A Common Weakness – Chapter 5
Written by Dumano1r :: [Sunday, 15 March 2020 21:27] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 21 March 2020 18:03]
A Common Weakness – Chapter 5
“I need to order a case of bourbon,” said the voice on the phone.
“No problem,” said Claire.
There was a click and the line went dead. Claire rushed back into the house, bursting into their bedroom and accidentally ripping the door from its hinges. Alice looked up in shock, her face still streaked with tears. “We’ve got to go!” Claire uttered, panic edging her voice.
Cassandra approached the bar as confidently as she approached any other situation in her life. It was a seedy dive, but that didn’t bother her, she could handle the denizens of such a place. She paused at the top of the stairs and looked around. The bar was down a flight of steps, set in a basement beneath a brick office block. A broken neon sign hung over a chipped wooden door and simply read “bar.” The windows were boarded, though slithers of light from within highlighted the gaps around the edge of the boardings. A repossession notice was nailed to the door. A red light blinked in the gloom and she suddenly noticed a small CCTV camera mounted on the lintel of the door. She reached up for it and casually crushed it to a metal paste beneath her delicate fingers.
She placed a hand on the doorknob and twisted, expecting to meet resistance, but was surprised to find the door swung open on well-oiled hinges. A thick stench of sweat, tobacco and marijuana hit her. She stepped inside.
Her vision was massively superior to ordinary humans, but even to her the bar was dark and filled with cloying smoke. Various human shapes glanced in her direction as she entered, but then turned away with apparent disinterest. A few pitiful light bulbs cast feeble light in shrouded haloes around the room, just about highlighting a few dirty tables, whilst better serving to cast the corners of the room into deeper shadow. A few working bulbs illuminated a bar, where a huge man in a tattered vest stood, wiping a dirty glass with a grimy rag.
A normal human would have missed it, but Cassandra noticed a faint hint of light in the pockets of his jeans that suddenly turned to darkness. She smiled to herself. A mobile phone.
She approached the bar, instinctively swaying her hips seductively to emphasise her amazing body. There was no response from the barman, or the various eyes that watched her from the smoke shrouded gloom. Her ears strained to hear hearts beating faster, but there was nothing.
“What ya’ drinkin’?” more of a demand than a question.
Cassandra placed her hands confidently on the sticky surface of the bar. The barman was facing her, still wiping the same dirty glass, his eyes locked on her magnificent cleavage. “I’m up here,” she said simply.
The barman shrugged without moving his gaze. “What ya’ drinkin’?” he repeated.
“I’m not here for a drink, I’m looking for someone.”
“Ain’t we all, darlin’.”
Despite herself, Cassandra felt uneasy. She was used to having more of an impact on everyone, wherever she went. The barman’s nonchalance and the indifference of the bar’s denizens was unsettling.
“I’m looking for the one that kills superhumans. I don’t know her name, but I know this is where she meets people to arrange things.”
The barman nodded. When he spoke she was astonished by the abrupt openness of his answer. “She hasn’t been in for a few days. She sits over there,”- a dismissive gesture to a shadowy corner – “her clients come and go.”
Cassandra took an empty beer bottle from the bar and – making sure she had the barman’s attention – crushed it between her fingers, so that jagged shard of glass rained down upon the stained old beer towel that lay upon the bar. “Tell me everything you know about her.”
“Or what?” Two simple words, a dismissive question.
“Or I’ll kill you,” Cassandra said with a smile.
The barman’s response astonished her. For the first time he looked up into her eyes and a smile etched itself across his drawn features. “Anyone could kill me, darlin’. You don’t need super powers to kill a man. If that’s your threat, you’re wasting your time.”
Cassandra brought her left fist down upon the bar in a sudden movement. The wood shattered beneath her awesome strength with a massive crunch. To her amazement the barman didn’t react, he simply continued wiping the same old dirty glass as though the goddess before him hadn’t done a thing. The realisation that the threat of her powers wasn’t enough was astonishing. Struggling with surprised desperation she uttered, “I could make your death incredibly painful!”
