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Ostracized, ridiculed and then incest ... brilliant immigrant student uses high tech defenses to stop father's attacks ... and survives. Or does she? Note: This psycological thriller is appropriate for adult readers.

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release

Adam P. Knave

Adam P. Knave maintains hellblazer.net and zenbastard,org while juggling all his other writing, which includes the recently published Strange Angel series and the story “Meat” in the anthology, No Longer Dreams.


4 Stars!

"Gary Sutton has written a haunting glimpse into the psyche of a brilliant and disturbed young woman."

Affair de Coeur

Chapter One

Papa killed mother after breakfast Thursday.

Mornings were rough for him. The cop said papa strangled her with this rosary after flinging a plate of huevos rancheros, grits and black beans across the linoleum.

See these strands of mother's hair and skin twisted around this section of ten beads? I'll explain how they got here in a minute.

Put your tape recorder on that metal table. Here's an extension cord; this lab has plenty of equipment. The benches are bolted into the cement so nobody can steal them, but if we stack these white jackets you can sit comfortably.

Anyway, Papa looped this around mother's neck and started punching her face, and when she stumbled he kicked mother flat and dragged her through the trailer by the crucifix. He was full of crack. The coroner won't tell me if mother suffocated or if her neck broke. I like to imagine her vertebrae snapped, so she wouldn't have hurt for long.

Oh, it's no big deal.

That perverted shrink of yours asked if I ever had a boyfriend. He wanted to know how old I was when papa first reached under my skirt and a bunch of questions about things that happened years ago and I don't remember any of it, not at all, really, I don't.

It doesn't matter what they do to papa. I just want out of here.

If he gets the electric chair and I can watch, well, okay, that's cool. I'll look through the window until papa notices me. I'll wear my cutoffs with fringe and a blouse that ties high across the stomach. That's hard to imagine in this uniform, right? I'll smile, turn and walk away. He'll watch my rear end jiggle just as they yank the switch and fry him.

That would be good.

It's not that I need revenge, you see, I beat him, so it doesn't matter.

I can handle this.

I'll make it.

I'm fine.

Okay, you have quite a few cassettes there. Let's start.

We crossed the border in the back of a van and hopped out three days and six hours later in Waterloo, Iowa with one suitcase. Papa got work cutting loins off pigs in the Rath packing plant. It paid eight dollars an hour, triple what anybody made at home. We shared a double wide with another family. None of us ever felt a winter before, but the trailer had heat and water and we could fill our sack at the corner grocery.

Life changed during the strike. Locals swerved at us on the road. "Scabs!" they yelled. Other than that, everything stayed great.

Well, I hit puberty, got shapely and papa played around with me. Mother didn't look good. She usually had black eyes and three of her teeth were knocked out. My brother was too small to do anything about it. The other family in our double wide pretended not to notice. You might try to understand, and this makes us seem like trash, but we weren't sure there was anything wrong with this. What did we know?

In the beginning of the world, there was no choice but incest, right?

One day the social workers took me away.

That helped.

Maybe leaving saved my skin.

Mother visited once but papa whipped her with a leash when he heard. I never saw her again and you can't really blame her, can you, I mean, what could she do?

She didn't write.

I never got a phone call.

She's dead. That's that.

It was the smartest thing for her, you see, don't you, that she couldn't risk even writing a letter or ever making a phone call, okay? Mother had no choice. She had to abandon me. Don't think less of her, I don't, truly, not one bit. She got strangled without talking to me. Imagine how bad it would have been if she called.

Sure, maybe she could have picked up aluminum cans to get a couple dollars without him knowing and called me from a pay phone and... no, forget that.

Anyway, these social workers committed me to a home for girls. It had a library. The teachers didn't care much but there were lots of old books and I got to spend every afternoon reading if I made dinner, so I cooked. After a couple years I got into science and took some tests. A month later they told me I won a Merit Scholarship. Since I'm called a minority, Iowa State said I could study free.

