There’s fingers on his shoulders, digging into his skin, clamping him onto the bed. A heavy weight settles atop his body, pushing him down further, crushing him into the mattress. The figure above him looks human, except his eyes are nothing more but the blank white lenses of a pair of glasses, and his teeth are needle-sharp in his mouth, and his beard is a trail of dripping black ooze. Victor struggles to escape, but he’s trapped, pinned beneath this monstrosity, this horror –
“Don’t struggle, Thirteen,” the creature whispers, words poisonously sweet as he caresses Victor’s cheek. “It won’t do you any good. You’re mine – and you always will be.”
Victor, he wants to roar, my name is Victor and you’re dead and you can never hurt me again! But when he opens his mouth, nothing comes out – his voice is stuck in his throat, unable to break free. He settles for glaring, teeth gritted, eyes narrowed almost to slits.
The creature barely seems to notice, however. “You’ve been a very bad boy, Thirteen – pretending you’re anything other than what you are,” he scolds, though his smile never leaves his face. “Why don’t I remind you?”
Long tendrils of pitch-colored goo – Ruin, Alice called it, and it seems more than appropriate – suddenly appear, slithering up from the floor. They promptly begin shredding his clothes, throwing scraps of jacket and pants and tie into the far corners of the room. Victor tries to swat them away, but one seizes his wrists and pulls them above his head while another binds his legs, leaving him helpless against the assault. The creature grins above him. “Much better,” he purrs, running his fingers through Victor’s hair. “My little toy, to dress and undress and take as I please. . . .”
As he squirms in the tentacles’ grip, Victor wishes desperately for a weapon – something, anything he could use to wipe the smirk off that horror’s face. The image of the barbecue fork he used to battle Barkis swims before his eyes – oh yes, he’d be content with even that. Alice battles with a butcher’s knife, after all. All it needs is a slight upgrade – sharper tines, an edge on one side, perhaps a few curling vines and butterflies for decoration –
The last of his clothes are ripped off, leaving his pale body exposed to the world. The creature drinks him in with his glasses, snickering. “And you really thought you could get away,” he says. “Go ahead and say it – ‘I don’t deserve a name. . . .’”
To his horror, Victor can feel the words forming on his lips. He chokes them back, swallows them down – never again – and instead manages to hiss, “I’m no toy.”
The creature laughs cruelly. “Elizabeth thought that too – and look what happened to her,” he says, as the Ruin holding Victor captive abruptly flips him over and forces his knees under him, pushing his arse up toward the monster. “Oh, it took me some time, but I broke you,” the creature adds as he firmly grabs each cheek, and somehow his touch is both slimy and burning. “You’re never going to be the person you once were, Thirteen. You’re weak, and helpless, and worthless. And there’s no Alice here to save you this time.”
Victor can’t answer, can’t shout the defiance he so desperately wants to. His body’s frozen in fear, his mind screaming No not again not again. . .the creature’s – Bumby’s hot breath suddenly rushes across his ear, and he hears, “You’ll make a lovely consolation prize–”
And then he wakes with a scream.
Only to scream again when he sees what’s oozing from the walls of his room.