#10 – The Sound Of Silence, Part 1

An expensive office, decorated in wood paneling and various glass sculptures, gave away the fact that the psychiatrist who worked there was rather high-priced. He sat in a deep leather chair, as his patient lay down on an even more plush leather couch, staring at the white painted ceiling. As he stared, he didn’t say a word, much to the irritation of Dr. Craig Marcus.

Dr. Marcus sat up straight, writing furiously on his notepad. He gave his patient, known to him only as Robert, no indication of how frustrated he felt. It might delay any possibility of getting him to talk. Unfortunately, anger seeped into his voice every time he spoke.

“Look, Robert…I’m being paid one way or the other. The only way the court will let you discontinue your therapy is if I tell them you’re better.”

Robert didn’t even budge as Dr. Marcus leaned forward to try and gauge even the smallest response from him. It was like this every week – Robert would come in precisely at his eleven a.m. appointment and lie down, saying nothing or even moving until his time was up an hour later.

“All right, Robert, we’ll try something different.” Dr. Marcus tossed his notepad aside and walked to his desk, removing a picture from one of the drawers. He glanced at the young woman in the picture – a brown-eyed brunette – staring at her riveting eyes for a few seconds, wondering why Robert had become so obsessed with her.

He walked over to the couch, and held the photo above Robert so he could see it. “Let’s talk about Amanda, shall we?”

Robert suddenly jumped to his feet, shoving Dr. Marcus out of his way angrily as he let out a primitive growl. As Dr. Marcus slammed into one of the wood paneled walls, Robert lifted a floor lamp, smashing it into his face. Blood began running down Dr. Marcus’ ironed white shirt – his nose was broken.

He didn’t have time to even yell for help before Robert ran from his office – and in a way, he was just grateful that Robert had left rather then staying to possibly hurt him more. As unethical as it sounded, he was glad that Robert left…and Dr. Marcus hoped never to see him again.


It was the most surreal evening Cassandra had ever been through in her life. People who cared for her trying their best to communicate with her as she moved through a world that was suddenly silent. It was like being trapped in a nightmare.

She did understand the irony of it – she valued quiet so much, and yet expected others to understand her. But she was always more of a listener then a talker – and now that has been taken away from her.

Cassandra felt sleep coming to an end, knowing that it was morning. But she didn’t want to wake up – as long as she remained asleep, she could hear her own thoughts, her own dreams. She knew that once she opened her eyes a silent, frightening world awaited her once again. She wondered if there was going to be an end to it.

A nudge to her shoulder prompted her only to curl up and squeeze her eyes shut even tighter, to close the world out of her mind. But she succeeded only in earning a harder shake from whoever was trying to wake her. There was a faint sound…it was her name. Someone far, far away was calling to her.

She opened her eyes and rolled onto her back. Tim was the one who woke her up. He was mouthing the words, ‘Are you okay?’ She almost nodded in response…but as her eyes turned sad, her head gave him a ‘no’ answer instead.

“I’m so sorry…I should have been there”, the distant voice said. Cassandra began to realize that the voice was Tim’s – but it sounded like it was travelling on the wind across a valley rather then from a few feet in front of her.

Cassandra sat up and hugged Tim tightly, her eyes closing again as he reciprocated. She would never admit it to him…but she wished he would have been there as well.

“Don’t tell Bruce I said this…but you never should have been sent on that mission alone.” Tim let go of Cassandra and sat down on the edge of the bed. “He’s only human, even he makes mistakes. Last night, he just thought it was more important for him to keep an eye on the city. It’s a matter of trust. He trusts you on your own more then he trusts the city to itself.”

She sighed sadly and curled back up in bed, closing her eyes, sealing out the world once more. She didn’t want any part of a world she couldn’t hear, and she would not listen to any explanations of what happened to her. The fact was, it happened. No amount of reasoning could change that.

“Get plenty of rest, Cassandra. Next time out, I’m insisting on going with you.” Tim stood and started heading toward the room’s door quickly.

“I…don’t need a babysitter.” Cassandra sat upright quickly, sending an angry gaze Tim’s direction. She shuddered at the sudden wave of dizziness, and at the distant, foreign sound of her own voice. She sounded like she had some kind of accent that she couldn’t pinpoint.

Tim sighed and walked back to the bed, sitting down while keeping his eyes fixed on hers. “Do you know how I survived out there before I met Bruce? I knew when to run.”

Cassandra’s frown turned to a smile as she imagined Robin, the ‘Boy Wonder’, running from criminals with a look of terror on his face.

