Chapter 1: Family Ties

The doctors had been nice and friendly at first. They had tried to shelter Silvia from the ugly truth, that her parents and little sister had died in the crash. A psychiatrist had even been brought in to determine if she was mentally and emotionally ready to go to the funeral. In the end, those in charge of her care judged it to be bad for her.

Then, her aunt had visited. They had never been close. The stiff little Chinese woman had glared at Silvia as she stated in a flat voice, “Since your uncle died, I have barely had the resources to take care of your cousins and grand parents. I simply can not take you in. The state will have to support you.” The smile that followed did not reach her eyes as she said, “They will know just what to do with a girl of your kind.” The little woman had never pretended to like that her husband’s sister had married someone who was not Chinese.

Silvia had run away from the group home when one of the boys, Lars, had made the mistake of putting his hands on her. She had told him to back off. He had made the mistake of using his superior bulk to try to push her into a room. “I run this place. The girls here learn to keep me happy. I’m about to teach you what happens to sluts who don’t make me happy.” He ended up being thrown into the room and crashing into a table and chair. The chair, and his left collar bone broke as they impacted eachother. His right forearm broke when he hit the floor. She ran and locked herself in her room when she heard him scream.

It took only a few minutes to shove a few things into her mostly still packed bag and run down the stairs and out the front door.

Three weeks later, sitting up suddenly, Silvia had blinked away the sleep from her eyes. There had been a noise. She could tell that someone was downstairs. She had selected this building because it looked abandoned, but stable. The kids she was watching out for were still too scared to stay with Silvia. They had their own hiding places in the abandoned buildings of the city.

Hearing a thump from downstairs, Silvia took a moment to think, “fight or flight?” She was down the fire escape in back just as she heard the soft rasp of a foot coming down on the sand she had spread over the stairs.

Turning to run down the alley, Silvia came face to face with an ugly pale man in dark clothing. She tried to dodge around him and her world filled with jittering pain and a sizzling sound followed by darkness and the smell of an electrical discharge.

She had woken with a headache that seemed to go to her toes. Shaky as a new born foal, Silvia explored her new prison. A ten foot square room with faded cloth wallpaper. Age and the combination of condensation and oils from hands and cooking fumes had left a patina of antiquity over the texture of the cloth.

Silvia looked out through the window at the rain. The drops were slowly eating away at the grime on the outside of the glass. ‘How bad a person must I be to deserve being stuck here?’ she thought to herself. Her dark hair formed a curtain around a face just losing it’s baby fat and preparing to become that of a striking woman. Huddled as she was in the small room, knees to chest with bare feet on the floor, her baggy clothes just failed to cover the reality of a well muscled physique. She knew that her captors did not care that she had only stolen to feed herself and the orphans she had found squatting in the buildings near where she had made her home since the accident. They had not bothered to even look for the scrawny kids. Deep down, she knew it had to be about the accident.

Every once in a while, she heard the other prisoners. Screams would cut through the muggy air. Some begging for something to stop, some pleading for mommy, some offering to do anything if only it would end. The worst were the ones that were nothing but a wail of dispair and pain. What scared her most was that most of the voices sounded young and female.

The greatest shock came on her fifth day of confinement, the heavy browed thug had just delivered a stale bologna sandwich and a bottle of water. The screaming started as she swallowed her third bite. Silvia froze as she recognized the voice. Martin, one of the runaways she had fed was screaming “Silvy! Make them stop! Please!”

Her vision clouded with red as her whole being was galvanized with rage. The thug opened the door with a growl as she screamed her rage and battered the door with her fists. “Shut up you little bitch! Keep the racket up and I’ll make sure we give you a good taste of what the little whimp is getting. I like you tough girls better than little boys anyway!” He stepped into the room tightening his belt as he said this. Her upper cut caught him off guard. The shoulder throw she followed it with as the slow gears of his mind locked up on the idea this girl had hurt him. His outrage began to roll into anger as he tumbled to the floor. Her follow up axe kick to his gut brought a groan from both the thug and the overburdened wood floor. As she reached the door, all she could think of was the small, delicate boy who’s screams had so enraged her. Charging down the hall, Silvia failed to notice the door she passed on her left, until the arm came around her neck. She threw the man instinctively and ran, she accidentally stepped on the man’s face as she passed.

Martin’s voice had gone silent, making her panic even more. Turning a corner, she saw something incredible, Her father’s face. No, it wasn’t her father. Pale scar tissue crossed his face diagonally down from his left eye, crossing the bridge of his nose and terminating at his right jaw line. He died, but the face was his, jaw clenched as he swung a dark, metal machete. He was just cleaving the head from a man who held a small, limp body. The mess was horrible. Blood fountained as the head spun away into the corner. Her father’s face turned to her and smiled. Silvia would have fainted from this shocking sight, but she held on to her senses for fear that she would fail Martin. Running, and somehow separating martin from the body of the dead thug, she did not pay attention to the man with her father’s face until he put his hand on her shoulder. Martin’s blood soaked form was warm and breathing normally as she looked into the familiar stranger’s eyes. He smiled at her, “If you would like to leave, we should get moving. I’m a little outnumbered here.” Standing back up, he peered around the corner. Pulling out a large, black gun from some place in his baggy leather jacket, he looked around the corner again and began firing at someone down the hall. He calmly lobbed a dark object at his opponent and ducked back just before a blinding light and deafening explosion blasted smoke around the corner. “If you want to save him, pick him up and follow me!”

Martin seemed to weigh almost nothing as Silvia cradled his inert body and stood. “Close your eyes and follow the sound of my voice. Ignore everything else!” She closed her eyes as the strange man placed a hand on her head. She could feel something pour from his hand and cover both her and the unresponsive boy. A sound like a combination of nails on a chalkboard and cloth being torn came from right in front of her. “Now! Follow my voice!” he said from the direction of the odd noise. Stepping forward, she almost stumbled when the floor seemed to be at a slightly different height and angle than where she had been standing. Still holding her eyes closed she kept going until her foot came down on grass and slipped forward enough that she reflexively opened her eyes as she recovered her balance. The dim morning light revealed that she was now standing at the side of a country road near a large black SUV. Looking behind her, she saw the man holding his hands out and seemingly caressing a distortion in the air as it began to fade. All around her feet, a fine silvery dust covered the ground. The dust was quickly fading into the ground almost like melting snow.

Her study of the vanishing powder was interrupted by the man. “You can call me Uncle Joshua. Put him in the back and we’ll get going.”

Turning toward the back of the SUV, she found that he had opened the back door and there was an air mattress in the back bed. “What is the hold up? Those maniacs are bound to be after us. We need to be out of here before they figure out where we went!”

Uncle Joshua did not talk as he drove into the mountains. Silvia could not help but gasp in awe at the beautiful bands of color she saw painted over the mountainsides by the changing leaves of the trees. The droning of the engine and the relief of escaping her abductors conspired to relax her tension and Silvia was soon asleep in the comfortable front passenger seat. Her dreams were filled with screams, fire, and blood. Suddenly, her father’s voice cut through the mayhem, “I’m coming for you kiddo! Your sister and I will get you out!”

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