Time was running short. Only a few hours more and Silvanus would be no more than a sinewy Dr. Pepper container.
Listening to his sporadic communications, we could all imagine the sound of the liquid rushing through grimy plastic tubing and into his veins, as we huddled round the small receiver and pored over the nuances of every spoken sentence. It was his sole means of communication with the rest of us, and as it crackled into life again our shoulders tensed as one.
“Malef… I wouldn’t put it past her…”
The mysterious hacking of the town’s PA system had directed our, by now desperate, attentions to the artistic souls among our number.
‘First literature, now art,’ I remember thinking. ‘Do Medpro’s claws grasp even wider than we thought?’
Then came a splinter of hope; news from one of our number about somewhere we had missed…
Silv’s art studio. All but forgotten, the wooden building lurked at the far end of his extensive garden, windows three-quarters shuttered like narrowed eyes, as if intentionally turning its contents away from view. As I was going to discover shortly, that was for good reason.
Cindy Sue and I kicked the front door down with a satisfying crunch, and surveyed the interior. To the left, I caught a glimpse of something pink. Remembering Silv’s previous mention of the colour, I craned my neck to peer into the room.
“Oh, awesome. I’ll… check in here.”
Cindy shrugged, and moved off into a hall full of manuscripts as I marvelled at the… ‘feminine’… pictures lining the room.
“Nice,” I muttered, making a mental note to come back later.
Nice, maybe, but not what we were looking for… and then I spotted it: A trapdoor, tucked away in the corner of the room.
I prised it open, and stepped down into a small area, not so much a room as a hollow, that it seemed the owner had been using to store correspondence, of which there was a great deal. At least, there had been at one time.
Almost all of one wall was now missing, in its place a large, jagged hole, as if the wall had been literally eaten away. Beyond this, a rough passageway stretched away out of sight, and my heart leapt. A breakthrough. Heh.
My fists clenched in anticipation, I ducked my head and raced down the passageway. It was a serpentile thing, curving and coiling round and round, until I had no clue which direction I was heading in. It darkened as I progressed and, cursing my lack of foresight at not bringing a torch, I took out my phone.
As I flipped it open and began to make my way forward by the light of the screen, I thought – no; I know – I saw something flicker in the shadows just out of the blue light’s weak radius.
The shock of this was doubled by a sudden sound up ahead. But the sound was familiar, and put all other thoughts out of my head – the crackling of a shortwave radio.
I pounded round the next corner, and barged through a flimslily crafted door, emerging into a basement room. I was expecting to see Silv, but there was nothing in the room save a load of dusty old art canvases. I noticed some steps leading up to another door, but the radio crackling continued from down here – through one of the walls. Pulling away the sheets and pictures from the direction I suspected the noise to be coming from revealed one final door.
This must be it.
The handle turned with a soft ‘click’, and I stepped through into a room that was the very epitome of dank, dark and dirty. And Silv was in the middle of it, tied to a crudely fashioned intravenous unit, a sugary, fizzy liquid seeping slowly down one of its many tubes… A shocked glance at the timer revealed that less than six minutes were left – had the timer been intentionally shortened? Did someone know we were getting close?
I yanked the tube out of Silv’s arm – time for apologies later – and untied his malnourished wrists. As he rose from the table and turned to hop down, I couldn’t help but wince at the sight.
The mystery continues…
Watched In Bruges last night – amazing film, really took me by surprise. Then hit the mean streets of Leicester with a mate and we had a couple of pints bemoaning the lack of decent women, trying to figure out why there aren’t any around before eventually realising that, of course, we’re probably just too lazy to look for them.