Love at Death's Door

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Chapter 10

The moment was cathartic for Edward and Tatiana. After hours of brutal psychological and physical torture, the pair had finally been allowed a moment to cry and be raw with both themselves and one another. But as relieving as the brief respite was, both the man and woman knew that it couldn’t last.

“We have to get out of here,” Edward said, eyeing the tourniquet he had applied to Tatiana’s severely injured arm. “You need a doctor, that thing can’t stay on you for too long.”

“Yeah, no kidding,” Tatiana agreed. She was still speaking through a combination of intense pain from both the grisly wound itself, and the tightness of the wrap that was pinching the skin around it. “But how are we going to find the exit, anyway?”

“Actually, I realized something after we fell into the freezer before. You and I were kidnapped just a few hours ago, right? It was about seven P.M. at the time for me.”

“About eight for me,” Tatiana added.

“Right, and it’s been hours since then. So, it must be after midnight by now, probably three or four A.M., which means we couldn’t have been taken too far away from Haysfield at all.”

“Right, I mean, according to the news, all this guy’s victims keep turning up on the outskirts of town, too. Well, the ones he doesn’t keep as trophies in his freezer, I guess...”

“Exactly,” said Edward. “I think I know exactly where we are. There’s an old, derelict meat processing plant just on the outside of town. They shut it down a few years ago and moved to another location closer to the inside of town. I think this guy has been using the old plant as his own personal murder funhouse.”

“So, let me get this straight. This guy is called the ‘Haysfield Butcher’, and he’s using a meat processing plant as his hideout, and the cops haven’t put two and two together?”

“No one ever said the police were worth a damn...” Edward chuckled.

“Ain’t that the truth,” Tatiana agreed. “Anyway, good thinking. Least we know where we are now.”

“Yeah, if we get out of here, we wouldn’t be too far from the road. I’m sure we could flag someone down and get help and a ride back to town from there.”

“Sounds like a plan, but you know that bastard isn’t going to just let us walk out of here,” said Tatiana. She looked down at her wrapped stump, her expression making it clear that she would be unable to speak of the Butcher without reliving that horrific moment in the freezer ever again.

“Yeah, but he’s badly hurt,” Edward said, his lips bent upward in a smirk. He made no attempt to hide how proud of himself he was for running the Butcher through with a machete.

“Yeah, like me.”

“What’s your point?”

“My point is that if I’m still going, he’s still going. No way that asshole is going down that easily. Also, look.” Tatiana motioned to the upper corner of the room. A camera jutted from the wall, its invisible cone of sight pointing at the two. “That thing moved a second ago.”

“So, you think he’s watching us again?”

“I know he is. In fact, why take my word for it?” Tatiana slowly stood, directing her attention into the camera’s lens. “Enjoying the show, asshole?”

The crackling of a speaker gave way to deep, controlled laughter.

“Not as much as I enjoyed sawing your hand off, Tatiana,” the Butcher replied. His voice was more subdued than before, and his cadence was slow and uneven.

Tatiana grinned. Hearing the Butcher say her name made her skin crawl, but she identified something else in his voice that made her quite happy. “Yeah, about that. You sound how I feel right now.”

“I assure you; I feel fine. Fine enough to cut your head off and stick it on my mantle,” the Butcher growled.

“Oh, I bet. But let’s get real for a minute,” Tatiana paused for a second to process her own pain. “You and I have something in common right now, don’t we?”

“And what would that be, you incessant wench?”

“Oh, come on. Stop being a tough guy. You need a doctor as badly as I do, if not more. I mean, at least I had my little nurse rich boy over here to help me out. How’d you patch yourself up, trusty ol’ duct tape?”

Uncharacteristic silence followed Tatiana’s taunting.

“Whoa, I think you were bang on,” said Edward.

“Silence!” the Butcher yelled, immediately followed by a fit of intense coughing. “Make your point already, bitch!”

