27 Jan 2017

The Soul Blade - Chapter 18

"Don't ever do that to us again!"
"You saw what was going to happen tonight."
"And sometimes, no matter what I do, the future happens."
"Grace, there has to be a reason we have these stupid abilities."
Grace took a deep breath.  "Yeah.  And if Missy so much as smacks me, I'm laying her out.  And remember that I want to be home by eleven, so I can sleep.  Early morning, remember?"

"I remember."  Brenna got out of the van.  "Make sure your door is locked."  She shut her door then walked over to join her friends.

"Get lost, Bren?" Missy teased.

"Just got involved in a sisterly talk, that's all."  As Grace arrived, Brenna hugged her tight.  "We're just a happy family, aren't we, Gracie?"

"Bren!"  Grace gasped for breath.  "Brenna, let go!"

After giving her sister a showy kiss on the cheek, Brenna let the poor girl go.  "Just showing my friends how much I love my baby sister who's done so well to graduate top of her class."

Missy unlocked the door to the apartment building.  "Get inside you clowns."

Krista stepped aside to let the Halliday sisters enter.  Brenna led the way up to Missy's bachelor apartment.  After opening the door, Missy turned on the lights.  "Sorry for the mess."  She picked up a pair of shorts lying on her couch.  "I wasn't expecting company this weekend."

Grace walked around the small apartment.  "No boyfriends dropping by?"

"Please."  Missy tossed the shorts on to her bed.  "I work retail, Grace.  I don't have weekends off to fool around."

"Anyone here actually have weekends off?" Krista asked.  "I spend all my weekends going out to special local events that I have to make interesting for the copy writers.  My social life lately is me and a few other interns getting wasted on Sunday afternoon.  Bren?  What about you?"

"I'm going to those local events to sell art.  I'm lucky to earn the gas money to get there and back.  God, what happened to the price of diesel these days?"

"I'm happy the paper's paying for gas I'm using this weekend."  Krista flopped down on Missy's black couch.  "Something's missing."

Missy picked up a remote and pointed it at her stereo.  A click later, alternative music started playing.  "Better?"


Brenna sat down on Missy's floral easy chair.  "So, some bunch we turned out as."

"I don't know, Bren."  Missy took out four wine glasses from her cupboard.  "Sure, we're not as successful as we'd hope we'd be, but we're still talking to each other."

"I really wish I was still in town," Krista said.  "I miss you both."

Grace cleared her voice.  "Still in the room, you know."  She sat at the opposite end of the couch from Krista.  "Do you have any soft drinks, Missy?  I think I'll have to drive Bren home tonight."

Missy set down the glasses on the trunk acting as her coffee table.  "Let me look."  She dashed back to her kitchenette and looked in her fridge.  The tall woman took out two bottles, one of a California white wine, the other of ginger ale.  "Will this work, Grace?"

"Sure."  Grace curled up in her corner.

"Okay, what do we do about this killer?"  Missy poured three glasses full of wine.  "Can we even look for her?  Or do we leave her for the police."

Grace poured her own glass while Missy handed out the others.  "We don't really have a starting point.  Bren saw her once."

Krista took her glass of wine.  "There were also the dead guy's friends.  They saw her, too."

"I don't think I could talk to them," Brenna said.  "I mean, lately, not so good."

"Better than in high school, Bren, all things considered."  Missy raised her glass.  "To us, friends forever.  Even Grace."

"To us," the rest toasted.

After glasses were drained and refilled, Brenna asked, "Okay, even if we talked to the guy's friends, what then?"

"Tell the police?" Krista suggested.

Missy snorted.  "And tell them what?  'Hi, your killer is a woman mystically cleaning crime scenes after her murders'?  They'd be more likely to lock us up instead."

"What about Officer Matt?" Grace suggested.

"No, Gracie," Brenna said.

"Why not?" Kristy asked.

Grace sipped her ginger ale.  "Exactly.  Why not?  You all knew him in high school.  He's not going to lock you up for being insane if you talk to him."

"Gracie, no.  I just can't tell him that.  He's going to not want to see me ever again!"

"Whoa, Bren, that's serious."  Krista got up to walk behind the young brunette's chair.  "Matt's not going to write you off like that.  He has to remember what you were like in high school."

"He doesn't see me like that now, though.  I'm not about to risk that."

"Oh, Missy, our little Bren is growing up."  Kirsta massaged Brenna's shoulders.

Missy stopped mid-sip to let a fit of giggles pass.  Setting down the glass, she said, "Soon, she'll be a woman, and move out on her own, leaving us behind.  What will we ever do to fill the void in our life?"

"I do have a sister you can use," Brenna suggested.

Grace held up her hands.  "What?  Wait, no.  Brenna, don't you dare add me to this fantasy world."

Missy set down her glass and walked over to Grace.  "I suppose she'll do.  A little discipline work will be needed, though.  Krista, I forget, do you have the cuffs or do I still have them?"

