Home > BZRK: Reloaded (BZRK #2)(10)

BZRK: Reloaded (BZRK #2)(10)
Michael Grant

Forty-eight hours had passed since the disaster at the UN. Just two days since Vincent lost his mind and Ophelia lost her legs and BZRK lost, period.

Wilkes had gotten out with a concussion, one ear still ringing, and some superficial burns. She was an odd girl and wore her oddness defiantly. Her right eye bore a tattoo of dark flames pointed sharply down to reach the top of her cheek. A gauze bandage covered a vicious burn on one arm. With a red Sharpie she had written fuck yeah, it hurts on the bandage.

On her other arm was a tattoo of a QR code. If you scanned it, you went to a web page where a similarly defiant message waited.

Somewhere much more private was a second QR code. If you made it that far, you might learn more about Wilkes. About a high school where the football team had been accused of rape. Where the alleged victim had walked through the halls of that school one night tossing Molotov cocktails.

Wilkes. The name was taken from a Stephen King novel.

As for Plath and Keats, Nijinsky kept telling them they had behaved brilliantly, especially given their inexperience. But the question hung in the air, unspoken, unspeakable: Why hadn’t Plath killed the Armstrong Twins when she had the chance?

For God’s sake, Plath who is really Sadie McClure, why didn’t you just do it?

Too precious to kill, are you, little rich girl?

Then what the hell are you doing in BZRK?

Don’t you know it’s a war, Plath? Don’t you know this is a battle for the human soul?

Why didn’t you kill, Plath?

And did Plath have the answer? She was asking herself that same question. What was she, Gandhi? Who did she think she was? Jesus? Saint Sadie of Plath?

“Vincent’s not coming out of it,” Nijinsky said. “Who’s got the bottle?”

There was a bottle of vodka next to the sink in the grim little kitchenette. It was frosted. They kept it in the freezer, usually. Keats was closest to the sink. He leaned back in his chair, grabbed the bottle by its neck and snagged a glass of sketchy cleanliness and swept them over onto the coffee table.

Nijinsky took the bottle, poured himself about three fingers’ worth. He drank most of it in a gulp followed by a gasp, then a second gulp, and put the glass down with too much force.

Hair of the dog, as the saying went. A little drink in the a.m. to take the edge off the hangover you’d earned in the p.m.

You’re the wrong person for the job. Become the right person.

“My brother hasn’t got over it,” Keats said. “My brother’s still chained to a cot at The Brick.”

“Kerouac lost three biots,” Wilkes said. “And he was already half nuts.”

“Screw you,” Keats snapped. “My brother was as tough as any man alive.”

“He was,” Nijinsky agreed, and shot a dirty look at Wilkes, who retreated, sulking. “Kerouac was …is …the real thing.” He poured another drink, shorter this time, held it up and said, “To Kerouac, who is a fucking god and still ended up screaming in the dark.” He tossed the drink back.

There was violence in the hearts of those in the room. Nijinsky bitter and furious and insecure. Keats damaged, resentful and wary. Wilkes already a headcase who had now killed and seen killing and watched Ophelia’s legs burn like steak fat on a grill and was itching for a fight.

Plath saw it all. And she heard the unspoken accusations: Why didn’t you kill the Twins?

“Jin,” she said. Just that. And Nijinsky at the sound of his affectionate nickname sucked in a sobbing breath. He looked down at the glass and carefully set it down far from himself.

“I love him,” Nijinsky said.

Plath couldn’t help her automatic glance at Keats.

“Stupid of me, caring about Vincent,” Nijinsky said. “Loving him. And no, I don’t mean like that. I mean, if I’d had a brother . . .” He looked at Keats, who did have a brother, and there were tears in Nijinsky’s eyes. “I mean if I’d had a brother, if I knew what that was like, that would be Vincent. I’d give my useless life for him. And I was too late.”

In a flash Plath saw what she had missed. She wasn’t the only person in the room haunted by What if? and Why didn’t I?

“Maybe we could rescue Ophelia from the FBI . . .” Wilkes started to say. “She could …No one’s a better spinner than Ophelia.” She was pleading for a life and knowing better, knowing that decision would have already been made.

“You’re talking about a deep wire,” Nijinsky said, not meeting anyone’s eye.

“Yeah, deep wire. The deepest. Take some time and get all the way down in Vincent’s brain.” Wilkes sat up. “Ophelia could—”

“Damn it, Wilkes.” Nijinsky was pleading with her. Plath could see that he was on the ragged edge. He couldn’t think about Ophelia. “Ophelia was the best.”

His use of past tense did not escape anyone’s notice.

Wilkes’s face twisted. It was like someone had kicked her in the stomach. She jumped from her seat and walked on stiff legs to the sink. She turned on the faucet and drank straight from the tap. When she straightened up her head banged the cupboard door.

“Son of a bitch!” she screamed. She banged the side of her fist against the cupboard door. And then harder. Then both fists and on and on until it seemed she would beat her hands bloody.

Keats moved smoothly behind her, imprisoned her arms, and waited as she cursed him and struggled madly to get away.

“Was it us?” Wilkes demanded. “Was it us? Was it Caligula? Did Lear order Ophelia killed? Jesus Christ!”

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