(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Travis was written by Kayla Matt.)
It was a slightly overcast day in Hell Bent. Travis walked past one of the labs, a slight twinge of nervousness running along his spine. By this point, it was kind of a reflex. He’d been picked up by so many scientists in his time, he had half a mind to start charging them all for their services. He’d been heading home from work, having untucked his t-shirt from the standard-issue khakis the second he exited the comic shop.
Travis released his 6 or so foot-long red hair (give or take; he knew that it was longer than he was tall, at least) from its ponytail. Tufts of that same hair covered the tops of his monkey-like feet. Yes, complete with opposable toes. His long prehensile tail swayed lightly behind him, as he walked past one of the tallest buildings in the city. It was one of the schools, designed to look like a giant Tesla coil. He wasn’t sure whose idea that was, but the fact that he didn’t go through his school career with a horrible case of vertigo shocked him.
Right now, his mind was on one thing: food.
Kelly saw Travis up ahead. He was kinda hard to miss. This should be an interesting conversation because she wasn’t even sure if he was expecting her, so she lengthened her strides to catch up with him. “Travis?” When he snapped his gaze to her, she gave him a warm smile. “Hi, I’m Kelly. Mind if I have a moment of your time?” Or two hours, she thought, but decided not to actually say that just yet.
“Sure,” he replied, rubbing the back of his neck a bit. “Can we stop somewhere to grab something to eat, though? It’s been a few hours, is all.” He honestly hadn’t been expecting her, but at least she didn’t seem like she was out to hurt him. Not that he knew her well enough to make that assumption, but he chose to take the non-paranoid route here.
“Certainly!” She grinned at him. “You know of a good place?” And they started walking. “So, Travis, I’ve heard a lot about you and all you’ve gone through, and I can’t even begin to imagine half of it, but you’re really loyal to Spencer. How long have you known him? How did the two of you meet?”
“There’s this one burger place a few blocks from here.” As he walked with her, he thought that one over. “Well, we were friends way back in elementary school. All the way up until I was 10. It’s not that we broke up or anything. It’s just that when I was 10, dad went from asshat to supreme asshat and forced my sister and me into homeschooling for 3 years…” His green eyes narrowed at the thought of his father, and whether or not he realized it, his hands were beginning to form fists. “So glad we got out of there…”
“Well, homeschooling isn’t all that bad, but according to your reaction of the mere thought, I’m assuming your father had alternative motives or so…” Kelly trailed off as she observed him, but then she resumed the conversation, “Okay, so you lost touch with Spencer when you were ten, but you’re obviously still good friends, given everything you two have been through together, so how did you both reunite?”
“Well, after Dad kicked my sister and me out, we were adopted by one of the scientists around here. She helped us get up to where we should’ve been in school, and I think it was in high school that we finally saw each other again. We’d kept in touch during college. He went on to get his PHD, I flunked out in the second year. But anyway, when he got married to my sister, they asked if I wanted to live with them. So…yep, we’ve been living together for a few years now.”
Kelly smiled. “I’m happy for you. Sounds like your sister married a great man, and I’m glad you are great friends with him.” They stepped into the restaurant, found a table, and after Travis ordered his food, Kelly placed a small order. She wasn’t really hungry but didn’t want to appear rude. Then Kelly was able to focus on the conversation. “So, I have understand that Serena Taylor is your adopted mother and she…made you into half-monkey. How did that happen?”
Travis chuckled a bit. “There was some genetic engineering involved. She asked first though. Said she hated the idea of doing that without permission.”
“Well, that’s nice of her to ask, but why you?” Kelly leaned forward, setting her elbow on the table and her chin in her palm as she furrowed her brows. “Was there something in your genetics that made you a good candidate for the experiment or something?”
“I think it’s because she wanted to prove a point to someone or something, and I happened to be there,” he said with a shrug. “She asked Gemmy the same thing. Also added some extra stuff to it. My sister has this enhanced speed thing that she doesn’t use all that much, and I heal from stuff quickly.” He looked up as their orders were brought over. He’d gotten the largest bacon cheeseburger they had available.
Kelly nodded as she accepted the appetizer she had ordered. “So, how has your life changed since the experiment? You like it better this way or do you ever wish things were the way they used to be?”
“Well, the powers come in handy,” he said, before taking a couple of bites. “The one downside is that a few of the other scientists around here became curious about the healing thing. And instead of just, y’know, asking Mom for some notes and shit, they took matters into their own hands. And by that, I mean I’ve been shoved into more vans than I’d like to admit, driven to various labs…if mom told them to back off, though, they would. But I still think I’m better off now than I was before all of that.”
Kelly grimaced when she heard this and then shook her head. “Sounds like you could apply for frequent-kidnapping miles or something.” She chuckled. “So, you mentioned your dad, but whatever happened to your mom?”
