This is beginning to feel like the long winded blues of the never
This is beginning to feel like it's curling up slowly and finding a throat to choke
This is beginning to feel like the long winded blues of the never
Barely controlled locomotive consuming the picture and blowing the crows to smoke
This is beginning to feel like the long winded blues of the never
Static explosion devoted to crushing the broken and shoving their souls to ghost
TV On the Radio
The hearse skidded and Dougie groaned through gritted teeth, wincing every time the hearse jerked over imperfections in the road or Aiden took a corner too fast. His blood, warm and sticky like maple syrup, created a puddle beneath his leg. It caused his body to slip and slide along the polished wood where Keegan's coffin had rested peacefully not too long ago, painting him a morbid mural.
Peace was destroyed. What the Syndicate had done, there was no coming back from. They kept taking and taking from the Diamond Mafia, and now the turf war had grown much uglier than it already was.
Aiden took a corner again and Dougie's wiry frame skidded across the wood and slammed into the chrome bars that lined the sides.
Ava squeezed her eyes shut as if closing them would close her ears too. She spoke to Aiden through gritted teeth, "You need to get him to a hospital." It wasn't that she cared (in all honesty she couldn't care less if Dougie Monroe lived or died if she tried) she just couldn't take the sounds that erupted from his throat when he couldn't bite back the pain anymore. It irritated her. How dare he cry out! How fucking dare he feel anguish when he was so unfeeling! On top of that, the sound gave the impression that his physical pain was somehow worse than the festering wound in her chest that had once again been ripped back open and plied with acid, denying her peace, reminding her that any solace she found from here on in would never be real. She was haunted -haunted by the image of Max as he lay bleeding into someone else's grave while the angel stood by and did nothing. Her father...hanging limply, less than a foot away from her, surrounded by smoke and fire with a bullet in his head. Chris, the man who played a huge role in raising her as if she were his own flesh and blood, sat there, in the safety of one of her father's town cars, watching unbothered as she was dragged away barefoot and howling by the very men he'd come to seek revenge on.
There was no God and there was no justice. She knew that now.
Escape was pointless. Even if she got away, where the hell would she go? Who was she meant to run to?
"I'm all you've got now."
"I have no one."
She sobbed then swiped angrily at her face. The constant crying made her throat hoarse. The crying and wiping made her face and eyes red, but not in the pretty rose gold way; it was more of a furious scarlet.
Aiden had endured her screaming without out complaint. The poor thing; she'd been through so much and even hardened through his annoyance with her, he couldn't help but feel a little guilty for being a majority of the reason for it.
"It's too hot right now."
"Fine, let him die," she replied coldly.
"He's not going to die. You're going to fix him, Heaven."
"My name is Ava," she spat, "And it will be a cold day in hell when I help that man, or you for that matter."
Aiden gripped the steering wheel, the lightening of the dark flesh stretched over his knuckles obscured by a cocktail of dried blood, "Oh, you will."
"You can't make me. Anyway, I'm not a doctor."
"You're a vet, are you not?"
"A veterinary student...or at least I used to be."
He ignored her jab. "Either way, you have some medical experience."
"Close enough. I'm sure you can remove a bullet, clean a wound and do some stitches."
"Maybe I can, but you'll never know. Like I said, you can't make me."
He looked at her sideways and his fist twitched around the wheel, "I could do exactly that, Ava-Marie," he dropped his tone to a crushed velvet growl, "But we're pressed for time." He looked in the rear-view mirror and locked her defiant eyes with his, unleashing his magnetic burn.
Without so much as a sharp intake of breath, Ava looked away from him. She'd told him her new truth; he couldn't make her do anything, not anymore, not even with his persuasive tactics that used to make her heart flutter and the softness at her apex, pulsate. It was too much. Aiden had finally gone too far. He'd taken everything from her, what else could he threaten her with? Death? She had been more than willing to shoot herself.
