This is Scott Kelly of Neurosis in his acoustic side project
The Forgiven Ghost In Me
Brett woke whacking his head into something hard just a few inches over his head. After shouting a few expletives he rubbed his forehead feeling a welt already on the rise. He could see nothing in the pitch black darkness. He reached over to turn on the light that sat on his bedside table only to have his hand whack into what he assumed, in his waking state, was the wall.
“What the hell?” he groggily asked out loud as his hands began to discover his predicament.
He could only make out that he seemed to be in a box of some kind; there were a few inches of clearance above his head and about six inches to either side of him. He could see nothing in the blackness, panic set in. He shouted to be let out as he beat his hands on the ceiling and kicked out with his legs. No real thought cut through his panicked state only the dire need to get out. Escape drove his panic while his heart beat with a ferocity bringing it near to bursting out of his chest. He kicked and screamed like a five year old thrashing on the ground in the throes of a severe temper tantrum. He knew within seconds that it was pointless but panic overwhelmed his still foggy waking mind. Rationality was still a few moments and, under normal circumstances, a couple cups of coffee away.
“Okay, get a grip Brett. This has to be just a dream. That’s it. In a minute you’ll wake up, safe and sound in your own big comfy bed. It’s just a nightmare, just a nightmare. Calm the hell down, damn it.” Brett didn’t believe what he was telling himself but he did it anyway.
Reality started to wash over him in those first few minutes. He knew this was no dream nor was it a nightmare. The sun and the truck had been the dream; this was his supreme harsh reality. He tried taking deep breaths to back his heart down from its near explosive pounding. It worked slightly but it was really not much relief at all. He was still standing tiptoe on the edge of total panic and he knew it. Then the only two important thoughts popped in his head: “How did I get here? And how do I get out?” Panic danced on the edge of his mind as he pondered this quandary.
He found quickly it was useless pondering the first question. He racked his brain but for the life of him could not remember what he had been doing before waking up in this box. It felt as though his mind had been a dry erase board which had been wiped completely clean. So no point dwelling on the “How I got here?” question the latter query became the only important one, “How do I get out?” He had no clue on that front either. Was he just in a box sitting on a table somewhere? Was he buried six feet down? Valid questions he was asking himself but did little to find a solution to his main imperative, “How do I get out?”
The panic induced tantrum didn’t last long managing to do little more than bloody his knuckles. He had a thought as he calmed down catching his breath. He rolled himself over onto his belly which took some effort in the small space he had to work with. He braced his arms as best as he could beneath his chest and brought his knees up as far as he possibly could. With every ounce of strength he could muster he pressed up into the lid of the box. He pushed with all his might yet it didn’t budge so much as a hair. He dropped down ramming up into the lid several times with nothing to show for it but a sweaty brow and a sore back. He collapsed onto his belly gasping for air utterly defeated.
“Hello, Mr. Rowland.” The deep voice seemed to come from everywhere, “By now you’ve realized there is no escape. I regret we couldn’t have met under better circumstances Mr. Rowland.”
“Who the hell are you? Just let me out!” He yelled not knowing or caring if the voice could hear him.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that Mr. Rowland. Who I am is of little consequence. You have one task Mr. Rowland, one simple task. Remain calm. That’s it. If you can manage that you will be released… in time.” The deep voice was calmly serious telling Brett Rowland nothing.
“Please just let me out! I have done nothing wrong! Why won’t you just let me out?!” Brett had to fight back tears that were threatening to begin running down his cheeks.
“We don’t care who you are or what kind of person you’ve been Mr. Rowland. Now we do have a few questions. I must insist that you answer. Refusing to answer or being dishonest will be very bad for you Mr. Rowland, do you understand?” The deep voice conveyed no emotion.
“No, I do not understand! Just let me the hell out of here!” Brett yelled.
“See you’re already failing Mr. Rowland. You must remain calm if you want out. You do want out, don’t you Mr. Rowland?” The voice was serious though sarcastic.
“Yes! Damn it!” His frustration was about to boil up again but he was able to get it under control quickly.
