Frank has found one of his supposed killers, and it's time to find out the dirty details.
Chapter 2: Hostage.
6 days later.
Frank slammed the body against the wall, and pinned his arms against the bricks. I was sat on a smooth, leather chair, sinking into the cushion, quite relaxed. A whiff of cigarette smoke passed through my parted lips and circled the air, impairing my vision of Frank ever so slightly.
When the air cleared, I could see Frank tying the man’s arms behind a pillar. I leant forward, abandoning my comfort just to get a better view. After several unsuccessful nights of tracking the clan that had burnt down my house, Frank had finally recognised one of the culprits; and now that man was going to talk.
After padlocking the chain that secured the man to the pole, he finally stepped back and observed the room. He hadn’t taken any notice of the place I had taken him; he was too determined to get his revenge. The room was very dark. There were no windows presenting the backdrop that stood behind the neglected structure, they were all simply boarded up, which left the majority of the wall to the art of woodwork.
A dimly lit lamp swung low, ever so slightly lighting the room; but the weakness in the bulb made the atmosphere tense. There was a pillar in each 4 corners supporting the ceiling, which frighteningly looked as if it were to cave in any second now.
We were out in the desert- somewhere nobody would go looking; somewhere you wouldn’t expect the ceiling to be leaking several simultaneous splashes of water.
To add to that, the cracks in the crumbled roof kept passing sprinkles of dust through, every so often. That was tampering with my eyesight ever so slightly.
I started to drum my fingers against the chair. I was bored, and waiting impatiently for the entertainment. Frank was pacing slowly, his scars showing clearer than ever before, as if to ‘brag’ in the attacker’s face the damage he did. I noticed his fists were clenched, and he was furrowing his brows in a concentrative determination.
I took my hip flask out of my inside pocket, and drank the contents. I would need more alcohol if I was to put up with this much impatience.
I could see impatience reflecting in his eyes, also. He was tired. Mikey had had him doing chores left right and centre, not too difficult tasks, but enough for him to welcome a good night sleep with open arms. But I had been towing him around the streets at nights, endlessly searching for our culprit. And we had finally reached success.
Frank crouched down, staring at the man, sighing. I cocked my head to the side to get a better view of his expression, attempting to read his thoughts. His face was blank, but his brows were furrowed. I leant back, taking another smoke.
The man coughed.
Frank and I instantly became alert. He snapped back into focus while I began to load my gun, Frank checking if the man was secure enough to the pillar. I looked coldly at the man as he began to come around. Frank began the interrogation.
“Who are you?” He demanded. The man opened his eyes weakly and looked around, confused.
“Where the hell am I...?” He whispered.
“Shut up,” I hissed. “Who are you?” Frank glared at me. I apologised for interrupting before leaning back and drinking more alcohol.
“Why should I tell you?” The man said, groggily.
“I’ll tell you why, cause you almost burnt me alive you bitch!” He spat at him. The man’s eyes widened as he recognised the face.
“Why aren’t you dead?!” He shouted.
“Because you broke into my home,” I answered, “And when I returned there was enough time to save the survivors- meaning one.” Frank turned around and motioned for me to shut up. I stuck up my middle finger and carried on drinking.
“But that’s not possible, that house has been adando-”
“It’s called squatting, you ’tard.” Frank scoffed. He frowned, before looking back at me.
“So I guess you’re a goodie then, saving the weak,” He smirked- and an unattractive smirk it was. He wasn’t a good looking man, to be fair. His head was meant to be bald but he had a small stubble for a haircut, but there were still patches were there was no hair. He had a long, wounded face with cuts and bruises all down the side. He had a long nose, small eyes and a crooked grin. He was missing several teeth, and the ones that he did have had a yellow tint.
“Actually, no. I had the same idea as you guys did, taking him for a slave, but I ended up trading him for a temporarily home- seeing as you guys destroyed my old one.” I leaned in. “So yeah, your job would have been done properly, just next time don’t use someone else’s home for a massacre. Savvy?” He nodded limply.
