By the third blow, Zack was spitting blood. It wasn’t that they particularly hurt; he’d merely bitten his tongue. Still, the fact that the detective in charge of questioning him – procuring a confession, more likely – had waited only a few hours before turning off the security camera and bringing out the big guns meant something.
It meant they were more desperate than he’d thought.
“You’ll have to hit harder than that,” he laughed, spitting again – this time directly into the face of the stout man before him. “After all, I didn’t hurt anyone, now did I?” The laugh earned him another blow, the comment a second. Zack looked up calmly and met the man’s little piggish eyes. “It takes a lot to make an innocent man claim guilt. Are you prepared to shoulder that, little man? How many times do you think you can hit a kid before you feel sick? Or maybe you are no better than the killer you would make me?”
Zack felt blood trickle down his chin, drip from the small cuts across his face. He knew that, eventually, they would either find some way to prove his guilt or decide they didn’t need it. It was just a matter of time. He didn’t expect anyone to come for him, couldn’t even hope for it. Zack liked to think he’d try to save Blake, but he really couldn’t know until his friend was in danger, and he’d failed so spectacularly in the past anyway.
But that really didn’t mean he had to make it easy for them. The blows they dealt him meant little, the bruises rising on his face meant nothing. He’d endured worse even as a child, and Zack – even without the shield of his monster’s rage – would have been able to withstand it indefinitely.
“Did you know, little man, that I killed my mother? I confess it then, if that’s what you want.” The man actually reeled back, as if shocked to have produced a result. Zack supposed that, when violence was called for, usually it required more for the convict to gradually break. “Yes, I confess it, so arrest me! Let’s go! You want me to say that on camera, right? Well, then go turn the damn thing on!”
It was quite amusing, watching the little man scurry away, his face almost glowing. Zack wondered how a man so stupid could be a detective.
“I confess. When I was still only a child, I killed my mother. The official statement I’m sure says something complicated about childbirth, but the real truth is even before birth my negative aura was deadly. Also, when I was four, I poked a beetle with a stick until it bled to death… And then, when I was twelve, I had this goldfish and- wait, wasn’t that what you wanted, when you arrested me? I’m a murderer after all!”
Zack laughed again, smiling widely, displaying his bloody teeth. The man was turning red, and purple, and going pale all at once and it made quite a comic sight. “If you aren’t going to charge me for that, then I guess all you’ve got is breaking into a classmate’s house, right? So charge me and be done with it. Or you could hit me a few more times, see what good that does you.”
“You fucking murderer, I’ll nail you to the wall. Just wait until the DNA scans are through. You’ll be singing a different tone then, I warrant.”
They left him alone, after that, and Zack realized that it was the quiet, the time without a thing to do, without a game to play or an angry little man to irk, that would break him. He could withstand any number of strikes, any pain they chose to inflict, but the silence actually hurt. It let his mind wander, let the monster rise again, hungry and angry and full of rage.
For once, Zack let it go. That part of himself he’d kept walled off, sealed at least partially even when he committed the bloodiest of his kills, now ran free of any bond. And, as he surrendered to it, the rage became his own. The bloodlust too became his. The strength, the power, the skill.
Zack felt whole for the first time in his life.
And it made no difference.
The hands cuffed to the table before him couldn’t rise, no matter how deft they were. He kicked the chair away, taking great satisfaction in the way it slammed against the one-way-mirror, hoping it made those observing him from behind it jump at least from shock, if nothing else.
Climbing up onto the table, resting on his knees in an easy crouch, Zack looked around once, assuming he met at least a few pairs of eyes, then focused another bloody grin at the overhead camera. “This is for you, you fucking tyrants.”
Jamming his hands closed, Zack’s scream drowned out the sound of the breaking bones. It had been his monster’s idea, and, once released, the beast hadn’t wasted a moment before enacting it. Now it seemed less worthwhile as the pain ricocheted through him. But the light on the camera stayed on, and he smiled though the tears, hoping and praying that Neuf was hacking, that someone he knew could see him. He didn’t expect a rescue, but he wanted them to know that he gave a good account of himself.
Even with his thumbs broken, it was harder than he’d been led to believe, dragging his hands out of the cuffs. It scraped the skin from both hands, and the jagged edges of the bones caught on the metal. Zack didn’t scream, though, or stop working at it, because he only had so many moments before that fat little man came barging back in, ready to secure him once again.
But he was too late, and Zack was free – monster and all.