This story at Fictionpress
Regretfully, I have only one other piece of fiction to post this week. Many apologies.
Secret Life: Chapter two. Sci-fi horror. "He is afraid. Afraid that he knows why he is here."
A Story Across Years
Chapter two: Lessons
Click, click, click, and the girl finishes snapping all the pieces of the gun together, and she sets it aside. Father is coming home today, and she wants to show him how good she is. She's been practicing.
He says that it's very important that she learn these things.
She knows other things, too. She's just eight years old, but she can make sandwiches and use knives and turn on the microwave, but never, never the oven. The mark hasn't ever gone away, from where she got her punishment, when her father had seen her using the oven. That was very dangerous. She wasn't old enough.
But that's okay. She can do all sorts of things. She can do her own laundry, and make her bed, and clean up after herself, and fix little things if they get broken while Father is away, and if she can't use the oven yet, then she'll just keep on watching Father as he uses it, and one day, she'll be old enough, and even though she wasn't able to practice, she'll use it right, the first time.
Her memories are muddled, when she goes really far back. She remembers hearing loud cracks, sounds like thunder, and she was so very scared, and she tried to hide, but then Father came, and picked her up, and brought her with him, to his home. "Your parents are dead, girl," he told her, in a tone that could have been used just as well for a conversation about the weather. "I'll be taking care of you from now on."
The little girl is able to take apart the guns and put them back together again, though. Father says that it's very important for her to know things like that, but she is never allowed to touch the bullets. She's not old enough for that, yet.
It's okay, though. She's been timing herself, and she's done it so fast this time that she's sure she'll make Father happy, when he comes home.
In a way, she understands what happened that day, so long ago. Father tells her the story about Skeleton Scott, when she can't sleep, and how he had to kill a police officer because the other man wouldn't accept a bribe, and wouldn't turn away in fear, "no matter how many bloody masks of newly-dead crimefighters Scott nailed to the copper's door."
She understands who Father is, though he never says he is Skeleton Scott, that he is the man that the entire city fears, even the rest of the underworld. In some perverse way, the little girl takes pride in her dead father.
It takes a very strong man to stand up to Father.
The front door opens up, and she almost runs to greet him, but she remembers what happened when she forgot that lesson. "You are to stay out of the way and hidden until you know it is me," he told her, and she can trace the line that shows she forgot that lesson, once. He wants her to stay safe.
"You can come here, girl!" he yells, and she comes bounding down the hall, nearly jumping onto him.
He's hurt, and what follows is an introduction to the human biology, as she watches him remove a bullet, and patch himself up. Sometimes, she hands him a tool, and she always pays close attention, and never, never looks away.
It doesn't occur to her that normal people are usually turned away by the sight of blood. She merely examines it analytically.
He teaches her of Alexander the Great, he has her memorize the dialogues of Socrates, he teaches her mathematics, he teaches her how to kill, and how to make explosives from common household items, and he teaches her about the masked men in the city, both criminals and crimefighters, and at eight, she is getting an introduction into Carl Jung and she has nearly finished Huckleberry Finn for the twelfth time.
He teaches her how to take care of herself, while he is away, sometimes for days at a time, and she knows not to ask about what he does, because sometimes he doesn't want to talk about it. He never hurts her, when he asks, but the disappointed looks which Father give her, whether because he does not want her asking a question, or because she has put herself in danger, are able to hurt her far more than any physical pain could.
But his eyes light up, when he sees her wrap the blindfold around her eyes and quickly manipulate the handgun, disassembling and reassembling it as quick as her small hands can move, and to see it, when she lifts the cloth up, is worth all the hours she spent practicing.
She should hate him. He killed her parents, and even though she can barely remember them, she should hate him for taking them away from her, for making impossible for her to remember them more clearly, because they were taken from her at such a young age. At least, that's what she'll be telling herself, a few years from now. But she doesn't know, right now, that she should hate him, that it's even possible to hate him, and by the time she understands, she will realize that, perhaps unfortunately, she loves him too much to ever hate him, as much as this sometimes makes her hate herself.