After a recap of the previous episode, we are given a flashback to another one of Cam’s high school moments. This time it’s graduation as Cam is dressed in her cap and gown and sitting next to her is her best friend Tee. She look at each other with a grin and as their row’s turn to stand comes, they rise and move out of the aisle and down towards the stage. Each person before them receives their diploma and they do as well as “Pomp and Circumstance” is played. After the ceremony, they celebrate until a loud car rolls up and Tee turns to Cam, “I gotta go!”
Cam looks disappointed, “I thought we were going to go out? Celebrate!”
Tee takes her hands, “I promise we will. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Tomorrow comes and she doesn’t hear from her friend. She calls and it immediately goes to voicemail. Later that night, it’s the same. The next morning was the same. Graduation day would be the last time she heard from her friend.
HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
It had been three weeks since any news of the newcomer had reached the castle that was the Grand Hotel. Normally no news would be good news, but it only made Killjoy more anxious. He could smell the change in the air of Prison City.
He didn’t like it one bit.
When the word that the bishop had indeed fallen by the hands of this newcomer, it only confirmed the suspicion that this was different from the others. There was a part of him that was eager for the competition, and another part of him that was trying to keep his hopes from getting up. He needed the battle. He could leave the castle and just step down and dispatch this intruder once and for all, but it would set a bad precedent to those underneath him. So, impatiently he waited.
Never had taken care of Cam for the past three weeks. A few days ago, she began to train again, preparing for the next battle. The queen would not go down easily and she was so close. Cam could feel how close she was to Killjoy. He stomped her husband’s head, and she can vividly recall his skull split open and blood and brain matter seeping onto the sidewalk. She remembered her screams as she watched him die in her arms that night.
She walked from the back of the store in which they had been held up to the front, “It’s time to get moving. We’ve waited long enough.”
“Are you sure you’re ready?”
“I’m ready as I could ever be.” The laceration on her neck had healed but the scar was very visible. The bruises on her face had mostly healed, though there was some evidence of that beating by the bishop.
Cam picks up her pack and draped it carefully across her back and then slid her kendo stick behind her. She walked to the front of the store and with Never behind her stepped onto the street.
“The sun almost never shines here,” Never comments as she squints her eyes.
“Definitely shining now,” Cam looks both ways on the street. “Which way now?”
Never points as the two begin to walk. Cam turns to her, “Tell me about this queen.”
“All I really know is that she’s in here for armed robbery. Seems her scumbag boyfriend got her all tangled up in something and then when everything went south and the shit hit the fan, he left her hanging and she took the fall because she wouldn’t rat him out.”
Cam listens though something strikes her very familiar about that particular story. She shakes her head as they continue to walk down the street. There are individuals who see them coming and immediately move out of their way.
Cam gives Never a nudge, “What’s that?”
“Oh, they have already heard about you and aren’t going to get in your way,” she responds. “This way,” she points towards another alley.
“These alleys are never good…” mutters Cam under her breath as they turn down the shaded alleyway.
“How did Killjoy get to be King, anyway?”
Never considers the question for a moment and then actually shrugs, “I don’t really know to be honest. I’ve heard he’s the first one who was thrown into here and I imagine he staked his claim right from the start and no one has been able to take him down. I don’t know that anyone really knows all that much about him.”
Cam nodded her head. She knew all about him. She had spent the last five years studying him. Digging up whatever information she could find on him. She knew his real name, his history, his rap sheet, his relatives. Anything that was public record and whatever her hired private investigator could dig up on him, she had read it all. Memorized it. The only thing she didn’t know about him was whatever couldn’t be typed into a computer or written on a piece of paper. Of course, there was zilch after he was sentenced to Prison City.
The day she first laid eyes on Killjoy is a day she would never forget. The way he brutally murdered her husband. Cam had left a child to be raised by her parents to come for vengeance. She was getting close, so close that it chilled her to the bone.
Never had stopped walking and it took a few steps before Cam had realized it. She turned her head back, “What?” Never raises her hand to point forward.
“She’s up there.”
Cam turned towards where Never was pointing and she did see someone. A woman lying on a stack of pallets. In fact, there were two stacks. One higher than the other and she lied in such a way that her feet were elevated and her blond dreadlocks were hanging out. It was as if she were bathing in the sunlight.
