“So, Rachel...I know it’s been a hard time for you, it’s tough for anyone who’s been held hostage...but I’m here to ease any fears and worries that weigh heavily on your mind. This facility will do everything within our power to rehabilitate and make you feel safe from that serial killer…”
“I’m not worried...I wasn’t even worried then…”
“Ray, this is a common behavior between many hostages...but I can assure you, this killer played with your emotions to make himself look like the hero to you. It’s a common tactic.”
“It’s not a tactic, Isaac doesn’t lie.”
“Please understand what I’m trying to say, this is for the good of your mental health and security. Whatever feelings you had for a murderer is fabricated. Whatever he taught you, we can unteach. You can live your life as you see fit.”
Hearing those words and concerns fills Rachel with a sense of helplessness, it’s like she’s talking to a wall that just won’t budge. She knows her feelings towards that man was genuine, every word they exchanged, there was no deception behind any of them. The final moments in that building, her, floor, and everything that occurred beforehand - she and Zack came to know each other and realize their motives, even their place as human beings.
‘If you want to die….swear an oath for me to kill you! Swear it for yourself…’ Zack’s voice plays in her head. ‘...and swear it for me!’
She still swears, this wasn’t some manipulation tactic these doctors keep gloating about. No, the only perfect fit for that behavior was Danny. A doctor just like them, who gaslights her how to feel, how to think, and continues to make her feel less than a person for refusing to hear her out. She clenches her fists, sickened from the thought. She’s surrounded by Danny-likes - whereas Zack was so different. He was a killer, yes, but as she survived with him in the building, they both got to know each other. Isaac adhered to her desires, making sure to keep his promise, but it wasn’t without its own side effect. Ray made him feel more human than he’s ever been. After the close call on Cathy’s floor, Zack had become more level-headed, and even with the case on her own floor, he was also tender towards her.
Then there was the expression on Zack’s face when she was at death’s doorstep - despair, a look Zack wanted to see plastered on the faces of his victims. So distraught and filled with sorrow, knowing that he was about to lose her in his arms. Before her vision began to fade, she swore she saw tears in the eyes of the killer.
Thinking back on it, her heart aches, and longs to see him again.
“Make way for the new prisoner.”
“Hey guys, fresh meat!”
“Psh, what a little pussy, I can take his ass…”
“Get back, and stay in your cell!”
Isaac quietly followed behind a posse of officers, as they lead him down the prison halls with a chain leash. It’s almost like they were sharing off a trophy animal they just caught. It pisses him off, but not as much as the hoot and hollering of the convicts ready to break a new inmate. All talk, that’s what they are, and Zack knows it. If he wasn’t in chains now, he would be more than happy to show these tough guys how scrawny he is.
“So where are we tossing him in?”
“Warden says to toss him in the end cell with no other inmates, but fuck that...I think I got a better idea,” gloated one of the officers. “You remember inmate 133572?”
“The guy with the hammer?”
“Yeah him, no other prisoners want to fuck with the dude...and he’s looking awfully lonely...I think he could use a friend.”
They plan to have him thrown like some bait animal, Isaac grit his teeth, hearing the sinister cackles between the officers. If he struggled now, the officers wouldn’t hesitate to beat the shit out of him, and basically have him served on a plate to this hammer killer. No, if he’s going to be pitted against this prisoner, he has to be in top shape.
“Hey, 133572! You got a roomie!”
They reached for the ring of keys at their hip, and unlocked the cell door. One officer kept an eye on the prisoner, ensuring he wouldn’t try to bolt out or attack the other guards. The prisoner just laid in the top bunk, seemingly unbothered, as the officers shoved Zack into the cell and removed the binds as soon as the doors were locked. They appeared pleased with the possibility of the two murderers going at each other’s throats.
“Tell the patrol to skip this cell for a while, let them get acquainted.”
Isaac shot the men a glare, until he picked up the sound of the mattress being jostled. The prisoner was sitting up to investigate who they left behind in his cell. The prisoner was rather bulky, and quite older than Zack, to the point where gray was peppering at the sides of his hair. There’s no question this man could take out as many people as he could with a hammer, he had the build to back it up.
To the man, Isaac was just a young kid, there was a wild and untamed look, but only one visible eye was there to show it, as the other was concealed by a tuft of onyx locks.
“This is a first…” the man muttered. “Kinda young to be tossed in a place like this. The hell you in here for, if they wanted to throw you in here so bad?”
“Hmph...you’ll find out soon enough in the papers…”
The larger man raised an eyebrow, confused with it all, he just seems like a young kid given the short end of the stick. To throw him in here with the intention of getting roughed up seemed rather fucked in his own opinion - then again, this whole damn prison was fucked in all sorts of ways. Well, since this new inmate was young, and he himself was seasoned, may as well show how the pecking order worked.
You had to make the right kind of allies, or be pushed to the bottom of the ladder.