Her eyes went back to meet his stare. She smothered his waning heat with a numbing coldness, "Take him to the hospital or watch him die."
The hearse screeched into the ER parking bay of St. George's hospital.
"I need a doctor," Aiden called to the paramedics who'd run out when they saw the unauthorised vehicle. He yanked open the back door to show his best friend approaching death in a place reserved for the dead. It was too hot for them to be here after the shooting, so much was at stake, but unfortunately for him this was one of those situations where he had no choice but to risk it. It was a morose choice between incarceration and another death to add to the mounting pile of bodies? Prison he could find a way out of. Death...
Death was set in stone.
The paramedics loaded Dougie onto a gurney, checking his vitals and trying to keep him from closing his eyes lest he not reopen them. A small team of nurses and doctors appeared with a swing of the white and steel double doors and started to wheel him inside.
Aiden moved to follow them...then he remembered Ava-Marie Lockewood -the missing girl whom the entire country had been looking for, for weeks -crying, scarred, filthy and hating him in the front seat.
One of the doctors hung back. She gestured with her head after Dougie, "What happened to him?"
"He was shot."
She pursed her lips and looked at Dougie's blood stained white attire, "Another one from the cemetery?"
Aiden paused. This wouldn't bode well if the cemetery shooting was a thing. If it was thing it meant that the police were already here questioning victims, try to get to the bottom of it, and he couldn't know if they were the ones in his pocket. He had to think fast. "Is he going to be okay?"
"We'll know once we take a closer look. Who are you to the patient?"
Aiden's Adam's apple bobbed thickly, "He's my best friend."
"Well your friend has lost a lot of blood. Are there any family members that you can contact?"
He shook his head. He couldn't call Trish back; it was too dangerous for her and Jamie to return. "No one else is available."
"Then I'm sorry, there's not much we'll be able to tell you. If there are any next of kin you can get in contact with at all, please do. He's lost a lot of blood," she fixed him with a serious gaze to make sure he understood. He did. His understanding made his throat close up and the space behind his eyeballs ache and overheat in need of release. "You're free to wait inside, just so he has someone."
"What's the patient's name?"
"Saadiq Khan," he offered up Titan's name. His death hadn't been recorded yet. It was less risky than telling them than the man on the gurney being wheeled into a hospital full of police, was Douglas Monroe.
The doctor furrowed her brow at Dougie.
"His dad is from Pakistan."
"Right... We'll take good care of Saadiq. You may stay in the waiting room for now, until someone comes for him."
He bit down on his back teeth. He couldn't call Trish. She'd hate him for it but there was no use in both of them dying, or Jamie being taken away. "No one is coming for him. Look," he wrung his hands together and stared pleadingly into her eyes, "He's my best friend. The closest thing I have to family," he reached into the inside pocket of his blood streaked blazer and pulled out a thick wad of twenties. He pushed it into her surprised hands, "I'd really like to be kept up to speed on how he's doing."
The doctor gawked at the excessive amount of money balancing between the desperate force of his fingers and the hesitant force of hers. She pushed it back. "Sir, I appreciated that you are worried about your friend, but I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do for you. It's against hospital policy_"
"Please!" he pushed it back harder. Purple papers slipped free and fluttered to the ground. Aiden didn't bend to reach for them, he just stared at her desperately while the tears he fought so hard to hold back begun to create a gradually growing line of water against his waterline.
She frowned and placed her hand on top of his gently, "Sir, I really am sorry. Like I said, you are free to sit in the waiting room." She tuned and followed the gurney inside. Aiden watched Dougie get wheeled away. The doors swung shut behind them.
"Sir, you'll have to move your...hearse," a young paramedic said as he furrowed his brow. He looked at Aiden's clothes, "Do you need to see someone? That's a lot of blood."
Aiden's dark eyes flicked to him, "It's not mine," he replied evenly.
The paramedic swallowed and took a step back, "Okay. Your c-car please, Sir."
