Rosie Takes a Ride
Deep beneath a fortified estate in North Baton Rouge a woman screamed for mercy to no avail. The stronghold boasted a fully equipped dungeon, and the lord of the manor enjoyed putting his facilities to good use. Soundproofing lined the walls of the dungeon, not that anyone could have heard the woman thirty feet underground. The owner simply thought it made the place cozier to muffle all the sound that originated there.
The screams emanated from a naked woman who hung upside down in the center of the room. She hung from leather straps around her ankles, and her arms were bound behind her. The owner of the house, an enormous man clad in leather armor, thrashed her slowly but steadily with a long, thin bamboo cane. Welts covered her backside from her thighs to her neck, evidence that the brute had been at work on her for a while. The man hummed cheerfully while his victim begged for leniency.
The man decided to step up the intensity of his attack. He made his way over to the flogging instruments hanging from one wall, and ran his hands lovingly over the items in the collection. The woman moaned loudly as the man selected a nasty bullwhip. He took his place behind her and off to one side, excited by the suffering he was about to inflict. Just as he pulled back his arm to deliver the first stroke, one of his minions ran breathlessly down the stairs.
“Lord Viper, there’s trouble on the grounds,” the minion spat out between breaths. The man looked as pale as the moon, and the color of his skin contrasted sharply with the black leather he wore. The simple leather armor also appeared to be several sizes too big for the minion. He looked almost like a misshapen human turtle.
“I told you never to disturb me while I was relaxing,” the giant man called Lord Viper roared at his minion. “Deal with the problem, Cecil, and don’t bother me again.”
“I’m sorry, Lord Viper, but I think it may be a warlord. He’s killing everyone. We need your help, or we’ll lose control of the estate,” whined Cecil, the turtle man.
Lord Viper cursed and threw the bullwhip to the floor. He stepped close to the woman, grabbed her by the hair and pulled her face close to his. With a menacing growl he threatened, “Don’t think this is over, bitch. I’ll be right back.”
She swung back and forth from the overhead chains when he released her, and passed out from relief after he stormed up the stairs.
The chaos beyond the door at the top of the stairs reminded Lord Viper that he needed to find better lackeys. Shouting reached his ears from every direction, but no sounds of battle. He calmly took the key to his gun closet out of his pocket and strode across the living room to a locked steel door. He unlocked the door and threw it open. The arsenal inside never failed to fill him with pride. Not many men in Discordia could claim to own such firepower.
“Twenty full-time henchmen, and I still have to do my own dirty work,” thought Lord Viper angrily.
Viper could tell from what he was hearing that there was no full-scale attack on the house. He promised himself a full day torturing his minions. He figured it would almost make up for being interrupted while playing with a beautiful woman.
He took a fully loaded M16 from its place on a shelf, and threw an ammo belt over his shoulder. Lord Viper figured ten clips would be enough to deal with the problem. He closed the gun closet and locked it behind him. He never left the door to his guns unlocked.
The shouting diminished significantly before Lord Viper came out of the closet with the M16. The relative quiet concerned the big man. Disturbances didn’t suddenly go quiet. It was contrary to the nature of a disturbance. Lord Viper slowly made his way to the front door while he pondered his perceptions.
Before Viper made it into the foyer, the scrawny man called Cecil staggered into the living room with blood streaming down his right arm. Cecil took one look at Lord Viper and collapsed with a strangled gasp. Cecil’s limbs twitched wildly, and his eyes registered absolute horror. Lord Viper hated watching the souls of the damned depart their bodies. It was obvious they got a good look at where they were going, even before their body died completely.
The big man knew now that the threat was real. He chambered the rifle and held it at ready as he rounded the corner into the foyer. Six bodies clogged the main entrance to the house. Lord Viper cursed. He couldn’t jump over the bodies, and he would be a perfect target trying to walk over them without losing his balance. He turned to make his way to the back door, and stared directly into the barrel of a .45 caliber Colt with a silencer fitted on the end.
“Hi. My name’s Jesus. Who might you be?” asked the handsome Hispanic man holding the pistol.
Lord Viper bellowed, and attempted to bring the barrel of the M16 back into play. The last thing he ever regretted was dropping his guard as he turned around. Jesus put a bullet through Viper’s left eye, which left a nasty hole in the back of the man’s head on its way out.
“I didn’t want to know your name anyway, ugly,” Jesus admitted to the oversized corpse as it fell to the ground.
