Chapter Thirty One
WARNING: THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS VIOLENCE
It took us about two hours to find the place, using a map; I even started wondering if that place is actually in the states. What if those Vikings are trying to trick us again, just like they did with the Phoenix?
But after we gathered together, searched together, we finally found the wilderness the girls saw in the vision. Texas.
As we drove all this time to reach our destination, I couldn’t stop thinking about Beverly. Avery. God, I really wanted to be wrong. But as time goes, we get more and more proofs that those girls are actually related. Even though their connection is strong, and they both trust each other; I wished that this wasn’t true. Beverly’s life wasn’t made out of rose petals, and with each day she finds out more and more about how people were lying to her.
She doesn’t deserve this. What she deserves, is pure happiness. Peace in her life. I know I’m a part of hurricanes that doesn’t let her be happy; but I also know, that I’m the only one that can change that.
I stop the car when the only thing I can see is an abandoned church, one wall missing, standing in front of me like a beaten down soldier that stood to fight until its last breath. The desert is covered in rolling hills. Wind stirs up the wispy sand and the sun’s never ending rays beat down every living thing mercilessly. No other cars, no other people are in here. Just us.
Like the world didn’t even know this place exists.
With no other words, I hop out of the car; and so do the others. The stiff, dry desert breeze blows sand into my eyes and makes my hair stiff with salt. In an instant, my tongue feels as if it’s coated in fur and my lips begin to get chapped and dry. The feeling of longing for crystal, cold water fills up my throat, as if I hadn’t got a drink in days.
“God, it’s hot in here.”
Brent frowns, bringing his nose to his inner elbow to avoid sand making his breathing harder.
“Is that the place you saw in the vision?”
Beverly turns away and looks at Avery, as if they were silently agreeing what answer they should give to me. When she turns back to me, she nods; but her eyes are immobile as she was trying to convince me she was telling the truth.
About the old, nameless church.
We tried to find out something about it; it has no name, nothing about it that would give us more answers. The only thing that we could find out is that it was built by local citizens on year 1804 with a purpose to hide a secret sect, the followers of the Devil, who were brutally sacrificing young women and children. And since the members of the sect were killed, the church stands here alone, and abandoned.
But one thing just doesn’t seem right. The Vikings existed long time ago before the church was built; and if their treasure is actually here, the only logical answer is that their descendants built it to mark the place of a hidden treasure. So the girls could find it.
More precisely, Avery and Beverly.
But who knows, now. After all this time, all we can do is guess.
I take a look at Aaron, who’s holding the huge copper boiler in his hands, that we found in Caden’s place; like Beverly told me, I will make it more dramatic. After all, Aaron is the one who is the luckiest that we won this fight; he’s not able to hide the excitement in his face after gathering all the venomous weapons.
“Let’s go. The sooner we end this, the sooner we leave this damned place.”
I wait until others nod before heading straight to the church, Brent, carrying aden’s still unconscious body on his shoulder. As we get closer to the scariest place I’ve ever seen in my life, I notice the heavy broken oak doors; I wasn’t surprised if this place was used to make deals between criminals.
Hell, I wasn’t even surprised if it’s ghosted.
As I kick the oak doors to enter the place, it falls down on the floor, echoing around the empty church. The sunlight breaks through the heavily cracked stained-glass windows, casting an eerie glow onto the dusty alter. Thick cobwebs hang on every surface and my footsteps, when I enter the place with everyone following me, sound deafening on the cold stone floor.
I feel how Beverly’s fingers intertwine with mine; icy, as strange as it is while being at this hot as hell place. Her stare at the old dusty altar isn’t intentionally cold; her face somehow lacks the mobility she usually has. Her eyes rest on a point, and she stays like that a little longer than the resting person would.
And I immediately notice why. There are no other doors. At least not the ones that would lead to the basement.
“God, this place is…”
Beverly’s fingers tighten around mine as we take a step deeper into the dark, hot church. A place where even the very Devil would not be pleased to be at. Looking around at all the dust, cobwebs, gathered on the old wooden benches, searching for the entrance, I see nothing at all, as much as I want to see. Another doubt. Another disappointment.
