Copyright 2010 Bailey Bradford, All Rights Reserved
Cold. He was so cold his bones ached and each beat of his pulse sent icy shards through his veins. The chains rattled each time he shivered, a near-constant medley reminding him of his bonds. Thick shackles bit into his wrists and ankles, reopening the scar tissue that had built up under the heavy steel.
Time had ceased, stopped completely when he’d been captured. How many days, weeks, months since he’d seen sunlight, felt safe and warm, didn’t feel the burning edge of pain exploding into agony, endless hunger or the bitter, cotton-dry torturous thirst?
It didn’t matter. He was here, and those who’d brought him had abandoned him to die, as he knew they would. Even the one man who’d tried to help him, who’d offered comfort and the only gentle touch to counter the beatings and pain, had disappeared. Ghost-like images of mocking faces, sneering, hate-filled smiles and taunting words swam around in his head. They’d left him, after keeping him in this cold, dark cave, left him to whither away and die, forgotten and wasted away, a pathetic shell of who and what he used to be. Didn’t even think he was worth the effort of killing quickly, mercifully.
A violent coughing fit took him, his sternum nearly caving in under the force of it. His chest ached, much as the rest of him did, feeling hollowed out and heavy at the same time. The small bowl of water his captors had left him was now empty. His throat burned, the only heat in his body, the craving for water, anything liquid to soothe those desiccated tissues was almost maddening.
More maddening. Even dying, his body shriveling in on itself, his mind skittering everywhere wasn’t enough to block out the fact he wasn’t ready to give up. He knew he didn’t want to die, especially not like this, alone, despised and discounted, weak and nothing left of the man he was before. Shifting was a long lost dream, something unattainable in his weakened, disoriented state. He mourned the loss of the ability, but no longer hoped for a moment of strength.
It didn’t matter. He was alone, utterly alone, without food or water, clothing or warmth. He’d rather have his torturers back, rather be spit on and reviled than be here in this dark hell by himself.
A half-sob, half-laugh ripped from him. His lips cracked and bled as he screamed, the sound ungodly and filled with all the anguish that had built inside him. Head swimming, body shuddering, he pushed himself up to his knees, uncaring of the sharp rock cutting through his skin. His Sahara-dry mouth opened, working furiously to pull out more sound. Alone and scared, angry and hurting, he shouted the one thing he still knew was true. The reason he’d been brought to this hell.
Marcus. I am Marcus.