Force of Nature
The soft golden glow of the early morning sun peeked through the hulking maple and oak trees lining the road. Their great size was accentuated by the brilliant colors adorning them. Orange, yellow and red leaves created a vibrant canopy high above the road as the massive limbs stretched to meet like two lovers grasping for each other’s hand. Each side of the macadam road was fringed with colorful leaves creating a scene for a postcard.
Markey sped down the road in her silver sedan creating a tornado of color in her wake. She squinted against the sun that glared in her windshield while she sang along with a tune from the Eighties playing on the radio. Fall was her favorite time of year and this particular stretch of road was magnificent when it came to nature’s colorful display. She could live here until she was gray and brittle and never get tired of seeing the exquisite scenery.
And live here forever was exactly what she planned to do. After years of roaming from one town to the next looking for a place she could get lost in she came across the suburb of Roanoke, New York. Just an hour away from the Pennsylvania border, she could shop in either state or just take a leisurely drive. A short distance up the road was what would pass for a small city where she could work. The best part was that there were enough people living in the area that she could blend in and no one would notice her. No one would care who she was. Her picture wouldn’t be plastered all over the local paper claiming she was some kind of phenomenon.
Markey’s thoughts drifted to her past. The happy, content feeling she was reveling in all morning began to drift away. Three years ago she was living a solid happy life. She had friends she went out with on a regular basis, a good job she enjoyed and she even dated a few times. She thought everything was perfect then too, until the evening of June fifteenth.
Her skin prickled and her hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel as the scene unfolded in her mind. She was out with two of her friends for an evening of Italian food, wine and bar-hopping. The echo of the evening’s laughter rang in her ears. The three women gossiped, flirted with the waiter and danced until eleven in the evening. When the suggestion was made to walk two blocks down to the next bar Markey halfheartedly objected claiming it wasn’t safe for three tipsy women to be walking the streets at night.
Quickly overruled by her cohorts they headed out into the warm evening air, arms linked together more to hold each other up than for the feeling of safety. Markey couldn’t shake the heavy feeling of trouble that sat in the pit of her stomach like a lead ball. She laughed with her friends telling herself that she was being silly, everything
would be fine. After all there was safety in numbers, at least that’s what she’d always been told while she was growing up.
A commotion echoed in the street as a group of people rushed out of the Sorcerer Night Club one block ahead of them. Women were shouting at one another, pulling hair and clawing at each other’s faces with perfectly manicured fingernails. Men were swinging fists and rolling on the ground like a bunch of nine-year-olds having a spat in the playground. The music stopped when the bouncer shoved the last troublemaker out the door and slammed it shut.
"Now that looks like a happening place." Sandy, the tipsiest of three squealed in delight.
Markey rolled her eyes in disgust. "You really want to go in there?"
"Come on Markey lighten up. Maybe we can find a nice roughneck for you and get you laid," her other friend Denise teased. The two women looked at each other and began laughing with delight.
Markey blew off the comment as she watched the crowd up the block continue brawling. "Why aren’t the police here?" she said looking up and down the street.
"They’re just blowing off a little steam. When it’s all over I bet they buy each other a drink. Come on ladies the party’s waiting for us."
Markey planted her high-heeled feet firmly to the ground as the other two walked on ahead of her. The lead ball in her stomach was gaining weight by the second. That’s when it all started. Four men stepped out from between two buildings and formed a human wall in front of the three women. Markey sized them up in seconds. Gang members she thought to herself. The navy blue bandanas wrapped around their heads said they belonged to the Guns. The three-inch white stripe on the bandanas indicated they were being initiated. Gang activity was running rampant in the city. Every night the news did a piece informing the citizens what to watch for and avoid.
The largest of the four men stepped forward and pulled a six-inch knife from the waistband of his exposed boxers. Street light reflected off the polished steel and briefly blinded Markey. When her vision cleared she looked past them to the brawl that was still taking place. From the looks and sound of it more people had joined in on the fray making it impossible for anyone to hear a frightened woman scream.
