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K21 - Broken Faith

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This article is a part of the K21 Squared timeline.

This article belongs to Dog of War. Please do not edit this article without their permission.

TBABrolkenFaith


Cast (In Order of Appearance)
K21LOGOV2.2
WARNING
CONTAINS COARSE LANGUAGE, VIOLENCE, AND SCENES OF TORTURE

Written by Dog of War, with cover art by NecrusIV and special thanks to Khalael

It's a Sin - The London Symphony Orchestra version04:57

It's a Sin - The London Symphony Orchestra version

Prologue

17th August, 2103

11:29 pm, Saturday. It was still dark as I lit the cheap cigarette. I was slumped against the grey wall, knowing I must've looked drunk out of my mind. Course I had been, earlier that night. Then again, when hadn't I been drunk these past few… was it days? Months? I coughed slightly as I exhaled the smoke. God, that shit was repulsive. Like I said though, cheap. Real cheap.

The atmosphere of the early morning streets was soothing almost. The dimmed glow from the street lamps. The almost neon lights of the all to common LCD billboards. The clean air, a rarity in the ever-growing urbanisation of the nation. Well, it was clean compared to others. I took another cigarette, watching the thin trails of smoke dispensing into the air, quite appropriately, like a puff of smoke. I smirked at the obvious joke, as I stared at the chrome lighter now nestled in my gloved hand. Shall I take another? I'll cough my lungs up eventually. Might as well do it now.

I looked at my battered watch. 11:37. Just over twenty minutes. Damn. I needed to shoot. I stuffed the chipped lighter in my pocket, before throwing the still smoking cigarette in the gutter, where it slowly shrunk and fizzled out of existence. I glanced around the street corner, as I started to walk slowly, never taking my eyes off the empty road. As I turned my eyes forward, I spied the silhouette.

Fuck, I thought. Last thing I needed was company. Who the hell was out at this hour anyway? Patrol? Possibly. Best pretend I was drunk. Hell, I was drunk. Never suspect a drunk. Well, not here anyway.

The silhouette was approaching me now. I could see quite clearly that it was a rather thick-set man with a surprising fast pace. Probably military trained. I slid down the wall, in a pathetic attempt of hiding myself.

"Hello?" His voice had a thick accent. Sounded Mexican. I looked up to see dark skin thin lips and a hooked nose. He was peering down at me, almost grinning. His long face looked eerie, lit up by the purple screen behind him. He looked inquisitively at my face. "Frank Eisner, yes?"

I looked away, muttering a "No". As I started to huddle closer to the wall his beefy hands shot out, encasing me in an iron grip.

"Don't bullshit me. I know your face" he spat. "You under arrest for the murder of a Mrs Hannah Eisner. Now get up. C'mon."

He wasn't a cop. His body language, the informal tone. The fact he was Mexican. I stood up wearily, my eyes focused on his. He stepped closer, a smile on his face.

"I know what you planning. I know what you did" He studied my hands "Probably out of practice. Good." He then brought his fist in an arching motion, slugging me in the jaw. I fell back, a dull groan emanating from my lips. He then crouched down, pulling out a small black object, which was made a low cracking noise. "We need you Frank." he said softly, before shoving the stun gun in my gut. I screamed in pain, as my vision became increasingly blurry. He laughed, before hitting me again and again. Blood was running down my eyes as my mind started to blacken, with the pummelling of his fists beating into my consciousness.

Part I

An hour and a half earlier

I looked at myself in the mirror. The disappointment that was reality stared back at me. The overgrown beard. Blotchy skin. Baggy eyes. Uncut hair, with grey setting into the receding curls. The ever growing collection of lines and wrinkles. The muscles from a decade ago were now replaced with a layer of fat. I wiped the lenses on my round, horn rimmed glasses before pulling on a tattered brown overcoat, stained with god knows what.

"Frank?"

The voice was quiet, yet demanding at the same time. When we were young and foolish I would've said it was a mix of scolding and submission. But that was the thoughts of one who was but a boy, and just saw women as mere playthings. Of course in the intervening years I grew up so to give her the love and respect promised to her when we were married.

Until the war finished. After she joined them.

"Frank? Are you sure you want to-"

"Get outta my way" I grunted. I turned to face her. Her wide blue eyes were half closed, with her thin body pushed against the wall. The sheet of black hair that covered her back was dishevelled, her face tired and worn. Dull purple bruises blended into her grey tinged skin. In a better life at her age I would consider myself lucky, for finding someone as caring as her. But of course I don't live like better men.