“I still do that to this day. It’s how I stay alive on the streets of Gotham. But you’re a fighter, you never run. I admire that aspect of you…but to be honest, it also scares me. I worry that one night, you won’t come back. And you know Bruce, he’d just say ‘those are the risks’ and move on. But me–”

Tim sighed and stood up to head toward the door, intending to leave his last sentence unfinished. But he changed his mind and paused, still facing away from Cassandra. “I’ve never been a quitter, Cassandra. But after what happened to you last night…let’s just say that I’m beginning to question what I do.”

Cassandra watched Tim head toward the door without saying another word, except for a whispered ‘see you later’ uttered as the door clicked shut. She was more then a little surprised that Tim had become so close to her. It was like having a big brother…only she felt she was protecting him sometimes by drawing so much of Bruce’s attention.

She slid out of bed, acutely aware of the distant sounds associated with it, as well as the hollow sounds of her feet hitting the carpeted floor as she walked toward her closet and bathroom. It was going to be a long day.


“How is she?” Bruce’s voice echoed off of the walls of the Bat Cave…or at least it seemed to when Tim heard it.

“Maybe you should have asked that last night.”

Bruce turned and gave Tim an angry look. Tim glared right back for a moment before turning away, pretending to grab a few items to re-stock his utility belt.

“Is there some kind of a problem, Tim?” Bruce continued staring at Tim with a steely, cold gaze as Tim continued to avoid his glance.

Tim sighed loudly and tossed his utility belt aside. “Why did you send her out there, Bruce?”

“I don’t have to explain anything to you”, Bruce replied in a monotone, without moving a muscle.

“Don’t give me that.” Tim returned Bruce’s cold gaze, as his own anger began to seep into his facial expression. “I’m not some green trainee of yours. I’m experienced.”

“Experienced?” Bruce stood suddenly, grabbing Tim’s arm and pulling him over to the computer console on the opposite wall almost violently. As he tapped a few keys, a newspaper article appeared on the screen – it detailed his parents’ deaths. “Experience this, Tim. I learned everything I did on my own, with no one to look after me…or clean up my disasters–”

“Cassandra isn’t the same as you!” Tim angrily pulled his arm free from Bruce’s grip, taking a few steps back. “She hurts easily…emotionally…only she doesn’t show it. Bruce, her failures count more to her then her successes. Why set her up for failure?”

Bruce leaned against the console, folding his arms as if to signal a deepening stubbornness. “Because she needs to learn.”

“Learn? Is that what you call the fact that she can’t hear a thing? Some kind of warped lesson of yours?”

Words suddenly eluded Bruce as he watched an angry, frustrated Tim kick one of the steel chairs in the Bat Cave, and head back into the house for breakfast. As soon as Tim left, Bruce sighed sadly and turned to look at the security camera monitors above his computer console. Cassandra was heading down one of the hallways, toward the kitchen. And just as she always did when he watched…she turned to glance at the camera for just a moment. She could always tell when she was being watched.

“No…I call that my biggest mistake.”


“Robert…what did you say your last name was?” The clerk at the counter of a small hotel in Gotham City looked down at his desk, filling out a small paper card for one of the hotel rooms.

“I didn’t.” Robert snatched the room key from the desk next to the clerk and walked away quickly.

“What a moron.” The clerk just shrugged – Robert had already paid in cash for a week in advance anyway. He looked up a few seconds later to see Robert standing over him again. “Can I help you?”

“What did you call me?”

“Uh…nothing.” The clerk stood a few feet back from the desk, looking around nervously as he answered. On a whim, he lifted up his phone’s handset to make a point. “I was…um…talking on the phone.”

“Sure.” Robert took the phone handset from him, and looked at it for a moment. “And I assume you were talking to my mother?”

“Uh…if you say so.”

Robert frowned and gritted his teeth angrily before slamming the phone handset against the side of the clerk’s head. The clerk fell to the ground behind the counter, using his hand to stop the gash on his forehead from bleeding. “My mother’s dead. I killed her.”

“Holy–” The clerk looked down at his hand momentarily to see that he was bleeding severely. He started shivering from the shock. “I’m calling the cops, man! You’re going to jail!”

“Oh, really?”

Robert lifted a stapler from the desk, unfolding it slowly as he walked around to the other side. The next several minutes were sheer hell for the poor clerk as Robert pinned each of his arms against the floor, slamming the stapler against each finger. By the time Robert walked back to the outside of the counter and hurled the stapler at him, the clerk lay sobbing, in a pool of blood.

