Tag Archives: fiction

Dig

The foot squeezing my rib cage kept me pinned to the ground. A soil spattered edge of the shovel pressed against my trembling throat. My Adam’s apple struggled to gulp repeatedly, stopped each time by cold steel. The man standing above me in a jet blue suit stared into my soul with squirming pupils. He pulled the spade away, releasing me. My body convulsed with involuntary coughing and wheezing.

“Do we understand each other then?”

“Yes.” I wiped away tears with a hand caked in dirt.

“Get diggin’ then.”

I reached for the shovel, but the well dressed man pivoted it out of my grasp. He gave me a disapproving look with empty eyes.

“Your hands. Use them.”

I nodded obediently, then I rolled onto my knees and sunk my nails below the withering grass of the forest floor. Tearing into the earth’s crumbly flesh. Buried rocks and roots cracked against my knuckles, insects wriggled from out their furtive burrows. Occasionally I looked back at the man. He leaned casually against his shovel, tapping his foot impatiently.

“You done yet?”

The pit was barely a foot deep. My spine racked nervously.

“We got all day.”

I dug til the clouds bled orange and purple. The evening breeze whistled its way between the twisting pines. I was sure to take it all in. Memories of the most mundane variety were increasingly precious to me.

“Stop.” The voice boomed, echoing through my core.

The man fiddled his fingers playfully. A wicked smile revealed his festering teeth. The blade of his shovel scraped a trail as he walked toward the pit. I stepped out to face him. I had resigned myself to die, but my fists disagreed. They squeezed around the sharpest pebbles I could find. The man met me at the edge of the hole. He had swung the shovel over his shoulder. His wrist twitched with anticipation. There was not a moment to lose.

“Thanks for your-“

I threw the rocks with the force of a coal train. They clattered harmlessly off his surprised expression. All I needed was an opening. I sprung low to the ground, tackling the man off his feet. A pained exhale exploded from his chest as he slammed to the ground. I took advantage of his shock and wrested the shovel from his grip. He laid there, breathing heavily as I rose to stand. I used the shovel to finish the job.

Thinking back, I should’ve called the police. Instead I buried the mutilated corpse. And stuck the shovel into the ground. It was all I knew about him. I thought it a fitting headstone.

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The Bigger They Get…

I was a world class magician. Night after night, I performed sold out shows in Las Vegas. The girls, money, and recognition came easily. People claimed I was a prodigy, that great performers like me only came once every generation. And it was true. I had my time in the spotlight. But my career ended abruptly after 12 years. That’s when “Maxx Magic” came on the scene.

He was a nobody for the longest time. Just finishing up high school while I was making six figures a month. But he was young, and by the time he started performing I was old news. I never blamed him, nobody wants to see the same trick twice. But I sure as hell resented him.

That’s why I used the last of my savings to buy a ticket to every show on his nationwide tour. I just sat back and observed the first couple shows. And genuinely enjoyed this kid’s magic routine. But he ruined my career, so I also took notes on his most dangerous stunts. The ones with fire and sharpened blades.

I settled on a trick he called “Ticking Inferno”. From what I gathered, it was a simple misdirect. Maxx stepped into a glass room, and while it filled with propane gas his assistant locked the only door. Or so it would seem- Maxx dropped down a trapdoor right as the glass box filled with flames. Predictable, but admittedly well executed.

At the show in Sacramento I made my move. I got there a few hours early and slipped past security. Once my preparations were complete, I blended with the audience filing in. I nearly fought a middle aged woman for my seat. After all, I deserved a good view.

The show proceeded identically to the past few I’d seen. My eyelids drooped, I was beginning to fall asleep. Nobody wants to see the same trick twice. But I perked up when Maxx’s assistant rolled out the glass room. I relished the gasps of the crowd as the oversized padlock clicked into place. He fumbled around for a second, acting helpless. It was all an act.