Cam motioned for Never to say back as she walked to the intersection and slowly crossed the street. Cam couldn’t place it but there was something very familiar about this woman.
As she got about halfway across the street, the woman’s voice spoke.
“Go ahead. Take another step. One more step and you are in my territory. That means I can do as I please with you.”
Other than the movement of her lips, the woman hadn’t budged from herspot, almost oozing with arrogance.
Cam started to take a step then reconsidered. Instead, she spoke. “I’m sorry, but I have to cross through. You can let me pass, or you can stop me. It’s entirely up to you.”
The woman’s feet lifted from the pallet they rest upon as she swung them around and sat up. It was then she turned to Cam and it was that moment that Cam realized…
A moment of confusion caused the other woman before her eyes widened, “Cam?”
We return and the two are still in their same spot looking at each other. Tee slides off the pallets and walks over until she is face to face with Cam.
“What the fuck are you doing here?”
Cam is still in shock to say the least. “I could ask you the same thing? Why are you here and why are you this queen?”
Tee smirks, “What? You don’t think I can be a badass or something? Remember that guy I was seeing back in high school. The one you didn’t like. Armed robbery. Someone died. He ditched me and I took the fall. Here I am. I had to fight my way here because otherwise, I would have been dead within a week. Now, what are you doing here?”
Cam listens to her story, nodding understandingly. When asked about herself, Cam goes into the story, explaining everything that has happened to her and her husband and why she is here. Never is looking on as the two converse, watching intently.
As Cam finishes her story, Tee shakes her head. “I’m sorry that happened to you, but you have to turn back now.”
Cam looks shocked at those words, “What do you mean? I can’t turn back. That is not an option.”
“If you don’t turn back, then I have to beat you. I don’t want to fight you, Cam,” Tee says as she reaches across the line to place a hand on the other woman’s shoulder. “I don’t want to have to beat you.”
Cam reaches up and brushes the hand off her shoulder, “Who says you would beat me? You have no idea what I’ve gone through…”
“You have no idea what I’ve been through, Cam! I’ve been here much longer than you. I’ve worked too hard to give up this spot. I can’t give it up, not even to you.”
Nodding her head, Cam removes her backpack and sets it on the ground. She looks at Tee for a long time and then slowly takes a step across the line.
“Then I guess we have to fight.”
“Let’s fight!” Cam screams to her friend.
“We don’t have to do this. You can stay here with me. Just like it used to be.”
“God damn it! Why can’t you get it through your head that I have to do this. I have to get to Killjoy. I’d rather be dead than not get to him. He took it all away from me. My husband. Fuck, I gave up my child to come here to avenge my husband’s death! So, either let me pass or fucking fight me. I’m not fucking around, Tee. It’s your choice.”
When Tila doesn’t offer a fighting pose, Cam drops her hands and reaches down to pick up her backpack. She turns back to Never, “We’re going through. Let’s go.”
She starts to walk through when Tee grabs her backpack and immediately, Cam spins around and slaps her right in the face. “I said fight me or I’m walking throu–”
Before she can finish the word, Tila punches her right in the throat and Cam drops to her knees, grasping at her neck and coughing. Never had started to cross the street but stopped once the action began. “Shit..” she mutters under her breath as she watches Tila grab the backpack and pull Cam to her feet, “I told you to fuck off. I told you not to pass through. I told you I couldn’t go through and you didn’t want to listen to me.” She pushes Cam back across the line and Cam trips and falls to the pavement.
Tila shakes her head, “Would could have ruled this part of Prison City, but you have to fucking shake the foundation. Miss high and mighty Cameron. You were always that way. You judged me when I would try to have fun. You would look down on me. Don’t think I don’t know. You didn’t like my pranks, you didn’t like my boyfriends, I don’t even know why you hung around me. Get fucking lost.”
Tila turns and starts to walk away. Cam shrugs the backpack off her shoulders and charges at Tila and tackles her from behind and they sprawl across the pavement.
“I hung around you because I liked you. Because you were my best friend. I may not have liked those assholes you hung out with that you called boyfriends, but I sure as fuck worried about you every single day.”
