The Willow Society

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Chapter 59

Chapter 59

Where Helen had procured a van on short notice, Taylor had no idea. But she had been firm that she could and she had. Of course, the van was dead black, with tinted windows and eight comfortable seats. The teens and Helen poured into it, Helen driving. The older woman had been insistent about coming along and it hadn't taken very much argument on her part to get agreement from the others. Taylor had opposed her coming along from the start, but Lou, oddly, had come around to Helen's argument very quickly.

“I won't be in any danger dears. And you'll need someone to drive the getaway car, and keep an pair o' eyes on things outside.“ Helen had said. It was shortly after Lou had forcibly made Myth agree she was not going inside herself. Suddenly it made sense. Helen is there to keep Myth out of the building. The little short girl would have likely followed the others at her first opportunity otherwise.

The drive wasn't long, fifteen or so minutes. It was almost three in the afternoon. Taylor, mostly out of nerves, made a few more attempts at contacting Tate. No answer. Helen parked the van two blocks away from Lexington Ave and the TransClarion Building.

“OK, dears.“ Helen said, “Go let 'em have it!“ Taylor couldn't speak, so he nodded and put his hand on the handle of the sliding door. It hung there for a long time, or what seemed like one, until finally with a deep breath and a forcibly-set steely expression he jerked the door open. Walked towards the entrance, two blocks away, without looking back once.

The front of the building, if it could be called that, was almost a covered plaza; huge squarish columns rising into the darkness above scattered sporadically around a gray cobblestoned area, dotted with black marble benches in stylishly placed combinations. At the far end of the plaza was a wide array of glass doors, tinted so Taylor could see only a fuzzy reflection of himself in it. As he neared the center pair of doors his reflection steadily became clearer as if he stood before the mirror he had checked himself out in earlier. He was surprised at how calm, emotionless, and steady he seemed in reflection. Using fingers barely able to be kept under control from the desire to shake, he tremulously fingered his iPhone, which he had fought hard against the others to convince them he should be allowed to take it. After all, Myth had altered so it could auto-magnetize access cards, and loaded with the building's coding algorithm, if he managed to keep the phone and find cards - he didn't risk bringing any in -he would be able to navigate the building. They had planned as if that would not be possible. And he agreed with them, the likelihood they let him keep the phone was very low. He patted his back pocket, feeling the bare impression of the Mythical Taser.

Taylor opened the glass door and went inside.

Bright lights blinded him while his eyes adjusted. The place was all white marble and gold. Lights and over-the-top opulence which somehow felt sterile at the same time. Maybe it was the way his shoes clacked against the stone floor, the breath of rarefied air which swirled around the door or the attempt at stately gold-work which hovered above the banks of elevators in the distance. Everything was plain straight lines and almost without embellishment. A blocky desk which looked like a chunk of marble growing directly out of the floor was situated evenly between the walls and the elevators, making a roughly triangular shape. There were two banks of elevators, five on each side. Where the elevators stopped and the walls met two angled panels of mirrors merged into a corner that would cast an eerie double reflection of anyone approaching. Taylor walked up to the desk, swallowed hard and hoped he wasn't sweating visibly.

“Mr. Zachary.“ the beefy, slit-eyed security guard asked. His tone said it wasn't really a question, especially not one needing an answer. Taylor started to reply but knew his voice was about to crack, so he just nodded instead. His jaw clenched.

“Last elevator on the right.“ the guard said giving his head a slight jerk in the direction behind him. The man's eyes remained glued to Taylor as he walked around the desk and towards the elevator the beefy man had indicated. Taylor was too nervous to remember to ask what floor.

As he approached the elevator it opened of its own accord. There was no button to open the elevator doors. It must be controlled remotely. Taylor stored the detail in his mind, silently impressed at the level of security implied by the elevator, even as he was daunted by it. There was nothing in the building plans about this. He couldn't use a stolen key or faked access card for something which had neither lock nor keypad.

Taylor stepped inside the elevator.

Almost the moment the doors closed Taylor slumped against one of the walls. He was sure there were cameras on him, but the distance between a camera and a person was enough to allow him the pretense of being relieved. Music came on. It was unexpected, and silly. He burst out laughing, unable to control himself. He immediately recognized the tune, it was Muzak version of a popular hip-hop song about sex with other people's partners. As he laughed he forgot where he was, for a moment. The danger receded, dissipated. The elevator stopped, the doors slowly opened and danger rushed back.

