So far everything had gone according to Jinx’s plan. As well as any plan could go that had been created with rage and betrayal as its foundation. The old blown out room in the cannery had quickly been prepared for her little get together. The old decrepit table had been set immaculately, a stark contradiction to the state of disrepair and rot otherwise in the room. Various sorts of dishes and cakes that all looked as though they had been put together in a quick and haphazard manner littered the table. All of them carried the same trait of appearing rather unappetizing. Candles on the table had been lit, making a mockery of what could have been a cozy dinner. As a final touch, the chairs around the table had name tags on them. Vi, Caitlyn, Silco, Powder, and finally Jinx.
All but two of the chairs were occupied already, of course. Jinx had seen to that. It wouldn’t do to have her own guests late to the party, after all. As such, dear old Dad was present in his chair. With a smile that was just slightly too wide Jinx glanced at him, noting that he was yet tied up and gagged. He’d woken not long ago, and she’d felt his gaze on her skin ever since. In his remaining normal eye, she saw emotion that she’d rarely seen from him. Fear and desperation. He tried to talk to her, to yell, but nothing but muffled groaning came out, courtesy of the gag.
At the other end of the table was her sister. Vi. Violet. Violence. Sister. She was bound as well, and Jinx noted with satisfaction that the rope was tight. Tighter than was strictly necessary, perhaps, and while Jinx loved a little risk… Well, a lot… tonight needed to be done right.
Tonight, Vi would choose. Vi’s grey eyes were wide with fear and ever since she had woken, she’d been attempting to plead and beg and scream at Jinx to cut her loose. To talk. With a smile that could only be described as manic, Jinx tuned out the pointless and deceitful words from her sister and turned to her thoughts again. She abandoned Powder. Powder had drowned. Or had she? On the spire and on the bridge, little Powder seemed to come up for air. Vi had the opportunity to choose Jinx on the bridge. She left then as well.
“She’ll always leave you. And why wouldn’t she? You killed everyone. You killed me. I knew what you were… I know what you are. We all did. Failure. Useless. Worthless. Jinx.” Mylo’s voice felt as if it was right next to her ear, cajoling and cruel. Claggor was here as well. He’d join in with Mylo sometimes. Now he was simply watching, along with Vander. Vander was always silent. Judging. Burning her. Sometimes Violet would show up as well which had happened more lately.
“Not now Mylo. Not now. Not now.”. Jinx snapped. She shook her head to clear the voices up and swept her shimmer-pink gaze to the person seated near Vi, the motion also clearing up her otherwise fixed smile.
Caitlyn. Hat Lady. Thief. Sister Stealer. Just looking at her, Jinx felt that creeping sensation of betrayal and horror welling up in her gut. And rage. So potent and eager, wanting to be released. Why couldn’t Vi see the monster this Topsider was? All jagged edges and murderous smiles. Right now, however, Jinx took immense satisfaction in the apparent unease and fear on Caitlyn’s face. Dad always said she’d become stronger than any monster.
“What is it about her, that made you choose her?” Jinx asked with a note of curiosity. The question was directed at Vi, yet she kept her eyes on Caitlyn, studying her as a predator sizing up its prey. It felt as if Vi wasn’t going to answer, and she started to feel her patience crumble. At the sound of Vi’s voice however, Jinx twitched and listened.
“I didn’t… Powder, I didn’t choose her. She- They needed my help on the bridge. I couldn’t just let them die… And you… Powder, you were shooting at us…” Vi’s voice was soft, gentle.
It only served to infuriate Jinx further. Her pink eyes widened, the torrent of rage inside of her simmering to the forefront. With a voice like gravel, she ground out, “Don’t call me that. She’s dead. Powder is dead. Dead. DEAD. She drowned. Fell down the well. Blown to bits. I’m what’s left.” Each word spoken looked as if it was a punch to Vi’s gut. She squeezed her eyes shut, a tear escaping them.