"I think I have them," Krista said.  "I was going to give them to Brenna for when she found her own boytoy, but I hear he comes with his own set."

"Brenna, help!"

Brenna smirked.  "Oh, it'll be okay, Gracie.  You'll learn to be a proper lady."

Missy pulled Grace off the couch.  "We can teach you so much, Grace."  She pulled the smaller blonde into a tight hug.  "Won't that be fun?"

Grace tried to fight her way out of Missy's hold.  "Brenna!"

"Coming, Gracie."  Brenna set her wine aside.  She slipped out of the chair to go to her sister's side.  "Yes, Gracie?"

"You're supposed to help me, remember?"

"Oh, right."  Brenna wrapped her arms around both Grace and Missy.  "How's this?"

"Kris, you're missing out on all the fun!" Missy called.

Krista ran at the other women.  "Group tackle!"  She launched herself from a foot away, grabbing on to Missy.  The women fell into a pile on the floor.

Grace found her way out of the tangle of women.  She stared at Brenna and her friends.  "You guys are weird!"

Brenna looked up at her younger sister.  "You've never tackle-hugged your friends?"

"Sounds boring."  Krista pulled herself up to her knees with the trunk's help.

Missy pushed herself up to sit cross-legged.  "Yeah, really.  There's nothing like a good group tackle."

Grace backed away from the others until she bumped into Missy's bed.  "I'm going to be over here.  You guys stay there, away from me."

"Guys, since she's at the bed, do you think . . ." Missy let herself trail off.

"Maybe we shouldn't," Brenna said.  "Krista didn't bring the handcuffs with her."

Krista burst out laughing.  "Oh, God, Grace, you should see your face right now."

Brenna looked over at her sister.  She covered her mouth with her hand to hide her smile.  "She's right."  Missy just roared with laughter, falling backwards.

"Is everyone happy now?"

Missy recovered enough to say, "I am."  She got up off the floor.  "Ow, my sides."

Brenna held up a gloved hand.  "Someone help me up?"

Krista pulled on Brenna's hand, helping her up, before pushing off the trunk herself.  She returned to her seat on the couch.  "I needed that.  Man, I really miss being around you guys."

"You need to come back to San Diego more often," Missy said.  She took over Grace's corner on the couch.

"Or you need to come out to Needles.  I have crash space for you both."

"It sounds like fun," Brenna said.

"Hey, Bren?" Grace called from Missy's bed.  "I need your keys."

Brenna turned her attention to her sister.  "Now?"

"Yes, now, before you're drunk."

"Okay, okay."  Brenna fished her car keys out of her pocket and tossed them to Grace.  "Here."

Grace caught the keys.  "Thanks."  She started looking through the stack of magazines on Missy's night table.

Brenna returned to her chair.  "So, where were we?"

"Talking to Officer Matt," Krista said.  "Yeah.  Okay, if we can't talk to the police and can't find this woman, what can we do?"

Missy shrugged.  "Forget about it for now, I guess.  I'm not saying we're just going to ignore the problem, but we're not going to come up with anything tonight that the police have since the killings started.  Hell, we don't even know how many people are dead."

"Or why she's killing them."  Brenna shook her head.  "I feel so useless right now."

"Maybe it's just something you can't stop, Brenna," Krista said.  "Not right now.  This killer is doing everything she can to not be stopped."


Missy topped up her wine glass.  "Bren, you can't be everywhere.  Not with gas prices going crazy."

"I know.  I don't have to like it, though."

Krista finished her wine.  "Then let's set it aside.  Always worked for me on tough essays."

"Sounds good to me," Missy said.  "Anyone up for Wii Bowling?"

"Sure!"  Krista waved to Grace.  "Come on, you're on my team."


After several hours of gaming where everyone else kept drinking, Grace checked the time.  "Hey, Bren, time to go."

Brenna turned, almost falling.  "No, Grace.  Just one more game."

"Brenna, you promised to take me home at eleven."

"It's not eleven yet."

Grace held up her watch so her sister could read it.  "Four minutes past eleven, Bren.  You promised to drive me home.  And Missy and Krista are getting tired."

"Oh."  Brenna spun to face her friends.  "I gotta go take Gracie home."

Missy threw her arms around the tiny woman.  "Okay.  Call me tomorrow."  She kissed Brenna on the cheek.

Krista hugged Brenna next.  "Good seeing you again, Brenna."

"Bye, Krista."  Brenna reached into her pocket.  "Can't go yet.  I lost my keys."

Grace dangled the Savana's keys from her fingers.  "I have them, Bren."

"Oh, good."  Brenna held her hand out for them.

"Brenna, no."

"Just give them to me, Gracie."

Grace closed her hands around the keys.  "No.  Bren, you're drunk.  I'll drive so you can get me home safely."  She put an arm around Brenna's waist.  "Let's go, party girl."

