You awake to a world of dizzying lights and blurred images, a glowing sun beating down on you from where you’re strapped down. Two men, both in light blue scrubs with surgical masks, peer down at you from behind goggles, and one with a bloody scalpel in his hand while the other has a clipboard. They’re speaking, yet you can’t understand the words.
The world feels… numb. Looking to your left, you see an IV piercing your pale arm, pumping god knows what into your bloodstream. Closing your eyes to shield you from the bright light, you pray for salvation from the light, and the men.
It doesn’t come.
Hours seem to pass as the men continue, to your horror, cut into your abdomen and remove your internal organs. You failed biology back in high school, but you can’t imagine living very long without the long fleshy tubes that are your intestines, nor can you make do without your liver. They’re packing your organs away into separate black containers, each with a bio-hazard sign on it, the interior lined with ice.
After what could have been days, you finally manage the ability to speak. In a rasping voice, dry as sandpaper against a chalkboard, you plead to them.
“Please…” I utter, waving your hands as best you can from the metal restraints holding you in place. “Please… I didn’t do anything! I don’t deserve this!”
They merely continue their work, removing your organs and cataloging them as if taking an inventory at a supermarket. You hiss, allowing your head to roll back into a limp state. You throat is so dry it feels as if it’s on fire! If only you could get something to drink… but these men won’t listen to a word you say.
So instead you look at the room you’re trapped in, wincing every once in a while as the scalpel strikes a nerve not yet deadened to the world. The room is stark white and spotless, with gleaming metal counter tops and a variety of small appliances that probably do amazing things. One sits in the corner, humming noisily, spinning vials of red fluid at high speeds.
You try not to think about it, instead looking at the rest of the room. A sign above the door bears a warning to all lab personnel, ordering them to go into the cleaning chambers before leaving laboratory property. You wonder, what exactly is a cleaning chamber? What they’re doing isn’t exactly clean, but with the surgical precision with which they’re doing it, it’s as clean as such a task can get.
One of the men hefts out a large grey organ, sawing at the connection it has to your stomach slowly, carefully. You wince as you note the blood seeping from the incision; he hefts it up with both hands, as if weighing it.
Turning to his partner, he looks impressed. “This is the largest one we’ve seen!” He says excitedly, his voice stern and high.
His partner, a smaller man with Asian features and little hair left on his head nods. “Weigh it before we pack it, and we’ll run the differentials later. I just want to get this done with as soon as we can.”
“Monsters…” You grumble, your consciousness fading in and out as you loll your head from side to side.
The small Asian man laughs, turning his back on you to check a new black container. The taller man goes to the counter, carrying your liver with the delicate care one would carry a child with, bringing it over to a scale. Setting it down, he punches a few keys on a small keyboard before looking over his shoulder.
“I was right! It weighs over twelve and a half pounds!” He exclaims, obviously excited.
You roll your eyes, the lack of blood making everything difficult to understand, and even more difficult to process. Twelve pounds? For a liver? That can’t be right…
“Maybe he was a drunk before we got him, prone to binges. The file doesn’t say, you know.” The little man replies, not looking up from his clipboard. He clicks his push pen once, setting it in his shirt pocket with care as he folds his hands over his front, the clipboard held over his groin. “That’s where it all goes, you know. Through the liver.”
“Really?” You drawl drunkenly, your head swimming.
The little man looks over his spectacles at you for a moment, before slowly nodding. Still staring at you, he continues on. “The liver processes any toxins they imbibe, filtering it out of their blood so they remain alert and responsive. Though if they binge drink, they can get enlarged livers, heavy with gathered toxins and waste.”
“How do they get rid of it?” The taller man asks, bringing the liver over to the prepare box, setting it in gently like a newborn babe.
The little man shrugs. “Who knows? I’ve been pressing for years to let us experiment on them, but I keep getting rejected. The closest thing I get to a true examination is one of these accursed cleanings we have to do.”
“I can’t see how you’ve done this for so long,” The taller man notes, pushing the lid down over the box containing your liver, “I mean, ten years working with stiffs? That’s gotta be rough.”
Glasses shrugs. “I was a mortician before this, so it’s really just a step further into the darkness really. Not that bad once you get used to it.”
The darkness… god how you wish you could just crawl away from this blasted lamp blinding you into the soothing darkness. You can feel death claiming you, a rat-gnawing level of pain that is slowly chipping away at the fringes of your mind. Soon, so soon, darkness will finally claim you.