A hospital was its own prison for Rachel, she feels trapped, being told the same things over and over again - almost like they were bent on indoctrination. She hated every passing day inside the hospital, as they treated her bullet wound, as they invested every inch of her body for other wounds and bruises, and even went as far as to probe her for signs of violation while in the company of Zack; all the while they constantly questioned her or kept saying that this was for her own good.
Ray feels used, trapped - all the while her feelings are cast aside. She knows what went on, what her thoughts were, and they didn’t.
To them, killers did not have allies.
She laid there, alone in her sterile room, in her thin bed. It’s a bone chilling cold with barely a sound filling the walls. However, there was a small comfort to help quell the heartache and loneliness she feels. As Rachel laid on the sheets, her hands lightly feel at something cool and metallic. In her hands, she held a scuffed up knife, an old bowie knife that she’s all too familiar with. It was the very same knife that Isaac gave to her, as protection, and as a promise. This specific weapon was supposed to be evidence against him, and she knew it had been confiscated when she was admitted. Police wanted to question her so much when she came to, anything considered to be evidence was kept in a lockbox for them to pick up later. When Rachel went to “walk and stretch her legs”, her real reason was to scout for said lockbox and take what was rightfully hers.
After that, she knew to keep it hidden so well. Aside from the oath, this piece of Zack she has to keep to heart was physical.
As Ray felt at the sharp edges, her mind immediately drifts to his appearance. His onyx black hair, his surprisingly soft skin, and those wild eyes, with one a piercing gold. The other eye, she knows so well, hidden underneath that tuft of black hair; it was left permanently dilated, while the area on his face was damaged from a large scar. He always tried so hard to hide it, even after sharing his tragic story to her, but it seems no matter what, Zack will always view it as his hideous secret. To her, it was never a flaw.
Zack was Zack, nothing more and nothing less. Not a monster, not an angel, but a human being.
Another sleepless night passes, and day rises in the prison containing Isaac Foster. The prospect of him getting scuffed by his roommate didn’t happen at all; rather, the night was uneventful. To the disappointment of the officers, they opened the cells for the prisoners to head out and eat breakfast.
Judging from Zack’s records, if the Hammer Murderer wasn’t going to instigate, then Zack surely will.
The young man quietly sat at one of the tables in the cafeteria, he’s never really eaten a proper breakfast before, but to him, food was food. The scrambled eggs were a bit runny, making it hard to scoop onto the fork, but guiding it to the pile of hash browns seemed to help get the food into his mouth. Instinct nagged at him, like he had eyes cast right on him. He did what he could to ignore it, eating was more important, and beating someone’s ass can come later - that was the plan, at least. As he scraped more food onto his fork, he sensed an abrupt and forceful slam on his table. There were two men standing right in front of him, and the source of the noise was a thick newspaper with his picture as part of the cover. Isaac directed his attention to the paper, and immediately caught notice there was a photo of Ray as well.
Zack stopped what he was doing, and lowered his fork on his plate.
“So you’re Isaac Foster, huh? Never thought the Back-Alley Murderer was some scrawny bitch…” one of the prisoners sneered.
Zack’s expression was empty, refusing to show the slightest of emotion, he wasn’t intimidated by their obvious intent to dominate him in the prison yard. It’s just like with those damn cops, it reminds him way too much of Cathy, and it pisses him the fuck off. Not only that, they chose to commit the biggest crime of all in front of his presence - they smiled, almost ear to ear, as if they didn’t have a care in the world.
‘Happy people makes monsters…’
Before the men knew it, Isaac lunged forward, shooting a hand forward and latching on to whichever was closest to him. His grip was firm and punishing, and it was all he needed to take down this bastard. The prisoner couldn’t even regain control, as Zack quickly used his inhuman strength to force him to the ground, slamming the back of his skull onto the cold, concrete floor. There was a disgustingly loud crack, and that was enough to spur the other inmate to grab Zack to yank him off, but he too became a new victim to Zack’s rampage. He quickly let go of the fallen man, and latched onto the inmate’s arm. He held onto it tightly, forcing it outward, and balled up a fist to project it right at his elbow.
Then came another crack, followed by the howling cries of pain - Isaac wasn’t finished.
His cellmate had gotten his tray of food, and was ready to find his own spot to eat in silence, but everything quickly turned hectic; he could hear loud scuffling, cries of agony, and the rest of the prison chanting like blood-crazed beasts. As he turned the corner, there came the sounds of loud thuds and angry growls. In the center of the restless crowd, he can spot his new roommate, holding a chair in his grasp, and ruthlessly swung it at the incapacitated men.
Thwack upon brutal thwack damaged them even further, breaking more bones and crushing their ribs. There was also a look on Zack’s face, his eyes were dilated from adrenaline, and there was a frenzied grin plastered on his face.
“Get him! Cuff this motherfucker!”
“Everyone else, get back to your cells, now!”