Another large lobby opened up before of him. He had no idea which of the four floors listed as “unoccupied” in the blueprints he was on. It had to be one of the four. I hope. The lobby had none of the sterility and gold plated emptiness of the main lobby below. This one was plushly carpeted, sleek and dark; all metal, plastic and shining surfaces. It spoke of technology, gear, and the glow of electronics.

Across the lobby from the elevator was another desk. This one curved outward from its base like stylized wave, its crest a sheet of burnished steel or aluminum. Whatever it was, it gleamed. Behind the desk wasn't a security guard, but a sour-faced, pinched-cheeked woman, thin and willowy, pretty in a hateful way, aloof. She wore a small headset and an expressionless look. As Taylor approached one of her eyebrows raised a fraction of an inch. She had been reading a magazine, which she closed as she glared at Taylor.

“You're late.“ She said. Her voice was deeper than he would have thought and harder than iron. Taylor had to wonder who she was, what was her purpose. She couldn't be just a secretary, could she? Most receptionists were meant to be welcoming; distractions, not this forbidding presence. He couldn't easily place her age, but she had to be at least ten, maybe fifteen years older than himself.

“I'm...“ Taylor started, remembering that the guard downstairs had already known him, which meant she almost certainly did as well. He looked down at his watch. It was twenty minutes after three in the afternoon. I'm late. There was no need to introduce himself.

She eyed him fiercely.

“I'm here. That's what matters.“ He tried to sound cavalier, untroubled as he pushed the words out. But his voice cracked. Fuck.

The corners of the receptionist's mouth turned upwards in what probably passed for a sneer. But rather than intimidate Taylor, it angered him, buoyed his frayed nerves. He smiled at her, showed teeth. Her other eyebrow shot up alongside the first. How did she do THAT? Her entire head moved back an inch or two, as though he had threatened her. The movement looked like a response to a challenge, a physical move which said, “Oh YEAH?“

“Well.“ she murmured. “I trust you've brought the package? He won't be happy if you haven't.“ She looked down her nose at him, gloating.

Taylor liked the fact, strange as it was, that she was gloating. It gave her otherwise alien aloofness a decided humanness, made her less off-putting and distant. If she can be goaded, maybe she's not worth fearing. Reflexively he felt for the stolen wiper device, in his pocket. He hadn't wanted to feel for it earlier, he had wanted to forget about it entirely. Too much hinged on the thing. He was relieved when he felt the squarish shape snug in his front pocket. If they figured out it was fake too quickly... if he let on somehow... he was screwed. The receptionist's eyebrows were still raised. Her head tilted a fraction when she saw Taylor pat his pocket. She smiled at him, like a hyena. Taylor gulped.

“This way,“ she murmured as she stood up and opened a door which had loomed behind her. She was easily six feet tall, and her spiked heels made her taller still. The door was made of some kind of metal, matte finished. She didn't have to do anything to open the door, it began to do so the moment she had stood. Taylor's spun, wondering what mechanism controlled the door. Is it a pressure sensor in the chair? A camera tracking her face and movements, maybe? A laser somewhere? Either way he filed the info away, in case it was needed later.

She paused under the door frame and looked back at him. “Follow me, Mr. Zachary.“ She said oily and mean. “The Boss is not a patient man. You've already cost yourself dearly by being late.“ What the hell does that mean? Taylor began to sweat. She floated down the hall on her hugely spiked heels, their points muffled by carpeting. Taylor looked around one last time and followed. She lead Taylor to an office and inclined her head towards a sleek chair before a monstrous desk, expecting him to sit. He sat.

Taylor shuffled uncomfortably in the seat. The chair was not uncomfortable, exactly, it was overstuffed and deep, richly made and not the austere ultra-modern affair Taylor had been expecting. Looking around the office, he couldn't help but wonder about the man who used the desk and the chair behind it, because what he was seeing didn't exactly fit with the kind of man he expected of someone who could mastermind a device like the wiper. Who could kidnap a little kid, partner with and maybe control a corrupt Mayor, steal top grade military technology. The desk was glass-topped with thick metal legs and covered with photo frames only the barest space given over to the small footprint of a several widescreen LED monitors. The opaqueness of the glass top hid a mouse and keyboard, Taylor could tell by the wires trailing underneath the desk. Along the walls were shelves, made of the same glass as covered the desktop, with more photos, an assortment of knickknacks and mementos. Hardly high-tech office fare. The place had the air of a smarmy insurance salesman from somewhere in the Midwest.

