The smell of rotten cedar and fresh antiseptic are the first to impress themselves upon your senses.
Then your bruised ribs and a slight nausea crash the party, bringing with them a
fleeting recollections of a long drive, your bound body bumping against the walls and floor of the white van.
A van. Reeking of diesel.
You remember thinking ‘Diesel? This will get them in troubles’.
How did you end up in an unmarked van running on military grade fuel?
Your wrists and ankles are burning. Chafed to the bone. You must have straggled against the wired cable ties when the man came…when he told you that…
You fought. Against reason. Despite Blaze’s scalpel tipped nails and her fatally electric mind.
It’s a wonder that this carnival freak and her gorilla bothered to restrain you and slap that sticky tape over your eyes.
What did the man actually look like? What did he say that struck such a raw animal terror in your augmented mind?
The words seem scrambled by the noise that followed. The startling rattle of that filthy fossil engine.
And his features…you simply can’t conjure them. Only your own tears and spittle stained face pushed against the smooth sheen of some heavy duty garment stretched over an impossible bulge. Then a massive hand tilting your chin up. Forcing you to look at a…a blur of lights and racing four legged silhouettes. Those wooden carousel horses galloping on their poles, elongated by fire light and framed by the narrow long window of Blaze’s tour bus.
You try again. But the same image appears. A super-imposed memory fragment inserted into your mind where the man’s face should be stored.
These two must have done something to you. Interfered with your head. Leaving only the paw prints of a nameless dread.
As you slowly and increasingly painfully regain conciseness, blotchy shapes flatter beyond your eye lids.
You were still blindfolded when they marched you through long wet grass and brambles, up and down musty stairs and through what could have been long winding corridors. Oddly draughty.
You remember stumbling against bulky lumps and hard jagged corners, your foot snared in something. A missing floorboard perhaps. And slimy serpentine objects slapping against your chest and cheeks.
But then something else happened. What was it?
Yes, you tried to use your powers, furtively, to gain access to the man’s mind.
And you were blasted. Lashed by a searing mental rod.
And then? Then muffled darkness.
But now you are awake. And someone has removed the tape from your eyes.
They feel raw. You dimly wonder if the tape ripped out your eyelashes, and what you would look like lash-less.
The mechanical noise is still drilling in your ears. Even louder then before.
And, mingling with the organic decay and synthetic chemicals, the stench of diesel is still ubiquitous.
This is baffling. Are you back in the van?
But no. You are no longer in motion.
Is this another superimposed memory then, of sound rather then vision? Are you trapped in some kind of a glitching mental loop?
You are momentary paralysed with fear. That crisp ominous voice from butchered Theo’s flat might take over again at any moment. Flooding your mind with visions of your victims. Or even worst, with close up footage of your devastating collision with Blaze.
But wait, the wire cable ties are also gone. This is not another replayed experience.
In fact, you are sat upright in some kind of a padded heavy furniture fixture. An oversized arm chair pushed all the way back? A sun-bed?
It’s almost comfortable. If it wasn’t for the disturbing lack of sensation in your limbs.
The only part of your anatomy that seems to be still fully sensitised and keenly throbbing is your groin. And your clothes are gone.
You seem to be tightly swaddled in some heavy supple material. But under this softly constricting sheathe, your are stark naked.
Time to forcing yourself to open up your eyes, just a crack.
You furtively gaze up, straight into a a cavernous ruin.
A gutted shaft of concrete, metal and wood, claimed by savage vegetation and merciless time, sparsely lit by a sepia sun.
Cables and tree roots dangle and entwine themselves around the exposed brickworks, hardly distinguishable from each other. Metal frames and crumbling wood beams form torn geometric webs, as if span by a mythical super spider.
You must be on one of the lower floors of a monumental ancient building. Not a church or a bank. But perhaps some local government institution, or a factory, or a hospital. A redundant edifice of the kind often abandoned deep in the petrol starved border shires. Collapsing onto itself.
As you strain all your senses, trying to gain a better grasp on your surroundings, you catch another sound under the nagging engine.
It’s foot steps. Echoing on stone. Their irregular thumps getting louder and louder.
How many pairs of feet? Two? Three? Are they wearing boots, loafers, stilettos or trainers?
One pair of feet, in heavy work boots, you are almost certain, halts a couple of feet behind you. The rest come closer. Hovering on either side of your restrained body.
Then a familiar scent of whisky and smoke accosts you. Closely followed by four slender blades trailing down your exposed neck. The lethal tips stroke your skin, halting, almost lovingly, on your pulsing jugular.
‘Missed me, mind fucker?’ Purrs Blaze.
You try to glare at the bitch, finding that even this simple manoeuvre is restricted by a metal strap snugly fitted around your head.
But you do mange to turn your head a little. Not to the right, toward her taunting voice, but to your left. Where another figure silently lingers.
You can only see his profile, and his nose and mouth are largely concealed by a surgical mask. But while the stubble between his ear and the mask is dirty blond, the top if his crew-cut is as flaming red as Blaze’s. And there is no mistaking the rare hue of his right eye: copper speckled jade, impossibly identical to hers.
The boy turns his head and gives you a rather leery wink.
His left eye doesn’t join the smile, it does, however, shine brightly.
He has a stainless steel blow torch embedded in his eye socket.
Blaze presses a silver scalpel nail into your skin, which caused your cock to involuntary stiffen.
You avert your eyes. Fuming with humiliation when you realise the fabric strains visibly between the stout buckles.
Shit. You are strapped into a straitjacket
Keeping your gaze lowered, you ignore the grinning mutant, covertly flexing your powerful muscles to test the straps. But Blaze isn’t having it.
‘Manners, fuse face. Say hello! That’s my baby brother, you know. And he’s keen to show you his extra special tool. Aren’t you, bro?’