Iowa State is two hours from Waterloo. I didn't know if mother or papa were still around and if they would ever talk with me again and I didn't care, honestly, but then a friend told me that papa started dealing dope and moved out of the trailer park and into a townhouse. Big deal. He kept mother and my brother in the double wide.

The girl's home gave me some clothes and dropped me in Ames, Iowa. I moved into Freeman Hall and had my own room with just one other girl. She bought drapes for the windows and a lamp. Her mom took pictures of us and gave me one. I mailed that photo to grandmother. She doesn't understand English and died eight years before but it seemed that she would like seeing how well I was doing. Somebody got the picture, so a few people in that village learned that her granddaughter made it big.

But you're here to prove papa killed mother and catch him, right?

That rosary you're holding came in the mail. He found out I'm here. The man wanted me to see how he snuffed her. Remember that. To catch him you need to know him.

I got transferred here because of a problem at Iowa State. A guy attacked me. I fought back. The school decided it would be safer if they moved me to this Mitchellville campus.

Our fight made the college paper. Maybe papa found me that way. After he started distributing, he flew his own plane and purchased another girl every night.

You need to understand one thing. He wants me. This man needs his daughter. He killed his wife and enjoyed it. Papa will nail me unless you get him.

Look at these computers, the chemistry lab and telecom equipment I work with. It's quiet here and there are all these concrete walls, but I have access to more technology than you could ever want.

The Dean restricts me from cutting equipment, explosive chemicals and keeps the keys to the acid cabinet. But he doesn't know enough technically to understand there's still dangerous material here.

After I realized what that rosary was about I begged the Dean to let me dig through all the garbage to retrieve the package it came in. He thought the haulers had already picked up the trash. I went to bed. Later I heard the trucks slamming dumpsters while I was trying to sleep. You'd think the Dean would know when the garbage guys came, wouldn't you? Now all you have are those beads for evidence.

That strange doctor who wanted to know if I ever had a boyfriend, and wondered when papa touched me and how did I feel, he's got a problem himself. Why else would anyone do that for a living? I understand he's got to see if I'll make it as a witness, so I told him everything.

I explained how it got so I could put my mind out of my body, and imagine there was a plastic coating around me, and papa could do whatever he wanted and it didn't matter, and when I would be in that trance, he'd get mad and start slapping me and throwing me around and then I'd pretend to come alive and scream and cry but I was faking it. None of that hurt, because I was somewhere else, I wasn't even there, papa couldn't affect me, not at all.

When I sobbed that helped him finish.

If your lab runs DNA tests on that skin and hair it should help, but I dusted the beads for fingerprints and couldn't find a trace. I wish the Dean hadn't lost the packaging. That's the last chance we had to get papa's prints.

This incident at Iowa State proves my ability to deal with men. Big surprise, huh? Molested by papa, sent to a girl's school without a man on the staff and then straight into a college where there were three guys for every girl at age sixteen. Was trouble predictable?

My roommate asked me to go on a double date with her to a party at the Kappa Phi fraternity. This pretty boy, Trip Wellington, was my date and picked us up with his roommate in a white Chevy convertible.

His car had four tires that matched, didn't smoke up the road and the engine started every time you turned the key. They were laughing and bouncing around and I didn't know what to say and was too nervous to move, those seat covers were so shiny I was afraid to smudge them. I looked terrific. The girl's home had bought me one new dress, it was green with ruffles around the neck and sleeves. I wore it and my roommate put some makeup around my eyes. You wouldn't recognize me. I wish I had a photo. Reality is so unreal.

Pretty soon the other three realized I wasn't talking. That's when I threw up. The ritziest time in my life and I puke in his car. I have no idea what did that; maybe the dorm food was spoiled. Nobody talked. We pulled in behind their fraternity and parked, I lifted out the floor mat, Trip got a hose and sprayed it off. I pretended I was still sick so I could go to the bathroom and be alone.

Somebody might tell you that I got crazy in their bathroom but that's exaggerated. I shrieked a little. It is funny, I never yelled before unless I was pretending for papa, but this was real.

I was not hysterical, honestly.