As if her confidence wasn’t already damaged enough, the barman chuckled. He actually chuckled! When he spoke it was painfully dismissive to her. “You ain’t got the time for that, darlin’. Not if you want to find her.”
Cassandra paused. For the first time in her whole life she felt out of her depth. She was used to dominating people through her sheer physical presence. She was used to humans staring in helpless wonder at her physical magnificence. In any situation she was in control. She was used to men in bars trying to slap her perfect ass, to listening to their pitiful screams as she crushed their hands in her mighty fists, to being in absolute control whatever the situation. But this man knew her for what she was and didn’t display an iota of fear or respect. Despite his inferiority to her in every way, he was in control.
“I can pay you,” she heard herself utter.
“I’m not for sale,” he said, with a wry smile.
A figure stepped out of the gloom. A bearded, overweight and pasty-faced human aged somewhere between his late teens and his early seventies. He was dressed in stained black leather, ripped jeans and a faded t-shirt. He grinned a grin of gaps and yellow teeth. Cassandra saw a look of utter hatred and disgust cross the barman’s face as the hideous apparition declared: “But I may be for sale. What do you want to know about our superhero hunter? And how much are you willing to pay?”
Claire had known John at the bar for years. They had been at school together, where he had been a successful footballer. They had even dated for a time, and managed to split without acrimony. After college he’d enlisted in the military and had done three tours in Afghanistan, coming back after each with an extra stripe on his sleeve. After the army he’d gone into business as a high-end security consultant, making a substantial living providing solid protection for celebrities and the mega-rich.
But then the superhumans began to appear. At first it didn’t matter, but when a supervillain killed one of his clients with contemptuous ease, his business began to disintegrate. To make matters worse a few months later a superhero saved another client from an almost certain death that John had been unable to prevent. Within a few years his business was gone, and he used what money he had saved to buy a run-down bar, hoping to do it up, before the bank foreclosed on his loan. Claire had read about his frustration on social media, soon after she had killed The Blink. When he had approached her with the idea of using his bar as a place to meet with potential clients he had leapt at the chance to avenge the many injustices he had suffered.
They worked together well. His bar, already run down, soon became popular with the wrong (yet perfect for her needs) kind of clientele, hard drinkers and smokers who enjoyed a bar that offered cheap booze and tobacco and where the barman didn’t ask questions. By the time she started to meet business contacts there the place was incredibly intimidating, though John made it plain to everyone there that Claire was not to be bothered. One fat old drunk had tried put his hand on her ass once and John had beaten him half to death with a pool cue. After that she was left entirely alone to run her business from the deep shadows.
But they had always known there was a danger that someone would come after her, and so they had set up a safe phrase. “I need to order a case of bourbon.” A phrase that would sound innocuous enough if superhuman ears managed to catch it, but which was a clear warning to Claire that it was time to disappear.
“I’ll get the bags!” Claire said, “It’ll be quicker if I go.”
She sprinted up the stairs, taking them five at a time, bursting into their bedroom, accidentally tearing the door from its hinges. She shoved the bed aside and grabbed the two substantial hold-alls from beneath it. She was astonished by how light they felt. Intrigued she lifted them at arm’s length above her head. Despite herself she smiled at her growing strength. She lowered them to shoulder height and heard a twang as her bra snapped. She dropped the bags to the floor and reached up the back of her t-shirt to pull the now useless bra free. Her breasts barely moved as she tossed it aside. Even with a fleeting contact she could tell that they had grown.
She paused for a second. She knew she needed to hurry, but her curiosity got the better of her. She walked over to the mirror and pulled her T-shirt off. She let out a slight gasp of delight at the sight of her substantially bigger and firmer breasts. She cupped them in her hands, relishing how sensitive they felt. She could feel her nipples hardening against her palms. She turned side on to the mirror, admiring her new profile, the flatness of her stomach and the full curvature of her chest.
“Claire, are you okay? Have you got the bags?” Alice’s nervous voice from downstairs brought Claire out of her reverie. Quickly she threw her T-shirt back on, grabbed the two heavy bags and hurried down the stairs.
