III. Magnum •


Dalikoven Meta hung upside down over the stove, his head mere inches away from the red hot grate. He could smell the hair on his head burn away slowly and before he knew it his head would catch fire.

'So, are you ready to spill your disgusting guts?' the kid who had taken him from the prison said, lazily spinning the remote control of the pulley on his fingers.

He gritted his teeth, resisting the urge to spit at his face. 'No way.'

Wordlessly, the boy pulled a gear on the control and his head slammed into the grill. Dalikoven screamed in anguish as his hair burned to his scalp and started to singe, filling the air with the malodorous smell of burning flesh.

'Okay, okay!' he cried.

The boy took his time pulling the gear back and Meta closed his eyes unable to bear the pain any longer.

He sighed when he was lifted a safe distance from the stove. But his head was already raw and hot. He gritted his teeth in utmost anguish, then, unable to take in the pain anymore, screamed out.

'Cut me down!' he pleaded.

The boy sighed theatrically and began to pull the gear down.

'Please, boy!'

A shadow crossed the boy's face as his handsome face contorted in anger and he looked like a monster. Dalikoven had wondered earlier how they'd managed to recruit a boy so young.

'You dare call me boy, you piece of trash?!'

Oh no.

The boy dropped the gear and Meta landed face-first on the stove. The pain was soul wrenching and filled him with blinding white anguish. He screamed and blindly scarpered off the grill, falling in a heap on the cold floor that didn't help his pain.

He was aware that the iron door of the dreary room slammed shut but couldn't see a person through the pain.

'Take it easy on him, Two.' The voice was deep and dangerous. 'Have him steeped.'

Dalikoven could practically hear the boy's smirk. 'With pleasure, boss.'

He felt himself being lifted by the arm and dragged across the floor. He didn't care anymore. They could do all they wanted to him, he wasn't divulging a thing. He'd rather die than let them alter the great plans of the Gammadion Progression, he was sworn to secrecy anyway and would willingly do anything for them — including serving twenty one years in prison, which had been what he was doing before the boy had come and abducted him.

He was suddenly dunked into ice cold water. The chill pierced deep into his tired bones but he couldn't cry out. He could only struggle. The water dulled out the raw pain of his flesh and then started to numb him. He couldn't hold his breath again, his head was filled with excruciating pain from the lack of oxygen to it and he already made to open his mouth for breath — water, he was aware — when he was pulled up.

He opened his mouth to suck in air and in that fraction of a second he was dunked back in and choked on water. Laughter rolled around the room as he struggled in the water. He was lifted up again and dumped unceremoniously on the floor. Meta blubbered colourfully and earned a sharp kick in his side as reward.

'You're not gon' talk, are you?' the boss's voice boomed. 'Oh well,' he said after receiving no response from the tortured man. 'This is just the beginning. Start on his knuckles, Five and Twelve.'

'Yes, boss,' two voices chorused.


Exploring new grounds had always been her thing since she was a baby. Crawling away and getting lost many times was proof. Longest she'd been missing as a baby: two days, as a pre-teen: three days, teen: four days.

But rediscovering her family house wasn't exactly her idea of exploration, but hey, it payed more than suffering through another boring channel. The TV here too was free-to-air. She really should remind her brother to renew the subscription.

She had just opened the door of one of the many spare rooms downstairs which their parents had usually had locked. They had too many rooms already, and, not wanting to add more to the househelp's work, they simply shut off some unused rooms. It still baffled Kanadaa why they had bought a house with twelve rooms. They could have just had the normal family house of five bedrooms and two storeys.

The house was a three floor structure, with two living rooms — one of the first and the other on the second floor, a dining room, large kitchen, and three visitors' room on the first floor, and then five bedrooms on the second floor and four on the third, to mention a few basics. To say nothing of the basement and attic, both of which spanned the floor lengths of the house.

A spider ran across her shoes and she jumped with a start.

'Blasted thing,' she murmured and continued into the room, keeping her eyes out for more of the insect. But the room was dark and dreary, the thick, velvet blinds pulled shut.

She hissed and reached for her phone in her pant pocket and turned on the flashlight to look for a the light switch. It was nowhere to be found.

She moved to the other side of the door, and there was the damned switch! Reaching for it, she pressed on the button shaped liked the tip of a thumb.

The bulb flickered on, painting everything in the room with light. Dust particles floated about in the air, seeming to move towards the light rays from the bulb. She clamped a hand over her nose and mouth before looking around.

The room was littered with couches and some other furniture concealed behind dust-layered tarps. But there was a large, uncovered table at the center of the room, on which a giant chest-like box sat. It was wide open but she couldn't see inside it from where she stood, even when she stood on the tip of her toes to peer inside. Some sort of tools did lay around it on the table, though. Strangely, it didn't look to be very dusty from where she stood.

She lifted an eyebrow, walking towards it. Had Ruuga been here that recently?

Just as she took her third step towards the box, a thick cobweb latched unto her face. She shrieked, dropping her phone and furiously swiped at the invisible threads, trying to claw them out of her face.

She thought she heard a thud somewhere in the room, but was too busy trying to get debris out of her face and hair to think much of it. When she finally got rid of the last strand she shuddered and resisted the urge to be sick on her shoes.

Oh God, I can taste the fucking webs on my tongue! she thought, sticking out her tongue then lightly spitting out.

Way to go! She fumed, angry at herself and at the room.

While battling with the cobweb attack she'd moved forward towards the table the more and was now inches away from its edge. The giant, darkwood box lay smack dab in the middle of it, shut closed.

Kanadaa did a double take and her forehead pinched in confusion. She could have sworn the box was open when she first saw it!

Her face creased some more as she reached for it. Of course, it had been open! She remembered standing on her toes to peer in. So, how come it was closed now? Was someone else in the room?

The last thought made her jump and do a three-sixty around the room.

'Who's in here?' she said. Her voice could fit in a thimble.

Dust particles sailed around her in reply and she hissed softly, waving her hand in front of her face to blow them off.

'This is fucking ridiculous!'

How could the box had shut itself? It had been just seconds since she saw it open!

She pulled at the lid with all her might but it didn't even budge. It was shut tight. And there seemed to be no opening or keyhole or anything by which it could be opened.

She stared around again, and the thought that the house might now have ghosts in it flitted across her mind.

Yeah, and you're Queen Sheba.

She scoffed and turned back towards the box, surprised at the ridiculous direction of her thoughts. Frustrated, she hit at the box with the side of her fisted palm and left it to strut around the room.

She was starting to get bored already, anyways. The only thing worth discovering had shut itself up tight. The clothed furnitures didn't look very enticing to be uncovered, and, besides, she was scared of more spider episodes.

Giving the box one last long look, she started out of the room, reminding herself to bring in a saw or claw-hammer or something to cut it open.

'Stupid box!'

She went to turn off the light switch, already reaching into her back pocket for her phone, so she wouldn't bump into something gross again when she turned the lights off.

But it wasn't there.

She stopped and sighed, feeling her second pocket for the phone, but that too was empty.

'Where . . .' Suddenly she remembered shrieking and dropping it when the cobwebs had hugged her face. She turned back and stared at the spot where she had shrieked.

The only thing present there was a pair of disturbed footprints. Nothing else.

Something suddenly seemed lodged in her throat as a shiver lit from her core and traveled through her whole body.

The tarpaulins suddenly looked more ominous to her as she imagined phone-stealing ghosts lying under the thick covers.

She slammed the switch shut and bolted out of the room, creeped out.

Only to smack into something very tall and strong, right outside the door.

Kanadaa screamed.