As I sit here swallowing the barrel of a 9mm handgun I can’t help but think that maybe real estate would’ve made for a good profession. I’ll be honest though, I always expected it to end like this. Just thought I’d be the one holding the gun, not Bryce fucking Jordan. If you have no idea what’s going on, read this. It’s long, so the short version is I figured out where Aaron was being kept and upon my entry to the establishment I was destroyed by a man who looks like Thing from Fantastic 4 fucked Thing from the Adam’s Family and made an oopsie child. Now Bryce is smirking at me and telling me about his incredible plans for the future while it looks like for me there are none. I’m considering pulling away just so he’ll be forced to pull the trigger and I won’t have to listen to him masturbate his vocal chords any longer. He gets pissed every time I roll my eyes though so I tone it down a little because if I die it means Aaron does too.
“Now do you understand?” Bryce finishes. I feel like every woman in porn right now, my mouth full and man standing over me with a look of utter satisfaction.
I reply to the best of my capabilities but all it sounds like is mngmnmnng. He pulls his gun out and nods for me to repeat what I said.
I smile politely. “I said mngmnmnng.”
“Ah, god damn. I don’t know how Aaron puts up with you.” Bryce walks away. He’s not afraid of me anymore because both of my arms are broken. Behind me, I can hear the heavy mouth breathing of the man who did this to me. His long golden locks swaying behind him like he’s a fucking mermaid.
“Bryce.” I call after him. “Whad’ya say we call it a night and finish this tomorrow. I’m exhausted.”
Bryce twirls around and laughs. It’s a forced laugh because he doesn’t really think it’s funny but he’s seen me laugh in my circumstances so he feels like he should do it too. He’s the kind of kid in the playground who only wants to play with other kids’ toys.
“No.” He says finally.
“Dang.” I tsk. “I really thought you’d say yes.”
“Today you are going to die. And next week, once Aaron has fixed the molecular composition, he will die too.”
“Here’s an idea: use me as motivation.” I raise my eyebrows to amplify the appearance of a genius idea. “Tell him you’ll let me go alive if he fixes your molecule-whatever it is. He’d be done in a day.”
Goddamnit I did it again. I can see Bryce’s face consider the suggestion and I sold that shit to him like a girlscout selling cookies.
“You just keep digging yourself in a deeper hole.” Bryce grins.
“Old habits. My therapist thinks I might be suicidal.”
“I’m going to take you prisoner and I’ll just kill you and Aaron at the same time. I’ve always been a romantic at heart, anyway.”
“You seem like it.” I smile. The kind of guy who lights candles before he jacks off to a picture of a woman on a Hanes bra package.
“Jacob, take him to the lab. Seal him in the gas chamber.”
Why does he have a gas chamber? So nazi-ish. Jacob, the hairy giant, grabs me by my broken limbs and puts me on my feet. I scream in pain before laughing and then Jacob pushes me and says, “Walk.”
“Good job.” I say as my laughter falters. “You said a word.”
Jacob ignores me, luckily, and I get shoved down a hallway. The same nasty carpet is everywhere. Random purple patterns over brown backgrounds. Looks like a fucking casino. The hallway leads to an elevator and we take it down to the pits of hell. When we exit, I see Aaron’s scruffy ass behind a desk with his glasses askew and thick, purple bags under his eyes. His wrists are handcuffed and his ankles chained to a chair. We make eye contact but neither of us say anything. It’s been thirteen weeks since I’ve been able to look him in the eyes. The wave of relief I feel seeing him in person is unexpected and, needless to say, premature. Here we are, both days away from death, surrounded by weird end-of-the-world tech, with no escape plan, and yet this is the happiest I’ve been for a while. The giant nudges me and I continue walking, trying to keep my eyes on Aaron, but soon I’m pushed into another room. I’m daydreaming until I focus and realize I’ve entered a windowless chamber with vents in the floor so gas has access to me.
“Stay.” Jacob the giant grunts.
I shoot him an unforgiving no shit look before collapsing against the wall.
Bryce peeks in, eyes lit up. A man like him dreams about successes like this his entire life. Plans going as planned.
“Listen, it’s been really nice watching you fail. No hard feelings.” Bryce winks.
They close the door and I make a vow in the darkness that the next time I see his face it’ll be with my foot in his teeth.
