The girl would not meet my eyes. “That’s an ugly bruise on your wrist?” I prompted her again.
“I fell and hit it on a railing,” Jamie lied to me. She was so young, it was hard to tell with the makeup and the heels but I had seen many before just like her. The bruise she was trying to hide on her wrist looked like fingers. The one on her cheek carefully concealed under those layers of makeup came from a guy who liked to show how much of a man he was by beating up a girl while he got his freak on.
“I hate when that happens.” I lied to the girl.
There was a flicker of sadness in her eyes when she let out her tired laugh.
Some people think that you can just arrest girls like Jamie and fix the “problem.” The “good people” think that the “bad people” will get clean or find Jesus or some other fairytale shit while they’re in the lock-up. Sorry, the world is not that kind. The Good people think the track marks on Jamie’s arm were there because she chose to do drugs. No one ever thinks that they were put there by someone else as a way to control her. At first, it’s just a good way to keep them quiet while they are being taken. Then it’s a great way to keep them under control. The marks on her arm and the marks on her wrist were really the same thing. Even though I knew exactly what had happened to Jamie, I couldn’t help her. Not yet, not if I wanted to get the people behind this that had taken so many.
“Um thanks for the sandwich, but I have to… um… get going.” Jamie had already moved away by a few feet. I could only watch her leave and knot my fist at this audacity of it.
According to most experts, any teen on the streets for more than 36-48 hours will have been targeted at least once for human trafficking, though because so many of them ended up like Jamie that may be optimistic. You may think that only applies to big cities and you would be horribly, dangerously wrong. In this cow town on the eastern edge of Iowa, the local estimate put it closer to the 36-hour mark, and in the winter when sleeping outside could prove fatal the time dropped even lower than that. Back in Moscow, my old boss would find girls like Jamie by posting an advertisement looking for new models. Young girls from all over the country would line up like cattle. Then he would send in my perky ass to interview them and chose the ones that would make the best candidates. I always thought it was stupid for him to use me that way, I could probably take most of his guards with a bullet in my lung, and a broken leg. Scratch that. I did take out most of his guards with a bullet wound and broken leg. No, he sent me because I was a perky, 5ft, 110 lb fuckin idiot who truly believed that I was helping these girls get into modeling and escaping the poverty and chaos left in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union.
I felt a stabbing pain in my left hand. I focused on retracting the sharp claw that had begun to form in place of my normal nails. Soon, I would be able to help Jamie and make the monsters that did this to her pay!
The moon was full and hung high and clear in the sky providing my shifted eyes perfect light to move through the stockyard. I hunkered down amongst a couple of dozen pigs that were being prepared to be loaded onto a trailer. I had little fear of being spotted thanks to how little care the men actually had for the animals as well as my shifted skin color. The men running this operation were taking their ease by the end of the trailer obviously waiting for something to happen. Mostly I worried about spooking the animals if I let my scent shift to the more predatory nature that was begging me to rip into those men. The last thing I wanted to do was spook a bunch of 250 lbs animals known for violence. Not alerting the people by the truck would be preferred as well.
I’m confident that I heard the car approaching on the gravel road long before the men saw the headlights round the corner. An older American sedan with the driver’s lower fog light out pulled into the yard as the four men gathered at the end of the cattle trailer. My rage mixed with the implanted animal instincts as I spotted the shit stain of a man that pulled Jamie from the car. Donny was almost bland looking. Mid 30’s, white, not big but with a little weight and a hairline that was just starting to recede. He reminded me of an accountant, or cell phone salesman. Donny was known to frequent message boards and hangouts of the local runaways looking for girls that, “Could use some help.” Then came the drugs and then you would have to pay for more, then once he was done with you he would sell you to one of the larger-scale operations, and voila we end up here. I wanted nothing more than to bring unending pain to that pig. I took a quick inventory of the dozen animals around me and offered a mental apology to them for lumping him into their kind. One of them snorted and bumped into me seeming to acknowledge the apology.
I held my position for a few torturous minutes. With an operation this size it was likely that other low-level traffickers would be arriving with other captives. Donny was discussing something with one of the men and looked like he was getting ready to leave. The other three men held Jamie, it was overkill really, Jamie had no light left in her eyes and was not fighting back. Well, I can’t have that, if she won’t put up a fight then I will do it for her.
With quick steps, I bounded over the hip-high fence separating the animals and the monsters. A number of small needle-sharp stingers emerged from my palm, each tipped with the venom of a Bullet Ant. I slapped one of the men holding Jamie on the forearm. Bullet Ant venom was great for situations like this because it overloads the pain centers of the body with no long-term effects. The monumental level of pain will incapacitate just about anyone instantly. But what I loved most about the Bullet Ant, the venom didn’t paralyze the lungs, so I got to enjoy hearing the monsters scream. It’s just a shame I had to be bitten by one of the devils before I could replicate it myself.
I brushed the second man in the neck, then like an eel I flowed around Jamie into a straight kick to the groin of the third man. I hope I broke his dick in the process.
“Jamie run!” I urged as I shouldered her in the direction of the truck, best not to touch her with my hands right now.
Spinning into a crouch I looking for the fourth man and Donny. The shit stain had pulled a small automatic pistol out of his jeans and the other man was not to be seen. I closed on Donny low and fast, snaking back and forth as he panic fired in my general direction. 110 lbs of lean rage and bared teeth crashed into 245 lbs of middle-aged white privilege like a shark taking a seal. His feet left the ground and he crashed into the side of his car. As much as I would love to rip this monster apart I had to settle with a double-handed slap to the upper arms. I didn’t know how many stingers I had left and I wanted to make sure that shit stain got his du amount.
I turned one more looking for the last man just in time to see him pulling a terrified Jamie into an emerging flash of light. That son of a bitch had a personal teleporter! Either the trafficking ring had upgraded its tech or they had started to recruit people with powers. I hurled myself at the spot as it faded, I could not allow them to take another girl. The world flashed to light and an immeasurable sense of distance washed over me as I dove into the breach.