"I hear you lookin’ for a party." The large man sneered. "We got your party right here." He grabbed his crotch and squeezed. Markey’s stomach rolled.
The two women directly in front of the gang clung to each other. Markey could see their knees quake. Safety in numbers, she thought to herself and walked up next to her friends.
"Look here. It looks like one don’t want to be left out." All four men chuckled as they stared at the leggy woman.
"We don’t want any trouble. Just let us pass." Markey’s voice was shaky but her eyes held firm on the leader’s face.
"Well bitch, trouble’s just what you gonna get." Like a flash of lightning he reached out and grabbed Sandy by the hair and drew her next to his body. The movement was so quick the woman didn’t have time to scream. He held the blade of his knife to her throat and drew it across leaving a shallow slice in her skin.
The fear that Markey had been trying to hide dissolved as she watched bright red blood trickle down her friend’s neck. Anger drifted through Markey’s system like a thick fog rolling off the ocean.
"Make a sound," the gang leader snarled, "and I’ll show you what her insides look like. Now move." The three other gang members circled the two women and herded them between the two buildings. As they walked the leader continued to hold the knife to Sandy’s neck while his free hand slid up the front of her skirt. Jeers of encouragement came from the rest of the gang.
When they reached a dark secluded spot that couldn’t be seen from the street they were stopped. Both Markey’s friends sobbed and shook from fear. Markey stood perfectly still and calm as she let the anger within her build.
"I get this one," the leader said running his tongue up the terrified woman’s cheek. "When I’m finished you guys get to party."
Markey was deaf to the sobs of her friends and oblivious to the stench of garbage, which drifted through the air. Electricity sizzled through her arms and down her legs. Her eyes narrowed on the man holding her friend.
When his knife slid down between her breasts and stopped at her navel Markey stopped breathing. For the first time in her life she prayed her anger would grow at a faster rate. The gang leader slid the knife up under the woman’s blouse and gave it a quick jerk.
Markey heard the rip of the material and the blood-curdling scream of one of the closest friends she’d ever had. As Sandy stood in front of everyone with her breasts bared, Markey allowed her anger to flow through her body and toward the man harming her friend.
"Let her go." Her voice came out in a low growl that made her friends shiver with fear. The gang leader ignored her and grabbed the woman’s breast. The heartbreaking sobs fueled the force that churned deep within Markey. "I said let her go."
Wind began swirling garbage around everyone’s feet increasing with speed and force until the three gang members behind her were shielding their eyes from the flying debris. Markey’s eyes bore into the gang leader. He turned and looked at her with blood in his eyes.
"Don’t worry bitch," he said then smiled. "I’ll have plenty left for you."
The half naked Sandy took her chance and tried to escape the man’s grip when he turned to Markey. He quickly leaned his body against her and pinned her tight against the wall then struck her with his fist. Markey saw Sandy’s eyes roll back in her head and her body slump.
Markey’s fisted hands opened splaying her fingers wide, a sign that she was letting it all go. The wind picked up and whipped at everyone in the dark alley except Markey. She took one step forward and was stopped by the three men behind her.
One gang member grabbed a handful of her hair jerking her head back. Another grabbed one of her arms and the other stepped in front of her. Markey focused on his face, she let the hatred in his eyes feed her. Closing her eyes she let the force build then opened them and aimed all her energy at the man standing in front of her.
A funnel of high pressurized air burst forth from Markey’s body. The man lifted two inches off the ground and flew backward, his arms and legs flailing as he flew. A loud thud sounded as his body slammed against one of the buildings. The gang leader turned his attention from his victim and saw his man lying motionless on the ground.
"What the fuck?" the one holding her arm shrieked.
Markey turned her head toward him and focused her energy through her arm. As the wind whipped around his body she made a small motion with her arm and flung him behind her. He somersaulted three times before coming to rest twenty feet away against a garbage can.
