Winter made his way through the garage to the car he was taking trying to force himself to focus on finding Princesses but his mind was filling up with images of Keys lying in a mess on the floor, what happened the last time he tried to drive, his Beloved and the blurred vision of her being attacked by Thomas. Cold shivers pulsed out across his back all the way down his body to the tips of his fingers and his toes. He climbed into the driver seat of the car and took another couple of pain killers, and checked Keys’ phone. After a few minutes searching the only thing that struck him is interesting was a number of phone calls to and from the same number, but it hadn’t been saved as a contact in the phone. It was a weak lead and Winter knew it, he stared at the phone and his mind seemed to mist over, suddenly he felt totally unsure of what or why he was doing what he was doing. Was it the right thing? Was he really justified in any of it? Did he really know what he was doing or was he just running around blind stamping his feel like a child screaming ‘not fair’? All these thoughts rushed through Winter’s mind at once, crimpling his ability to act, he just sat there staring at the phone. Suddenly he shook his head violently to try wake himself up and focus and wondered how many days it had been since he ran out of pills, and how much extra time had the last few pills given him. Despite the pain killers Winter could still feel the sharp pain of his broken ribs. Winter looked down at the phone and realised that one things was for sure, he couldn’t help Princess in the state he was in, he needed to sort himself out first, or at least try. Otherwise the best he could hope to do was arrive and die in front of her, taking what hope she might still have with him. He put the keys into the ignition and eased the car out of the garage. Only barley able to remember how he’d ended up with broken ribs in Keys office Winter was careful to maintain his driving, and although he didn’t want to spend to long actually driving he also wanted to arrive at his destination.
He pulled the car into his parking spot outside his apartment and stared at the building. It looked the same, no police, no goons, just as it always had. As he stared at the building his focus moved to his hands and he realised that he was still covered in blood. He frowned, took a deep breath and got out the car. As he walked through the building to his door he realised the only thing that was different was that, even though his door was closed the lock was still broken. Winter took a few cautious steps inside and looked around. His place looked slightly ransacked but not totally destroyed, and it appeared to be abandoned. A new question bubbled up in his mind, like a separate voice in his head, was it possible that his paranoia was making him make things harder for himself? Was it all just another aspect of the withdraws from his pills. For a moment the questions threatened to once again take over his mind but Winter was quick to try shake them off and force himself into action. He walked across the room and grabbed his couch and dragged it in front of the door. He may be paranoid but the last time he was there he was attacked. Once the door was secured Winter burst into life and started frantically searching his apartment for pills. He pulled all the cushions off the couch, ripped everything out of the kitchen cupboards, pulled the bin out onto the floor, desperately trying to remember when he could have kept some hidden, but nothing was turning up and his ferocity was getting worse. As he pulled down everything in the bathroom his hands began to shake and he fought to keep his vision from blurring,
“There has to be some! There must be some! AAAHHHHH!
Winter started punching and kicking at the walls, then run into the bedroom. Pulling out bedside table drawers and flipping his mattress, checking suit cases and clothes pockets, pulling out drawers, tipping them on the floor before scratching through there contents. He ripped open the final cupboard and stopped dead as the sight and smell of his Beloved clothes hit him. Winter staggered back a step and crumpled to the floor, tears streaming down his face. The world seemed to loose colour around him, the walls turned grey, the light dull and all he could think about was his Beloved lying on the bathroom floor. A sense of betrayal and abandonment erupted out of him and he leapt up and started ripping through her clothes, leaving them torn on the floor around him, up pulled the cupboard doors off their hinges and threw them across the room. Once he’d pulled everything out he tipped what was left of the actual cupboard over onto the mess of cloths with tears still streaming down his face. But through the chaos he stopped dead, and stared at a small orange pill bottle lying against the wall where the cupboard he been. Slowly and using all his strength he crouched down to pick it up and open it. Inside were ten little pills. Winter swallowed hard and as carefully as he could he tipped a couple into his other hand and swallowed them, he then closed the bottle and lay back down on the pile of destruction and closed his eyes. Waiting with guilty anticipation for the cold numbing darkness to take him either to hell or bring him back to life. Cold prinked over Winter despite the sweat that had started beading up on his forehead. The discovery of the pills had managed to stop his crying but he still felt so alone, and so betrayed by the woman he loved. She danced around in his mind, in a blue dress, the rain slowly washing the colours out of her face until she was a dancing corpse twirling her way towards him. Winter tried to move to run away but he felt as though he was swimming though oil, having to fight to move any part of his body. Before he knew it she was right up against him, staring at him through her misty dead eyes. He tried to scream but nothing came out, he tried to look away but everywhere he turned she was there staring at him. His eyes started to ring with the sound of her voice at screaming frantically,
“Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!”