“Are you ready?” Claire asked. Alice nodded. She had a small bag containing the few incriminating items that they had concealed in the basement. They hurried out of the back door, turning the key in the lock behind them. They had discussed setting the house on fire to cover their tracks, but had decided against it as a fire would quickly draw the attention of their community and the authorities. Both were confident that nothing in the house would give any indication of their escape plan.
They followed Claire’s jogging path through the woods behind their house, turning off it down a narrow track that led to a shed built of cinder blocks and roofed with corrugated tin. Claire opened the battered double doors at the front of the building, revealing a faded old blue Ford Mondeo that barely fitted in the narrow structure. Claire placed the bags on the floor and squeezed down the side of the car to reach the driver’s door, conscious that her ass was grinding a groove in the cinderblock wall. She opened the driver’s door and carefully squeezed in, trying to make sure that she didn’t accidentally twist the metal of shape as she slid into the driver’s seat. She turned the key in the ignition and the car rumbled to life. She slid it into drive and pulled out of the garage.
Alice opened a rear door and heaved the two hold-alls into the back, closed the double garage doors and then got into the passenger seat. The whole procedure was well rehearsed, the apparently derelict garage actually kept carefully clear, the apparently worn-out car carefully maintained and regularly tested. The vehicle had belonged to an old lady six streets away, and was officially still registered in her name, though the numberplates were false anyway, duplicates of an identical car that was registered a state away. “All ready?” asked Claire.
The drunk from the bar was surprisingly informative. Although he couldn’t add much detail to the assassin’s description, he could tell Cassandra when she had last been in the bar, who she had talked with and the direction she had gone when she left. He pointed down the street. “She was parked there, I saw her get in her car.”
“Describe it,” Cassandra ordered.
“Battered old white sedan,” the drunk slurred.
“Didn’t get it.”
Cassandra nodded thoughtfully. She scanned the street, spotting a CCTV camera on the wall outside a convenience store. “You’ve been very helpful,” she said coldly.
“Now, what about my payment?”
Cassandra looked at him coldly. “What do you want?”
“Money. I’m going to need to do my drinking someplace else from today.”
Cassandra waved her hands over her fabulous cat-suit clad body. “Do I look like I’m carrying a purse?”
The drunk took the opportunity for a moment to letch over her figure, but then shook his head. “Money.”
“Fine,” Cassandra snapped. She set off up the street towards the convenience store, the drunk following her unsteadily. There was an ATM set in the wall by the store. Casandra dug her slender fingers into the metal and with an effortless movement ripped it from the wall. She dropped it on the sidewalk and then tore the cash compartment open. An alarm was ringing and she casually smashed it with a delicate flick of her fingers. She handed the twisted metal cash container to the drunk. “Help yourself.”
He took the container and without a second glance set off in a hurried lurch up the street. Cassandra shook her head and went into the store. The store clerk was a teenage girl with several piercings on her spotty face. She had headphones on and didn’t seem to have noticed the crash of Cassandra tearing the ATM out of the wall, or the subsequent alarm. She looked up as Cassandra approached the counter, and her jaw fell open. “OMG! You’re Cassandra!” she gasped, pulling the headphones from her ears and tossing them aside. “You’re like, totally my hero!”
“Thanks. I need to see your CCTV. And you can charge the ATM to me as well.”
After a few moments of gushing admiration the girl took Casandra into an office and showed her the CCTV. The girl stood staring longingly as Cassandra worked her way back through the footage until she reached the time given by the drunk. Sure enough, there was a battered old white sedan, and after a moment an attractive young human dressed in black got into it and drove away. Cassandra mentally noted the registration plate.
She rewarded the cashier with a passionate kiss, sliding the girl’s thin hands over her breasts, allowing her to feel her hardening nipples and the goosebumps rising on her flesh. Cassandra slid her hand down the front of the girl’s jeans, and with consummate skill brought her to a climax. The girl was still whimpering contentedly whilst Cassandra borrowed the store phone and dialled a familiar number. She was answered immediately. Her instruction into the phone was terse.
“I need you to trace a car for me.”