While the third man watched his fellow gang member tumble away his hold on her hair loosened. Markey took that opportunity and whirled around, the force of her energy sending him flying through the air and landing next to his friend. The stunned look on his face almost made Markey smile.
The sobbing sound coming from behind her refocused her attention. She turned and saw Denise cowering away from her. The fear in her eyes knifed at Markey’s heart, but that had to be pushed aside, there was one more man to be dealt with.
His eyes never revealed any fear of Markey, just brief curiosity. Wanting to make sure his victim didn’t run he plowed his fist into her stomach with such force it snapped one of Sandy’s ribs. Markey saw Sandy’s flesh pale as she gasped for breath.
"Bastard!" Markey roared. The wind in the alley whipped with hurricane-like force. A garbage can lid whirled through the air and slammed against one of the buildings.
Not at all deterred by the awesome wind, the gang leader took two steps toward her. Markey stretched her arms out in front of her and directed her energy at him. The man staggered trying to stay on his feet. Denise dropped to all fours and crawled toward Sandy. When she reached her she cradled her in her arms and hung on for dear life.
"What are you," the gang leader hollered above the wind, "some kinda freak?"
Markey felt the words more than heard them. "Freak" had been used many times in her life to describe her and it usually sent her running. But she couldn’t run now, she had to save her two friends.
"Don’t matter to me if you’re a freak," the man yelled. He shielded his eyes from the wind and spread his legs apart to give him more stability. "You’re dead anyway!"
Markey lost herself in the fury she wielded. Her arms rose in the air and as they did the wind concentrated around the gang leader. His clothes began to shred in the strong wind. His precious bandana ripped from his head and swirled around him. With every bit of strength he had, he lifted his right foot and took a step toward Markey.
She didn’t react. Instead she watched as he moved against the force of the wind. When he was an arm’s length away he stopped. Markey narrowed her eyes at him.
"You’ve taken your last victim." Her words were whisked away by the wind. A low growl formed in her throat and echoed through the alley. She bent her knees slightly, lowered her arms and then thrust them into the air.
The gang leader rose high above the dirty pavement and sailed up the alley toward the street. He landed with a bone-breaking thud in the middle of the two-lane road. Markey charged toward him leaving her friends behind. When she reached him she raised her arms one more time and lifted him in the air.
"No!" The terrified voice came from behind her. She turned her head slightly and saw two gang members standing behind her with such fear in their eyes it startled her. She glanced up the street toward where the brawl that had been taking place and saw a mob of people watching, their jaws lax.
What was she doing? Had she lost her mind? Her own form of terror swept through her. The wind began to decrease around the gang leader as her anger seeped from her body. As gently as she could, she lowered him to the ground as sirens filled the night air.
Markey turned and ran back down the alley toward her friends. When she reached them they were still huddled together on the ground. Sandy gasped for air as each breath sent piercing pain through her body. Denise’s hand clasped Sandy’s tattered blouse together.
"Are you two all right?" Markey knelt down beside them and reached out.
Denise tightened her grip on Sandy and winced away from Markey’s hand. The look in her eyes was familiar. Markey had seen it before—confusion, fear and curiosity about the unknown. It was the look of a wild animal caught between wanting the raw meat being offered and the natural instinct to run.
Markey’s heart sank to the pit of her stomach, tears welled in her eyes. The need to explain was strong. The words caught in her throat, she could see no explanation would mend what these two women had experienced.
"The police are out in the street," she said as a tear spilled down her cheek, "I’ll send help." Denise continued to stare at her as she stood and backed away from them. "I’m sorry." It was all she could think of to say.
The sound of Markey’s heels clicking on the filthy alley echoed off the buildings as she ran toward street. When she stepped out of the alley and under a street lamp she could see the mob of brawlers gathered around the gang leader lying on the pavement. All eyes turned and focused on her.
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