Training Day, Part VI: Haunted Past Jan 27, 2020 22:56:57 GMT
Post by Morgan Payne on Jan 27, 2020 22:56:57 GMT
DISCLAIMER: The incoming CD piece for the "Training Day" series includes descriptions of graphic violence and focuses on the instance of sexual assault briefly mentioned back in Chapter V-2. If you have difficulty reading stories with such material included, read on caution.She sat in the front passenger seat, cheek propped on her fist as she stared at the trees and occasional road sign flying passed the window. The cool weather called for her solid black hoodie again on top of the rest of what she started to refer to as her training uniform. Black fatigue pants bloused on top of a pair of combat boots and a tank top. She had her seatbelt on but had reclined the seat back just slightly. Her other hand was occupied with a burning Newport that she dragged on as she let the breeze from outside the window brush across her face. It was comforting, really. Soothing. Like the calm before the storm that she felt was coming for what she was told would be her final test. The only difference in this one was, she had not a single clue as to what to expect. She’d been told about how hardcore the conditioning of the body was. The combat training. The sparring. The gauntlet. The mountain that was her own sense of self fear and doubt that she had to face head on. She was able to somewhat mentally prepare herself for what lay ahead. This time, however, she was going in blind, for lack of a better term.
January 27th, 2020
January 27th, 2020
“So dis is it?” Morgan said in her heavy Burgh accent, lowering her arm along the door and turned her attention to the tatted up blonde, tasked with driving her to where they needed to be. Where she needed to be. “My last test, n’at?” She studied Van Owen for a moment, watching the man that had been everything to her during her time there from a royal pain in the ass to one of the best mentors alongside Connor himself, that she had ever taken advice from; and he wasn’t much older than her, at that. Morgan made a face, smirking as she paused for a drag on her cigarette. Funny that they seemed to have lost their full appeal on her while she was there. She didn’t get to enjoy them as often. Maybe the training had helped wean her off of them a bit. Morgan narrowed her eyes at Van Owen with a tiny, amused smirk. “If dis is you trynna get me somewhere alone so y’can try an’ talk my panties off, I’mma save ya da trouble and say just flip dis bitch arahnd.” She chuckled as her lips wrapped around the filter of the cigarette again, finishing it off before she snuffed it in the ashtray of the old model vehicle they were riding in.
Van Owen wasn't exactly all smiles tonight, a rarity for the man who seemed to think anything and everyone was just a big joke ninety percent of the time. The driver's side window was rolled down, his eyes on the road despite giving her an errant look now and again. "Cute ass aside, Morg, If I was gonna do that? I'd use waaay less effort." Teasing, as he took another corner.
"We're meeting Connor. Final test, to see if you really got what it takes."
Morgan’s eyebrows lifted with a curious twinkle in her green and blue eyes as she watched the man. Here it was he’d been quiet most of the drive since they started and the first sign of anything from him showed a serious side of him that Morgan honestly hadn’t seen in person yet. A hint of over texting while she spent a few days locked away in her room but to actually witness it was something else entirely. To hear him give such a cryptic answer had her wondering about what Connor was going to throw at her.
“Huh…. Almost wanna ask what can be worse than facin’ da shit I did last week but….”
She didn’t finish the sentence. She didn’t need to. Somehow, she knew that asking Connor anything like “what can be harder” was a pointless. There was always something the man could do to test her further, it seemed. At this point, it almost scared her to think of what was coming next. She lifted her arm again and rested her cheek against her fist once more as she stared out the window. She thought about reaching for her pack again but decided against it. Maybe better not to, she thought, as she did her best to just enjoy the rest of the right for now.
"You get one chance to walk away. That's all he's gonna give you." His voice seemed distant as he said that, those eyes of his focused on ahead, looking older, more weary than before. He looked his age for once, instead of wearing the grin of an obnoxious teenager. "You won't be thought less of for walking. It's not for everyone, and you wouldn't be the first in this situation to do so." Oddly.. formal, as if reciting lines from rote memory.
In truth, that's what it was: rote memory. Her test wasn't the first he'd seen, after all, and far from the last that he would. Those hands of his twisted the wheel, cutting another corner.
6:45PM"Recognize the neighborhood yet?"
