The nurse shook her head and walked out of the room. Five minutes later she was back with a hand mirror. “The swellin’s gone down some, but you took a bad one from them girls,” the nurse said as Travis watched the mirror move to the girls hands.
She was right. Her right eye was nearly swelled shut by the ugly purple bruise that started on her cheek below her eye and spread around it. Butterfly tape was on the cheekbone below the eye. The other side of the face hadn’t been touched, and it was a plain face with a few scrapes on the nose that hadn’t been covered with a band-aid. The lower lip was split on the right side of the face, the same as the eye. It had two butterfly bandages just below it to hold the wound closed. She held the mirror as the other hand lifted the edge of the blue hospital smock, to expose the stomach, which was purple with bluish purple centers more pale that the surrounding bruises. That was where the kicks had landed. Most were hard enough that they were still bleeding slightly, which accounted for the change in color at the center.
Travis thought he’d be more nervous to see the girl’s body, but rage was all he really felt. Those three women had done a thorough job of hurting her. The warmth seem to increase, not uncomfortable, but like pressure was building. Like steam beginning to over pressure the valves like in one of those old movies. God help me, all I want to do is hurt them! I want to hurt them so bad! The breeze that started up sounded like a heated whisper with the warmth in the room. Travis was still angry, but the whispering bothered him. Was there someone else? He got off the platform, and tried to follow the sound. Against one portion of the curving wall it got loud enough to hear just barely.
Travis strained to hear things, and his stomach suddenly felt cold. His anger still burned hot, but a niggling doubt entered him as he heard the words. “Go ahead, they deserve it. They hurt you, hurting them back isn’t wrong, it’s payback. What goes around comes around. It isn’t your fault if they bring it on themselves, right? All you have to do is take things into your own hands. Control your own destiny and make them pay the same way they tried to make you their slave.” Damn straight, thought Travis.
“Or,” the whisper added, almost as an afterthought, “you could just give in, let go. They’d make all the decisions and you wouldn’t have to worry about anything any more. Just give everything up, and then nothing could touch you. you could hide behind all their decisions and never have to make one again. After all, with that kind of power they have, yours isn’t near enough to protect yourself, and your cousin Nar’vell, he never was much to you. Get him to pass you the stuff and you’ll be riding high in here. Those girls would need to protect you because you’d be the source for everything, and you could keep a secret. Nar’vell wouldn’t tell, especially if he thinks you like him. Just give up and let everyone around you protect you for what you can do for them.” The voice was soft, gentle, and felt magnetic. Travis had to fight the urge to press up against the wall to get closer to it. he pushed away from the wall in confusion, trying to clear his thoughts.
What, who the heck is that? I thought I was supposed to be the, well, the guy up here, the conscience thing. ‘Yes and no’ light spelled out on the grey screen in red-outlined black block letters. “What do you mean?” Travis asked angrily. It was just like when he got here. Nothing was explained, he had to stick his foot in the crap to find out it existed. Why couldn’t he just be told how to do the job and not have to go through all this stupid finding out the hard way.
‘Because it’s the rules. No help, no explanation unless you ask. then just the straight truth. After all, why should I give all the information to the opposition free of charge?’ the letters had a condescending air to them, like someone who felt infinitely superior to Travis, which really pissed him off. It was the same way that twiggy little Bobby Zillis kept talking to him on the job, like he was so stupid that he had to be told how to tie his shoes every day.