When I heard someone upstairs, I thought it must have been Vivian and Daniel returning. I started walking up the stairs and then my bat comes swinging from around the corner. The next thing I know, I’m falling down the stairs (I'm still surprised that my neck isn't broken). For a split second, I remember us taking control and getting up, but the bat came down again, and then we were out. I could still hear things going on around me – Tyler yelling at Becca to grab something, another thump after the bat connected with Tyler and sent him to the ground.
When I could finally concentrate again, I was looking up at a man in a black
business suit and a mask that was completely blank, with only two
eyeholes and a slit for the mouth. In one arm, he was cradling Lois’ child – in
the other, he was carrying a kitchen knife.
Five chairs had been arranged in the room, all facing him. The others were tied down by a black cord. I saw Tyler was beginning to wake up, as well, though he looked out of it due to the large welt across his face. The only other person who looked like they had fought back was Lois, with a black and blue mark right below her left eye.
The bastard looked around the circle and examined each of us. When his eyes
rested on me, I swear that the mask looked like it was smiling. He walked over
to the couch and placed Lois’ daughter on it, just letting it cry the entire time. Then, he turned to all of us and
spread his arms out. “So, who wants to go first?”
He was just staring at us expectantly, almost like
we were supposed to do something. We didn’t have gags, so I assumed he was
waiting for one of us to start screaming for help. But no one spoke, just kind of looked at him like he was nuts.
He walked back over and stood on the very edge of the circle. “Group therapy,”
he replied in this matter-of-fact tone, like we should already know that.
But, that got everyone’s attention. “What are you talking about?” Will asked.
“I’m talking about… letting it out. Relieve some tension."
"No." I surprised myself when I said that, half-expecting the other one to take full control - but it wasn't them, it was just me. SID looked over at me, and I think we knew what the goal was - this wasn't about some group therapy, this was about getting me to talk. I think that's what it was. Hoping. hope.
“It’s not going to happen,” I replied. SID didn’t respond, just kept looking at
me, his eyes seeming to say Is that all? “It’s
not going to talk. Not to you, or Vivian. Even if you kill one of them." I tried me best to smile at him, trying to make him go ahead and get it done with, if he was going to kill one of them.
"I'll have to settle for you, then."
I hadn’t expected that response. I tried thinking of something to say as SID came closer, waving the knife in my face. "Koschei - you mentioned it on your blog. Want to know who it is?" I didn't respond, didn't know how to respond, so I got that odd feeling he was smiling at me again. "You sure? He sent me, you know - came to ask for a meeting."
SID shrugged. "More or less. He doesn't want to meet with you specifically, but hey, I'm not here to argue with him." Placed the knife on our shoulder. "So. Want to know or not? I haven't got all day." All I had to do was incline my head just a little bit and SID took that for an answer. "Oh, good! Well, fine - this Koschei? The thing who you should already know, Smokestack? It's the old man. And he wants to meet with you - soon, before anything drastic."
Though I had little to no idea what he was talking about, I asked him "Where?"
"Date and location will be provided at a later time - all he needed was the confirmation."
SID gave me that expectant look again, like I should know what he wanted, or know what was coming next. When I didn't say anything, SID took a step back and shook his head, wagging the knife at me like you would a finger.
“You haven't noticed yet - or have they not let you? Well, let me say this - Koschei is not the only one who wants something from you.
"Forget about this
feud with Lois – it’s pointless and downright embarrassing to see your Atheres
have to put itself so low as to deal with a teenager.” SID paused and brought the knife closer to my face.
“First, deal with the two who are protecting Lois’ friend, Sarah. They’re in a
motel, just outside of town – apartment twenty-nine. If you wanna kill Sarah, well, why not? She's not part of the deal.”
“Both have managed to survive and actually wound two... Ah, what the hell, Fears. What makes
you think they’re incapable of killing a runt like you? Take them out, and then we can focus on the big picture."
Before I could say something, though, I heard someone else speak using my voice. “And after that?”
SID bared his teeth underneath the mask in a gleeful grin. “Then we burn
this town to the ground.”