Glasses walks over to the door and presses a button, a loud buzzer going off that causes you to flinch back into the world of the living. Two men, both burly and covered in blue padded armor, march through the doors, giving sharp salutes to the doctor.
“Dr. Konta, is the subject ready for transport?” One of them, a mountain of muscle with a cobra tattoo on his neck, asks.
Glasses, or Dr. Konta, nods. “Yes, bring Prisoner…” He looks down at the clipboard for a moment, “zero three four to his new home. We already have his organs packed away and ready to be put into cold storage.”
“Where are you taking me? Where am I?” You grumble slowly, looking up at the man who walks behind you and begins pushing the table you are bound to through a pair of double doors.
“You don’t remember?” The man, stocky with a scar over his cheek, looks down at you with surprise and for some reason, revulsion.
“They often don’t,” Cobra says, marching beside your bed, “The process we use to make ‘em docile shakes ‘em up pretty bad. No blood, no memories, no threat.”
“Blood… god, I’m so thirsty!” You moan, writhing against your restraints, your opened flaps of skin sliding and slapping, the sound reminiscent of raw meat hitting a counter.
“Shut it Vampire, or I’ll bash your face in and we can wait a decade for you to grow a new one.” Cobra growls, hand going to a Billy club hanging from his belt. As you fall silent, watching the ceiling tiles pass by, you try and remain as still as you can, forcing yourself to remember.
The two men, however, keep talking. “So what, we just tear out their organs and lock them away?”
“The ones we catch,” Cobra agrees, patting you on the shoulder as if you were a friend. “Most of them go down fighting, get killed by a stray crossbow bolt or take too deep a breath of the garlic gas we throw at them.”
“So why do we even keep them if all we do is seal them away in ice coffins?” Scar questions, turning a corner and flashing a badge to another man in similar garb. He looks down at you with disgust as he taps a few keys at a console, opening up what sounds like a large set of metal doors.
Instantly the hallway is blasted with a wave of frigid air, the cold biting down into the center of your very bones. You shiver, wriggling against your shackles as the men continue onward into the ice-laden hall, icicles dangling from the metal roof, frost lining the walls. A grate, with tiny slits, allows a freezing draft to swirl down onto you, into your open wound, chilling you at your very core.
Your mind begins to dull even further, your eyelids drooping as you struggle to maintain consciousness. The cold… it’s bringing the darkness down upon you, but not in the way you wanted. Not in the way you hoped.
No, this darkness was a horrid one, one filled with promises of rot and decay, and eternal imprisonment within the shell of a body that you called your own. No longer would you have control of your fingers or your toes; instead, your mind would be moribund within your frozen corpse, until someone deigned to free you.
You begin thrashing, snarling and biting at the air. Cobra laughs at your feeble movements.
“Relax Vampire, relax! You’ll have all the time in the world to scream and fight… after the holy water pumping through your desiccated veins wears off at least!” He laughs, patting me on the chest. “If you want, I could just reach on in and give your heart a little squeeze. Would you like that?”
“Earl, knock it off.” Scar says, coming to your defense, however hesitantly. “I know for a fact we’re not supposed to use lethal force unless one gets loose.”
“Relax dweeb, I was just playing around.” Scar says, holding his hands up in mock surrender. “Jeez, you act like that and the rest of the guys might start to think you’re soft on these freaks.”
“I’m not soft Earl, just… I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be imprisoned like this, you know?” Scar replies, shrugging carelessly. “I mean, in orientation they mentioned the bodies are still aware of their surroundings, they just can’t move because of the cold and their lack of organs and fresh blood.”
“Well would you rather police a jail of monsters capable of fighting back?” Earl asks sarcastically.
“Of course not! I just don’t think we should be teasing ‘em right before we put them in cold storage, you know?” Scar says, looking down into your eyes as he speaks. You may not swing that way, but you do note he has lovely eyes. Soft, caring eyes.
“Whatever man. You just stand here with your boyfriend while I ready the coffin.” Earl grunts as the finally come to a stop. Rolling your head to the side, you see a frost-lined room with but a single fixture: a coffin carved entirely out of ice, the lid suspended by a system of pulleys and levers.
Your new home.
Your new Hell.
The two men lift you from the gurney some ten minutes later, Earl having taken his time filling the ice sarcophagus with cold water up to the lip of the frozen tub, the water leaving new layers of ice encrusted wherever it sloshed. Scar has, during this time, undone your restraints and hefted you into a sitting position. You stare at your chest and abdomen, at the gaping holes that are slowly closing up as flesh stretches and knits back together. Thin, watery lines of pink fluid seep from around the angry red cuts made with the scalpel, crusting over slowly as you heal.
