About two hours later Sasha and Martha had made all the plans they could make. Sasha was kneeling at the front of her cage. Her head was turned sideways so that she could get one of the cage bars into her mouth.
She was channeling sulfuric acid from an impromptu sac her body had created for this purpose. Martha was seated with her legs stretched out before her through the bars. She had pretty much run down detailing her experiences with the kidnappers and was reminiscing about her childhood.
Sasha had earlier decided she could kick the cage bars out of their sockets enough so she could grasp one end of a bar and twist it out and in fast enough to break the bar. She was quite strong enough to succeed at this, but it would take time. The kidnappers might come back before she was done, or attack her if the noise of the breaking or bending alerted them to an escape attempt.
Acid would weaken the bars at selected points so that a kick or two of Sasha’s pile-driver legs would break them. Two bars had already been broken but carefully replaced and sealed into place with spit glue secreted by another impromptu sac. This third bar would allow Sasha quick and easy exit, whereas two would only allow her to slowly eel out of the gap left after the broken bars were knocked out.
The door from the two-story home suddenly opened. Sasha retreated to a squat inside her cage with her back against the cage wall opposite the door to her cage. Martha quickly assumed a similar position. They stared at their captors as the glaring overhead neon lights flickered on and off and fully on, banishing the darkness in the room.
The daughter was the first through the door. She walked a few feet and stopped. The four others came through the door, the mother pushing her husband’s wheelchair ahead of her. They almost bumped into the daughter.
“Something’s not right,” the young woman said. Then all five came slowly toward the cages and stopped a few feet away. The two prisoners met their captors’ eyes. The prisoners faces were expressionless.
“They’re not afraid,” said one of the sons.
The father said, “Then make them afraid! Get her out!” He pointed toward Martha.
Martha went into her anger-mixed-with fear routine. She began to shriek and curse. She crowded herself back away from the door. The daughter pulled out a set of keys from her jeans pocket and opened the padlock on Martha’s cage. The two sons reached in and grabbed Martha. Despite her struggles they pulled her out of the cage. Suddenly she stopped struggling and stood meekly, head down.
The daughter had stepped aside, toward Sasha’s cage but not within reaching distance of the prisoner. She was spinning the keys around one finger while she stared at Sasha. Sasha stared back.
Martha jerked loose from the men’s grasp and lunged at the daughter. She managed to propel the woman close enough to Sasha for the superhuman to grab one of the woman’s arms. The keys flew wide, however, and fell skidding to the floor.
Sasha sent a message to the woman’s brain. She fell bonelessly to the concrete floor.
Martha chased the keys, caught them up, and whirled toward Sasha. “Catch!,” she yelled, and threw them toward Sasha. Then she ran toward the torture tables, passing close enough to one of the men for him to grab an arm. His grasp failed, and Martha reeled and recovered her balance and continued her dash.
Sasha had smashed out the two glued-in bar segments. They flew all the way across the large room and clanged into the far wall. She reached out of the cage far enough to catch the keys. Methodically she began to try them in the lock — methodically for her, who had slowed time down. To the young man and the father and mother looking at her she seemed to move with flashing speed.
The lock clicked open. Sasha pulled it off and dropped it, swung the door open. She crawled out and stood up. And everything changed.
The farther son had almost caught Martha. He had not seen the micro-drama with Sasha. The nearer son had. He was gaping at Sasha, frozen with terror. As well he might be. Sasha’s skin had turned to blood red, her fiery hair lifted into a fiery halo. It writhed about her head like Medusa’s snakes.
“You made Hell on earth. Sometimes that opens a door to Hell. And someone like me comes through.” She smiled.
She glided swiftly forward. Her arm flashed out and grabbed the son’s wrist. He gave loud shriek before falling limply to the floor. The mother spun her husband’s wheelchair around and began jogging toward an exit, pushing the ‘chair ahead of her.
In one instant and the next Sasha felled the two with a touch.
In the middle of the room Martha had gotten to the torture tables before being caught. She had grabbed a propane-fueled firewood starter and raked it over the head of the pursuing son. He was dashing toward a large aluminum sink in one corner of the room, oily hair aflame.
Martha pursued with a large knife in her hand. Sasha yelled, “DON’T KILL HIM.”
Martha paused. She looked back at Sasha. The two had discussed what to do to the torturers: let them live to suffer a lifetime of jail. Martha nodded her head and smiled. She also used her free hand to mark a “Cross my heart” over her chest. Then she continued her pursuit.
Sasha kept an eye on Martha as she wheeled the comatose father to a central location in the torture area and dragged the mother, daughter, and son she had knocked out to lie at his sides and feet.