Then it happened. All the confidence drained from his smug face as he stomped on the trapdoor. It refused to budge. I had crammed crates underneath. He pounded his fists desperately against the glass. Stage techs rushed to his aid with the key. They tried shoving it in but to no avail. Glue in the locks. Maxx Magic let out one last blood curdling scream. Then the fire engulfed him. His writhing silhouette pressing up against the glass walls.

While the spectators wailed in terror, I left my seat. No doubt they would check the CCTV footage from before the show. And I needed to get a head start on running.


Side note: I actually won a competition on the ‘Mcscribes & Mcscribblers’ Discord server with this story! The prompt was “The bigger they get the harder they fall”. It’s the first writing competition I have ever entered! I’m 1 for 1 guys! 🙂

-Stay frosty

Tired Fantasy

I threw the covers off my sweaty body in a fit of discomfort, but I still felt a warm tickle along my skin. It was clear to me now that I wouldn’t sleep tonight.

With care not to wake my girlfriend, I crawled out of bed and grabbed my cigarettes from the nightstand. I cringed at the sound of the door to our room squeaking open. But the gentle breaths of my love assured me that I had not woken her.

I stepped out onto the back porch and flicked my lighter. I got a taste of butane with my first puff, but it went to the back of my mind as a wave of endorphins suffocated my thoughts.

I sat for a moment, enjoying the simple pleasures of a calm night. But was interrupted by the clanging of our garbage cans to the side of the house.

Curiosity got the better of me, and I stamped out my ashes to investigate. My socks were soaked as soon as they glided through the dew touched grass. Each step became slightly more burdensome and muddy.

Rounding the corner, my eyes darted around the trash cans. Wondering what had caused such a racket. But nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

“Hey you!” A high pitch voice squeaked. “Human! Over here!”

I had a hard time placing the source of the words until I looked down.

“Yeah you!” A small man about two inches tall, dressed in a bright yellow toga hailed me with a frantic wave. He had a rotten apple core in his hand like an oversized scepter. “Come closer so I don’t have to yell!”

I overcame my nerves and decided to do as he said. Kneeling with my ear hovering over his tiny body, I awaited his response.

“Good! Good!” The little man seemed pleased, and tossed the apple core over his shoulder. “My name is Grayson, and I’m on a quest! The Tomato Kingdom is sick and it is up to me to find a cure! And to do that I have journeyed to the world of the humans to ask for their help!”

I turned my head to see him smiling at me sheepishly. It took a few moments for me to realize that he was talking about me.

“Oh! Um- What is it you need help with?” I asked.

“My people are in trouble! No matter how hard they try, the people of the Tomato Kingdom can’t sleep on their own! Is there any medicine in the human world for this ailment?”

I laughed to myself. He sure picked the wrong guy to ask.

“Listen Grayson. If I knew the secret to a good night’s sleep, I’d be in my bed right now.”

The little man looked disappointed. He kicked a pebble along the ground and shrugged his shoulders. Grayson picked up the apple core once again and slung it over his shoulder.

“Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to make a few hundred trips for rotten fruit.”

His last statement sparked my curiosity.

“Wait, you need food now?”

“Yeah. We discovered that a cure for insomnia is to eat to the point of bliss. Not that a dumb human like yourself would understand, but- Consuming that much food triggers a serotonin release in our brains. Only problem is that there isn’t that much food left in our reserves. We’re all going to starve unless we can start getting to sleep without eating more food than we can manage. That’s why I was hoping you humans had a drug to help us out.”

I snapped my fingers in a moment of clarity. Of course! I always fell soundly asleep after an afternoon at an all-you-can-eat buffet! Beaming down at the little guy, I scooped him in a cupped hand. He seemed uneasy with being carried.

“I’ll do you one better! We’re going to the Walmart down the road! It’s going to blow your mind. Seriously.”

Grayson seemed confused, but excited at my burst of optimism. He pumped his fist in the air.

“TO WALMART!!” He cried triumphantly.

