Chapter 13 – Giallo
“I’m a monster!” Britney screamed into the mirror.
She then heard an eerie creaking and watched as a shape emerged from behind her in the glass and slowly crept towards her though the darkness.
Britney spun her hand around in a slicing chop at the shadowy figure. It was instantly blocked by a forearm. Britney then swung her other arm around in a left hook. The figure stepped to the side, just missing Britney’s fist, and reached to the wall, flicking on the light switch.
Britney was relieved to see the red hair and green eyes of Sam. “Oh my god, Sam, I’m so sorry! I must be a little jumpy.”
Sam, however, didn’t look exactly happy to see her. “What did you do to her?”
“What did I do to who?” Britney asked back. She didn’t exactly sound innocent. In fact, she sounded downright guilty.
“Mandy? What did you do to Mandy? What did you do to her that makes you a monster? Did you hurt her? Oh, please tell me you didn’t,” Sam begged.
Britney paused a moment before answering, “Oh… Mandy’s fine… At least for now,” she said, not exactly exuding confidence. “I don’t know what I was talking about. I must be really stressed out working on this tough case.”
“I didn’t mean just physically you know.” Britney averted Sam’s harsh gaze. “Do you still think she’s the Black Widow?”
“No, I don’t.”
“I always knew she wasn’t, but what changed your mind?”
“She told me everything tonight. She’s a very troubled girl with some serious issues, but she’s not capable of something like that. I’m certain now.” Hearing that, Sam seemed satisfied her convictions had been reaffirmed, but she also felt jealous that Britney got to be the one Mandy spilled her heart out to. Hearing about Mandy having serious troubles, though, worried her again.
Britney looked around the room for a second. “Where are Clover and Alex?”
“Alex suddenly went missing about fifteen minutes ago. When we went to her room, we found the window open. We’re pretty worried about her.”
“Did you try her cell or her X-Powder?”
“Yeah, she’s not answering. Clover decided to go find her, and I agreed to stay here and wait for you to come back. I turned off the lights and hid in the closet just in case the Black Widow decided to show up. I wanted to have the element of surprise this time.”
Britney opened her X-Powder and pressed the buttons to call Alex. No one picked up at the other end. She then tried contacting Jerry and got the same result. “Jerry still isn’t answering either.”
“I know. I wonder if the Widow got wind of him doing those DNA tests on that contact lens.”
“You’re probably right. This is just too convenient. I would suggest we head over to WOOHP Headquarters, but maybe we should stay in the neighborhood. The Black Widow may be making her big move tonight.”
“The real question though is whether or not you and Clover will be prepared to fight your own best friend.”
“It’s not Alex. How can you say that?”
“Just think about it. Every time you, Clover, and I fought the Black Widow, Alex has been absent. She was either in the WOOHP Prisoner Holding Facility, inside that vault, or conveniently behind that air-conditioning unit. You know as well as I do that the Black Widow having GAWD means she can never be trapped anywhere. It may have seemed Alex was somewhere else, but she could’ve just used GAWD to teleport out of and back to those places before we even saw her.”
Sam frowned at Britney. “Logically, what you say is possible… but I still don’t believe it. It just doesn’t add up.”
“Well, whether you like it or not, she’s the only suspect left it could possibly be.”
“I know Alex a hundred times better than you, Britney. She wouldn’t do something like this. Ever.”
“That may be true that you know her better, but maybe you don’t know everything she’s capable of.”
“Whatever. I’m not going to stand around here all day arguing with you about your conspiracy theories. I want to go see Mandy.”
“It’s not her, Sam.”
“I know that. I just want to protect her. For some reason, she’s in the middle of all this. I’m just worried she’s next on the Widow’s list.”
“I’m not sure if that’s the best strategy right now,” Sam looked rather irritated hearing that, “but ok.”
“You should probably go help Clover find Alex. Just make sure not to make any more snap judgments.”
Britney frowned back at her, and Sam left. Britney then opened her X-Powder and called Clover. Clover, decked out in her red spy-suit, appeared on the small screen a moment later. “Hey, Brit, what’s going on?”
“I just go back from Mandy’s. Sam told me what happened with Alex.”
