There Was No Girl

The officer was seated across the table from me. Petrov; a bigger and stronger man than myself, still better suited for field work than the paperwork he’d been doing since his recent retirement. He raised his eyebrows, looked away and sighed. He didn’t believe my account of what had happened last night. I don’t blame him for not believing me.

After a moment of silence, he repeated my story, trying to show me that it was ridiculous, as if I didn’t already know.

“A small girl,” he repeated.

I waited.

“Killed seven armed men.”

“Yes, yes that’s what happened,” I insisted.

He sighed again. I knew it was over for me.

Everyone in the company had already drawn their conclusions; one greedy fuck decided to screw his teammates. Take the money, take the swag, and skip town. But then why did I come back and report the incident? Petrov must have questioned that. Maybe he thought I did it pass the blame.

“You asshole, why would I make this up, instead of something half-believable?” I demanded.

He frowned and crossed his arms. I read his mind.

“You’re not a stupid man, and as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been an honest one. But you have to understand my position here. Seven men with machine guns are dead, and the only survivor is saying they were killed by some, feral girl. In a zone where we’ve made countless expeditions of, and know there are no surviving inhabitants.”

There was no chance in Heaven or Hell that the higher-ups would let me go. Prison if I was lucky, but more likely execution for the murder of my three teammates. The company doesn’t give a shit about the bandits’ lives; if it’d just been their deaths, I’d probably get a medal instead. Stupid scum robbing and killing stalkers, and innocents, whatever shit necessary to keep themselves rich and drunk and happy. But now I was the scum.

Petrov suddenly stood up, and in entered two of the largest company men I’d never before seen. I was to be killed, here and now. Beaten to death like a traitorous bastard. Petrov turned toward the door.

I let loose a torrent of obscenities as I pulled against my restraints, pleading and cursing Petrov’s name. What kind of a trial was this?

“You fucking bastard! Fine, fine! Let me show you! I’ll bring you the girl!”

The men moved both sides of me. In my periphery I could see knuckles fitted with steel but I ignored my executioners and continued speaking to Petrov, who’d stopped moving toward the exit.

“And the bodies! No bullet holes!” I shouted, “Am I right? Their necks and faces and stomachs, you’re going to see the marks, just like I said!”

Petrov turned around and glared at me. I knew I was right. When the bodies had all been recovered and examined, they’d have found no wounds inflicted by bullets or knives, but by teeth and nails. Maybe with a gun, I could have surprised them all, but not with my bare hands. Like she did.

My story was inconvenient and wild, but everything must have pointed to it being true.

Petrov closed his eyes.

“You have one week,” he said quietly, pointing his finger at me, “I’ll have the gatekeepers give you a tracker so you can’t pull any shit. If you try to escape, you’re dead. Bring back this wild girl, alive.”

He walked out the door without another word. He was followed by one of the brutes, as the other released my wrists from the table. I let out a sigh of relief.

Before he left as well, he asked me,

“If you’re not bullshitting,

how are you planning on catching a girl who’s already killed three other stalkers?”

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