On the shelf to Taylor's right were smiling photos , presumably of each of the office owner's children, the odious Behrstable girls from Willow Prep, Philomena and Phaedra. It had come as no terrible shock to Taylor to learn their father headed TwinStar. It seemed to fit that the parent of such awful teenagers would be orders of magnitude more awful himself. They didn't become horrible in a vacuum! The twins still looked pretty despite the haughtiness in their faces, which looked slightly reptilian in the photos. Predatory. Interspersed between those two large photos were several baseballs clad in crystal, awards for service to some community in Connecticut, though Taylor couldn't make out the city, only the shape of the state embossed on the award. A plaque with dangling ribbons, etched with both girls' names sat next to the awards and beyond that several statuettes, in the shape of golf bags, clubs and balls. And a large silver sculpture of a brain.

On the shelf to Taylor's left were more pictures of the two girls, from younger ages, toddlers all the way up to their present appearance. Only in the very young girls did Taylor see any evidence of another woman, presumably their mother. The woman looked unhappy and hunted. Neither girl seemed to care about the woman's presence, even in the photos a distance was clear. Some of the pictures featured the girls and their father both and the devotion in his eyes was evident and contrasted sharply with the two photos where the unhappy woman was noticeably void of such emotion.

It seemed like John Behrstable was a loving, protective father, doting and proud, if not a good husband or family man. But what kind of parent would steal someone else's child to use as bait? Or trade? It's insane. From everything he knew about the girls he couldn't help but feel perhaps it made sense their father was a mad-with-power corporate exec looking to curl his fingers on the levers of power into an iron fist of secret control. After all he had raised those horrible twins. Or maybe he didn't. Maybe they were raised by nannies, their father a devoted absentee and it's all for show. He sighed. It seemed his mind would race thinking about anything except what he was really facing and what he had to do.

A door opened. It had looked like a section of the wall. Only when it opened outwards did Taylor recognize it as a door. John Behrstable came out. He was extremely tall, lean and svelte, gray-haired, immaculately coiffed. His features were aquiline and imposing, full of natural, expectant command. He smiled pleasantly at Taylor, which only made Taylor shift nervously in his seat, creeped out. There was definitely a hint of Philomena in the man. Clearly he was the source for much of her hauteur.

“Comfortable, son?“ Behrstable said blithely, companionably. For all the world as if they were already known to each other. As if Taylor were the well-liked boyfriend of one of Behrstable's daughters. Taylor grunted in response. Behrstable barked a laugh. “To be expected, I suppose.“ The man gave an exaggerated sigh. “Nasty business, this. I know. I know.

His voice was-neither hard nor condescending, another shock. Taylor expected him to be more like his daughters, both of whom could make cold iron envious. But John Behrstable's voice was warm and benign, even a little weary. So alike to Dan Zachary's in tone and timbre it was immediately disarming. Taylor struggled to remember he was supposed to hate this man, was battling him for very real stakes. “May I have the device then?“ Behrstable held out a large hand; a small, white gold ring on the third finger. Is it just my imagination or is his hand shaking? Barely under control, the way the hand of a very afraid man might shake? But it stopped so quick Taylor couldn't be sure his mind wasn't playing a trick, a side-effect of his nerves and latent fear.

Taylor shifted his legs outwards so he could fish into his pocket, where he wrapped his hand around the wiper and pulled it out. He tried to look defeated, dejected, small as he placed it in Behrstable's outstretched hand. Taylor's hand briefly made contact with the older man's. He was surprised to feel the clamminess of damp sweat over hard callouses. As soon as the wiper was in Behrstable's palm his hand closed around it and relief flashed across his face, thought it was gone in a flash and Taylor was again unsure if he had actually seen it.

No one had searched him coming in, which had shocked him at first. His confidence had risen when the receptionist showed him into Behrstable's office, unchecked, and told him to have a seat. He had fiddled with the Taser, the fake wiper, and his iPhone, then swiveled his head around looking for places where discreet cameras might be place. I can't let them know. I can't look excited. He was sure they were there, but like the door he hadn't made out, cleverly hidden.

Behrstable smiled down at the device his hand, stroked it gently. He sat back in his chair, placed the device on the glass desktop before him. He must have pushed a button somewhere, Taylor couldn't see it, because the door Taylor had entered through opened. The receptionist, who must have been obediently waiting on the other side of the door came in and took the wiper, left without speaking. The door closed behind her.

