Vigilantes

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The number of cars in the area had decreased. There were several people dead inside, but the building was clear aside from the stragglers. Where was Talia? The balding woman should be pilfering the drugs.

She fished her phone from her pocket. No message from Annice. Was everything okay? Who did White Rabbit kill? Who was he behind the mask? The enemy? An ally?

Khailani glanced at the time on the phone. 3:07. At 3:12 she’ll phone Annice and learn about the situation. If no response, she’ll pack it up and meet her at her home.

Home…The rabbit killing duo flashed in her head. She was wrong. The one guarding the entrance wasn’t White Rabbit. Was the gang the one that sent death threats after all?

3:08.

How did the real White Rabbit find her here? Maybe it was a coincidence they were both after her?

Khailani’s stomach dropped. She was no one special—a discharge from the military who paid her time for drug trafficking.

She was a little lost in life, but she wasn’t some secret rich person or a monster in disguise…Both parents were alive. Her sister and brother had relatively stable lives. So why her?

Still 3:08…

Peering through the scope, she spotted White Rabbit at the factory’s entrance. He glanced at her. Despite him knowing her position, Khailani fired.

She missed.

Snatching up her phone and gear, she left her spot. What was his goal? Who was he working for? He called himself a hitman, so who was his target? Her phone vibrated. Checking it, she noticed a message from Annice.

“We’ve been had. Talia dead.”

Khailani texted back, “R u ok? Saw white rabbit. In building.”

Expecting an immediate answer, she leaned against the guardrail.

3:09. Now 3:10.

She dropped to the step and held the phone to her forehead.

Talia? Dead? She behaved strangely recently, but she wasn’t reckless. Khailani recalled her sudden urge to touch the head nailed to Annice’s door. Maybe she did lose her sensibilities?

Khailani peaked at her phone. 3:10. She should call…

“Shit,” she whispered, collecting her belongings and continuing down the building. Once she reached the ground floor 3:14 flashed onto her phone. No new messages from Annice.

She hesitated to press “call.”

“I’m surprised you shot at me,” White Rabbit answered.

She hung up.

Why?

She dialed Ritsa. As the phone rang, she disassembled the rifle and took out the pistol. Checking the ammunition, she snapped the cartridge back into the gun.

“Hi, this is Ritsa,” she hummed.

“Ritsa! It’s me, Khailani!”

“Khailani? I thought you’re with Annice. Is she okay?”

“I don’t know. Oh Ritsa, I don’t know. I called her phone but White Rabbit answered. I hoped she found a public phone and called you.”

“Shit. I insisted this was a bad idea. I’m calling the police.”

“No Ritsa!”

“I’d rather know that my wife is alive and have her arrested versus dead and her body on a pike in some warehouse, Khailani.”

“Give me five minutes. I’ll confirm myself. Don’t call them.”

Ritsa’s silence broke her heart.

“Five minutes Khailani.”

They ended the call. Khailani called Annice’s phone again.

“I was unsure if I should call you back,” White Rabbit answered. There was a gunshot in the background, and Khailani’s eyes widened.

“What did you do to Annice?”

“She’s fine. I did nothing to her. She wasn’t on the hit list,” he said matter-of-factly.

That meant nothing. Why did he have her phone?

“Where is she?”

“How should I know? She drove off somewhere. Didn’t you guys have some rendezvous point?”

“She’s supposed to pick me…up. Annice!” The KVG leader hopped out from the truck and leapt towards her.

“Don’t forget you’re dropping your vigilante hijinks.” He hung up.

The two embraced.

“Khailani. My God. Are you okay?”

They stepped away from each other.

“Me? I was worried about you! Someone texted Talia was dead and then White Rabbit answered your phone!” Khailani cried.

“Talia saw the gang leader fall, and we both thought it was you. Then there was another shot too close to the phone, and I lost contact with her.”

While Annice massaged her temples, Khailani dialed her wife, “Talk to Ritsa. She needs to know that you’re okay.”

Annice took the phone and gestured for Khailani to follow her to the truck.

“Ritsa baby? Yes, it’s me. I’m shaken up, but I’m fine. Yes, I’m with Khailani. I’m fine. I’m fine. I love you too. I’ll update you when I get home. We’re leaving the scene now. Bye baby. Love you too.”

Annice sighed as she hung up and returned the phone to Khailani. “What a mess,” she muttered, starting the truck.

“I didn’t shoot Talia,” Khailani blurted out.

“I know.”

“You do?” Relief washed over her.

“Yes. White Rabbit killed her. Told me Talia was responsible for killing our own girls. She supposedly had a hand in killing the man last night.”

Khailani stared at her worriedly. “Why?”

“I don’t know. The police will solve that one for us if they can.”

“We have to tell Dean,” she said, ready to dial his number.

“Tell him to go home. He’ll know this mission was a bust. I’ll formally catch him and the others up tomorrow.”

They rode in silence.

“Annice?”

“Yes?”

Khailani dragged her finger across her gun bag. “This will be my last heist.”

Annice said nothing, so she continued, “White Rabbit didn’t tell me if he was the one who sent those threats, but he assured me that he’d come after me if I continued.” She ran her fingers through her hair. “I think you should disband the KVG too…I don’t want you…anyone ending up like Talia.”

“I’ve…considered it. I knew our luck would run out eventually.

“White Rabbit gave me a card.” Annice handed her a dark brown business card with a telephone number on one side and the initials “IBC” in white on the backside.

“He told me to give them a call. There’d be a benefactor willing to help out everyone in the KVG. Make sure we’re all on our feet while taking care of the drug hustlers on our streets.”

“Sounds too good to be true especially if White Rabbit gave it to you.”

“Honestly I’m tempted to hand it over to the police. Let them swab for prints and arrest the bastard, but maybe that’s the trap.”

“Heh,” Khailani leaned into her seat. “Are we cursed? Forever in a loop fearing death from White Rabbit?”

“No. Even if White Rabbit is a monster, I think he genuinely wished for us to live crime free lives, and I think calling that number will be the first step. You may no longer affiliate with the KVG, but I’ll make sure friends are taken care of, KVG or not.”

Khailani glanced away and dropped the card in the cup holder. “Just be careful Annice. Please be careful.”

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© 2021: Operation: UGAWTS || The Cat in Rabbit's Fur || Short Story ||

Vigilantes