spray of mixed-size droplets. She closed her eyes after the wet drops landed on her. Some of them got into her mouth and into her eyes, contaminating her precious mucous membranes. She wondered if he had AIDS. If he did, he wasn't dying yet. He was too strong for that. Too thick. Without the balaclava, she could also see the shaved head and the sharp jaw, as though he would have fit in for a military casting call looking for fit, angry-looking men between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five.

He sneered at her and knelt down again. He grabbed her leg with a firm grip and strapped it to the fence, making her wince in pain as he tightened the strap. He did the same with the other leg.

She was spread-eagled. Unable to move.

He stepped back to admire his handiwork. She noticed his yellow Dexter work boots. They looked new.

He looked her up and down, grinning.

“I'll bet you'd like me to take that gag out of your mouth, wouldn't you, sweetheart?” The slaughterhouse calm that had been in his voice earlier was gone.

Selena pissed herself, a one-time gush from her bladder that ran down both legs and into her socks and her shoes.

The jackhammer was starting up in her chest again, and part of her wanted to bust a valve right now and check out for good so she wouldn't be around to find out what this sicko was going to do.

“You know what?” he said. “I'll take off the gag if you promise not to scream. Will you do that? It's not that I'm afraid of anyone finding us. It's just that screaming makes my head hurt. My ex had a baby girl that screamed all the fucking time. You know what I did with that baby girl?” He smiled as he remembered. “Well, let's just say that I took care of the noise problem. And that baby's momma was no good anyway. The two of them deserved each other. I scored a two in one, and no one else but me had to know. Did the world a service, is what I did.”

Selena felt woozy. Sick.

He went up to her. He peeled the tape off her face in a fast, all at once motion that stung her cheeks. He took out the gag.

Selena coughed and then took a deep breath through her mouth. Almost a small victory.

“What you got to say for yourself, honey?” he said. “You must have something to say to me.” He gave her a moment to answer, but Selena didn't talk.

The man left the cage, closing the metal door with the silent hinges and setting the lock, and walked out of the warehouse.

She was alone for now.

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