Reassurance wormed its way within me whenever I doubted Grayson’s intentions. He received my thumb drive and perplexity devours me whenever I ponder about his scheme.
I woke up that day with the image of defeating Calvin Woodland, only to realize it could potentially happen.
I drove to the location Josh had sent me and parked my car after I see a low but stupendous building with fluorescent decorations that seeks for attention. There was a substantial driveway where people were dropped off from their ostentatious, costly cars and entering the capacious indoor area. There was an innumerable amount of people here to celebrate the corporate foundation day.
Everyone wore outfits that looked as if it cost a total of four digits, standing out spectacularly. Everyone was accompanied, but I stood alone.
Usually, Grayson would be earlier than I was, but currently, I was on time, and he was nowhere in sight. There was a considerable possibility he was already inside, so I decided to make my grand entrance after sending a short text to him.
A chandelier was hung loosely on the low ceiling, a source of light besides the little bulbs and flamboyant ornament arbitrarily dispersed in the vast room. The crystals on the chandelier dangled and coruscated with superciliousness above the countless circular tables where people were.
At the end of the room was a stage with a single mic stand. There was not an empty table anywhere. They were all taken up by people who worked in the company or by oddly familiar faces which I had come across in newspapers or magazines.
I chose to sit around a table with a small family after a moment of exploring the area.
Looking around, people who were previously standing had settled down, waiting for my stepfather’s appearance.
It did not take long before he stepped out in his expensive suit and the sickening smile I knew too well. He held the microphone as he stepped onto the stage and started delivering his speech.
“It’s truly extraordinary to see the evolution of Wood International Industries. It is now a place people would be proud to call their second home. Indeed, it took effort and more than a decade of hard work, but a blink away and I find myself here, celebrating the success of my company throughout the years, on the very same day it was built.” His words were delivered in a profoundly eloquent way.
“For those partnerships, fellow workers and those I consider my family, this party is dedicated to you, do enjoy it to your fullest.” His eyes were luculent with satisfaction while the crowd gave him a round of reverberant applause, touched by his words.
I rolled my eyes, unable to look at him for another second. They were all lies; none of his gratitude was real. He knew he deserved everything he earned.
Still, he stood on the stage, holding the microphone close to his lips.
“A few months ago, a piece of news was reported in the press just as my son was delivered. I’m going to address that information, first by saying it is indeed true.” The news was long forgotten, and I loathed that he brought it up.
“I do have a daughter. A stepdaughter who should be here today.” He looked around, searching for me, and I had the strongest urge to cover my face. I wondered when our final fight was going to happen; I was looking forward to it.
I delved in my pocket for my phone after feeling a buzz. I glanced at the text I received from Grayson.
“You’ll see,” it said.
I was getting anxious as seconds passed, wondering how the fight will start or end. Will I still be alive by the end of this? I never intended to die trying to hurt someone else, though I wanted Calvin to regret laying a finger on my father.
“Well, if you do see her, do treat her with immense respect. She’s down with an atrocious sickness, and I fear her days on this earth are countable,” he said, feigning sorrow.
I felt a burn within me, eating up all patience I have left. He was confident he could beat me tonight, sure that I would be dead in the next few hours. He was underestimating me. If it were our last fight, holding back would not be an option.
I tuned Calvin out as he spoke his last lines before stepping down from the stage.
Behind him, a screen lit up and went through pictures of his experience in the past. One flashed a photograph of him holding a glass of campaign beside another man who looked strikingly wealthy.
The party went on, first with dinner served by the chefs. I was in no mood to eat, especially after that last sentence that Calvin uttered and Grayson’s vague reply.
As people were relishing their meals, I sat while scanning the area. There was also a buffet where everyone was crowding around, having a pleasurable night. I assumed everyone would leave before the fight took place, especially my mother, who I spotted blending in with the crowd, wearing her exorbitant outfit of a designer dress with long sleeves as always.
Calvin was not far from where she was, roaming around receiving congratulations from others. My eyes followed as he excused himself to the front of the room where the stage was, climbing up once again after taking the microphone over.
“This party will be concluded in a few minutes. Hence, this is the perfect time to show the video of thanks I prepared for all of you here today,” Calvin shared, stepping away as the screen of pictures faded, and the video started.
Except, it looked like the wrong clip was playing. I could tell instantly from the confused expression he held when the familiar scene of the young version of my mother appeared on the screen.
It was my proof. I was dazed beyond words, trying to put the puzzle pieces together. Only Grayson had the thumb drive, along with a great experience in computing. It did not take long before I realize this is his sublime work.
Everyone having their meals had caused and looked over to the video, bemused. I looked at my stepfather’s expression as the conversation between my mother, father and Calvin played in the video.