“Yeah, probably. It’s not really as traumatic after the first ten times. Usually, anyway…” He ate a little more. “Mom was apparently lucky when she had me. Not so much with my sister. A good part of our time with dad was hearing him blame Gemmy for mom dying.”
“Ugh, I’m sorry to hear that. Blame—especially for something out of your control—is very hard to live with. How is your sister doing these days? I mean, she’s married to Spencer now, and I understand they have a kid?” Kelly raised their brows.
“Yeah, they do,” he said with a smile. “And she’s doing well. She’s the one that runs the yoga studio around here. Some say her monkey-traits give her kind of an unfair advantage, but from what I hear, her classes do well.”
Kelly laughed. “I can imagine there would be an advantage to that, so she has monkey-traits too? With the experiment, was it only including monkeys and no other animals?” She tilted her head to a side then took a bit out of her food.
“Well, for us it was only monkeys. I think mom took some inspiration, at least, from cheetahs and lizards. She’s part-cat, herself. So’s her sister,” he replied, eating a little more.
“Oh, being part cheetah would be awesome, if you ask me.” Kelly grinned, but then she went back to what she had originally planned to talk about. “Anyway, back to your mother, what do you remember of her?”
“I know that both Gemmy and I look a lot like her…right down to the nose,” he said, flicking his own somewhat large nose. And then he flinched and wondered why he felt the need to do that last part. “But I was really young when she died. Like a year old, at most.”
Kelly had wondered about that, and now she knew, so she nodded—intent on not staying on that topic. “I’m sure she would be proud of you—having gone through everything you have and still coming out on top. I hear it was difficult though, especially this last time when Jesse kidnapped you.” She observed his reaction when she mentioned Jesse’s name. “But Spencer was there for you and managed to help you through it, didn’t he?”
Travis cringed when she mentioned Jesse. “I wonder if someone got around to beating her to death in prison yet…” he said, his voice having taken on a low growl for a moment. He took a few calming breaths. “Yeah…yeah, he did. Both him and Ivy, actually.”
Now that he brought up Ivy, Kelly decided to latch on to that, and she smiled at him. “Tell me about Ivy. I understand she’s your girlfriend.”
He blushed slightly. “Yeah…” he said with a grin. “She’s not around all that much, but when she is… We tend to have a lot of fun together.”
Kelly smiled because she could see that Ivy made Travis happy. “So, how did you two meet? Grow up together like you did with Spencer? Or something else?”
“She’s actually one of my aunt’s friends. And she’s a few years older than me,” Travis said. “Okay, probably somewhere around ten. We met when my aunt was brought to mom’s lab for a new arm. I can’t go into what they do for a living, but it’s pretty dangerous work. Didn’t really start getting to know each other until a few years after that. See, when the whole clusterfuck with Jesse started going down, she came back, along with her sister and my aunt. Since then, we’d started getting to know each other better.”
“Guess in a roundabout way, Jesse was kinda instrumental in bringing Ivy back into your life—but maybe not really. I don’t know. Don’t think you’d want to thank Jesse for anything.” Now that they were talking about Jesse and those past experiences, Kelly reflected on something and decided to share it with Travis. “So, I heard that Spencer was kidnapped twice before you were kidnapped the last time by Jesse. When you were going after Spencer to save him, especially the second time, did it ever cross your mind about Spencer, ‘Stop getting kidnapped already!!’?”
“Not really,” he replied, his tail curling around part of his chair. “It happened to me way more than him, and I might be a lot of things, but I’m not a hypocrite. At least not to that level.”
“Between the two of you, I think you have the whole kidnapping experience down. Hope there’s no further repeat of the matter.” Kelly shook her head and pushed aside her food as she finished it. “So, what are you doing with your life these days? What are your goals?”
“I’m still working at the comic shop,” he said. “I think one of the biggest goals I have, at this point, would be not dying. Well, again, anyway. It’s nice being able to come back, but the experience of it suuuuucks…”
Kelly chuckled. “I bet. Do you remember anything about when you died and before you came back?” She tilted her head to a side.
“Yeah. When it happens, it hurts like hell. There’s pain, and then everything just sort of shuts down for a bit. I keep getting knocked into some kind of afterlife deal. It’s basically just really light color everywhere…not sure how else to describe it. But anyway, I’m always greeted by my mom. Like, my birth mom… Haven’t had a chance to get to know her better that way, though, because before I know it, I start coming back. That same pain that comes up when I die? Yeah, I get to feel that again. I think it’s happened about…” He began muttering under his breath and counting on his fingers. “I think about 7 or 8 times?”
“You’ve died and resurrected 7 to 8 times?” Kelly arched her brows. “How? I mean, because of Jesse? The Russian scientists? Or what exactly?”
