Love at Death's Door

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Chapter 6

The scene resembled a demented diorama. Three silhouettes, completely still, just barely illuminated in a dark hall by the series of small, dim, red lights that populated its length. Three figures, immediately identifiable by their deliberate placement in the setup, serving as decorations in a madman’s ideal vision of art. Unfortunately for Tatiana Clarke and Edward Smith, however, they were not miniatures, and the corridor that housed them was not a cute, if twisted, set piece. As the hair-raising sound of the engine whirring behind the pair reminded them, they were victims. First prisoners, now prey. Most importantly, the man that stood behind them was not a figurine, and the chainsaw he wielded was very, very real.

Tatiana was the first to break from her state of shock-induced paralysis. She spun around and got her first glance at the man who had thrust her and Edward into the nightmare they now found themselves in. Whatever she had imagined his appearance to be while in captivity, the reality was worse. His verticality eclipsed both hers and Edward’s greatly, and his mass made it seem as though he could effortlessly heave twenty of each of them upon his massive shoulders. His features were hidden, ominously tucked away behind a bloodstained, burlap sack mask. The remainder of his body was covered by dark, navy coveralls that were also dotted with dried blood. His ensemble was completed by massive, black boots.

Tatiana and the Haysfield Butcher linked gazes, distress in her big, brown eyes, and an unknowable, soul-piercing stare emanating from the duo of black vortexes where eyes would be upon his tan, stitched mask. She grabbed frantically at Edward’s arm, attempting to break him from his trance brought upon by the sound of the chainsaw’s engine.

“Edward...”

“Tatiana...?” the ragged businessman replied. His breathing was heavy and sweat dripped furiously down into the tie that was till wrapped around his forehead.

“Are you with me again?”

“Yeah, I-I think so.”

The Butcher revved the chainsaw twice, its engine roaring loudly and echoing across the narrow hallway. Without a trace of difficulty, he hoisted the chainsaw above his head with the pair of catcher’s mitts he called hands.

“RUN!” Tatiana screamed.

At once, the duo sprang into motion, beginning a frantic sprint forward into the crimson corridor. The Butcher revved the chainsaw once more and started after Tatiana and Edward. His massive size resulting in a slower stride, but also ensuring that fewer steps carried him farther with less effort than his prey.

Neither Edward nor Tatiana was dramatically faster on their feet than the Butcher, but Tatiana easily kept a good distance ahead of Edward. It was no surprise to her. After all, she was used to being on her feet all day while he spent most of his time in office chairs.

“Edward, run faster!” Tatiana shouted; her voice wracked with panic. Edward could only respond in screams that were drowned out by the deafening sounds of the Butcher’s chainsaw. His pace did quicken, however, but not enough to gain any meaningful headway.

The Butcher swung the tool-turned-weapon with ease, just barely avoiding piercing Edward’s back repeatedly by mere inches. Every time he missed a swing, the blade collided with the wall, creating a loud, scathing clang that made his prey yelp and nearly leave their feet from the force of their winces.

We can’t keep this up, Tatiana thought. The hall had to end at some point, and a dead end or just one stumble would mean certain death. Her eyes scanned the walls for anything useful as they quickly passed her by. Even with the pitiful lighting, she took note of the cameras jutting out everywhere, surely capturing everything. Doors with windows lined the corridor every few feet, and at her pace, she could only manage brief glances into each room. Shapes of blades, bear-traps, and other potential objects of torture haunted her vision through several panes of glass. Soon, a corner came into view, one that was leading directly into an L-shaped hall.

“Edward, get ready to turn!” Tatiana called. She glanced back over her shoulder to confirm that he had heard her. The last thing she wanted was for him to notice the corner too late and lose enough speed to give the Butcher the opening he needed. However, the momentary lapse in concentration cost Tatiana her balance. Cursing her uncharacteristic clumsiness, her legs tangled together, and she crumpled to the floor in a heap.

Edward’s momentum was too intense to stop immediately, and he was only able to halt his forward motion a full foot in front of the fallen woman. “No!” he yelled; the words left his throat automatically.

The Butcher, who had been a few steps behind Tatiana already, was able to come to a stop right over her. He revved the chainsaw and hoisted it into the air, preparing to swing its sharp form down on his collapsed victim.

At that moment, Edward could feel another burst of adrenaline release itself into his body. Time seemed to slow down for him, and it felt as though he could see everything. Down on the floor, Tatiana was looking up at him, her eyes like saucers, glassy and bright, but empty. Above her, the Butcher stood like an obelisk, chainsaw held straight above his form, ready to swing down and puncture the woman with a perfect, horizontal slice.

For reasons unknown to the businessman himself, Edward recalled his argument with Tatiana over their appearances, and his body began to move on its own. He yanked his sweaty and slightly waterlogged jacket from his torso and tossed it with pinpoint precision onto the Butcher’s face, blinding and causing the giant man to stumble back a bit. He then knelt, pulled Tatiana to her feet, and pushed her to continue running.

The duo rounded the corner and, amidst a new hall lined with several more doors, the brunette yanked Edward into one of the rooms to her right. Both hit the floor immediately, gasping for air as if they had come up from being submerged underwater. They could hear the Butcher finally round the corner and stop for a moment. He growled furiously and audibly stomped up the hall, peeking inside each door’s window. He had passed the room that the pair took shelter in, but not leaving anything to chance, Tatiana rose unsteadily to her feet, grabbing hold of a heavy tan cart, and pushing it in front of the door to ensure at least temporary solace as she collapsed to the floor again.

They were safe—for now.

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