"Please" She caught my shoulder, willing me to turn around. "You know what will happen. Your already drunk. Please, stay behind tonight"

I scowled. "No" I said bluntly, "I don't need to hear your bullshit for one night-"

"But you always-"

"Just move, woman" I growled, clenching my fists. She stepped back, averting her eyes from my face. I stormed through the door, not glancing back. I knew that she'd stand and mope for a hour. Probably start crying. Fuck her, I thought. If she no longer loves me, then she is free to go. I took a cigarette out from my coat and lit it, savouring the feeling. "The small things in life" I muttered, my lips curling into a smile.

I looked at the street. Lit with neon bill boards, their harsh lights pulsating into one’s brain. The picturesque houses, like a relic from a distant age, were not the concrete and metal metropolis that plagued the north, but rather two story brick structures, with arched windows and pillars. The way I was walking was less brightly lit than the main street. More seedy. I turned the corner to see the garish purple lights of the bar I frequented so often. It was a scummy place sure, but people like me could go there. Safely. Without eyes boring down, looking into your soul.

I opened the door. The place was in disrepair, dimly lit and shady. Old men sat in the corners, drunk out of their minds as they drowned their past with drink. Women who were once pretty gave fake smiles under their make up, wanting generous tips in exchange for their services. A heavy sheet of smoke hung in the air, coming from the overflowing ashtrays. Workmen sat in huddles, throwing their few crumpled hard earned papers away hoping to take in more. A pipe dream, but isn't one meant to live their dreams?

The greasy bartender reached for a bottle. He had guessed my request. I simply nodded in acknowledgement, as he handed me the bottle, now opened. I took a swig. Flat. Typical. I gave a wry smile, before drinking the rest. God that felt good. The bartender didn't miss a beat as he passed over another bottle. I pushed my glasses up the bridge of my nose, before draining another bottle. I was suddenly self conscious that I was resembling the poor sods who were drinking their lives away. Screw it, I thought, Let me be one of them. Staring into space, no goddamn problems. Just drink. All I'll do is fucking drink.

I sighed. No, that wasn't the life for me. These men had nothing. I had a wife. A responsibility. And of course, I had those as well.

I gulped more beer down. God, I needed to relax. Stop worrying about life. Meant to get pissed. That's the point of drink. Hell, I was feeling light headed. So why the fuck was I still thinking straight?

As I was starting to drink a third bottle, two men came into the bar, one with deathly pale skin, the other an olive complexion. They were different to the other customers. More upright, striding with confidence, as if they were bellowing for attention. The pale man had lopsided eyes under large rectangular glasses and wearing a crisp tan suit. The other was taller, clad in a tailored black jacket and tie with sculpted fair hair. The pale man pulled over a bar stool, as did his friend.

"Bartender!" the pale man proclaimed loudly in a heavy New York accent "A drink for me and my friend."

The bartender glared at them, before reaching for two dusty bottles, and shoving them towards the new customers. The olive skinned man nodded in appreciation, while the pale man made a motion to speak again. The olive skinned man shook his head slightly, which seemed to put down the pale man. He then turned to me.

"So" he said in his grating accent "Quiet here isn't it?"

I ignored him.

Unperturbed, he extended a delicate hand. "Name's Christopher Powell Jr. This here is Gerard Taylor. You are?"

"Piss off"

"C'mon, just your name. Being friendly and all"

I looked at the perfect smile, and the enigmatic face of his friend. Who were these men? Both were shifty. The first, this Powell, was feigning an air of friendliness. Taylor was more traditional, quiet and reserved. Powell was an amateur. Taylor-couldn't tell yet.

I stared at Powell's face, which had widened into a mocking smile.

"So who are you exactly?" I asked in a neutral tone. 

"We are from outta town."

Stating the bloody obvious.

"Ministers we are. Well, Taylor is. We heard that the Church of-hey, what was it called Taylor?"

"Church of Enlightenment." Taylor spoke. His voice was low, and his accent silted. Seemed like English was not his first language.

I clenched my fists under the table. Fanatics then. Great. Of all the people they turn to...

I regained myself. "I don't associate myself with the church much myself." I said, in a pseudo-jovial tone. The out of line eyes of Powell widened.

""Protestant then?" he screwed up his face "Or Catholic?"

I looked away, barely keeping control over the diatribe I would surely spew out if provoked further.