Morgan was just about dozed off in the passenger seat when she heard Van Owen pose the question and lifted her head, almost startling awake as if the idea of falling asleep during the drive felt forbidden. She rubbed her eyes and looked at Van Owen, almost apologetically, still registering the question.
“Huh, what?” She asked before it clicked and she turned to look out the window. Morgan frowned, overtaken by confusion.
She did recognize it. She recognized the street signs and the shops. The pubs and restaurants. She even recognized some of the names on the mailboxes as they cut through a residential area. Morgan had a strange feeling in her gut that she couldn’t place, exactly. If this was the location of her final test, however, she wasn’t sure she liked where it was going.
“Why are we here?”
She asked, immediately turning to Van Owen as they drove through the streets of McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Part of the metropolis that was Pittsburgh. Her home. He didn’t immediately answer, not even as he pulled the black sedan up near the curb, managing to parallel park it with the kind of ease that not many would be able to pull off, but here he was, sliding it right in without a secondary thought, shifting it into park. Leaning back, he let out a hard breath, the kind of resounding sigh when you were about to confess something you never wanted to leave your mouth, the kind of shit that weighed in on your soul.
“When I killed my first man, I was barely eighteen. Out in the sandbox, some piece of shit lit up our patrol out in Afghanistan. Our R.o.E. was simple, they fired on us, we got to fire back, so that’s what we did. I jerked back on the M240b and let that mother fucker have it, I nearly fucking cut him in two with that thing. Ate him up, ate his cover up. All I heard for the next thirty minutes was tinnitus and the blood pounding in my ears, my brothers cheering me on because I busted my cherry in the first part of my first tour.” Pause. Beat. He leaned over an’ casually snagged the cigarettes out of her lap before stealing one out of there. “It hits different when they’re up close though, hits a lot fuckin’ different because you can hear the wind go out of their lungs, and the light absolutely fuckin’ die in their eyes, Morgan.”
Striking up that shitty lighter of his, he took the first hit off of that cancer stick and let it go deep in his lungs, looking out that window. Not at her, not yet.
“He’s got him in there. You don’t want to do this? There’s no shame in this, I’ll drive you home, to your old man, or all the way down to your other family. You absolutely have every right to walk away at the moment, and none of us are gonna look at you different.” That’s when he turned, when he looked at her. “That’s right now, though. You get out of this car, you walk in there? You’re gonna have to fuckin’ stick this rapey son of a bitch in his heart, and you’re going to have to keep sticking until he’s dead.”
Morgan sat in silence as Van Owen recounted his first time that he...wait...killed a man?! Her eyes said enough that she was beginning to realize what the final test was. She needed to take a life? Seriously? She didn’t protest when he stole one out of her pack. Normally, she would have, albeit jokingly. Said something, slapped him in the shoulder. Not tonight, though. She could tell this was serious and not a retelling of something that was easy for Van Owen. Things began to feel grim when he moved on to how different it was up close. Where was he going with all of this?
It hit her then as she looked out the window at where they were. An old house that had seen it’s years but still remained standing strong and sturdy like the city it was in. The way Van Owen spoke about the person she supposedly had to deal with had a knot forming in Morgan’s stomach. Surely, he didn’t mean…
“Wait...Van…?” Morgan turned to him again. For one of those rare moments, there was no humor or mischief in her eyes. No sign of that loveable, albeit at times annoying goofball of a woman in her twenties that everyone knew. Both eyes. Blue on the left. Green on the right. Both eyes were filled with a growing sense of dread as she watched the man in the driver’s seat.
“Who’s he got in there?”
“You know who’s in there.” That flat tone. He saw the panic, the fear. He understood the expressions on her face, the emotions running behind those saucer sized eyes. He didn’t blame her, he still remembered how it was for him. “You know what happened here, you were on the other side of it.” He didn’t want to phrase it like that, but it’s what had happened. “Fact is, it’s kinda fitting, he stuck you against your will, you fuckin’ stick him against his.”
Morgan felt that knot in her stomach tighten as Van Owen spoke. You know who’s in there. What she wasn’t telling him was, she recognized the house, too. She’d only been there...who was she kidding? She’d been there more than once. More than she would have ever liked to admit. Morgan looked away from Van Owen and stared out her window at the house they were parked at. She made no sound, said no words. Morgan just stared at the house with a haunted look in her eyes with old voices replaying in her head.
