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The Beauty of the Cage

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Waylon dreamt.

He dreamt of wide, open spaces. Of blue skies and bright green fields of grass. Of safety, first and foremost. Even in dreams his mind seemed to know how trapped he was, because everything imagined was freedom. But once aware everything changed, as dreams so often do, and blue skies and green fields evaporated, replaced instead by looming skyscrapers and grey cement.

The city was empty, barren, nothing but vast, empty streets and towering buildings. Even the skies were threatening; Darkened clouds for miles, rolling in over the city.

He looked up at the sky, only to realize what he thought was clouds were in fact giant waves washing in over the city. Terror flooded his system as surely as the water flooded the city, and he didn’t have time to suck in air before it knocked into him.

At least dreams don’t have to follow the physics of any normal world, because he stood as firmly as he ever did, even when the waves fell upon him and the entire world was submerged in water. It was a disorienting sight, seeing the surface of the water ripple above them, and the skyscrapers being distorted by the flow. Perhaps if he kept looking he’d see fish, and not just to the desolation of the empty city.

All of those thoughts came effortlessly to him, as natural as breathing, when he realized he could not, in fact, breathe. Even if he could stand upright, there was no oxygen for him to make use of. He looked up to the sky again, and with a sinking heart he realized he’d never be able to swim up all the way. Not in time. If his eyes watered, he couldn’t tell, but the dull pain in his chest doubled and tripled, and he realized he was trapped once more.

His brain was fighting it, trying desperately to deny the body what it so desperately needed, but he knew once he drew breath it would all be over. It burned, not just in his lungs, but his limbs and his head. It all hurt. He had read once that drowning was a peaceful way to go, at least once you let go, let in, and gave up.

So he did. He opened his mouth for a breath that wasn’t there, and realized that he was awake.

At first he couldn't open his eyes fully. He could see flickering lights through half-lidded eyes, like the watery skies of his dreams, but he couldn't tell where he was. His arms felt strange, cold, like they had fallen asleep. He tried to move them, but all he was rewarded with was a dull tug and slight pain in his wrists.

What...?

Waylon tried to open his eyes, but his vision was foggy, as if he'd taken a swim in a vat of oil. He couldn't move his legs either, and the pieces finally locked together in his mind.

It all came back to him.

All those horrible hours in that locker, forced to witness Eddie's horrendous treatment of the other patients, unable to help or escape. For a while he had thought it would never end. That the rest of eternity would be spent in that claustrophobic space, air damp and heady with the coppery smell of blood and the never-ending parade of screaming men.

And now-

Oh my God...

Waylon forced his eyes open, blinking furiously as he tried to look around the room. It was still foggy and the light was strange, but whether it was his eyes or the lights themselves he couldn't say for sure. He didn't close his eyes, he kept them open even as they burned and watered, forcing himself to regain focus.

A strange chill ran down his back as he looked down on himself and realized he was naked. Eddie, the man downstairs, the monster, the groom, had actually undressed him while he was unconscious and strapped him down, like a pig for slaughter, like all the other men.

It was unsettling. Waylon had been so far removed from reality that he hadn’t even woken up. It made him wonder what else the groom had been doing while he was unconscious. He shuddered when he remembered the pain in his limbs and head in his dream, and he wondered if the man had done anything to him.

What alerted him he couldn't say, but he was suddenly aware that he wasn't alone in the room. Perhaps it was the slight tightening of his scalp, or the prickling that suddenly ran down his spine, something left over from when man was not man at all.

Either way, someone was observing him quietly, radiating heat and something else. Something that made the primitive parts of Waylon's brain light up like traffic lights, screaming at him to run. He started thrashing, rubbing his wrists raw on the rope, panting and hyperventilating in an effort to get away. Because he knew who this someone was.

It was no use. With another tug at his restraints he let his head fall back on the wooden table, defeated and helpless. Whatever Eddie had done, or planned to do, there was no escape. Eddie must have seen his resignation as a sign, because he chose that very moment to emerge from the shadows, like something out of a nightmare. If he had been in Waylon’s dream, then he’d surely be a shark. Eddie smiled at him, with far too many teeth showing, before he tightened the ropes around his ankles and stroked his skin gently.

Waylon shuddered as goosebumps riddled his skin, but Eddie didn't seem to notice, he just started speaking, his voice mild and almost gentle as he complimented Waylon's skin. If Waylon hadn't already witnessed what this man was capable of doing, he might have found great comfort in his words, but right now they turned his insides into ice, a cold sweat breaking out on his forehead when he realized what was about to happen.

Eddie disappeared from sight again, and Waylon tugged desperately at his restraints. There was a slight give to the rope, but not enough, and Eddie emerged again before he could get a good grip on it. He returned right by Waylon's side, allowing Waylon to stare directly up at his face for the first time. Waylon had already seen what the machine had done to the man’s face, seen it tear and blister through the computer monitor, but it felt very different seeing it this close. It was inescapable this way, seeing the full horror of what that little line of code had caused.

"-endure. For my sake. For the sake of our-"

Waylon was fully aware that Eddie was speaking, but he couldn't focus on the words, terrified to the point where he couldn't move, couldn't form any words or look away. Because no matter how terrified he was, he couldn’t tear his gaze away from the figure leaning over him, eyes locked with the monster’s, Eddie's eyes a strange mixture of blood-red and pale blue.

Eddie made a swooping motion with his hands as he gestured towards Waylon's chest, his hands still gloved and strangely clean, considering the mess Waylon had been witness to.

"-Away everything..." Eddie leaned over his lower regions as he spoke now, staring at Waylon's penis before looking up at him again. "- Vulgar. A soft place to welcome my seed." He placed one hand on Waylon's thigh, letting it slide up until he almost touched Waylon's groin. "To grow our family."

Waylon knew Eddie was insane. He'd read the files, hell, he'd seen what he had done, yet his mind kept racing through his options. Maybe there was something he could say to get through to him. His brain kept flashing, and he realized he was too afraid to even form words. If he opened his mouth, inhumane sounds would be the only thing escaping, and then he’d truly lose his mind. He kept thinking that he’d end up like that horrifying display he had seen earlier, body twisted and shaped into something grotesque and inhuman. Something terrifying left for other men to stumble across, before they, too, met their ends. He hoped Lisa wouldn’t see him like that. Oh, how he hoped she wouldn’t.

As if Eddie knew what he was thinking, he fiddled with something in front of Waylon, starting up the unmistakable sound of a buzz-saw.

Oh my God.

Waylon's mind wasn’t just racing, it was galloping frantically and desperately, forming and unforming plans in his head, unable to keep his mind from just blinking numbly with white noise.

Eddie moved him closer to the blade, all the while with that strange, gentle expression on his face, forcing him closer, so close he could feel the wood shatter and splinter a mere inch from his private parts.

Holy fuck, holy shit, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

Waylon shook his head rapidly from side to side, tears flying, but he didn’t care. He'd heard of others speaking of near death experiences, how life flashed before their eyes, but all he could sense were ice-cold panic and desperate nausea. His mind was blinking with danger, and for a second he thought the soldiers enclosing Eddie from behind were a figment of his imagination; Something his frenzied mind had conjured up to help him escape what was about to be done to him. At first he just stared at them blindly, not even calling out for help. His eyes were wide and empty, unblinking as one soldier raised his gun and hit it full force in the back of Eddie's head.

Confusion swept over Eddie's scarred face before he fell to the floor, and Waylon blinked at the soldiers wildly, tears of relief streaming hotly down his cheeks. He was just about to thank them when the soldier crossed over to him swiftly, raising his gun in the same manner as he had with Eddie.

Well, fuck...