Brenna waved to Missy and Krista.  "Bye!"

Grace guided Brenna down to the van.  With some effort, she managed to get her older sister in the passenger's seat.  Making sure Brenna was buckled up, Grace got in herself.  "Geez, Bren, how the hell are you still walking?"

"I'm sitting."  Brenna leaned her head back.  "The seat feels weird."

"You're not used to it, Bren."  Grace started the van's engine.  After a moment, she figured out how to get into first gear.  The van lurched away from the curb.

"Careful, Gracie.  Not feeling well."

"No shit, Bren.  You had too much to drink."

"I had as much as Missy."

Grace kept her eyes on the road, taking the drive home slower than normal as she got used to being up higher than in her Volkswagen.  "Missy's bigger than you.  She's bigger than me, even."

Brenna let her head fall to the side.  "How much longer, Grace?"

"Not far.  Why?"

"I was supposed to get you home before eleven.  What time is it?"

"Almost eleven," Grace lied.  "We'll get home on time.  I just don't want to get caught speeding."

"Can I go to bed, then?"

"Just wait, Brenna."  Grace shook her head.  She had never expected Brenna's friends to be able to finish off three bottles of wine, let alone her sister cutting loose like she did.

A light snore came from the passenger's side.  Grace glanced over.  Brenna had fallen asleep.  The blonde smiled.  Despite all their fights, Grace did love her sister.  Living with her was another matter.

Reaching home, Grace stopped in front of the house.  She shook her sister's shoulder gently.  "Come on, sleepyhead.  Time to go in."

Brenna shifted in her seat, trying to roll away from Grace.  "Go 'way."

Grace shut off the engine and took the key from the ignition.  "Brenna, time to go to bed."

"'M not tired."  Another snore came from Brenna.

Grace jumped out of the van and walked around to the side door.  Leaving Brenna alone for the moment, she got into the back of the van.  If Brenna won't go to bed inside, she could sleep out here, Grace reasoned.  That's why the older Halliday sister had the bunk installed.  Grace unlatched the bunk, letting it down slowly so it didn't wake Brenna.  "Okay, Bren, bedtime."

"Do I have to?" Brenna complained.  "I'm not feeling well."

"Maybe you shouldn't have had all that wine tonight."  Grace got back out to open the passenger door.  "Come on, Bren.  I have to be up in the morning, too."  Brenna unbuckled her seatbelt and, with a lot of help from Grace, got out of the van.  Grace helped her get in the cargo area and into the bunk.  She brushed Brenna's hair out of her face.  "How's that?"

"I'm think I'm going to be sick."

"Hold on, Bren.  I'm going to get you a pail or something."  Grace dashed out of the van and to the house.  Entering, she said, "Hi, Dad.  Back in a moment, Dad," before continuing to the kitchen.  She grabbed a pail and a small garbage bag.

Gary stepped out of the living room.  "Gracie, what's up?"

"Brenna's not feeling well."  Grace lined the pail with the garbage bag.  "I really need to get this to her."  She ran back outside and returned to the van.  "Hi, Bren, it's just me."  The blonde set the pail down on the floor of the van underneath her sister's head.  "There's a bucket just below you."

Brenna pushed herself up a little.  She gave her sister a wan smile.  "I love you, Gracie."  The smile disappeared.  "Oh, God!"

Grace stepped back a bit as her sister leaned over the side of the bunk.  She looked away as Brenna threw up.  "It's okay, Bren."  Grace pulled Brenna's hair back.  "You're going to be okay."

"No, I'm not."  Brenna vomited again.

"Yes, you are.  Don't argue with me or you'll keep being sick."  Grace rubbed her sister's back.  "This should be a lesson on drinking too much."

Brenna closed her eyes.  "Yes, Mom."

"Feeling better?"

"I think so.  Just tired."  Brenna rolled back on the bunk.

Grace looked down at her sister.  "Pleasant dreams, Brenna."  She tied off the garbage bag in the pail and took it with her when she left the van.

Gary waited at the front door.  "Is your sister okay?"

"Just drunk, Dad," Grace explained.  "She finished a bottle of wine on her own tonight."

"What about you?"

"Designated driver tonight."  Grace smiled.  "Brenna really needed to see her friends."

Gary hugged his youngest daughter.  "Thanks for being there for her, Gracie."

"I just want to get rid of this," Grace held up the garbage bag, "and get what Brenna will need for the morning.  Is Amy still here?"

"We're still watching a movie."

"I won't keep you, then.  She seems nice.  Are you inviting her to my grad party?"

"Do you mind?" Gary asked.

"Dad, bring her, please."  Grace started towards the kitchen.  "And ignore anything Brenna says about her.  She's just worried about not being your little girl any more."

Next Week:

"Summer, there's no such thing as magic spells."
"It was a stupid idea!"
"Wait, she's in one of Dad's shirts?"
"Third, watch out for zombies."

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