“Morgan! Come on in. Glad you could make it.”
“Sorry, I’m late.”
“No need. Alright, sit down. Let’s talk the league.”
Morgan closed her eyes and let out a shaky breath. Without looking back at the man who had driven her to this point, literally, she reached with a shaky hand and opened the car door. Closing it behind her, she stuck her hands in her hoodie pocket and stared up at the house like it were a living entity, looming over her with it’s threatening presence. A sore reminder of her life. With one foot after another, she moved forward up the walkway, towards the door.
“Look, I’m sorry you didn’t make it into the competition league. You know there’s always next year.”
“Ahnno...I just was really lookin’ forward to it. I want my dad to be proud of me, n’at.”
“All kids do. Wait, your dad does know you’re here, right?”
“He knows I’mma be late. Told him I had some after class tutoring t’do. Not really lyin’ right?”
“Haha, no I suppose not. Actually, now that I think about it? I think there is a way you can still get into the league.”
Each step. Every step she took towards that door seemed to ring in her ears like she were stomping down a wide, empty hallway. It sounded nothing like being outside, boots touching concrete. She stepped up the steps, onto the porch and paused at the door. Morgan wasn’t even aware that her hands were shaking. She closed her eyes again and swallowed hard. When she opened them, she felt like she was in her head again. Still standing in front of that door but the house was the only one on the street. Van Owen’s car was gone.
She heard her own voice to her right and turned, taken aback by what she saw, even though she recognized the woman. Like she were staring at a copy of herself in different clothes. That same brown over coat, blue jeans and white tanktop.
“Y’don’t have t’do dis, Morgan.” Light Morgan said reassuringly.
“I’m not under anymore, how da fuck are you here?” Morgan narrowed her eyes.
“Cuz we’re part of you, jagoff.”
Morgan whipped her head around to see her other self standing there. Identical clothing as to what she had on herself, except for messy hair and smudges of dirt and grime on her face.
“Now y’goin’ in there or not? Buck da fuck up.” Dark Morgan nodded towards the door.
“She ain’t gotta. She can still get in the car and go to her dad’s or a hotel.”
“Oh fuck you. She listened to you last time and look what happened. Gave everyone else a fuckin’ heart attack.”
“Whatever. Morgan don’t listen to her.”
Morgan sighed and looked down at her feet as she heard another voice in her mind. This time it was Van Owen’s, repeating what he’d said to her after she came out of her living nightmare.
“Next time you see them? Don’t listen to either of them.”
She lifted her head again to the door and narrowed her eyes. No. She wasn’t going to listen to them. She was going to listen to her gut.
“Fuck you both.” Morgan opened her eyes and found herself still standing on the porch in the night air. She glanced over her shoulder to see the street returned to normal and Van Owen’s car still there on the curb. She turned back towards the door and let out a shaky sigh as she reached for the doorknob.
“You’re very pretty, you know that? C’mere….”
“What are y’doin’?”
“Just come here, for a second, Morgan.”
“No, get away from me. Stop! Coach!”
Morgan pushed the door open, balling her other hand into a fist and stepped inside the house, into the living room.
“Please. Pleaseplease, I’ll do what you want. You want money right. I--”
“Stop your whinin’, Cunt.”
“Because I bloody told you to!”
That snarl was low, husky, anxiety mixed with wanton anticipation. The way Connor stared down at him was more at home with how a wolf was bearing down on his prey more than a man gazing onto another one. The Coach sat in his chair, in his polo marked with school colors and a pair of black pants. Still strong arms, strong legs, but with a pot belly. Hair that was starting to thin on top, and a soft face lined with weather wear and perpetual stubble. The kind of man you’d trust with your kids because you didn’t know the kind of man he really was.
The kind of man who was almost shitting himself because Connor was pushing his head up to make him stare at Morgana, one hand in his hair, the other clutching the knife pressed beneath his jaw, at his neck.
