11 July 2012
"He breathed in labored gasps, hanging limp from the dripping water pipes, hands cuffed separately, 4 feet apart. His feet were bound as one, and shackled to the old radiator the warehouse owner never bothered to remove. the effect was dramatic, though no one could see it, except the old man, and his two henchmen. He hung at a forty-five degree angle, head lolling from side to side between his biceps. His hair hung in weighty, sweaty tangles, his nose and mouth still dripped blood, too red in the harsh contrasts of the dim, dingy place, his front teeth broken at the gumline, but he thanked God he was numb from the beating. He'd made peace with his fate the moment they chained him up, knowing he'd soon know as he was known.
Suspended as he was, his mushed face, one his mother and father would not have known, hung at eye level with the old man's. The corrupt old villain stood regarding the young man's blind eyes, feeling his hot, ragged breathes on his face.
"Oh, my dear child," Marchbanks said in a piteous voice as dead of emotion as his rheummy old eyes. "I'm afraid you're dying."
Duncan raised his head, what little strength that remained he spent in one last act of defiance.
"I... am dying," he said, pulling the words from his mouth like rotten teeth. "But you... are a coward."
The old man's face hardened, his false pity gone.
"An hour... from now..." Duncan fought for breath. "I'll... be dead... and you... will still... be a coward."
Marchbanks' face contorted with impotent rage.
"Twenty years from... now... you... will be dead..." Duncan smiled a toothless, bloody smile. "And you... will still... be... a coward."
The corrupt old despot slapped the young man's face, soiling his immaculate cuffs with blood. In return, he heard... laughter?
Duncan laughed through the pain, through the blood, through the creeping death he could feel, shutting down systems in his body like a night watchman turning out the lights, marching closer and closer to the core, the critical functions necessary for life. He knew that soon, he would pass the point of no return, the point after which rescue would not matter, though he'd long since gave up any hope of that.
"Leave him!" Marchbanks ordered, turning to one of his lackeys. Did the young punk not realize how unusual it was for the wealthy, powerful, insular man to regard a pathetic little loose end like him?
"You, stay here." He jerked a thumb back to his dying guest, unconsciously admiring how well the young man faced death. Could he do the same? "Dispose of him," he said, looking back with a malevolent gaze. "But do nothing to hasten it."
"Yes, sir," the flunky replied to the old man's departing back. But did he see a streak of pale sunflower there?"