A horrific, grinding, cackling noise woke me. A screeching laugh. A far-too-recognizable laugh. Somebody who had my hair in an iron grip pulled back so my head was tilted up to the ceiling.
“No-no-no, I bet…I bet it’ll take less than five minutes! No, four and a half!”
From the sounds coming from outside the room, I guessed we were in some kind of dressing room near the stage I would die on. Without the help of my cuffed hands, I pulled my gummy eyes open again.
Black eyes and black hair and red-and-brown speckled wings flickered into view. Shadela cackled once again, dropping my head back down to my sweaty chest. I realized I was drenched. It was sweltering, wherever I was. Then a frigid blast came from nowhere and sent me shivering all over. I couldn’t take this for long. I just wanted them to kill me and get it over with.
There was a light in front of me. When I was finally able to open my eyes again, I saw it was actually a mirror. My hair was sticking every which way in great auburn fluffs, held in place by honey spray. Shadela was frizzing it up to an appearance of chaos I thought unachievable, even to my own standards of static hair craziness. It made me feel like the crazy caterpillar lady a few floors down from our house. When I finally got to see what my own face had become, I understood why it was so hard to open my eyes: they were crusted over from the cut on my forehead. It was an ugly purple-yellow color, besides the black-red blood smears trickling down.
“Showtime, princess. Let’s show them what you got.” Shadela dug her claws into my scalp one more time, then turned and flounced away like a diva.
I looked at the outfit she’d stuck me in: a gaudy, neon-green evening gown, covered in sequins and exotic feathers and other cheesy stuff. It hurt my eyes just to look at it.
At least I’ll look like a psychotic, gypsy, caterpillar lady.
I decided to buy time to get the kids out alive, if the boys had any chance at it in the first place. These High Order freaks seemed bulletproof until I came along. And I knew why. I laughed at the thought.
“What’s so funny, Princess? You got something to tell us?” Shadela reappeared to grab my hair again and pulled my head back.
“You’re scared of me. I think that’s pretty silly, given that you act like you’re indestructible,” I said weakly. Her grip on my head started ripping out hair, but I didn’t care
“Everyone else you could just kill off or make disappear. But not me. I’m too dangerous.” I smiled.
She smirked at me, just inches away from my face. “Oh, but you’re wrong. We can kill you off because you’re not so dangerous. And now everybody is going to get to see it, Princess Perfection. Isn’t that right, Senator?”
“You got it, Agent! Would you enjoy the privilege of leading her out to the stage?” The Senator’s footsteps sounded painfully loud by my left ear, and his sadistic, toothy grin flashed into my barely existent view.
“Yes, sir!” she cheered. As they led me, or dragged me, down the hall and onto the spiral stairs, I wondered how, at a time such as this, when my heart was pumping so hard, when my lungs were screaming at me for oxygen, when I was so close to dying, all I could think about was eating a bowl of nachos and watching Sky Trek episodes all weekend in my pajamas.
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