Behrstable smiled wide at Taylor, spread his large hands in front of him and inched forward in his seat..

“Now, what to do about you, son.“ Behrstable said, amiably, his mouth curving.

“What do you mean? Where's my brother?“ Taylor asked, a snarl rising up in his chest. Behrstable's mouth curved even more, his smile clownish. He mouthed back Taylor's words to him, tone mocking, weary, cynical. Behrstable sighed, faux weary, and said,”He's fine. But you didn't think it was going to be so easy, did you son? Tut tut.“ Taylor bristled at Behrstable calling him son and sounding so much like Dan Zachary doing it. Of course, I didn't think it would be so easy, asshole. I'm playing you whether you know it or not. As long as he kept Behrstable's attention here and not looking too hard at anything else, Taylor hoped his friends could do what needed to be done.

“Taylor. Taylor. You know too much about us! And poor William, well he has been handled a tad rougher than I'd have liked. These things go awry sometimes, even with the best of intentions.“ Taylor sat up straight in his chair, glared hard at Behrstable.

“If you hurt him, I'll...“ Taylor began surprising himself with the strength of anger in his tone.

“You'll what?“ Behrstable snapped, cutting Taylor off. His tone was not warm now, but dangerous. Feral. The transformation was terrifying. But Behrstable's face slid quickly back into its previous expression and his tone returned to kind, pleasant, and warm. Assertive and weary. “Threats will not work, son. There's nothing you can do to me.“ Blood pumping in Taylor's ears nearly drowned Behrstable out, rage bubbling up made Behrstable sound several feet away and underwater to boot. Even still Taylor thought the wisp of something else had entered the man's voice, a note of despair maybe. A familiar note of Taylor's father, who at times could be equally bleak, especially facing a dreary new week on Mondays. But like everything else Behrstable displayed out of his kind, obvious presentable image it was gone very quickly. A shadow Taylor couldn't be sure he had actually seen. Taken all together with other little cues, it loomed over his thoughts. Something is definitely not right in the head about Behrstable. I think he might be insane. Taylor wanted to believe such, hating Behrstable would be easier if he were insane.

Behrstable continued, “You see I can't have you telling people what that device can do, or even mentioning that such a device exists. I'm sure you played around with it. A boy of your talents could hardly do otherwise.“ When Taylor said nothing Behrstable nodded as if he had just gotten confirmation. “So, here are your options, son. You can agree to work with us, after all, we could use a man of your talents. It takes great skill to defeat our security and network protocols, to steal our tech from right under our noses. Looking at you it's rather hard to believe you truly capable of such, but the proof is in your presence here, right?“ The man laughed, to himself, bitterly. “Of course, we can't have you, especially working for us, without proper guidance. You'll need to wear a little device, well, not quite wear, but the installation is quite painless, I assure you.“

Taylor shivered, uncontrollably. They want to recruit me? And put one of those cochlear implants in me? There was that look on Behrstable's face again. Loss of hope. Despair. Taylor knew he would be their tool, Behrstable's tool if that implant put in. It would be little better than dying.

Behrstable grimaced. “I can see the refusal on your face, son.“ He sighed. “Think it over. Or must I so blatantly reveal your other option to you? I promise you will like it far, far less.”

Taylor had opened his mouth, hoping to stall the man, do anything he could to play along with considering the offer. But Behrstable's words snapped Taylor's mouth shut. Denial ready on his tongue was swallowed down in a gulp inside his painfully dry throat. Taylor needed to keep Behrstable occupied until the building's alarms went off. He couldn't afford to risk messing up that. But Behrstable apparently had more talking to do, so Taylor said nothing, but tried to change his expression, to seem as if he were actually considering Behrstable's offer.

“Don't try to deny it, son. I am frighteningly good at judging others. Right now, you are thinking that your government backers and your other supposed friends, are going to achieve their little mission. You're thinking the alarms will go off soon and you'll manage to get past my door, somehow manage to elude my staff and my security. Find your snot-nosed little brother and miraculously save the day by making it out of my locked-down building.“ Another bitter laugh. The man studied Taylor's face in silence for a few moments, the nodded, looked away and back. “I know I'm right, son. Perhaps I could show you something to change your mind? It was actually something of a surprise, because she assured us the NSA was unaware of our activities, that she had not involved anyone else besides herself. Of course that makes me intensely curious to know what agency is behind you. But now I have to wonder, were you part of her plan? Could she have been so careless as to have enlisted and relied on a teenager against us? Well, regardless it did not work. It will not work.“ He shook his head, in mock, affected sadness.

