Counting Cuts, Part 2

“One hundred and eleven,” the dark man said. He said the words with relish, as if complimenting a delicious meal. “I must say, you do seem to be better at this than most.”

I’d given up on counting with him when he’d moved onto my legs. It was taking too much focus just to keep from screaming. He didn’t deserve the satisfaction. I’m sure he could see me sweat, though, even in this dim lighting. Along with the flinches every time a droplet ran across one of the open cuts.

“I so rarely get to move on to stage two,” he continued. “Despite the time constraints, I am looking forward to it.”

“Stage two?” I asked. I didn’t really want to know, but I wanted to show him I could still talk.

“It involves a little mixture I’ve worked up. Alcohol, vinegar, that sort of thing.”

I swallowed. Tried to, since it had been hours of sweating and blood loss without water. I pulled together what will I had left. I laughed. I laughed like there was a joke only I knew. One that he was only just now going to realize.

“Don’t get too excited,” I wheezed. “You might want to check my arms again.”

The dark man set aside his knife and cloth. His eyes were suspicious, confused. The first time I’d seen him with anything but confidence on his dim, hooded face. He reached out to wipe his hand across my left arm. What he found there made him draw back.

As far as he could see and feel, the cuts were gone. Healed over as if they’d never happened. He took his cloth and wiped down every cut he’d so carefully placed. The skin shone smooth underneath the gore.

“That’s – how?!” He threw down his cloth and ran from the room, barely stopping to slam the door behind him. Echoes of the metallic crash took seconds to die down.

I released my pent up breath and let the illusion drop. Maintaining a multisensory like that wasn’t easy on the best of days. I’d been lucky I could hold it up a few seconds.

Hopefully, he’d be gone long enough for me to regroup. I still had a mission to complete, now that I was here.

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