Aiden rolled his eyes, "I'm going." He stormed back to the hearse and slammed the door shut "FUCK!" His fist beat against the steering wheel once, twice, three times. He broke out into a violent combination of hands and his head, growling and roaring, slamming his back against the back of his seat and stomping. The hearse rocked and vibrated.
Ava stared out of the window and pretended she wasn't there.
Aiden wanted to wring her neck. He knew it wasn't her fault; she had every right to feel the way she did, but she'd forced his hand and made him bring Dougie here. It was a big mistake to bring him here.
"He did it for you, you know," he sneered. "Dougie shooting at Chris –that was for you."
"And that means what?"
"I don't know...but it's Dougie. It means something."
"It means he enjoys killing," she said bluntly. "He shot at Chris and I'm meant to be grateful? I'm supposed give a shit about what happens to him because there's someone else that he wants dead more than me?" she scoffed. "He wants to shoot me too. It means nothing to me. You've ruined my life, all of you, so fuck Dougie and fuck you, Aiden!" she screamed.
Aiden clocked a movement of out the corner of his eye. "Shut up!" He grabbed the back of Ava's head and yanked her down then covered her torso with his. "Get as low down in your seat as you can, and stay down."
She felt his heartbeat quicken in his against her back and it made hers fall into step. Something was very, very wrong.
They slipped lower and Aiden pulled out his phone, "Mighty, get to St George's now! Bring everything and everyone with you."
He hung up before his lieutenant could reply.
"Aiden," Ava squeaked.
He covered her mouth, "Sshhh!"
Heavy boot falls attempted to tread stealthily pass the hearse. Hushed male voices grunted and laughed sinisterly. "It's about time someone took out Monroe."
"I'm gonna make sure that prick's out for good."
Steel shot up Aiden's spine. He clenched his fist and spoke through gritted teeth. "I'm going in there. If you want to live you will stay low and stay quiet. These men will kill you, Ava-Marie. Remember, I'm all you have now. No matter how much you hate me, you know that I'm the only one keeping you safe, so do as I say." He pulled his pistol from the harness and swapped the cartridge to a full clip. For what he had planned it was best that he not have to swap cartridges mid-shoot out, especially with no idea how long it would take for his reinforcements to arrive. It was him against what felt like the world, and there was no way in hell he was going to let those Syndicate fucks get to Dougie.
Heart racing, high on adrenaline, with his determined grip on his weapon, Aiden took a deep breath and rose slowly. His beast rolled its shoulders and licked its fangs, ready for blood. His black eyes peeked above the rim and he came face to face with the barrel of a Syndicate soldier's gun. He'd spotted Aiden and Ava hiding in the car and had chosen to wait silently for Aiden to see his gloating face. He wanted the hood's hottest king pin to see the man who would send him to meet his maker.
He grinned, flashing Aiden with one gold tooth. "Gotch_" Before he could get all of the syllables out, Aiden cocked his wrist and fired a kill shot that would make Dougie swell with pride. Right between the eyes.
The body hit the ground with a dull thud and the soft slosh of limbs.
"TONY!" a Syndicate soldier who was just about to enter through the emergency doors of the hospital cried out.
Aiden turned to Ava, "If anyone asks you, you are Heaven, okay?"
"I am Heaven..." she repeated, wide eyed and shaking. She didn't think that watching someone get murdered in front of her was something she could ever get used to. Whether they were good or bad, it was awful to witness someone go from being very much alive to an empty vessel. Gang deaths were worse. They were gruesome. The violence taken to end lives made her wish for one of those silver flashing sticks from the Men in Black films so that those memories could be erased, because they didn't die with the person. They, along with her other woes, played over and over like a non-stop horror movie that she couldn't escape. If it wasn't in her head then it was in front of her, around her, and its instigator above or beneath her trying to protect her from it whilst he burned the rest of the world down.
"There are four more men on their way over. I'm going to take care of them, then I will come back for you and we will get Dougie. Okay?"
"Aiden..." she quivered.
