"What's that?" I asked while gesturing to the vial in his palm.
Fred smiled wide -- holding the container up between his thumb and forefinger as if he was examining an expensive diamond -- he said, "Liquid fun. A few drops in any glass and you get free ass." He flexed his shoulders slightly while shaking the liquid mentally distracted by a stray memory.
From his previous thoughts and those of Karl's I took that comment to mean it was some kind of roofie or other illicit drug used to immobilize their victims. Shaking my head at their sheer arrogance and cruelty, I avoided touching or talking to Fred for fear I'd snap his neck just for kicks and giggles. Humans were ugly creatures to behold.
Soon we were finished stripping them of whatever I thought that I could use. I casually took all the money and drugs from Fred -- making sure to get that vial from him as he tried to slip it in a pocket. Without another word about the attempted theft, I simply asked him to go back outside the fort, telling him I'd join him in a moment. He didn't ask me any questions, but simply brushed past me and dropped down below the fort. I didn't bother to do anything to their bodies but tossed their identifications around the fort like they'd been victims in a random mugging. I couldn't worry about them but had needed a minute to collect my thoughts before undertaking the next part of my night. I dropped from the doorway down next to Fred beneath the tree and indicated the small animal path that headed away from the streets and further into the fingers of the canyon. My nighttime vision was sharp and to me the path easily seen but Fred kept stumbling and smashing into stray rocks along the way. I gave up letting him lead and asked him to follow my steps as I passed him and began going deeper into the fog bank that covered our traveling.
Fred didn't argue or ask me any questions as we rapidly distanced ourselves from the boys. I was familiar with our location and soon we turned back up a larger path that I knew would take us to civilization. Fred didn't complain aloud, but I was working quickly through the brush unflaggingly, while he was starting to wear down. Drinking beer in a local bar then trapping strange women for raping didn't do much to keep a body in any kind of shape. Taking a bit of pity on the human, I slowed down while we made our way up the canyon's sandy slopes. The angle of the path made it tougher than going down the hill, so Fred had more difficulty keeping up with me even when I'd slowed down. Despite the struggles we eventually made it to the edge of an open space near a park while it was still dark and foggy. Showing a bit of unasked mercy, Fred I allowed him a few minutes to catch his breath and drink from the rusty fountain on the edge of the kid's playground.
Over recent years I'd noticed how society became so overprotective of children's unprotected playing outside, the toys available were greatly reduced with each over-reaching lawsuit filed and often won and awarded. Gone were jungle gyms and merry-go-rounds, replaced with painted paths and squares for unknown games. I couldn't recall the last time I'd seen any kids playing outside at dusk much less the few times I'd carefully ventured out during daylight. Hell, I was half expecting to see Wi-Fi outlets next to charging stations like airports and libraries. Childhood wasn't any fun for an active kid by all I'd seen in this new modern society. If it weren't for a few stray cement picnic tables I don't know what I would've called this somewhat awkward space between homes and stores.
Finally, Fred seemed refreshed from the probably rust-filled water he gulped in and awaited my commands. Thankfully I'd remembered to pick up the cell phones before I'd left the fort as they were important to my next step. Looking at the choices I recalled which one had been Fred's and unlocked the phone. He'd received a few new messages that I took a moment to read. I was glad that I'd looked at his screen first.
Fred what the fuck? Where's everyone? From Bob of course.
Another few lines of missed calls then another message from Bob.
Dude nobody is hitting me back. Then the final one.
Fuck you I'm coming to get you guys. This is bullshit.
All were in the last two hours and the last one just twenty minutes ago. I quickly thought about the distance between the bar and the fort where there were two rapidly chilling corpses. Bob wasn't going to be happy if he found them before I got to 'talk' to him. Damn.
Faced with all the missed calls and messages from Bob to Fred on his cell phone I clawed at my pockets and pulled out all the phones. Indicating to Fred to follow me, which he did because I'd tranced his brain into being my personal meat puppet for the foreseeable future, we approached the park. I had anticipated Fred starting to become feisty if I allowed him too long a leash. Soon we were at a concrete picnic bench as I began opening and scrolling though the various phones. Yeah, they all had a few missed calls from Bob and messages along the same lines as Fred's cell phone. Time was ticking as I ran though the possibilities now that Bob was heading to the fort. Yeah, I could wait another ten or so minutes for him to find the dead boys, Karl and Chuck, but that would put him on his guard. William and Pauly weren't dead yet and there wasn't any way they would get free to intercept Bob or find us. Decisions, decisions. Gah. I wanted more time.