“Good. Now, do you have a family history of heart problems? Any heart attacks, things of that nature?” The voice was coldly clinical now.
“No.” Brett didn’t see any choice but to answer.
“Any family history of hypertension, that’s high blood pressure? Are you on medication to control your blood pressure?”
“Good. Now this is very important Mr. Rowland. Do you have any family history of mental illness of any kind?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”
“Excellent Mr. Rowland!” Expressing some emotion for the first time the voice seemed happy at this news. “That is all Mr. Rowland now all you must do is remain calm and this will all be over shortly. Oh one last question Mr. Rowland, do you get claustrophobic or have any other phobias we should know about?” The voice almost seemed excited now.
“We shall see Mr. Rowland. Now take a deep breath to slow that angry heart of yours and we’ll begin.” Brett thought for a moment that the voice was going to add a chuckle but none came.
So keep calm was all he had to do. He really didn’t like the sound of that at all. How was he supposed to keep his cool locked in a freaking box with who the hell knows what about to happen to him? Obviously he was being used as some sort of human lab rat but for what? He was nothing, a nobody. What could anyone possibly learn from him? He was a janitor, nothing more. He knew how to keep a floor waxed to a high shine and that was about it. He didn’t see any options for himself so he laid his head down on his hands just trying to breathe and as instructed, remain calm. He managed the best he could for the moment.
The peace lasted no more than a minute or two. Brett pictured himself back in his old life before the box. Once again he stepped out his front door feeling the brilliant rays of sun kiss his face always tender and warm like the touch from a lover. The bright warm rays bounced off his too white skin as if reflecting off a mirror heating him to the very marrow of his bones nonetheless. For a moment there was no box, no ominous voice and nothing to fear. A smile broke across his dream face bleeding through to his real one inside the box. Brett Rowland was calm when a small door at the foot end of the box slid silently open.
Brett was still basking in the golden rays of a warm summer day when he thought he felt something rub against his leg. He assumed it was just a phantom feeling choosing to stay in the sun awhile longer. Then he felt another and another and couldn’t ignore it any longer. He could still see nothing in the dark of the box. He opened his eyes hoping to be able to see anything but knowing it was almost impossible. He hadn’t even been able to see his hand in front of his face. He longed to stay in the sun and not find out what was crawling around in the dark with him. He had escaped if only into his own mind.
His eyes popped open seeing nothing while he could feel “things” crawling on him. He knew not what those things were, they were just things. He hadn’t exactly lied to the voice about having no phobias, he had none to speak of, however, he absolutely loathed anything crawling on him whether it was a harmless ladybug or something nastier. He wished now he had flipped back over. Whatever was in the box with him, they were no insects unless they were larger insects than he’d ever even imagined. He could feel something crawling across his back, up his legs and creeping up the box toward his head. He was on the verge of a total freak out when the voice came again.
“Need a light?” The deep voice lacked only the emphysema-esque breathing of Darth Vader otherwise it was a dead ringer for the Star Wars villain.
Brett didn’t need to answer as no sooner than the voice asked, a strobe light activated somewhere at the foot end of the box. Rats! They had put rats in here with him. Most were repulsed by the furry little critters but as a janitor Brett found they weren’t as bad as all the bad publicity they received. He fed them in the building he cleaned for a living like an old man feeding bread crumbs to pigeons in the park. If this was supposed to scare him it wasn’t going to work, not that he was enjoying it either, but at least he wasn’t alone now.
“That all ya got ya bastards?” He yelled out hoping the voice could hear and that it indeed had nothing worse.
He received no response or so he thought. He couldn’t see the small door in the end of the box slide silently up again even with the light from the strobe turning the box into a rat disco club, it was a regular rodent Studio 54 in here Brett thought to himself. He was too busy making friends with the furry rodent in his hands to notice his new guests.