Jesus took one look at the M16 and whistled softly. The assassin picked up the rifle and the ammo belt, and slung both of them over his shoulder. He stood motionless for a moment, listening for any sign of life in the house. Satisfied that nobody remained alive, he vaulted over the bodies inside the front door and waved his arms over his head.
The sight of Lena making her way out of the undergrowth at the edge of the property relieved some of Jesus’ worries. He took heart in her ability to follow his instructions. He hated the idea of leaving her behind because she wouldn’t listen. He had worried about it ever since they crossed dimensions. The things Lena said while they were alone caused Jesus to doubt her sanity, and Jesus never wanted to hear about tampons again.
Lena ran up to him very quickly. Jesus was impressed by her athleticism, and made a mental note to ask her about it when they reached safer territory. For a second he worried the sight of the corpses would cause her distress. She looked at all of the bodies, and then looked at him. Lena remained as cool as a cucumber. That didn’t escape Jesus’ attention either.
“You think they have anything to eat inside, big daddy?” Lena asked him anxiously.
“I’m sure they do. There may be a weapons cache as well. Let’s take a look around,” Jesus responded in a very businesslike tone.
As Lena climbed over the bodies at the front door she said, “I hope they have peanut butter and jelly. It’s my favorite.”
Immediately following their dimensional crossing, Jesus and Lena jogged quietly down the road called Choctaw. They made it about a half-mile before Jesus sensed a patrol. In the two thousand years he lived in Discordia he picked up a lot of magic. He never wanted to rule the world, so he developed his magic to aid him in self-defense, evasion and covert tactics. He always kept his senses supernaturally acute when he ventured into hostile territory. Jesus had an advantage over most people, because he enhanced his abilities by dealing with a devil.
Discordia was always dangerous, but the danger increased exponentially in proximity to new arrivals. The options available to Jesus and the new girl following him were extremely limited. Sensing the patrol, he immediately turned around to find another route. That was when he sensed that another patrol had sealed off their avenue of escape. He looked on either side of the road, and saw that there was no place to hide. Jesus hated to do it, but he knew that he had to resort to the nuclear option. “Kill them all. Let God sort them out.”
Jesus finished off the last man of the foot patrols just as someone from the nearby house noticed Lena. Jesus cursed, knowing that if word spread they were done for. He threw Lena over his shoulder and power vaulted over a ten-foot wall. There was a bank of low shrubs on the other side. He admonished her not to come out until he gave her the okay, and then he sprinted into the night.
The man who spotted Lena raised quite a fuss, right up to the moment when Jesus plunged a razor sharp knife into his neck. After that Jesus made himself invisible, which took a terrible toll on his magical energy, and proceeded to kill every person on the property.
Jesus could tell by the way his victims died that they belonged to evil, so he didn’t feel the least bit bad about it. The only thing that bothered him was his heavy consumption of magic. It took a lot of time to replenish magical energy, but he knew their situation warranted the use. He prayed he wouldn’t need magic again before he could rest.
A triumphant yell from inside the house brought Jesus back to the present, and indicated that Lena had discovered food. Jesus was barely through the front door. His opinion of his companion went up by the minute. She either had good instincts or a nose like a bloodhound. Jesus made eating his highest priority. He hadn’t eaten since long before his mark on earth tried to run him down in a Monte Carlo. That seemed like an eternity ago, and the thought of a sandwich made his stomach growl.
Even without his sense of hearing turned up, Jesus could hear Lena banging around. He followed the noise, and it led him into a genuinely well stocked kitchen. Lena had thrown open most of the cupboards, and Jesus heart quickened in his chest at what he saw. He felt pure delight to see caviar, champagne, smoked oysters and pickled eggs. It was a cornucopia of sinful goodies.
Jesus hated to spoil the fun, but he knew what it meant to find such spoils. “We can’t stay here long,” he told Lena. “Whoever this guy was, he was well connected. A lot of that stuff came directly from earth, and only heavy hitters here have access to earth items. That means he’ll be missed before too long. We need to be far away from here when that happens.”
Lena had a mouth full of Brie cheese and wheat crackers. She grunted assent in his general direction. Jesus wasted no time diving into the cheese and crackers himself. After that he wolfed down a half pound of turkey breast. He stuffed a number of the small tins of goodies into his combat fatigues, and then set off to conduct a quick search of the house. Lena was on her fourth peanut butter and jelly sandwich when he left. Dimensional travel made people hungry.