It crossed my mind as I skipped to the store in my pajamas with a two inch tall man in my palm that I might be dreaming. But I didn’t mind. Either way I would wake up tomorrow morning well rested.

Rockstar

The amp hummed as the roadies finished hooking up the sound system for tonight’s show. They were cutting it close. It was only twenty minutes till. I plopped on a stool provided by the venue and continued obsessively tuning my bass guitar. I spied Ben out the corner of my eye, he was practicing some riffs lightly on his drums while checking his Instagram. A lone neon green electric guitar sat center stage, stealing the limelight. I had to stop looking at it.

“Any idea if Chris will grace us with his presence?” Mac, the manager of the bar tapped his foot impatiently. “People are already lined up outside.”

“Don’t worry about it Mac.” I chuckled to ease the tension. “Chris always pulls through.”

Mac shrugged. My assurances seemed good enough for him. He threw a dirty rag over his shoulder and headed back to the bar.

Though I wasn’t so sure he would show. Chris’s behavior had been getting out of hand recently. It started with the drinking, then the women, and now drugs. We made it on the radio once and he was acting like he was bigger than John Lennon. We had our fair share of fights over it.

“Aye Ben!” I shouted at our near deaf drummer.

“Mmmph?”He grunted in acknowledgement.

“Can you call Chris again? He won’t answer if it’s me. We only have-” I eyed my watch face. “Jesus! We only have 7 minutes till showtime!”

Ben nodded his head solemnly and fished his phone from his skinny jeans.

Suddenly the doors burst open. The sound of ambient chatter and the smell of sweat filled the room immediately. I threw my hands up in exasperation. We still had 7 minutes!

“Sorry guys! They were getting unruly out there! I had to let ’em in!” Mac called from somewhere in the sea of flowing faces.

My heart pounded like the intro to an AC/DC song. Chris was out of time. I looked down at the instrument I had meticulously tuned for the past hour, and then at Chris’s green guitar. It’s glossy coat glared from the spotlights shining down on it. I realized what I had to do, and it terrified me.

I handed the bass off to a roadie off stage and approached the guitar. The moment I assumed the spotlight, my anxiety magnified. I could feel the wandering eyes of the crowd fix on me. I slung the green beauty over my chest and fidgeted with the frets. I looked back at Ben nervously.

He cracked a half smile and slowly raised his drumsticks above his head.

As he clacked them together, I let out a shuddering exhale and counted down.

OneTwoThreeFour

Pandora

Elizabeth let out a ragged sigh of exhaustion as the men retired to the study. She backed out of her seat and began stacking plates. Reginald had just returned from India. She had not even gotten a chance to talk with him before he invited his friends over. The clatter of porcelain drowned out a roar of laughter from the dinner party. She paused in her duties for a moment and listened in. As much as Elizabeth hated that they were all at her house, hogging her husband, she as was curious about his adventures as they were.

“Elizabeth dear? Please come in here!” A voice echoed from down the hall.

She was shocked at the invitation. The men never asked her to join once talks started in the study. She cautiously strolled down the oaken hallway and swung the door open to a half circle of gentlemen around the fireplace. Her husband took a mighty puff from a cigar while tapping on a leather bound book.

“Do you know what this is darling?” Reginald inquired.

“No.” Elizabeth replied, looking around at the attentive men around her. “I have no idea.”

Reginald held the book by it’s spine and flipped it open to a random page. He took one more puff from his cigar before setting it down. He cleared his throat.

“My dear wife. I know you were classically educated, I am going to tell a story pertaining to that. Please bear with me.”

“Of course” She obliged.

“This book comes from a small mountain tribe on the border of India and Afghanistan. Now these tribesmen are a curious people. They claim to be related to Alexander the Great of Macedon. I trust you know of him?”

“Y-Yes, I do.” Elizabeth stammered. The mood of the room was darkening as her husband and his party stared at her intently. The fire crackled intensely in the background.