“We’re both going to die if we drag this out. So, either let us go, or get your ass out here and let’s have it out already.”

“What?!” Edward said, eyes wide with surprise at Tatiana’s bold challenge.

“I’m not letting you go,” said the Butcher, firmly. “But that last part? I must say, you have a way of exciting my viewers. They like the sound of that.”

“I’m amazed you have any viewers left with the way you’ve screwed up left and right,” Tatiana quipped. “But yeah, I figured they would.”

“And you know what?” the Butcher continued, “I’m done chasing you two shambling corpses around. Fight to the death it is.”

“Tatiana, what are you doing?” Edward asked, nervously.

“The smart thing,” Tatiana replied. “We don’t know what kind of toys this guy has lying around, and he has cameras everywhere. If we go poking around in the dark trying to escape, he’ll just find us on his stupid CCTV and pick us off. The only thing we have on our side is the injury you gave him. Like he said, he doesn’t want to chase us around with that gushing wound, and I can’t run forever like this. So, let’s just kill him and walk out of here instead of playing games.”

“I guess that’s true, but let’s not forget that this guy is a cold-blooded murderer. Are you sure this is the best way to go about this?”

“If you have another way, I’m listening.”

“I... Don’t,” Edward admitted.

“Then there’s nothing left to discuss,” the Butcher interrupted. “In five minutes, leave that room and go down the hall to your left. Go through the large double doors at the end of that path, and don’t arrive a single second too late or too early—or else.”

With those words, all sound ceased emitting from the speaker.

Edward fidgeted anxiously and expelled a stressed breath. “What’s with the whole five-minute thing?”

“He thinks if we get there too early, we’re gonna lie in wait and get the jump on him. If we take too long, he’ll think we tried to run for the hills. He’s just paranoid and wants the advantage, so he’s making sure he gets there first.”

“Wouldn’t that mean we’re walking into a trap?”

“Of course,” Tatiana replied. “But that was always going to be the case, no matter what approach we took to this situation. Like I said before, we just need to exploit his wound. That’s all we’ve got here.”

Edward shook his head and chuckled. “You have a way of making something so harrowing sound like no big deal. You really are the guiding light in this shitshow.”

Tatiana returned his laughter with some of her own. “Well, if you say so. I’ll take the compliment.”

To Tatiana’s surprise, the blonde silently stepped up to her and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to him, and holding her as tightly as he could without hurting her.

“Whoa, what is this for?” asked the startled woman, a bit bashfully.

“It’s a thank you, for all that you’ve done this whole time. I want you to know that no matter what happens, I’m so glad I met you.”

A woman far from acquainted with this kind of affectionate display, Tatiana’s brain stalled endlessly in unsuccessful attempts to deliver a meaningful response. She did not, however, have trouble finding words when she felt the man reaching into her pants. “What the hell?!”

“Shh!” Edward urged. “I don’t want him to see this. Take it and keep it as a secret last resort, okay?” the man whispered in her ear.

Tatiana covertly ran her hand over her left hip. Her fingers roughly traced the shape of a dagger concealed at its top by her shirt with the rest of its form slid perfectly into the spot where her pants met her waist.

“I thought you were... Never mind. Anyway, what about you?” Tatiana replied quietly, still in Edward’s embrace.

“These rooms are full of all kinds of tools and weapons. We’ll both stock up, but I want you to keep that as an insurance policy, in case he gets his hands on you, okay? Please, it’s just a feeling I have.”

“Yeah, okay. Thank you, Edward.”

“Don’t mention it,” the man said, finally releasing his grasp of Tatiana.

“By the way, I’m glad I met you, too, rich boy.”

The pair exchanged beaming smiles; their eyes interlocked. Knowing what they were about to face, Tatiana and Edward could see in each other’s eyes that they wished for this moment to last forever. But it was all or nothing now.

Tatiana took a deep breath and said, “let’s go kill this son of a bitch.”

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