Fighting For Hope

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TWENTY-EIGHT

HOPE

The perennially radiant sun vanquished the curtains and permeated into my room through the small cracks. A sudden feeling of urgency sank in as I reminded myself of the crucial day ahead.

Ian parked his car outside my house just minutes after I was ready with my thumb drive in my pocket. I hopped in rapidly like the deuce, yet the car did not start. Instead, he looked over in distress. It is a look I never expected to see from him.

“Are you sure you want to do this? I don’t plan to follow you in, but I am genuinely concerned for you.”

He only cared because his daughter had a personality like mine. Perhaps he was apprehensive for me, but the moment I stride into that basement that Ian had been apprising me about, I hold the risk of never returning. Nothing matters then.

I do respect his choice—to stay out and not put his life in danger for me. This might go calamitous, and for nothing, since I was not sure if Grayson was inside, but it was worth a try.

If I lose my life, at least I did with good intention.

“We’re here,” he announced.

I looked outside the window and honestly thought it would be wiser to have that cellar placed in the basement of his company, instead of a garage of quite a large size, with shut doors.

“There’s an underground basement in there, and some of his guys are down there too. They’re probably torturing some people he wants to kill recently. No one will hear you when you enter,” he assured me as we climbed out from inside the car. He used his fingerprint for the large metal gate to rise as an entrance.

“Good luck,” I hear him mumble before he returned to his car, and I walked inside the garage before the metal door closes. Immediately, I spot a button which to open the gate from inside.

A few chairs were lying around, along with a few rusty bicycles, dusty tools and more useless things which made the room look like a standard garage until my eyes landed on a door with the bold words ‘DO NOT ENTER’ clearly stated.

I do not even contemplate before thrusting through, revealing a dark staircase, leading downwards. Only the aureate light from the begrimed garage irradiated the stairway. The moment the door behind me slammed shut, it was dusky and noiseless, and all to guide me was a subdued light source from the ground of the basement.

I vigilantly eyed my path and made it to the bottom, instantly spotting two men who guarded the way. Though you could never be so sure, I doubt anyone else would think to come down. The guards were nugatory.

I shrugged. I have not been visiting the gymnasium lately. Additionally, they were Calvin’s men. The fight would be at least challenging.

I attacked the one on the right and caught them both by surprise. The person whose hand I grabbed and twisted had quite a stern face, with a scar that extended from below his eye to the side of his lips. The look would effortlessly startle anyone, but I had seen glares more menacing.

I had overestimated their skills. The man without the scar, who looked much thinner and older, did not strike promptly as any fighter would react. Instead, a dazed expression took over, and he viewed as I challenged his partner.

The man I fought had almost no experience and only knew the basics. He successfully removed his hand and tentatively threw a weak punch towards my right cheek. I used the advantage of him being sluggish and dodged with ease, then returned by using the heel of my palm to his throat, causing him to stumble back.

I could hear some footsteps behind my back and assumed the older man was finally taking action to help his poor friend.

Eyeing the gun in the pocket of the man I was previously attacking, I did not waste a second before diving in, grabbing the gun and kicking his left foot fiendishly, so he fell and landed on his knees frailly.

His friend stood in front of us, shaking as he pointed his gun towards me.

I used the weapon I took from my victim’s pocket and pressed it against the side of his head. It shows that he had never been in this situation as he struggled to find words while fidgeting with the gun in his hand.

I knew I was not going to shoot. I do not want to end a life. I will never kill anyone even if it were driven by extreme abhorrence. That was the difference between Calvin and me. I might want him to agonize, to bleed, but never die. No one, not even that monster, deserves that.

I just have to look hostile, and I can slide my way out.

“If you shoot him, I’ll shoot you.” The very terrifying line the thinner man came up with was turned to a deaf ear. I looked at him with a bored expression, pressing the gun harder against his partner’s head.

This was entertaining, but I had a goal in mind.

I gestured for him to put his gun down, which he smartly refused until I slowly lower mine. He must have thought there was no way else to do this. Hence, he followed my pace, and the moment his gun reached the ground, I slide mine over to hit his away.

Having the weapon quite far away, I used my elbow and exerted force to hit the head of the guy kneeling in front of me, enough for him to fall unconscious and unable to help his friend in the fight about to happen.

I launch towards the other man after one was down, not thinking before attacking as this guy had no experience at all. All delivered hits were received, and he was down within seconds.

I am aware they will tell Calvin I was here, so I must search the area for Grayson and get out expeditiously. Though my stepfather and I already have bad blood, the news stating that I know this basement exists might cause much more unwanted attention.

Still, I had no regret coming down here as Grayson could be the key to almost everything. The proof, Calvin’s future, my peace.

With the two guys down defeated, I grabbed one of their guns from the ground and accelerated my pace as I ventured deeper into the dark basement.

It was not long before an atrocious, nauseating smell hits my nose and the instinct to puke was beyond vehement. I scrunch my face in disgust, putting my hand over my mouth. I spotted another guard, alone, without a partner like the first.

