#9 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.
His eyes fluttered open as the bright halogen lights flickered and turned on. Their white glow lit the chamber from top to bottom. It took a moment to readapt to the new environment. The grey walls, scratched and marked by hundreds of desperate hands weren’t familiar. Anton Terrey would know if he had been in here before. He wasn’t frightened. This was his routine now.
They were still at it. These people would never give up. Not until he talked. But he would never break. A few more weeks in this place wouldn’t matter anyway. They were going to kill him. Maybe now, maybe later. He didn’t know exactly what these people did to those who refused to cooperate. Judging from what he had seen them do so far though, it would be prolonged and excessive. The past month he had spent here had been an inescapable nightmare. Anton had no doubts in his mind the next month would be just as unbearable. It was only a question of when.
An unseen speaker screeched and crackled to life somewhere above him. The interrogator. His best friend since this whole things started, or so they told him between beatings. The lights continued to sputter to life right up towards the top of Anton’s cell. It stretched up as far as he could see, with no end to it visible from where he sat. His cell was wide enough to hold him as he lay against the rounded wall, and even then it was still a tight fit.
“Anton,” the interrogator said. “Where are they?” The voice bounced around the narrow cell like a tennis ball. Anton shielded his eyes from the harsh light as he tried to find the source of the voice. He had never seen the guy in person. He always did his talking from behind a wall or a speaker, or the other men under his employ. Today though, he sounded different. Like he was in a rush. He needed results soon. If his prisoner refused to cooperate, drastic measures would have to be taken. Anton aimed to make the process as drawn out as he could, as a kind of ‘fuck you’ for their late night snatching of him all those weeks ago.
“Where are they?” the interrogator repeated. Anton said nothing. He knew the routine by now. An hour of questions, then pain. Then more questions. More pain. It would go on until he passed out, and he would soon find himself in a new cell, a new torture chamber, ready for another round. But he didn’t care in the slightest. He would never talk to these people. Anton Terrey would rather die than tell these white knight assholes what they wanted to know.
“We know you did it. Open and shut. You left evidence everywhere. Sloppy. Tell us where they are.” Anton stared up at the roof, only a distant spot far above from where he sat. The interrogator waited for a response. He received none.
Anton chuckled softly. They didn’t have a thing on him. He had disposed of everything well enough. Nobody would ever see them again. These were scare tactics, nothing more. He would be out of this cell soon, and during the march towards his next interrogation session, he would make his move. Anton smiled at the thought of finally getting out of this place, and inflicting the same pain on his captors as they had to him. And then some.
“This will not end well for you,” the interrogator continued. “You’re only making this worse for yourself the longer you refuse to talk. Tell us where they are now. Or you will suffer.”
Oh no, not more suffering, Anton thought sarcastically. The entire month had already been nothing but suffering. Did the interrogator enjoy doing this to him? He couldn’t tell. Either way, he kept his mouth shut. Just wait it out. He’ll give up and order the transfer soon. And then he’ll know true suffering when I catch up with him.
“Last chance Anton. Tell us what we want to know. Or you will not leave this cell alive.”
Still, Anton said nothing. Just continued to stare up towards the roof. It wasn’t bad in here. This place was nothing like the other interrogation rooms he had been in over the past month. No elaborate torture devices. No violent assholes trying to beat answers from him. A regular cell, nothing more. These guys must be running out of options if they had him in here.
If they wanted answers, they weren’t going to get any by demanding them from behind a speaker. Anton didn’t care if they beat him again, or removed various body parts or whatever. He had won, and he knew it. The pain didn’t even feel real anymore. Death would be welcomed with open arms, and the satisfaction of success. He leaned forward off the wall and faced the speaker up on the wall.
“Do your worst.” Anton slumped back, a smug grin spreading across his face. This was too easy. He waited for the interrogator’s response to that. Minutes quickly turned into hours, and the speaker remained silent. Anton frowned. Strange.
Almost three hours later, a distant sound far above him caught Anton’s attention. He looked up through the harsh white light above. Something was up there. And it was moving. Fast. He couldn’t make out what it was from here, but it grew larger by the second as it approached.
Moments later, something landed in the cell, almost hitting him. It struck the concrete floor of the cell with a fleshy smack. Anton saw it and yelped, startled. It was a body. Human. Female. Well and truly dead. The impact had twisted the body’s limbs around to unnatural angles, and as she came to an awkward rest on the ground, her head lolled over and faced Anton. His eyes widened. How did they…
“Ready to cooperate Anton?” the interrogator said, a hint of amusement in his tone. Anton gritted his teeth. He got to his feet, keeping his distance from the body.
“Is this some kind of joke?” he said, trying to keep a straight face. “Who is this? Another one of your torture victims?”