“Yeah, I’m out here at one of the karate dojos she likes to go to. The head-master sometimes lets her train in here at odd hours.” On the screen, Britney could see the empty room floored with padding, walled with mirrors, and with a few large punching-bags hanging from the ceiling. “It doesn’t look like she was here though. Sooo, did you catch Mandy red-handed yet?” Clover asked, sounding more than a little enthusiastic about the possibility.
“No. I don’t think it’s Mandy anymore.”
“Well... I trust your judgment, Britney. If you don’t think it’s her, it’s probably not her. She’s still guilty of being one tacky, annoying skank though.” Clover laughed hardily at her own insult, but Britney just stared back soberly.
“I want to help you hunt for Alex.”
“That would be great. Come meet me at the Mega Coffee Mart on the corner of Wilshire and Beverly Drive. Alex likes to go there in the middle of the night sometimes, and I totally need a latte right now.”
“All right. Over and out.” Britney closed her X-Powder. She then quickly walked up the stairs to Alex’s bedroom that she now shared with her. The window was indeed wide open, and a cool draft was blowing into the room. Seeing the oncoming storm clouds in the dark night’s sky, Britney sensibly closed the window shut. She then grabbed her purse, which was hanging on the door knob, and walked back down stairs. She went towards the front door, but stopped for a second to flick the light-switch back off. However, the light went out just as she touched the switch and before she had pushed it down to the off position.
Before Britney had a chance to turn around, a metal wire was flung over her head and tightened into a noose around her neck. Britney gagged loudly and clawed at her neck franticly for air as the wire was pulled tighter and tighter. Unable to break free from it, she then elbowed the person behind her twice. However, she didn’t strike hard enough, and a black fist swung around and punched her hard in the stomach. Britney fell to the ground with the wire still clenched around her throat by one black hand.
As she writhed on the floor and fought desperately to breath, the Black Widow used her other hand to remove GAWD from its holster. She activated it and then used the knife to carve a twisting portal into the nearby wall. Britney’s face had now turned purple from the lack of oxygen and she was barely moving. The Widow pulled the wire lassoed around her neck with both hands and forcibly dragged Britney into the wormhole. After Britney and the Black Widow passed through the portal, it disappeared in a flash.
At that very moment, Sam was standing outside Mandy’s front door. She had been doing so for the past few minutes, still deciding on what to say. Finally, she got the courage to reach forward and press the door-bell. It rang, and a few seconds later a surprised looking Mandy appeared on the other side of the door.
“Hi, Mandy!” Sam greeted her, full of girlish enthusiasm and smiling warmly at her.
“What the hek are you doing here?” she asked, scowling with utter contempt. Sam then noticed the long dark tear stains that extended from under Mandy’s eyes to cover both of her soft cheeks.
“Mandy, are you ok? It looks like you’ve been crying.” Sam looked genuinely worried.
“It’s none of your damn business,” Mandy said. She then ran her palms over her cheeks as if to remove the remnants of her crying.
“You sure? You want to talk about it?” Sam asked with kind and genuine concern in her voice.
“Did I stutter? Now what are you doing here? It’s the middle of the night for crying out loud.”
“Uh, I thought maybe we could uh… study for the upcoming biology test together,” Sam said, blushing brightly and rubbing the back of her head.
Mandy cackled. “Fat chance, loser! The only one who studies biology with me is Britney! Get a clue!” The door slammed in Sam’s face.
Deeply disappointed, Sam stared at the ground. “Well, that could’ve gone better.” The image of Mandy’s dried tears remained stuck in her head. She just looked so helpless. Sam didn’t like seeing her like that at all. She then wondered if Britney had caused her to cry like that. She had certainly been jealous of their relationship, and despite the concerns she had had about Britney jumping to the conclusion she was the Black Widow, she had never seriously considered that Britney would actually treat her badly as her girlfriend. This thought both angered her and made her feel sad that she wasn’t allowed the chance to treat her better and make sure she was happy so she wouldn’t cry like that. She then fought off those feelings of depression, and lifted her head back up with a renewed sense of determination. “I need to protect her.”
Sam snuck around Mandy’s mansion to the back. She passed her luxurious pool and hot tub, and then spotted a room with the lights on in the upper story. Sam quickly took out her X-Powder and pressed a button on it. A laser shot out and swooped over Sam’s body, transforming her skimpy olive dress into her darker green and even more body conforming spy-suit.