“But what I don’t get,” Frank spoke loudly, “Is why you wanted me dead. So enlighten me.” The man grimaced.
“It’s not personal.” The man explained. “We wanted you all dead. Ste was-”
“Who’s Ste,” I chipped in.
“The man, top guy, the boss,” He snapped impatiently. “So yeah, Ste kept hiring you lot for all our dirty work, but it was getting out of hand. We weren’t getting enough money for income, so none of you’s were getting paid. Then you lot began to riot.”
“I didn’t, when was this?” Frank asked, accusingly. I could tell Frank thought he was lying.
“Yeah, you didn’t. We had hired about 90, and it was a very big, but very illegal, business. So no wage was meaning no fair play, and they started escaping and telling the police about all our work. We was on the run, several times. We couldn’t handle it anymore, we had to find and kill the snitches. The big thing was, right, if we kept you, we couldn’t pay you, and you’d run riot like the others. But if we let you go, you’d run off and tell the police bout us. So basically, the police would find out either way. So we had to kill of a few people to loosen the heavy weight- and, well, you was one of them. Sorry, but that’s just how it is.” Frank paused, and took in all this.
“And what was wrong with me?” He asked, insulted. The man rolled his eyes.
“You’re meant to be dead, you weren’t supposed to be asking all this crap. There was nothing wrong with you, we just picked the easiest ones to kill off. And you’re small, so y’know,” Frank punched him in the jaw, and the man gritted his teeth. I laughed. Frank began to pace around, listening to the man’s whimpers with glee. He paused, before staring intently into the man’s face.
“You never did tell me your name.” He whispered, barely audible. The man looked at him, and coughed.
“Rowan. Jack Rowan.” He spat out, spraying Frank’s face. A bit of dust sprinkled from the ceiling, and I started to doubt the stability of the building. Frank seemed to notice this two, and began to quicken his pace in interrogation.
“What’s the company you work for? It was a secret for the slaves who worked there, so I never found out.” Frank explained hastily. Jack smirked. “Answer me, god-dammit!” He shouted, pounding his fist against the pillar.
I flicked my lighter on.
The two worst mistakes to make- at the same time.
A big, solid block of ceiling fell through, crumbling into pieces during the fall. Frank snapped his head and jumped back before it smacked onto his head. Instead, it landing on Jack’s foot, and he screamed in pain, thrusting his body backwards.
The pillar disintegrated into a pile of dust and crumbled bricks, and the ceiling began to lose balance.
Patches of light began to escape through the roof as small pieces of wood fell through, before the whole ceiling started to fall down. A block of it landed on my left wrist, and the lighter was sent flying onto a piece of wood, which shot in flames.
The place was starting to be set alight.
“Shit,” I moaned, as the flames spread quickly through the planks of wood. “Run!” I shouted, and we wasted no time in legging it to the exit.
“Wait!” A voice screamed. It was Jack, who had managed to free himself from the pillar, but was fumbling about with the tangle of chains. “HELP ME!” He shrieked, the fire spreading.
I looked at Frank, who was staring at the man, grinning.
“Three cheers for sweet revenge- eh?” He smirked at me. The fire was building up to be roaring at Jack, almost as if it was on our side.
“Hip hip hurray,” I muttered. We turned back around and began to sprint.
“WAIT!” Jack yelled at me. “FREE ME AND I’LL TELL YOU WHO I WORK FOR.” I could hear the fear in his voice, but it was dominated by plead.
We stopped, and considered this, for a long, hard second. I shrugged my shoulders at Frank before leading him back around to our hostage, where we saw him desperately trying to free his legs from the chains.
“Give me the key, Frank.” I whispered to him. The fire was edging closer to the poor, helpless man now, the colours raging spectacularly in his face as if it to were gloat him, to tease him, before heading in for the kill. I held up the key clearly so he could see it, and he quickly shouted-
“I WORK FOR BET-” But the rest wasn’t heard. The ceiling fell through, the fire had spread, and Jack was now a pile of ash.