Over and over again, and the harder he tried to look away of move the harder to felt. Until he was convinced that she was lying on top of him, holding him down forcing his eyes open to stare at her. Finally he managed to find his voice and began screaming at the top of his lungs. She leaned forward and killed him, breaking the spell slightly and he shoved her off him and sat up, his eyes wide open. He quickly scanned the room looking for his Beloved but all he saw was the destruction of his apartment. He rubbed at his ribs and pushed himself to his feet. He walked into the kitchen and realised that he’d been there for almost seven hours. He dug in his pocket and took another two pills, then rummaged through his cloths to find something that wasn’t destroyed. From there he wandered into the bathroom to shower before getting changed. He’d pulled all the food from the cupboards and fridge out onto the floor so he knew he couldn’t eat any of it. He moved the couch from in front of the door, opened a small panel in the floor and pulled out a small wad of cash. He had several little hiding holes like that set up in his flat, but most of them were now under food or clothes, or debris. His mind was calm, cold and felt distant from his body. Winter pulled Keys phone from his pocket and dialled the unsaved number.
“Junior what did I say about calling me? Are you really so stupid.”
Winter narrowed his eyes, and tried to picture what the other man might look like.
“Where is Princess?”
“Oh, it’s you.”
There was a moment of silence from the other side of the phone then a slight chuckle,
“It’s a pleasure to finally speak to you. My name is Michael, I believe yours is too, isn’t it?”
“Where… Is Princess?”
“So to the point, so direct, with all the focus you’d think you would have found us by now, after all you have been here before. Weren’t you paying attention when you escaped?”
Winter’s jaw tightened,
“If you’re no longer working for Keys then why are you still holding her?”
“Oh he’s still paying us, but as I’m sure you know he’s a weed of a man and I don’t care to actually deal with him anymore. That all being said, how exactly did you get his phone?”
Winter let out a low malicious laugh,
“I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for his pay cheque if I were you.”
“Curiouser and curiouser Mr. Winter, what have you done to him? I look forward to meeting you so I can tell me in person. That being said, I can’t simply give you the information, you could simply pass it onto the police and then I wouldn’t have the chance to meet you. What I can do is assure you the she will be alive until you arrive. What state she’s in however, that depends on how long it takes for you to find me, and if the police should show up, even by chance.’
Michaels voice lost all its charm and turned low and malicious,
’It won’t matter how quickly they come through the door, the hell I can put her through will leave her wishing she was dead and cursing your name, for not getting here in time.”
Winter considered the voice on the phone and decided he was being serious.
“Hide behind your game if that’s what makes you feel safe, but it won’t protect you from me.”
There was a short beep and Michael looked at his phone and smiled as it told him the call had been disconnected from the other side. He turned to Thomas,
“He’ll be here soon enough, send everyone home or kill them I don’t really care then guard the girl.”
Thomas let a thin smile spread across his face, which make Michael’s smile fade fast and he lunged forward with ridiculous speed, knocking Thomas against the wall. Michael then caught him by the hair and pulled his face down hard into his knee, breaking Thomas’s nose and leaving him stumbling to the floor. Thomas looked up at Michael through water filled eyes and shock,
“If you touch that girl, any part of that girl, I’m going to string you up as my new punching, do I make myself clear?”
Fear gripped Thomas’s heart with an ice cold hand, because he knew what that really meant. The last time Michael had said that to someone they had ended up being strung up by their arms in Michaels training room. They’d been gagged and had high nutrient IVs put in to keep them alive as long as possible, while Michael used them as a punching bag. It took the man 14 days to die.
Michael smiled, reached down and pushed Thomas’s nose back into alignment with a crack, causing Thomas to cry out.
“There’s a good boy.”
Winter walked with purpose to the car and climbed in. It was a long shot but he checked the cars for any addresses near Gates office but nothing useful came up. Winter resisted the idea of simply driving around looking for Michael’s house, but he also struggled to come up with a different plan. His mind still felt slightly foggy and fragile.
Note from Author.
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