She then went to the large oak tree near the window and climbed it, the WOOHP designed micro-fiber of her suit giving her extra traction, making slinking up the tree a much easier task. Sitting on a large branch, she had a perfect view into the room and could see an overly frilly bed, tacky purple wallpaper, and a humongous walk-in closet. “Definitely Mandy’s room,” she remarked.
She then watched as the bedroom door opened, and the bratty dark-haired beauty herself walked inside. In Mandy’s hand was a wet wash-cloth that she was rubbing on her cheek in an effort to wash away the tear stains. Sam watched as she stopped by the huge vanity mirror that stretched almost the entire height of the room and continued scrubbing her cheeks.
Finally seeming satisfied the evidence of her tears were gone, she walked closer to the window where she threw the wash-cloth into a hamper. Although Sam was now only several feet away, Mandy seemed oblivious to the red-head spying on her from behind the leaves of the tree just outside her half-open window.
Sam watched as Mandy reached down and pulled the cashmere top she was wearing right over the top of her head, revealing the pale, smooth skin underneath and the frilly violet bra covering her fairly buxom chest.
“Mm.. mm.. maybe I shouldn’t be seeing this,” Sam whispered as she placed her hand over her eyes. However, her better instincts were quickly over-ridden by her pounding heart and the hormones rushing through her veins, and she removed her hand a second later. She then watched as Mandy bent over in front of the window, unzipped the back of her skirt, and pulled it down off her body, revealing the tiny purple thong wedged between two small but plump butt cheeks. Sam stammered backwards as she almost had a heart-attack. She struggled to regain her balance so she didn’t fall off the branch and made the tree shake a good deal.
“Huh?” Mandy asked as she looked out her window to the tree. Sam’s heart started pounding even more wildly. It felt like it would burst out of her chest any second as it seemed Mandy was staring straight at her. Thankfully, Sam’s spy-suit blended in with the leafy green of the tree enough to camouflage her presence, and Mandy didn’t notice her hiding there among its branches. Mandy turned back away from her. Sam tried catching her breath but had trouble doing so after she resumed staring at the beautiful girl’s bare back and round, cute ass.
Mandy tossed the skirt and her top into the hamper. She then walked over to her walk-in closet, opened the sliding door, and disappeared deep inside it. Sam became concerned for a moment when Mandy didn’t immediately reappear. However, several moments later Mandy finally popped back through the door, still nearly nude in her revealing underwear and holding a tiny violet silk nighty in her hand. Sam watched attentively as Mandy slipped it over her head and let the silk slowly slink down her breasts, back, and bottom. Mandy then went and sat on a bench in front of her large vanity mirror. She took a brush from a near-by dresser and began slowly running it down her long black hair that was even silkier than her nighty. “She’s so beautiful,” Sam let out between shallow breaths as she marveled at Mandy from the tree.
Suddenly, the light went out in Mandy’s room. Not hesitating for a second, Sam dived forward through the window and rolled into the bedroom. Mandy screamed as a faceless black head peered through a twisting blue circle of light now in her mirror. Two black hands then reached through the mirror and grabbed her by the waist.
As she was being pulled back into the mirror, she turned and met Sam’s eyes, and they both grabbed onto each other’s hands. “Sam, help me!”
“I’m trying Mandy,” she said as she pulled with all her might in the other direction, “just hold on!”
“I.. I can’t!” Mandy cried as her fingers escaped Sam’s grasp and she was forcibly pulled through the portal.
“Mandy!” Sam leapt forward as the portal flashed, but only managed to smash head-first into the mirror, breaking it into a thousand pieces. The lights turned back on. “No! No! Nooooo!” Sam screamed as she punched the remaining shards of glass out of the frame of the mirror.
“I couldn’t save her... couldn’t save her.” A sense of utter hopelessness washed over Sam. She collapsed onto the floor onto her knees and began to sob into her hands. As her tears rolled down her cheeks, they mixed with blood from the fresh cuts on her forehead and became a pink liquid.
