Yasmine looked around the spacious, tastefully decorated room. Tables, draped in rich, white cloth were scattered throughout, each holding elegant place settings for six, with simple, yet striking flower arrangements at their centre.
A podium stood at one end of the room, backlit by a large screen projecting the latest stats for this childhood illness. Treated infection has a mortality rate of 2 in 5, Yasmine’s life goal has been to change those odds.
Unfortunately, research is expensive, hence her presence at this fundraiser. Typically, her husband would go instead. She was not good with people, he was, so he became her PR man. This time, she couldn’t refuse. The Lansford’s were large donors and hosted the fundraiser each year. This being the 5th anniversary, they wanted her as honoured guest.
She leaned into her husband. “Is there always this much security?”
Bryan smiled, “No, it’s heavier than usual. Probably some vague threat, I wouldn’t worry. Let’s grab our seats, they’re beginning.”
They were sitting down at their table in the middle of the room, as Cecilia Lansford approached the podium. She began by welcoming and thanking everyone for coming. She then moved on to introducing Yasmine and was beginning to detail how last years’ money was spent and why a cure was no closer, when the steel security shutters suddenly slammed shut, over all of the windows and doors.
Cecilia’s husband Roman ran to her, while at the table Bryan protectively sheltered Yasmine. A gasp rippled through the room, as an ominous siren started pulsing in the air. Boyd, the head of the security, ran to cover the Lansford’s.
Yasmine looked to Bryan, “What’s happening?”
“I think someone tried to break in. This room locks down if anyone triggers the alarms, kind of a panic room. We’re safe here.”
Time slowed as Boyd reached the Lansford’s and grabbed Cecilia, turning her to face the horrified crowd, before slitting her throat, while his guards set his plan into action. Roman’s jaw went slack for an instant, before fire flared in his eyes and he dove at Boyd.
His body hit the floor with another guard’s knife sticking out of his skull. Yasmine screamed and looked behind her for a way out, her knees going weak upon seeing five large, snapping dogs, held by grinning guards. Later, when asked about this night, she wouldn’t remember the breeds, only the teeth.
A man screamed and tried to run, before a dog’s teeth clamped over his throat, dragging him down. The body twitched once, then stopped, as the dog proudly ran back to its handler. Two guards grabbed Yasmine and dragged her to the podium. Bryan reached for her, but was ripped back by a dog tearing into his thigh.
Something in Yasmine’s mind snapped, she suddenly felt like she was floating. She could feel her body being dragged, but it was someone else’s body. She felt calm and clear, while all around her was hectic chaos in slow motion. People were screaming, huddled, bleeding, and the dogs! Oh God! The dogs, and the knives. So much blood.
Hands grabbed her chin and she realized she was standing in front of Boyd. In this floaty state, he seemed familiar. Her leg hurt. She looked down, to see blood running down it from a ragged dog bite. ‘That’s why it’s hard to stand.’
Boyd forced her into a chair, as he brandished his knife in her face. She watched as bloody flecks flew from the blade to splatter on her dress. A man wailed in despair. ‘Probably Bryan, he worries too much.’
This all seemed like a dream, if she cou-
A fist slammed into the side of her head, bringing her back into stark, screaming reality. Time rushed back to its normal pace, while her mouth fought to spit out two broken teeth. Her eyes found focus again on Boyd’s face; cold realization set in.
“You honestly didn’t think I would find out? Hell, you probably didn’t even remember me, but you do now, don’t you? You killed my daughter and then you used her. You publicly promised to treat her, but when we couldn’t afford the treatments, you refused.
I begged you, but you said, ‘Pleas without cash, fall on deaf ears.’ You made me watch my daughter die and still told the public you were helping her. Using doctored photos of her in the hospital, like this one hanging here. Your staff took pictures of her dying and changed them to look like she was getting treatments. All so you could save face and use her death for more research dollars, to make sure ‘the treatment doesn’t fail again’.
Admit it! There’ll never be a cure! All any of you want is a tax write off and a photo op. Each of you here, could fund the research for a cure alone, yet you won’t, it’s all promises and smiles. There’s no money in a cure!”
Yasmine tried to protest, but her jaw was hanging awkwardly.
“You wouldn’t help her because of money! You didn’t give her 2 in 5 odds, so I’m giving all you pricks 4 in 5 odds. 4 in 5 of you will die." He knelt behind her, holding her head so she couldn’t look away while the guards and dogs began the slaughter. She sat transfixed, screaming, her mind only thinking ‘this is why red is the colour of rage.’
She watched as the those left to live each had one ear cut off, which was then thrown onto her lap. She barely registered the sharp blade slide through her own ear, until she saw it tumble onto her lap, causing her to scream anew, grabbing at her head.
Boyd grabbed her by the throat and whispered into her good ear. “Now you have all the deaf ears you could want; next time you will hel...” Merciful darkness swallowed the rest of his words as she slipped into unconsciousness.