I howled on landing, the fall knocking the air out of me. My leg ached and threw blood. I grasped it and sobbed.
“You all want to leave me? Is that it?” Gluskin exclaimed, “You all want to leave me? Fine! Go! You and the rest of these ungrateful sluts!”
Gladly, I thought.
I took a moment to rest and wallow in self-pity and pain, and then stood up carefully, supporting my weight on my good leg. I looked about.
Oh, for fuck's sake, you have got to be kidding me...
I was in a garden area. That meant that the only way out was inside. Inside the same building I has just left. Through a fucking window.
I cursed my way along, reaching for the door and letting myself in. A chill set on me as soon as I did. There was a sign on the far end that read 'Male Ward'. That was good. Part of the building that was filled with variants that wouldn't try to perform a castration. I hoped, at least.
I smiled to myself, feeling a little better.
Maybe I would escape. Maybe I would leave this hellish place and live to tell all of this. The building certainly deserved to be closed down and burnt to ashes, after all this.
I limped my way there and turned the knob. It clicked. The door screamed on its un-oiled hinges.
I didn't even hear it coming.
A great force pulled me back and threw me into a wall.
“I try,” said Gluskin, punching my face, “and I try,” he punched me again, “but you all betray me,” he slapped me and I fell to the floor, my blood spilling on the ground. I groaned, busted lip and aching nose pulsing with pain. He grabbed me by the collar of my shirt and dragged me along, and I clawed at the ground as if that might stop him.
Gluskin opened a door into a gymnasium and I stared, aghast, at what I saw. Men - mutilated and murder - maybe fifty of them, hanging from the ceiling like wet laundry. The smell was of fear and death - piss and blood - and hungry buzzards whizzed around me.
Gluskin tied a rope around my neck and I choked immediately.
“You can hang, like the rest of them,” he said, a calm resolve in his voice.
I shook my head, at a loss for words, but he just bunched the rope up in one hand, took more of it in the other and began to haul me up. I kicked out, struggling for breath, my hands at the tight, scorching rope.
“Heavier than you look!” he laughed, “If this is you on the honeymoon, I'd hate to imagine our anniversary.”
I kicked and squirmed, hearing the supports above snap. I plummeted slightly.
“Hold still, goddammit! What are you...?” Gluskin hauled me up again and I continued to kick and writhe, “Damn it, darling, you need to behave! Argh, no, no, no...”
The supports gave and I fell.
My body slammed onto the ground, wood and debris splintered around me, but the pain I should have felt didn't even register as I swallowed lungfuls of air. Air that stank of decay, air that was filled with hungry buzzards - but air that would keep me alive. The adrenaline began to subside and I felt the tightness of the rope around my neck, the burn that had tried to kill me. I scrambled to get it off, and threw it as far as I could from me - crawling back into a ball and staring at the rope, as if it was something living that could coil around my neck and strangle me again. I shivered and whimpered, lost and mortified in the hall full of swaying, decaying bodies above me.
Something grasped my hand.
I screamed to the top of my lungs - expelling all the air I had just consumed - but the grip was strong.
He was alive?
He was still alive?
He was still alive!
Then I heard whimpering - and was surprised to find that it was not my own.
I turned my head slowly, fearing what I might see.
But what I did see should have got a sigh of relief out of me. My mouth was hanging open, but no sigh came. I looked at him, my adversary, tangled in the rope he would have strangled me with - and one of the sharp metal supports that had broken and spared my life, had driven through his chest and would be the end of him.
He would die?
The concept was so unreal to me. I couldn't believe it. I still struggled to get my hand away from his.
Gluskin's grip weakened for a moment and then he tightened it, trying to pull me forward, “We...” he began to whisper, his dying voice still so smooth, still so tuneful it was jarring. Was it effortless for him: to sound so charming? He then took a laboured breath, “we could have been beautiful...”
He died. I watched him for a long while, waiting for him to twitch and grab me. But no.
No, he was dead.
And yet... I could find no piece on my soul to feel relieved. I knew him from somewhere, some place, but I couldn't put my finger on it.
And then it hit me.
He had been part of the asylum's experiment. I was there, sorting out some malfunction with the programme when I had seen him being dragged in, stark naked and afraid.
“I knew it was coming!” he had wailed, “You're filthy fucking machines! You fucking machines! No! Not again! No, no! Jack-booted fucks, I know what you've been doing to me! I know what you've been-” I had been watching him wide-eyed and shocked, and he glanced in my direction, “Help! Help me! Help me, they're going to rape me! Rape! Rape!”
Gluskin had thrown the scientists or guards or whatever off and ran up towards me and slammed up against the protective glass.
“Help me!” he had begged, “Don't let them do this! Don't let them! You! I know you can stop this! You have to help me! You have to...” and then they had pulled him away...
Sexually mistreated by his father and uncle.
Yes, I knew who he was. I had watched the footage once they had stuck him in the machine - with all the tubes sticking in his mouth and nose, the wires grafted to his entire anatomy. The way he struggled against them, they way they tore at his flesh, ruined the skin of his face.
Made the marks that were now inlaid forever.
Created the monster that had killed so many.
I remember being disgusted and thoroughly distressed then.
But now... now all I could feel was hollow regret.
This was why I had blew the whistle on the asylum.
This was why I had risked everything.
I got up and left.
All at once, I was determined to leave this hellish place and reveal it to the world for what it really was.
A place that made damaged men into damaging monsters.