“Try dialing now…moron.”


“What kind of a maniac would do this?”

A Gotham City police officer, one of the few working during the police strike, stood over a pool of blood behind the desk of a local hotel, shaking his head. The hotel had been closed to new guests, the lobby cordoned off with crime scene tape, until all evidence could be gathered.

“This is Gotham City. It’s full of maniacs.” A casually dressed red-headed woman with glasses rolled into the lobby in a wheelchair, pushing the crime scene tape over her head.

“Who are you? You can’t come in here!”

“Barbara Gordon, at your service.” Barbara bowed her head and smiled as she rolled over to the officer. Walking behind her was a young woman with dark hair, wearing blue jeans, a leather jacket, a red shirt, and nearly opaque sunglasses. “I can just leave…if you don’t want to ever solve this crime.”

“Officer, can I speak to you for a moment.” Another cop, obviously a sergeant by the stripes on his sleeve, entered the room. He clasped his hands behind his back and whispered to the officer as he kept his eyes on Barbara.

“That’s his daughter?” The officer looked at Barbara for a moment, who smiled again and nodded slowly. He then pointed at the woman with dark hair. “Who’s that?”

“She’s none of your business”, Barbara interrupted. She opened a large bag hanging from one side of the wheelchair, removing a metallic aerosol can, a digital camera, and a small glass capsule.

“Cassandra, spray this on the counter and take a few pictures.” She handed the camera and spray can to the woman behind her. Barbara then tossed the glass capsule to the police officer. “Do something useful…get me a sample of that blood. I don’t think it’s all the victim’s.”

Cassandra headed toward the counter, shaking the can vigorously. She only faintly heard what Barbara said, as her hearing had not fully recovered yet – but it didn’t take a genius to figure out what she was supposed to do. The can was filled with an acetone-based spray. It would evaporate on most surfaces, but would stick to fingerprints, causing them to stand out for a short while, until the oil that fingers left behind would evaporate. The digital camera would capture the prints before they dissolved.

A liberal spraying revealed no prints on the desk itself – but the telephone handset and stapler were covered with deeply set prints. That meant someone was using both to apply large amounts of force. Cassandra took four pictures of each, and then signaled Barbara.

“The stapler”, Cassandra whispered as Barbara rolled up next to her, “He was beaten with the stapler.”

“Yeah, the cops know that. The perp stapled the man’s fingers–”

“No.” Cassandra shook her head. “The staples came out when–”

“When he broke the clerk’s fingers with it!” Barbara tugged on Cassandra’s arm quickly. “Take a couple of close-up pics of that stapler. It’s bound to be dented.”

Cassandra nodded and snapped a few more pictures. It was difficult, having to concentrate to hear Barbara’s voice – but it was definitely worthwhile. She was experiencing a world previously unavailable to her. While it wasn’t an adrenaline-filled altercation on the street, it was exciting in it’s own right. For the first time she felt like a true detective, using her mind to help solve a crime, exploring avenues no one thought to explore.

“You’re a natural, Cassandra.”

She smiled at Barbara’s words as she continued taking photographs. She always wanted to be more then just an average street fighter, or costumed hero. Cassandra wanted to be something different…something extraordinary.


“So it’s back to work, huh?” Renee Montoya turned around for a moment as Commissioner James Gordon followed her into the nearly empty police station – the few officers which were working that day were all out on calls.

Gordon nodded. “The union’s demands have been met…so it’s back to work. The curfew’s been lifted, and the mask law is under review.”

“Review.” Renee snickered. “That’s a laugh. I have a feeling that law’s going to be around for a while. One of those antiquated ordinances that comes back to haunt us years later.”

“You’re probably right.” Gordon sighed as he walked into his darkened office and flipped on the light. “But we have to pick our battles. This city will fall apart without us, Renee. It can only take so much.”

“Oh, great.” Renee removed the glass pitcher from the coffee maker, holding it up to the light to see the dark film inside it more clearly. “Looks like no one bothered to clean this out before the strike. So when do the other officers get here?”

Commissioner Gordon walked to the desk just outside his office, glancing at Renee and the coffee pitcher before lifting up a telephone nearby. “As soon as we call them. And the faster we start–”

“Yeah, I know.” Renee sighed. “I should have guessed something like this would happen. So what made the city finally give in?”

“Quite frankly–” Gordon headed back into his office, picking up his phone while keeping his eyes fixed on Renee through the open door. “–There have been more violent incidents in Gotham City since the strike then over the rest of the entire year. The Mayor thinks it’s because every nut in Gotham knows about the strike.”