Inmate 133572 stood back, leaning back into the kitchen to appear like he just stepped in, as to be one of the lucky ones to go back to eating, while the rest sat in their cells. The officers got their batons and pepper spray to herd the unruly crowd into their cells, while the rest went to fight the hostile Isaac Foster, and restrain him at all costs. Even with two officers wailing at him, Zack showed no signs of backing down - now the fight went to them, and from two officers became five to over power him.
The old prisoner was a hard ass in his day, but he never did nor witness another prisoner fight off so many officers so effortlessly in this degree.
Five officers became ten, using all of their combined weight to finally force Zack onto his knees, and put him into submission. Even still, the young man continued to struggle. This did leave the other officers able to drag out the wounded prisoners and take them to the infirmary. Eventually, Zack was pinned down, forced to remain there until he was tied up and strapped onto a hand truck to be wheeled off. Those who had holed up in the kitchen were free to sit down and eat in peace. The Hammer Murderer took this moment to walk over straight to Zack’s table to see what the conundrum was about.
He saw the newspaper that was roughly splayed on the table, and glanced right at the front page, “ Back-Alley Murderer Caught, Found With Hostage ”. He’s heard about the Back-Alley Murderer, though he internally scoffed at the media’s need to label and glorify whatever brought them ratings - even he can’t shake off the status of Hammer Murderer. As he ate, he read through the article, the Back-Alley Murderer was none other than his cellmate. He read every sentence, how Zack had been caught holding an injured woman, near death, from a burning building. There was some insane story of him being part of some group where killers resided on each floor, he used to be one of them until he apparently broke one of the rule and was branded a sacrifice with the woman. It really did seem hard to believe, like something from an exaggerated horror movie. Something else about the article caught his eye, the woman mentioned, Rachel Gardner. Both parties mentioned working together and constantly asking for the condition of each other, yet their concerns were being jotted off as Stockholm Syndrome and manipulation.
Biased as usual. The man sighed, knowing a paper wasn’t going to get him the right side of the story. He rolled it up, and tucked it into his jumpsuit, if he was to get a proper story, then he was going to ask his cellmate, Isaac Foster.
For the whole day, Isaac was locked in solitary confinement, until he was hauled out to be put back into his cell. He said nothing, and shuffled to his bunk. He sat himself down, and stared at his feet the whole time. Zack appeared trapped in his own little world, but something snapped him out of his brooding when it plopped right onto his lap. His eyes quickly shot down, and saw the same exact newspaper from this morning. The older man watched as Zack picked up the paper and turned his attention straight to the woman. There was a different look to the younger killer’s eyes as his fingers felt at the image, a longing of sorts. There was definitely more to the story than what the papers were leading on. Stone-cold killers never made such a face, especially in this prison.
“Figured you wanted it, so I snuck it in when the guards hauled you off…”
Isaac glanced upwards to his cellmate, then back to the newspaper. He proceeded to rip it up, taking only the image of Ray to keep.
“So...mind filling me in what really happened? The papers are normally full of shit…”
“Figures, can’t read ‘em anyway…”
Isaac told him everything, assuring his cellmate that anything that came out his mouth wasn’t a lie. He told him of how he used to live before being enlisted in the building, how things were run in there, and everything that transpired when he ran into Ray. The biggest thing that the older man caught on was the slight tone in Zack’s voice when talking about the woman to their eventual separation, it’s clear that he wants to see her again, even for just one visit. This promise that Zack and the woman made seemed like such an odd one, but in the story told, they were willing to hold on to it to the very end.
“Huh...so you’re willing to see this girl. Yeah, the newspapers are full of crap, I can tell you didn’t kidnap her just from how you talk about her.” The older man said. “Not a lot of prisoners here even talk about their loved ones in such a way.”
A slight tint of red appeared on Zack’s cheeks, with a scowl to match, “Shit, don’t make it sound all soft n’ mushy...yer’ gonna make me hurl…”
“I’m not making it sound that way, you are,” Inmate 133572 said with an amused laugh. “I’m going to be serious here, son...you want to see her again?”
Isaac really couldn’t hide it, he is tucking a blurry photo of her on his person. The young killer tightens his lips with a groan, and lightly mumbles his answer, “Y-Yeah...yeah I do…”
“Well then…” the older man said, reaching a hand down to ruffle his black hair. “Stick with me, kiddo. I’m a lifer here, gonna stay until the day I shrivel up and keel over, but the plus side is I know the ins and outs of this place and how things are run. With all the time I got, I’ll help teach you some tricks, while we plan your breakout…”
“Huh? You really want to do this kind of crap for a stranger? Y’ know I’m prolly gonna go out killin’ again.”
“Like I care. Watching the cops here shit their pants that you escaped would be damn entertaining,” the man chuckled.
Zack was starting to like this cellmate, perhaps those pompous officers throwing him in here was the best thing to happen to him.
“Hey, never got yer’ name.”
“...Andrew Holt...but some folks here call me Andy…”
“So how are ya’ gonna get me out?”
Andy hopped off his bunk and walked over to one of the walls, he wriggled a brick loose and revealed numerous items sitting in a small cove. Metallic items, lighters, even numerous packs of cigarettes.