She stopped sobbing for a moment and looked out at all the shattered glass spread across the carpet. It looked oddly familiar to her somehow. Suddenly, there was a flash inside her head and something from deep down in her memory surfaced back up from the depths of her subconscious. Again she remembered broken pieces of glass being on the floor, but much smaller. She then saw a vision of an also smaller and much younger Mandy pointing and laughing at someone. She chanted, “Four eyes! Four eyes! You’re a stinking four eyes!”
“Oh my god!” Sam cried out. The truth had finally dawned on her.
Sam got up and brushed the remaining shards of glass off her suit. She entered Mandy’s walk-in closet and saw a purple terry cloth robe hanging from one of the innumerous hangers in the cavernous closet. She took its belt, ripped it in half, and then tied it around her head like a make-shift bandana to bandage the cuts on her forehead. She then climbed out of Mandy’s window and back down the tree.
Sam then began walking. She walked down the street, mansion after mansion, block after block. Finally, she reached Sam, Clover, and Alex’s old neighborhood where they had lived with their parents before they moved into the villa together. She spotted one mansion in particular. The huge home looked empty and lifeless. Maybe that was because it was pretty much vacant, its owners having been vacationing in Europe for many months now and only allowing hired help to occasionally enter it for cleaning.
Sam stealthily snuck around the side of the mansion and crept into the expansive back yard. She found the tree she was looking for. Thanks to some moon light that escaped the thick dark clouds above, she could still make out the words that had been carved into its trunk, Sam Clover Alex BFFs 4Ever. A loud crack of thunder roared out through the sky.
She stared at the ground below the tree forlornly as drops of rain began to fall on her head, followed by a steady down-pour. Sam then dug out the “Spoon of Doom” Jerry had given her from a hidden pocket on her spy-suit. She got on her knees on the grass, stabbed the spoon into the ground, and tore up a small piece of the now wet lawn. She continued to use the spoon as a crude digging tool, and after some hard labor, she had dug a hole three feet deep into the mud.
The spoon finally hit something harder than the soil. Clearing away mud and a few wiggling worms, she saw the same shoe-box she had witnessed someone burying there from next door over nearly a decade ago. She opened the box and looked inside. She hadn’t seen what was in that box years ago, but her old suspicion had finally been proven correct. Inside were the small broken frames of a rather ugly pair of glasses and several shards of broken glass, which had had been stomped out of the frames by the owner of the glasses.
Sam picked up the frames and examined them closely. “These are prescription! She lied!”
“Did I, Sammy?” A vicious kick erupted from the direction of the voice and the hard heel of a boot hit the back of Sam’s skull. She fell forward face-first into the three foot hole that was now half a foot full of rain water. Miraculously, through sheer will-power, Sam was able to fight off slipping into unconsciousness and lifted her head back up from the muddy water.
However, the Black Widow jumped on top of her and forced Sam’s head back down into the water with her hand. The Widow’s grasp was strong, and Sam was weak from the blow. Her mouth and nose remained under water for nearly a minute. Sam’s lungs felt as though they were screaming in pain for air, but she knew if she took in the water she would drown.
She felt her consciousness slipping away from her, but again dug down deep and was able to find more hidden strength. She reached behind her head, grabbed the widow’s other hand, forced it down under the water, and bit down hard into her fingers, nearly cutting through the micro-fiber of her glove. The widow’s other hand lost its grip, and Sam brought her head up from the water, flipped around, and sent an uppercut into the Black Widow’s chin, sending her flying backwards.
Sam sucked in air greedily as she watched the Widow lying on the ground motionless. She quickly grabbed the Spoon of Doom back from the mud near the hole. She then put her hand in her hidden pocket and yanked out a can of “WOOHP Brand Pea Grenades.” The can was able to fit inside due to a shrinking device developed by WOOHP scientists to allow spies to conceal large gadgets in skin-tight spy-suits. Sam popped open the top of the can, which thankfully didn’t require a can-opener, and placed one of the tiny green balls onto the spoon.
The Black Widow still lay on the ground, not even visibly breathing. Sam knew better though. “If you think I’m going to fall for the playing dead routine, you’re wrong. That’s the oldest trick in the WOOHP training manual. I’m also prepared to blow you to hell right now, so you better cooperate.”
The Black Widow turned to look at Sam and saw the spoon Sam was holding with one hand on the handle and the thumb of her other hand bending back the head of the spoon holding the pea. The Widow tried to stand up. “Don’t move, damn it! You think I’m bluffing? If it means saving innocent people, I have no problem with blowing you to pieces! You got me?” Sam shouted, shivering a bit from the adrenalin.