The rats began to scurry frantically with new found panic. When they began to squeak loudly Brett knew something was seriously wrong. He froze stiff not wanting to move a muscle. The strobe continued flashing giving him glimpses of his new furry friends hectically running every which way to get away from whatever had entered the box with them. His heart raced while he held his breath straining his eyes for a glimpse of whatever the rats were so afraid of when the strobe flashed again. He knew exactly what the tail he saw belonged to causing him to very nearly squeeze the life from the furry critter in his hands.
Silhouetted in the flashes of the strobe Brett could see the easily recognizable tail of a scorpion. He knew little about them but he knew what he saw couldn’t be good. The creature was jet black and huge. His heart beat so hard in his chest he thought surely it would burst straight out of his chest at any second. The strobe flashed on a giant scorpion that was very nearly as large as the rats scurrying to get away from it. Eerie glimpses flashed on Brett’s retina first one tail arched, stinger ready to strike then two then three then he lost count as it seemed an army of arthropods had been unleashed in the box he was trapped in.
His heart continued to race like the pistons in an NASCAR engine as he felt the scorpions crawling up his legs while the rats stampeded like a herd of buffalo with nowhere to go. The strobe flashed on and off burning the images of striking tails and pinchers as big as Maine lobsters onto his retinas. Sweat began to bead up on his brow while his heart raced in silent terror. He didn’t dare so much as twitch a muscle as the battle raged on all around him.
The rats were no match for their foes, falling left and right as they were stung, collapsed then held between giant claws to be digested. Brett closed his eyes to the wretched images flashing before his eyes unable to watch. It never failed the giant black scorpions went for the eyes devouring those first. After nearly squeezing the rodent in his hands to death out of fear he released the creature so it didn’t attract a sting in his direction. Tears leaked from beneath his tightly closed lids, the agony of his situation and the fate of the rats too much for him to bear without some release. The scurrying of tiny feet waned as the rodents fell one after the other leaving his box prison in near silence as the scorpions seemed to make little to no sound as they devoured their meals. Brett was unable to watch but the thought of masticating mandibles filled his head with the imagined sound of juicy innards being sucked out through vacant sockets where black beady eyes had once been.
A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead dropping to the floor of the box sounding to him like a whale dropping in the ocean from a thousand feet in the air. The drips of sweat boomed in his ears while he silently prayed for this all to be over. He held his body as stiff and rigid as a steel beam hoping the scorpions would leave him be. He didn’t know what kind of poison they carried but he didn’t care to find out. There were enough with him in the tight confines of the box he was sure they could make him share the fate of the rats if they chose to do so. He could feel them brushing up against him as they ate. He had to fight the urge to jump straight out of his own skin at the touch from the black demons.
“Impressive Mr. Rowland. Very impressive indeed.” His tormentor’s robotic baritone boomed out from hidden speakers making Brett want to plug his ears but not daring to move he only balled his hands into fists as if that would block the voice. “Let me introduce you to your new friends Mr. Rowland. They are Heterometrus Laoticus commonly known as the Thai Giant Scorpion or scorpions in this case. You’re probably wondering how poisonous they are, no?” The voice did chuckle this time at its sarcastic question.
Brett remained frozen stiff, hands balled into fists gritting his teeth just wanting the voice to go away. His mind was consumed with one thought over and over which was choking the life from the owner of that fucking voice at the first opportunity. His mind was awash with rage, fear and the utter repulsion of both the voice and what the scorpions had done/were still doing.
“I can assure that you are in no danger Mr. Rowland. While they look extremely menacing the Thai Giant Scorpion is relatively harmless at least to you. Their sting, while painful, has only a slight paralytic effect. You have survived the first test in most impressive fashion Mr. Rowland. You’re well on your way to freedom, that is… if you can remain as impressively calm as you just did. Very well done my good sir.” Brett could almost see a smile on the voice’s face only making his blood boil with rage even more.
Brett could see blood, bright red blood gushing everywhere. He could see his thumbs pressing into the faceless bastard’s eyes popping them like zits on a fifteen year old’s chin. He saw an anonymous face crushed between his hands like a melon in a vice, blood and brain sprayed across the wall and floor. He had never murdered anyone but now he had never wanted anything more in his entire life. A moment later all went black.