Grabbing Fred's cell, I hit reply to Bob's last message.
Sry cell shitty here. Assholes took bitch up to park where Sharlene sold us primo last week. C U in ten there?
After reading twice I figured it was close enough to Fred's past messages and I had delved into his ugly thoughts long enough to know this was park where they'd bought weed from somebody named Sharlene last week. Hitting send, I crossed my fingers I had beat Bob's arrival to the fort and abandoned bodies. With little choice I waited for a reply. The phone pulsed in my hand and I read Bob's answer.
OK was just five minutes from fort. Will take me twenty to turn around and get to you. They better have more beer.
Relieved, I sat back and plotted. Fred just sat unmoving on the cold bench awaiting my directions. I'd bought myself some much needed time but was sure I'd forgotten something in my haste. Such was my world.
The fog was still thickly lying on the ground, limiting visibility for humans so that worked in my favor. The problem was we weren't that far from houses occupied by other humans and sound carried oddly in the wet night air. Knowing this helped me format my little meet and greet. Looking at Fred, I concluded I didn't need him fighting me once Bob showed up. My suggestions would work but after he showed innovative thoughts up in the fort, I was concerned his desire to be in charge could screw up anything I'd planted in his mind. Finally, I made a decision and began to implement my plan while minutes kept eating away despite how quickly I moved. With minutes to spare I sat back and mentally declared it ready.
Going into the shadows of the large pine trees along with the typical brush and chaparral framing the edge of the park closest to the canyon, I waited. The streetlamp on the edge near the sidewalk was illuminated faintly as fog drifted through the air. It wasn't even five minutes since I'd completed my welcome for Bob when I could hear the approach of men. They were rowdy and extremely drunk. The banter was swear-word laden along with vivid commentary on how they planned on showing that 'bitch' who was boss. I knew there were three men left earlier from the bar, so it seemed that Bob had brought the other two -- by my count the whole gang was here. Karl and Fred's dark, nasty memories had given me the number of the crew along with crap about each of them that I had no interest in knowing. Well at least those not dead or currently caged in my basement.
"Fred, you asshole, where are you?" Bob shouted out as he reached the edge of the park. One of the other two men slapped Bob on the back while saying, "Shhh ... you want some jerk nearby alerted and have them call the cops and spoil our fun?"
Bob didn't appreciate the slap or verbal reprimand and simply cold cocked the guy with a closed fist. The man crumpled and fell to the ground unconscious. From his sprawled-out body and the shallow sputtering breathing I knew that he wasn't getting up any time soon. I had to appreciate Bob taking his time and helping thin the herd for me. Also I could see why Fred hadn't been able to take over the gang easily. Bob wasn't one to pull his punches and from fragments I'd tasted in the blood of his crew it wasn't the first time someone got knocked out for questioning the hair-triggered sociopathic leader. The man on his left side simply looked at the fallen comrade and continued to walk by Bob's side without uttering a single word. I could easily smell the blood on the fog and as they drew closer, I waited to see when their own survival instincts would wake up.
The two men walked quickly into the park and spotted my present by the picnic table. Bob's companion gasped and he hurried toward the dark shape, not yet comprehending what it was precisely that he was seeing. Bob, a tad wiser and definitely more cautious, lingered back and let his buddy discover what I'd left for them. Fred was splayed out beneath the gray tabletop with his back against the concrete legs of the table. His own legs were spread wide as if inviting someone to service him. Loving visual scenes, I'd serviced him with the knife I'd taken from William's belt and struck it deeply into the man's body just above his crotch. Fred hadn't been clever enough to prevent me from skewering him as by then I'd had a firm hold of his mind. Once I had control of Fred, I was able to use him for my task with Bob, adding in to the mix I'd taken a pint or two from his throat before killing him. No, I hadn't killed him prior to stabbing him so there was a thick puddle of dark blood pooling beneath his ass. Bob's eyes went to the knife and I watched him process the fact he knew whose knife it was and naturally he jumped to my intended conclusion that for some unknown reason William had slain Fred.
"Get away from him now" Bob barked out and the other man jumped back as if bit. After watching Bob cold cock the other dude I didn't blame him in the least. As I'd yet to approach I found it cute if unhelpful. Bob still thought he was in control of this scene. Thinking about all the pain and suffering they'd perpetrated on local women for no reason other than they could made me start to grow angry. These jerks preyed on women for kicks, not to survive. They made it harder for me to sip a bit of blood here and there. They had made the area toxic with their antics and for that alone I was going to make them pay.