Behrstable lifted up a small remote control. It had been hidden from Taylor's view behind the keyboard. Sweat dripped down his back and the sides of his face, though the room was well cooled. What is happening? The man had just laid down an outline of Taylor and the others' plan and hadn't sounded as though he were guessing. He's sure. Behrstable pressed a button on the remote and a section of wall turned, revealed a large wall-mounted LED television monitor. The screen was split into two frames, in the left one, which drew Taylor's eyes first , was a bare room with a cot built into a wall, a prison issue toilet, and a small boy. His knees up were tight against his chest and his small head tucked inside his folded arms placed atop of raised knees. The boy appeared to be rocking slowly forward and back. When his head raised, as though something had gotten his attention, his face turned directly towards the camera. The view zoomed in, seemingly of its own accord, Behrstable had not done anything Taylor had seen, the man hadn't moved at all. Taylor growled when he saw the bruised face of his little brother William looking out from the monitor.

“What did you do to him?“ Taylor screamed. The rage he'd been barely holding back came streaming out. He launched himself across the desk at John Behrstable. Behrstable's motion was quick and casually off-handed. The man's back-handed slap smacked Taylor's face. He flew backwards, fell back into his seat. His face immediately throbbed.

“Sit down!“ Behrstable roared, spittle launching from the corners of his mouth. All trace of friendliness and warmth gone, replaced by an emotionless void which swept the man's features, like someone had pressed a reset button. Entered a command forcing the man to be angry and violent. Behrstable's face twisted and his hands twitched in front of him, like he was eager for more. He took several deep breaths before his face returned to its pretense of amiability. He smiled wanly, brushed his shirt smooth and exhaled strongly. “Now. Let's try and remain civil, shall we, son? You haven't seen everything I wanted to show you.“ Behrstable's hand pointed lazily towards the television on the wall.

Taylor snarled, furious, but he turned his head towards the screen and looked.

The second frame, on the right side, which he hadn't even glanced at before, drew his full attention. He didn't think he could bare to look at William's battered face on the other side again. His hands shook at the thought. A larger room filled the second frame, the shot was from a higher camera angle. Wandering around a large room gesticulating at one another, presumably shouting as well, were two familiar people. Winston and Lou. Taylor's hands shook uncontrollably now, his heart and stomach dropped. They've been captured and that means it's all over, before it's really begun.

Taylor watched the screen as someone else was thrown bodily into the room. The figure fell to its knees and was helped up by the others, turned towards the direction it had been thrown from and waved arms wildly, quivered with anger. That's Izzy! Taylor's immediate desire was to jump up and run, run towards somewhere, anywhere, do something, save Izzy. Be a hero. His cheek throbbed from Behrstable's slap, in time with that desire. He raised his hand and rubbed at it. He was no hero. He knew that. The throbbing in his cheek confirmed the knowledge, announced it, sealed it.

He sighed and pulled his hand down, looked at the floor and at his borrowed black sneakers, unwilling to look at the screen any longer, unwilling to face the reality of what it displayed. He was separated from his friends, from helping them. Separated by more than light-emitting diodes and glass, a yawning void. I'm screwed. We're screwed.

Behrstable said nothing, maybe senses Taylor's emotions. He stood up and moved around his desk, hovered over Taylor, put a hand on his shoulder. The same which had smacked Taylor on the cheek now kneaded Taylor's shoulder and collarbone lightly, patronizingly.

“This is very hard on you, son. I know that.“ Another sigh. “But you must not make it harder“ Another sigh. “The NSA. The CIA. The FBI, whomever is backing you, they aren't coming for you. You must see that now. They never were. No one sends a gaggle of kids on a mission like this, not if they expect to achieve the mission. You kids are ploy. A decoy. A set up. Collateral damage. They will accept your loss before they allow themselves to be unmasked. Not that they were absolutely sure you would fail, but they knew it was very, very unlikely you would succeed. Gambling is like that“ Another bitter laugh. “You should understand this and see that working for them is no different that it would be working for us, except with us, you will be free of doubt, your passions unbounded by any laws or foolish, tired morality. Not to mention the burden of failure. There is no failure with us.“