I think it was it was the heat that brought me round. I’m unsure. But I definitely remember waking up face down on an endless terrain of sand, with crackles of dying fire dictating my hearing.
I was warm. But not a nice warm. It was more... uncomfortable. Extremely uncomfortable.
I opened up my eyes and raised my head. I could see, vaguely, small flames crackling- but my vision was too blurred to gage the distance. It hurt to try and widen my eyes, they felt too weak to be of any great use. I tried to locate Frank but we wasn’t in my line of vision, which wasn’t too big anyway. I coughed out the word ‘Frank’, hoping for a small grunt in reply.
With immense effort, I sat myself up, pushing down my hands to support my upper body. My neck was strained and I lolled it around, waiting for a little ‘click’, but it seemed like it was permanent. No sign of Frank.
Once all my senses were kicked in, I could smell oil. Lots of it. In fact, I started to choke at how over powering the smell was. I covered my nose with my sleeve and scrambled to my feet, stumbling slightly at my hastiness. My eyes span into focus as I observed the scene around me.
The small building that we had set up camp in for the day had completely caved in, and practically all was destroyed. All the wood was in flames, and the hot air was making the horizon shake slightly. Unless that was just my sleazy vision. I searched the area for Frank, and saw a foot sticking out under a mountain of fallen-through wood.
“Oh, crap.” I jumped to my feet and ran over to the body, getting hotter and sweatier by the second.
I began to throw the wood away in any random direction, careless, but then stopped. I didn’t want to throw it into the fire to ignite the flames any more. This made the process slower, but I was determined to get Frank to safety. Not that I cared for him, I simply needed him for the deal with Mikey. The pile was massive. I was unsure he would survive this, I started to worry that he was dead.
My arms began to grow tired. Why was he covered in so much wreckage? Almost there... the heat from the fires and the humidity of the sun was overpowering my strength. My arms were aching as I furiously tried to recover Frank, but I was losing my stability. I didn’t have stamina. The drugs and alcohol affected my lungs. I was weak. I couldn’t carry on.
I fell to my knees, exhausted. I began to tug weakly at Frank’s shoe. My heart was hurting. I couldn’t access oxygen, there was too much smoke fumes clouding the air. I became dizzy, and crawled to the other side of the wreckage mountain. I noticed a head.
It wasn’t even Frank.
I roared in frustration. It was Jack, but a morbid Jack. His face was singed and his skin was crisp, his hair turned completely in to black. Holes had formed on his face and were displaying a rather gruesome view of his skull, and I had to turn around not to vomit; I needed all the hydration I could get.
If that was Jack, where was Frank?
I used the wreckage pile to support myself onto my feet, before hurling myself forward into walking. I clutched my stomach as I stumbled around the area, determined to find the boy alive. I shoved my hand into my pocket and withdrew my phone, shakily dialling a number. After four rings the phone answered.
“Hello?” Mikey’s voice filled my ear. I hissed in frustration.
“Is Frank there?” I muttered in fury.
“No, is this his phone? He must have left it. I was going to play baseball with it, but if it’s his... you’ve lost him?” I waited a few seconds before answering.
“No, he’s right beside me, I’m just ringing you to see if he has a double waiting at home.” I said sarcastically. Mikey sighed impatiently.
“If you’re gonna be like that, then-”
“Wait!” I shouted. “Look, you know the desert that we used to go when we were kids?” Mikey pondered that for several seconds. “Mikey?”
“What? Oh yes, I remember. Want me to get you?”
“Please,” I muttered.
“Tough. I’m not gonna.” And the phone line went dead. I growled before chucking the phone into the flames. I had lost Frank, was in the middle of a desert, surrounded by fire and had no way of getting home.
But then suddenly, a bleeping noise was heard. I had obviously missed the fire and it had landed in the sand, because my phone was not broken. I staggered towards the phone and answered it, hazily muttering “hello?” there was silence for 6 seconds.
“We have Frank.”
And the phone line went dead.