“Are you sure this is the right place? Maybe you saw a door, or something…”
“I know it’s the right place. I haven’t seen the entrance, but I know it’s under this church.”
Avery’s voice, coming from behind me, makes me turn around and actually look at her. The face, full of concern and sadness. Her pursed lips. Her pale skin. Her furrowed eyebrows, but not in the way an angry person would look. It’s more like worry, fear; this moment, however it will end, is one of the most important for her.
I allow myself to touch one of the long, huge, heavy wooden benches; with my whole body weight, I rest onto it, until the uncomfortable silence is changed with a squeaking sound. There’s no surprise that the old wooden piece of so-called furniture squeaks, just the only thing… it squeaked so damn loud.
“Kai… did you hear that?”
No one is caring about keeping the silence in these creepy surroundings when Brent throws Caden on the dusty stone floor, and with his heavy, loud footsteps, quickly walks towards me. He places his palm, as huge as a bear’s, on the wooden bench; trying to move it only using his fingers. It doesn’t move, just keeps squeaking.
“Well, of course it’s empty.”
“No, there is emptiness under the bench. An empty space.”
Brent draws his eyes to me as we lock our gazes; I finally realise how I love that look of his. The little hellish smile, almost unnoticeable, playing on his lips. His eyes, glistening like rays of sunlight from those heavily cracked windows. The signs on his face; that we found what we were looking for.
“Someone was really clever with hiding this treasure. Come on, guys, let’s move this motherfùcker.”
In an instant, Kevin, Daryl and Aaron come running to us and taking the sides of the heavy bench in their hands. Before landing my hands on it, I take a look at Daryl, who seems to be too calm for the things that we are doing, the place that we’re at; but after all, I remember his words. He doesn’t care about the treasure. He cares about getting revenge for his daughter.
“Fùck, this is disgusting.”
“Don’t be such a pùssy, Aaron.”
Aaron frowns at Brent and grasps the bench. I take a last look at all of them, at their hands, which are holding the bench tightly.
Ten masculine hands start to lift the bench up, all of our muscles get tense. They burn, hurt, in the same pain that you feel after a good workout. The squeaking sound gets louder with every moment, but the piece of rotten furniture isn’t willing to move; it’s tightened to the ground.
Until Brent, the biggest, strongest man of us all, gives as much strength as he can, his face turns red in an instant from pulling the bench as hard as he can. The bench keeps squeaking in a prolonged sound, until it breaks. Just in the middle, into lots of boards, which fall into the squared hole that was hidden under it.
The dust rises into the air and I can’t stop myself from coughing; closing my eyes, covering my face with a palm when my throat, and lungs seem to burn.
When I open my eyes again, the sound of boards falling finally ended, leaving us in complete silence, only dust dancing around us. Kevin holds his flashlight, pointed straight down to the hole, intently watching the inside of it.
“Damn, it’s dirty in there.”
“Is it deep down?”
“I think we will need a rope. A long one, actually.”
I take a glance at the same hole in front of me. It’s not big; only one person can fit in it. No stairs, no ladders. But the only good thing I can think about is that we took everything we might need. A rope, a chair. Chains. Pliers. Gasoline. And of course… knives.
The same ones we found in Caden’s place; all soaked in snake’s venom.
After about ten more minutes, taking everything that we will need; and one by one, climbing down the thick rope that was tightened around the only thing that seemed to be strong in this place - a column, made out of the same stone as the floor - we find ourselves in even a darker place, all made out of soil. The ground, the walls. And the tunnel.
Holding flashlights in our hands, we take a step forward. Our footsteps has a stable rhythm in them, cocooned in the body of the earth, feeling the rocks beneath our feet. In the darkness I feel my blood return to a uncomfortable warmth, almost like it was boiling; my eyes as running around as they are in my worst nightmares.
No one says another word as we keep walking. Until something in front of us starts to flicker in bright yellow colour, like it was awake from the flashlight.
“Oh my God…”
Our footsteps get faster until we found ourselves standing in the middle of something that you could call a room. And my breath gets heavier; not because of the lack of oxygen, but honestly, because I never saw something like that before.
“That’s… fucking incredible.”