“I’m pretty damn good at smuggling shit when I feel like it,” he said with a proud tone. “This prison is older than I am, so the walls are flaking apart, and digging out shouldn’t be too hard. I can show you how to make shivs, tools, and how to hide them all during this prison’s weekly searches.”
He was going to teach him how to properly survive in the prison walls, not like the gang bangers that Zack beat to hell. Andy was going to show him everything he learned, making shivs was a start, and an obvious favorite lesson to Zack. Anything, and absolutely anything could be made into a weapon or any tool of choice. Never hide paraphernalia in the most obvious spots when Confiscation Day arrived. Cigarettes are currency, people would even trade their firstborn for some.
So if Zack wanted to gather information and escape, he had to learn these tricks of the trade.
“I just want to know how he’s doing...I’m not asking where he is…”
“What good would that be? It’ll backtrack on the progress we made so far, Ms. Gardner. Please, just let him leave your mind, and you’ll feel all better…”
“I won’t feel better if I don’t know if he’s okay or not!”
“We’re not going anywhere with this…I think some time in the garden will help clear your head…”
It’s hopeless, it’s absolutely hopeless, and the faculty continues to treat her like some broken child. She’s a woman, she thinks for herself, but right now her main concern is the health of Isaac. Is he alright? How was the injury on his stomach? What about his bullet wounds? She’ll never get any answers and it’s clear that this place will never tell her.
She was brought out into the garden, hoping the calm atmosphere would ease her mind of being held hostage by the serial killer. It didn’t help in the slightest, the gardens and arranged flowers reminded her of the flowers grown on Eddie’s floor, something the young grave keeper needed to adorn the coffins and graves of those who were killed in that building. Rachel is tired of it all, being surrounded by reminders of that day, yet constantly forced into group therapies, being fed lies, and having every bit of her own thoughts and concerns blown off. They keep saying she might relive her trauma, but right now, she’s feeling more traumatized than ever.
“The man known by Isaac Foster has been incarcerated in prison for about a day now, and already we are getting reports that he has assaulted fellow inmates and put one of them into a coma. Police say that this incident will be another count to his crimes when he is taken to court.”
Rachel perked up, hearing a familiar name, and followed the sound. It’s static and mechanical in a way, so it’s either a television or a radio. Either way, this was the only information of Zack’s well-being that she can get.
“A date for his hearing hasn’t been set as of yet, the authorities are still gathering evidence and information regarding his connection to his victim, Rachel Gardner, and the possible murders of her family. Not to mention, police are still scouring the burned down building they were found in to see if the killer’s story holds any merit - detectives are skeptical.”
Ray can feel the heaviness in her heart flutter a little with relief. Zack is okay, he’s in prison, but he’s still his abrasive self. She still misses him, his bold personality, and even his darker sense of humor.
He’s still alive, and that’s what mattered…
“Oh, let’s toss him in with freaking 133572, he’ll beat the shit out of Isaac Foster...now the two are buddy-buddy. Separating them into different cells will only turn them more violent.”
That’s the dynamic during the last few months, Andy showed Zack everything, and he picked up the knowledge on a dime. The young killer made the most efficient and easy shanks to take out anyone who pissed him off in the prison yard. He didn’t care if it tacked onto his sentence or got him tossed into solitary for a few days, Zack knew he was going to get a trade off when he got out.
That was what they planned, should Zack take out some big shot that pissed him off, Andy was going to collect every shred of information regarding Zack’s case, as well as the status of Rachel Gardner, and when he would return to his cell, the old prisoner would tell him everything he gathered. The police still want to add a kidnapping charge when it came to Rachel, as well as blame him for the deaths of her parents.
“Fuckin’ bullshit, I never even met those two. They were already dead when I did see em’,” Zack scoffs.
“They don’t care, sounds like they would rather close two cases and be done with it…”
Zack rolled his eyes with a sneer, “Whatever...got any info where Ray is at?”
“Nothing yet, but I did chip at the bars while you were holed up. They’re already loose, but doing a few more should be big enough for you to squeeze through.”
“Oh fuck yeah!” Zack said excitedly.
“The sooner, the better though...they said your court case is in a couple of days.”
“Ah, shit…” Zack grumbles. “Gimme that pick, I’ll start diggin’...”
Andy handed him the warped metal tool, and pointed to where he left off on the bars. Zack glanced at the chipped area, seeing a dip in the bars on the outside - clever, during the usual inspection, they won’t see anything out of the norm. He quietly picked away at the weathered stone, while the older prisoner kept watch for the guards. They both knew they had to keep quiet or avoid any suspicious sounds to alert anyone.
“So, when you find the girl...what next? You mentioned that promise of yours…”
“She asked me to kill her, and I’m not a liar…”
“That’s all you plan to do? Bust out to kill her? I mean, how would it be any better than killing any other broad on the street?”
