Prologue: Sympathy for the Devil

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"You will never understand how it feels to live your life with no meaning or control and with nowhere left to go. You are amazed that they exist, and they burn so bright whilst you can only wonder why." --- "Common People"

Prologue: Sympathy for the Devil

I saw it. I saw all of it. I could have stopped it, but I didn't. Instead, I helped make it happen.

My hands are sore from the weight of their wrists, dragging their limp and lifeless bodies across the tile floor. There was no blood, for which I felt fortunate; that would be more mess for me to clean. The blasts cauterize the wounds they inflict immediately, making it very hard for a person to die of blood loss. But if the blast hits hard enough, from a close enough distance, it doesn't matter. A stopped heart is so hard to fix.

I've tried.

But their hearts aren't stopped. They're still alive. I can hear them, day after day, screaming out in pain, both physical and mental. It's truly astounding, the amount of ways there are to torture a soul. I've heard people begging for death more times than I can accurately count. The men whose near-corpses I'd dragged to their doom are strong, however; they've lasted so much longer than anyone else who has been taken prisoner. They certainly have lasted longer than I myself likely could.

But I'm not a prisoner. I'm wandering this glass building that houses nothing but suffering of my own free will. I snuck in. It was my choice. I volunteered. But I didn't volunteer for this.

I'm pacing out back where hopefully no one is going to see me. The mask I'm wearing is almost suffocating in the heat outside the building. I can take it off, but I know that I'll be shot on sight if I'm caught. Right now I have more important things to be doing than constantly looking over my shoulder, checking to make sure nobody's watching.

The all-white outfit is nearly blinding in the sunlight. The white gun hangs heavily at my side. This is not what I would have chosen as a disguise, but I had no other choice. Anything less than this would reveal my true identity for sure. Hopefully standing outside this building won't attract any attention; I'm fairly certain they go on patrol, or at least guard the grounds.

I'm trying to escape the screaming, but it's so hard to. They keep the windows open, the sadistic little shits, so that everyone around Battery City can hear the sounds of torture and be warned against acting out.

I'm so sorry. It's my fault you're in this mess right now.

I adjust the mask over my face and turn back toward the door I'd come out of. There is no one around, so I don't bother sneaking my way back inside the building. The air conditioning is a welcome sensation, instantly cooling the sweat on my face. I try to relax but can't; the screams of pain are echoing from down the hall. They never end. The souls inside are put through constant hours of torture. I can't understand how they don't go insane from it all. Maybe my willpower is too weak; my body and mind wouldn't be able to endure for so long.

I find myself walking down the hall, trying to keep my back stick-straight so as not to draw attention to myself. I am almost positive I'm shorter than the average one, but then again, I don't think they care about height. They'll kidnap whoever they can get their hands on and shove a mask over their head. I just have the added bonus of not being brainwashed. Not entirely, anyway.

A security card is needed to get inside. Here the screams are louder, three voices ringing out in cries of agony and terror. One never makes a sound. Maybe they've already killed him. That would be my fault, too.

My white gun weighs heavily in my pocket to match the sense of dread in my heart. I caused this. I caused their pain, and here I am, standing on the outside, listening but not acting. If anyone knew, they would hate me. But I did what I had to do. And it's not like I plan on just leaving them here.

I lay my palm against the metal door. There is no window to look into the room from, and I suppose I'm grateful for that. I'd rather not see what they look like right now. The guilt would only continue to get worse. I'm not here to feel guilty. I'm here to get shit done, regardless of casualties.

I can hear footsteps coming toward me. I turn away from the door, trying to act like I'd just wandered there for a whim, and walk away. Behind the mask, my eyes are narrowed into a glare and my mouth is set into a scowl.

Don't you worry, boys. I'll get you out of here soon.

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