"Well?" His expression changed to one of minor disgust "You’re not-y'know-one of them."

I stood up, kicking my stool down with me. I turned so I was looking directly at Powell's face, that now had a look of terror plastered all over it.

"Frankly it’s none of your fucking business," I slurred, I've seen men who have followed "God" and ended up face down in a pool of their own blood. Poor deluded fools. Where was their God then?"

"But-"

I grabbed Powell by the head and smashed it on the bar. He let out a high pitched wail as his nose exploded with blood. I noted that Taylor sat there, watching with a bored expression on his melancholy face.

"If there is a God then he's the one who killed my family, killed my friends. If there is a God, what has he given me? Nothing. That’s what. So it’s none of your fucking business what I believe. Or have you got a problem with that?"

I let go of Powell, before turning and heading for the door. I heard Powell's heavy breathing, and felt every eye watching me as I stumbled out.

I walked along the empty street, my temper raising. Need a smoke, I thought. To calm down. That's right. I took a cigarette, inhaling the putrid fumes, and yet being completely intoxicated by them. I took another, but the lighter failed to catch alight. I cursed under my breath, flicking it one, two, three times before the orange flame appeared.

I was retracing my steps, only now ignoring the obnoxiously bright lights that flanked the road. I turned the corner to face the low slung brick houses that seemed to loom in the darkness, before fumbling for my keys. The cold metal slipped from my sweaty hands. As I bent down to retrieve them, the door opened.

"Get inside"

I slumped in, like a disobedient schoolboy. She looked at me, her tired blue eyes hard and cold as she surveyed my pathetic body. I scowled back at her.

"Come to berate me?" I sneered "Say that I'm wasting my life away? Because I don't need your bull-"

"No" she said, her face morose, her voice strained. "I want you to leave. I can't take you anymore-"

"You want me to leave, you worthless cunt? It’s my fucking house!"

"Just pack your bags and go. I can't-can't take your...your...your attitude any more."

I looked her dead on in the eyes. My temper was boiling again, my hands now forming into the all too familiar shapes of fists.

"My attitude?" I said quietly "I have been trying to hold us together ever since I've come back. I have been sweeping streets, trying to put food on our table, while you just sit around, praying or doing some other jackshit like that, wishing for our problems to just go away."

Her eyes flared as she flew at me, her rage easily eclipsing mine.

"You think you have had it tough? Frank, I carried our daughter for nine months, every day thinking she would never see her father's face, only for her to....to..." Her anger faded for a second, as she began to tear up. She quickly regained herself, the rage returning as she spat at me.

"Only for you to come back a changed man! Quitting your job and refusing to find better work. Wasting your life away down at the bar drinking yourself to an early grave. Coming home reeking of booze and cheap perfume! So don't you dare say I've had it easy, Frank. I haven't. I really fucking haven't!"

I looked at her, my hands starting to shake. "Don't you understand? Ever since you've gone to that fucking church you're the one who’s fucking changed. You are one of them. So you know what? You can get the fuck out of my house!"

A hand smacked into my face, hard. The heavy rings sliced through my skin, cutting a fine red line across my right cheek. I stood, looking at her in disbelief. But that disbelief faded quickly, with my anger now reaching exploding point.

"You bitch" I growled, as I swung a heavy uppercut into her jaw. Blood spurted from her mouth, as she stepped back, sobbing in pain. I advanced, possessed by a primal rage. I summoned all my energy, tightening my face on one of pure concentration. The room was suddenly filled with a blinding light as a flash of white was projected from my hands, hitting her square in the chest.

The body of Hannah Eisner flopped to the floor, lifeless. Her limbs were contorted, her face one of horror and fear.

I stepped back. The silence was absolute. Without thinking, I turned on my heel and ran. Ran to safety. Ran to escape. Ran to avoid looking at the face.

Part II

18th August, 2103

A sharp bust of pain erupted in my stomach. My eyes opened, adjusting to the light before another jolt of pain shook my body.

"That's enough Sánchez. I need to talk to him", a voice said loudly in Spanish.

My eyes were now fully open, as I sat there, surveying the room. The only source of light was a small, barely functioning bulb, giving off a barely serviceable hue. The floor was hard, and rough, with no attempt to make it seem more comfortable. I realised that I has been stripped bare, and my hands manacled in impossibly heavy cuffs behind my back. Blood was caked into my hair.