“But they were only committed by two people.”

“I know.” Gordon sighed loudly as he began dialing. “And when you know who they are, it’s much more dangerous…because they know almost as much about you.”


“…what we do now is take the photos back to my place to analyze them with my computer.” Barbara leaned back against the passenger seat of Bruce Wayne’s Jaguar, glancing at Cassandra as she drove the car way too fast through downtown Gotham City traffic. “How did you get Bruce to let you borrow the car?”

Cassandra looked at Barbara for a moment, giving her a mischievous smile before turning her attention back to the road.

“Oh, I see. You didn’t.” Barbara laughed. “I changed my mind. Let’s drop in on Bruce, and use his computer.”

A nod from Cassandra quickly preceded a sudden turn onto another street. As they approached the edge of downtown Gotham, the Jaguar began to pick up speed. They would be at Bruce’s home in no time…or so she thought.

“Cop, Cassandra. Cop!” Barbara frantically pointed at a State Police car parked on the side of the road. A police officer stood outside, aiming a radar gun at the Jaguar. “Slow down, or we’ll–”

It was too late. By the time Cassandra’s foot reached for the brake pedal, she could see the officer quickly climbing back into his car. She slammed the accelerator to the floor, throwing Barbara against the back of the seat.

“Cassandra, this isn’t the Batmobile!” Barbara leaned her face against her hand, and shook her head as she watched the police car pull off of the side of the road far behind them, lights and sirens blazing. “Oh, God…we’re going to be arrested.”

Cassandra shook her head no as she continued driving along the road at high speed. She knew she was only minutes from Wayne Manor. When she arrived, it would be much easier to explain why she was driving a car owned by Bruce Wayne – but before then, explaining would be an impossible task.

She glanced into the rear-view mirror to see the police car slowly gaining, then at Barbara to see her sinking slowly in the car seat. She gave Barbara a reassuring smile, but it didn’t seem to calm her – reassurance only works if you believe it yourself. Cassandra didn’t – she wasn’t sure she would make it, but she had to try.

Luckily, the gamble paid off. She drove up to the front of Wayne Manor quickly, slamming on the brakes at the last second. Though not being used to the car, it actually came to a stop only a few feet from the front steps.

She jumped out of the driver’s side and ran around to the passenger side, eyeing the police car approaching the entrance to the driveway. As she opened the passenger door, Barbara grabbed her arm tightly. “Cassandra, wait. Never run when you can talk. That’s how accidents happen…how an innocent person can be killed by a nervous cop.”

Cassandra took a deep breath and nodded. Now that she had relaxed herself a little more she took Barbara’s suggestion to heart, removing her folded wheelchair from the back seat gently.

“Thanks.” Barbara slid into the wheelchair just as the police officer drove up the driveway and stopped a couple of feet from the Jaguar. “Don’t drop Bruce’s name. Just let him assume we’re friends of his, since we’re here. Just act like any other citizen.”

A nod from Cassandra as she watched the officer approach slowly, his gun drawn.

“Good evening, officer.” Barbara rolled toward the officer in her wheelchair with a smile on her face and her hand outstretched to shake his. “I’m Barbara Gordon.”

The officer paused for a moment, his expression giving away that he was searching his mind – her name was familiar to him. When he finally shook her hand, a big smile formed on his face. “Are you related to–”

Barbara nodded as she looked at Cassandra for a moment. Cassandra’s shoulders seemed to relax – she was relieved that Barbara was right. “Yes, he’s my dad.”

“I’m pleased to meet you. Your dad is a great guy.” The officer looked at Cassandra for a moment too, nodding as if to acknowledge her presence. “Can you tell me why your friend here was driving so fast?”

The slight, innocent laugh from Barbara was carefully designed by her to make the officer seem more relaxed, to make her story more believable. “This is Cassandra’s first time driving a Jaguar. I guess she let the power go to her head.”

As the officer reached out his hand to shake Cassandra’s, his smile vanished for a second when his eyes met hers. A hint of recognition crossed his eyes, as if he had seen them somewhere before. But any sense he had of who she was vanished as Cassandra smiled and shook his hand quickly.

“You two ladies be careful.” The officer tipped the edge of his round hat to the two of them before heading back to his car.

Barbara smiled at Cassandra, nudging her gently with her elbow as the police car started to back out of the driveway. “See? What did I tell you?”

