(If you want, buy their previous rampages for $2 by clicking on the covers below.)
The stairwell stops at the fifth floor thanks to a suspicious pile of rubble that includes two arms that do not match. Doubting that they can go back downstairs, Cassidy and Lloyd stay alert and open the gaudy entrance to what is supposed to be a casino. Hit by the stench of fresh blood and a balmy heat, they stand still long enough to let the door swing back in their faces. Without saying a word, the pair try again and step into a level of carnage that they have not seen since passing through the Texarkana warzone. Bodies of guards are everywhere, all of them looking like they have been torn apart by a wild animal. Most of the tables and gambling machines are intact, which makes them more nervous than if the casino had been decimated. A fish tank in the middle of the room is red from blood falling into the water, the animals inside barely visible within the crimson murk. Flashing lights from the entertainer announcement signs cast an eerie glow on some of the corpses. Bullet holes are in the ceiling and walls, but the pattern is too random to help anyone figure out what happened. Even the dead men and woman give very few clues beyond severe stabbing and slashing being involved in their demise.
“There are fingers in this roulette wheel,” Lloyd whispers as they tiptoe through the massacre. He points his paintball gun at the elevator, the doors repeatedly opening and closing on a dead body. “This is screaming trap, but it looks like it was inevitable. Maybe whoever did this used the elevator, killed a man inside, and sent it back down where he slumped into the doors.”
“I’d rather they were here, so we didn’t have to worry about getting jumped later,” Cassidy admits, her knuckles white from gripping her assault rifle. She slowly spins when she walks to make sure nobody is coming at them from behind, but the only movements are from the machines. “We might be looking at this the wrong way. It’s possible that we’re not the only ones who are after the Custers. They could have pissed off any number of people, some of who could be worse than us. I mean, these are our enemies, so it’s possible that we have an ally. With any luck, we get to the top floor and find the Custers already dead.”
“How much do you believe that?” the serial killer asks with a nervous laugh. A fainting scratching draws his attention to the entrance, but all his sees is the leaf of a potted tree falling to the floor. “Nothing creepy about that. Anyway, we need to get moving if we don’t want to end up like these guys. Unfortunately, it could mean that they’re ready for us up there. Do you have any plans?”
“Yes, but one problem at a time.”
“If there’s a potion that makes people evil with one drop, why don’t the bad guys use it on the good guys?”
“Because there’s no fun in that.”
“You actually answered.”
“I had a feeling you wouldn’t shut up if I ignored it.”
Lloyd is about crack a joke when he catches the reflection of someone behind him raising their hand. He leaps away as Selene’s arm comes down, her hand bound in chains that end in finger spikes. Giggling without opening her mouth, she flashes a wide grin as her head tilts to the side and her eyes widen. The slender girl is covered in so much blood that only signs of her real colors are a strip of blonde hair and a patch of skin on her neck. The instant Cassidy raises her assault rifle to fire, Selene darts behind a table and vanishes. A few seconds later, the girl steps out from behind a slot machine next to the mercenary and tries for a slash to the jugular. The attack misses thanks to Lloyd yanking Cassidy out of the way, the serial killer firing paintballs until the weapon is knocked from his hands. It takes him a moment to realize that the cayenne pepper has no effect on the girl, who continues advancing with a causal gait. Picking up the nonlethal gun, Selene opens the ammo container and plucks out a few of the red balls that she chews like gum.
“Those were super spicy,” Lloyd says as he backs away. He draws his machete to block a flurry of swipes, the girl proving to be faster than when they last encountered her. “You know when I said I forgot something in Kansas? I remember now. Guess somebody let her out of the building and did whatever this is. Is it good that she isn’t talking?”
“Out of the way,” Cassidy snaps, pushing her friend aside. Having dropped her assault rifle, she fires her handgun at Selene, but the psychopath retreats while dodging the shots. “How the fuck did she do that? Bad enough that we have a quick draw expert waiting in the penthouse, but now we have a bullet dodger. What the fuck happened to her? I thought you gave her something to watch that was calming. Damn it, Lloyd, what did you do?”
“It was a cartoon!” he shouts while diving away from Selene abruptly coming at him from the side. He lands on his back and looks up in time to see her scramble under the table like a homicidal cat. “Shit, she’s using the layout and her small size to get around us. Pretty sure you used that trick before. Maybe you two are related and I should have kept that one to myself. Hey, I can’t be blamed for this. I left her watching a looped cartoon series that had cute, colorful animals and happy in the title.”