Two figures stood in front of me. Both were muscular, although the one on the left was noticeably stocky in comparison to his companion, who held a large baton in his hands. They wore a kind of grey uniform, and black, faceless helmets that obscured their faces. the stocky one stepped forward, removing his helmet as he approached. I reconsigned the thin face and hooked nose.

"You awake now, gringo?" he said, his lips forming a sardonic grin.

I let out a groan of pain. He turned to his comrade, speaking fast in Spanish.

"Sánchez, lift him. Use force if necessary."

The helmeted man approached me, grabbing me by the arms, and hooking his own through mine. I struggled, flailing as he tightened his grip on me, raising me so my feet dragged along the found as I faced my captors face. As I started to make another move, a heavy knee rose up, smashing in-between my spread eagled legs. I spewed out a flurry of profanities, doubling over, only to be hefted back up again. The Mexican smiled, as he extended a baton in his hands.

"Listen, gringo" he said as he stepped forward slowly, his hobnailed boots echoing across the room. "From now on, I am-how you a-would put it? God. That's it. I am your God. You understand?"

Beads of sweat trickled across like tears. "Why are you doing this?"

"Isn't that the question" he smirked, as he raised the baton, before it came fast down into my genitals.

I screamed, my body raising up in pain. The man behind me gripped my arms harder, so I could hardly move as the baton came down again. And again. And again. The pain was eternal. I felt myself slipping out of consciousness. As I did so the familiar shock of the stun gun jolted me back. The baton made another hit, and fresh shrieks of pain started to fill the rooms.

The Mexican stepped back, wiping the sweat that had accumulated on his brow. He observed my sobbing, broken body. He then turned on his heel and smashed me in the head. I groaned as my vision became foggy as blood started to run down my head once again.

"That's enough for now, Sánchez."

The big man dropped me on the ground. My body flopped uselessly, as I curled up in pain. The Mexican gave a short braying laugh as he left the room, with the big man following him. I gasped, my breath coming in short busts, as I crawled across the floor. I felt the blood, tears and sweat run down my body, before erupting in a fresh burst of sobs, as I huddled against the cold, concrete wall.

It felt like days later when I realised I was starving. I tried to get to my feet, before remembering that, with my hands cuffed behind my back and weighing me down, doing so would be nigh impossible. I thought how to move. I started to crawl on my knees over the door. I cried out as my skin was scraped from my knees on the granite floor. As I reached the door, I smashed into it with the side of my body, hoping for someone to come. It did nothing but leave me with a dead arm. Damn.

"Please!" I shouted, my voice hoarse. "Can someone, anyone get me some fucking food!"

No answer.

"I have rights!" I shouted, smashing the door again.

"Please" I sobbed, as tears started to run down my face again. "Please."

And I slipped back into darkness.

"Gringo!" the loud voice shook me from my solace. "Gringo!"

A gloved hand shoved my head up, slapping me twice to get me awake. Two heavy arms pulled me into a semi standing position. My groggy eyes registered the bulky shape of the Mexican.

"Please," I croaked "I just want some food. Please."

He laughed.

"Please" I begged, but his comrade smashed the back of my legs with his baton. I fell to my knees, before he placed a large boot on my back. He grabbed my hands with his own massive palms, holding them in the air. I was facing the dark floor now, unaware of the actions taking place behind me.

"What the fuck are you doing?" I screamed, trying to escape from the grip imposed on my hands. I heard a match being lit.

“Would you like a cigarette gringo?”

I suddenly felt a searing pain in my hands. For a split second there was silence, before I shrieked in pain. If the last beating was horrifying, this was hell.

Suddenly the searing agony was replaced by dull, throbbing burn that seeped into my skin. I sighed in relief. Maybe that was all that they would do. Maybe-

I howled as the cigarette came down upon my hand, burning through the ruined layers of skin. The pain this time was increased a hundredfold. I kicked and shrieked, trying to escape. They only held on tighter.

The Mexican ducked down next to me, smiling. "Do you feel pain now, gringo?" he laughed, "You like to smoke, yes?" As he said this his beefy hand grabbed my head.

"What are you doing? Please-" I wailed, but he clamped his hand over my month. He lit a cigarette, before twirling it in his hands. He laughed, before shoving the smoking object dead on into my naked eye.

Nothing could prepare for the sensation that followed. The heat melted my eyeball in seconds, with the remains dripping from my empty socket. The burnt flesh curled inwards, as the cigarette was removed. I couldn't see, as I fumbled and tried to claw at my face, yelping.

