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Next of Kin, Chapter Seventeen: 27%

11/17/14

  11:28:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1493 words  
Categories: Next of Kin

Next of Kin, Chapter Seventeen: 27%

Seventeen, 27%

I checked my messages. Chase's friend had moved my car a couple of miles north and east. I called a pay car; it was obnoxious, having to spend the money for it, when I had a car of my own. But it reminded me of using my own car in the same capacity, while I was working through my tutoring degree.
The tape was there, on the driver's side. I worried about the other side; what if IA had been smart enough to get into the other side to tamper with my car. I pulled up the camera from where I parked initially, as well as the camera from when the car arrived here, and hit play on both in fast motion. A few people paid too much attention to the car as they walked by; one even tested the handle to see if it had been left unlocked. But no one got into the car. I knew it was possible for the footage itself to be doctored, but the time and resources for that were prohibitive enough I didn't even want to consider it.
The car started fine. I got in and drove away without incident. I watched my rearview, and even pulled up cameras as I passed to see if anyone was following me- not that that made much sense, since my home address was essentially public information.
I got enough into the routine of driving home that I didn't even consider the possibility that someone could have broken into my home to wait for me until I was shutting the door behind myself. But one glance around my apartment told me no one else had been here since the morning.
I felt like crap. I wanted to take a twelve hour shower. But I knew I needed sleep, first, and to rinse myself with whatever time I had left. I collapsed into bed, stripping out of only the least comfortable layers before sliding underneath the covers.
But lying in bed I couldn't sleep.
With the monitoring authorities also in bed, my chat had been taken over by a couple putting on a live sext show for tips. On any other night I probably would have laid back and watched, but I was still covered in camera spores, and wasn't eager to put on a show of my own.
I turned on the TV screen on my wall, and my interface dimmed to compensate. I lazily kept one eye on the chat; if it sounded hot I could archive it for when I had more privacy.
I scrolled through the available channels. I hated cable; my subscription got me access to the channels, but 90% of programming, essentially anything you couldn't get at some point in the year on one of the public stations, had an additional fee. Not that the fiber or satellite options were any better, in that regard.
I hit the wrong button scrolling through, and a local news program began to load. I saw the micropayment autodeducted from my account in the top right corner of my interface. Apparently I was watching this. I sighed, heavily.
The local news was carefully crafted with a combination of stories that were so dull they began to lull you to sleep, but were peppered with stories so horrifying you would never want to sleep again. I turned down the volume.
I noticed I had a message, from Tara. It was video of Max, along with a handful of stills. He was rampaging through a block city, snarling and whooping.
I heard a noise outside, and jumped up out of bed. I pulled up the camera outside, and could see there was someone in my car.
The audience saw it, too- apparently they got a feed for any camera I pulled up. The sext show ended abruptly, as the audience demanded I take action. ?I'll call the police,? I said aloud. I opened a call, and got the number input in when I saw my approval drop several points. I disconnected. And widened the chat window.
They audience was demanding that I take care of it myself. Apparently, they'd been watching too much investigating; now they wanted action. The sentiment could probably be summed up by this one statement: ?Randals10InPen15: You can wait for the police to show up late, if they ever do, or you can use those special powers granted you by the CDA and deal with it yourself.?
Unlike with Liana, this wasn't new rage. This jerk, or at least jerks like him, had been costing me money for years- costing me sleep, costing me sanity. It was hard to feel safe with a steady stream of assholes breaking into the car parked a few feet outside your home. And the money hadn't been trivial, either. I'd probably spent a couple of months' wages on replacing crap stolen from my car. I wanted to hurt him.
The year before, I had a meth-head I was tutoring. His parole was very specific. He had to stay clean, had to get his GED, then had to get a job. There were timetables associated with it. He was freaking out about the test. The pressure got to him enough that he went back to using, and completely missed the test. So he got really high, and somehow blamed me for not calming him down, and tried to bust my door in. He was high, not superhuman, but having someone that out of his mind smashing on your door all night will open your eyes. He arrived before midnight. I called them after a few minutes, when I realized there was no reasoning with him, and he was liable to hurt some innocent passerby. At 5 in the morning I called again, and mentioned he was violating his very strict parole, and would be going back to jail. They showed ten minutes later. I never looked at law enforcement the same.
Besides shaking my faith in the police, it convinced me to get something for home defense. I was dating someone depressive tendencies at the time, and she asked that I not buy a gun; she felt like it would threaten her safety, as well. I couldn't blame her. So I picked up a tee ball bat at a garage sale. It still had a little green price sticker on it. I kept it by the door, though I hadn't had reason to use it before now.
I grabbed it, and was reminded of how light it was. I could swing it one-handed with ease. Though I knew from playing baseball back in high school PE that swinging it was the easy part. It was when the bat connected that you needed all that power to follow through.
I opened the door. The window blowing in my face was bracing, and I shivered. I approached the car from the passenger side. The locks were already disengaged. The thief was hunched over the central panel. He had an improvised tool that he was using to try to get at my receiver. The rest of the car had been essentially passed over.
His foot dangled out of the car, jostling as he worked at the receiver. I grabbed him by the bare ankle and yanked him clear. He knocked his head, first on the central panel, then on the lip of the doorframe. It made him groggy by the time his head hit the concrete.
I kept dragging him, clear of the car, so I could swing with impunity. He tried to get up, put his hands on the concrete and started a push-up, then put his knee beneath himself. I raised the bat over my head, and brought it down. The resulting clang was satisfying; the crunch of bone that accompanied it turned my stomach.
He tried to get up a second time. I raised the bat in almost a golf swing, but as I brought the weapon around, he raised his hand up to deflect it, and the result smashed the skin on his hand open, and likely shattered bones.
He rolled onto his side, and grabbed at my car door handle to pull himself up. I swung again, and the blow glanced off his shoulder, and hit him in the face. The impact knocked him off his balance, and he landed face-first onto the concrete. Blood and white flecks hit my foot. The white flecks were shards of broken teeth.
My approval rating swelled to over 52%. A chant of ?Finish Him? reverberated through the chat. At my hesitation, my numbers started dropping again.
There was a bloodied hand-print smeared down my car door. I looked at the bat in my hand, bloodied as well. The damage to the thief was extensive, but he wasn't dead. I realized the lack of weight behind the swings was the only thing that saved him.
?Enough,? I bellowed, and dropped the bat. ?I'm calling the cops.?

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