He was incensed, rushing to ask a worker to shut the video, only to be approached by that same man a few minutes later to be delivered news he seemed to despise.
“Close it!” his voice boomed, causing some of his workers to scramble backstage. I pleaded for it to carry on until it reaches the most lamentable portion.
The fight was now taking place, and everyone but me had their eyes glued to the screen. I have seen it too many times, and observing Calvin’s trepidation was entertaining. It was not long before he looked over to my surprisingly calm mother. She expected this to happen someday, for she was the one who handed me the thumb drive despite the ghastly outcome for her.
He strode with heavy footsteps towards her, and before I could register, he delivered an excruciating and brisk slap across the face. That caught some attention as well.
The action caused me to rise to my feet. Although I had lost veneration for my mother after witnessing what happened ten years ago, she was still my mother who had the heart to help me. She did not deserve a slap from the man who deserved it more.
He spat curses at my mother as he continued sending rancorous slaps until I caught his hand to stop him.
“So, you are here.” He sneered. “Perfect then, I’ll kill you after I beat up your mother into a pulp.”
After finishing his sentence, he realized he was unable to get any more action because I had both of his arms in my hands. Effortlessly, he could shake me off and get on with our last fight, but instead, he raised an amused eyebrow.
“She killed your father, why are you protecting her?” he asked. “She did it right after I told her to. You should feel aversion towards her just as you hate me.”
He retracted his arm and locked me in a situation, where he had pinned my hands to my back with one leg against my foot.
I made a swift turn, kicking away his leg and elbowing him in the ribs. It was sloppy, and he recovered his composure immediately.
He then grabbed the back of my neck and flung towards a table. Those who sat around the area instantly stood and ran. From the corner of my eye, I saw a myriad of people bolting out of the party. There were still many in the large room, recording the screen. It had reached the part of the murder, which caused hope to gleam in my chest. The fact that everyone saw his true colours kept me going.
My headaches from the agonizing hit on the table and the world around me spun for a moment before I climbed onto my feet unsteadily, dashing towards my stepfather to throw a punch aimed at his face, which was unfortunately dodged.
I swing my elbow, in hopes to hit the side of his head, but missed once again since he ducked in time. He decided then that he was done with defending and started throwing his first punch to my stomach, but I moved out of the way with haste.
He then caught me off guard when he raised his leg and kicked me right on my abdomen, causing me to fall. I was fortunately saved by my hands, about to climb back up when he grabbed my right hand, lifted me, and threw me back down forcefully.
I saw a fist coming as my vision still had black spots but rolled out of the way just in time. He raised his leg, intending to boot me back down, but I was able to catch it and push it away, causing him to virtually lose his balance. That was enough time for me to rise to my feet again.
He head-butted me in an instant, raising his knee while grinding his head on my neck. I looked away, then was attacked by an elbow.
I backed up by a meter, seeing him approaching me with a murderous look. He was trying to aim for my head, so I dodged his attacks, bending down to grab his legs. He fell back towards the ground, and I delivered firm punches to him before stepping away to avoid ending up in the position he is in.
I let him climb up feebly before I used my weight to hold him down again with a hand around his throat. He locked my hand in that position and placed his other free hand beside my neck. He fixed his legs on both sides of the hand that snaked around his neck to roll around, leaving me in the bottom.
I positioned my forearm below his head and simply pushed with strength while raising my left leg. He moved away, instinctively, and I stood up with heavy breathing. We were both in our fighting stance, ready to block or hit.
He started first, jabbing me twice. It was enough for me to catch his rhythm to block and throw a punch to his body. I continued but received a firm jab to my face.
We carried on, moving while throwing punches until his back hits the back of a table. He turned, fiddling to get hold of a steak knife from it. He moved closer to me, and I got ready to perform a hazardous move.
I jumped onto the table below the chandelier, and due to the low ceiling, I was able to grab onto it and swing, landing immaculately on my feet in front of him. It caused him to freeze for a moment, giving me enough time to twist his arm and cause the knife to drop with a sharp cling.
However, he turned hastily to grab yet another knife in time, lowering it and aiming at my chest.
This was it. I felt time pause, and I saw that flash of life playing in front of me, all with that image of my father. Perhaps dying would not be grim. I almost won the fight. Or maybe I did, after this, police officers might be rolling in, and Calvin will get the punishment he deserved.
I fluttered my eyes closed, waiting for the knife to be buried in my chest, yet it never came.
I peeled it open, and what I saw was unexpected.
Tyler tackled down my stepfather, the knife had dropped, and he was endeavouring to hold him down.
“A little help here, Angel?”