I looked up, my face streaked with blood. The Mexican kicked at me. My back arched sharply upwards as the steel capped boot came into contact with my stomach. I retched, but no bile came out. The Mexican crouched down and grabbed my face with his massive hands.

“You get your food when you deserve it, gringo.” he sneered in his thick accent, before standing up, pointing at his boots also covered in blood. "Lick your filth off of my boots, gringo." he barked. "Now!"

I shook my head, desperately trying to hold my face in a passive expression. He smashed me again in the rib cage.

"Now, gringo!"

I shook my head again, barely holding back my tears of pain. His face cracked into a smile, as he grabbed the back of my head and pulled at my hair.

"You will do as I say or this goes in your other eye." He held the still smoking cigarette close to my remaining eye. "Now, clean up your blood."

I looked down at his boots, and humiliated, started to lick off the blood from his boots. He kicked at my face, sending me flying backwards. "I said you must lick my boots, gringo!" he snarled.

I slowly crawled towards him, head down. I almost lapped up the blood, so eager was I for something to refresh my dry throat. The Mexican broke into a deep, throaty laugh as he turned to his companion. "The gringo is learning, Sánchez." He started to walk to the door. "That will be all, gringo." He smiled, before exiting the room, leaving me alone again.

I suddenly hunched over, retching. No bile came from my throat. I groaned. The initial burst of pain in my eye socket had been replaced with one that was dull, throbbing into my brain. I hung my head, defeated. My eyes were dry, with the stains of blood and tears trickling down my face. I shivered, realising I desperately craved for a cigarette to numb my senses.

I looked up. The door had opened to reveal the helmeted man, his frame dominating the room. He dumped a cheap wooden bowl on the floor. The contents almost spilled out, dripping down the sides of the bowl. I looked over to see it contained gruel, grey and thin. I looked up at the man, my face strained.

"Can I have a spoon, please?" I barely made the words out, my throat was so dry. He stood there, not even glancing at my pathetic form.

"Please" I was grovelling again, my face morphing into an expression of self pity. He still stood there, vigilant and silent. I looked the grey sludge. I paused, before slowly dipping my face in, like a dog. It was tasteless and watery, but felt like manna from heaven.

As I lapped up the gruel, I heard the ominous sound of heavy footsteps. I looked up, to see the hooked nose of the Mexican looming over me.

"I see you are enjoying our hospitality, gringo." His face lit up, delighted. "In fact, how about I give you another gift, gringo?"

"No" I snarled, desperately trying to move up to my feet. "You won't, I-"

A fist swung in a right hook, hitting me in the temple. The Mexican strode forwards, his face a mask of anger. "Don't you ever speak to me like that, gringo" he spat. "You are what here?"

"A gringo" I muttered, my head bowed in shame.

"That's right" he said, a twisted smile crawling across his face. "Now, where were we? Ah yes, your treatment" He nodded curtly to the helmeted man, who brought his knee up between my legs. I fell to the floor, but his hands were already hefting me up as the Mexican stood over me, baton in hand. I noticed barbs wrapped around the baton, and struggled. The Mexican's eyes glinted with malice as he raised the baton.

"We have been too soft on you, gringo" he growled with unabashed delight. The baton came down onto my stomach, tearing an ugly, misshapen line across the skin. Automatically I screamed, with the Mexicans braying laugh accompanying it. I shook my head, avoiding the sight of the blood that gushed freely down my torso. The Mexican struck again, until I felt like I was drenched in blood.

"Sánchez, how could I've not realised that beating the gringos like this was so ... fun."

The man holding me grunted as the Mexican attacked me again, the baton catching on my skin and ripping into it, like a rabid dog. I felt dizzy, the pain numbing my other senses. All the while his grin only widened in sadistic glee.

"You like this pain, gringo?" he cackled "You beginning to understand?"

"What?" I screeched "What the fuck am I meant to understand?"

The baton caught on my empty eye socket, tearing the flesh from it and scraping the bone. I howled, buckling from the pain. The Mexican flicked a few gristles of skin from the barb before turning to his companion.

"He's close to the breaking point now. Leave the dog for a couple of hours."

My body flopped aimlessly as it was dumped on the floor, as the men marched to the door, their heads held high. I as they left I had been muttering-the same three words like some sort of chant.

"God help me, God help me, God help me......."