“...Because she’s not any other broad…” Zack replies. “...she’s Ray…”
“Well what I’m trying to say is...how’s it going to make you feel better?” Andy asks. “Once you do the deed, that’s it...now what? Just go back like it’s any other day?”
Zack paused in his actions, his brain stopped ticking for a moment. If he fulfilled his end of the promise - then what? To go and kill someone out after Rachel made him feel... dirty , for some reason.
“...We never said it had to be right away…just, that it was going to happen…”
Hearing that made the older prisoner cock an eyebrow, there was hesitation in Zack’s voice, and he knew it. There was something about that woman that made him act human, whereas everyone else he couldn’t give a shit for. Andy didn’t care much for any of the mushy stuff, but he knows there was something else between the two, but given Zack’s demeanor, he wouldn’t call him out on it - the young man was too honest, especially with body language.
Soon, he could hear the sound of approaching footsteps, the older man snapped his fingers to get Zack’s attention, giving him enough time to ditch the tool, and hop into his bunk until it was safe to get up and about again.
Both men watched the guard glance into their cell for a moment, seeing they were just laying in their bunks. With an audible huff, he continued his patrol to check on the rest of the prisoners. Zack sat back up to continue his work, but felt Andy stop him in his tracks.
“Take a break for now, if you bust out before the trial, they’ll make shit harder for you…” he said. “Hop back to it when it’s over. You’ll have plenty of time then…”
“Th’ fuck should I do til then?”
“I snuck some music in, did some trading while you were out…”
“What, you got picky tastes or something?”
“I kind of barely listened to music…”
“Well, you said you were into horror flicks, right?” Andy asked. “One of the younger prisoners traded me one of their CD Players. The music seems the type that describes a good horror movie…”
“Ah, what the hell, I’ll give it a listen…”
Isaac’s court date had arrived. As the man was led down the aisle, he can feel the glares of the populace - not like he gave a damn, he chose not to give them the satisfaction of looking at them. The man was brought before the courtroom bound by his wrists and ankles in cuffs.
Murder on multiple counts, murder of a police officer, assault, it felt like they were just pulling charges out of their ass to put onto his rap sheet. Zack just stared on with a bored expression just waiting for it all to be over and done with. However, one word pissed him off.
“You are also charged with the count of kidnapping Rachel Gardn-”
“I didn’t fucking kidnap her!” he snaps. “Do I gotta beat ya’ over the head with it?! How the fuck do I kidnap someone that came with me on their own? Why would I even want to kidnap someone when I can just kill ‘em and go on with my day?!”
The judge slammed his gavel multiple times to silence him, but it’s clear that Zack wasn’t the type to be stifled.
“I told you the damn truth, anything that comes out of my mouth isn’t a lie - n’ I fuckin’ mean it!”
“Mr. Foster, you’re acting out of li-”
“Don’t call me, Mister ...I ain’t your dad or anythin’!”
The judge slams his gavel one more time, this time, with enough force that it snaps right off the handle. The whole room went a dead silent, and there was a heavy air of anger weighing on everyone.
“I believe we’ve heard enough...I’m going to give the jury some time to access the evidence and give their verdict…” the judge said in a low, monotone voice. It’s obvious that he’s enraged. “We’ll return in a few hours…”
“The court hereby finds the criminal, Isaac Foster guilty of all charges, including multiple accounts of first degree murder and assault, followed by the kidnapping of Rachel Gardner.”
“For these horrendous crimes committed onto society, I hereby sentence you to death…”
Isaac stared into the face of death many times, and not once has he been afraid of it, but the possibility of never seeing Ray again - that shook him to the core.
“You have time to sit and reflect on your crimes until a date of your execution is set…”
Isaac said nothing, showed nothing, not even a small hint of how he was truly feeling from his sentence. He simply left the room, with the bailiffs guiding him back into the reinforced van. Even the ride back to the prison was silent. He doesn’t care if he died, as long as he got to see Ray again, and hold their promise; to be denied that sends him back to the building, back to having a dying Ray in his arms, while that bastard Danny cackled for having denied their oaths.
“For once. He’s finally quiet, hope he stays that way.”
“He will soon…”
Andrew picked away at the bars again, blowing away the excess dust and debris for a cleaner surface to work with. The familiar taps of feet alerted his attention, and he swiftly tucked his tool into a loose crease of his sink, before sitting on one of the bunks, and opening a book to lower suspicion. He saw a small handful of guards walking up to his cell, with Zack in tow. There was a sullen expression on the man’s face he never seen before, but chose to keep quiet until it was just them to talk it over. The cell door was open, Isaac’s binds were removed, and he was shoved into the cell. The guards said nothing, as they locked the door behind him, then walked away to leave him to his shock. To them, it felt like a relief to hear his sentence.
“Hey Zack…” Andy beckons, even waving a hand in front of him. “Yo, they didn’t shove those crazy pills down your throat did they?”
“...No, I’m fine…”
“Oh shit…! Well, thank god for that. What happened back there? You look white as a sheet.”
“...Cuz I might not see Ray again…”
“Why do you say that?”