Brett didn’t know how long he had been out. Time didn’t exist in the box. He didn’t know what day it was, how long he had been here or whether it was day or night. For a moment upon opening his eyes he again hoped that this was all just some nightmare, a figment of his imagination, but it only took him a fraction of a second to know that it wasn’t. The box was his reality now. He imagined the sun was shining bright outside but it brought him no comfort this time. He was trapped in hell with no idea when it would end. A long, deep breath held fear from overwhelming him for now.
The strobe was no longer flashing and he couldn’t feel the scorpions brushing up against him though he couldn’t trust that they had been removed. He dared not move a muscle pressing himself as hard into the side of the box as he could. Trepidation filled his mind not knowing what to expect next. He took a deep breath, waiting.
The flashing strobe didn’t seem to be a welcome sight to his newest torment. Its head raised cautiously, its black forked tongue tasting the air for danger or a meal. It spread its hood as wide as it was able in a warning to all that it was not to be trifled with. Its slumber had been unhappily disrupted by the flashing strobe and it was ready to strike at any danger that might come its way.
“Good morning Mr. Rowland!” The baritone boomed seemingly louder than before. “As you can see your stinging rat killers have been removed. We do hope you don’t have a phobia of our slithering friend. Remember to stay calm Mr. Rowland. I can tell you that unlike the harmless scorpions this guest is most assuredly deadly to you. Please welcome your new friend Ophiophagus hannah or you can just bow to the king… cobra that is!” The voice again burst into laughter somehow finding humor in this torture.
Brett’s face was beat red with anger and from holding his breath. He didn’t want to so much as twitch, attracting the snake’s attention. He felt like screaming at the voice but it meant moving which he didn’t dare do at the moment. He couldn’t imagine how this could get any worse but knew whoever his tormentors were they planned to do worse than just place a deadly snake in the box with him.
No sooner than he formed the thought of worse things to come than they did just that. He was expecting something to be released in the box for the king cobra to chase or fight. Now he wished it had been something as easy as that. Instead of a juicy rat for it to devour or a mongoose to fight with, someone started tapping the outside of the box. It started lightly at first as if someone were tapping their finger on it as they circled the box but it got steadily harder and louder sounding like fingers had been replaced by hammers. The sound made his serpentine companion highly agitated, flaring its hood, bobbing its head toward every tap which were now loud bangs. It sent the king cobra frantically slithering from one end of the box to the other. Brett lay as still as the dead knowing any movement at all would bring a strike from the cobra and that would be the end of the story of Brett Rowland and the box. Then as suddenly as it had begun, the tapping and/or hammering ceased. It mattered little now that his guest was agitated looking for anything to strike.
“You’re absolutely made of stone Mr. Rowland. We find it wonderful! You should feel special Mr. Rowland; you’re one of very few to make it this far without succumbing to panic. We’re very impressed Mr. Rowland but I’m afraid we have further to push you. Remember, stay calm and you’ll survive to go home Mr. Rowland. You’re doing great.” The deadly seriousness from the voice seemed to reach into him holding his spine with a death grip.
Brett didn’t dare so much as breathe but he couldn’t hold his breath forever. He was slowly becoming drenched in fear sweat while the agitated black monster slithered up and down the box tasting the air with its flicking forked tongue. Brett had no great fear of snakes from afar but trapped in a box with an angry one was nearly making him sick with fear. He couldn’t remember ever being more afraid in his life amazingly he wished the scorpions were back. Again the small door at the foot of the box slid silently up just a few inches. Brett was about to have a front row seat to a show few ever saw.
Brett closed his eyes not wanting to see anything at all slowly letting out his breath hoping it would go unnoticed by his agitated companion. It was slithering along his body now making him long to scream or cry, perhaps both. He was becoming ill from the fear gripping every cell in his body. He could feel the burn of bile rising in his throat that he’d have to suffer since retching right now was absolutely not an option. The snake was sliding slowly up his leg when it reached his abdomen he held his breath once more. He felt he had no choice but to open his eyes so he could see when it moved away. He was barely able to stifle a scream at the sight before him.