Martha waited until the awake son bent over the industrial sink and doused his burning hair with water. Then she made two quick slashes of his buttocks.
He screamed and jerked upright, water arcing back over his shoulders. His head bumped into the faucet which was streaming water over him.
He recovered and whirled to face Martha. She was grinning maniacally at him and held the knife to his throat.
“Over here,” Sasha called. He glanced at her, then Martha. She stepped to the side, kept the knife poised near him. With many nervous glances between the two he allowed himself to be herded to the torture area, hands on his bleeding bottom. There Sasha clapped a hand to his head and sent him into a coma. He slid bonelessly to lie on the concrete floor.
Martha reeled and stepped to the side to slump into a folding lawn chair near the torture circle. Sasha’s “Be perfectly healthy” command to Martha’s body had let her dip into her energy reserves, but they were not large.
“They will stay this way until I wake them.” Sasha gestured at the family that preyed together. “Now we need to get Holly out of her cage and someplace warmer. And you need to eat. Then we need to get your story straight and call the police. After I’ve given our friends a little lecture about why they should obey a demon’s orders.”
Martha refused to dress in any of the torturer’s clothing no matter how clean. She would change into Sasha’s clothes and eat food from the family refrigerator which Sasha cooked. As she did so she looked curiously at Sasha’s naked form.
“You don’t look like an angel. Or demon.” She eyed Sasha’s hairless crotch, then looked closely at her skin. “You look like a fashion model, after they’ve PhotoShopped away pits and pimples and shit.”
Sasha smiled. “Doesn’t that prove I’m an angel? Humans don’t have perfect skin.”
Martha chewed a bite of the sandwich Sasha had made and suddenly set it down. “I’m almost sick.”
She breathed heavily for several minutes, finally took a cautious sip of water. She leaned back in the kitchen chair, sighed deeply, and reached down and began to lace up the battered tennis shoes Sasha had gotten from a bargain bin to prepare for her masquerade as a victim. They were a little large for her.
Done, she looked at Sasha, who was leaning nude against the kitchen sink, arms crossed.
“I think you’re an alien. Or maybe a robot.”
Sasha grinned. “Whatever. Now you’ve got your story straight? Run it by again.”
Martha had only seen Sasha burst her bars and escape, with a little help from Martha who had gotten the keys from the daughter. She had been busy with one son while Sasha had beat up the other members of the family. She had not seen Sasha’s skin turn red, or clearly heard what she had said to the family. Then she had, with Sasha’s help, taken Holly Berenger into the living room and placed her on the couch and wrapped her in clean blankets. Naked Sasha had vanished into the torture room while Martha fixed desperately needed food and called the police. She had never seen Sasha again.
Martha had recovered from her momentary nausea and was sitting up straight now. Sasha spoke to her.
“I’m going to put on some of the daughter’s clothes and speak to the family. You can listen through a crack in the doorway so they won’t see you.”
Sasha dressed in jeans and a sweater from the closet of the torturer daughter. She did not need shoes and, in any case, the daughter’s shoes would not have fit nor, she suspected, the shoes of anyone else in the house.
She was ready for one last performance. Sasha signaled Martha, sitting on the couch in the living room next to the comatose Holly. Martha followed her to the door into the torturers’ room and stood listening through the barely cracked door.
Sasha strode to the five comatose bad guys, bound their hands and feet with the white plastic zip ties. She touched each and waited for them to awaken and sit up. The son with the slashed bottom cursed and fumbled his way to a standing position. Sasha remained poker-faced but smiled inside. Martha had had the last word.
When she had gotten everyone’s attention she spoke.
“Shortly the police will be here. You will tell them everything they ask. You will confess to every sin you’ve ever committed. If you don’t I will return and this will be nothing compared to what I will do to you then.”
She stalked among them. They tried to evade her but she touched each. She commanded their skin to feel as if it were on fire.
They began to scream.
Back in the living room Martha asked her what she had done. Sasha told her, and that the pain would cut off in a few minutes.
“I almost feel sorry for them.”
“That’s because you are a good person. Now call the police. Stay here, with all doors locked, until the police tell you to open the door.
“As soon as they do that I’ll be gone out the back and over the fence.”
“Will I ever see you again?”
Sasha smiled. “No, dear. I’m an avenging angel, not a guardian angel.”
Martha jumped up and hugged Sasha. “I’ll miss you!”
The superhuman returned her hug and patted her on the back. “You are an incredibly strong woman, dear. You don’t need me.”
Martha released Sasha and stood back.
The response were very quick. In less than fifteen minutes police with drawn guns were pounding on the living room door and beginning to circle the house. It took all Sasha’s extraordinary speed to evade them.