“That’s the means of either your death, or your survival. She’s going to kill you, or you’re going to have to kill her.” With that, without another word spoken? Connor pulled the knife from him. Wide bladed with a wolf’s head on the pommel of the knife, it was his personal blade, his very favorite, and without an ounce of hesitation, he dropped it at Morgan’s feet with a quiet nod to her before moving to take a seat on the couch that was to the side of the man’s comfort chair.
“I’d run to the kitchen to get a weapon if I were you.” His last words to the man, one way or the other. He’d never make it out of here alive, but he couldn’t go telling Morgan, or him, that. This had to be her choice, her decision.
Either way, as the coach got to running? He was speaking to Morgan.
“He forced himself on you. You weren’t the first one he did it to, you weren’t the last, either. Make sure he never does it again.” Snapping his fingers and pointing the way that he ran as he gave her, what he hoped, was the final straw that she needed.
The second she laid eyes on High School Coach, Gary Sutherland, Morgan felt as if she had suddenly been bolted to the floor by her feet. Even as she watched Connor hold the knife to his throat and growl in the man’s ear, Morgan didn’t feel like the grown woman she was at that moment. No. Instead, she was that terrified fourteen year old who had unknowingly walked into a nightmare that would haunt her to this very day. She couldn’t help but feel the rush of fear as the man was let out of his chair and went running. Part of her thought he was coming for her at first, leaving her questioning when he ran down the short hallway and cut into the kitchen. She could hear him rustling through drawers and cabinets. Things being knocked over in his panic to find something. She was terrified. As she stood there, her own sobs from ten years back echoed in her ears.
“Please, don’t do this!”
“Shhh. Just relax, Morgan. I’m not gonna hurt you.”
But as Connor spoke, directly to her, something changed. Maybe it was his words or the way he said them. His commanding yet gentle, reassuring tone. Morgan gazed down at the knife on the floor where Connor had thrown it at her feet. For a brief instance, she felt like the wolf on the pommel was staring back up at her and calling for her to just do it. From there, everything seemed to move in slow motion as Morgan reached up to the hood of her jacket, sliding it down. Her once free hanging hair, she had started tying it back into a partial ponytail, leaving the rest to freefall around her neck. She unzipped the hoodie and peeled it back off of her shoulders, letting the garment slide down off of her arms that served as a testament to how hard she had pushed herself all this time she had spent under the man directing her after the one who had taken her innocence from her when she was but a youth.
“How’s it feel, Morgan? Huh?”
Morgan heard her own sobs from a decade ago echoing in her head.
“You like it? Yeah, ya do. You like the way it feels?”
She’d already been moderately fit when she first arrived, but now her arms, like the rest of her were both lean yet held slightly more mass. Muscles defined during flexing as she squeezed her fists tightly and bent down to pick up the knife, clutching the hilt with a white knuckle grip in her right hand. Again, she moved, one step at a time, down the hallway, towards the kitchen where the rustling of utensils and knives sounded further away than it really was. Her footsteps, however, were silent even to her. She didn’t hear herself moving and the panicking piece of trash in the kitchen never heard her coming.
Coach Sutherland rustled frantically through another drawer. In his panic, he’d forgotten where he kept everything but he finally found it, bringing the butcher’s knife up in front of his face with a triumphant, confident exhale.
“Alright, sweetheart! You want some m--” He started to call out as he stepped back and spun around but the sensation of cold steel plunging into his chest cut off his words. His jaw dropped and the butcher’s knife clattered to the floor. Staring up at him with an eerie sense of calm on her face. But her blue and green orbs burned hot like oddly colored flames, telling of the rage she was feeling as she pushed all of her weight against him and forced him back against the refrigerator. The same motion caused the rest of the blade to slide effortlessly through the flesh and in between his ribs, piercing his lung and making breathing all but impossible.
A tear crept down Morgan’s cheek as her jaw tightened. Van Owen was right. It was definitely something seeing the light in their eyes start to fade. Even as Sutherland brought up a hand to press own on her shoulder, she saw his own flame dying. His grip was so weak, Morgan wasn’t sure if he was laying a hand on her in some last ditch apology for his sins or a sorry excuse for fighting back. Morgan swallowed again and spoke. Her words, a repeat of his own that he had whispered sickeningly in her ear that day.
“How’s it feel? Huh?”
