For the first time in his whole life, Regan Trystix was speechless. He looked unsure, rattled even. He stared at me, then looked at Olivia, then to BlackJack. BlackJack just shrugged. BlackJack still glistened…Trystix then looked back at me, cocking his head a little to the side. Then he surprised me; he started laughing. He laughed and snorted and wheezed. It took him a good minute to get himself under control.
“Haha…I get it now. You are jealous. You wish you were the king of the world! You wish you were me! You are trying to steal my life! But you got caught! You don‘t deserve all of this! You don‘t deserve any of this!” He waved his arms around like he controlled the sky itself. He spun in a slow circle, arms raised in victory.
“Yes, yes, I do…I wish I was a fat and entitled bastard who was so absorbed in his own world that he didn’t realize his own daughter had the Red Rose Fever.” I said, getting the reaction I wanted. Trystix’s eyes widened as his reality slapped him in the face, and BlackJack proceeded to slap me in the face.
That was exactly what I had hoped for from the giant. I had worked enough of the ropes loose enough that his massive blow hit me with enough force to free me. A concrete rooftop landing wasn’t ideal, but I was loose. Trystix hadn’t moved since I had delivered the deathblow to our conversation. BlackJack roared and started towards me. I shuffled backwards toward the door and away from my sister. BlackJack closed the distance quickly, picking me up by the collar of my shirt and tossing me like a rag doll back towards Trystix.
“Boss! Boss! What you want, man?”
Trystix had sunk to the ground, staring blankly. It looked like his world had just caved in. It probably had. BlackJack looked unsure but continued to press towards me. I scooted away and finally gained my feet. BlackJack was on me fast, blasting me with another left across the side of my face. I hit the ground hard yet again, feeling the slick substance again on my cheek. Just then, Olivia awoke.
She coughed a little, leaving a trace of blood on her swollen bottom lip. She tried to open her eyes, the blue only showing through on the left side. She moaned and tried to move. She swung on her little swingset-from-hell. She moaned again and coughed. Trystix, finally awakening from his shock, looked down at her apathetically. Without a wasted moment, he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small knife. He rose slowly to his feet; his jaw was set. He started towards Liv.
“No!” I stumbled towards my sister, trying to save her. Liv turned her head in my direction.
“Ja-Jared? Do you- do you smell it? Like mom…”
“Sorry, boy…Your sister’s gotta fly. You‘re next.” BlackJack said from right behind me.
BlackJack had closed the distance on me and picked me up in a bear hug. I thought every bone in my body was going to break from his vice-like grip. I struggled against his arms, trying to catch a stray breath. He had me fast against his grizzly-bear chest. He smelled so familiar…Something I knew well…He turned me towards Trystix and my sister. What had Olivia meant…like mom…Baby oil! My mother had used it as a cheap perfume before going on dates. She used it to try and firm up her skin and make her arms look slim and muscular as well. Something my grandma had taught her I guess. I just loved it because it was flammable…
Trystix had started cutting the rope above Liv’s left wrist. His eyes looked glazed over. It seemed he was in some kind of trance, his movements awkward and unfocused. The blade didn’t look all that sharp, but it was getting the job done. He slipped once, gashing my sister’s wrist. Liv screamed in pain. This was getting bad. With my arms pinned to my sides I was helpless. I had to get free! I struggled to kick BlackJack, anything to gain freedom. I wasn’t getting anywhere until I felt a small weight hit my leg during my fighting. My soul! My life! I kicked again, this time with just enough force to bounce the gold lighter into my hand.
“Stop that! You’re turn’s coming!” BlackJack’s voice rumbled.
I couldn’t help but grin as I flipped open my lighter, igniting the tank top soaked from beneath by the baby oil. Apparently, BlackJack had a vanity problem. He must have liked the sleek look of his own musculature from the oil, and he must have used an awful lot of it each day. BlackJack screamed, dropping me to the concrete again. He started flapping his arms at his burning shirt, spreading the small flames to his massive arms. The smell of burning hair and flesh mixed with the smell of blood in the afternoon sun. The giant finally dropped to the ground, trying to smother the flames. He began rolling his massive body towards the open skylight and my sister. His screams were terrifying as he barreled towards Trystix and Olivia. But I was deaf to him; all I heard was my twin sister.