I had to get rid of the gun he had since the guards relied on it the most. It might be tougher to fool just one man. With a gun in my hand, I decided to aimlessly shoot it, flinching as the deafening sound rang in my ears.

The man had his gun out in a matter of seconds, pointing it around vigilantly.

I tap on the wall gently, producing a sound that alarmed him more.

The second I saw his gun appear in front of me, with his arm stretched but face still on the other side of the wall, I speedily grabbed onto his hand and forced him to drop the gun before he could register. I dropped mine and kicked it both away, then used one of my hands to slam his head against the hard wall while my other was still securing his right hand.

He fell in a groggy state, and I kneeled him in the face to ensure he is knocked out. From the fight that just happened, jingling was heard from his pocket. I reached inside and fished out a bunch of keys and felt as if I hit a possible jackpot.

I dropped it in my pocket before continuing my search. I came across two turns, and I contemplated for a while before turning left. I did not know what to expect but figured I could go back when I took a wrong turn.

The revolting odour had gotten more overwhelming, and so had the urge to leave. Soon I came to a room without a door, revealing a pile of bodies. They were putrescent, gory and not a prepossessing sight. Some had a hole in their body, with dried blood surrounding the area. It was appalling, and I could not stand to stay.

The empty basement stretches like a hallway, beyond what an eye could see. Every two meters of a gap, there would be the same room, with a pile of people, some without organs. I realized that some of the deceased, drained bodies were old.

Most of them had their legs and hands removed from their bodies, with missing fingers or exposed flesh.

I figured if Calvin stores dead people in a basement, there is a chance there is a person with a beating heart in the same place. I turned away from the path of bodies and walked back to the way I came and took a different turn to the right.

I found cells, empty cold bars which separated a small filthy room with a simple toilet and a tremendously uncomfortable bed with chains attached to the wall beside it.

I silently looked around, furrowing my eyebrows as there were many of the same empty rooms.

The gleam of hope in my chest fell straight into my stomach, and it started to hurt. I felt worn out, longing to fall to the ground in pain like the three people I had previously defeated in a fight.

Then suddenly, a groan sounded, and I perked up with renewed hope. The feeling in stomach dissolved into nothing as I followed the voice and crossed the many prison rooms on both my left and right.

What I saw next did not destroy my hope.

There was a man, who was not Grayson but had a chain resolutely locked around his wrist. Then right beside his compartment, was another to imprison a recognized face.

Grayson laid against the wall, looking tortured and in the brink of visiting death. He had two cups of water, two pieces of bread and an apple, while the other man only had one apple on his plate.

Both had visible open wounds on exposed parts of their body, with a filthy shirt filled with holes. A satisfied smile formed on my lips as I kicked the bars to make some racket. They both jolted, distressed.

Grayson’s eyes landed on mine, and his eyes clouded with anxiety were soon replaced by curiosity and bafflement. I looked at the lock, dug out the keys and started to try unlocking it with several until it finally clicked open.

“Hope…what are you doing here?” he slurred, a reassured expression taking over his face.

I broadened my smile as a reply, feeling ecstatic to have possibly found him. I helped him to his feet, and he stumbled a little as he walked.

Then I heard from a distance, faint but fast approaching footsteps. I panicked, supporting Grayson as we exit his cell.

“Wait. Please, help him, he has been taking my punishments and giving me extra food,” Grayson told me, pointing to the friend with just one apple.

I frowned, feeling as if someone was getting closer. I could save this man, and risk an increased chance of death, or leave this man and exit promptly.

I chewed on my lip, my mind urging me to make up a decision before it was too late.

I bit back a groan and rushed to unlock the man’s cell, helping him up and outside the cell. They were slow as they trailed behind me, making my heart race faster.

We were just about to turn to the place where I slammed the head of the guard towards the wall, when a woman, this time, appears. She had a similar outfit and gun like the other guards.

Since the two guys were quite a distance behind me, and I had the space to fight, I launched forwards and stopped her from reaching into her pocket for the weapon.

I caught onto both of her hands, using force to push her down as I raise my knee to hit her face. Using this stunned reaction as an advantage, I reached into her pocket and threw the gun far away from us.

She threw a sluggish punch, which I caught with my hand and delivered a blow to her face. Her right fist was in my hand, thus leaving her with just one free hand.

She used it to swing it from the side, in hopes it could land on the side of my lower waist. But I did not give her a chance since I blocked it with my free hand, then let go of her fist to grab her other arm.

With the strength of both of my hands, I left her helpless on the floor with ease. I lifted my leg and violently kicked her in the liver.

After ensuring she would not be able to catch up to us, I gestured for the two guys, who both had a priceless expression plastered on their faces, to continue moving out.

We passed the two guards I had beaten up when I had first entered the basement. One of them was awake but was fatigued. I doubt he can climb onto his feet any time soon.

We climbed the stairs, and I felt so unbearably proficient and triumphant when I opened the door and revealed the garage.

I pressed the button for the massive door rise, and I have never been so enraptured to see the blinding sunlight.

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