The two black slithering demons circled each other bobbing their hooded heads toward each other testing the waters, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. King cobras are the one of the few snakes that will cannibalize each other on occasion, one of nature’s indiscriminate killing machines. Even the deadly African mambas weren’t known to cannibalize or fight their own kind. King cobra fights were bet on in places like India though Brett didn’t care about their history, he was sure he was going to be about as close to the cobra fight as anyone had ever been or dared to be. While the slithering demons were occupied with each other he dared to finally let out his breath though he did so as slow as possible. He had never seen a cobra fight and hoped he would survive to never ever see one again.
The two black cobras continued to bide their time bobbing, weaving and circling each other as best they could in the small box. Brett couldn’t tell how big they were in the flashing light of the strobe with them partially coiled in the small space but they both looked enormous to his eyes. He couldn’t help but stare as they prepared for what he could only assume would be a short battle once it began in earnest. The fact that there were two already angry cobras about to do battle a few inches from him apparently wasn’t enough for his tormentors.
“You’re doing astounding Mr. Rowland. You are a very impressive individual indeed. My apologies but we feel we need to test you even further. Remain calm Mr. Rowland you’re doing fantastic. You’ll be home in no time.” The voice filled Brett with rage making it easier for him to push his fear aside allowing the bile in his throat to recede slightly.
The image of shoving one of these cobras straight up the owner of the voice’s ass washed over Brett’s mind. He had never longed to torture and kill another human being but it was all he could think about now. He was surprised how much his homicidal thoughts helped. The bile receded down his esophagus taking its horrible burning with it. He pictured his hands around the voice’s throat laughing as he choked the life out of the son of a bitch who was torturing him. It was a short lived pleasure.
The smile the thought of homicide had brought unknowingly to Brett’s lips turned to a frown in an instant as the beating on the outside of the box began again. It was worse than the first time having an even worse effect on his dueling serpent companions. It sounded like a thousand hammers were beating all at once on every inch of the box. The vibrations they caused coupled with the thunderous noise put the king cobras in a frenzy. They were still seemingly sizing each other up but began to strike in each other’s direction with fervor. Before either of the massive serpents could do anything about it they were thoroughly entangled from circling each other in the space that did nothing to accommodate their size. The banging continued, the strobe flashed and the frantic snakes were wrapped around each other unable to gain much separation from each other within seconds.
The two black giants released each other at the same time immediately rearing back for another strike, neither willing to admit defeat though obviously both were. Again they struck forward turning their hooded heads at the last possible moment to sink their inch long fangs into the throat of the other. The hammering and strobe drove them on in a crazed striking frenzy again and again until both collapsed like Rocky and Apollo at the end of Rocky but neither of these combatants were going to be getting up even if you gave them a million count. Brett was terrified but all he could feel in that moment was deep sorrow. He may have been scared to death of the two king cobras put in here with him but they were still beautiful, majestic creatures that didn’t deserve to be driven to madness and death. The hate swelled within him even further.
He saw himself in a murderous rage smashing a faceless head over and over with a hammer not stopping until there was nothing but a bloody pulp staining the floor. He reared his head back screaming into the sky unable to lift his arm any longer. He was covered in crimson with bits of grey matter dotting his shirt like bloody snails crawling this way and that across his blood soaked torso. His scream ebbed yet still he wasn’t satisfied wishing he could completely unmake the voice’s owner. He wrapped his meaty hands around the bastard’s throat that was little more than a stump now with a meaty flab of bloody skin flopping on top as he squeezed as hard as he could feeling the Adam’s apple crush with an audible pop. Unable to stop he went back to work with the hammer unable to quench his lust for the bastard’s blood.
“Well done Mr. Rowland. You really are quite the specimen. My colleagues and I are beyond impressed. One last test Mr. Rowland but we’re positive you will come through with flying colors. Tell us, what is going through your mind right now?” The voice no longer seemed to be mocking Brett for the moment.