The locked metal door in the living room caught his attention immediately. He tried unsuccessfully to force it open. He could have pulled off the attempt before he used up all his magic, but his natural physical strength wasn’t enough. On a hunch he walked over to the corpse of the big ugly guy who had the M16. A quick search of the body produced a set of keys. Jesus felt like an early archaeologist as he found the right key and opened the door.
The contents of the closet almost made him climax in his pants. Reality settled him down a little bit, though. Almost every gun he ever wanted was in the closet, but there was no way he could carry everything. He picked up a case labeled “Rockets” and opened it. Sure enough, it contained rockets. He spotted the launcher in a corner. Jesus almost cried when he returned the rockets to the floor. It felt like putting down a very needy baby. He could hear it calling out to him as he closed and locked the closet behind him.
Jesus decided it was worth taking extra time to search the rest of the house. If what he had found so far was any indication, there could be incredibly valuable things hidden inside. The stairs behind a door on the other side of the living room looked like a good place to start. Just as he descended the first step, Lena turned the corner from the kitchen. She crossed the room and followed him down the stairs, contented by a full stomach.
The stairs ended in a sharp turn thirty feet down. Jesus stopped so suddenly Lena smashed into his back. He went sprawling into the room. That gave Lena her first glimpse of the upside down naked woman. The woman was beautiful, even in the terrible physical state they found her in. She wasn’t any more than five foot six. She had a flat stomach and small, perky breasts. Her long, curly black hair dragged the ground. Torture and abuse had taken a heavy toll on the woman. She was unconscious, and drool dripped from the corner of her mouth.
Jesus set the M16 down carefully, picked himself up off of the floor and dusted himself off. He winced at the condition of the woman, and set about lowering her to the floor. She woke up in a panic, and made a sound similar to a kicked dog. When she saw Lena and felt herself being lowered to the floor, she started whimpering. Lena helped set her free while Jesus searched the room for clothing.
“Where’s Lord Viper? He’ll take this out on me,” the woman said in a panic stricken tone. She cast her eyes at the stairs.
“Is that what that guy called himself? That guy was a joke,” Jesus said vaingloriously. He found some rags that resembled a dress, and threw them at the woman.
“You ain’t gotta worry about nobody hurtin’ you anymore. They’re all dead,” Lena informed her summarily.
“I hope that God will forgive me. I know I was always a materialistic girl, but I grew up poor. And I was really lonely,” the woman lamented, “I never wanted to go to hell.”
“You ain’t in hell, lady. You’re alive,” Lena gave her the good news with a pat on the back. “Besides, we’ve all done things we regret.”
Lena helped her pull the rags over her head. The woman regained a little composure after she covered her nakedness. Jesus shook his head in frustration. He wished he had not decided to search the house.
“Who are you people? Am I really free?” the woman asked. She rose unsteadily to her feet, obviously afraid to remain where she was.
“I’m Lena, and the guy who never talks is named Jesus. I don’t know exactly where we are, because Jesus hasn’t told me yet, but you’re as free as we are,” Lena told her soothingly.
“What’s your name?” Jesus asked her bluntly.
“My name is Rosie,” she answered, “and words can not express how happy I am to see you. Being chained up and whipped seemed a lot sexier when I fantasized about it in college. It wasn’t sexy at all.”
“Let me give you the bad news, Rosie. You can’t come with us,” Jesus said in a firm tone. “I have to move fast, and you would be too much dead weight. Lena here can keep up with me, but you don’t appear to be in any condition to run. I’m surprised you can even stand up. I’m very sorry. That’s just the way it is.”
Lena gave him a look of pure hatred. She muttered, “You ain’t no different than all the rest of ‘em.”
Rosie appeared not to have heard any bad news. Instead she spoke up optimistically, “So the reason I can’t go with you is because I can’t run?”
Jesus hung his head shamefully and responded, “Yes. I am sorry. Believe me.”
“What if we left here in a car? If everyone here is dead, then they don’t need one anymore,” Rosie offered.
“There’s a car in this compound?” Jesus eyes lit up. His life may have gotten a whole lot easier.
“There certainly was. Before they brought me down to the basement I could hear them coming and going in it. It’s probably here right now, but I can’t be sure,” Rosie told him.
“If there is a car here, then I’d say that not only can you come with us, you can ride in the front seat,” Jesus bubbled, and did a little dance. His celebration was short lived.
