Arbitratus Short Fiction

Detour

Another fun little writing prompt that got thrown out there in a group I’m part of and unsurprisingly I immediately thought of our own Ben Brody. – ~ J

A character of your choice walks in a city familiar to them. It is the dead of night. They witness a brutal mugging, featuring a nasty beating of the young couple they robbed. Your character manages to chase the criminal down into an alleyway. There are no witnesses and whatever tools your character uses for battle they have with them. How do they deal with the actions of the criminal? Play out the scene as you know they would.

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Ben’s heart slowed back down to normal as his preternaturally strong eyes took in the criminal huddled against the dumpster in the almost perfect darkness of the alleyway.
“Son of a bitch,” he grumbled more to himself than the sweaty, pale, maybe-teenager shaking and clutching the rather ostentatious purse he’d gotten off the woman up the street.

“This was a bad idea, kid,” he said sounding weary.

At first the kid said nothing, just panted and tried to straighten, but he caught his breath a little with the movement. Apparently one or both of the victims had gotten their licks in, Ben thought.

Finally the kid bit out, “Only kind I seem to have …” he trailed off for a minute. Then he lifted his head to meet Ben’s eyes when he heard him crunch over some broken glass stepping forward. “This belongs to a friend of mine though.”

“Looked like it belonged to the lady you wrestled it away from, buddy.”

Ben took another step.

“Technically I guess,” the boy, who Ben was now sure couldn’t have been more than fifteen said with a bitter laugh. “It’s my friend’s sister and her dirtbag boyfriend. He did some things … Bad things … And Steph had to leave home.”

There was pain in that voice, in that story.

“Did the sister know?” Ben asked, trying to get the lay of the land.

The boy shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. She knows he’s a piece of shit, but he has money, so she stays with him, let’s Steph’s parents think the worst. And we … she’s gotta eat, man.”

“Sister’s on the way the the hospital,” Ben said, his voice was a little stern but mostly just informative, wondering what the kid would do with the information.

“I’m sorry, alright. But only so sorry if you know what I mean. I can’t give this back. You saw what I did to them. I got no problem doing the same to you.”

Ben let the kid see his smirk. “I’m more than you bargained for, trust me. You can’t just go around hurting people for revenge, or worse for money. Nothing good will come of it. I know what I’m talking about.”

Another defeated shrug preceded the kid pulling the bag closer to himself. “I didn’t mean to have to hurt anyone, just get Steph some of her parents’ money for food.”

Ben noticed the boy’s ragged breathing then, but just said, “Doesn’t matter what you meant, kid. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

He gave a short bitter laugh.

He let his amber eyes glow just a little, just enough to let the kid see he knew from whereof he spoke.

The boy jumped back in fear and gasped, toppling over as he bumped into the dumpster.
The kid immediately started struggling to his feet, but stumbled. Ben’s first impulse was to take the bag back since the kid was in no shape to fight, regardless of his story, and just call that good enough.

Then he saw the way the kid was clutching his side, saw blood trickle between his fingers.

“Hey,” he said, stepping forward. “What the hell happened to you?”

“He cut me, the bastard cut me before I could even ask for money. That’s how the fight started. I wasn’t gonna just steal it.”

“He had a knife?” Ben asked, feeling a tingle of real anger.

“He always has a knife. That’s how he hurt Steph.”

Ben pulled back on his power, allowing himself to look entirely human again. “C’mon, kid. Lemme help you. You need a hospital.”

“The cops …”

“Didn’t ID you. Let’s get your friend that money and get you patched up.”

Ben slipped an arm under the boy’s shoulders.

“You were chasing me. Why are you helping me … whatever you are … and ..?”

“Just call me Ben. What I am is a demon, and why I’m helping is because I know what it’s like to be driven down the wrong road, kid.”

~ End ~

More about Ben Brody can be found here.

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