Cassandra laughed. As she watched the police car drive away, she felt the nervousness just drain away. She followed Barbara into Bruce’s home, content to know that she was learning from the best.


“How’s your hearing, Cassandra?”

Tim’s sudden interest in her seemed to entertain Cassandra. Ever since she lost part of her hearing, temporarily according to Bruce’s tests, Tim seemed to want to talk to her at every opportunity. He was eager to share, to listen to her feelings. It made her feel a little sad to see him discouraged when he felt that she wasn’t cooperating.

Cassandra tossed her leather jacket and sunglasses on her bed, fully aware of the fact that Tim followed her into the room. He was being persistent, since she didn’t answer his question.

“Cassandra?” Tim leaned against the table next to the bed and folded his arms. He lowered his voice to a near whisper to test her. “Did you really not hear me, or are you being difficult?”

Without a single word, Cassandra walked over to Tim slowly, kneeling down in front of him. Before he had a chance to ask her what she was doing, or even react, she reached around his legs, lifting him over her shoulders quickly. It was painful for her to do so – her muscles and healing bones cried out to her as she raced to the doorway to drop Tim on the carpeted hallway floor.

“Learn to knock.” Cassandra smiled at Tim and slammed her door – but as Tim noted, she didn’t lock it. She didn’t mean to throw him out, but only to appeal to his manners.

Tim sighed as he rose to his feet slowly and knocked on the door. It opened almost immediately. “I guess your hearing’s fine now, huh?”

“Almost.” Cassandra smiled at Tim, waving her finger to encourage Tim to step into the room. She sat down at the small table next to the door, pointing at an opposite chair.

“Tell, me, Cassandra.” Tim sat down in the opposite chair and leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table. “Why don’t you talk? I see so much intelligence in your eyes…but you say nothing.”

Cassandra stood and walked around the table to look down at the seated Tim – she felt sorry for him. He was always on a quest for knowledge, to understand people. Completely unlike Bruce, who always believed he knew everyone. Cassandra had to smile at the irony of it – that by at least trying, Tim probably knew more about her then Bruce ever would.

She knelt down next to Tim, a serious look in her eyes as she stared up at him. “Bruce thinks he knows me.”

Tim laughed. “Yeah, I know the feeling. It’s creepy sometimes, he always knows where I am–”

“No.” Cassandra shook her head, as she searched for a better way to phrase what she meant. She took a deep breath and spoke in a soft voice. “He knows you…from your words. Your actions. I give him no clues.”

Sensing that Cassandra’s words were an incomplete thought, Tim nodded but didn’t say a word. He had finally encouraged her to talk to him – he didn’t want to ruin that. But after several seconds of awkward silence, he knew he had to say something. “Why would you do that? Don’t you want him to understand you?”

Cassandra closed her eyes for several seconds, breathing slowly in the silent room as she felt Tim’s eyes on her, waiting for an answer. But the only answer she had was one which hurt her – after being badly injured twice, and constantly driven harder by Bruce, she honestly believed that he treated her more as an acquaintance or an employee then family.

It hurt…she lived in his home, ate his food, made friends with his caretaker. Yet he seemed happier if she feared him, if she didn’t get too close. Even as Bruce Wayne, she could see the Batman within him – a cold man, who sees every friend as a threat. A man who’s eyes echoed the betrayal he felt at every one of his associates’ failures. He took each one personally, as it it were his own. Barbara’s partial paralysis, Dick’s abrupt departure as Robin, even the death of his parents, to him, amounted to personal failures.

Yet he still refused to understand that not everyone can be like him, that some don’t want to. Every time Batgirl became emotionally involved in a mission, or deviated from his ‘plan’…he took it personally. But Bruce’s tendency to separate himself from his associated had one good side effect – he drove them to find the heroes within themselves. Cassandra had to be Batgirl for herself, not for him. It worked…but it left her feeling empty.

“I want him to care about me. I want someone to.” Cassandra’s eyes were tear-filled by the time she reopened them. As she watched Tim’s face begin to show signs of sadness as well, she felt a little shame for letting her guard down. “I’m alone, Tim.”

She looked away from him quickly to wipe the tears from her eyes, only to feel his hand lifting up her chin to face her again. His eyes were still sad, but he was smiling self-confidently, trying his best to encourage her.

“Look, Cassandra…I’ve been doing this longer then you have. I know exactly what you need.” Tim stood and walked over to the bed quickly, snatching Cassandra’s jacket and sunglasses. “You need some time away from here. A couple of hours to…you know…just to be yourself.”