“I refuse to believe that Pow-Pow. I-I can’t. I know she’s… I know you’re in there. Please just untie me. We’ll be together again, right? Just like… Just like old times. I promise.”, Vi pleaded, coaxing and soft.
Jinx kept her eyes on Vi, head tilted to the right. It was impossible to tell what she was thinking, although the rage that had simmered to the surface before seemed to have calmed. Slightly.
“Just like when we were kids?” Jinx whispered.
“Just like when we were kids.” Vi says softly, looking imploringly at Jinx.
Jinx stands up quickly and starts to pace. She looks unsure and at the same time there’s a hint of something akin to hope on her expression when she glances at Vi. She could still hear muffled yelling from Silco behind his gag, as he desperately attempted to wrestle it off so he could speak. Jinx continued to pay him no mind. He lied. He lied to her. He was going to give her up. Betray her. Throw her away like trash.
“You are trash. Something to be used and tossed out. Who wants to keep a jinx around?” Came Mylo’s sibilant whisper. This time Claggor was backing him up, whispering in her other ear. “Vi is a liar. Liar liar liar. She’ll always choose the Piltie over you. Always always always. None of them want you. You’re a jinx, Jinx. A jinx.” Claggor’s voice trails off into hysterical laughter, joined by Mylo’s own cruel snickering.
Jinx shakes her head, blue braids wildly flying at the sudden shaking. “No! I think I can… I want to try. Just be quiet for once. Just shut up. SHUT UP!” Jinx shrieks in the end, clutching the sides of her head. “I can’t fucking concentrate with all of you talking!”
Vi and Caitlyn glance quickly at each other, eyes wide with both fear and an ever-dawning comprehension that Jinx is having conversations with specters they themselves cannot see or hear. Vi shoots a look down at the still struggling Silco, who looks unsurprised before she looks back at her sister who appears to be falling apart.
“Pow-Pow, please, listen to me. There’s no one else here. Just us. We’re… We’re real, listen to me, sweetie.” she begged, hoping that she’d somehow get through to her sister. Caitlyn kept looking between Vi and Jinx, choosing to stay completely silent, afraid that even a single word from her could set off Jinx completely.
Jinx looked over at Vi, her exhaustion plain for all to see. The same smile from earlier was returning, however. “You want Powder back, don’t you, sis? Even if… If my name is Jinx now.” Her voice was strangely soft, though with an underlying tone of something dangerous.
“She won’t accept you. Not now. Not ever. She thinks you’re a jinx. Knows you’re a jinx. She’ll just want Powder. You’ll see.” Mylo hissed at her. She closed her pink eyes briefly, struggling to ignore his words. She could feel them by her ear. She swore she could feel his breath on her skin.
“Watch watch watch! Watch!” Claggor chanted. His ruined face twisted in glee.
“Powd-“ Vi began, only to be interrupted by Jinx’s raspy voice. “I see.” “SEE!” Mylo screamed at the same time.
“Alright. Okay, sis. You can have her, you know? Powder? Maybe she can… Maybe she can come back up from the well. All you gotta do, is pick her. That’s all.” Jinx trails off, her voice having that strangely soft quality to it. Brittle, as if one were treading on too thin ice.
Vi nods quickly. Eager to convince her sister, although there’s a hint of uncertainty on her face. Caitlyn keeps looking back and forth between Jinx and Vi, uncertain of what’s coming, but her expression screams danger and wariness.
“Of course, you know I’ll pick you, Powder. I-I’m never going to leave again.” Vi resolutely says. Her wide eyes trying to convey how much she means those words to Jinx.
Jinx slowly walks to the chair with the nametag that says Powder, brushing a hand over the tag. “Then get rid of the Topsider. I… I don’t want her here. With us. Just get rid of her. Tell her to leave.” Jinx says softly.