The Black Widow stopped in a crouching position and remained still.
“Now, first off, who are you?”
The creepy metallic voice again spoke, “Shouldn’t you already know that since you dug up that box? You always act like you’re the smart one. Are you really that god-damned stupid?”
“I said, who are you?” Sam shouted back.
“The person who’s going to kill you, your friends, that old pervert you work for, that worthless slut Mandy, and everyone else you care about!”
“Shut up! You’re not going to lay a finger on any of them! You hear me? I won’t let you! Now take off that mask!”
“Make me.” Sam flicked the pea out of the spoon. The pea flew directly at the Black Widow. Unbeknownst to Sam, though, the Widow had removed a cylinder from a similarly designed hidden pocket on her uniform and had been hiding it behind her back. As the pea flew towards her, she whipped it forwards and pressed a firing mechanism on the cylinder. A stream of aqua-marine goo shot out of it. The goo hit the pea, but due to its soft, sticky texture the pea didn’t detonate and instead traveled with the goo in the opposite direction. The goo and the pea hit the back of the mansion, and the home exploded in a thunderous, fiery blast.
Both Sam and the Black Widow were blown backwards by the explosion, neither of them expecting the tiny grenade to actually be that powerful. Sam had been blown back into the tree, and bounced off of it. As flaming debris landed everywhere, Sam managed to stand back up, but was disoriented. That gave the Black Widow, who had landed only a few feet behind her, the opportunity she needed.
Again she fired the cylinder. A good amount of the goo hit Sam in the legs and thighs, causing them to stick together. Sam tried to step forward, but was unable to walk, and instead fell over backwards. The Black Widow ran over and sent her black-booted foot whizzing at Sam who was now stuck to the ground in the gooey substance. Sam managed to block the kick with her arm. The Widow then shot the cylinder again, and Sam’s arm was blown back to the grass where it became stuck. Sam reached out with her other arm, trying to grab Widow’s leg, but she was too far away. The Widow fired again, and again Sam’s arm was blown to the grass and glued to the ground in that incredibly sticky goo.
Sam watched as the Black Widow lifted her boot over her head and then stomped it down right between her eyes.
Then there was black.
What seemed like only moments later, Sam opened her eyes. She was in a room. It was dimly lit by a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. The wall across from her looked to be concrete. Spray-painted with a stencil on the wall was the symbol for WOOHP, one capital W over an oval shaped globe.
Sam tried to move forward, but couldn’t. Looking down, she saw more of the green goo covering her body all the way from her neck to her feet, acting like a huge piece of chewing-gum trapping her against the wall.
She looked to her right and saw Britney, now with some deep lacerations around her neck, and Jerry with a deep black bruise on his skull. Both of them were trapped against the wall in the same substance.
“Britney… Jerry, where are we?”
The elder head of WOOHP spoke up in his thick British accent, although it didn’t sound quite as jovial as usual, “Judging by the WOOHP symbol painted on the wall across from us, a WOOHP installation somewhere, possibly underground.”
“How long was I out?”
Britney answered in her now scratchy voice, “About five hours.” It hadn’t seemed nearly that long to Sam.
“Did you find out who the Black Widow is?”
“Yes,” Jerry answered solemnly.
“Who is she?”
“Sorry, Samantha, but I don’t have the heart to tell you. I’m sure, though, you’ll discover that harsh reality soon enough.” Britney was silent. They sat there quietly stuck to the wall. Sam considered the evidence she had dug up in that backyard that clearly pointed at one person. The truth however was still too hard to accept, and she remained in a state of denial.
The metal door then creaked open, and in walked the Black Widow. “It’s almost time,” she said in that scary, inhuman voice.
“Who are you?” Sam shouted. “Why are you doing this?”
“You know who I am, Sammy,” she said. She then reached under her chin, and pulled off the black mask, revealing her pale skin, cute face, and blue eyes and allowing her blonde hair to regain its unrestrained fan shape.
Sam looked terrified. “Cuh… cuh… cuh… Clover?”
“You’re damn right!” A look of menacing evil burned in her eyes.
To Be Continued