I had only made it to the door before Kyle summoned his strength, got up from the tiles, and yanked me back by my hair.
As I was pulled from my knees, I felt the swelling that had formed on them from my frantic crawling. I had banged my bones against the floor in hopes of getting to Benji faster.
Kyle scooped me up in his arms and I let out a half scream of pain with the hopes of calling attention to my whereabouts. But his revolting hand cut me off short, pressing hard over my mouth and reducing my hollering to muffles.
His skin smelt like sweat and urine and I could see the dirt crusted in a pile under his nails that were lined in blood. I felt his fingers digging into my cheeks and he squeezed my mouth so tight that my teeth began to cut through my tongue.
"Don't you fucking say a word," he whispered.
Kyle put me down on the counter under the mirrors and pressed my spine up against the glass as he leaned all of his weight into me. He was suffocating me with his palm and that acrid stench.
In the silence I could hear Benji's heavy panting and swearing as he trudged on, stumbling into the walls on his way down the hall. I could tell that he was coming toward us and I was both horrified and elated.
I tried to cry under Kyle's palm but that only made him press harder. Finally he reached into his pocket and pulled out a knife.
"Shut the fuck up," he whispered angrily.
He stared into my eyes, evil spreading out of him and into me. He brought the knife up to my throat and pressed the tip of it through my skin.
Behind the sound of increasingly approaching feet was hyperventilating breath. It sounded like my hero was having either a heart attack or an asthma attack. That couldn’t be Benji. Benji was always in control. He never trembled. He never gasped or cried. My muscles fell limp as I suddenly believed that it wasn't Benji on the outside of those walls.
An officer, maybe? A lone teenager checking out the haunted theatre? A bum looking for shelter?
Whoever it was had fallen upon the wrong path. Kyle was ready to drive his knife into the chest of the intruder. He was aching to shed more blood, completely consumed by an insistent feeling of raw and ruthless murder. He had his knife gripped in a hermetic hold above his head, shaking with the itch to bring it down hard.
As the footsteps came close to the edge of the door, Kyle's grip on my mouth began to loosen. I felt the inside of my cheeks slip out from between my teeth. My mouth was cut and I drank the blood down my throat as Kyle inched away from me and toward the door.
The shadow of the feet outside of the door seeped in from underneath it. He would come inside and be killed in less than a second of entry. And with that half of a second I had to think, Kyle let go of my mouth completely and I grabbed hold of his wrist. I brought his arm to my mouth and chomped down on his veins, piercing his skin with my teeth.
Kyle’s screams were fading in the distance of my sanity as his blood come out of his wrist and swirled around my tongue, mixing with mine and coating my teeth with his evil, red juice.
He grabbed my hair and violently swung the back of my head into the mirror. Then the door to the shower room flew open and bounced off his shoulder.
My vision quickly became impaired by the blow to my head. I was also swooning at the thought of the amount of Kyle's monstrous blood I'd just consumed. As a result, the next few things I saw were in a blur.
The two men looked like shadows. They crashed into walls, heads flying back and forward, banging against each other. I saw the glint of weapons reflecting back from the mirror behind me. Each of the shadows pulled the knives out like swords, continually stabbing at each other with them. Both of the shadows were the same size and it was sometimes hard to tell which one belonged to Kyle. But then I saw the flowing hair of the other man swooping down past his chin. I wanted that shadow to win.
The gleam of Kyle's knife disappeared and at first I thought that he'd lost it, dropped it down to the floor by mistake, and was now unarmed. But then I noticed that the blade had not disappeared out of Kyle's hand. It had disappeared into the body of the other man, and come back out again coated in the shadow of blood so that I could no longer see it.
The other man crouched down and I could see in the silhouette of his bent knees that he was facing me. The black mop on his head disappeared as he looked up and I could see the outline of a white face.
"Beth," he said.
I tried to make myself see better by rubbing at my eyes and I leaned forward. But my vision just shifted in and out, repeatedly failing to focus.
Kyle's shadow loomed up over the other mans’ crouched back. In the monsters’ hand, high above his head, was the shape of a mallet. I tried to warn the man with my face, opening my blurry eyes up wide and making sure that they were not looking at him, but at Kyle.
The shadow of the man moved to the side and he lunged down just as Kyle swung forward, his head bouncing off the counter between my knees. And the other man stabbed Kyle in the thigh.
Kyle fell forward again and knocked his greasy head back on my knees. This time I caught him by the hair and I pulled him up to meet my face. The other shadow lingered in the background of my weak sight.
I pressed my nose to Kyle's as I spit his blood back into his face. I rubbed my eyes once more before I smacked his cheek and let the blood spurt out of the side of his mouth.
That's when I started to see better—when I'd finally let the psycho inside of me come out. I could see much better when I finally had the death of the monster in my grasp.
Kyle's eyes came into focus, scared and shaking. The blackness around them taunted me, blurring the white of his skin in with the walls behind him. I leaned in closer and focused my eyes on his again.
My vision swayed from left to right, forward and back, as though I were controlling the zoom lens to my brain. And then it stopped and cleared.
I could see the spots of gray in Kyle's skin. I could see the black lines dripping down from his lids to his cheeks like the reverberation of waves. I saw the crimson crust forming at the corner of his mouth, which was moving in and out and up and down awkwardly. His tongue circled around his mouth and his teeth chewed at his lips. I could see the fear in his face. The malicious creature was afraid for the first and last time in his life. I could see that.
And I could see Benji.
She was leaning against the mirror, the date pressed behind her in the path that a finger had made through the mildew. She looked like a corpse. Again, I thought that she was dead, as I'd assumed for the past three excruciating days of my life. But then her eyes fluttered in a slow blink.
Her mouth was covered in blood. She looked like she’d just feasted on a poisonous animal. But the beauty that she was alive itself was enough to make me see past the horror before me.
I'd been stabbed in the hip. My scalp had been ripped open and the bone in my shin was either extremely inflamed, or it was broken. Yet, I didn't feel a thing. Nothing mattered but saving Beth and killing the fuck out of the man who did this to her.
Beth lifted the guy’s head up and stared down at him. I couldn't help but tremble and I dropped my weapon to the side in awe.
Her eyes were vacant. She was so far away from where she actually was—here with her captors head in her hands. The look she gave him was almost endearing, as though she were saying goodbye to him and she were actually devastated to let him go. This was the first moment that I feared her and it made me feel sick.
She rubbed her hands over his face, tracing the outline of his jaw and cheekbones like a mother would do to her child. And he didn't move. She paralyzed him with her touch and with her eyes. He just stared back up at her.
I wanted to slice my knife though the middle of his back. I wanted to cut the ugly fuck in half. More than that, I wanted Beth's eyes to see me. But she didn't look like she even knew who I was. She didn't look like Beth.
As she soothed the man’s face with her docile fingers, I ran my eyes up and down her body. She was almost completely naked, save for the important parts. Over her arms and thighs her skin had been scratched, like a cat had come in and mauled her. Her ribs were jutting out from their regular place on her right side and it looked almost like some kind of deformed skeleton of a demon child were growing inside of her.
She was pale with dark circles surrounding her yellowed, malnourished eyes. She had a large scar on her leg and her right breast was slashed from the upper, fleshiest part to her collarbone. She was rake thin.
That's when I saw the part of her body that pained me the most and sent my moment of shock into high-gear vengeance. Between her legs, from mid thigh and up and hiding behind her clothes, her skin was red and rash covered and completely raw. Just like the little girl in the field.