L is for Love (A Serial Killer Story)

July 20th

It was still black when Viktor opened his eyes. He could only see the outlines of furniture and a faint glow coming from opposite ends of the room. His head hurt terribly but he managed to sit up. He leaned back without thinking and was luckily caught by a velvet backing. He groaned as he tried to stand. Every muscle in his body felt like it was frozen solid. He sat back down gasping for air. His chest felt full of fire and he tried to focus his eyes as a light filled the room. The shadowy figure of a young woman walked into the room. The light was lost behind her and Viktor was blind once again. Where had he been last and what had he been doing to feel this way? The room began to fill with soft candle light as the woman moved around the room and finally Viktor was able to tell where he was. He was in the back room at Flow’s shop. Everything was still dim but was slowly becoming visible. Audrianna was no longer in the room. Viktor looked around the room for Scarlett. She appeared to be sleeping comfortably on the couch next to him. He relaxed a little and made himself comfortable.
He must have dozed off because Audrianna and Flow were in the room when he opened his eyes. They were quietly playing cards across the room.
“Welcome back” Flow sang without looking up from the game. “You’ve been out for a while.” She laid her cards on the table and stood turning to him; Audrianna simply spun in her seat. Flow walked over to him and placed her palm on his head as if checking his temperature. She leaned over and looked deep in his eyes. She smiled, “You’re going to be just fine.” She patted his head and walked over to Scarlett and did the same only her face was less enthusiastic. She took a seat. Audrianna was pouring tea in silence and Viktor was getting uncomfortable.
“Is anyone going to tell me what is going on?” It was hard for him to talk. Nothing in his body seemed to work right. He began having trouble breathing and Audrianna gave him the tea. It took every will for him to drink the tea but the sudden warmth began to soothe his limbs. It was like life was coming into his body. Audrianna giggled and Flow shot her an angry glare that made her silence herself at once. Flow smiled and sat down.
“Technically,” she said with her smile widening, “we drugged you.” Viktor’s face must have been amusing because Flow and Audrianna broke into uncontrollable giggles. Viktor drank more of his tea trying to calm himself down. They stopped laughing and Flow composed herself and continued, “Audrianna gave you something to knock you out so we could get you two safely back here and mended. Scarlett has been out for a while. We had to figure out what Karnak had given her so we could counteract it. We never figured out what exactly he gave her but we did figure out how to get her stable and ready to wake up again.” Flow sighed and looked at Scarlett, “I have no idea what she’ll remember if she remembers anything at all. We wanted to wait for you to come to before we woke her up. How are you feeling?” She smiled and looked at his tea cup, which was now empty.
Viktor slowly stretched his limbs and felt better than he had in his life. “I feel fantastic” he said. “Let’s wake up the princess.” He smiled and nodded towards Scarlett. Flow and Audrianna nodded in agreement and Flow got up to administer something that appeared to be smelling salt but Viktor was pretty sure it wasn’t. Flow was whispering something in Scarlett’s ear and Audrianna was mumbling the same words under her breath with her head bowed. Viktor watched in anticipation as Scarlett began to stir. Slowly she began to wake.
Groggily Scarlett sat up and rubbed her head and face. She looked around the room confused but then looked as if she knew exactly what was going on.
“How long was I out?” She asked as Flow returned to her seat and Audrianna brought a cup of tea.
“Not long enough to be any concern.” Flow said sipping from her cup. “Drink up.” Scarlett did as she was commanded. Viktor had never seen her take an order like that.
Suddenly Viktor remembered his own benefactor, “What happened to Ms. Launa?” he said quickly.
