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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

#RubyIyer: BOMBAY SHORTS 27 - 'Not just lust?'

Previously: Ruby Iyer is pushed in the path of a Bombay local train and wakes up with superpowers. As Bombay Vigilante she now protects its citizens from criminals… Sometimes, even from themselves; yet coming face to face with her nemesis, she finds her superpowers are no match. Can she save herself? Now read on

- Not just lust? -

He picked up the detonator from Honeyjee’s hand.

Despite his best efforts to the contrary, his fingers touched the skin of her palm: Vikram could not prevent the centipede of shudder, which ran underneath his skin before hooking its claws in his spine. Pure evil. He was suddenly very afraid for Ruby. 

His eyes flicked to Ruby’s holding her gaze for a millisecond, trying to convey the depth of his terror and he was scant reassured when she quirked one edge of her lips in the ghost of a smile.

He had to find a way to watch out for her even as he moved her friend to safety.

The woman was watching the unspoken interaction avidly, as if she could interpret between the lines: yet it took all his willpower to turn away from Ruby, to take the first step, then the next towards the wounded Panky.

“Hey handsome!” Her velvety voice—far more suited to a phone-sex line—flung its net over him; Vikram came to a stop reluctantly, but did not turn.

“Damn, but you are hot, if you want to join me, just call. You are welcome anytime.” Honeyjee lowered her voice,  “I’ll take special care of you I promise.”

Trying not to show his revulsion, Vikram finally faced her: “thanks, but no thanks!”

“Here!”

He instinctively caught the key she threw him.

“You’ll need it!”

His senses jangled loudly: Trap. It’s a trap!

The futile sensation of time running out grew stronger, overpowering him. Hating the powerlessness which surrounded him like a shroud, trapped in the part he had to play in the unfolding drama he walked quickly to the edge of the platform, jumping down onto the tracks, crossing it to reach Panky.

***

He was safe.

It was stupid to feel so relieved, and yet Ruby felt her body sag with respite as she saw Vikram carefully lower Panky’s prone body to the ground, with the help of another policeman who had jumped down to help. He would see Panky through safely her cop.

She knew that with a certainty she did not bother to question. If only I had gotten to know him better.

This was different what she sensed with this policeman. Not just a rush of lust, but something softer, simpler, more basic. Something almost innocent, which she could slip into, like a favourite pair of jeans: one which looked good moulded to her skin, but which was still comfortable enough so she could move at will, be herself —

— No! No more ifs, buts, whens. Life was too short for regrets. All you had was the now, and perhaps what you could do in the next few minutes, or hours or for the rest of that day. It was pointless to think beyond that.

“Your friend? He was the first.” Honeyjee smirked. “

Remember there are many others scattered around the nooks and alleyways; all I need to do is give the signal, and it will be like a string of fireworks, BOOM!” She clapped her hands startling Ruby, “but perhaps you want to celebrate an early Diwali?”

For the first time since their meeting Ruby was sure of herself: “you think I care bitch? Catch me if you can.”

Turning, Ruby put on a burst of speed running to the end of the platform. Using a bench for leverage, she vaulted onto the roof of the now-vacant newspaper vendor, then onto the over-bridge, before she ran to the western side of the station.

As she prepared to vault down onto her bike parked below: WHAM! a searing pain slammed into her left side.

Gasping, she stopped, and looking down, saw a blot of red on the plaid shirt spreading at a pace she could not fathom.

The world swam around her, before she put out a hand, in an effort to right herself: and found herself grabbing at air.

Vaguely aware of a scuffle break out below, Ruby turned her head to see Vikram wrestle another cop holding a gun, to the ground.

Looking back at the parked bike: a jump, which should have been as easy as taking a step forward, she concentrated, then leaped; missing her motorcycle by inches, screaming as the jolt sent an intense thunder of agony up her side, as if splitting her body in two.

Vaguely, she remembered a friend describe the pain of giving birth, and how it had felt like a burning sword being plunged into her centre. Surely this was worse?

The blackness poured through the broken dam of her will to survive.

Shivering with the effort to stay conscious, sweat plastering her hair to her neck, aware that the blood was spurting out of her now like a broken water pipe, she managed to mount the bike.

A flash of white had her turning to see Honeyjee stand at the entrance to the station.

She smiled and the sun glinted off her teeth: “Running away again little girl? Can’t really face up to the grown ups yet, can you?”

- to be continued

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