He kissed his teeth. He didn't have time for her to shut down right now. His South London accent pushed through, "Do you understand?"
He launched himself out of the hearse, "Just stay down 'til I come for you, yeah."
He spun and ducked behind the open door with the shattered, blood smattered glass.
Ava clamped her hand over her ears and squeezed her eyes shut as shots rained down in the hospital ER lot, loud and unforgiving. There were screams, and yelling, running and cursing, howling...and then the shots stopped and the screams weren't as terrible, muffled behinds hospital windows and doors.
Aiden appeared at her side and pulled her out of the car, "Stand up." He tucked her under his arm as his eyes darted around and his pistol was at the ready for the next threat.
Something wet and warm ran down her back. She twisted her neck to see the new red stain on his white suit generating from a small burning hole in his bicep. "You're bleeding!"
He glanced at it, "Oh."
"Oh? Aiden, you've been shot!"
He kept moving them forward.
"We can't go in there. They'll kill us."
"They'll kill Dougie."
"Fuck Dougie! We need to get out of here," she tried to pull away but he held fast.
The white and steel doors swung open and three figures came into view. "STOP RIGHT THERE, MICHAELS! DROP THE WEAPON, LET GO OF THE GIRL AND PUT YOUR HANDS UP."
Aiden muttered expletives under his breath. "Officer, listen to me_"
"PUT YOUR WEAPON DOWN, LET GO OF THE GIRL AND PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!"
His stomach coiled with a sickening feeling as he slowly let go of Ava. The coiling was a warning, his gut feeling that this was not the right thing for him to do. He had to keep her safe. He had to keep her safe, but if they took her away from him he couldn't do that. He'd break his promise, and out of everything he'd done to her, that would be the worst because then there would have been no saving grace to any of this mess that he had them all stuck in. He wanted to grab her back and get rid of the police officers...permanently, but even the most powerful criminal knew that killing law enforcement was a dumb move that had a frightening amount of backlash, even if you had some of the force on your side. Police could be as crooked as a tube map, but they didn't tolerate their own being slaughtered.
The three officers surrounded them, two male and one female. The male officers edged towards him as the female moved cautiously towards Ava like she hadn't deciphered whether the dishevelled, barefoot, cotton candy-haired girl was a threat or not.
Aiden held additional curses behind clenched teeth. "Officer, armed men have just entered that hospital with the intent to murder a patient. I'm trying to stop that from happening."
"Stop them from offing Monroe?" the shorter male officer scoffed, "No chance."
Aiden cringed as realisation dawned on him. Not only were these officers not on his side, but they sided with his enemy. Things were going in the exact direction he didn't want them to. He spared a quick glance at Ava and the coiling in his stomach got tighter.
The short officer stepped closer and jabbed his pudgy finger at the hospital, "With the amount of bodies Monroe has left behind him for us to clean up, it would be a blessing to this world to be rid of him," drops of saliva sprayed from his mouth onto the white painted lines of the parking bay as he narrowed his eyes at Aiden with a kind of hate most reserved for lifelong enemies "...and you, Michaels."
Aiden's hand tightened around the handle of his pistol.
The other male officer stuck his hand out, halting his partner in his steps. "Michaels, drop the weapon," he said in a calmer tone than the short officer.
"Let me pass."
"That's not gonna happen, boy. If you don't shut it and do as you're told, Monroe ain't the only one who's gonna need saving," the short officer threatened. His beady eyes flicked to Ava.
Ava's eyes darted between both sides; the bad guy and the good guys...well at least that's what it said on paper. The criminals were bad and the police were good, but from where she was standing it didn't seem that way at all. She couldn't deny that the officer was right -the world would be better without Dougie in it, maybe even without Aiden (definitely without Aiden), but the police were meant to be the ones who swore to protect and serve, and brought the bad guys to justice in a just way. Aiden had just told them that armed men had stormed the hospital to kill an injured man and they were prepared to stand here and let them. There was no good and no bad, only humans doing what they could to ensure their own power and survival. She twisted her arm a little and the female officer tightened her grip more than necessary. She no longer felt anywhere close to safe.