“Got the Death sentence today…”
Andrew paused for a moment, realizing why Zack was acting out of it. He ruffled his own hair, as he tried to piece together words to try and calm his nerves.
“Look, man...don’t panic over it. Yeah, the Death sentence fucking sucks, but do you really think they’re going to carry it out on the dot?”
“What do you mean?” Zack asks.
“Well, you’ve seen some old farts in this prison, right? They’ve done some of the worst crimes while we were still in the sack, and a couple of them have had the death sentence before dementia kicked in,” Andy continues. “What the prison likes to do here is drag their heels before actually offing a prisoner. You got a better chance of getting ED and gray hairs than seeing a date of your death sentence.”
So, he wasn’t going to die soon? Isaac wanted to mentally confirm this for himself, and walked over to the prison bars to glance at all the other prisoners in their cells. Some were indeed very old, some even frail or not mentally in this reality, yet they still remain here to rot for the remainder of their days.
“...So we got plenty of time then?”
“Yep, let’s hurry and get this shit done sooner.”
Moons rise and fall with each different phase lighting the night sky, one month passes another. Rachel hasn’t heard anything new about Isaac for a while now; maybe they caught on that she could be listening out for any information. It’s disheartening, and she wonders how the man is doing. He’s alive, that’s the only comfort she has. Even the therapists have noticed that she has talked about Zack less, to them, they saw this as progress.
Rachel noticed their enthusiasm, perhaps this could be used to her advantage. If she played nice, acted like things are returning to normal, then maybe she can leave much sooner - she can go find Zack. As much as she missed that man, she had to place her emotions aside, and use her brain to work with what she got, and overcome this obstacle. It’ll be like before, when she was apart from Zack on Gray’s floor, she knows she can’t fight in the same sense as Zack, but cunning was always her strong point. She just needs to treat this the same way. Rachel answered questions with what the therapists wanted to hear, to a slight degree, she didn’t want to raise any suspicion that she was playing them. She also made sure to behave accordingly, and even participate in the group sessions she was dragged to. It felt wrong in most was, but if it’s what it’ll take to earn her freedom, she had to swallow her pride and loneliness and just continue to play along until it was earned.
The more she did it, the more her heart began to ache. Each day proved to be a challenge to just lie and maintain a straight face. It was only when she was returned to her room, she slid to her knees, trapped herself inside of her thoughts, and fought her inner turmoil. She shouldn’t cry, it hurts so much, but to break down now was a sign that this place was weakening her. Rachel was her own woman, she mustn’t let them mold her into this person she doesn’t know - that Zack doesn’t know. She wants to be herself.
“I hope you’re fairing better, Zack...I don’t know how long I’ll be in here, but I really hope we can see each other soon…”
Just a little longer, she can try and last these lies just a bit longer…
“So, Rachel...is there anything you feel uneasy about?”
Ray opened her eyes, snapping herself out of her thoughts, and gazed up at her assigned therapist.
“You seemed a bit lost there…is anything making you uncomfortable?”
“No, not really...I guess I was just planning ahead for tomorrow…”
Another lie, but simple enough to be believed. She was thinking of Isaac again, as well as possible escapes - yet, security was so damn tight. It’s been two years already, two years since the couple had been apart. However, all her memories of that building continues to feel so fresh as yesterday.
“Oh, I see. That’s always good,” the therapist replied cheerfully. “I take it you’ve seen sleeping well?”
Ray almost hesitated for a second, “...Yes…”
“I see...well, I think that’s enough for today...I do apologize for being late. My last session with another client ran over time. So, let’s wrap this up and take you back to your room.”
“I can go there on my own…”
“We can’t be having that, Rachel. You know that…”
Ray bit on her bottom lip, she hates this, they continue to treat her like some sort of lost child that doesn’t know any better. It’s demeaning, almost like she’s stripped of being a person. All she could do is hang her head down in submission, and follow the therapist out of the room. Rachel paused in her steps for a moment to glance out of the window, eyeing how each one had reinforced iron bars welded on them. Being less of a person, being patrolled by authoritative figured in a secured building, it’s like she too was in a prison of her own.
“Oh, what a beautiful blue moon!”
Ray picks her head up to see the therapist gazing out of the larger windows to the night sky. Beyond the barred glass, she can see the bright blue moon lighting the darkness.
“It’s such a lovely night, isn’t it?”
It’s anything but a lovely night...
“Yes, on nights like these, it’s best to hop right in to bed,” the therapist said. “Sweet dreams await you.”
The woman paused, in a place like this, under the conditions she’s in…
“Let’s be on our way,” the therapist said, setting the pace.
No time to think, Rachel quietly sighs, and followed her back into her assigned room. However, she began to sense a tense vibe coming from the therapist, it was out of the ordinary, compared to her false enthusiasm each session. It’s like something was gnawing away at her, and she needed to let it out.
“Rachel...actually, before we take you to bed…” She says. “I do want to ask something...are you scared?”
“Scared?” Ray asks. “...No...why?”