“Please, Regan. Think of our daughter. Just let me go. It’s ok that you hurt me…Just let me go…” Olivia said, crying softly.
Trystix didn’t even change expressions; he had made it through the rope around Liv’s left wrist and moved to the right. He began cutting again, ignoring my sister’s pleas to let her go. This time he seemed more focused, cutting through quickly. Olivia screamed as she swung backwards into the skylight, hanging by her ankles. Liv could do nothing but dangle there, helpless. The job half-finished, Trystix stood and glanced in the direction of BlackJack’s screams. Finally, he noticed the burning torpedo that was BlackJack almost upon him. He gasped and took a step back. His step was half an inch too far; his left foot slipped over the edge.
Trystix’s arms flailed, trying to regain his balance. Trystix’s weight worked against him, and gravity took over. The knife went flying; his miserable frame disappeared from view, all except his left arm. Somehow, by some stroke of luck, he managed to grab the edge. I’ve always said he was a bastard, but he was a lucky bastard. My human firework BlackJack careened over the side of the skylight, just missing Trystix. He fell like a star to the empty stone floor beneath. I’ll never forget the sound of that much flesh slamming into the floor. The very foundation of Tryst Tower shook. I walked around the chasm, picking my way carefully.
“Jared! Jared! Please! Save me! Don’t let me die!” Trystix screamed, white with terror.
“Screw you. I hope you can fly, Dumbo.” I said as I walked past him.
“Jared, come back! Jared!”
I picked up my pace and dropped to my knees on the other side, just above Liv. The poor girl was beyond hysterical, screaming bloody murder. I can’t say I would have acted differently if the roles were reversed. She hadn’t seen Trystix stumble, but I bet she heard BlackJack take his tumble. She didn’t even know if I was alive. I reached down, trying to grab anything to pull her up by. Lifting her by her legs probably wouldn’t work, and I’d risk her slipping or the ropes could break. I needed her arm, her hand…something I could get a little leverage with. If I could get her arms over the edge, she could help pull herself out.
“Liv! Liv! It’s Jared! I can’t pull you up like this. You’ve got to stop thrashing, and I need you to try and reach up to me! I won’t let you fall!”
“Jared! Jared!” She screamed and continued to fight.
“Liv! Just reach up! Reach! I won‘t let go!”
Finally, on some level, she heard me. She was still crying and screaming, but she tried to reach towards me. I sprawled out on my belly so she wouldn’t pull me down, and tried to grab her hand. After a few tries and curses, I finally caught her left wrist. Unfortunately, that was the wrist Trystix had cut. She screamed in agony but didn’t let go. Her wrist was slick with blood, but I had a pretty good grip. She brought her other hand over to my arm and I pulled. It took every ounce of strength I had left, but I pulled her over the edge of the gaping maw. She just lay there, crying like her life was over. In some aspects, it was. She would be leaving Chicago and everything she’d ever known once we found Lena.
Trystix, by some stroke of luck, was still holding on. He had managed to get his other arm over the edge and was kicking his legs. I guess all that food caught up to him. He had too much girth and not enough strength to improve his situation. He kicked and kicked, straining for a small boost of energy. His hands were white with the effort of trying to lift his enormous frame. Where was BlackJack when he needed him…Oh yeah…at the bottom of the abyss. Trystix was still screaming my name, asking for mercy. His voice was hoarse and broken; his pleas falling on deaf ears.
I almost felt bad for him, hanging there helplessly. Then I heard my sister crying, trying to untie the ropes at her ankles. The blood from the gash on her wrist was making the process difficult. I reached over and help her release herself. No, Trystix deserved no mercy from me. Like I had said earlier, he was the monster. And a monster like him was unworthy of my sympathy. He had tried to kill me, my sister, and hadn’t done a thing to cure his own daughter from a rampaging virus. He didn’t even seem like he knew…Odd, considering it was his safe with his blood being tested.