Part III

The arched windows shone an almost unbearable light on the cavernous room, yet it was shrouded in darkness. He was kneeling in this darkness, head in hands, hidden from the eternal stares from the hooded shadows. He suddenly looked up, his eyes dead and sightless. As if responding to a call he started to take slow, deliberate steps, almost drifting forwards. His body was intent on traversing the room, seemingly oblivious to the utterly blinding light. The shadows hissed at him, starting to grab and claw at his limbs, but he walked on, blind. His hands grasped the handles of the heavy wooden doors, and he pushed them open, ready to embrace the light. His eyes opened to see that he was standing in an empty street, the air cold.

He turned only to see looming darkness, with darting shadows. When he turned again he saw a distant figure, clothed in white. He started to take his purposeful steps before the figure became more distant, escaping his field of vision. He started to run, and instantly he started to slow as dim, warm light started to encompass him. He felt relaxed, his body at ease, as tentative hands caressed his body, with whispered voices cooing messages of pleasure into his ear.

"No!" The words broke the spell, so he could only see the ever faint figure disappearing into the darkness. The shadows flared up, their figures transforming into hell fire. His steady run turned into a quick sprint, as he pursued the figure, the fire starting to pursue him. His eyes never turned back on the ever growing fire as he traversed the darkness, so fixated was he on catching his elusive prey.

He looked out. The figure had stopped, the fire now raging distantly in the background. He approached the figure, who was bathed in a pillar of light. He could see the white dress, and flowing black hair.

"Hannah...." his voice was but a ghostly wail, as he reached out to caress her body. His finger tips were just out of reach, catching only thin air. She started to rise, upwards from the beam of light.

"Hannah!" He shouted, before the hellfire engulfed him, melting his flesh in an instant. He screamed as his bones disintegrated, leaving behind only ash, as the shadows swarmed the light, leaving behind only the eternal darkness.

Part IV

? September 2103

The dull pulse of the flickering light hummed quietly. It felt tranquil, a calm before the storm. I sat. transfixed by its dim glow.

The door opened. I instinctively shrank into the corner, desperately trying to cover my face. I whimpered the form of the Mexican stepped over me into my field of vision.

"Please" the words were barely audible, yet came automatically from my mouth. The white grin bore into my soul.

"Hola, gringo" he smirked. I was heaved up by the helmeted man, my eyes closed in acceptance. I knew what he would do-first the baton, then the stun gun, then the cigarette. It was routine now, monotonous yet painful. I braced myself, but as usual that did nothing to quell the sharp sting when the baton sliced across my back, opening the wound it had left the day before. I buckled under the pain, letting out a muffled scream. I could see the Mexican nod in approval before the batons barbs sliced into me again, deepening the cut further. A third time, and the familiar scream came again.

"Such a shame gringo" the Mexican said in a mock childish voice "And you were doing so well"

The Mexican walked over to face me before smashing the barbed baton into my face. My nose exploded, blood splattering over the walls. I fell back, with the helmeted man not even bothering to heft me back up. The Mexican crouched slightly, before he started his continuous beating, hitting my body in a steady rhythm.

I screamed, sobbed, kicked and struggled, but as usual it was useless. After what felt like an age the pain was almost null, as I barely resisted both the stun guns sharp, sudden shocks and the cigarettes slow, agonising burns. It felt like an age before they left my burnt, bleeding, broken body, curled into the familiar position on the floor. The tears ran silently down my face as I had started to mutter the string of rhetoric I was so fond of, drifting off back into the peaceful darkness that was sleep.

I was awoken to the sound of the door opening. The helmeted man carried the bowl full of its foul contents. I gave it an apprehensive look before starting to lap it up.

Suddenly muffled sounds started to come through into the room. The helmeted man looked up. A sigh of annoyance came from him as he moved towards the door.

"Aren't you coming to collect my bowl....sir?"

He didn't even look my way as he walked out of the door. I waited for the familiar slam of the heavy door to come. I looked up. The door stood there, wide open, the dank wall behind it shrouded in shadow. It was inviting me, tempting me, to walk through it.

I tried to heave myself up. It was difficult, with my hands bound in the impossibly heavy manacles. I eventually resorted to sliding up the wall, scraping by back, opening the barely healed scabs, staining my back with blood.

I took slow steps, struggling to keep balance. The sounds were louder now with raised voices screeching a slew of profanities in Spanish. I strained my ears. Were those.......gunshots? I shook my head, gasping, as I almost tripped over.