The place is huge, a size of a hall. And all sparkling with gold. Uncountable number of coins, in messy piles, vases, sculptures. For a moment, I can’t believe what I see. Like I was watching a fantasy movie, a genre that I never enjoyed. Yet this is reality.
And I can’t let this beauty and temptation of gold blind me. I know what we came here for. And we can’t waste anymore time.
“Guys, tie him up. We need to start.”
Kevin places the chair just in front of me, as I look somewhere into the depth, somewhere above the piles of gold; which is soon going to be soaked in blood. Getting my next moves planned. Morally preparing for my next, but probably, not the last torture.
Brent carries Caden on his shoulder before placing him in the sitting position onto the dark wooden chair. Taking duct tape off his wrists and ankles, replacing them with chains, tied against the chair.
“Take it off his face, too.”
Brent gives me a serious, almost angry glance; and I know how much he wants him to suffer, and at the same time, he’s not able to control his anger. And this time, we’re all going to take a bite of this snake.
When Brent takes a step back, I notice Lexi, drinking water from the bottle. With her eyes closed, enjoying the crystal clear liquid going down her throat, refreshing her in this unbearable heat.
“Could I get a sip?”
From the way she looks at me - eyes narrowed my way, lips pursed in a serious face expression, I know she’s not happy about my request, that she was interrupted while enjoying her drink; but she hands me the bottle, anyway.
“Don’t drink too much.”
I draw the tip of the bottle to my lips as they part; the chilly liquid inside it already gives me a feeling of freshness while being in my hand. But as soon as my eyes land on Caden, all the thirst leaves my body; and I throw the water onto his face.
“Sorry. I’ll give you a new one, when we will get back to the car.”
Without taking a needed sip, I hand the half empty bottle back to frowning Lexi. Still keeping my eyes on Caden, who slowly, starts to wake up. His eyes, slowly blinking, before he takes the dim light in; his face, all stained with blood, and a funny looking broken nose. As soon as he’s conscious enough to see the surroundings, he starts looking at the place. At the gold, all the way around him. His eyes widen. And my heart starts beating faster.
“Good morning, sleeping beauty.”
Just then, his eyes notice the chains around his wrists. He tries to move them, pull the chains off; but fails. And I feel the smile creeping on my face, I can’t make myself look serious on moments like these. When I see my enemies hopeless, and also, scared.
“You can call me your fairy grandmother, now. Isn’t this the place you were searching for your whole life?”
His wide open eyes, suddenly locked on me, reflect everything and see nothing. Behind them there’s something more intense than normal, and his clenched jaw is only a sign of anger. And from what I know, only one feeling can cause that anger, and rage. It’s fear.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“Giving you everything that you wished for. Go on, take it! It’s all yours!”
He starts moving in the chair, trying to break out; his eyes, full of tenseness he isn’t even trying to mask, the whites in his eyes turn a pure black. I love when they fight. And also… when they lose.
“Oh, right. You can’t.”
“Let me go, you piece of shit!”
“Was it worth it, Caden? Was it worth to torture two innocent girls for a decade, to get into this place?”
What Daryl was right about, is that Caden isn’t stupid. He knows what’s coming for him, and he knows there’s no thing he could offer to me that I would let him go. He takes a look at Avery and Maileen, his eyes, black, red in anger, in the way that he might explode himself for clenching his jaw too hard, his veins, popped out on his forehead.
“Every. Single. Moment.”
“Shut him up. Just please, shut him up.”
I see tears in Avery’s eyes; I feel the pain, for all those years that were taken away from her. Adolescence. Graduation. College. And the first chance with Brent. Only because she was the key to find this place. If only we knew she needs to be protected…
“Aaron, could you give me some duct tape?”
“Actually, I forgot it in the car. But it’s so fùcking hot in here, isn’t it? Mind if I take my socks off?”
As I turn back to look at him, I see his foot are out of his shoes already, and his white socks, with stains of blood after the fight. Lexi covers her nostrils with her fingers, her eyebrows, furrowed into a frown.
“Fuck, they stink, Aaron.”
Aaron sends a wink to Lexi before walking towards Caden and forcefully shoving the dirty sock into his mouth.