The therapist breathed a slight sigh of relief, “That’s good. You’ve been showing so much improvement, since you’ve been designated here. That man who-...that killer who kept you prisoner, you’re no longer obsessed about him, like you used to be…”
A slight bead of sweat formed on Ray’s brow - did they catch on?
“So...I’ll tell you this, so you’ll truly be at ease. I’m not supposed to share information with you regarding him, but I think this news should help you sleep better at night from now on…” The therapist continued. “I’ve gotten the news about the court hearing...and…”
“That killer is to be executed…”
Rachel’s legs almost went numb for a second, and breath left her lungs as soon as those words were spoken to her. Her body feels incredibly cold, and her heart sink to the very pit of her stomach. Execution. Zack is to be executed. They’ll never see each other again, and Rachel is truly alone to bear the outcome of their oath.
Her blue eyes, once lit by the faint glimmer of hope for freedom, for reunion, have grown dull and lifeless.
“...I see…” she spoke in a cold, monotone voice. “...is that so?”
“I’m sure it comes off as some sort of shock to you, but now you’re able to sleep with some peace of mind tonight.”
Rachel’s pace behind the therapist slowed as she followed her back into her room - almost to a dead shuffle, even as she entered her under-furnished abode. They exchanged the usual ‘ good nights ’, followed by the creak of her door shutting, with the louder clicks of it being locked tight. Rachel stood there, listening to the taps of the therapist’s slippers as she walked away. Even as they grew dim and quiet, she stayed in place until a couple of minutes have passed. Her quiet room began to fills with the soft hiccups of sobs - Rachel couldn’t hold back her feelings anymore.
Execution...that was Zack’s fate. Even with her own freedom, there would be no point to it if Zack died. She promised to bear their oath if things came down to it, as she struggled to hold on to the thin thread of life. If Zack is ripped from holding the promise, then she would grant it in his stead - after all, she still had a precious something to make their oath valid. Rachel shuffled over to the other side of the room, where an old, dusty desk was kept for her to read during downtime, or perhaps write, but she did neither. It was a place perfect to store her precious treasure. She opened the drawer of the desk, and pulled out Zack’s old knife. It’s been kept in good care during her times of keeping it hidden, her fingers felt along the edge of the blade, sensing the honed sharpness of it. Ray knows it can still cut through flesh, something Zack would be proud of - it’s exactly why she’s feeling at it. If she is to carry the burden of their oath, then the proper tool must be perfect.
“Maybe we’ll see each other again some other way…” she mutters to herself. “Please let your hand steady the blade…”
Rachel held firmly onto the hilt, and guided the weapon right to her neck. Perhaps this would be the way Zack would want to execute her. One quick and easy swipe of her neck, and let the blade tear into her jugular, only then, will she feel the release of death. She just needs to push the blade down onto her delicate skin, and dig with all her might. Ray can feel her heart at her throat, beating wildly, and making it difficult to swallow down her growing anxiety. Her hands started to shake and sweat, making the handle somewhat slippery. She took in a deep breath, and let out a sigh of defeat.
“I can’t do it…”
It wasn’t just cowardice she felt, but something deep within her mind kept screaming at her to stop. Rachel stared at the blade, feeling disappointed within herself, but her instincts wouldn’t keep quiet to cease what she was about to do. She sighed quietly, resigning herself to yet another restless night. Maybe keeping his old knife nearby would grant her a little comfort.
“...It’s been two years...my nights have always been restless, and my mind is uneasy...” she mumbles quietly. “Tonight was supposed to be another sleepless night...all I can do, is shut my eyes...”
After such news, she may never sleep again.
Rachel quietly stepped over to her bed, lifting the quilt and tucked herself in. Her heart feels heavy, and her mind was in another torrent of thoughts. Like every other night, she laid her head on her flat pillow, and closed her eyes. Before she attempted to drift into some sort of slumber-like state, she slid Zack’s knife under the pillow, and held onto the hilt to at least let her memories of him soothe her - just a little.
Minutes turned to hours, time dragged on, as Rachel was stuck in a sleepless state. Her body seemed to slip into the natural state of rest, but her mind just wouldn’t allow the conscious self to join in. It’s a tense quiet, as every other night was, even the sound of rustling of leaves was muffled from the building’s thick walls.
Rachel jumped from her covers, it was a very violent sound, compared to the usual quiet she was accustomed to. Where did it come from? Her door? The wall? Was one of the other patients acting out of line?
It’s in her room, definitely. She turned her attention to where she heard the noise - the window. It’s a very forceful sound, as if something was trying to burst in, something that was out of the ordinary for the usual worker in the facility. Ray stood there for a moment, unsure what to do, and why something was hammering at her window. Judging by how loud it was, the noise would surely draw attention to security. Ray nibbled on her lip, then quickly rushed onto her heavy desk. She used every bit of strength she had to push the piece of furniture over to her door and barricade it.
“Rachel? What’s that noise?”