I was outside the room now, feeling as if I had stepped onto an alien world. I was in a corridor, long and empty, with a dark green hue, ancient brickwork, and the familiar flickering lights. The corridor was lined with thick steel doors, all closed, each leading I assumed into into a room similar to the one I had just exited. I turned to face the left end of the corridor, where I could see another door, slightly ajar. I shuffled close to the wall, trying desperately to stay afoot. It was a relief to be able to walk on my two feet again, although I would glad to be rid of these damn manacles.

I was almost at the door. I looked around, waiting for someone to call the alarm. The corridor was deserted. I observed the heavy door in front. More muffled voices could be heard, although I couldn't recognise any of them. I nudged open the door, only to see a blinding light. I let out a cry, trying to shield my hands but only succeeding in toppling through the door, into the light. I squeezed my eyes shut, before I heard a voice shout

"What the hell?" a voice muttered in Spanish.

Two hands grasped my naked form, pushing me against the wall. I opened my eyes, which steadily adjusted to the bright lights, only to face two helmeted men in black military fatigues, although neither were my previous captors. I could clearly hear sounds coming from beyond this room, the sounds being a mixture of shouts, crashes and gunfire.

"Who the hell are you?" the man holding me said quickly.

"He's the man González and Sánchez have locked up."

"González's dead. Speaking of which, where the fuck is Sánchez?"

"How am I meant to know?"

I was aware of the sounds from outside getting louder. I groaned softly as they bickered, causing the one holding me to turn his head.

"You speak Spanish?" he said in broken English. I shook my head.

"Carajo!" He cursed "You name?"

"G...gr...gringo" I stuttered. He laughed.

"You real name"

I screwed up my face in concentration, trying to remember.

"F...Fra...Frank. Frank Eisner. I think."

"Bueno!" The mans companion exclaimed, "Frank Izner you say? Bueno."

The second man nodded to the one holding me, before I was marched to the heavy door, that now barely muffled the raised voices and sound of banging that came from the other side.

"Stop!" the second man shouted. "We have Frank.....Izner? Yes, Frank Izner. If you do n..n..nat stop we shoot Izner. Understand? We shoot Izner."

The sounds started to die down. The man holding me laughed.

"You think the gringos have given up?"

The second man shrugged, "How am I supposed to know? We should just shoot this sod and leave."

The first man nodded in agreement, drawing a pistol from his hip. He turned to me. I instantly backed into the wall furtherest from the door. He smiled, advancing on me slowly. I saw him click back the safety lock on his pistol, before aiming it at my chest. I kicked out, catching his leg, causing him to fall. As he did this his finger slipped off the trigger, burying itself into my knee. The second man motioned towards his comrade as I turned back. It seemed the helmeted man who had fed me had not gone this way. There must be another way out.

As I stepped into the door frame, an explosion propelled my body forwards, sending me smashing onto the cold floor in the corridor. A sharp ringing sound filled my ears as my vision became blurry. I heard the sound of heavy boots stamp into my limited view, and a figure in a black jumpsuit crouching down to observe my face.

"He's alive!" I heard the Southern accent. "Eisner's here!" "He's..."

But my mind was already drifting into the unknown.

Part V

He opened his eyes. He was in a dank, dark room, little more than a cell, with only a flickering light for company. He looked down, realising he was little more than a cadaver, his flesh rotting or burnt, with his bones protruding thorough his paper thin skin. His hands were tied behind his back, in what he realised was his intestine, ripped from his gut and knotted through his hands. He tried to heft himself up, but a dull pleasure kept him rooted to the floor. He looked disparagingly at the ground, before he suddenly rose gracefully, his head held high. The light seemed to darken, but he walked towards the door, his feet gliding along the ground. Shadows reached out to claw at his limbs, but he ignored them, transfixed on the door. Rather than open it he merely glided through it, oblivious to all that surrounded him.

He was standing in a gothic church, bathed in a green light. Statues lined the walls, depicting what he assumed was the virgin Mary. On closer inspection he found their faces were buried in cloaks, so they could not be seen. He frowned, before observing the rest of the church. It was plainer than he had originally thought, with the stained glass windows being merely a random collection of colours rather than the usual intricate designs and religious imagery. The pews were the empty, the candles unlit. The altar was simply a table under a white cloth. Behind the altar stood a figure, dressed in white.