“Well. As you know Alexander the Great conquered everything from Egypt to India.” He continued. “What this tribe claims is that when Alexander was done conquering he visited the most remote village in his empire. It was then that he charged the tribe’s ancestors with a sacred duty.”

Reginald picked up his cigar nonchalantly and took a deep puff. His friends around him leaned in as the flickering flames illuminated half his face. He cleared his throat and lowered his voice.

“He told them that this here.” He shook the book in his hand softly. “This book- was Pandora’s Box. And that it should never be touched by a woman, else it would unleash a new wave of demons upon the world.”

Elizabeth stood there shaken. She glanced around at the men sitting around her for any traces of a practical joke. In their eyes, solely fixed on her, she saw only a solemn sincerity. She jumped at the touch of her husbands hand against hers.

“Dear?”

“Yes?”

“Will you open it?”

Elizabeth’s heart beat rapidly. Something inside her chest screamed for her to run, but she stood her ground against it. Her curiosity would not let her leave.

Reginald held the book out to Elizabeth with both hands. Her fingers trembled as she hovered them over the ancient binding. With a swift motion, she snatched the book from her husband. The party gasped. Only the fire broke the silence of expectation.

Nothing happened.

The men around her guffawed and laughed heartily, elbowing Reginald joyfully. He smiled and shrugged playfully. Elizabeth narrowed her eyes at her husband. It seemed she had been nothing but the night’s entertainment. Multiple conversations splintered off around her, but Elizabeth drowned them out in her head. She brushed her hand along the cover, and then thrust her fingers into the pages of the book.

She flipped it open.

Her eyes widened. She stared down at the page for a few seconds in a fear that paralyzed her entirely. Her body allowed her to shriek and she did so as loud as she could. The guests fell silent. Fat tears welled in her eyes, rolling down onto the pages of the ancient book. Onto the faces of demons writhing disturbingly on the pages in a frenzy.

The book shook violently with an otherworldly energy. Pages tore themselves out and flew onto the floor. Illustrations of eldritch creatures scrambled to life in the confines of the papers. Snapping, scratching, and gnawing viciously. While the men sat in their chairs, holding their feet up, Reginald took charge.

“We need to get out of here!!”

He scrambled out of his seat and raced for the door. In his haste, he stepped onto one of the pages carelessly.

A creature of pure black, with dull blue eyes wrapped it’s arms around the passing foot. In a blink, the thing had attached itself to Reginald’s shoe. Thrown off balance, he dropped onto the carpet. Close to more of the pages littered all over the floor.

He screamed in agony as the creatures crawled out of their ancient prisons and onto his pathetic body. He twisted with every latch, bite, and gouge. From every wound, a black bubbling ooze spilled from his contorting body onto the ground. Elizabeth and the party watched in horror as the things swarmed his face like insects. She was so utterly terrified that she could not muster a scream. Instead an icy chill rippled through her body, rendering her incapable of anything but watching as her husband squirmed wildly on the floor.

In his final seconds of life, Reginald thrust a pained finger past Elizabeth. Her heart sank as she followed his gesture to the fireplace.

The piercing sound of a final page ripping from the spine of the book stole the attention of the room. All eyes fixed on it as it floated lazily in the air, twisting peacefully before plunging itself into the embers.

With a rush of air, the light of the fire was extinguished. Elizabeth remained where she was in darkness. Standing with an empty, open book in her hand, surrounded by nightmares incarnate. She forced her eyes shut with all the might she could muster from within. Preparing for the same fate as her husband. Praying to God that her death would be quick.

Her pulse gradually slowed from it’s erratic beat, settling into its normal cadence. A soothing, crackling rhythm came to life somewhere in the room. And with a ragged breath, she opened her eyes.