“She gets to ride in the front seat? She gets to ride in the front seat? I see how it is. I guess she’s more your type,” Lena said acidly and tromped back up the stairs.
Jesus made a mental note to sleep lightly around Lena. Rosie paid no attention to the tirade. She was focused on making her legs work long enough to climb the stairs. Jesus became impatient. He slung the M16 over one shoulder, threw Rosie over his other shoulder and took the stairs two at a time.
Lena found the garage quickly. If jealousy still lurked inside of her, she had hidden it well before Jesus and Rosie caught up. She stood in the middle of the garage beside a big, beautiful 1964 Chevrolet Impala. It was metallic black with a custom paint job that depicted tortured souls on the hood, and skulls and flames down the sides.
“It’s not a car. It’s a tank,” Lena said as she peered through the windows.
Jesus responded, “Yeah. Isn’t it glorious.”
Jesus put Rosie down, and pulled Lord Viper’s keys out of his pocket. There was indeed a set of car keys on the chain that he hadn't had time to notice. Again he wondered who Lord Viper was. Motorcycles were common on Discordia. Beat up battle vehicles, such as trucks and Jeeps, were also easy to find. Not too many people had mint condition low riders, though.
Jesus opened the car for the women and deposited the M16 and ammo belt inside. “Wait here for me. I’ll be back,” he told them before rushing back into the house.
“I honestly hate those two phrases now,” Rosie stated without thinking. Her face turned a deep shade of red when the implications of her statement registered.
“If you steal Jesus away from me, I will kill you,” Lena said sweetly from the back seat. Lena hadn’t paid attention to what Rosie said. She was still upset about riding in the back seat, which was a big deal to her. Neither one of them spoke for a while after that.
Jesus returned to the car carrying the rocket launcher over one shoulder and a crate of rockets over the other. He went to the rear of the car, and by some superhuman feat put the items in the trunk without setting them down. He sprinted back into the house.
“I would never do that Lena. I’m not that kind of girl,” Rosie, with pouted lips, finally responded to Lena’s jab. She looked luscious when she poked out her lower lip. Lena noticed.
“You just remember what I said, Rosie.”
The second time Jesus came out of the house he carried four cases of ammo in his arms. He chose to evacuate the premises rather than go back inside again, however. He knew that every second they stayed there brought them closer to danger. He jumped into the driver’s seat and started the car.
The compact disc player worked. A couple of seconds after the car started the music loaded up, and death metal churned out of the speakers. Nobody in the car liked it. Rosie looked in the glove box for another CD, and a hand grenade rolled out. There was a moment of panic in the vehicle, until Jesus determined that the pin was intact.
“Please don’t do anything like that again, Rosie. We have more important things to worry about, like making it through ten miles of patrols and checkpoints without getting killed. The closest friendly stronghold is down by the river. We have a lot of ground to cover,” Jesus pointed out.
“Could you please explain a few things to me now, Jesus? I have been very patient, and I have done everything you told me to,” pleaded Lena.
“Yes. You deserve to know what’s going on. I may have told you sooner, but some of the things I have to say aren’t pleasant,” he explained. “You nearly died in a car accident back on earth. Do you remember the car accident?”
“I remember parts of it. I remember looking up at the sky from the side of the road, and being in terrible pain. I remember I couldn’t move my arms or my legs. The next thing I recall was waking up with you. I wondered if I finally lost my mind,” Lena confessed with emotion creeping into her voice.
“The accident happened because of me. The men who ran into you were chasing me. I accepted a contract to kill one of them,” Jesus said emotionlessly, “but I underestimated him and he got the drop on me. The accident would have taken your life. I couldn’t have that on my conscience. I have enough on my conscience already. So I saved your life and brought you back here.”
“You told me you saved my life. That was true?” Lena asked with tears in her eyes.
“And you’re jealous of me,” thought Rosie.
“Everything I have told you is true. Anyway, we’re in a place called Discordia. Nobody knows who named it that, but it fits. It’s extremely violent, mostly evil and nearly impossible to escape. But at least you’re still alive,” Jesus reasoned.
“I’m not sure if I should appreciate this or hate you for it. If I was so close to death, then how did you put me back together?”
“I made a deal with an evil god,” he answered.
“You made a deal with the devil for me? What did you expect to get from me? I mean, I’m not worth your soul Jesus,” Lena spoke to the assassin condescendingly, as if he had made an obvious blunder.