Vi swallows, quickly looking at Caitlyn. She snaps her gaze back to Jinx, eyes drifting down along her arm and the blue cloud tattoos. In her hand a pistol has appeared. She didn’t notice Jinx drawing it before. “Get rid of her? Do- What do you mean tell her to leave?” Vi asks in a shaky voice.
Jinx’s expression twists into something vicious, however it fades as quickly as it comes. Instead, she snaps out, her voice like a whip. “I’m not asking you to kill her, even though no one would cry over one less Topsider. I’m just asking you to make her leave. To go back where she came from, and never come back.” Jinx takes a deep breath and flashes an unnervingly wide smile. “If you want to shoot her instead, though, I’m all for it.” She finishes with an upbeat and hopeful tone in her voice.
“She won’t do it. She won’t do it. She’s a liar. Watch, Jinx. Watch. A liar, a liar, a liar. Who can blame her? We all know what you are…” Mylo’s venomous voice hissed in her ear again, making her grind her teeth together. It takes every ounce of what remains of her willpower to ignore him.
Jinx stares intently at Vi, watching how she gapes like a fish on land for a long while. Vi clearly seems to be struggling to find the words. “Look… Look she helped me out of Stillwater, and she’s my friend. Powder please, just… Let’s just talk? We can go somewhere. Anywhere! And we’ll just… Talk. You and me. Please, Powder!”
Jinx continues to stare at Vi, her face growing empty and vacant at each word spoken. With a drawn out sigh she stood fully and raised the pistol, pointing it directly at Caitlyn’s face, whose eyes had gone wide with terror. “No! Jinx! Please!” Caitlyn stammered.
“It’s a simple choice, sis.” Jinx spoke in a clipped tone, lacking any of her usual manic cheerfulness and ignoring Caitlyn’s plea.
“Fuck! Powder don’t… Come on, this isn’t you!” Vi yelled and began to struggle in a vain attempt to get free from her bonds.
“Looks like the boys were right again.” Jinx stated quietly, in a raspy voice. “Always right. Just a jinx. Bad luck.” She turned her back to Vi and stood, trembling. The voices were getting worse. They had been over the last couple of days. Louder and more intrusive. But also right. They were inside her. They had to be right. They knew her for what she was. She heard Vi behind her. The sound was an odd mix of a groan and a sob. Jinx did her best to ignore it, not wanting to turn back and see the relief on Vi’s face that she’d pointed her pistol away from the Topsider.
“Poor Jinx. Little, lonely Jinx. We told you. You’re a curse! She’d never choose you! You killed us! YOU KILLED US!” shrieked Mylo. He seemed so real to Jinx, standing there with hatred in his eyes and a gaping, ruined, hole in his chest where a pipe had pierced him.
Jinx stumbled and gripped the table with her eyes squeezed shut. She knew it was all true. She remembered it clearly, and Mylo, Claggor and Vander had never let her forget. Only Violet had never mentioned it. With a scream of frustration and pain and hurt, she swept pastries and plates from the table onto the ground. She heard someone gasp behind her but ignored it. Opening her eyes, she looked down at Silco. Dear old dad. She wondered if anything had been real? Were all the memories she had with him a lie? She intended to know. Wanted… No, she needed to know. Maybe Mylo and Claggor would be wrong this time?
Stalking down to Silco, who was staring at her with his mismatched eyes, she practically ripped out the gag from his mouth. “What do you have to say about all of this?” she asked.
She studied Silco closely. She felt like she was burning up from inside her gut. Rage and pain and betrayal forming together in a volatile deadly cocktail. She watched him move his jaw for a moment before he began to answer her. She closed her eyes momentarily as she heard his gentle, smooth voice. One she had come to associate with being wanted and needed. Safe.
“Jinx, daughter, please…” He started, and Jinx closed her eyes. Inexplicably both hating and loving what his voice made her feel. In the background she could vaguely register Vi’s raised voice, screaming. “Cut me loose. We’ll take care of this together, and it’ll just be you and me. Like it’s been for so many years now! My swee-“ he continued, before being interrupted.