Olivia was still shaking, but had regained her composure. Her eyes were swollen, lips cracked and bleeding. Her breath came in shuddering gasps, rapid and uneven. But she was alive, and that wasn’t lost on her. She was stubborn, and she was not going to lie down forever. She bit her lip, trying not to moan in pain, as she tried to stand. I bent down and helped her gain her feet. She looked up at me, starting to cry again. She reached up and put her arms around my neck. I gently put my arms around her, cooing softly in her ear that it was ok…that it was over.
“Not yet, it isn’t.” She said in a very serious voice. She let go of me and turned towards her demon husband.
She bent over and picked something up. She continued to the edge, something metal glinting in her hand. The knife! She intended to finish what Trystix had started. Liv’s gaze hadn’t moved from Trystix since she had let go of me. She was shaking like a leaf in a strong breeze, but there was nothing in this world that was going to stop her. Believe me. I know that look. It’s the same one I wore on my face. I had no intention of stopping her.
“You…you…bastard! You did this! It’s your fault!” Olivia screamed down at Trystix.
“No, don’t! I love you! Please, help me up? We’ll figure it out? Ok? Please, angel. Help me? I love you!” Trystix pled with his wife.
“ Shut up! You don’t love me! We’ve played that game! You can’t keep talking your way out! You can’t keep buying me off with empty promises! I hate you! And I’m not your angel! I‘m the Angel of Death!” Liv reached her right hand to the sky, lost in her blood rage.
Time stood still, my sister about to take the life of her husband. It felt like something from Shakespeare…Poetic, even. The sun in the west was blazing off the shining knife in her hand; the fire visible in her one visible eye. I stood frozen, staring at a shade of myself about to do the unthinkable. I could stop her, I thought…I could save her the pain of taking another’s life…But I just watched. I heard a fluttering behind me, like a thousand birds flying by at once. But not even a thousand birds flying by at once would rob me of witnessing my sister’s justice…from witnessing my vengeance.
Thunder broke the silence, powerful enough to take the breath from my lungs. The sky was clear, but the sound was deafening. The resolve faded from my sister’s face; the knife tumbled from her grasp. A fresh spot of blood appeared on the left side of her chest, just below her heart. Olivia slumped to the ground, collapsing on to her side. It was then, and only then, that time unfroze. There, standing behind her with a smoking gun, was Vic. He had a small contingent of men with guns behind him to boot. He looked at me and smiled, as cocky as ever. He pointed his gun, aimed at my heart.
The sound of birds behind me erupted with the sound of gunfire. A small black helicopter had descended on to the roof about two-hundred yards behind us. A giant ‘R’ emblazoned the side of the chopper, meaning it belonged to one man. A tall man was running towards us, shooting an automatic in Vic’s direction. He was flanked by three others, all wearing black sporting big guns. Within seconds, Vic and his men were riddled with more holes than a pin cushion.
“Jared! Jared! Get your sister! I have help in the chopper!” Raiden yelled.
I ran to my sister and scooped her up into my arms. We ran to the chopper, leaving Trystix to Fate’s discretion. Raiden helped me lift Liv into the chopper, her face ashen. I climbed in next to her, holding her hand. Raiden’s team quickly closed in, concerned looks all around. One took her pulse and shook his head. He looked to Raiden, who quickly slumped against the side of the chopper. We lifted off, leaving Chicago far behind. But we couldn’t leave reality with it…My sister, shot through the chest, was dying.
“Jared…I’m…I’m sorry…I…” Olivia whispered.
“Liv…It’s ok. It’ll be ok…” I said, choking on tears. They streamed down my cheeks freely, my heart breaking inside my chest.
“Of couse, Liv. I will find a way to save her. I’ll save her…For you…Please, Liv…Stay..?”
“Jared…I…love…I…thank you…” Olivia said. Her eyes closed, a final tear making it’s way down her pale cheek.
And with that final tear, she drew her final breath. And with it, Olivia Donovan, my beloved sister, was gone.