Archie bent over the mattress. 'It' was bound in the usual way.
Hands tied with heavy rope to the old iron headboard. Feet and
footboard, the same. All stretched out for Joey’s convenience.
Archie cringed. Best not to think about Joey. His brother was out
Using his good left hand, Archie smoothed the hair back from its
pretty forehead. Pity welled up inside him. He always felt sorry
for them. Not that it did any good. Joey never felt any pity
He tugged on the ropes. Tight and secure. A rope dug into its
wrist and it moaned. Coming around. Archie liked it better when
they stayed asleep. Joey didn’t. He liked to hear them scream.
Loud, anguished screeches to paint the cabin like fresh spilt blood.
“Poor thing,” he whispered.
The air changed. It was awake. Archie could feel it. It
looked around the room. He glanced at it, but avoided gazing in its
eyes. Eyes were personal things…the windows to the soul. Time
enough for that later. After Joey was finished.
He hoped Joey left him the eyes.
“Thirsty,” it croaked.
Archie nodded. Mercy to give it a drink. Give mercy; get mercy
back, Gran used to say. He went to the bucket and got a dipper full
of cool, clear water from the spring out back. Went to the bed. It
struggled to sit up.
The bedsprings squeaked.
He patted its shoulder with his mangled hand. Two fingers
missing on the right one. “Shhh, rest easy now. I’ll tilt this
dipper for you. You’ll drink well enough.”
It drank in deep, shuddering gulps. Must’ve been parched. The
water appeared to restore its sense.
“Where am I?”
First question they always asked.
He’d answered them everywhere from Salina to the magical lands
of Oz. They never laughed. Might as well tell the truth. “Hell,”
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