She couldn’t stop herself. She tried, but with a sob she blurted out, “Why? Why don’t you want me anymore? I tried so hard. I-I tried to be enough. Wasn’t I good enough? I tr-tried…” She could feel the wetness on her cheeks, and it felt as if her tears were trailing a painful burning path down her skin.
“Jinx I was never going to give you up! You’re my daughter. I would burn down everything before giving you up!” There was a note of urgency in his voice, and as much as it made Jinx want to believe him, she simply couldn’t right now. She could hear Mylo and Claggor’s shouting in her head. Liar. Liar. Liar. Again, and again. They had been right about Vi. They had been right about so many things.
With a shaky breath she stepped away from the table and wandered toward a pile of rubble and crates. Pow-Pow and Fishbones were there. She was losing grip on herself and there was a roar of rushing noise in her ears. She could vaguely hear all of them yelling now. The boys. Dad, Vi… Or sis, and the Piltie. She had felt so in control leading up to all of this. But the evening had steadily been running her ragged. And now, with this cacophony of voices from within and out, she felt as if her mind was fraying.
“LIAR! USELESS JINX! NEVER ENOUGH!”
“Jinx. Jinx. Jinx. Jinx. Jinx. Jinx. Jinx.”
She clutched at the sides of her head painfully. It just. Wouldn’t. Stop. Why wouldn’t it stop? “Stop… Stop… Please…”
“You deserve this!”
She saw Mylo, Claggor and Vander flashing in her mind. Vander staring at her with blazing eyes that showed nothing but contempt and disgust. His body broken and twisted and warped. She felt as if what remained of the walls in the room were crawling and enclosing around her.
“Stop. STOP! Leave me alone! LEAVE ME! NO!” She hit the sides of her head painfully with her fists and began repeating “I know. I know. I know.”
She was stuck in the hurricane of noise, her mind twisting and falling apart. And suddenly in the middle of the roaring crescendo she heard a familiar click in her mind. The sound of it penetrating all else. Instinct, honed by life in the Undercity, made her snap and turn with Pow-Pow gripped tightly in her hands. The room came to life with a roar of sound from her minigun as it spat out a series of bullets at the noise. And then all was silent. Inside and out.
Silco had gotten free somehow. With a small gasp the pistol in his grasp dropped to the ground with a heavy clatter and he fell back into the chair, she saw him slump and turn. Horror rose in her. Twisting her gut and bubbling violently to the surface. She looked down at Pow-Pow, never remembering picking her up. The barrels were still smoking.
“No… No no no no no!”. She dropped Pow-Pow and ran with unfathomable speed to Silco’s side. Kneeling in front of him she gazed at the blood oozing from the three holes in his stomach, her hands moving up to fruitlessly try to staunch the endless river of blood. “No..! Please, I didn’t mean… I didn’t mean to!”
She heard him wheeze and cough, blood bubbling from between his lips. She looked up, pink eyes blurry with tears. His voice was strained but somehow retained the steady and calm quality it had always had. “It’s okay.” Holding her gaze, his lips curled in the slightest of smiles. “You’re my… daughter.”
A sob left her. It was all crumbling now. Chaos. She felt Silco’s forehead gently resting against her own. His voice was warm. Even here on the brink of death, full of conviction.
“I never would have given you to them.”
“Not for anything.”
She was falling apart, crying uncontrollably as his words washed over her. In that moment, in this rare moment of silence in her mind, she felt it. She knew the words to be true. She had been wanted.
She felt it. Knew it. Saw it. Ruined it.
With a softness she’d rarely felt, she whimpered. “Dad…”
His dying smile widened.
She felt him slacken and heard his final breath. Saw his eyes go vacant and empty. Never to see her again.
And with a shriek of hurt and pain she came undone.