"Stay calm," the female officer warned in her ear, "It's not you they want."
This definitely was not right.
Aiden didn't miss the way the more subdued male officer glanced at his watch then spared one over his shoulder at the hospital. They were waiting for something, and whatever this something was, he wasn't about to stand around waiting along with them for it to happen. They hadn't called for backup or even attempted to fetch more officers from inside the hospital. It unsettled him further because the only logical conclusion that he could draw was that the ones inside of the hospital were in on it too. He eyed up the police. The shorter one was heavier whilst his taller partner was and had something closer to an athletic frame, which meant that he was quicker...
So Aiden shot him first.
The bullet cut right through his throat like a hot knife to butter. He grabbed at his neck in disbelief with eyes the size of traffic lights, praying for the sudden chaos to stop.
Aiden smiled, satisfied. His beast purred.
The officer spluttered, choked, and involuntarily gargled on the rapid influx of blood as it drowned him from the inside, stumbling around and clutching at his neck as if he could push the blood back in, as if as long as he kept moving, the storm clouds around the edges of his vision would stop closing in. He was fighting a battle against death and even though he knew that there was no way that he would win, he needed to believe that if he tried hard enough he could win and wipe that jeer off of Aiden's face. He fell to his knees and put his slippery scarlet hands out in front of him to stall the feeling of sinking down into the nothingness that awaited him with open arms.
Aiden killed a police officer. The potential of the shit storm he had to deal with, increased tenfold, but it was a necessity, albeit a reckless one.
The remaining male officer's arrogance dissipated as fast as the blood that flowed from his partners wound. This was his first time dealing with the notorious Aiden Michaels, and to his disappointment, Aiden didn't disappoint. Rumours of his ruthlessness were treated as revered legends among the force. Tales of disturbingly gruesome murders, high stake robberies, and the many gut-wrenching methods he'd used to make the streets of South London bow down and kiss his ring in a shorter time than any other big time hustler on the come up. The world would be a better place without him; there was no doubt about that. The terrible crimes he'd committed and gotten away with led the officer to believe that Aiden could only be Satan with a pretty face.
He recalled a corrupt tale about a small time dealer from a rival gang who'd tried to get the jump on Aiden when he was starting out. Apparently, after stealing his merchandise from him (three ounces of weed to be exact) and knocking him to the ground, the young man told Aiden to 'eat a dick'.
...A plumber found the young man months later tucked behind the boiler in the basement of his tower block, tied to a chair with his genitals severed off and duct-tape over his mouth. When the police turned up and removed the tape, they discovered where his genitals had gone.
Eat a dick.
The officer didn't feel so brave any more. He leapt behind a parked ambulance truck.
Had Aiden been alone he would have used that opportunity of the officer's cowardice to run into the hospital and rescue Dougie...but Ava-Marie. Ava-Marie, with her fear-glazed hazel eyes, quivering rosebud mouth and conflicting tension in her muscles as the tiresome battle between head and heart waged on. He wouldn't leave her.
He would never leave her.
Aiden charged after the officer as he cowered behind the van and called for backup. He fired at him until his radio was blasted to pieces and his injuries incapacitated him. He wasn't going to finish him off; he didn't deserve a death that easy. After the way he'd championed the slaughter of his best friend, Aiden found that he quite liked the idea of the officer slowly bleeding to death only a few feet from help that wouldn't come until it was much too late.