“Now don’t you worry about her,” Flow began with a slight chuckle, “She is back at work today and will be by eventually. I was surprised to see how my little sister has advanced in her ways.” Flow sat back and Scarlett and Viktor looked at her with confusion. “I guess all that new Catholic fuferah might actually have something to it.” Scarlet and Viktor wanted more but Flow wasn’t indulging them. Viktor wanted to press on and learn more about the woman who had been taking care of him more than he knew but Scareltt knew better and relaxed and after a second or two, Viktor followed suit. They sat in silence for what seemed like hours drinking tea, no one saying a word. Flow was contently gazing around the room while Audrianna sat like stone with her eyes closed but obviously awake, Scarlett had moved to a lounging position on the sofa and seemed content staring at the ceiling rubbing her head and Viktor was looking from one woman to the next waiting for an explanation. He wasn’t used to being out of the loop. He had never been a part of a group and he was sure that this was one of the reasons why he avoided them; not that he had many invitations to avoid. Finally Viktor sat his glass down with an overly loud clank calling all attention in his direction.
When all eyes were on him, Viktor finally spoke. “Would anyone care to tell me what happened?” He was stern in his voice and it was a tone that Scarlett had never heard from him. She was content to be alive and had no problem simply moving forward. She trusted that Flow had taken care of everything. Viktor threw her a glance that asked for support but finding none he turned back to Flow. “Pardon my rudeness, but I am not alright with not knowing that the hell just happened.” His voice was getting louder, “I do not like secrets unless I am the one keeping them! She may trust you,” Viktor threw his arm in Scarlett’s direction, “but I haven’t decided that yet. I want to know what happened.” His voice returned to a normal level but was still full of verbal thorns that Scarlett began glaring at him. Flow had saved their lives and he wanted and explanation. She opened her mouth to say so but Flow held up her palm in a message of retreat and Scarlett remained silent.
Flow sighed and began, “Karnak was angry with you two for killing Cassie. Apparently she was to him what I am to Scarlett and Launa is to you, a benefactor of sorts.” Viktor knew this already but waited patiently. After what seemed like more time that should have been allotted for the silence Flow continued, “He wanted to repay the favor, we stopped him.” Flow finished with a hearty smile and Viktor stared at her in disbelief. She couldn’t possibly expect him to accept that as an explanation. The rage on his face was blatantly obvious and this time it was Audrianna who chimed in.
“I can understand your frustration,” she said in a sing song voice as she remained looking at the ceiling with closed eyes, “to not be privy to information surrounding your well-being must be infuriating, however you must forgive my mother for her ambiguity.” Everyone stared at Audrianna in shock. She never spoke and never in disrespect of her mother. “My mother has old ways and beliefs that she follows strictly, just as I am sure that you have some rituals that you and only you know and follow. Try and think of this like that.” Audrianna opened her eyes and lowered her head to look at Viktor, “Sometimes you just accept a situation for what it is and move on.” She relaxed her position and Scarlett and Viktor sat frozen in shock. Scarlett thought that Flow would reprimand Audrianna yet she simply smiled and nodded her head.
“Is it finished my child?” Flow said to Audrianna handing her another cup of tea. Audrianna looked at her mother with a little disbelief, like the answer to the question should have been obvious but she smiled and nodded. “Well good then.” Flow settled back into her armchair and sighed deeply, “Now that everything is back to how it should be why don’t we eat?” At that moment the curtain from the front of the shop opened and Launa came through carrying large bags full of homemade New Orleans fare. Viktor’s anger subsided when he saw Launa. She smiled at him and kissed him on the cheek as she moved past to set the food on the center table. He wasn’t satisfied with the outcome of the conversation but his only choices were to accept it and enjoy the company or leave again, which he didn’t want to do. He relaxed back into the chair and Scarlett grabbed his hand and pulled him to the couch so Ms. Launa could have the other armchair. Scarlett was used to social gatherings. She learned along time ago how to conduct herself in groups and being in a group that accepted her for what she was made it all the easier. She was confused as to why Flow and Audrianna were still there. They left months ago. Viktor however was so far out of his comfort zone that she he couldn’t help but feel suspicious of all the women surrounding him. If this was a mutiny he was greatly outnumbered and out skilled, but he decided to let it go and enjoy the company. He smiled and settled back next to Scarlett as Ms. Launa handed him a bowl of blackened shrimp gumbo. If it did turn into a mutiny it would be one hell of a show.

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