Jimmy awoke in what he thought was a hospital. Then he tried to open his eyes, sit up in the bed, and couldn't. Panic set in as he realized he was bound and blindfolded. But not gagged; he called out until he was hoarse and dizzy.
The sound of footsteps brought a relief that was indescribably powerful. He babbled, raspy thanks and pleas intermixed with pained cries as he tried to move, to make it easier for whoever was there to free him. His words turned to curses when it became clear that they weren't there to help.
He was given a tiny bit to drink, a few bites of food. Then he was settled back; whoever it was walked away. A moment later a faint scratching sound caught his straining hearing. His first thought was rats, and he fought against his bonds; bad as things were, eaten by rats sounded like a horrific way to die. Suddenly the hands were back, gentling him, arranging him on the thin mattress of the cot.
Once he was calm, the hands disappeared. The noise restarted almost immediately; this time, he listened. Not nails scrabbling over a floor – it was too rhythmic. If he moved it stopped and he was carefully put back in place, like he was a doll, not a person.
The routine repeated for hours, maybe days… Jimmy lost track, lost in a swirling haze of drugs, pain and increasing weakness. At some point, he resigned himself to the fact that there would be no last-minute rescue.
By the time he felt the sharp edge of a blade against his skin, sliding under and peeling back the flesh, he was too gone to care. The soft exhale of two names, Abby and Sarah, was the last sound he made.