They’ve been alerted. Luckily that heavy desk will buy her some time to investigate just what was the source of the relentless pounding at her window. She crept up to the barred glass, and reached up to pull away the curtain for a better look. Something was there, beating away at the metal barrier with no signs of stopping - however, she can’t see just what it was. The bright blue moon had passed along the sky, shining its light right in her direction, causing the true appearance of this intruder to be overcast by shadow.
“Rachel? What’s going on in there?” The voice continued - her therapist. There was a brief pause, as if she was listening in on the strange noise, even taking time to test the door. There came the thud of the door meeting the desk, meaning she had been blocked off, while Ray was left in the room to face the intruder. “...I gotta call the police!”
Not good, when the police show up, the barrier won’t hold up for long. Rachel needs to see just what is on the other side. Maybe - just maybe, she can take a closer look, and examine from a better angle. She quietly stepped forward to the window again, hearing the slight crack of the glass threatening to give way.
A couple steps more, she could almost make the shape.
The voice came from the other side of the window, and suddenly Rachel was flooded with a feeling of nostalgia - no, it couldn’t be. Without questioning the intruder, she did as she told, and stepped back to give them space.
A few more harsh strikes, it was only a matter of time until the reinforced frame caved in.
The light of the moon filled the room, the walls, the floors, and even brought a brilliant shimmer to the glass littered about the place. Ray just stared on, as the stranger’s image grew clearer.
Onyx hair, with one piercing gold eye, and a dimmer one covered with scars. The figure stared right back at her, before giving her a sly and proud grin.
Rachel’s heart skipped a beat, causing her to drop the battered knife that she held dear. She knows all too well what these features belong to, and her thoughts fought in a tug-o-war of disbelief and solace. He’s here...this isn’t a dream...is it?
Pleased that she still remembers him, he slipped into her room, and swept away the glass with his clunky boots. He approached the woman, and placed a hand at her cheek to get a better look at her.
“There you go, making that boring face again…” he softly chuckled.
“How did I what, Ray?”
“You...you were supposed to be in prison…”
The man let out another quiet laugh, “C’mon Ray...prisons are made for breakin’ out of…”
Rachel’s heart continued to race, her cheek taking in the warmth of Zack’s touch. This is still all too good to be true.
“I...I said that I would bear the outcome of our oath…” she muttered.
Isaac raised a brow, he didn’t forget those words, especially as she knocked on death’s door that day. “...So, what about it? It ain’t yours to bear anyhow…”
It was both of theirs…and an oath that was held dear - right?
“Zack…” Ray beckons. “So...you...you still want to kill me?”
Isaac’s expression softened, “This is me yer’ talking to here, and I never lose sight of somethin’ I want…”
The speedy pace of her heartbeat skipped a little, sending a shock of warmth through her body, before fluttering at the pit of her stomach. He’ll never forget Rachel, even if he was hauled in a prison on the other side of the world, he’s made it clear that he was going to go through hell and back for her - that was enough to coax tears to stream down her cheeks.
Zack stepped back from Rachel, and turned to head back to the busted window sill.
“Hurry up, we don’t have much time left before we lose our head start…” Zack said. He hopped onto the ledge, and held on, ready to make their escape. However, Ray stood there for a moment, as if unsure what to do. “Or...did you forget?”
“No, Zack...I’d never forget…” Not him, not the oath, and everything they went through. “Not in a million years!”
“It’s an oath...that you and I made together…”
“Heh...that’s more like it!”
Soon, the two of them could hear the chaotic sounds of footsteps trampling down the hall, precious time was being lost during this heartwarming moment of reunion. They had to go and fast.
“...Come with me, Ray!”
The sound of frantic beating began to echo from her door, the barrier wasn’t going to hold on for long. Isaac reassured Ray that everything was going to be alright, as he extended a hand out to her. Holding back the bulk of tears, she took a deep breath, walking through the swept area of glass, and reached out to grasp it.
“Come on! Push together!”
Ray paused reaching for Zack, they were going to escape together, after two years of being apart. They need to get as much distance as they could - so, she leapt right into his arms instead. This startled the man at first, but he softly chuckled, and held her close, so they could make a soft landing.
The desk finally gave way, and the staff that entered Rachel’s room was met with emptiness. There was no Rachel, only the moonlight and an old knife that belonged to Isaac Foster. The security investigated the area, checking every possible corner that there may be an ambush, or Rachel might be hiding to make an escape. Whatever the possibility, there were risks not worth taking. One scoured the room, another investigated the discarded knife, while the other walked up to the busted window. There was fresh blood on the window sill, it wasn’t enough to indicate signs of a kill, but it was enough spilled to show whoever was there had been injured. The guard stuck his head out of the window, and glanced at the ground for any other traces. The bushes that adorned the building had been crushed, indicating that the intruder used it to cushion their fall, but anything after that, there was nothing.
Rachel and Zack had made their escape.
“Hey, Zack. Please, kill me…”
“If that’s what you want...then stop blubberin’ and smile…”