Cassandra rose slowly to her feet, wrinkling her nose at Tim. “A…date?”

He laughed. “No, we’ll just hang out. Get some ice cream, talk about Bruce. Or maybe about you?”

Cassandra blinked a couple of times to clear her eyes, and took a deep breath before taking the jacket and dark sunglasses from Tim, putting both on quickly. She motioned toward the door with her head, and headed into the hallway.

Tim followed her quickly as they headed toward the front door. “I like those sunglasses. Mind if I borrow them?”


“Is that no, you don’t mind, or no, I can’t borrow them?”


“Fine.” Tim suddenly snatched the car keys from Cassandra. “But I’m driving.”

“…He said, ‘girls don’t watch football, it’s a guy thing’. So Cass…not you, the other one…decked Kon right out of that chair. He was covered in popcorn and soda!”

Tim glanced over at Cassandra as they cruised down a busy street in Gotham city in yet another one of Bruce’s car’s – a Miata convertible. The top was down, the wind blowing through her dark hair as she covered her mouth to laugh discreetly at the scene he had just described. “Wow, you’re laughing. I thought I’d never see that.”

“You’re funny.” Cassandra leaned her arm against the door, looking at Tim across the car. “Never though I’d see that.”

“You know, Kon says the same thing about me.” He laughed, looking at Cassandra for a moment again. He’d never seen her genuinely happy before, with a real smile on her face. Yet there she was…actually enjoying herself. As Tim looked at her, he noticed something he hadn’t seen before – she had some kind of silver pendant in a strange shape dangling from a necklace she wore. He assumed that it was because she had always hidden it.

“Interesting pendant. What is it?”

Cassandra shrugged as she lifted the pendant off of her shirt to look at it closely. “I’ve always had it.”

“Maybe we should check it out one day. Find out what it is.”

“No.” Cassandra shook her head and dropped the pendant back inside her shirt. “It’s better as a mystery.”

“Suit yourself.” Tim looked at Cassandra for a few seconds to see if she kept her smile. He didn’t want to be the one to break her good mood.

By the time he turned to face the road again, a man was standing directly in front of the car. He swerved hard, vaguely hearing Cassandra gasp as he mashed the brake pedal to the floor. The wheels locked, causing the car to continue skidding toward parked cars on the side of the road in spite of Tim’s best efforts to turn the wheel to straighten it. A split second later, the sound of tearing steel and breaking glass filled the street, and a loud ‘pop’ as the driver and passenger airbags deployed in less time then it took to blink.

The street seemed eerily silent as Tim untangled himself from the airbag. He immediately turned his attention to his passenger. “Cassandra? Are you–”

He was surprised to see that Cassandra had leapt out of the car before him – she was standing in the middle of the street, leaning her chin against her palm, taking in the damage. Tim climbed out of the car and walked toward her. “Are you okay?”

Cassandra nodded. She nudged Tim with her free hand, pointing halfway down the block where the man who caused the accident was being arrested by four Gotham police officers. Behind her were two police cars – meaning they had chased the man to where he was being arrested. That easily explained what caused the accident.

She watched the officers’ lips carefully – one of them said something about ‘murder’. Tim discovered the same thing. He turned to face her just when she did the same.

“Um…Cassandra?” Tim pointed down an alley which was not easily visible from the street, and until now went unnoticed by both of them. In the alley was a woman’s body, lying in a deep pool of blood. All of the color was washed out of her skin – she was clearly dead.

Tim stopped one of the officers as he passed by. “What happened?”

She could only see the officer’s lips moving as he answered, the sounds generating his voice seemingly coming from all around her – ‘he raped her’, the officer said.

Cassandra could feel an anger building within her as the suspect was escorted closer. A man who felt he had to hurt those who were weaker simply because he could – a coward. The man turned to look at Cassandra, giving her a menacing smile. She could imagine the terror those eyes, and that smile, caused the poor woman as he first stole her dignity, then her life. A feeling of hopelessness, like the world had abandoned her to die in a cold alley, alone, as a stranger took pleasure from her pain. It had to end.

The man fell to the ground, as Cassandra felt a satisfying throb of pain from her hand and wrist. She had hit him, hard…and now she was watching him bleed in the gutter. Just as he did to her. She wanted to do more to him, leave him a lasting reminder of just what the ‘weak’ he so enjoyed preying upon could do. But as she looked at Tim, she relented – he looked genuinely hurt by the news, as if that anonymous woman lying in the alley were his own family. It would do no good to create more pain. It was time to heal.