An ear-splitting scream echoed across the ER bay that made his veins turn to ice, preventing him for firing one last shot in-between the officer's leg for the fun of it. The sound had begun loud and prominent, then became textured with vocal strangulation, fluctuating in and out of audible recognition. He bound from behind the truck to see the female officer with her Taser locked onto Ava, as she howled his name like a desperate Hail Mary, crying out for mercy. As Aiden raised his pistol to stop her torture, his own commenced as the female officer transferred the aggressive voltage from Ava to him. His weapon clattered against the tarmac and his muscles locked together, vibrating, making bones clattering and flesh burn like hell had taken up residence within the confines of his skin. Ava twitched on the ground; tears blurred her vision and her temperature spiked and dropped with the aftershock of the current that still lingered. An indomitable ring in her ears was enough to mask the sound of his rough and jagged voice crying her name, begging her to get up and run, run, run...
Even with fifty thousand volt frying him alive, Aiden was still more concerned with Ava's well-being. It was things like this -small but significant things -that made it hard to despise him the way that she was supposed to. Tears rolled down the sides of her face as she watched his convulsing hand reaching for her, still trying to save her when he was the one who needed saving.
"Officer Jones, requesting immediate backup," the female officer said into her radio clasped in her free hand, "Two officers down. The offender is a Mr Aiden Michaels, disarmed but dangerous. I also have an IC3 female, subdued. She has bright pink hair... I'm not sure, but I think she's the Loc_"
BANG! BANG! BANG!
"Officer Jones?" The voice on the other end of the radio crackled, "Officer Jones? Come in Officer Jones."
Stone's boot came down hard on the radio until the voice on the other end was nothing but distorted white noise and high pitched whistling to accompany the sound of Officer Jones's body hitting the ground.
"This way," Mighty stood at the entrance of the ER bay and directed the cavalry of Diamond Mafia soldiers; some of them through the double doors of the hospital and a few to stay behind whilst Stone tended to Aiden. He marched over to Ava, "What happened?"
"These men...they came out of nowhere...and they...they started shooting. Aiden...he killed them...all of them...and then the police...the police," she stressed the noun still in disbelief of how the enforcers of the law had responded. She'd never seen anything like that where she was from.
"The police were their usual pleasant selves," he finished for her with a flippant roll of his eyes.
"She tased me! I didn't do anything."
"Like I said..." He placed his arm under her shaking shoulders and put her into the upright position. She saw Aiden lying on the ground, barely moving with the exception of aftershocks as Stone spoke quietly and calmly to him as he checked his vitals. She found herself about to ask if he was okay. It was that stupid tugging made her open her mouth to do so, but this time her resentment won her over. Her mouth snapped shut and she found herself hoping that he wasn't.
The world would be a better place if you weren't in it.
"Are you okay to walk?" Mighty asked impatiently as he scanned their surroundings. Three police officers were dead. Reinforcements would be there soon and they couldn't be when that happened.
"I'm not sure." Her eyes were still on Aiden, the stupid question still on the tip of her stupid, tugging tongue.
"We need to get you guys out of here...stat," he chuckled awkwardly, knowing that his humour was in bad taste but not wanting to pass up the chance at hospital related joke.
Ava frowned at him.
Mighty pushed his overgrown blonde curls out of his eyes and cleared his throat. "This place is about to light up like the fourth of July," he said in a forced American action movie voice that made his awkward moment even more awkward. Seriousness had never been his strong suit. Being a bubbly person in his line of work, you had to catch the light wherever you could or the darkness would swallow you up like it did everyone else –a least that was his view of it. It made him frequently annoying, but also it made his peers grateful that at least one of them wasn't completely pulled under. Aiden had said that Mighty was as crazy as everyone else, just a different kind of crazy; a more tolerable sort, fuelled by curiosity rather than rage and destruction. He smiled sheepishly at Ava. She couldn't fathom what reason there was to smile about. Everything was shit.
He got her to her to her feet and hobbled along with her to one of the white armoured trucks parked round the corner, then just like he'd foretold, the Fourth of July commenced in the wings of St George's Hospital.
So...how was this chapter for you?
Do you think Dougie should survive or not, and why?
What are your views on Ava's change in attitude towards Aiden?
How would you like her character to develop from here?
Let me know in the comments below, and don't forget to click the heart and share too.
Love Scotty x