Aside

I slammed on my bike’s brakes at the last possible second to before running a red light. The annoyed glares of the nearby drivers were apparent, but nobody ever really likes bicyclists. At least I had the excuse that I had a job to do, bike messengers get sort of a free pass from society for weaving in and out of traffic which I use to the absolute limit. I couldn’t be concerned with the people around me anyway, I was already running late. That isn’t uncommon for me, but this time it wasn’t actually my fault. A man found me eating lunch in the park and offered me a package, and a cool two hundred dollars, as well as an additional two hundred provided I could have it at 4254 Providence Ln in less than thirty minutes.

I’d never made it to Hartford Glen, the gated community in which Providence Lane resided, in fewer than forty five minutes, but I wasn’t about to tell that to the hooded figure offering me half of this month’s rent for a single job. I felt my foot tapping the pedals and I readjusted my grip on the steering wheel, keeping my eyes focused on the traffic light. As soon as I saw It flicker to green I was off, cutting off the Towncar that had been idling next to me and started pumping my legs rhythmically as hard as my physique allowed. I could feel the box I was delivering shifting in my backpack as my body pivoted from side to side, utilizing the leverage of my weight to lend more force to my pedaling. My rusty fixer wasn’t built for this kind of abuse, but hell, I could buy a new bike with the money I’d earn from this job. The horns behind me only encouraged me to go faster. I shifted right. Maybe a new Schwinn, I always liked the way Schwinns are constructed. My eyes were glued to the road ahead of me, searching for the most minute of car movements so that I could judge the best way to evade them without losing speed. I had ten minutes left, and I was twelve minutes out. I could close that gap. All I needed to do was pedal faster.

I was so focused on my biking that I didn’t process what was in the corner of my eye fast enough. It was a blur of darkness, moving impossibly fast towards me, I tried to turn away or slow down or something to avoid it but I didn’t have any real options. My entire left side exploded into blinding pain, I awkwardly tumbled through the air and hit the pavement with a resounding thud and rolled into an alleyway. The cool alley air felt refreshing on my cheek in contrast to the pain I felt radiating from my temple. I brought my palm to my head and tried to massage pain away, but I’m pretty sure it only made it worse. I could already feel a knot forming.

The crisp cracks of boots on pavement forced me to turn my head towards the light from the street. Ouch. I rolled onto my back to try and stave off the worst of it. My left eye seemed to be almost out of focus, so I just shut it and sort of winked up at whatever was above me. A surprisingly cute chin poked out from under the deep hood of the purple robed figure. I tried to decide whether I should be terrified or infuriated, but she chose for me. She directed her outstretched palm at my midsection and yelled

“RAKIL!” Bright jagged light bounded off her fingertips and embedded itself in my stomach. I didn’t have time to react. Every muscle in my body tensed up impossibly tight and my hands formed futile fists of agony. I couldn’t open my mouth to scream. All I could do was stare while the chin curled into a cruel smile. It felt like a taser bolt had been implanted every square inch of my body and each was activated at once. It felt like years until she finally closed her palm and chuckled to herself. She stepped over my useless body, sauntering to my backpack. It must have been blown clear when I was knocked off my bike. She bent over the backpack and unzipped it, looking inside. So much for my two hundred dollars. A few seconds of precious silence passed. The busy street couldn’t have been more than twenty feet away, why wasn’t anyone doing anything? Why didn’t anyone follow after I was clearly assaulted, quite literally, off the street. My questions were interrupted by a foul scream.

“IT’S NOT HERE!” She screamed. “WHAT DID YOU DO WITH IT?” She walked over to me and peered at my face. I don’t know how she did that through the robes, but she seemed to gain something from it. I started slipping out of consciousness, and pain blossomed in my ribs. I think she must have kicked me, because she looked like she was in pain too, and was looking at her foot. Hah, serves her right. Bitch. Try to stub your toes on my ribs again, I dare you.

I tried to say something defiant and devil may care but my mouth settled on

“What? What’s going on?” the strained look upon her face turned to disgust, and she kicked me in the ribs again. I felt one of them crack. She didn’t recoil this time. I guess she learned her lesson after all.

“I guess it’s not important that I get it. All that matters is that it isn’t delivered.” She seemed not to be talking to me any more, more justifying what had happened. Did she sound scared? Why the hell was she mugging me? I mean, I get that a package that you get $400 to deliver must be pretty valuable, but she went much further than she needed to. She seemed to take pleasure in it, and yet now she was coming off as strangely neurotic. And what’s more, a woman mugger? In a robe? What’s up with that. I started to feel myself slipping away before I could ask any more questions. The pulsing in my brain synchronized with the pounding of her boots, growing more distant. It was strangely soothing.

“This isn’t over” She said. I don’t know who she was talking to.

Everything was dark.

Oh god this is bad