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i'm not upset
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Some hours passed. Was it hours? Maybe it was minutes. Definitely some amount of time had passed that was between 1 minute and 3 hours. He’d been nearly continuously tortured for 2 days, going on three. To him it wasn’t just that. Without sleep to break it up the whole experienced stretched and warped to be one horrible, inhuman day.

He laid down on a bed of the upstairs bedroom and stared straight up. Outside all he heard were the usual sounds of nature. By all accounts someone would describe it as soothing, but it was terrifying to him. Lying on that bed in the silence with his thoughts ricocheting in his hollow skull, he felt it. The fear was oozing just on the periphery of his consciousness, held at bay weakly by his efforts to keep from panicking. Staring into nothing, doing nothing, being nothing, his defenses faltered and the fear struck him in the chest like sickening, cold lightening. No one was going to help them. They would die. There was nothing he could do to save himself or Kimiko. All was lost. Caleb imagined the terror and helplessness of being lost at sea, drowning for days rather than to be done with it. He rolled over onto his side and curled inward. Despair consumed him, ate his organs and crushed the air out of his lungs.

Evil has won, hasn’t it?

Shakily he got to his feet and made another trip downstairs.

Caleb was sitting back in the living room staring at his half-eaten piece of pizza. How much later, it was impossible to tell. It felt like years had passed. A prize. It was a prize they had given her. They gave her food and a weapon like a rich sorority girl tossing a treat to a shivering inbred dog on the floor.

The sludgy, wary, painful cogs in Caleb’s mind started to turn and click together.

I love her, don’t I?

A prize for a kill. An advantage in trade for a piece of your soul. What was his soul worth?

Not much, I’m trash.

Trash for supplies and weapons. A good deal. A total bargain on his part.
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The Lagniappe · The Hunting Cabin