Sutherland opened his mouth to speak but didn’t even have the oxygen he needed to do so. Morgan pulled the knife out of him and thrust it forward again, piercing his round stomach this time with a sick squelch of flesh and fat being pierced.
“You like it? Yeah, ya do.”
Morgan ripped the knife out again. She felt a warm liquid splash light on her hand and arm and knew exactly what it was, but at this point she didn’t care as she shoved the knife into him again. And again, and again, and again. Her sobs from that horrible day came back, filling the kitchen and the entire house. Each plunge of the knife represented each time the dying man before her had thrust himself painfully into her.
“You like the way it feels, huh? HUH?! YOU LIKE THE WAY IT FEELS?!”
Morgan’s voice reached a shrill shriek as she continued to plunge the knife in and out of the man, over and over until the front of his shirt was covered in blood. Her hands and forearms were covered in it, while she had speckles of it on her face and neck. Screaming in between each stab.
“YOU GOD! DAMN! DIRTY! SICK! FUCKING! PIECE! OF! SHIT!”
Finally after a final plunge of the blade where she pressed her left palm into the pommel to make sure the blade pierced his chest plate, Morgan stabbed the knife into the man’s heart and he slumped forward, going completely limp. She stepped back and to the side, pulling the knife free as his body hit the floor. Morgan stood there, staring down at the fresh corpse of Gary Sutherland. Coach. Mentor. Rapist. Her chest and shoulders rose and fell with slow but heavy breaths as she stood in the kitchen, clutching Connor’s knife in her bloody hand.
Connor had literally watched the entire thing from the couch. Her approach, the slow saunter of a predator, the words that came from her mouth, the shrieks that came from each thrust of her knife. Not that he’d screamed that much, he didn’t have the air, and then he didn’t have the ability. It was the same as watching an execution. Soon enough though, he was approaching her, walking up behind her, but with steps that were louder than they’d normally be, he wanted her to hear his approach as he walked up to get a closer look.
From the side? In came Van Owen, taking up leaning on the door frame as he let out a long whistle. “She Mike Myers’d his ass.”
“Aye, she did. She did good.” Those words were low, but clear, even as he reached for the knife she was clutching, gripping it. “He had this coming. Even if it wasn’t for you, remember that. You were the knife in the dark that did in one moment, what a hundred lawyers, and police officers couldn’t. There’s nothing that was done here that you should ever be ashamed of.” Lifting a hand up, to settle it on her shoulders, he brought her closer to him, like a father would, holding the smaller woman.
“You wanted to help people, Morgan? Sometimes you have to get bloody, because no one else will.”
At first, Morgan startled when she felt Connor’s hand. Realizing who it was and where she was, again, the pent up emotion poured out of her and she turned into the man, sobbing softly against him very much like a daughter would. She heard his words and lifted her strange eyes up at him, forcing back the rest of her tears.
“What now?” She could barely speak; her voice hoarse from screaming. What did they do about the body? The blood? What was next for her, after all of this?
“Van Owen’ll take you home, we’ll do the rest, now go.” Quietly, he pointed to Van Owen who was already moving in to help Morgan to her feet. He wasn’t worried, he already knew how this was going to end, and the people that’d have the entire home removed of whatevery the left behind. They always did. As for Connor though, gently tapped the very tip of Coach Sutherland’s nose. “Boop.”
Morgan stood on shaky legs, taking a minute to steady herself against Van Owen, trying to be careful not to touch him with her bloody hands. She wiped the tears with the back of her forearm, still smearing some blood on her face which Van Owen helped her wipe off with a wet dish towel before she rinsed her hands off in the sink. Morgan stared at the blood swirling down the drain almost absent mindedly before Van Owen turned the water off and escorted her back to the front and out of the house, grabbing her sweatshirt on the way out.
“You got a thing tomorrow, right?” Van Owen spoke up, giving her a slap on the back. “Your shit’s in the trunk. Connor’s got you a hotel room. Call your girls.” He opened the door, helping her get in as she was still collecting her thoughts. She sat there, absentmindedly buckling herself in as Van Owen got in the car, started it up and began to pull away. As the car began moving, Morgan looked up at the house again with more tears coming. This time, though, tears of relief as they drove away, leaving her haunting past behind….
To Be Continued....