Dusk (10)

04/17/2015 § Leave a comment

At last, the pain stops.

“Tough son of a whore, this one.”

Chest heaving, the Watcher spits on the floor and takes two steps back. His comrade offers him a leather flask. He grabs and drinks in big gulps, the pit of his throat moving needfully.

“I don’t suppose you’re going to start talking now,” says the other one, the one who watches and asks questions. “Your name. The name of the man who hired you. That’s all we need.”

Moss hears the man only faintly, the blood hammering in his ears like so many drums. His own breathing is thin and ragged, each inward breath coming with a sharp pain in the chest.

In the brief reprieve from the constant thrashing, his thoughts begin to flow back to him. But slowly, muddily, for he has never been one for cleverness. His own mother, who had indeed been a whore, had told him as much, and worse. Yet why did she not just smother him as a babe, as she’d said she should have done many, many times, if he had been nothing but a misfortune? Why not spare the both of them the misery?

“Tell us the names, and it can all end.”

There is a bitter, metallic taste in the back of his throat. Moss opens his mouth to curse the man, but what comes out isn’t words. A rush of bile and blood, hot and slippery against his own naked skin.

The Watcher clicks his tongue.

“It’s going to be much worse for you, you know, when the torturers come.”

There is fear in him, hearing that.

“They’ll put you on the wheel and break every last bone in your body. And if you’re still alive after that…”

“Slice off your nipples, they will,” says the other one. “And feed ‘em to you. That what you want?”

“The names. Yours, and the one who hired you.”

Moss hesitates, in the silence that follows. The temptation is real. He has heard the stories, whispered among those in his line of work as warnings against failure. Of the torturers who dwell in the shadow of Red Hall, in the abandoned cistern underground. Better to kill yourself, it is said, than let yourself be taken to their lair. A fate worse than hundred deaths.

It’s utter foolishness, then. Madness. But Moss cannot let himself be defeated by these Watchers. Or any Watcher, for that matter. There is power in denial. He understands it now. A truth. He will not give them what they want. Will not—cannot—go back to who he was before.

The Watchers give up, after a time. Before leaving him in darkness, one of them tells him:

“Think on it. You only have a little time.”


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