Chapter 33 – Rick
The basement reminded me of a scene from some gorey movie. A single bare bulb hung from the center of the room and served as the only illumination in that vile place. There were large wooden tables covered with sharp and horrific instruments. I held back bile in my throat when I noticed that one of the tables was occupied. It was difficult to ruly call the bloody red form as human despite its shape, as all skin had been removed from its flesh.
Limbs were piled upon another table, but there were far too many to belong solely to the flayed individual on the slab. The entire room smelled of blood and offal. The scent was stronger than it had been in that diner so long ago, but it still dregged up those terrible memories. Puddles of blood cooled and coagulated on the floor. I heard the drip of blood as it plinked against the concrete floor. Across the room, a small beam of sunlight poked through a hole in a cellar door atop another stairwell.
Across the room, Rick hung limply from chains embedded in the ceiling. He bled from multiple wounds across his chest and arms. His breathing came out loud and ragged, clearly straining against pain and gravity for each gasping breath. Elizabeth stood before him wearing little more than a leather bikini and bloodstains. Fortunately, she seemed too focused on Rick to have noticed us. She clutched a long and gruesome blade which dripped Rick’s blood from its tip and giggled lightly to herself in twisted amusement. I didn’t even want to consider what se had been doing to Rick or what she planned to do next.
I felt more than heard Bobbi kneel down on the stairs beside me. I didn’t even glance back. I kept my attention focused on Rick. His head lolled in pain and his eyes seemed unfocused and swept the room aimlessly. I had no real idea how long he had been subjected to this torture, could have been minutes or it could have been the hours since we last saw him. We were lucky he was still alive. I had a hunch that he would’ve been in no true danger until Alexander returned. He seemed the kind of man who preferred to take an active role in his ‘games,’ and this seemed exactly the fun a cannibal sex fiend would appreciate.
As I watched, Rick’s eyes lingered on mine. For a moment, I feared he was too delirious to recognize me, but then I saw his expression start to change. Hope ignited behind those eyes for the briefest moment. I shook my head desperately and held a finger to my lips. We couldn’t afford Elizabeth realizing we were here, not yet. Fortunately, he took the hint and looked away and ignored our corner of the basement.
I reached back and tapped Bobbi on the knee. A moment later, I felt her hand land lightly on my back. Assured that she was paying attention, I waved a hand down towards the base of the stairs and then pointed first to her then to the left side of the room. Finally, I pointed at Elizabeth and made a fist and softly pushed it into my other hand. Hopefully, my meaning was clear. Her hand traced its way up my back and lightly squeezed my shoulder, telling me she understood. With a nod, we started to move.
We stood silently, barely even making eye contact. The bags were left on the stairs, within arm’s reach of the floor. We moved silently down those concrete steps, Bobbi going left as I went right. With no need for words, we each quietly grabbed one of the fearsome implements from the tables as we passed. Rick chose the moment we moved to moan loudly and covering the slight sound of our movement. Elizabeth seemed none the wiser. I intended to keep it that way.
As we crept closer to our target, I began to wonder whether this plan would work. Could we take her out quickly enough? Would she be out long enough? Would we have enough time to escape? I silently prayed to that same neglectful and nameless god that this would play out well. If it didn’t this time… Well, we hadn’t yet seen such a dire situation.
Finally, Bobbi and I approached Elizabeth from opposite sides. In the final moment before we struck, she finally seemed to notice our presence. She turned swiftly with a shocked expression. Not giving her time to utter more than a sharp “Wha-” I slammed the mallet that I had found down upon her head. In the same moment, Bobbi drove a meat hook heavily into Elizabeth’s chest. She managed a sharp squeal before passing out and falling forward to land heavily on her front. The hook was driven deeper and it almost seemed to distend the skin on her back.
My eyes wide, I turned to look at Bobbi with shock. She seemed so nonchalant nd content having just brutally stabbed another human being. I whispered sharply to her. “What the hell, Bobbi?”
“You motioned for me to take her out. So, I took her out.” Her expression was cold, but I saw the raging furnace of anger behind her eyes.
“Yeah, well, you went a little overboard here.” I shot her a glare and dropped to my knees, turning the redheaded woman over. She was quickly developing a bruise on her forehead, but that was the least of her worries. Judging from the placement of the hook, I would’ve been surprised if she didn’t have a pierced lung. I shot another glance at Bobbi. “Get him down, quickly.”
While the pink-haired woman quietly obeyed, I felt her annoyed glare on my back. I didn’t care. I carefully and gently removed the hook, trying my best to avoid aggravating the wound. The instant the hook was free, the blood gushed wildly. I tore a large piece of my shirt off and wrapped it around the wound tightly. Bolstered by grim defiance, I pushed down on the wound with my hands and managed to stem the tied of blood. I assured myself that she would live, but the blood loss would keep her down for at least a few hours. As I applied pressure, I felt the wound shrinking beneath the makeshift bandage, but that was impossible…
I didn’t have time to dwell on that thought. I stood up just in time to help Bobbi catch Rick as his chains finally gave way and he tumbled forward. He grinned dumbly, still dazed and confused, and managed to mumble, “’Bout time. Was wonderin’ when you were planning to join the par’y…” Then he lost consciousness and went limp.
I cursed softly as he became dead weight. I knew time grew short and it would take no small amount of luck for us to escape, even under the best of circumstances. With Rick unconscious, our chances now approached zero. We were in trouble, and I didn’t know what to do. In desperation, I nodded for Bobbi to help lower him to the ground. If nothing else, I reasoned, I could inspect his wounds and try to figure out what had been done to him.
Once on the floor, I looked him over and found little more than superficial cuts. There were deeper cuts, likely caused by that woman’s knife before we intervened, but they were remarkably few. Instead, I was shocked by the sheer number of smaller cuts. It seemed as if he had wandered through the path of a sand blaster, his cuts were so numerous. It would take more cloth than we had to cover even half the wounds, but they were fortunately shallow enough to not need them. I slowly ran my hand over the bulk of them, double checking their depth and severity, hoping that we would have a chance to check him over more thoroughly.
I had just stood up, planning to ask Bobbi to grab the packs and to help move Rick. Even if carrying him slowed us down and left us exposed, anywhere would be safer than staying right there. At least, that was my working theory. Before I could utter a word however, I was interrupted with terrible crashing sound.