The fire was back, and with it the unholy scene surrounding her seared itself into Elizabeth’s mind. The semicircle of cushioned chairs were plastered with the corpses of her husband’s friends. Backs arched, and mouths twisted. Frozen in their torment by a hardened black sludge. The pages once laid out on the carpet were returned to the book, now closed in her trembling hands. She let out a yelp as she dropped it unceremoniously and ran to escape the study.

Elizabeth caught one last glimpse of her husband’s blackened remains before slamming the door shut.

She felt a deep pang of guilt as she phoned for help. She hated that was not plagued by the death she had experienced. Instead while the dial tone rang she wondered selfishly, if the police would believe her when they arrived.

Banzai

Toshi dove face first into the mud, narrowly dodging the hail of machine gun fire flying from out the dense brush of the jungle. As the rounds splattered into the ground, chunks of displaced clay and grass flew up into his face. A hand from above grabbed Toshi by the collar of his uniform, dragging him up and over a nearby crater.

“We need to get out of here!” His savior screamed.

Toshi took a moment to wipe the mud from his face. At first he could not concentrate on anything other than the hissing of hot lead zipping over the crater wall. The man yelling at him was his friend. Yukio Kitano.

“Why are you still sitting there?!”

Toshi took a deep breath and tried to push the noise to the back of his trembling mind. Bullets crackled from all sides, shrapnel shredded through the trees, planes raced above them menacingly. The Americans were finally here.

Yukio shouldered his rifle and loaded a clip of rounds into the breech. He gave Toshi a quick nod, signalling that it was time to go. Toshi gripped his weapon tight, looking for any comfort it could provide. He shuttered out an anxious exhale as he ran his finger down the cool steel barrel.

The pair burst into action. Leaping out of the crater and sprinting with shoulders hunched through the tall grass. Shots crackled past their ears, but they kept running.

“This way! Follow me!” Yukio exclaimed.

He led Toshi down a game trail to a narrow creek. They splashed through the water, slipping on the algae covered river rocks. They kept trudging their way against the flow until the gunfire was reduced to gentle knocks in the distance. Yukio pointed at a cement staircase and they scrambled up the steps. Back into the lush jungle foliage.

“Stop! I need to stop for a moment!” Toshi shouted.

As he gasped for breath, Yukio drank greedily from his canteen.

“You know.” Toshi labored. “I never wanted any of this.”

Yukio grunted in agreement as he capped his canteen. He cocked his head to the side.

“You know the only reason I enlisted was-“

A single shot reverberated close by. The pair flinched, throwing their hands protectively over their faces.

“What the hell are you doing?” An imperial officer climbed out from the brush, a hand on the hilt of his sword. He holstered his smoking handgun, awaiting a reply.

Surprised, Toshi tried to formulate an excuse. But could only seem to muster a collection of broken syllables.

“If we didn’t need men, I would cut you down where you stand.” The officer continued.

With a gloved hand he reached into his satchel to reveal a pair of white strips of cloth. A red dot bled through the center so as to resemble the Japanese flag.

“Here. Take these.”

Yukio looked over at Toshi nervously as they folded and tied the flags over their foreheads. The officer directed them to a clearing where a large group of almost fifty men stood at attention silently. All of them with headbands knotted around their heads. An unspoken tension built as the popping of machine gun fire inched closer. The officer cleared his throat with the same mechanical tempo.

“It has been a great honor to lead you up to this point. I have asked a lot of you, and now I will ask even more.” The officer drew his sword and held it above his head. “Defend the homeland at all costs!

The soldiers around Toshi and Yokio echoed his sentiment with fanatical cheers. The two friends swapped worried looks as the officer charged through the jungle, pointing his sword in the direction of certain death.

TENNO HAIKA! BANZAI!!

*Long live the Emperor! Ten thousand ages!*

Hangman

It was a quiet night on Park Avenue. The swirling snowflakes falling from the clouds muffled the noises of traffic. Only the occasional car horn broke the melancholy silence.

He had chosen this street as his courthouse because the townhouses were built before 1944. Aside from being mostly abandoned and slowly decaying, they had basements and walls made of brick. Perfect for keeping sound from escaping out onto the street.

