Summery: “But its not that they took us. It’s that we went.”
“They came, and they took us,” the girl whispered, dark hair whipping around her face as she shifted. “But its not that they took us, like they took the presents and the wrappings and the Who-hash, it’s that we went.”
Rebecca could hear Danny’s heart pounding, but he couldn’t shoot, he couldn’t, even though his hands shook on his gun, because the girl, the unsub, the killer wasn’t armed and wasn’t rushing them and was only talking. And Danny was too well trained, too much of a bulldog to attack without a command.
Rebecca’s hands were steady, and the girl’s eyes were calm.
“We went,” the dark haired girl said again, with a gaze that looked straight through, leaving Rebecca behind and feeling like all the girl could see was Becky, climbing out of her window after the man who brought her a pony to visit. The man who did not take her. The man she followed willingly.
“I went,” she acknowledged, seeing her breath steam in front of her, and wondered how the girl did not seem to even notice the cold through her bare feet and sleeveless dress. “I went, but I don’t know you.” Rebecca fought to keep her voice steady, through the cold, through the strangeness, through the girl who saw Becky playing dress up and Cops and Robbers.
“Don’t know me,” the girl said, pivoting on her toe suddenly. “No one knows me.”
Beside her, Danny’s finger tightened on the trigger at the unsub’s movement.
Unsub, still an unsub, Rebecca reminded herself, ignoring the trickle of sweat down her forehead. There is no information on who she is, or why.
“Profiling doesn’t work,” the girl told her sadly, lifting one bare foot free of the bloody floor, foot miraculously dry and unstained. “She doesn’t exist, you cannot find her.”
“Ok,” Rebecca’s voice didn’t shake. “Then who are these men? Why,” she swallowed against her dry throat. “Why did they die?”
“All men die.” The girl never stopped moving, constantly swaying. “The love beside you, he will die. And you will die, and I will die, and then my brother will mourn me.” She tilted her head to the side suddenly. “Do you have anyone left to mourn for you?”
Rebecca could hear Danny’s teeth chattering. But he wasn’t cold.
“I do,” she managed to force out between her teeth. “The team..”
“You’ll be replaced.”
Danny choked back a noise.
“I have a brother, then,” Rebecca said, arms starting to shake with the strain of maintaining her aim. “Just like you.”
“Is your brother a doctor?” The girl asked, dress floating around her knees as she swayed. She hummed to herself and turned a slow circle, never taking her eyes off of Rebecca. “Can he fix you, and put you back together?”
Rebecca had to close her eyes against a memory of her brother, toy stethoscope in his ears, listening intently to her heartbeat. “Why did you kill these men?”
“Needed to die, to keep more little girls from going in boxes,” the girl suddenly smiled, the expression lighting up her face. She spoke to Danny, eyes flickering over his features. “Boxes are a good place to hide, but you never remember that.” She giggled. “You never find me!”
He swallowed, the sound loud in the silence after her laughter. “Are we playing a game?”
“We always play,” the girl said with a slow shake of her head. “But you like to think you aren’t, like to be the Big Bad, like to be in control.” She leaned forward and whispered, eyes wide and cupping her mouth like she was sharing a secret with him, “You aren’t in control. You are only a dog on a leash.” She spun again, and Rebecca couldn’t see how she managed to never step in the blood surrounding her.
“Let’s play a new game, then,” Rebecca managed, counting minutes in her head until backup would arrive, Mel and Paul and doctors and men with guns. “Let’s play Truth.”
“Truth or Dare!” The girl clapped her hands excitedly, long hair falling into her face. “Dare you to see with something other than your eyes!”
“No, it’s my game,” Rebecca said. “I go first.” She licked her dry lips as the girl pouted. “Those are the rules.”
The girl nodded, stepping over the broken body of a man face down on the floor and bending down to examine his face. “You want to know why. Is that your Truth?”
Rebecca nodded jerkily. Danny didn’t move, but she could feel his panicked breathing on the back of her neck.
“They wanted, want, will want, to change things. To put pretty girls into cages and train them to dance and to sip champagne when they say.” The girl was pacing, her hands in her hair, voice getting louder and shriller. “They want to pluck out my eyes and replace them with crystals,” she shouted, wiping away a sudden rush of tears. “They killed my brother!”
Rebecca caught her breath as the girl sank to the floor, the hem of her dress trailing through a puddle of blood.
Danny edged forward, gun loaded and cocked and waiting for a wrong move. But the girl looked up, back on her feet before he could move more than an inch. “No closer,” she ordered, her own hands shaking as she wiped them on her dress. “They could still come back and swallow you whole.” She shook her head at him. “You aren’t strong enough to stop them this time, either,” she said sadly.
Rebecca never took her eyes off of her. “One more,” she said desperately, “One more Truth.”
“And then its my turn?” The girl’s eyes turned from despair into childish hope with startling intensity. “I want to play too. Want to know your Truth.”
Rebecca nodded, goose bumps prickling up her back. “Yes,” she managed. “Then it’s your turn.”
A smile turned up the corners of the girl’s mouth, even though her eyes were red, and her face was still wet with tears. “Your brother loves you like mine loves me,” she told Rebecca. “But mine was older, when I was taken.. No. When I went. He came to find me and opened all the boxes.”
“Ready?” Rebecca’s mind was racing. Who was she? Had she killed these men? Besides the blood on her dress, the girl’s hands were clean.
“Never clean,” the girl said firmly, eyes piercing through Rebecca. “My kingdom for a horse.”
“Ok,” Rebecca said unsteadily, shoulders cramping from the strain of holding her gun. “One more Truth.”
“Yes,” the girl agreed softly. “One more Truth.” She smiled, and stepped closer to Danny. “The Truth is,” she told them both. “It will still come about.” She gestured at the dead men on the floor behind her. “Not through these, but others, and they will want the same things. Still want toys shaped like girls, still want power, they will still..want. ”
Danny’s hands shook on his weapon as she drifted closer to him.
“The Truth is that I will still go, still be broken,” Her eyes were filled with so much pain. “My brother will break himself trying to fix me.” Her voice broke, and tears spilled down her face. “The Truth,” she said brokenly, “The Truth is that no one can save us.” From somewhere behind her, she pulled a weapon, the barrel pointing directly at Danny, though her eyes were still on Rebecca. “The Truth is that we went,” she screamed at them. “We went, and doomed ourselves, and I don’t want to see it again!”
Danny was already moving, hands shaking but aim always true, and a shot rang out.
“It hurts,” the girl whispered, wavering on her feet, hands over her heart bloody now, when they hadn’t been before. She raised lucid eyes to his horrified face, “Don’t make me sleep again,” she begged him, bloody hand reaching up to clutch at his shirt.
“I won’t,” he told her.
And she fell, dress rippling out around her, hair falling in a halo around her face.
“I won’t,” he said again. The helpless sound of his voice echoed through the empty warehouse.
In the distance, Rebecca could hear sirens.