“Don’t bother lying to us Anton. Like I said, you were sloppy. Evidence everywhere. We found your shovel, the one you tried to dispose of at the city dump. Soil analysis traced it back to your farm, where we found her.” Anton glanced at the body again. She was covered in dirt. Fresh. Did these guys dig up a dead woman?
“You’ve killed a lot of people Anton,” the interrogator continued. “You’re sick. We can’t have people like you roaming free now, can’t we? If you don’t answer our question, well…”
Anton looked up just in time to see the second body falling almost right on top of him. He scrambled out of the way just as the corpse hit the ground. Rotten limbs flew off from the impact. Anton didn’t let the anger show on his face. He decided to try something different.
“Okay, okay! Please stop! I killed them, alright? There. But it was an accident! I didn’t mean to! They didn’t give me a choice! They hurt me for Christ sake!”
He paused, letting it sink in. He hoped they would buy it. For a moment it looked like it was going to work. In some ways it was the truth. He hadn’t meant for them to die so fast. How they had treated him over the years, the things his adoptive parents did to him in that farm…they all deserved what they had got. Every single one of them. They all had a part in it. They let it happen.
“Nice try Anton. But we all know you wanted to kill these people. It was no accident. We are well aware of the abuse you suffered at the hands of your foster parents after your adoption. We know you wanted to kill them right from the beginning. And we know you enjoyed it. No matter what they did though, they didn’t deserve to be slaughtered like that. What about the others Anton? Did they deserve to die? What did they do to hurt you?”
Another limp corpse plummeted into the cell. Anton stuck to the wall, nervously looking around like a frightened deer. The smell started to get to the point of overwhelming. Almost as soon as the body had landed, another dropped in. Then another. And another. Anton found it difficult to dodge them now, and had to use one as an umbrella to avoid injury.
“Stop it! Stop!” Anton yelled, but his plead fell upon deaf ears. Body after body poured into the cell. He started to panic. They weren’t going to stop. Not until this entire damn cell was full, or he told them what they wanted to know.
“Where are the rest?” the interrogator screeched over the speaker. “WHERE?”
The bodies kept on coming. There had to be at least twenty in the cell now, the cell only made for one. Anton groaned pathetically. Breathing now was nigh on impossible. The stench, oh God the stench…
“This can all stop if you tell us what we want to know. It’s up to you. Or we can show you just how much evidence we have against you.” Another body dropped. Anton craned his neck above the corpses like a swimmer in water, trying to stay afloat. He couldn’t keep this up. Soon enough, he cracked.
“Okay! I’ll tell you where they are!” Anton shouted at the speaker. “Just stop! Stop! Jesus Christ, please! You’ve made your fucking point!”
For a brief, terrifying moment, he thought the interrogator hadn’t heard him as bodies continued to rain down into the cell. But after a few more seconds, they stopped. It was impossible to breathe in here without gagging. Anton tried to use his shirt as a filter, but even that failed to smother the overwhelming smell of death.
“You’ve made the right choice Anton,” the interrogator said. “Where?”
Anton coughed, struggling to find the words. He didn’t want to do this. But the interrogator had bested him. They would have kept dropping corpses into the cell until the sheer weight crushed him. Or they would have just taken him away and found some other, more horrific method to extract the information from him. Enough was enough. He just wanted it to be over now.
“They’re…they’re gone. Buried. Somewhere nobody would ever look for them.
A pause. “Where?” the interrogator repeated.
“Oh God…the Davis Mine. One of the unused shafts, number six. They’re all in there.”
“Are you sure, Anton? Every last one? You’re not holding out on us are you? Because we still have plenty of evidence we can show you.”
Anton could practically hear them preparing to drop another body into his cell. “No! I swear, every single one of them are down there! Please let me go. I’ve told you want you wanted to know. Please…”
More silence. Much longer than the previous. Anton lay there, quivering in fear, almost identical in appearance to the corpses who accompanied him. They had to let him go now. It’s all they wanted to know. They had to.
“We’re done here. Thank you for your cooperation Anton. We hope your rehabilitation goes well.” And with that, loud pops echoed throughout the cell as each of the halogen lights on the walls began to shut down. From top to bottom, the entire cell started to fall back into total darkness. Anton was mortified.
“What? No, what the fuck are you doing? I told you what you wanted! Let me go! I don’t deserve to be down here! No!” Anton tried to climb the walls, using one of the closer lights as a foothold. He made it, but with no other light nearby to grab onto, he unceremoniously fell backwards onto the mountain of corpses beneath him.
“Like we said, we can’t allow you to leave. You’re a danger to everyone around you, and we can’t have that. We specialize in the rehabilitation of disturbed, violent and the otherwise damaged individuals of the world. In time, you’ll realize the errors of your ways. It’s a long process, but you’ll be a better person for it. If not, well…you’ll understand in time. Goodbye Anton. Enjoy your rehabilitation.”
As the last light flickered off, leaving Anton alone with his thoughts—and his victims—he began to sob.