Although good bones were necessary in choosing a house, he had also taken every other precaution. Nothing was getting in or out until deliberation was complete.

He threw his trademark white plastic grocery bag over his head and gently cut out holes for his mouth, nostrils and eyes.

8 O’clock. It was time to begin.

He strolled down the hall and swung open the door to the basement, releasing a blast of desperate screams for help. With an outstretched finger he flicked on the florescent lights. They buzzed angelically to a horrific display.

A man with a pin striped blue suit stood shaking on a construct of wood. His hands restrained behind his back, and a noose of coarse rope around his neck.

Facing him was a captive audience. Twelve men and women from all over Clearwater County. Strapped to sturdy wooden chairs with zip ties and duct tape, they looked equally distressed.

He stepped up onto his wooden structure and ran his finger along the sweaty face of the well dressed man.

“You bastard!” The man retaliated with in an unbridled fury. “Do you know who I AM?! You’re DEAD!! DEAD!!

He chuckled at the man’s attempt at a threat and then turned to the crowd. With a swift stomp of his foot, the cries died out and with a twitch of his head he began the proceedings.

“Hello. My name is Gallow.” He began in a gravely voice. “Or at least.. That’s the name you need to know.”

His plastic mask crinkled as he scanned the room. Making intermittent eye contact with every single person. He held up three fingers.

“Now there are three parts to the modern justice system.” He continued. “As you can probably guess by my whole vibe, I am the executioner.”

He paused to let the captives yell in the horror they must have experienced at that statement. As they struggled and looked at each other with terrorized expressions, Gallow glanced at his watch.

They usually come to a realization after about 5 minutes. He thought to himself. In this case, the realization that screaming isn’t going to change anything.

As per his prediction, the last voice hushed.

5 minutes and 17 seconds. He rolled his sleeve back over his watch face and resumed.

“As I mentioned previously, I am the executioner.” Gallow clapped his hands once and jumped from the wooden platform. “But you! You all are the judge and jury. I only carry out your will. And I DARE not question your final decision.”

A woman with tear smeared mascara shook in her seat.

“If you’ll do as we wish then LET US GO!!” She beckoned.

Several men yelled in agreement.

“All in due time madam.” Gallow cooed calmly as he paced in front of the jury. “But first! You must do your civic duty!”

He paused.

“And remember!” He pointed up playfully. “God is watching.”

The man with the noose against his throat struggled violently on the stage.

“So you brought them all to judge me?! IS THAT IT?!” Saliva burst from his lips with every word. “And what if they all vote me innocent?? You’ll let me and them go unharmed?!”

With a lively crinkle, Gallow returned to his deliberate pacing.

“Well to put it plainly, yes. Yes I would.”

He could feel the relief of tension in the cold basement.

BUT” He held up a finger once more. “You wouldn’t want to do that without hearing more about the accused.”

The jury clamored in protest, but Gallow peered back down at his timepiece and waited for their outbursts to expire.

He hopped back onto the platform and gracefully stroked an iron lever connected the floor of the wooden stage. He continued with a more somber cadence to his hoarse voice.

“Steven Wyatt.” Gallow’s bag rustled as he threw a piercing glare at the man on trial. “CEO of Wyatt Enterprises. Anyone heard of him?”

A short Asian man with a sweat-soaked maroon shirt raised his hand cautiously.

“Yes! You!”

“Well, uh.” The man gulped with a nervous energy. “They’re the guys making groundbreaking cancer research right? I hear about them on the news all the time.”

“Correct!” Gallow beamed beneath his grocery bag mask. “Actually- half right. Wyatt Enterprises also dabbles in another business venture.”

He let silence reclaim the room for a dramatic effect.

Human trafficking.

Gallow took a moment to absorb the faces of the jury, but was still met with resentment towards him. The big reveal didn’t seem to work.