He growled at the mention of the scientists. “Okay, I’m calm…But yeah, most of it was Jesse. One of them just sort of happened, but it did have something to do with her. She didn’t drown me directly, but I was only in that lake because of her.”
“I’m sorry.” But she noticed that he was surprisingly calm when talking about Jesse, but he got bothered at the mention of the scientists. “Okay, I’m going to maybe step on your toes, but…the Russians. They’re the ones, I’m assuming, who kidnapped you against your will to experiment on you? What happened?”
“They did it once. And they’re still out there, I think. Got to me on the way to high school graduation. And Spencer was with me. They ended up bringing him along, too. Didn’t want to leave any witnesses, I guess… After a while, we both managed to get away. They caught up to me, but Spence found someone that could help. Met this one couple that was willing to help us out.”
“Gotta say, sounds like Spencer’s a great friend for staying with you throughout all this. You two have certainly been through a lot together.” Kelly shook her head as she regarded this. “What does he think of all the ordeals you two have been through?”
“The nightmares aren’t as common now as they used to be. The therapy’s been working for him, I think,” he said, batting at the ring he had in the tip of his tail.
“But you’ve been banned from therapy…” Kelly trailed off to see where he’d take it.
“Well yeah. That’s just me, though. I, uh…I kinda had a slight breakdown during one session. Like, to the point that handcuffs were brought out and my mom was called in. But seriously, whose bright idea was it to put that one magazine in the waiting room, anyway? Something about Visions Studios and the discovery of dead bodies there. Pretty sure it wouldn’t just be me that gets triggered by that, y’know?”
“Yeah, that sounds like a tigger just waiting to happen. Wonder if it was planted there actually.” Kelly mused over this. “So I totally understand your breakdown, but how have you been since all of this? I know it took you a while to…really see the light after your last encounter with Jesse, but how are you? I’m assuming Spencer and Ivy have been there every step of the way to help you.”
“They have, yeah,” he replied. “Wait, do you really think it was planted there?” he asked, now beginning to worry a bit.
Kelly shrugged. “I don’t know. That was the first thing that came to my mind. I mean, why else would there be a magazine with that article in that room? Surely your therapist knew better than to even allow that. So…I don’t know.” Then she paused, sensing Travis’ growing concern. “Travis.” She waited until he locked eyes with her. “I could be wrong. Don’t freak out, okay? However…on the off chance that I’m not wrong, is there any way you can pull strings and see where Jesse is or anyone who worked for her? If you get eyes on them, that should abate any concerns you may have and prove my theory wrong.”
“I know about two guys that worked for her. One turned his back on her, though, and I saw her kill him herself. And the other one I kinda stabbed in the throat in self-defense,” he said, still trying to figure out if it was just his own crappy luck that led to it being there.
“And this person you stabbed in the throat…is he dead? Are you certain about that? Because my boyfriend works in the ER, and I know some people have survived that and worse…” And Kelly felt horrible for possibly bringing to Travis’ mind all these possibilities of things that might not be a reality, but she’d hate for him to be kidnapped again.
“Oh, trust me. I know he died,” he said. “Wasn’t breathing by the time we got out.”
“Good.” Kelly smiled. “Now though, my time here is up, so I need to head out. Thanks though for chatting with me and putting up with my questions. I hope you the best, Travis. And may you never be kidnapped again or encounter Jesse again.” She rose to her feet and gathered her purse. “Have a good day.” With one final smile, she went up to the counter to pay for their food then left the restaurant.
Kayla Matt has several books available online. Follow her on social media for more updates and check out her other books:
Visions: (Hell Bent series Book 1)
CreateSpace e-store: https://www.createspace.com/4716031
Amazon (paperback or Kindle): http://amzn.com/1500260630
Lulu (Full color hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/content/hardcover-book/visions/14875668
Retribution: (Hell Bent series Book 2)
CreateSpace e-store: https://www.createspace.com/5295775
Amazon (paperback): http://amzn.com/1508546266
Amazon (Kindle): http://amzn.com/B01387TIEU
Lulu (Full color hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/con…/hardcover-book/retribution/16363814
Destruction (Hell Bent series Book 3)
CreateSpace e-store: https://www.createspace.com/5817252
Amazon (paperback): http://amzn.com/1518730809
Amazon (Kindle): http://amzn.com/B0186GZ220
Lulu (Full color hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/con…/hardcover-book/destruction/17607619
Deception: (Hell Bent series Book 4)
CreateSpace e-store: https://www.createspace.com/6489753
Amazon (paperback): https://amzn.com/1537010913
Amazon (Kindle): https://amzn.com/B01LTASC36
Lulu (black and white hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/shop/kayla-matt/deception/hardcover/product-22856275.html
Amazon (Kindle): http://amzn.com/B018701YLS
https://www.facebook.com/TravisHalfMonkey (Character’s FB page)