I wake up slowly and to a lot of pain. My head is throbbing with every heartbeat, and with every beat comes a flash of light against the back of my eyelids. The floor underneath me is hard and cold. I can’t tell anything else about it; my hands feel prickly, like they are just waking up with me. Hopefully that doesn’t turn to more pain.
I don’t know where I am. I don’t know how I got here. I was at home… I think. Was I drinking?
I try to move, to pick up my head and look around. But my body is sluggish and weak, my clothes somehow weighing an extra 300 lbs and my eyelids with them. I give up trying to move and hope that whatever is happening to me will fade. Instead I try to retrace my steps in my head.
The last thing I remember clearly, I was driving home. I pulled into the driveway and everything was normal. I had a manila folder in my hand. That must have come from work. So it wasn’t alcohol. I wouldn’t have drunk enough to black out if I brought work home. Which file was it? It might matter. Something to do with the Viper case, but which file?
The pain in my head is getting worse. I feel at any moment like my head could burst from all the pressure that’s in it. I manage to pry open my eyes, but all I can see is gray concrete, and the white flashes are still there, so I close them again. It’s hard to think through the pain, but still, I have to find my way out of here. Think. Think.
I had a folder in my hand. It was a folder with pictures in it. Pictures of victims; both the ones who died and the ones who are still–barely–living. I spread them all on the table, the bloody corpses, the battered faces, the people with glassy eyes, living in filth, their skin carrying the tell-tale markings of Shift. I wasn’t looking for a pattern. I wasn’t looking for evidence. I just brought them home to remind myself who I was after. Give me focus.
Yes. And I had coffee, in the big metal thermos. That’s the one I always use, someone could have known that. Did the coffee taste funny? But yes. Coffee. Coffee and pain, the only things powerful enough to get through to me anymore. It’s just been too much. And now this. I always knew one of them would get to me eventually, I just thought it would be quick when they did.
The pain is finally starting to recede. Enough that I can open my eyes and lift up my head. Across from me is a chair. One of those really cheap waiting room chairs with the metal legs and the thin plywood seats covered in some cheap cloth, stapled to the bottom. There’s something else taped there, but I’ll have to come back to it. There’s someone tied to the chair, and judging by the amount of blood he’s covered in, he’s dead. It’s amazing I didn’t notice the smell earlier because that’s all I can smell now.
The veterans laughed, at my first crime scene. They said they had never seen anyone throw up that much. Now it’s just… detail.
Some of the blood has pooled at the man’s feet, but not enough. And there’s no spatter on the walls. This wasn’t done to him here. Not surprising I suppose, considering how they got me.
“Do it, you know you want to.”
A woman’s voice, coming from all around me.
I desperately try to sit up, my muscles strain against whatever toxin is in me, it’s faded enough that I manage roll over onto my back, and then pry my torso off the floor. My chest is resting on my knees, but I’m sitting. Only a few more minutes and I might even be able to stand. Won’t that be something.
Now that I can, I look around. There are little box speakers in the corners of the ceiling, that must be where the voice came from, and there’s a door behind me. No handle though. Maybe I’ll be able to jimmy the latch.
Yeah. And maybe I’ll wake up, and this will all be a dream.
I’m interrupted by the man moaning in the chair. I snap back to him, or I would have, if I weren’t drugged, instead I languidly turned my head. So the guy’s still alive. That means that I’m escaping for both of us now. And I better do it quick. Because he’s not going to be alive for long. I keep looking.
The only other thing in the room seems to be whatever is taped to the underside of the chair. I crawl over there. I have to go through the pool of blood at his feet. It’s sticky, which means he’s been here for awhile. It’s surprising he hasn’t bled out yet. Those cuts on him must be shallow. Or someone really knew what they were doing.
I reach up to pull the thing off the chair, but I’m not strong enough yet, at least not one-handed. So I end up lying on my back in someone else’s blood staring up at the bottom of a chair.
It’s a gun.
Why would they kidnap me and then give me a gun? It’s hard pulling it off, even with both hands. The tape is stuck really well, and my fingers don’t work right. But I manage to peel off a few strips and then rip off the rest.
I check the magazine but it’s empty. Then I check the chamber. One bullet. They gave me a gun with a single bullet.
“Hurry up and do it. You know he deserves it.”
Who is this woman? She clearly wants me to kill this guy. But why? Who is he?
I stand up. I’m shaky, but I’m standing. When I try to lean over to get a better look at his face, I stumble and end up in his lap. Shit. Oh well, not like the jacket could get any more blood on it, and it’s not the first time I’ve been in some guy’s lap. It’s not even the first time they’ve been bleeding while I was there. I use my sleeve to wipe some of the blood off his face. It doesn’t help much, but it’s enough. The Viper.
Some asshole drugged me and put me in a room with the Viper. Gotta admit, that’s not how I thought our first meeting would go. The voice is right too. He does deserve it. He deserves this beating he got too. And a hell of a lot more.
“Do it, do it, do it!”
I realize I pointed the gun at him without realizing. I put my other hand up, either to stabilize the first, or to pull it away. Shit. I wish I knew who this woman was. I wish I knew how I was getting out of here. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to see this fucker dead. And at this range I can’t miss, even as weak as I am.
I pull the trigger.