“His company literally buys human beings and uses them for chemical trials.” Gallow stressed. “He treats people like cattle! Most die. VERY painfully. And the police- They just turn a blind eye because of his political connections. Steven Wyatt is all that is wrong with America! Sure he appears to have good intentions. But in the end it’s all about money, and trampling over everything in his way! Including the laws of God and of this country!”

He looked around to see if he had swayed any opinions. His audience held the same expressions of hatred as they had before. None directed at the man restrained next to him.

HA!” Mr. Wyatt spat. “They won’t fall for your little speech! YOU are a hypocrite!! YOU are the one with no regard for the law!!”

Gallow sighed and turned to the seated individuals.

“I’ll be taking your votes now.” He stated monotonously. “Keep in mind the verdict must be unanimous. Also that outside of this room, Steven will never face any consequences for his actions. Whatsoever.”

He started from the left and worked his way down the line of chairs. Pointing with a meaty finger to coerce a vote.

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Let him go and let us go. Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“You’re a monster.. Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

“Not guilty.”

YOU LOSE. Not guilty.”

Gallow’s bag crinkled as he shook his head. The people had spoken. He mused.

“And I was getting all excited to pull that lever and watch him squirm.” He whipped out a pocket knife and put it in the greasy palm of an teenage girl, no older than 16. “As I said, you’ll be freed. And the accused will be spared.”

The girl squealed anxiously as she sawed her way through her plastic bindings. He watched patiently as she finished and passed the blade to the woman sitting next to her. The woman was in her mid-thirties. Frantic. Crying. Pregnant.

Noticing the violent sentiment growing in the room. Gallow decided to make his exit and strolled up the stairs. Towards the door leading back into the hallway of the townhouse. A few steps in, he snapped his fingers and spun around. The woman cutting the last of the zip ties around her arms froze mid-action.

“One last thing I forgot to mention!” Gallow slapped his hand against his forehead comedically. “Stupid me! Of course the jury is out on Mr. Wyatt, so as per our agreement, my hands are tied. But it would have helped if I had brought up some evidence during the trial.”

He shook his head playfully and gestured to the teenager shaking in her chair, trying to unwrap the duct tape from around her legs. He proceeded with a grave tone.

“Why don’t you go ahead and check under your seat for me sweetie.”

She stared at him with wild eyes. Slowly reaching beneath her seat while keeping her eyes on Gallow’s swaying figure. She moved her fingers around randomly until she grasped a large vanilla envelope. She picked it up and curiously dumped the contents onto her lap. She riffled through until she held up a white sheet of paper.

Her eyes widened. A new breed of fear rose from the bottom of her chest.

“Wha- What is this?!” She demanded. “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!”

Gallow chuckled. His mask rustled as he brushed the thin plastic over his scalp.

“My dear girl. THAT is a bill of sale. Note your picture at the top and Mr. Wyatt’s signature there at the bottom. You see I-” He took a deep breath before finishing. “I found you all unconscious in a lab at Wyatt Enterprises.

The man with the rope around his throat turned visibly pale. For the first time he stopped fidgeting and stood deathly still. All of his earlier confidence had vanished.

“I knew he wouldn’t recognize you because frankly- He’s a monster.” Gallow chimed. “But like I said, my hands are tied.”

Gallow stood at the doorway at the top of the stairs. He swung the door open, shot a wink, and closed it behind him.

The second he released the knob, muffled noise exploded from the basement. He methodically pulled off his mask and brushed up his sleeve to look at his watch.

After 5 minutes and 33 seconds the emotional, panicked screaming ceased.

After 5 minutes and 46 seconds he felt a satisfying *THWUMP* vibrate through his shoes.

Gallow leaned back from the door and cracked a wry grin. He ran his fingers through his hair and casually strolled out the front door and onto the snow laden Park Avenue. He was in no rush.

It could take up to twenty minutes for Steven Wyatt to die of strangulation. And Gallow knew that the jury would stay until justice had been served.