Don’t open your eyes, don’t move, keep breathing like this. What do you smell? Incense. What can you hear? Footsteps on hard wood. What do you feel? Rope around my hands and feet, bench beneath me. You’re in the church, keep yourself distracted long enough to assess the situation.
“Solace, stop pretending you are still out cold.” His voice is as sweet now as it was all those years ago. When I open my eyes I am met with the stark opposition to my memories.
Byron’s once bright and youthful face is now drained of all color, his pupils stand out like obsidian gems. The flowing auburn hair from my memories is replaced by unfamiliar symbols tattooed and scared into his scalp. There is gauze wrapped around his chest stained with two small circles, I’m assuming, where his nipples no longer reside. His black trousers hang off his thin hips and fall an inch from his bare feet.
“How I have missed you, Solace. Did you miss me? I see you have collected quite the group of companions,” Byron says with a strained smile. Then, without attempting to hide the disgust in his voice, he adds, “Good to see there are those worthy of you.”
“Why are you doing this, Byron?” I look up at the cross but can’t tell if Patricia is alive or not.
“All I wanted to do was see you again Solace. You ignored all of my letters for far too long, so I went to your home and stole the only thing precious to you.” He holds up my Journals. “I grew weary when you almost gave up your search; lucky for me my neighbor received a wonderful letter.”
“You did all this because I couldn’t be bothered to answer some fucking fan mail?” My skull pulsates with pain when I scream.
“Don’t flatter yourself Solace; I did all this because I was board. I needed something to do and the daily crossword just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. Although… Do you know why I wanted to go with you on the adventure? I wanted to see the world through those beautifully optimistic eyes of yours. You made it all feel like a treasure, from the mundane conversations of old women standing in line at the market, to the hidden tear falling from the bullied child who would one day arrive at school with a high caliber weapon. Nothing is too simple to use, everything is exciting, and everyone is a protagonist.”
“And now that I have you, I would like you to critique my work in progress. But before I start I need you quiet, Armando please.” a large hand forces a gag into my mouth and ties it behind my head. “Now let us begin.”
From a doorway to the left men walk out carrying crosses, three of them, on each cross hang Jacob, Teller and Cas. The three are unconscious, but clearly still breathing. The men prop them up underneath Patricia and walk back thought the door.
“I am going to start this book off with a murder; you know to grab the reader’s attention. No, on second thought I could start with torture instead; a dead character is a boring character, right? Good I’m glad you agree.” He takes a large bible from the altar floor and sends it flying into Cas’ chest. “No, no, no the groans of the character should be louder, screams almost.”
Byron picks the book up again and slams it into Cas four more times, cracking his ribs. His muffled cry echoes through me. I scream though my gag and writhe in my seat trying to break my bonds. “Poor Solace, your character doesn’t come in yet, there isn’t enough at stake.”
“What about this, the protagonist’s best friend is in peril; he is trapped in a fire. Oh god I’m a genius, Armando lets go.” The man behind me, the hideous man from three floors down, ambles after his master and the both leave though the door to the left.
“Oh I almost forgot the conflict,” Byron says sticking his head back in and tossing a lit lantern into the middle of the room.
The pews next to me catch fire, both Cas and I struggle to get free while the others hang unconscious and unaware.