“What’s going through my fucking mind? I’m thinking about bashing your fucking brains out! Then the rest of your cock suckin buddies in there with you. What the fuck is wrong with you people? Let me the fuck out of here so I can kill every last one of you mother fuckers!” Brett couldn’t believe how good it felt to let that out.
“Now, now Mr. Rowland don’t lose that calm demeanor that has gotten you so far. We wouldn’t want you failing this last test to get home safe and sound to… Oh, that’s right you don’t have anyone at home, do you Mr. Rowland? No wife Katie, no daughter Julia. No, not anymore, do you Mr. Rowland? Where are they Mr. Rowland? Where o’where is your precious family? O’where, o’where can they be?” The voice was laughing at him now.
“How…? Who in the fuck are you people? I’ll fucking kill every last one of you, I swear!”
“Fuck all of you! I’ll survive and I will kill you all!” He shouted to the emptiness of the box.
His mind was raced yet there was no more response from the voice. How could anyone possibly know about Katie and Julia? He had been so safe. He had moved, changed his name, changed everything, how could anyone possibly know? He hardly even thought of them any more. There was no need. The dead no longer care if you think about them. How did they know though? How did they find him? He looked nothing like the man he had back then. He had spent ten years out of sight and out of mind. Where in the fuck did they come from? Why this game? Why not just kill him and be done with it? Katie had no family so it wasn’t like anyone should care so much to go through this much trouble. Well now he knew the “why” of how he came to be here. He racked his brain trying to think of who in the fuck could have wanted him so badly they not only tracked him down but set all this up. His mind couldn’t fathom it. He had covered every track, deleted all trace of who he had been so just how? For the life of him he could not think who would want revenge this badly.
He had been so lost in thought he didn’t notice until now that it had gotten warmer in the box. Also with the voice distracting him he hadn’t noticed that the dead cobras had been removed. Now that he had noticed the heat, it began to overwhelm him. He had already been sweating profusely but now it was running off him in little rivers of perspiration. He rolled onto his back flattening out spreading his arms and legs as far as he could. He felt like a giant turkey being roasted for a Thanksgiving feast. He closed his eyes trying to do nothing more than he had already, just endure. After the last conversation he didn’t think it mattered. Knowing what the voice obviously knew, he didn’t believe there was anyway he was going to be allowed to walk away from this.
“Daddy, thank you. I love you so much!” The voice of his daughter Julia roused him from his deep thought.
He opened his eyes to see home videos of happier times beaming on the lid of the box. His wife, Katie, and lovely, little Julia at her fifth birthday party. He remembered that day well. They had a party for her, of course. They had the works from cake and ice cream to pony rides to a clown making balloon animals, everything went perfect. All of their friends and what family he had were there plus all of Julia’s little friends. Everyone had been so happy. The film showing above him and the memory brought a tear to his eye. Then like the strobe earlier, flashes of brutality intertwined with the happy home video. A happy smiling Julia flashed to her bloody broken body on the floor then back to his wife Katie smiling as Julia opened gifts only to flash to a shoot of her bloody decapitated corpse laying beside their bed. Back and forth the film went from a happy little birthday party to gruesome scenes of blood and gore. He had put all this out of his mind long ago.
The heat was at an uncomfortable level now turning the box into an oven. The sweat was pouring off him now. He could feel the pool of perspiration sloshing inside his jeans with every slight movement. The images flashed above him making him as agitated as the snakes had been only a few minutes ago. Were they just trying to drive him mad? He knew very well what he had done. The scenes of carnage he had reaped on his own family never really left his mind. He had days when he was able to pretend like he hadn’t done it but he had.
The heat continued to rise as the memories of his hatred for the family smiling above flooded back to him. He hadn’t wanted to hate them. He had wanted a good loving marriage with a wonderful child. What he got was a total cunt with a daughter well on her way by six years old to being the same fucking way. He had not one single regret about walking to his shed that night, the only place he had any peace, grabbing the axe that he had sharpened to a razor sharp edge sitting in there hour after hour thinking about how much he hated his wife and then their daughter for being just like her.