Taylor's ears burned as he listened. What is he talking about? NSA? FBI? CIA? Taylor's mind spun and he chewed his lip, still looking at his feet. Is it-possible Behrstable doesn't who we truly are? Is it possible Behrstable had gotten it so wrong? Does he really think we are working on behalf of the government? Taylor had heard him say such earlier, but had not dwelt upon it. Is Behrstable suggesting Alexander had put us up to this whole thing? Sent us out like lambs to the slaughter?Behrstable had said, “She.He must mean Alexander! Or does he know about Isabel and Sue-Ann? Even if he does, that doesn't make sense, they don't work for the government! What if has Alexander? Has implanted her? Taylor's thoughts spun wildly.

“I can promise safety, son. For you and your whole family, your friends as well.“ That sounded ominous, more a threat for refusal than legitimate offer to help. “It would be as if this whole sordid affair never happened. They will all be looked after as though they were my own.“ For a wonder, Behrstable sounded sincere.

“So you have a decision to make, son. I will have you escorted to a proper place for... making decisions. I will see you shortly. As one final note: don't spend too long deciding. I don't really need your permission, but if I don't get it, everyone you love is dead.“ Behrstable's voice went very low at the last, almost a whisper. His tone was still gentle and affectionate. The combination was very disturbing.

He gave Taylor's shoulder one final squeeze, and walked out of the office the same way he had entered, the door opened and closed seemingly by its own accord.

Taylor's gaze swept around the room, grazed the television and winced at the sights on it. William still cowered on his cot, but his head had returned to resting upon his arms and knees. Taylor's friends still argued. Where are Myth and Helen now? They were not supposed to come into the building, but wait outside, what will they do when things didn't go according to plan? We didn't plan for that. Their whole plan seemed like so much magical thinking now.

Taylor stood up and made his way behind Behrstable's desk, but there was nothing there, nothing except a computer and a few photos. Could they have left some hold Taylor could manipulate? Taylor moved the mouse and the monitor flashed to life. It didn't take Taylor long to figure out there was nothing much he could do from this computer, it was locked down tight. The actual CPU was under the floor, maybe not even an actual CPU at all, just a space on a server, a virtual machine, a terminal. And without a physical access port there was precious little he could do.

As if spurred by that realization, the door Taylor had used to enter the room opened. The long-faced receptionist came swaying in on her impossible high heels. She was flanked by two large, beefy men, one of whom Taylor recognized. The guard who had chased him and Winston after their visit to Staten Island. The guard who had killed the town car driver. Taylor shivered. The other guard looked similar, but it could have just been the matching outfits, sunglasses, and blank expressions. Strangely, seeing the guard brought a question to Taylor's mind. Where is the Mayor? Behrstable had not really mentioned the man at all. Could the Mayor be just a pawn? A very disturbing thought came next. What if the Mayor has been implanted? Taylor didn't have time to dwell on it.

“What are you doing?“ the woman shrieked shrilly. “Get away from there!“ She nodded to the two men, who hurried around Behrstable's large desk and grabbed Taylor. One beefy arm around each of Taylor's slim ones. He didn't bother trying to resist, in fact, he was certain it would only make matters worse. Besides his mind drifted to the Taser still snug in his back pocket.

“Take his things away from him.“ The woman said airily. She smiled a menacingly horrible smile at him. “You didn't think we were fooled did you? We don't need physical searches, foolish little boy. We have x-rays.“ She laughed cruelly as they took his Taser and iPhone. Taylor stared daggers and mouthed the word “bitch” under his breath. Her slap caught him on the cheek opposite where Behrstable had hit him. It hurt. She was quite strong. She turned her attention to the Taser. “What is this thing?“ she murmured, examining it, turning it around in her hands. Taylor's mouth visibly clamped shut and he grinned through the pain in his cheeks at her, showing teeth. She snarled and handed the Taser to the guard, the killer. The woman turned the iPhone around in her hands as well, but there was nothing on the outside to distinguish it, it's features were all discreet, even the magnetic striper was concealed.

“Take him to the 31st, Room 301.“ She looked down at Taylor and sneered, “And you can wipe what's left of that shit-smeared grin off your face, son. Because whether you want it or not, it's going to be the last smile you get to choose.“ Turning on her heels she walked away.

The guards grunted and pulled Taylor bodily after her, his feet dragging between them.

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