VII: Hell Hath no Fury, Like a Woman Scorned

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Phoenix...

My eyes slowly opened at the sound of my father's voice.

My vision was blurry as the room spun around me, my stomach rising into my throat, threatening to release its contents onto the floor. My head felt like it had been split in two. Horrific pain pulsated within my skull, like a terrible heartbeat of agony.

Focus on your breathing.

I did as he instructed, inhaling deeply through my nose and exhaling through my mouth. Finally, after a few moments, I opened my eyes again.

Slowly, the room came into focus. The pain in my head began to wane, allowing my brain to process my current situation.

I sat on the floor, the same spot I'd fallen asleep. My feet were bound together tightly with duct tape, my hands fastened behind me. Gary was nowhere in sight, but I heard noises coming from the room adjacent from where I sat.

I noticed the mirror sitting on the opposite wall. I quickly looked myself over.

Dry blood caked my hair and forehead, running down the left side of my face. My feet were bare and I wiggled my toes, making sure I had feeling in them and that they would answer my call; they did.

I still had my pants on, no pain coming from my legs. I looked to my torso, my eyes narrowing as I realized I was down to my sports bra. It wasn't that realization that puzzled me, but the fact that someone had drawn on me.

My ribs and stomach were outlined with thick black dotted lines. An image of a pig with similar outlines around its body, descriptions of what could be made from each section, popped into my head.

"What the fuck," I whispered, my heart beating a little bit faster, panic beginning to set in like a tick, threatening to bury itself.

You will stay calm. Focus, Phoenix. Remember what I taught you.

My father's authoritative, yet nurturing voice filled my mind. I honed in on it, harnessing it like a beacon of hope, soothing my fears.

Now, what do we do first?

"Assess the situation."

Good.

I needed to get my hands free. I ran my fingers against the material that bound my hands. It was duct tape, same as what held my feet. I looked around my immediate vicinity, trying to find something I could cut it with.

When I didn't see anything that looked usable, I noticed I was sitting a few feet away from the corner of the wall. I realized it wouldn't be sharp enough to cut through the material, but there were steps that led down into another room.

A plan began to formulate in my brain.

I pulled my hands together as tightly as I could, wiggling them back and forth as I shimmied towards the stairs.

Just as I began to make some progress, the door across the room swung open.

Gary exited the room, his back was to me as he pulled a small cart. It sat too high for me to catch a glimpse of the contents, but I was sure that they had something to do with the markings on my body.

When he cleared the doorway, he moved to the side, my eyes widening in horror at the sight within the room.

A body sat naked, tied to a chair. Its dark-grey skin indicated it had been lifeless for some time. No head was visible, a stump of a neck sat vacant. The chest was opened in an upside down V shape, the ribs and organs were gone, leaving the body hollow. Small pieces of skin were intact at the hips, the only thing that appeared to connect its upper half to its lower.

I swallowed, trying to bury my fear deep within my gut.

Gary shut the door and turned. He raised an eyebrow. "You're awake? I thought I slipped enough sleeping pills in your drink that you'd be out at least a few more hours."

He had an apron on with goggles resting on his head. He rolled the cart towards me, a sadistic smile appearing on his lips.

I looked into his eyes, and a soulless man stared back at me. No resemblance of a sane human being remained within him--whether the drugs he had taken aided in that or not, I didn't care...

I just cared about killing him before he killed me.

Stay calm. Get him to talk, distract him long enough to get your hands free.

He stopped a few feet away, licking his lips as he eyed my bare stomach, "You don't have a lot of meat on you, but we can't be picky these days now, can we?"

I smiled at him. "Before I lost consciousness, did I hear one of those pussies was your brother?"

His lips twitched, but he recovered quickly, grinning at me. "Heard that did you? I thought maybe the pipe to your skull might have knocked you out instantly. You're one tough bitch."

He chuckled, and as he turned to his cart, I shimmied over towards the corner of the wall some more, continuing to wiggle my hands back and forth as I went.

He sat scissors in the sling of his right arm as he turned back around, crouching down near my feet. He gave no indication that he was aware that I'd moved a few feet along the wall.

He sighed. "If you must know, yes, Leo was my brother. And you will-"

I snorted loudly. "You should be thanking me then."

He looked as if he wanted nothing more than to grab the scissors and cut my throat, but he merely clenched his jaw. "And why is that?" he asked.

"Your buddy Chaz is the one who killed him, I didn't have anything to do with your brother's death."

He hissed. "Spit your lies all you want, it doesn't fucking matter." He stood up, going back to his cart again. "Chaz may have been an asshole, but he would never kill Leo. We were in this together. When God decided to cleanse the earth of all those unworthy scum, he left us three to mop up the remaining filth."

As he looked to the ceiling, I maneuvered myself closer to the edge of the wall. Finally feeling the corner, I positioned myself to where I could roll backwards, putting some distance between us when the right time presented itself.

I paused as I watched Gary pick up a wicked looking tool, it reminded me of something a surgeon would require to open a patient.

Looking at the blade, his voice came out deranged. "God turns a blind eye to his chosen few. Allowing me to relish in the pleasures of the human flesh."

I felt my the bottom of my palms slip through the tape.

He turned back to me again, his eyes wide with excitement. He held the knife towards me, pointing it at my chest, "I was going to put you under, make your suffering less painful-"

I finally felt my hands come free, but held my arms still, waiting for the right time to strike. I still had my legs bound; I needed to be smart.

"-but for taking my brother from me, I will make you watch as I strip the meat from your bones."

He was right above my feet.

"Anything you'd like to say?" he asked.

"Have you ever heard of Russian roulette?"

His brows furrowed. "Yes, of course I have...why?" he asked slowly.

"Then you understand how it works? There is only one bullet, each person taking a turn at pulling the trigger, attempting to defy the odds and come out still having a pulse."

"What is the fucking point?"

"The fucking point, Gary, is that you have no idea what you've done. You just sat down to play and you will be the first to pull the trigger. You want to know what happens when you play roulette with me?"

That's it, Phoenix.

He laughed, bringing the blade in front of his face. "What happens?"

"Every chamber has a round."

I leaned forward, bringing my hands around. I extended my index finger on my right hand, pointing it towards him.

"Bang."

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