It's Friday again, and time for another foray into a dark world. For those who need to catch up on previous installments, you can find the entire story on this PAGE.
Memoirs From the End of the World
Confusion came first. What in the world happened? RC wondered. Why do I feel like I’ve been flattened by a train?
Pain. An intense ache had taken root in every part of RC’s body, though some parts were worse than others. She lay unmoving for several long moments, keeping her eyes closed. The drowsiness kept her immersed in a fog as she tried to remember what happened. All she knew for certain was that she didn’t feel right.
Nothing felt right.
Then she heard a voice. She couldn’t distinguish the words at first, but the sound sent her heart racing. Gas Can. He was close, and that knowledge alone sent her heart racing.
The memories began to return, and that certainly did nothing for her calm. Alyx. What happened to him? Where is he? Is he here? That question prompted her to open her eyes, though she peered through the tiniest crack between her eyelids. She didn’t want to draw any unwanted attention.
The room was dark. The warm air proved that they were indeed in an area friendly to Gas Can and his cohorts, but the stone wall that dominated her vision told her little else. She lay on her side less than a foot away from it, and she could smell its earthiness.
“You really are more trouble than you’re worth, aren’t you?” Gas Can demanded.
“If that’s what you think, fine by me.”
Tim! So they captured him too. Did Ollie and Jill get away, or were they squirreled away somewhere?
“You realize what I’ll have to do to you if you don’t cooperate?” Gas Can replied, his voice rising with his rage.
“You can’t use my sister against me now, so why should I cooperate?” Tim spat. “Get it over with. I’ve been waiting to die for weeks now.”
Okay. So Jill got away, which meant Ollie did too. She couldn’t have possibly been strong enough to escape on her own. Though this did little to help her personally, she took some comfort in knowing that someone would be all right.
A chilling laugh made RC shiver. “Very well.”
She heard a set of footsteps rapidly approaching, and she didn’t have time to react before rough hands were hauling her to her feet. Instinctively, she tried to resist, but she quickly learned that her wrists were firmly bound together, as were her ankles. Any efforts were only a waste of precious energy at this point.
“Oh look, she’s even awake,” Gas Can announced gleefully. “Now we can use her cries of pain as incentive. I know she isn’t your sister, but surely as a human being you’ll still feel something in witnessing her suffering.”
Though these words unsettled RC, she took the opportunity to note her surroundings. Tim was once again chained up in the same way he was when she first saw him. This time, however, he looked much more alert. His eyes pierced Gas Can like lasers. His body was beaten, even broken, but his spirit sure wasn’t. If anything, the knowledge that his sister was out of this monster’s hands had strengthened his resolve.
A situation Gas Can clearly wanted to remedy. He moved his hands from RC’s shoulders to her throat. “I could squeeze the life out of her, you know? It wouldn’t be hard at all.”
Tim laughed. It wasn’t a joyful sound, but a sound of mockery. Derision. RC had no doubt that Tim despised Gas Can in a rare way that only comes from intense suffering. Even as a human being, seeing her suffer, someone he’d barely met, might not even begin to rival his deeply rooted need to defy this person he despised so thoroughly. “I watched you torture my sister, and I still didn’t crack,” Tim announced coldly. “What makes you think I’ll give in now? Do you have any idea how many people I’ve seen die?”
Under normal circumstances (which she admittedly hadn’t found herself in for quite some time), she would have been furious about his casual dismissal of her. However, in that moment, she could hardly blame him. The rules had changed drastically since their alien overlords landed. People had to be cautious about their allegiances.
“Are you sure about that?” Gas Can still sounded smug as he tightened his grip around her throat.
RC’s heart beat so hard it felt like it was trying to break through her ribs. She tried to draw a breath, only to find the effort futile. The pain of strangulation shot through her body like a spider web, tendrils of pain exploding here and there. She wanted to scream, to kick, to punch anything, but her bindings held firm.
So this was it. This was how death would find her. In a stone room, tied up so she couldn’t lift a finger to fend it off.
Then, as she cast her eyes about the room as that was the only part of her body capable of movement, they landed on a welcome sight. Alyx lay against the opposite wall, bound up in similar fashion, only he was on his back. His face was swollen and bruised, courtesy of Gas Can’s hospitality, and his eyes were closed. Yet she saw that his chest moved with each breath, reassuring her that he was all right. At least for the moment.
I wish I could talk to you one more time, Alyx, she thought. I hope you don’t feel guilty for whatever happens to me. This isn’t your fault.
Her thoughts became less coherent. Her vision went fuzzy. She struggled to breathe as her body made one last desperate attempt to stay alive. All in vain.
Darkness descended on her like a curtain closing on the final act of a deranged play.