“Great”, Clara said. “What is it with me and nondescript hallways?”
One end of the corridor finished near the interrogation room with a door that had been secured using the same mechanism. In the opposing direction there was an ascending circular staircase, made of dull steel.
Clara walked casually to the stairs and noticed the lack of identifying features. There were no signs posted, no markings on the walls, and little to no variation in the consistency of the cement.
There was also nothing that stood out as being surveillance equipment. She knew better; the video feeds in the surveillance room made that pretty clear. So equipment had to be there, but it was either camouflaged or so small that she could not spot them.
Whoever was monitoring the situation was either unaware of her escape or did not care. Either way, this crossed a line and would alter this group’s behaviour. The next time they crossed paths, Clara would need to get dirty.
At the top of the stairs, she came across a solid steel door. It was heavy with no visible locking mechanism. To her left there was a panel with a video feed. From this display, she saw the inside of a room: steel drawers, metal tables, sinks, weights, and various medical instruments. Clara had been around this type of room before. When dealing with ghouls, morgues were the first places to check.
“Makes sense,” Clara said.
Based on the dim lighting, it must have been after hours. That meant she had been unconscious most of the day, if not more. Without pause, Clara swiped the card which brought up a keypad on the display. She typed in the sequence Jane provided and heard the hermetic seals break.
She pushed open the door and walked right into the morgue. The door closed behind her without being prompted and, upon closer look, she was unable to see any signs of the entrance. Deep down she envied the level of effort this organisation had taken to hide a dungeon. The fact that it was co-located with a morgue meant they had a convenient place to dispose of the bodies.
Clara looked around casually and pocketed a few scalpels. She loved nothing more than a good blade, and these might come in handy. After a bit more rummaging, she came across a series of Allen keys used to fine-tune the scales which she pocketed along with a few picks. While crude, Clara hoped they would work.
When satisfied, she walked through the double hinged doors and into a long and sterile corridor. She eyed the room names and saw an exit sign lit up in the distance. Clara continued to walk with confidence and determination, even if she had no clue where she was headed. Nothing caught a guard’s eye more than an unfamiliar face who looked lost.
The door led to a stairwell and the flight of stairs going down led to another door. It had been fitted with an audible alarm and probably opened on the street level. Clara barely glanced at it while she ascended and flew past the floors without a care in the world.
When the stairs ran out, she came across a door labelled Roof Access. She paused and examined the door which matched all others in the stairwell, except for the deadbolt. That gave her hope. A door that was secured against unauthorised access implied there was a chance at freedom on the other side.
Clara knelt, pulled out the picks and Allen keys, and began to fiddle with the mechanism. In her time, Clara needed very little time to pick locks, but things had changed. So much so, that she decided it was best to go with plan B.
She got back on her feet, slowed down time, and rammed the door. The door buckled under this initial effort, but the hinges and lock remained intact.
“Aww nertz!” Clara exclaimed.
This time, she moved away from the door to gain serious velocity and focused all of that momentum into her shoulder. In this attempt, the door gave way completely, torn from its hinges, and tumbled along the rooftop. It made an awful racket which was exactly what Clara wanted to avoid. Still, no alarms had been raised and all was quiet.
“So is freedom at hand?” Clara wondered.
She walked onto the roof and saw how the low cloud cover was lit up by the city lights. It was raining, and the cool dark rain instantly soaked her clothing. Invigorated, she dropped her light coat, and let her wings expand.
Clara stood there. Staring at the glory before her. The neighbouring buildings were taller; a few even dated from her era, since they featured those iconic water towers. Other buildings were tall and imposing structures made of steel and glass.
She turned around and, from here, noticed the darkened area that made up the park. Even through the thin slivers between streets, she caught flashes of blue and red lights. The police presence at the park was comforting because that meant she had not been out for more than a day.
“I was right,” Freyja said. “You would have been one of my best shieldmaidens.”
Clara kept her eyes on the park, choosing not to turn around just yet. The last time they met, Freya had been playing the role of Saint Peter. This evening, she had chosen an alternate persona for the confrontation. Clara flapped her wings for show. The black feathers were nearly invisible against the night sky.
“One would think that my wings would make me a Valkyrie,” Clara said.
“Never did care for them,” Freyja said with a hint of disdain.
Clara turned around and saw exactly what she imagined Freyja to be: the armour, the shield and sword, blonde hair, and blue eyes, not to mention how she towered over her, enough to leave Clara feeling a twinge of anxiety. Of course, there was no real threat, otherwise she would have been dead by now.
“So what brings you down to the mortal realm?” Clara asked.
“I’ve come to deliver a message,” Freyja said.
“And they sent down a god to tell me?” Clara guessed.
“Caught on,” Freyja said, and soon realised that she inadvertently answered Clara’s guess. “Did you?”
“The effect that ambrosia has on me and my golden blood? They were certainly eye openers,” Clara said. “You’re here because of Hecate, aren’t you?”
“You were always a bright one,” Freyja said.
“That’s why the Tower did not teach us about gods and goddesses,” Clara said. “They did not want Hunters getting involved in your affairs.”
Freyja nodded but did not elaborate on the matter. Clara had managed to figure it out easily enough—the dirty little secret that even those in her order were never meant to know. The truth should have left her with a deep sense of betrayal, and still might once the dust settled. For now, she enjoyed the natural high that she got from being right.
“She got in the way,” Clara said.
“It was not up to you to judge her,” Freyja said.
“So I can’t go back up then?” Clara asked. “Break some unwritten rule and I’m banned from the club?”
Freyja did not seem to react, but Clara knew the words struck home. Pushing buttons, after all, was one trait she excelled at.
“Of all the times to wish for a camera,” Clara thought.
“It’s that or kill you,” Freyja said in a tone that implied a preference for the latter.
“Oh no!” Clara said sarcastically. “Don’t leave me here. Free to live, breath, fuck, and make mistakes.”
“They will never accept you,” Freyja said.
“Men tend to accept anything with a nice pair of tits,” Clara said while looking down at her wet blouse. “I’ll be fine and, unlike Edith, I want to be here.”
“You are on your own then,” Freyja said.
Clara smiled, crossed her arms, and remained as such until Freyja faded out of existence. It seemed that some of their kind were free to come and go as they pleased. Clara loved having limits. Flaws, when overcome, became a source of strength. Clara would not have it any other way.
Clara felt a chill once the wind picked up and shook the excess water out of her hair. She bent her knees, flapped her wings, and unleashed a thick mist of water from her wings. As she cut through the mist to become airborne, Clara thought about being barred from Heaven and, in that moment, had never felt so free.
Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!
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