“Cute animals and . . . Oh fuck!” the mercenary shouts as she leaps onto a blackjack table and tries to hit Selene. The psychopath avoids all of the bullets as she charges, a quick attack narrowly missing Cassidy’s legs. “I knew that cartoon. We tricked friends into watching it because it was incredibly violent. She’s working completely off bloodlust, adrenaline, and god knows what else. This is like you at your worst, but smaller and with tits. Damn it! The crazy bitch is watching my trigger finger and moving as soon as I shoot. Can you stab her or something?”
Lloyd puts his back against the fish tank and watches for Selene to come at him from the front or sides. He hears a gentle crack from behind and ducks in time to avoid her leaping through the glass. The girl lands against a stone pillar with a loud thwack, but she is back on her feet and slashing at Lloyd without missing a beat. He does his best to block with the machete until he makes an opening to punch Selene in the face. She stops for an instant before slamming her head against his fist, the impact making his fingers hurt more than her skull. Taking two clawed fingers across his chest, the serial killer focuses more on defending himself than attacking. Even when Lloyd sees a chance to hit her, he picks up on a mad twinkle in her eyes that is daring him to take advantage of the opening. Taking too long to think of a plan, he bumps into a large wheel that reminds him of an old gameshow. Cornered against it, he waits for the last second before leaping for a large button. Selene’s claws one of the panels at the same time as the wheel starts to spin and she is dragged under it.
“And that’s how we kill with style,” Lloyd declares, his smile fading when he sees that there is no body attached to the machine. He nervously walks around the corner to see if she got stuck in the back, but there is no sign of Selene. “I’m officially frustrated and creeped out. Let’s call it freeped out. While not the biggest fan of retreating, we’re being put through the wringer by someone who could probably slither through a mail slot. How about using some of your seductive charm?”
“That’s disgusting and I’m not going to fuck anyone crazier than I am,” Cassidy replies while she spins around and searches for Selene. Thinking she sees the girl behind a cart, she fires and destroys a yellow-leafed plant. “We’re going to be off our game by the time we reach the Custers. This fight has to end now. Just wish I had an idea that didn’t revolve around setting the whole place on fire.”
“I see subtlety is not on the menu,” the serial killer jokes. He yelps when the girl drops down on him from the top of the wheel and he tosses her away before she can slit his throat. “That was too close. She’s pulling that vanishing act far too well. This must be karma for all the stealth kills I racked up. Couldn’t the universe just give me some kind of mundane pat on the back or a t-shirt instead of comeuppance? You know, I’d have the advantage if there weren’t so many fucking lights.”
With no other ideas, Cassidy starts shooting at the ceiling lights and any of the machines that are flashing. She hears a footstep behind her and jumps to the side to avoid Selene, who continues chasing her around the casino. The room is nearly plunged into full darkness by the time the psychopath disappears behind a pillar. To Cassidy’s relief, she is unable to locate Lloyd in the growing shadows and hopes that he is right about having the advantage. Firing at the last of the big lights, she is surprised by Selene jumping off the top of a drink kiosk and taking the bullet in her shoulder. The girl bounces off a slot machine and sprints toward the mercenary, the pain in her arm only making her angrier. Cassidy tries to back away while shooting, but she only has two bullets left and they both miss. Having no time to draw a weapon, she lunges forward to punch Selene in the jaw and scrambles away from the claws that graze the back of her head. She keeps dancing away and darting in for a kick or punch, the blows having no effect on the psychopath. Rolling under an attack, the mercenary feels a wetness run along her lower back and fears that she has been sliced open. Standing and jumping away, she notices that her enemy’s tongue is out and that she feels no pain from the supposed attack. Disgusted by getting tasted by Selene, Cassidy darts in and delivers a few punches to the slender girl’s stomach. Too late does she realize she is too close, but she catches the psychopath’s wrists to avoid getting mauled like the guards. With a snarl, the other woman leans forward and bites the mercenary in the neck hard enough to draw blood and get enough leverage to free her hands. Taking a five-fingered slash across the stomach, Cassidy stumbles against a poker table and looks down to make sure the wounds are shallow.
“Got you,” Selene growls in a raspy voice.
The girl leaps with her arms stretching for Cassidy’s face, but she is driven to the floor by Lloyd. Having stepped out of the shadows of an Elaine Custer statue, he slams his machete into Selene’s lower back and makes sure the weapon goes completely through. Once he frees the blade, she tries to get back to her feet and hisses like a cornered cat. Turning to attack Lloyd, she leaves herself open to Cassidy grabbing her by the hair. The mercenary slams the slender murderer’s head into the base of the statue and jumps back when the entire thing falls on top of the girl. Only an arm is sticking out of the rubble and it repeatedly swipes at thin air, but neither of the victors can tell if Selene is still alive or they are watching a death twitch. Not wanting to dig her out, they pile a few chairs and one table on top of the broken rocks before silently backing toward the elevator and leaving the carnage behind.