He remembered everything about that night. Though he had thought about it so many times for so long, he had never really formulated a plan to do it. He honestly didn’t think he would ever have the balls to do it just as his wife always said though that bitch always used the term, “balless”. It was that particular nickname that had pushed him over the edge when Katie had gotten Julia to join in with her in chanting it. They had chanted “balless, balless, balless” until it became the final straw breaking the proverbial camel’s back. It had been more than he could stand. He knew his daughter was ruined at that point and he snapped. He had waited for them both to go to sleep then made one last trip to his shed.
The heat was getting unbearable now. The images of the carnage he had left behind still flashed intermittently with happy videos of other birthdays, Christmas celebrations along with others of that nature. Whatever effect it was supposed to have wasn’t working, he had forgiven himself long ago. He was glad he had done what he did. He had no regrets about it at all. He regretted having to leave his home and everything behind but not for killing those two. He knew he’d do it again in a heartbeat, the only difference being he wouldn’t have waited so damn long.
“How are you doing in there Mr. Rowland?” The voice booming so loudly made him jump as he had been so lost in his own thoughts.
“Go fuck yourself! Who the fuck are you?” Brett yelled out in vain expecting no answer.
“I’ve survived your tests so it’s time to let me out. Face me like a man you coward!”
“Oh, my apologies Mr. Rowland but we aren’t done yet. You’ve lived with the slaughter of your family for what? Ten years now. I have no doubt you can take the images being played for you. How’s that heat though Mr. Rowland? Getting to you yet? There is an option for you. Keep staying cool Mr. Rowland. Perhaps think of Alaska.”
“You saw what I did to my family. What do you think I’ll do to you? You found me so finding you won’t be impossible.” His voice was cool but a fire was raging inside him.
“Empty threats Mr. Rowland. I know I promised that if you stayed calm you’d get to go home. I’m afraid that was the truth but perhaps not the truth you thought. The box is your home. You’ve been home this whole time Mr. Rowland. So you see I never lied to you. Goodbye Mr. Rowland or should I say Mr. Lundgren?” The voice broke out in laughter before the speakers were cut.
“Fuck You!” He yelled out.
There would be no more replies. The heat intensified and now laying here on his back he could finally see how the rats then the scorpions and finally the king cobras had entered. He watched as a small door in the foot of the box, or maybe now he could finally use the term coffin since that’s what it was, silently raise up a few inches. He was able to see a hand bathed in white light reach in, set something on the floor then push it toward him. It scraped along the bottom of his coffin coming to rest almost perfectly against the palm of his left hand. He lifted the object up unable to discern what it was exactly setting it on his chest in order to examine it with both hands. The coffin lit up as he did so not by the annoying strobe this time but by a blinding white light that seemed to come from everywhere.
In the light he could see that object that had been shoved toward him was a straight razor wrapped in a piece of paper. He was perspiring so profusely in the heat that the paper stuck to his chest but he managed to unwrap it from the straight razor without ripping it. It was a simple message which he could infer from the razor without reading but as if on cue, which he was sure it was, the heat was dialed up even further.
“Fuck you! I’ll be waiting in hell when you get there!”
With the note still held between his right thumb and forefinger he flicked the blade open with his left hand. There was no hesitation in him as he sliced the blade across his throat hard and deep. A fountain of red mist flew up bathing the image of a smiling, laughing thirty year old Katie Lundgren and her beautiful blond five year old daughter Julia in a sea of red as though someone had placed a red filter over the projector head. Brett smiled to himself though not at the joy the image of his wife and daughter brought him but from the thought of getting his revenge in hell. He was finally free of the box.
It only took a few seconds for the light to fade from his eyes never to see the images of his wife and child again. His left hand holding the straight razor collapsed with a thud a single drop of his bright red liquid splashing to the floor off its edge. His right arm collapsed as well with dead fingers no longer containing the strength to hold the weight of paper they had held. The small scrap of paper fluttered an inch or two from his hand before permanently coming to rest. The simple message it contained still legible though a sea of dark crimson was rapidly approaching that would soon change that. The note had said all it needed to say and no more, it read simply: Your Choice.
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