Nothing fuels the desire to stab yourself in the eyes quite like solitary confinement. Boredom is man’s worst nightmare. I would do anything to be tortured or beaten to death. I’d get my arms broken again a thousand times if they’d just let me out of this goddamn empty, black room. Sometimes I think I smell gas and hope that they’re going to kill me. Then I think maybe it was just a fart I ripped a few hours ago – that shit has nowhere to go. Without a clock, time turns into a variable. It is no longer a law in this room. They open the door sometimes to feed me, but the time between visits range from minutes to years. I want to die.
The only thing I know is that it hasn’t been a week. Else I’d be lined up with Aaron and have more brains on my shoulders than in my skull. Aaron. He’s the only thing that keeps me going.
I’ve gotta get out of here.
Next time the door swings open I’m propped against the wall next to it. Some goon with a sleeveless band shirt and piercings in his face. Without arms, every movement hurts. I leap up and kick the guy in the chin. He staggers back. I advance with a kick into his knee. Draw back, round kick into his ribs. Goon two and three become aware and draw their guns. Fucking broken arms. This could’ve been easy, but instead I struggle to slide out of the way. I can’t balance myself so I fall forward and scrape my cheek against the floor. Rug rash. I roll over and find cover behind a rolley cabinet with some dangerous looking lab stuff on it. Bubbling liquids and colored smoke, that kind of stuff. Goon one, two, and three unload their clips and whatever was in those vials explodes and I fly back. My spine crackles against the wall before my head hits it. Whiplash. I fall to the ground and nearly throw up. My body is in agony. I look up and it looks like the goons suffered a similar fate. I struggle to push myself up. I need to find Aaron and untie him before the rest of the bad guys come down here. I walk through the lab and find him still tied to his desk – eye wide and a look of utter fear transitions into relief at the sight of me.
“Where’s the key?” I heave.
“Goddamn I’ve missed you.” Aaron lets loose a wave of tears.
“Aaron!” I scream. “Keys.”
He trembles. His body isn’t made to handle stress the way mine is.
“I don’t know.” He says, dread straining his voice.
“You’ve got thirty seconds to remember before I turn into ground beef.”
“Fuck!” Aaron begins crying but tries to hold back. He doesn’t remember.
I start searching. I look on the bodies of the unconscious goons, kicking them over and tracing their pockets with my feet.
“You arms…” Aaron realizes.
“Are fine.” I interrupt.
No keys. No keys anywhere. I kick one of the guns at Aaron.
“Is the chair loose? Or has it been melded into the floor?”
“Loose.” Aaron says.
“Alright, Aaron.” I stalk to him quickly. “We’re gonna practice some trust exercises. Grab that gun.”
“I can’t reach…”
I use my foot to guide the gun up the chair and onto Aaron’s lap. Aaron’s cuffs are loose enough for him to reach it now, and he clicks it ready. Just in time: the elevator dings and the doors open.
“Shoot!” I yell before kicking the table over as cover. I slide around Aaron and lean into the chair as bullets fly all around us. Inhale. I shove into the chair with all my might and the chair runs into the table and like a bulldozer we run into the elevator, trampling, smashing, or shooting any man in our way. There’s a brief quiet as the elevator doors ding shut.
“You alive?” I ask.
“Barely.” Aaron breathes.
A groan below us but Aaron shoots the source dead. I grab him a new gun with fresh ammunition using the same guidance technique I used downstairs. The elevator doors open, and I lean into the chair to move us out into the hallway. Three guys turn the corner and Aaron caps them in the chest. A fourth guys skids around and Aaron misses so I leap over the chair and take him out manually. My groin hurts from all the high kicks. I return to my place behind the chair and proceed.
“How are we going to get out of here?” Aaron whispers. “You gonna push me all the way across the city?”
“If I have to.” I grunt. My body feels good. All beat the fuck up. I haven’t been demolished like this in years – skill takes away from the thrill. Now the thrill’s back.
“I hope we find a bus, at least.” Aarons whimpers. Aaron doesn’t need the thrill.
We make it to the entrance and then to the exit. No sign of Jacob or Bryce. We’re lucky – they just might be absent.
Outside, the air feels like heaven on my sticky face. We’ve escaped.
I kiss Aaron on his cheek and taste his tears.
“I think you got blood on me.” He complains.
I laugh, and he laughs, and we stop at a bus stop a few miles away where we collect almost as many weird looks as we do when we hold hands in public.