Your body is still numb, still powerless, but with Scar so close to you, his warmth radiating from him in a delicious aura of life, you try and edge closer to him as best you can. You think he knows what you’re doing, but doesn’t seem to care; he’s too busy prying the staples that had been holding you shut from your chest with a pair of needle nose pliers-
-screams as you take the needle nose pliers to his mouth, prying out the last of his teeth. Smiling, you gently place the bloodied tools on a small mahogany descend, the lyrical tunes of Sebastian Bach filtering through the air, punctuated by the wet gasps of the man tied to the chair before you.
“You let us down Randolf. All down.” You say to the bound man, tugging at your sleeve as you undo the bloody apron from over your expensive suit, folding it carefully into a small square of cloth before setting it next to the pliers. “You know why I’m doing this…”
The man moans piteously, blood spilling from his mouth like a waterfall of crimson onto his bare chest. “No no no, shhh… there’s no need for that now.” You shush him, squatting to stare into his frightened eyes. “We’re beyond apologies, and begging. Now is the time for penance. I’ve been told to try and stretch this out as long as I can, to make it clear you suffered. Do you-“
“-understand?” Earl’s voice tears you from your memory, your head dizzy and light as you try and make sense of what you just saw. That was one of your memories? Dear god, what was it I used to do?
Earl grabs your face and points it up, forcing you to look into his eyes. “I asked you if you were ready for your bath?” He repeated, shaking you back and forth as Scar holds you upright.
You have just enough energy to twitch your lips, peeling them from each other as your throat constricts dryly. Staring at him, into his plain brown eyes, you try your hardest to manage but a few words.
“You… will die.” You rasp, baring your fangs enough to have him release your head, allowing it to fall limply once more. You can see his bravado, but in the chilled air you can also smell his fear. You begin laughing, a rasping hacking sound that shakes your entire frame.
“Yeah, well laugh it up freak,” Earl growls as he motions to Scar, “But you’re going for a dip while I get a fat paycheck for putting your ass on lockdown.”
Hoisting me from either side from beneath your armpits, the drag you up and off the gurney, your feet slapping the ground bonelessly as they carry you over towards the block of ice, the water slowly forming a thin sheet over the surface. You stare at what will likely be your tomb until the end of days with contempt. No…you think bitterly, curling your fingers slowly, painfully I won’t be a caged animal forever. Sooner or later, they’ll make a mistake. And I’ll be free.
The slide you gently atop the thin layer of ice, the scent of salt invading your senses. The bitter chill seeps into your body as your naked flesh is flush with the ice. They slide you up until you are lying prone over the sarcophagus limply, both arms dangling from the side.
Scar comes up to your side with a hammer and an ice pick, soon followed by Earl on the other side. Together they chisel into the thin layer of ice, plunging you into the freezing tank of saltwater. The water consumes you, crushing you out like the burning end of a midnight cigarette. You open your mouth to scream, only to have your throat filled with the burning fluid. Already, you can feel crystals of ice solidifying over your body, as you slowly fill with the freezing fluid, drifting to the bottom of your icy grave.
Dimly, you can hear chains rattle as a shadow from above begins to loom over you, slowly growing larger, bringing in the darkness you once found solace in. They’re lowering the lid… you think with panic. What am I going to-”
“-do?” You ask as you let the dead woman fall from your grasp, her listless body dry as bone. You angrily pad back and forth in your apartment, the black curtains and furniture doing a great job at hiding who you are talking to.
An older man, wrinkled from countless years of life, sits next to the corpse, leaning heavily on a cane as he watches you with slitted eyes.
“Patience Michael, patience!” He commands, his voice heavy with a mix of accents. “So the humans have found your trail? Who cares? You serve the Bianchi Family, and we’re never going to let anything happen to our best hit man.”
“You don’t understand Philippe, you just don’t!” You growl as you stop to run your hands through your hair. “You may like me, but the rest of your family doesn’t. I doubt much protection is going to be offered to me if I get caught.”
“I’ll do everything I can to-”
“-help you.” You gurgle in the frigid water, eyes wide open as the darkness consumes you, the lid now firmly in place. You sigh, leaning back into the pins and needles of the frigid box; there really is no need to panic. You may be stuck, but you’re far from dead. And one day you’ll get free.
“Patience… that’s all I ever need.” You say, staring at the floating ice crystals in the water. Yawning, you allow the pull of hibernation to take effect on you, lulling you into a deep sleep.