“Enjoy your meal.”
I can’t control myself anymore before bursting out with laughter. Caden tries to spit the sock out of his mouth while the place fills up with laughter, not as genuine as it would be after joking with friends; it’s mean, sarcastic, the right hint of cruelty this moment needs.
“Let’s get this party started, shall we?”
I quickly head to the bag with knives, taking the prettiest, shiniest one of them. The knife is a dual blade with a hardwood handle. Everything about it is precise. Every line, smooth, but sharp. I turn it over in my hands, feeling the weight of it. My face lifts from a frown to neutral - the greatest smile I’ve worn since my very last play. Leonardo.
This knife immediately got my attention when I saw it in one of lifeless Caden’s men’s hand. In an instant, I knew - I’m keeping it. But only after I use it for a little test.
“Do you recognise this one?”
As I head back to Caden, his eyes immediately widen. Oh, yes. This one is definitely soaked in venom. I carefully turn it around my fingers, admiring its beauty, but being as careful as I can not to get cut with a sharp blade.
After spinning it a few times in front of his face, I stop the knife just between his eyes, gripping on its hardwood handle tightly. Five inches of cold steel, giving me a feeling that the knife had been murderous even when it was made.
“It’s funny, isn’t it? Now I’m using your tactics against you.”
I let out a giggle when a tip of a sharp knife touches the smooth skin on his forehead. Just in the middle of it, and his eyes already close in pain. I give just a little pressure to it, to let it go deeper into his skin; before turning to the side and taking a look at Beverly. Her immobile, serious face. But from the look in her eyes, I know she’s feeling nothing but pleasure. Our enemies got to pay.
By her right, there’s Aaron, already making fire using a propane torch underneath the boiler that he’s holding. Oh, Caden. You have no idea what we’re going to do to you.
The moment I turn back to Caden, the tip of the knife starts to slowly slide down to his nose. Warm blood gushes out of the exposed wound, flowing down his face, even, into his eyes. He screams; he tries to, but the sock in his mouth doesn’t allow him to. And I continue. As the flesh keeps splitting, mild crimson liquid pops from the barrier and seeps away from the wound. Still, it drips silently, but it’s one of the most pleasant things for me to see.
As I reach his upper lip, I move the knife away with the fast wave, and his cupid’s bow splits; thick beads crawl down, as brisk as it travels etching red streaks that in moments, turn the white sock into a bloody red. Caden’s eyes are suddenly more wild than a deer caught in a trap, and there’s nothing beautiful about him anymore. He screams with all if his lungs, probably, still having hope that someone will hear him.
“Phew, you actually feel the pain. And I was worried, that you don’t.”
When I straighten myself, a loud sound of Aaron, taking a bunch of coins of gold into his hands, makes me turn to him. His eyes just sparkle, looking at all the treasure that would probably make us each a billionaire; before he looks at me.
“We should keep this.”
“We’re not here for the gold, Aaron.”
He rolls his eyes, but doesn’t argue, turning back to the already hot boiler and placing all the gold inside it, with an echoing sound; taking a knife after, and moving the coins while they slowly melt.
Caden’s eyes widen in a way that it seems like the apples of his eyes are going to fall out, when he sees what’s going on in here. But I’m not the one who will allow him to rest, or think in here.
With a quick wave of my right hand, the blade reaches his left wrist, and with all the weight and force of my body, I make it cut through all the muscles and the bone. The wrist got separated from his body, and fell on the dirty ground; the blood flows out of the limp of his body and splatters onto the floor. It flows into every crack, still dripping from his wrist, when I turn to his other hand; and repeat my move.
The scream he lets out is louder than I thought could be, and it seems like the walls of Earth are starting to shiver. His face, the same color as the liquid flowing from his limbs, when I lean closer to him and silently, calmly, talk to him.
“This is what you get for touching Avery. She might not have been, she may not be my best friend.”
I turn around to see Avery’s, and Maileen’s scared eyes. All full of tears, and disgust. But after my words, I see Avery’s face soften. And the truth is, I’m genuinely doing it for her. Maybe I haven’t thought about that before, but now I know.
“But she’s a part of my family.”