This is the rest of the opening for Crossing Bedlam, which introduces you to Lloyd Tenay and his first meeting with Cassidy. Just to warn you, there is some violence and cursing. As far as the image goes, I don’t have anything that works with these characters yet.
“What the fuck happened!?” Cassidy shouts as she opens the door and steps on a blood-oozing finger.
Four bodies are sprawled on the floor and the fifth is propped against the exit, the door slightly open. Body parts are scattered about, some of them clearly having been removed with a blade and others possibly being torn or bitten off. Two of the unattached hands are holding steak knives, but they are surprisingly clean of blood. Cassidy cannot see any other weapons, so she assumes the other three either fought with their fists or tried to escape. The carnage is so widespread that she cannot figure out what happened and senses that there is touch of playfulness to the mess. All Cassidy knows for sure is that she has gone from having six hardened criminals on her side to having only one.
Admiring his handiwork, the chuckling escapee no longer has his orange shirt, so his skin is covered in blood. Tall and lanky, the man picks a tooth out of his shock of ebony hair and flicks it over his shoulder. He turns slowly with his hands up to show off his collection of scars, including one on his stomach that is shaped like a koi. Juggling the combat knife he stole off a guard during their escape, the man randomly pauses to aim it at Cassidy. He laughs whenever her hand goes for the handgun, but never draws the weapon. Tossing the blade onto a chair, the man wiggles his fingers and licks his lips like a proud predator.
“I’ll admit that I don’t play well with others,” he replies, nudging a gutted leg with his bare foot. He shifts the limb out of his way and takes a few steps closer to the young woman. “Always been a solo act. At least I was before I got locked up and the country went to hell. Not much news in Rikers, so I’m surprised the place is still standing. You’d think with the global blockade, DC being nuked, and humans being humans that only ashes would be left. That’s really the only reason you’re still alive. I need you to tell me what this new world is like because I don’t want to embarrass myself.”
“You just killed five people and ruined my plans. Not to mention I can’t get back my deposit on this thing with blood and body parts everywhere,” Cassidy answers, her eyes never breaking away from the cold stare of the man. She wracks her brain for information on the people she broke out and her mouth goes dry when she realizes who she is facing. “You’re Lloyd Tenay. I was a teenager when you were big news. Killed fifteen men and women in five states over the course of two years. That’s not counting the ones you claimed, but couldn’t confirm. You were captured in the Bronx Zoo and the trial took only a week because you pled guilty. My teacher had us write a paper on the events. I’m surprised they didn’t kill you or give you the death penalty.”
“First of all, I really wanted to see the baboons,” Lloyd says with a relaxed sigh. He goes to move the dead body from the doorway and opens the entrance to enjoy the breeze. “Second of all, I’m not going to share since you’re playing games. Besides, this isn’t the proper time for an info dump. You could lose the audience before the fun stuff.”
“What are you talking about?”
Cassidy rubs her eyes and struggles to hold off a migraine, the trading cost of medicine briefly running through her mind. “I can’t walk away from this empty-handed, so you’re my only prize. Can’t believe I’m going to say this to a serial killer, but I’ve dealt with worse. You’ll find out what that means if you stay with me and live long enough. Now please tell me you had a good reason for killing the others.”
“Well, the big guy over there, there, and there came at me with a knife. Seems he forgot why I was given my own cellblock, which I thank you for getting me out of,” Lloyd explains while raising his leg and poking at the device on his ankle. One of the lights flickers and his finger comes away with flecks of metal on the nail. “After the collapse, the guards enjoyed . . . feeding troublesome prisoners to me, so I’ve kept in killing shape. Killed Captain Chubby and that panicked the others. One attacked, the others tried to run, and I fell into old habits. Now, would you explain why a child rapist was on your team?”
“Decoy and expendable resource,” Cassidy swiftly answers, drawing a wire-covered rectangle from her pocket. She flicks a switch on the side and the bulb at the front turns bright red. “I’m going to remind you that this will set off the bomb on your ankle. It might not be enough to kill you, but how far do you think you can get with one leg?”
“Ruthless and cold. I like it. Still, I don’t think you can do what you promise.”
The lanky serial killer lunges forward and grabs the young woman by the wrist. He coils his leg around hers while placing his thumb on the detonator’s trigger. They remain quiet and motionless for several minutes, neither wanting to give an inch or take a step. Lloyd yawns and uses his free hand to tickle the side of Cassidy’s neck, but she never blinks. Bored with the standoff, the serial killer hops them back to the doorway where he can enjoy the wind. He spies a few people outside and is confused at how they are wearing clothes that are fairly clean. Gazing at his surroundings for the first time, Lloyd realizes that the decimated landscape that he always dreamed of is nothing more than a fantasy. The brief relaxing of his muscles is enough for Cassidy to free her leg and wrest control of the detonator, but there is no resistance from the black-haired man.
“Go ahead and hit the button. This place isn’t the chaotic playhouse that I wished for. Make my end quick,” Lloyd dramatically states, falling on his knees and holding up his arms. With a laugh, he rolls forward and does a handstand against the wall, his legs crossed to avoid hitting the overhead compartment. “On the other hand, you’re holding a remote control with junk welded to it. This ankle bomb is nothing more than a ball gag covered in blinking Christmas lights. You put these on us rather quickly and had us running, but there’s no way all of us would fall for this once we stopped.”
“You forgot another part of the trick,” Cassidy says before pressing the remote button. A pop makes Lloyd tumble onto his side, but only a few wisps of smoke come out of the rubber ball. “And I’m going to hurt the guy who sold me these things. Waterproof and shock resistant my ass. So, what are you going to do, Mr. Tenay?”
“Call me Lloyd. I’d say your name, but I’m not able to read the exposition parts,” the serial killer answers, earning himself a dumbfounded look. He shrugs and hops to his feet with a crooked smile. “Never mind. As I said before, I need someone to explain things to me and I’m now curious as to what you have planned. Busting out a person like me isn’t done for giggles. At least not unless you’re a groupie, but that wouldn’t explain the others. Amazing how they smell better now that they’re dead.”
“You haven’t earned my trust.”
“Then I’ll kill you now and take another guide.”
“Now who’s being fickle?”
“I’m simply getting bored with you.”
Darting forward, Cassidy comes at Lloyd with a stun gun in her left hand. He catches her wrist and keeps the weapon a few inches away from his skin. The crackle of electricity makes the man sweat, the shorter woman surprisingly strong for her size. Hidden by the heavy coat, he is sure she has toned muscles and several scars from a decade of fighting. Instead of being afraid of the stubborn survivor, he sees her as a challenge and scoops up his knife to press it against her throat. Lloyd opens his mouth to speak when he hears another crackling and a burst of pain runs through his body, the sensation starting in his groin.
“I prefer my right hand,” Cassidy states while shaking the stun gun in her other hand. She moves away as Lloyd falls to his knees, drool falling from his mouth. “Have any other threats or jokes, Mr. Tenay?”
“My clam finder is numb,” the killer whimpers before laughing so hard that he cries.
The echoing noise is so irritating that the young woman uses her remaining stun gun to knock him out. “Finally have some quiet around here. Now what the fuck am I going to do, mom?