Cam starts to get to her feet and Tee kicks her in the back of the knee and she falls to the ground again as Tee slowly gets to her feet. She walks over and kicks Cam right in the gut as the sound of air escapes her lungs. “I told you that you can’t pass me.” She reaches down and grabs a handful of the woman’s hair, “Do you hear me? Go away now.” She pulls a fist back as if she’s going to punch Cam right in the face, but pauses and just releases the woman’s hair. “I mean it. Don’t make me do this. Go back to where you came from.”
She turns to walk away, but can’t. Cam reaches out and grabs her by the ankle.
“Goddammit!” Tee cries angrily. She tries to jerk her foot free, but Cam is able to trip her and cause her to land on her back on the street. Both struggle and get to their feet, Cam charges in and spears Tee, pushing her back until they crash into the wall of the building behind them, knocking the air out of Tee’s lungs.
Cam swings a fist that connects to the side of Tee’s face and then another to the other side. Tee starts to slide down the wall, she reaches up and grabs a fist full of Cam’s shirt and just pulls her hard as her head slams face first into the brick wall, her nose explodes everywhere.
Tee gets to her feet and drives a boot into Cam’s midsection as sending her to the pavement. She walks over and straddles her friend, Tee begins to hammer fist after fist into the face of the already bloodied Cam. Cam finally stops struggling against the blow, Tee stops. Panting, she moves off the woman and sits on the pavement to catch her breath.
Never starts to move forward to check on Cam, but Tee hears her. “You better stay the fuck back or I swear, I’ll do the same to you.” It stops Never in her tracks as she takes a few steps back.
Tee leans over, “Now take your ass back to where you came from. We are finished here. When you’re ready to be fucking reasonable, then come back and see me. Until then, fuck off.”
She gets to her feet and starts to go back across the street when she hears Cam’s voice. “Go fuck yourself. We aren’t done.” Tee stops walking. She slowly turns around and sees that Cam has gotten to her feet. She’s a little unsteady on her feet. She motions for Tee to bring it and Tee just sort of deflates.
“What the fuck is wrong with you? Why are you doing this? Revenge? This is my way of life. This isn’t some sort of vendetta. You’re going to make me kill you? Is that what you’re going to make me do? I’ve had to kill before in here and if you think I won’t again, then fuck it.”
She marches towards Cam and raises a fist to try and put her away once and for all when she’s struck hard from a blow from Cam. And then again. And again.
Tee slams her head against Cam’s nose. She reaches out and grabs her by the hair and pulls her close, lifts her up and drops her back first over a stack of pallets.
When Cam doesn’t move, Tee finally turns to walk away.
High up in the old Grand Hotel, both Killjoy and Lince are able to watch the fight.
Cam slides down from the pallets and reaches up and breaks off a piece of the wooden pallet and charges over, but Tee spins around and kicks the wood out of her hand and then swings wildly, but Cam ducks and drives a fist right into Tee’s gut. She grabs Tee and runs her face first into the brick wall, then again and once more.
Tee goes down and Cam reaches for the broken board and climbs up on top and looks as if she’s going to plunge that spiked wood right into Tee who whispers, “Do it…”
Cam struggles as her hand shakes. Tee says it again. “Just fucking do it. You have no choice.”
As a multitude of emotions flash across the face of Cam, she holds that stake high, shaking before she tosses it to the side. “It’s over. We’re going through.”
“No!” cries Tee with blood pouring down her face. “You can’t do this! You have to..”
“I’m not. Never, let’s go.” Cam struggles to her feet and steps backwards. Never scurries across the road, picking up Cam’s backpack along the way. They move on their way, as behind them Tee is heard sobbing as she lies on the ground.
“Is she going to be okay?” asks Never as they walk away, the crying still heard in the background.
Cam shrugs, “I can’t worry about that now. I’m too close to stop now.”
“Why didn’t you kill her?”
“A long time ago, we used to be friends.”
High on top of the Grand Hotel, Lince whistles lowly, “Fuck. She’s good. I guess it’s my turn. Don’t worry, boss. She won’t touch you.” With a smug look on her face, Lince turns and walks back inside as Killjoy continues to watch the two below. Under his breath, he mutters, “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
TO BE CONTINUED
CAM Jazmin Davis
NEVER Sativah Nevaeh
KILLJOY Gabriel Ohio
LINCE Mai Blackman
TEE Anaquin Adams