It was quite a while before I spotted that frizzy blonde named Delilah again. My classes had had their first test and I had set aside my anger of the situation for that time, until one Saturday I had spotted her on my way to get groceries at the local market. She was headed into a massage parlor, the type that offered really cheap massages but also kept blackout curtains mostly shut–supposedly to keep the privacy of their clients. I wasn’t sure it was her until I turned around, peeked through the window, and saw her face as she was talking to a guy in what looked to be a reception area.
It was one of the men from the rape. How he managed to escape the campus police I don’t know, but I remembered my indignation from the incident all over again and the promise I made Stephanie. After they went into a back room where I couldn’t see what was going on, I debated going in there as-is, but decided against it. These people would have guns, most likely, and I needed to hide my identity from them, lest they found out where I live–or worse, my family.
No, I would need to go in there looking like a catgirl Egyptian cheerleader with a jewelry complex. I jogged off to change somewhere inconspicuous and found an alleyway a few streets over with a smattering of dumpsters where I could stash my grocery bags and not draw too much attention to the transformation. Once I was in my magical identity once more, I returned to the parlor to see that the curtains had been closed fully and the door to the storefront was being locked by who could’ve been the receptionist.
“I’m sorry, we’re closed,” She said when she spotted me through the sheer curtains on the door.
“The sign out here says otherwise,” I said and nodded to the operating hours plate.
“We don’t do walk-ins either.”
“Well, I just want to get a brochure of your services.” My tail was swishing in anxiety by this time, though still mostly out of sight of her. “I’ll make an appointment once I’ve taken a look through it.”
She grumbled and got a brochure, unlocking the door to give it to me. “Here, our services are on the middle flap.”
“Thank you,” I smiled as I quickly grabbed the brochure, blocked the door from closing with my foot and knocked her out-of-the-way of the door with my staff. I sauntered in and gave her a look. “I’m sorry, but I got a beef with someone here and it’d be in your best interest to stay down.”
“Who are you?” she moaned. “They didn’t tell me anything about being monitored…just that I needed to close the shop early so they wouldn’t be interrupted.”
“Just a person who cares about the city. Now, where’s Delilah?” I asked and burned the brochure in the triple wick candle on the desk.
“The frizzy blond lady that was in here earlier.”
“I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
“Fine, I’ll look for myself.” I knocked her out with the staff and started to look throughout the place. It was structured like your typical Chinese massage parlor, but for the size of the place, there were too few rooms and not enough aromatherapy to mask the scent of something else that was coming from here.
I could smell it, from the stale sweat to the emissions that was produced by it, the scent of sex is one you don’t forget easily. It was coming from most of the rooms, but the strongest scent lead me to a locked room with the Private panel screwed upon it. I would’ve busted through it and asked questions later, but my more rational side kicked in and I put my ear to the door. The sound of many people breathing–many more than code probably would’ve allowed for the parlor–and soft instrumental music was eclipsed by the sudden cry of what was likely an orgasming man and the tears of a woman.
It was then, after the cry subsided that I heard talking from the other side of the room. It was muffled through the door, but I could make out Delilah’s voice and the thug’s, saying something about a trade. I also heard something about Innis’ approval and moving the girls discreetly before I went to grab the key ring that the receptionist had dropped. I tried several on the door before hearing a satisfying click as the lock gave way to my touch.
After placing the ring out of sight, I opened the door ever so slightly as to not make it squeak. The back room here was like a communal sex room and dungeon mixed with an office off to one side, with several women and a few girls huddling together chained on the other. I could hear the conversation a lot better now and kept to the wall as I slipped into the room. There were a few thugs, Delilah, and a guy in a fedora with a pheasant feather sticking out of the band.
“I trust you’ll be overseeing this move, Carlos?” Delilah said. “You know how Innis gets when mistakes are made.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Carlos said with a dismissive gesture. “My boys’ll be over here to pick up the product we discussed tomorrow.”
“Good, we gotta move the fresh ones before they figure out where they are.”
“You’ve been doing well with recruitment, there’s even a few I’d like to enjoy myself before we put them up for work, eh fellas?” The thugs all gave a chuckle.
“Then by all means do,” Delilah said “it shouldn’t be said that I don’t allow my fellow business partners to enjoy a good time once in a while.”
“Oh my god, please help me!” One of the women screamed with a British accent. I turned to look and she’d pulled off a gag and was looking straight at me. So were the thugs in the office space.
“Shit,” I said.
“Who the hell are you?!” Carlos said, rising from his chair.
“Wha–YOU!” Delilah and one of the thugs called out in quick succession.
“Don’t just stand there, get her!” Carlos said to the thugs that were a bit dumbfounded. They started pulling out their pistols and a few were moving around the desk to intercept me.
I pulled the staff from its resting position behind my back. “Roar, Sekhmet-Mut!” I called and shook the sistrum head quickly, which produced an ear shattering sound and knocked out a couple of thugs that couldn’t put their hands up in time. The rest started shooting at me, and while a few shots bounced off the invisible shield, I wasn’t about to become over-reliant on it. I was doing gymnastics like a madwoman trying to dodge all the attention on me.
One of the guys tried to tackle me as one of his buddies emptied his clip at me, but got a body blow from my staff and a couple of bullets in his butt as I leapt out-of-the-way. The buddy’s gun jammed, and I used that opportunity to brainpan him into dreamland. I looked to see the thug that escaped trying to squirrel out the back door, but he got kicked into the door handle by Delilah, who seethed rage by this point. Carlos had been shooting at me as well, and one of his bullets grazed my arm. I screamed in pain before concentrating a sunburst at him and his gun, burning his arm in the process and dropping the gun.
At that, all the color drained from his face and he proceeded to flee out the now slightly open back door without his men or his gun. That didn’t stop Delilah from tackling me to the ground.
“Who the fuck are you?!” She seethed.
“Call me Senet-Ra.”
“You’re the bitch who interrupted my intake a few weeks ago and made Innis scold me!”
“You should’ve thought of that before going into the sex slave trade!” I retorted. “Don’t you feel shame as a woman that you’re selling other women and little girls to be used as fuck dolls to men?!” I finally got in a position to shove her off of me.
“Profit wore away that shame years ago,” she said as she tried to grapple me again, but failed. “Now I make more money than the average bum in this town could ever dream of!”
“What a sorry soul, selling humanity for what you cannot keep,” I said and shook my head. She got off a final lunge before I clotheslined her to the wall. “Now, who the fuck is Innis and where can I find them?”
She saw that she was beat and started to sing. “Fine, Innis is the woman who runs the city’s trade ring and knows every operator from here to Cabo. As for how to find her, last time I met her it was at a high-rise in downtown at one of the corporations she runs.”
“Which one?” I squeezed the staff a little tighter.
“I don’t remember the name, but it had a good view of the wharf and the bridge, from as high up as we were.”
I put her in a sleeper hold after that. Once she’d drifted off, I went and searched her body for the keys to the women’s cuffs, found a few hurt and the guy asleep on the bed near death. Most of them didn’t speak English, but those who did were able to either translate for those who couldn’t or call the police once I unlocked them.
I stayed with them, gathering the clean sheets to act as coverings until I heard the cops’ sirens. I knew then it was time to leave and bounded out the back door. Once I got back to my grocery bags after making sure I wasn’t followed, I wasn’t in the shopping mood again, but thinking over what Delilah said. I would have to find this building soon, and take this ring down.
But first, mundane life and a pint of mint chocolate chip. Definitely mint chocolate chip.