"Hannah!" He shouted, his voice rising in joy. She started to walk, and it was he noticed the small door situated at the back of the church, a door in which she was approaching. He ran, expecting to feel the lick of flames on his face once again, but none came. The figure had already exited through the door, but he kept running, his eyes fixated on the door. He ran through it, keen to see what was on the other side.

He looked around. He was surrounded in darkness. Ahead of him was the figure, illuminated by a ray of white light. He was standing here again. The point of no return.

He approached the figure, taking slow deliberate steps. "Hannah?" His voice was quiet, and ethereal.

She turned. Her face was alabaster white, and could've been angelic, if not for the blood running down her cheeks. He almost recoiled as she faced him down, before he took her trembling hand.

"Frank?" she said, her voice a distorted whisper. "Why are you here?"

'"Hannah!" he cried "I...I..."

He stopped. Why was he here? What did he need now?

"Frank" she said "My time is over. You know that. Let me go."

"No!" he screamed "Hannah, please, I'm sorry, if we can just-"

But she was already raising into the light, her hand sliding out of his. Tears ran down his face, as he stared longingly up into her face.

"Goodbye" She said as she was enveloped in the light, leaving him kneeling where she had stood. He bowed his head, before raising to his feet, his arms outstretched.

"Please" he begged "Please....God. Please."

Epilogue

Gerard Taylor sat at his desk, intently observing his computer screen. Occasionally he glanced at what seemed to be a window in front of him, which was in fact a one way mirror. If one looked through the mirror they would see a room, painted entirely in white, with the only furniture being a single bed. A man dressed in a white robe sat on the bed, severely underweight with a gaunt face, and a shaven head that revealed a network of scars and bruises. One side of the face was heavily bandaged, covering the right eye. The man was ridged, his other eye closed, as he seemed to be muttering under his breath.

Another man entered the room, with lank grey hair, a long nose and a permanent sneer. He was dressed in a plain black suit, and extended a long fingered hand for Gerard.

"Taylor" he said warmly, although he did not give the slightest hint of a grin.

"Mr Walton!" Gerard quickly jumped to his feet, grasping Gary Waltons hand. "Good to see you at last. I assume you want to see your moneys worth?"

"I've been waiting for this for a long time" Waltons voice was a dry monotone that always seemed to bore Gerard more and more for every word he spoke. "If I hadn't been stuck in Chicago discussing god-knows-what I would've been here earlier." He sat down, wiping his forehead with a handkerchief. "So, what sort of state was he in when my men picked him up?"

"He was severely underweight, with numerous cuts, bruises, burns, and some internal organ damage. Quite a few of the wounds were infected. He was in intensive care for 2 weeks. Almost died at one point. We've cleaned up the worst of it."

Walton stared intensely at Gerard. "I hear he also lost an eye. That was your man, González, wasn't it?"

Gerard nodded slowly. "I didn't know he would do that. He stuck a cigarette in his eye. Tried to pull Eisner back, but his eye just melted. We have been able to clear away most of the damaged flesh from around there. Two days from now we are going to graft new skin onto the exposed area, and a cybernetic eye is being manufactured as we speak."

"I knew we shouldn't have hired González."

"He was authentic. And authenticity was the key here."

Walton shrugged. "So, did it work?"

Gerard slowly nodded. "By day four he was begging for God to save him. Continued that until the end. Charles spoke to him earlier. Told him that God answered his call and sent us. Well, did it in a more subtle manner. Convinced him. He's totally devoted. He's praying now."

Walton glanced at Eisner, before turning to Gerard once again. "And his wife?"

"She played her part well."

"She wasn't meant to die though." Walton snarled. "Has her death produced any side effects"

Gerard too looked at Eisner. ".....No." he said finally "Not any major ones." Walton nodded in approval.

"That will be all" he said before exiting the room. Gerard stayed in his chair, taking in Eisners pathetic form as he sipped a cup of coffee.

"None at all" he smirked. "None at all"

The End


K21LOGOpunk
Chronology
K21 - Dusty Blinds · K21 - I'm With You · K21 - Prayer · K21 - Kindred · K21 - Degenerate · ...
Prequels & Stand Alone Stories
Vallarian Trilogy · Ortus Continuity · Antecedence Double Trilogy · Artificial Elemental Trilogy · K21 - Broken Faith · K21 - Substantial Illusions · K21 - Judgement In Duty · K21 - Aces High · K21 - Limitless Sun · K21 - Distorted Closure · K21 - Loose Ends · K21 - Attache Case

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