“The deal wasn’t with ‘the devil’, as you so naively put it,” he read her tone and fed it back to her. “It was with Pan, but he was acting as agent for the rest of the gods. I didn’t barter my soul either. I accepted a mission in exchange for your life. I hope to find out more details when we get to the fortress by the river.”
Lena hadn’t recovered her full mental capacities after almost dying in the car crash. She decided that Jesus had stolen her heart. She didn’t pay any attention to the tone of his voice. She felt totally in love with him, and that worried her. She killed the only other man she ever truly loved. She said a little prayer that Jesus would treat her well.
Her prayer wafted up out of the car and reached God's ear in heaven. He made a note of it. God was watching Lena closely. He knew all about her troubles, and the sad way she gave up on living a normal life. God had sent her some much-needed help, even though she didn’t know it.
Rosie rode in silence during their exchange. Finally she spoke up, “I envy you, Lena. You came here because somebody saved your life. I came here because my life was traded to a devil. I didn’t choose this fate, and I succumbed to the despair. Once I was caught up, I did as I was told and traded my soul away. You’re lucky, Lena.”
Rosie thought she explained her situation to her companions. She was so traumatized by her ordeal that she didn’t realize her explanation was not only vague, it cast her in a bad light. The response she got made her feel worse about herself. It would be quite some time before the truth about Rosie came to light.
“We all have to worry about our souls, Rosie. Nobody here is without sin. That’s why I saved Lena. If she died at that moment, her soul was lost. We’re all struggling to find our way back into grace, each in our own way,” Jesus responded, totally misunderstanding what Rosie tried to say.
In the back seat, Lena was oblivious to Rosie’s attempted explanation. Lena focused only on what Jesus said about her, and she decided he had a big mouth. She was about to interject a jealous comment when Jesus stopped the car short.
They traveled at a cautious ten miles an hour. The slower speed hushed the sound of the tires rolling over the gravel, and prevented dust from rising, which an astute observer could see by moonlight. Jesus put the car in reverse and backed up. He turned down a side road they had passed a hundred yards back.
“There was a checkpoint across the road, but I don’t think they spotted us,” Jesus explained.
Lena didn’t care about the checkpoint. She wanted to know more about the man who saved her life. “Tell me about yourself, Jesus. Where are you from?”
He kept his attention on driving, but answered her question, “I’m from Medellin, Colombia.”
“Wasn’t that city controlled by a cocaine cartel?” Rosie asked him. She knew that it was, but her interest had been peaked. She, like Lena, wanted to know more about their male companion.
Jesus sighed. It was obvious they weren’t going to let him get away without talking to them. “I was born in 1968. I was a member of the Medellin Cartel by birthright. I became one of their most accomplished assassins by the time I was twenty years old. In 1990 I employed the services of a Brazilian shaman to mystically enhance my abilities through an ancient ritual. The ritual summoned a greater devil named Belial. I arrogantly entered into an agreement with Belial. I gained all the power I wanted, but despite my clever wrangling I was tricked. Discordia has been my home for two thousand years as a result. If I can’t hold up my end of the bargain, then I will go to hell for all eternity. Will that satisfy your questions for now?”
His speech effectively shut down the conversation. The car crept slowly down Gus Young Avenue. The oppressive silence darkened everyone’s mood. The reality of their situation settled in.
Lena silently vowed to change everything about herself. She realized intuitively that her survival depended on becoming a better person, in every way possible. She knew that her sex appeal would no longer be enough to sustain her. She decided that if they made it to the fortress Jesus mentioned, she would ask him to teach her how to stay alive.
In the front seat Rosie made a similar promise to herself, but she wasn’t concerned about her physical survival. She pledged to change herself spiritually. Her life on Earth had centered around finding a wealthy husband, and escaping from the poverty she was born into. Her search ended in horror and suffering so extreme that she thought she was damned. She began to pray right there in the car, and resolved to continue praying for the rest of her life. Rosie hadn’t ironed out the details yet, but she couldn’t think of a better plan at the time.
Jesus stopped the car again. There was another checkpoint across the road ahead, and this time there was nowhere for the car to turn. The assassin weighed his options, but all of their options ran out when a flare went up over the road. The followers of evil spotted had spotted their car. Jesus knew there was only one thing to do. The time for timidity had passed. He stomped on the gas pedal and barreled down the road, aimed straight at the roadblock.