It was the morning of the third day, that’s when Marvin’s patients vanished. The ferocity of his attacks against Byron’s broken body blistered my psyche. I screamed alongside my friend, and I screamed even louder when the viciousness was turned on me.

He choked me until my vision went foggy with deaths shadow, and released me. The cracking sounds of wood and bone become indistinguishable after the twentieth strike to the ribs. The savage smell of flesh burning under a torch is enough to churn the mightiest of stomachs, I had no food to expel, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

We I woke up again, who knows what day, I immediately noticed the tube running into my leg and the crimson blood flowing into me. He wanted to keep me alive, for the money or the torture I never knew. The burns and cuts where bandaged up, the blood I lost was cleaned away. I felt so pampered.

Marvin stood over Byron’s motionless body, and undid his restraints. The sack of meat that was my friend slumped backwards, the hollow noise his head made when it connected with the ground sickened me. Marvin spoke softly “Don’t worry, I think he is still alive.”

“What do you want?”

“Come again?”

“Money? Is that what this is about? I can give you any amount you need.”

“How dare you, never disgrace me with such a statement. I need nothing from you or that whore you call a mother who weeps for you in the second floor bedroom of a manor she will never share again.” He says, his crooked smile glimmers towards me. “My orders have changed. I no longer want your money.”

“Orders?”

“There are things in this frightening world that have no explanation. This is one of them.” He sits down on the floor at my feet, like a school chum showing off a new set of collectable cards. “if I’m going to be honest, I’m sure there is a reason for this, but I don’t rightly care. The master can do whatever the hell he likes with you. And let me tell you he is into some weird shit.”

He looks over at Byron, who still hasn’t moved, and cackles with delight. “I tell you, Solace, the next time I see you we’ll laugh at all of this.”

“I can’t wait.”

I have been waiting three days, biding my time. As Marvin laughs at my bravado I test the waters, tugging on my wrists I feel the leather cushion in my restraints give. By the time he looks back at me, my fist is cutting deep into his cheekbone. Henchmen blunder into the boiler room, I dive for the medical bag in wild hopes that it holds the key to my escape. I grab hold of the needle as Marvin stands holding his broken face, and plunge it into my skin.

“Kill Him!”

The adrenalin flows into my veins, strangely I feel the lull of calm take over me. I watch as guns slowly make their way out of holsters. I can see the henchmen with the bandana forgot to unfasten his, and the one in the vest checking to see if the safety is off. Time has fallen asleep, and she dreams of death.

The bandana man, only four feet away, falls when I smash the heavy medical back over his head. Dodging an attack I force a henchman in glasses down onto the floor, hopping over him I wrap my leg shackles around his neck. The man in the vest fires a round that ricochets off my restraint and into the choking man’s temple. Still wrapped in chains I plunge into the dead man’s grasp and pull his gun away. One, two, three men fall leaving the man in the vest and a broken Marvin.

“What are you going to ─”

The smoking whole in his head stops anymore thievery of my precious oxygen. Pointing my gun at the last man I stand. A man in shackles and nothing more shouldn’t scare the piss out of a fully clothed fully loaded criminal. But I did.

“Run.”

He doesn’t wait for directions, the vested man flies out of the room. I shuffle over to Marvin and dig through his pockets for the key to my release. Finally free, I look over at all the dead henchmen for a set of clothes in my size. Not that this is important, I’m just not ready to see my dead friend.

Fully clothed I turn my attention to Byron’s body cross the room. The first step I take towards him is grabbed, by Marvin. The extra hole rattles his breath but doesn’t drain his strength, he stands, taking my foot with him. I topple over onto my head, he pulls out a gun and fires it. The boiler explodes, sending scorching water in all directions. Byron’s scream is a terrible relief.

The water burns blisters in my scalp, the smell of volatile vapors quickly fills the air. I kick at Marvin’s broken face, he releases me. I make a run for the door, stumbling over the bodies. I choke on the heavy gas in the air, I feel dizzy, and I feel it might be too. Just as I feel the door way, Marvin grabs me again and drags me back into the sulfuric fog of hell.

“Solace, Run!”

Byron, somehow, found the strength to stand and rip Marvin off of me. Like the cowardly vested henchmen, I don’t wait. The towering bodies that where the vagrants in the long corridor are now huddled away in their makeshift homes. None of us have time to hide from the massive explosion in the other room. As we are engulfed in the flames none of us expect to survive, our ears are filled with agonized screams.

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